Community activists spoke at a state court of appeals hearing Thursday in support of an initiative that could impact industry at Tacoma’s Tideflats.
“We’re here, because the courts have given themselves the illegitimate power to veto legislation by the people,” said Lindsey Schromen-Wawrim, attorney for Save Tacoma Water.
Over the last two years the city of Tacoma has witnessed a surge in grassroots efforts wrestling over types of industries that should be welcome in the Tideflats.
The area has served as the longtime home to industry in Tacoma, and more community voices have fought to have a say in the future of this area.
The group wanted an initiative on a city of Tacoma ballot in 2016 that could’ve changed the city charter, allowing residents to decide if they want industries in the port to use more than 1 million gallons of water per day.
"That was the problem with the methanol plant. All of a sudden it was on us, and we said how do we get more transparency in this, and we said let’s throw a vote into it. Lets make everybody take a vote on this before we give all of our water away at a low rate to a has-been industry,” said Sherry Brockwinkle, a leader of the Save Tacoma Water Group.
The initiative came shortly after a proposal to bring a methanol plant to the tide flats.
“It energized our whole community like I’ve never seen in 25 years, and we said we’re going to protect our water,” said Brockwinkle
The City of Tacoma said it couldn’t end up on the ballot, citing that it exceeded the scope of initiative power.
“The people cannot enact an initiative that conflicts with state or federal law,” said Kymberly Ebanson, a City of Tacoma attorney. "Had the city not gotten involved then the city would've had to hold an election on initiatives that were unlawful, and the citizens would've had to bear that cost.”
It’s now up to the judges at the state court of appeals to decide.