Rough roads affecting Tacoma housing market



Posted on July 24, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 7:00 PM

Lack of street maintenance is creating a hurdle for the Tacoma housing market. Potholes and other street problems are causing buyers to pass on otherwise perfect fits.

“They make it a challenge. It’s just one more thing they have to observe, overcome and evaluate whether or not they chose to purchase a home or not,” said Maggie Schauble, a realtor.

A proposed 2 percent Utility Tax Increase on November’s ballot could help address the problem.

“We’re an old city, we’re a built out city and so we’ve got a lot of streets that are old and in need of significant repair and maintenance,” said Kurtis Kingsolver, Tacoma Public Works Director.

Poor roads have caused another realtor in Schauble’s company to miss out on major sales. Due to the condition of the street in front of the homes, the bank wouldn’t close on the deal.

If voters pass the increase, the average customer will pay $2 more on their utility bill each month, generating $10-11 million. The money will go towards projects like repaving streets, building sidewalks and fixing potholes.

“It’s a very important initiative,” said Schauble.

The money would double the Public Works Department’s current budget and restore jobs. A third of its workforce was slashed last year because of budget cuts.

Schauble has seen potential buyers but so far, received no offers on a 3 bedroom home in the Proctor neighborhood. The realtor is hopeful improved streets will peak interest.

“I think it will make it easier, I really do,” she said.

Sue Chavez says poor roads throw off the alignment for cars in the area.

“It’s such a beautiful neighborhood, to have that (potholes) to deal with isn’t good,” she said.

She’s hopeful more money to maintain them will transform the streets from problem to selling point.

“That’s what we need, we need to get cleaned up,” said Chavez.

City leaders call the proposed increase a progressive way to raise revenue that doesn’t hurt the poor as much as a property or sales tax. A program offers elderly and low income households 30 percent off their utility bills.