Like many of the other Neighborhood Councils, ENACT has spent much of the last seven years trying to enhance Eastside neighborhoods through physical improvement projects. Yet one of the group's greatest accomplishments was achieved not through bond money or Small Innovative Grants, but through the sheer determination of ENACT's leaders.
These Council members listened to their neighbors' concerns about the lack of economic development taking place on the Eastside.
They shared their belief that the Eastside should have thriving business districts to serve the needs of area residents.
And they did something about it.
With the help from the Tacoma Economic Development Department and support from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Council was instrumental in the formation of two new business districts - Lower Portland Avenue and McKinley Hill. With organized business associations, these districts can now benefit from the technical assistance and financial support offered to business districts through the City's Neighborhood Business District Revitalization Program. The Council has also used a portion of the Building Tacoma Together bond funds and some Small Innovative Grants to purchase enhanced bus shelters, benches, trash receptacles and street banners to make these new districts pedestrian-friendly."
- Our stories, Our times: A Retrospective Of Achievements (1999)
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The Eastside neighborhood is located in the easterly portion of the city south of Interstate 5, north of East 72nd Street and east of Pacific Avenue. The area's unique terrain of rolling hills and valleys provides scenic views of the Port of Tacoma, downtown, the mountains and the valley areas for many of the Eastside neighborhoods.
The area was first inhabited by the Puyallup and Nisqually Indian societies because of its proximity to the Puyallup River and its vantage points overlooking Commencement Bay. The area began to develop in the late 1800s and grew with the arrival of streetcar lines and the 1905-1915 railroad boom. Development of the tide flats into a port facility contributed to the growth of the area, as did the outbreak of World War I and the construction of Fort Lewis and the McChord Military Reservation.
People and Land Use
The Eastside is home to approximately 11% of Tacoma's population. It has the highest percentage of low-income residents in the City and contains one of the largest subsidized housing complexes in the west. It is also home to the Puyallup Tribal Center. Land area is approximately 9% of the city with 40% of the land used for residential development and only 2% for commercial uses.
A portion of the Eastside neighborhood is included in the City of Tacoma's Enterprise Community/Empowerment Zone and will be a focus for future investment. A coordinated housing initiative and an effort to build a nonprofit development corporation are now underway. In addition, many nonprofit organizations have established service centers in the area.
The Eastside is shaped by a distinct sense of place formed largely by cohesive, culturally diverse neighborhoods, shared values and a strong sense of community direction. The physical elements that provide that sense of place include a grid of streets, housing variety, greenspaces, mature trees, parks, views, neighborhood schools, historic structures, and compact commercial districts. This environment is viewed as providing a comfortable and desirable place in which to reside and/or raise a family.
Infill development and redevelopment will occur throughout the Eastside. Densification, however, will occur only in limited designated areas. Amenities and improvements that enhance existing elements are desired such as beautification projects, improvements in street lighting and sidewalk and street conditions, and increased recreation. Equality of city services such as police response, street cleaning, maintenance of public property and aggressive code enforcement are also viewed as necessary to preserve and enhance the sense of place. In addition, revitalization of the Lower Portland and McKinley Business Districts and increased economic development activity throughout the Eastside are viewed as necessary and important priorities.
The Eastside neighborhood has had a rich and varied history. Its future is based on enhancing its important historic qualities, developing physical improvements to public and private facilities and creating economic development opportunities for the neighborhood and its residents.