Blog module icon

A Note From Your Mayor


Mar 20

Mayor’s Update on COVID-19 in Gig Harbor - March 20, 2020

Posted on March 20, 2020 at 6:30 PM by Joshua Stecker

This is Mayor Kuhn. Our city hall is closed to the public however we are still working inside and are happy to be reached by phone and email, and city inspections will continue. The main phone number to City Hall is: (253) 851-8136. Our normal hours of operation are 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. We will assess this closure on or about April 2nd, make a decision on whether to extend or suspend the closure and announce that decision on Friday, April 3.


We are very concerned for our community with the COVID-19 Virus. Our main objective is to keep the city operating and serve our citizens and community. I am very proud of our staff who are standing by us during this time.


The situation changes daily, and our goal is to support all of our staff, citizens, community and the needs that the city provides. First is to make sure our employees are safe so they can work to provide essential needs which we have done. Ex. Water, sewer, roads, police and the various obligations our citizens need.


We are concerned for your well-being and want to limit your contact with others. However, our parks are open, and it is good to get out and take walks, ride bikes or get out on the water. Please limit your contact with others. You should avoid contact closer than six feet.


Presently many of our essential stores are open for you to get food and needed items. Many restaurants are still allowing food to go.  See our other page for information for senior citizens, childcare and foodbanks. We are building the ship as we sail it. Our community is working together to get through this. We all must stay positive and try to be helpful to others and be strong through this time.


City council meetings will be held.  Staff is working on setting up the means by which council members can call in to participate if they so choose rather than attending in person.  We will provide a livestream for members of our community to hear the meeting and, if possible, provide a mechanism by which they can participate with public comment via sending emails to a dedicated staff person who will then provide that information to Mayor Kuhn and council.


There are many resources available and ways you can help out:


Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has announced that drive-thru testing is beginning for healthcare workers and first responders. This is an important first step in getting faster test results to help us fight this disease.


The City is also collecting a list of community resources in the Gig Harbor Gigabyte. The Gigabyte is an e-newsletter that will be sent out weekly with updates on resources for residents during the current outbreak. You can sign up to receive the Gigabyte here.


Please reach out to me with your concerns and I will try my best to help.


Mayor Kuhn


Here are more updates:


For up-to-date information on COVID-19 and steps you can take to protect yourself and your family, please visit Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.


For more information regarding COVID-19 in Washington State, please visit the following sources:


While the Civic Center is closed to the public, the City of Gig Harbor is actively working to make sure we are still providing all essential services:


POLICE

The Police Department continues to operate 24/7. Our officers have been instructed to handle routine calls by telephone when appropriate and may ask that you speak with them outside if they arrive at your location.


Our dispatch agency, South Sound 911, may ask you some screening questions about potential COVID-19 threats when our officers are responding. Be aware that these questions are for the safety of our officers and the public. These screening questions will not delay any police response.


We have suspended the processing of NEW Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applications but can process your CPL RENEWAL by calling our administrative offices (253-851-2236 option 2) during business hours.


We continue to respond to every call and have no restrictions on making arrests. Shoplifting has been a concern expressed by our businesses, but we will continue to respond to all criminal acts and hold people accountable. Jail restrictions dictate that we simply cite and release more misdemeanor offenders, but all suspects will face their day in court.


Our officers remain committed to keeping Gig Harbor a safe and low-crime community.


COURT

Gig Harbor Municipal Court met with city officials on Monday, March 16, 2020 to discuss the court’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning March 16, 2020, modifications to court operations are as follows:


  • Jury trials are suspended through April 2020.
  • If you are scheduled to appear for a criminal proceeding between March 16 and April 3, your hearing will be continued 60 days, with some exceptions. A summons will be sent to the address on file. Failure to appear will result in a bench warrant for your arrest.
  • In-custody cases and other emergency matters will be heard weekly as scheduled.
  • Jurors summoned between March 16 and April 30 are excused from service.
  • Contested civil infractions are continued to the month of May or thereafter. You will receive notification of the new date in the mail.
  • Mitigated civil infractions will be converted to hearings-by-mail only.
  • Court staff will be available via telephone (253) 851-7808 or via email court@cityofgigharbor.net
    during normal business hours.

The Municipal Court will monitor the situation and re-evaluate court operations on April 3, 2020. The city website will be updated as new information becomes available.


For additional information contact Stacy Colberg, Court Administrator (253) 853-7619.


PUBLIC WORKS 

Despite the massive changes that are occurring in our region due to the Covid-19 response, the City Of Gig Harbor‘s water and sewer utilities are functioning as normal.


The City’s drinking water continues to be safe and reliable. The City’s wastewater system continues to pump and treat sewer. While we are taking precautions to maintain the health of our staff, we are fully staffed and operating as usual.


COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

The City Community Development Department is committed to providing development review and inspection services during this unprecedented time, unless otherwise instructed by Health Officials or the Governor.


Please be aware of the following changes regarding how we are conducting business:


  1. In-person meetings or inquiries: City Hall is closed to the public until April 6, 2020 (at a minimum). All inquiries and meetings will need to occur via phone or email. The City’s main phone line is 253-851-6170, and will be staffed M-F from 8am-5pm.
  2. Planner of the Day: Planner of the Day service is available electronically by emailing andrewsc@cityofgigharbor.net or thomasm@cityofgigharbor.net
  3. Plan Submittals: Until City Hall re-opens, only electronic submittals will be accepted.
  4. Contacts:
  • For Planning Submittals, please email andrewsc@cityofgigharbor.net AND thomasm@cityofgigharbor.net.
  • For Engineering Submittals, please email sharerd@cityofgigharbor.net
  • For Building Submittals, please email mcgallianp@cityofgigharbor.net AND johnstonh@cityofgigharbor.net

**All parties requesting inspections from the City of Gig Harbor**


For the purposes of maintaining the social distancing protocols suggested by our Governor and health officials, the City of Gig Harbor is requiring additional safety measures to be followed:


No handshakes or other contact with on-site personnel.

Inspections are to be conducted alone with a minimum 6 feet of separation from all other personnel.

If there are any workers who are sick or are exhibiting any symptoms attributed to COVID-19 they may not be on-site at the same time as our inspection staff.


If any of these conditions cannot be met, our inspectors have the authority to stop the inspection and require that it be rescheduled to a time when these protocols can be followed. Thank you for your understanding and willingness to work together to create the safest work environment possible.



Mar 12

Mayor’s Update - March 12, 2020

Posted on March 12, 2020 at 6:03 PM by Joshua Stecker

ATTENTION To our community, staff and citizens – Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation prohibiting large events of more than 250 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties to minimize public health risks surrounding COVID-19. Today, a mandatory closure of King, Pierce and Snohomish County public and private schools is currently instituted through April 24. This is a challenging time, and we are in uncharted waters.

Out of an abundance of caution, we have evaluated our City Hall and weekly Court procedures and will be closing City Hall and the Municipal Court to the general public, effective Tuesday, March 17. The status of City Hall and the Gig Harbor Municipal Court will be updated every Friday at 2:00 p.m. City staff will still be available via phone and email, and city inspections will continue.

The City of Gig Harbor supports our Governor, School Districts and Senior Centers in the decisions they have had to make over recent days. City staff are in regular communication with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and continue to follow their guidelines around preventative measures. We are also in contact with local public safety organizations, including St. Anthony Hospital, the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, Pierce County Fire District 5, as well as the Peninsula School District to ensure a coordinated response. We will continue to provide the highest level of safety for our public, employees and emergency responders.

We have a continuity of operations plan in place and are confident in our ability to deliver continued essential services. We also encourage elderly citizens and those with compromised immune systems to stay home and take the necessary precautions as provided by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

We encourage everyone to obtain their information concerning COVID-19 from informed sources, including the Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health, the Washington State Department of Health, Governor Inslee’s Emergency Proclamation, Peninsula School District, Gig Harbor Fire and Medic One, CHI Franciscan and MultiCare.

We will continue to update you as the situation changes. As always, your health and the well-being of those around you is our primary concern.

Mayor Kit Kuhn
City of Gig Harbor 
Mar 06

Mayor's Update - March 5, 2020

Posted on March 6, 2020 at 10:28 AM by Joshua Stecker

Good Day to Everyone,

 

March is here, and daylight savings time is this coming weekend. Which means more daylight in the morning and evening, which I am sure we all have been looking forward to.

 

I was able to get away a bit last month to New Zealand and am thrilled at the way Bob Larson, our City Administrator, ran the City in my absence. We are very fortunate to have Bob, and now I have a bit more time to focus on projects while he helps run the day to day operations.

 

Below, I want to share some highlights and updates from our last couple of council meetings. In February, Council authorized an amendment to the City budget to allow $700,000 to build a float off of Jerkovich Pier at our new Ancich Waterfront Park. This money, combined with a $500,000 contribution from the Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Race Team, will allow us to build a new float system for launching canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. City staff are working with the race team to come to an agreement on the rest of the funding before the end of March. If Council passes the finance mechanism and everything falls into place, we may be able to complete construction this year. There are still a lot of questions, work to be done, and dollars to be allocated for this to happen.

 

The Parks Division continues to be exceedingly busy with park development, planning, feasibility studies. Recently, we have been working with students at Discovery Elementary School as we consider new playground equipment for 5 – to 12-year-olds. 

This project was funded by the City Council in the 2020 Budget to achieve goals set in the 2007 Master Plan for Veterans Memorial Park. The students met at the park for a field trip with the family of Kenneth Leo Marvin whom the park is dedicated to, Parks Commissioners, a councilmember, and city staff to discuss and learn the various considerations that need to be taken into account when preparing for the development of a park property. The students were eager to be involved, and their teachers were exceptional partners in this community-building endeavor. You can read (and watch) more about that effort here. Thanks to Nicole, our Parks Manager, and the Park Commission for making this happen.

 

I would like to recognize Terry Lee for his financial contribution towards finishing the Cushman Trail Emergency Locator Signage project that will expand upon the recently installed posts to a frequency of every 1/8 of a mile. This increase in frequency meets safety goals as identified by the community and industry standards. I would also like to recognize PenMet Parks for their partnership, both in funding and generally, on this effort to ensure consistency across the entire length of the Cushman Trail. We can achieve great things with our community and our community partners – safety on the Cushman Trail is an important City goal, and we are pleased to provide this amenity on our popular regional trail.

 

Please mark your calendar for Parks Appreciation Day Saturday, April 25, from 9 am to noon. The event is scheduled in conjunction with our area partners and will be held for interested volunteers who can sign up for the park they are interested in here. We are focusing on five city-owned parks; Veterans Memorial Park, City Park at Crescent Creek, Wilkinson Farm Park, Grandview Forest Park, and Soundview Forest. We look forward to working alongside our park-minded community members as we pull weeds, spread bark, and bark dust, and show our park properties some love! The City’s Parks Commission and staff are working to organize a fantastic event. Help value our parks by joining us.

 

Last month, Council reversed a previous decision they had made requiring union negotiations to be held open to the public. Council’s new resolution acknowledges that sometimes discussions with unions can be sensitive, and holding negotiations in private can help both sides communicate more openly. Prior to reversing their decision, Gig Harbor was the only City in Washington that required union negotiations to be open to the public.

 

Changes are coming to the foodservice ware ordinance that went into effect last fall. The biggest change is that now all pre-packaged items can be sold, regardless of what materials they are made from. I am pleased with this change by Council as I felt it had put regulations for the groceries without really understanding the implications for them as to compete and sell products. This allowance is good for five years, after which all pre-packaged items that are non-recyclable plastic will be illegal.

 

Last year, the Public Works Committee directed staff to start work on a new above-ground lift station on Ryan Street. After presenting initial renderings, the City heard concerns from a number of residents. As a result, Council has instructed staff to prepare three new options to present for Council to review. An open house will be scheduled in the future to show residents what the options are.

 

Council has decided to hold regular informal study sessions twice a month on the Thursday immediately following a Council meeting. These study sessions will be open to the public but will not allow for public comment. They are a chance for Council to take a deeper look at more complicated issues. These study sessions will replace the council committees - Public Works, Planning & Building, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Finance & Safety Committees. Council will try this system for six months and then see if they want to keep it permanently.

 

I wish to welcome Laura Pettitt, our new Tourism & Communications Director. Laura has over 17 years of experience working in communications, marketing, public relations, graphic design, and travel. Most recently, she was the Communications Manager at the Washington Public Ports Association. Mimi Jansen, who did a great job filling in as the Interim Tourism & Communications Director, is moving on from the City, and we thank her for all her hard work.

 

Our HR department is also working hard, recruiting a new City Attorney, and bringing on a new Information Services Manager this month.

 

We are concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is on a lot of people’s minds. We are working with the State and County and monitoring what they are telling us and the public. We are taking this seriously and will continue to provide the highest level of safety and emergency during the current COVID-19 outbreak. Please see the City’s website for our precautionary statement and links to agencies.

 

I wish every one of you a joyful weekend.

 

Cheers, 

 

Kit