“There are so many people in the city working hard to keep things safe, but they have too much work and can’t do everything,” said Michael Johnson, who works with the South Tacoma Business District Association. He described seeing many people living on the streets, abandoned RVs, and crime happening around the city.
However, the Tacoma Planning Commission doesn’t want to make it easier for businesses to install electric fences without special permission. Currently, only businesses in industrial areas can use them.
In the last year and a half, the number of businesses asking for permission to put up electric fences has increased from eight to 25.
Johnson explained that a regular fence can’t stand up to someone who really wants to get through it. An electric fence can stop them, but it also makes the business look like a prison. “What message does that say to our customers? What message does that say to our employees?”
He added, “You can only afford so many losses before you have to shut your doors.” Many businesses have already decided to leave because of the situation.
According to a report, Tacoma’s crime rate is much higher than the rest of Washington state and the country. It’s especially high in South Tacoma, Central, South End, and New Tacoma.
“The perfect world scenario is you got to come up with some sort of plan to help the people that are on the street,” Johnson said. “These are people who need help.”
The city has taken steps to clean up homeless camps and passed a law banning camping on public property near temporary shelters. Johnson said, “But we need that money on the ground. We need these people to get the help that they deserve and so rightfully need.”