Business owners voiced opposition April 11 to yet another plan for relocating a homeless shelter. This plan calls for the City to loan Tacoma Rescue Mission (TRM) $3 million in short-term financing to construct a new facility on vacant land next to Star Ice and Fuel near the corner of Pacific Avenue and South Tacoma Way.

TRM now occupies an area between Pacific Avenue and Commerce Street below South 15th Street. The City wants to buy the building for $950,000 to clear way for a future convention center, then make TRM the loan to build on the new site.

While applauding efforts to help the homeless, business operators in the neighborhood TRM would relocate told a meeting of the City Council they oppose putting it at Pacific Avenue and South Tacoma Way.

“We already have a high crime rate in this area,” said Scott Schafer, owner of Flaming Dragon Tattoo. Schafer said he took a risk setting up shop at nearby Pacific and South 24th Street. “I spent every cent I had on this corner, but we are cleaning it up fast.”

Kevin Russell, owner of Neon Effects, said he is tired of broken windows and urine on his backdoor. He also voiced concern over the safety of his family and customers.

“You need businesses such as mine,” he said in a not-so-veiled threat that the TRM could encourage businesses to flee to the suburbs. “It’s my tax money going as a free loan to these people.”

TRM Director Mike Lonegran said he hopes to alleviate concerns by meeting with neighborhood business owners and residents.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan at its April 19 meeting.

By John Larson, Business Examiner staff