Opinion

Are these glasses half-empty or half-full? | Andy Hobbs

Downtown redevelopment is a priority for Federal Way leaders.

Half-empty: There is no downtown, unless you count a bunch of strip malls and chain stores as a downtown. Let’s not forgot about the lovely hooker hotels that dot Pacific Highway. Federal Way is a bedroom community — always has been, always will be. If the intersection of Pacific Highway and South 320th Street represents “downtown,” then the city isn’t aiming very high. Then there’s the failed skyscraper proposal. Who in their right mind would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury condo in Federal Way? Anyone with that kind of cash is going to buy in Bellevue or Seattle.

Half-full: Downtown Federal Way is full of potential for development. A performing arts and civic center could be one piece of the puzzle in building a “Main Street” in Federal Way. The civic center could bring in top-caliber professional entertainment that enriches the cultural opportunities within the city’s borders. Can you picture a beautiful park that sits next to a row of quaint little antique shops and bistros?

Federal Way will continue to host the World Championship of Sand Sculpting.

Half-empty: Did anyone notice that in 2010, the event lost money? At those ridiculous admission prices, who wants to stroll around a crumbling parking lot? This thing is a financial boondoggle. What about all the rain that destroyed some sculptures? And what about competing with the Puyallup Fair for visitors?

Half-full: This event puts Federal Way on the world map and generates the kind of media exposure that any city would envy. The event needs more time to find its footing. Visitors will arrive from across the region, state, nation and world to witness these master sculptors in action — then spend money at Federal Way’s restaurants, hotels and stores. In 10 years, Federal Way will be grateful to host such a novel tourist attraction.

Federal Way denied business licenses for two medical marijuana dispensaries.

Half-empty: These dispensaries are recipes for trouble. Marijuana is illegal on the federal and state levels. It is a gateway drug that causes brain damage. Too many so-called “patients” take advantage of the medical excuse in order to score cannabis for recreational purposes. Thanks to liberal Seattle and a tolerant King County prosecutor, Federal Way has one more problem on its hands.

Half-full: The dispensaries follow procedures for screening people who have received a valid physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana. Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998, and qualified patients need safe access. The city may have denied these business licenses, but the legalization issue has reached a tipping point in Washington. With the erosion of stigmas associated with cannabis, it’s only a matter of time before the dam breaks and states tap the plant’s monetary and medical potential. The bright side of Federal Way’s situation: By not having to worry about these dispensaries, police can focus on busting the crackheads, pimps and prostitutes on Pacific Highway.

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