25 June 2008

Planning Future Olympia

I went to a City Planning Commission Hearing last night on a proposal to rezone portions of Olympia's downtown waterfront. The proposed rezone would increase building height limits and allow for a planned multi-use structure (to include high-end condominiums.)

I arrived at 5:30 pm to sign up to speak, and I waited until almost 10:15 pm to do so. Many people who signed up were not able to speak. There were about 2 people who signed up to testify against the proposal for everyone 1 person who signed up in support.

There were many different arguments made for and against the proposal, and I don't have the time or energy to go into them now. It was pretty tense. I have to say that it seemed like there were people in that hearing room who simply have completely different world views. For example, both sides used a public interest argument. The pro-rezone segment used the concept of urban high-rise housing as a means to promote sustainability. Those who opposed the rezone similarly used a public interest argument, albeit very different, that the rezone would allow high-rises that would essentially be a theft from the public, the vast majority of whom cannot afford a $1M condo...

Anyway, I'll let you know, dear reader, if I decide to post a more fleshed out article. Here's a link to where you can find the full text of a written comment I submitted along with my oral testimony: http://olyblog.net/share-you-public-comment-tonight-here-thread#comment-63214

Also see Open Space v. Development [relating to the proposed rezone and high rise development]

Basically, I think the best use for the isthmus is as a park. The isthmus is central to the City of Olympia, and serves as a sacred space - a place where the two waters of the Deschutes River and the Puget Sound meet. To develop this property into a high rise structure would be a theft from those who could not afford to live there. There are more appropriate places to develop high-end - high-rise buildings. I suggest to the City Planning Commission to recommend to deny the proposal to rezone building height limits.

Oh yeah, and check out the photos: Olympia Washington Planning Commission Hearing on Proposal to Rezone Urban Waterfront

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