OLYMPIANS FOR SMART DEVELOPMENT AND LIVABLE NEIGHBORHOODS
• We support affordable housing in residential neighborhoods which preserve their assets and promote diversity and local control.
• Local governments should have the power to support self-determined communities which serve the needs of all citizens.
• When significant City changes are considered, the general public must be amply notified and educated a reasonable time beforehand.
• When significant City decisions are to be made, the public should be allowed to give input, which is actually considered.
• When local government fails to do the above, or breaks its own codes, citizens should have the right to legal appeal
• Notify citizens of government decisions affecting them
• Provide accurate information to guide the public in their opinions
• Support housing as a basic right and push for truly affordable housing
• Preserve quality of life in our communities
•Protect home ownership
• Fight corporate ownership of low-density neighborhood properties
• Regulate short-term rentals (AirBNBs) to prevent long-term housing loss
• Assure appropriate housing growth for local needs
• Promote public education on housing issues and demand public input
•Avoid destroying one type of housing to create another
OSD&LN: How We Began
A group of neighborhood and community leaders, involved for decades working with the City of Olympia to better the City and its neighborhoods, realized in the Fall of 2017 that something was very wrong. City Planning had created an infill plan called Missing Middle behind closed doors with a small group of density advocates and members of the building industry. This plan was kept fairly secret, and it was intended to pass by the beginning of 2018.
Missing Middle's goal was to increase density by suddenly allowing triplexes, fourplexes, 12-unit townhouse buildings and courtyard apartments in single-family neighborhoods. It was also touted as a way to increase housing affordability and variety of housing types. Later, the City admitted MM probably wouldn't create affordable housing. The plan also ignored parts of the Comprehensive Plan and Growth Management Act. Missing Middle was passed by the City Council 11/18.
The City issued a DNS (Determination of Non-Significance) for the Missing Middle, which claimed that this drastic zoning change would have no significant impacts to people or the environment. OSD&LN formed when appealed the City for this DNS in March 2018. We lost on standing, to the City's hearings examiner. Amazed that the City found no significant environmental impacts of MM, OSD&LN then appealed the City's DNS finding before the State Growth Management Hearings Board,. The City lost this appeal. The GMHB then decided against the City in the remaining 6 decisions. So far, the City has ignored the GMHB decision. It's possible the City will appeal one more time in Superior Court.
The State of Washington legislature passed ESSHB1923 in the Spring of 2019, which allows Missing Middle-type housing throughout the State. At the request of the Olympia Planning Department, with well-paid lobbyists, a section was added to 1923 that did not allow any chance to for the public to appeal City code changes. Again, there was little publicity that this was happening. The bill is not mandatory, but gives cities permission to change single-family zoning in ways that were not possible before (BIG, lot-filling buildings). In the Spring of 2020, the legislature passed HB2343, which expanded the types of housing allowed in single-family neighborhoods to six-plexes and stacked flats, and now allowed a duplex on any single-family lot (as small as 3500 sf) in neighborhoods.
OSD&LN advertizes when City meetings and hearings for implementation of 1923- and 2343-related ordinances are held, so that the general public has a chance to be educated and have its say. Our goal is to alert people of Olympia to potential housing law changes, and to educate them on the pros and cons of these changes. Today, we have 450 members and a mailing list of 2000. Any donations go to legal fees or dissemination of information.
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