I’m running for Olympia City Council to advocate for citizen involvement for ALL people. Please read each plank of my platform below.
Citizens are the stakeholders of the community in which they live. As your council member, I want to invite you to the political table of decision-making. I want to make it City policy to educate citizens about how the City works, the process of how to be heard by the City, and how to exercise the power that already belongs to citizens.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates that we will have three to six feet of sea level rise by the end of the century.
Of course we must all change our habits as individuals to slow down and (we hope) reverse climate change: transportation and living choices, eliminating wasteful practices, and supporting with your dollars those products and services that support these same goals.
When developers do not pay impact fees, the rest of us have higher taxes or reduced services to make up the difference. The City of Olympia’s budget must recognize and make up for all the impact fees that were NOT paid by new development. We must also include in our budget expenses that are not usually included for citizens to see. It’s our money and I think we have a right to know how it is spent.
Furthermore, I will be voting against the current eight year tax freebies to luxury home developers. The rest of the Olympia’s citizens, both renters and owners, pay directly or indirectly for property taxes. Why should developers of luxury housing get a free ride while the rest of us pay?
As your Councilmember, I will ask questions that challenge a “business-as-usual” approach and will make sure solutions actually solve the problems we have. I invite you to help me create some of these questions. I will advocate for the overall good of the community as I have both in the City and County for many years.
Olympia has beautiful parks, clean drinking water, adequate green space so far, and State Capitol views for everyone to enjoy. But we do have major environmental problems that need correction such as placing development in areas that harm our salmon runs and not making the environment a priority both in the past and present. Wouldn’t it be great to have a team of neighbors, volunteer retired scientists, area environmental groups and young people in Olympia schools to help advise our city council as they make decisions before development projects are approved? That is this campaign’s idea of a real “Community and Development” department at the City. What do you think?
New Article from New York Times about Investors Destroying Neighborhoods https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/20/business/economy/starter-homes-investors.html?searchResultPosition=1&fbclid=IwAR0hPvMuUmxHiVSFF0-a5FXVPeuRC3wLSX6Olg5E4uWC47xPWoT1b2cQhlA
Read the new book “Capital City” by Samuel Stein. This book explains what is happening in residential real estate and offers solutions to the housing affordability crisis. A summary of this book is found at https://noolyupzone.yolasite.com/Summary-of-Capital-City-by-Samuel-Stein.php.
As a 30+ year advocate for homelessness prevention, I bring a wealth of personal experience from working in various churches to community non-profits and health organizations as a nurse.
We share the community with everyone, but many times we find ourselves only associating with people just like ourselves. We live in our own bubble. To help others, we must be a part of the solution, not retreat and say “this is not my problem.” History, particularly the Great Depression, offers possible solutions. Our mentally ill have been out on the streets and our federal government recently gave a 1.7 trillion tax break to the obscenely rich. Surely, we can form more citizen groups to advocate more for the very vulnerable and put more pressure on our government branches and offer our collective wisdom for solutions. Some groups are doing this work for decades already, but we need more and we need to invite the persons experiencing homelessness to city discussions and decisions. No one person or group has all the answers, but a willingness to interact and put all judgment aside and have real two-way conversations could generate solutions.
As a volunteer, I have left homemade fliers about the Missing Middle on nearly 3,000 doorsteps, organized rallies, helped with forums, and educated through social media sites for 17 months. The City of Olympia could have put out a public notice in its utility bills so that everyone would know about the 43 massive residential zoning changes that will affect both renters and homeowners. The City did not choose to notify its residents properly about the Missing Middle ordinance and even today, more than 90% of Olympians do not know what the Missing Middle is. Do you? Please check the following information sites listed below the following paragraphs.
Neighborhoods with home owner associations ( HOAs) will have to enforce their covenants themselves. The City will not even notify you when they grant permits and you only have 2 weeks to object. Also, if your convenants have not been used for quite a while, they may not be legally enforceable. With the passage of the Missing Middle ordinance, single family zoning has changed. Go to the City of Olympia Missing Middle Web site and look at the zoning change map to find out how the Missing Middle affects your neighborhood
A group of Olympia citizens and neighborhood leaders knew some of the City’s MM zoning changes, and their process for creating the plan, were illegal. They then organized to appeal the MM ordinance with the State Growth Management Hearings Board. Not appealing would have been to accept that the City could ignore citizens and laws when making decisions in the future. This group is called Olympians for Smart Development and Livable Neighborhoods (OSD&LN). The Board ruled in OSDLN’s favor, showing that the City didn’t follow the law in creating MM. Some of the key actions taken so far are:
May 23, 2019 – The Growth Management Hearings Board heard the case against the Missing Middle ordinance
July 2019 – The Growth Management Hearings Board issued a ruling in July 2019 that INVALIDATED the Missing Middle ordinance for Olympia.
The City of Olympia is currently working to appeal the decision of the Growth Management Hearings Board. (In my opinion, the City is again wasting our tax money and not choosing to listen to its residents after nearly 18 months.)
To find out more, check out:
House Bill 1923 establishes a 20-month window (through March 2021) for cities like Olympia to make zoning changes (like allowing duplexes/triplexes and fourplexes on every lot in a single family neighborhood) or allowing one single family neighborhood to have any number of units per acre without rezoning as long as the city average for that zoning type stays under an overall limit (up to 36 units per acre, 3 times the previous limit!) Affected residents will not be able to appeal these actions.
The State Environmental Policy Act has been amended in HB 1923 and your rights as residents to appeal building projects are adversely affected. You can read the bill here.
As your Councilmember, I will vote no on any attempt to put House Bill 1923 into action. This bill needs to be removed, in my opinion, in the next legislative session. Originally, the sponsors of the bill wanted to make the bill a statewide mandate, but now it is voluntary. And the Association of Washington Cities originally opposed the bill.
The Olympia Comprehensive Plan was adopted and created in a five year democratic community-centered process in 2014 and provides for the 20,000 expected new residents in three nodes. We have plenty of land for those needs for the next 20 years. We do not need House Bill 1923 to undermine our community effort in our Comprehensive Plan.
Too often, over the decades, I have witnessed City Hall projects that are presented to the public as “done deals,” and public hearings are conducted because they are a requirement. I would rather we have open community conversations about collective concerns regularly that help create City plans rather than to have to take the City to court to be heard. The City of Olympia wastes too much money on lawsuits when they could just invite residents to the table for decision-making in the first place. I am advocating for an awesomely welcoming City Hall, which actually listens to and uses input from the community instead of doing everything possible to smother it in a procedural bramblebush.
You can start your political education by attending an Olympia City Council meeting on Tuesday nights at Olympia City Hall in the Council Chambers. The meeting starts at 7 pm, but if you want to speak you need to sign up by 6:30.
You can submit a Public Records Request online and or in person at City Hall and ask that the information you are requesting be put on CD as that is less expensive than copies. Be very specific when asking for the information you want. You might want to ask the City how much money they have lost by giving out free 8 tax exemptions to developers of market rate and luxury housing or how much money the City has spent in any other area of your concern. You have a right to know how your tax money is spent.
You can also arrange FREE classes on how to navigate and be effective with the upcoming legislative session by visiting the Washington Legislative Information Center Web site. I have taken several classes and learned a great deal.
You can start organizing your neighborhoods and other interest groups on legislation you want your representatives to sponsor. You do not have to write the legislation in formal yourself ; the Office of Code Reviser does that part, but you do have to get the attention of your representative. When you organize at least 500 people, representatives tend to listen better. So if an issue really matters to you, organize well before the legislative session or any public hearing.