Janine's Little Hollywood

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A blog about the local news and events of and around Olympia, Washington.
Updated: 35 weeks 4 days ago

Olympia Starts Sea Level Rise Planning

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 6:47pm

Above: Over 100 interested community members attended the City of Olympia's annual sea level rise report to the community, delivered by Andy Haub, the city's water resources director, at the Olympia Center on February 8. Olympia is starting a coordinated sea level rise response plan with the Port of Olympia and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance.
By Janine GatesLittle Hollywoodhttp://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com
“This is going to go on forever…this will be our future,” said Andy Haub, City of Olympia water resources director, about the city's planning for sea level rise. 
Speaking to the city’s citizen utility advisory committee on Thursday evening, Haub provided an update on the city’s sea level rise plan and the committee's role in its implementation. 

The citizen advisory committee is charged with overseeing the city’s sea level rise planning process.
Looking at a draft plan schedule that included typical public outreach tools employed by the city, the group was quiet and seemingly a bit daunted by the responsibility. 
When a member questioned how they should go about their role, Haub admitted that there is no clear recipe.
“You’ll have to use your collective judgement,” Haub said, acknowledging that sea level science is evolving, but there are strategies the city can draw upon from around the country and the world.

They agreed that the ultimate governance for the plan, whatever that plan turns out to be, needs to be carried through the whole process, and not left to the end.
At its regular Tuesday meeting, April 11, the Olympia city council is expected to sign an interlocal agreement with the Port of Olympia and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance for the planning and assessment of sea level rise issues.
The city, Port of Olympia, and LOTT all own properties and have responsibilities in the area where sea level rise is expected to inundate downtown Olympia.
An international engineering firm, AECOM, has been chosen to help the city determine the plan’s scope of work and ensure a robust public involvement process.
The scope of work will focus on the development of a sea level rise plan and provide recommendations for capital projects, funding needs, implementation schedules, and emergency response protocols.
The plan will include a full analysis of options for responding to various sea level rise scenarios over a 100 year time frame, and look for ideas from other areas of the United States and the world.
The city, port, and LOTT will divide the costs for consulting services. The port and LOTT will pay up to $75,000 each and the city will pay at least $75,000. Total costs for consulting are not to exceed $250,000 without further negotiation and approval.
According to science based research and multiple reports, there is no doubt sea level rise will impact downtown Olympia as we know it.

Thad Curtz, former chair of the Utility Advisory Committee citizen advisory committee, was one of several community members who expressed concerns on Thursday about the plan’s scope of work.

“The staff presentation said that we’re eventually going to have eight feet of sea level rise. We ought to be thinking about (a plan) with respect to earthquake risk. If we have four feet of sea water outside of whatever we build, and we have an earthquake that impacts a dike or whatever, we’re going to have very serious costs. We need to be planning to deal with that.

“We’re talking about restoration of Budd Inlet at the same time we’re talking about seriously altering the shoreline from Priest Point Park to West Bay. We also have the whole Capitol Lake process going on. Those planning processes ought to be related to each other.
“We [also ought] to have a conversation about setbacks. How much room do we need between buildings and the shore if we’re going to have to deal with eight feet? We can’t just talk about sea level rise as if it’s something by itself,” said Curtz, who said he intends to stay involved with the conversation.
Former city planning commission member Judy Bardin said that adaptation for sea level rise will be a huge and costly undertaking, noting that city staff estimates that sea level rise adaptation for downtown Olympia will cost in excess of $60 million, and the pumping system alone could be $37 million.
“If the public is going to be asked to pay for sea level rise mitigation in any way, they need to be brought into the conversation now, especially in the scoping of the plan…we need to involve our neighborhoods and the environmental community,” she said.

Helen Wheatley of Olympia asked staff and the utility advisory committee members to think of all people who are impacted by utility decisions and plans.
“It includes everyone from low income apartment dwellers, to treaty tribe members struggling to preserve and enhance salmon habitat in the face of over a century of catastrophic assaults on the ecosystem,” she said.

Wheatley urged that the plan take a “safety first” approach that considers the realities of who lives there, who will live there in the future, and how we live.

“Is it fair or right to drive people into the flood zone because they don’t own a house?” she asked.

“Sea level rise will not happen overnight, but its progression will be relentless. We can choose to transition ourselves into a newer city by moving uphill. How long we hang on to different parts of downtown will involve tough financial, emotional, technical, and political decisions,” said Walt Jorgensen of Tumwater.

Sea Level Rise Community Update
Above: In what has become a familiar scene, the city's public works team, with Andy Haub, City of Olympia water resources director, in yellow jacket, stationed themselves near the Oyster House restaurant on Sylvester Street in downtown Olympia on the morning of March 10, 2016, to monitor the surge from nearby Budd Inlet.
Haub gave his annual sea level rise update to the community on February 8 at the Olympia Center. Over 100 people were in attendance.
Haub described how the city is currently needing to manage four to five significant downtown flooding incidents per year. To add to that scenario, downtown Olympia appears to be sinking at the rate of one inch per decade. 

A situation of low atmospheric pressure creates exceptional high tides, turning moderate tides into high tides, and high tides into extreme tides.
“That whole dynamic is absolutely fascinating…the intensity of storms will increase. Our downtown streets are flat, not deep, so water will spread far,” said Haub, who has long reported that the city could manage one foot, or maybe two feet of water, but no more than that. 
Vertical gates, flood barriers, elevated landscapes, and the strategic placement of planter box barriers will only work up to a certain point.
“We’re planning for two feet of sea level rise by 2050, but with two feet of water flooding downtown every other day, it just won’t work for long,” he said.
Audience members were at all different levels of understanding about sea level science, and peppered Haub with questions about sea level rise projections for downtown, Budd Inlet flood dynamics, and the city’s plan in relationship to other plans, such as the multi-year, $250,000 study called the Downtown Strategy.
The Downtown Strategy has a 20 year planning horizon, leaving many to wonder why the city is encouraging downtown development, and how sea level rise fits in.
Although port commissioners and city council members were present in the audience, Haub stood alone, fielding questions while facilitating a complicated conversation during his PowerPoint presentation. Lacking support, he lost control of the meeting about 20 minutes into the program.
Frustrating some audience members, Haub unquestionably defended the city’s stance that downtown must be saved. Several audience members expressed their opinion that the best solution is to retreat to higher ground. Haub responded that a retreat is not consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Haub did not have answers for many questions, including the impact of sea water salinity on downtown’s underground and above ground electrical systems.
“Downtown is vulnerable. We have to accept and acknowledge the risk. This plan will start addressing how we balance and manage new development. There’s a way we can do it, it’s just not cohesive at this point,” he said, adding that the city has a lot of investments in downtown Olympia, most notably the region's LOTT water and wastewater system, which is valued at $1.2 billion.
Above: During times of high tide and favorable atmospheric pressure, certain areas of downtown Olympia are inundated with storm surge from Budd Inlet, overloading storm water systems. The area on State Street in downtown Olympia near the former Les Schwab tire store building at 210 State Street experiences flooding several times a year. The vacant building lies mere feet from Budd Inlet and is now owned by developer Walker John, who proposes to turn the property into a restaurant and 40 unit housing development. Photo taken March 10, 2016.
For numerous articles about sea level rise and flooding incidents in downtown Olympia, the management of Capitol Lake, current sea level rise projections for Olympia with photos and maps, go to Little Hollywood, http://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and type key words into the search button.

The city's Utility Advisory Committee meets on the first Thursday of the month, at 5:40 p.m., in Olympia City Hall, Room 207, 601 4th Avenue East. For more information, go to www.olympiawa.gov.

Olympia Temple Saves Star of David

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 11:51pm

Above: Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia points toward a broken window pane on the Star of David, recently obtained from the congregation's original Temple, which was built in 1938. The Star will undergo a full restoration.“I had no idea what color it was – I just saw it from afar. I never realized it was green and purple. It’s beautiful,” said Goldstein.
By Janine GatesLittle Hollywoodhttp://janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com
Temple Beth Hatfiloh just accomplished a financial goal to preserve an 80 year old stained glass Star of David, recently removed from its original synagogue in downtown Olympia.
Through a brief GoFundMe effort, $1,608 was raised by 41 people in 13 days. The goal was to reach $1,500 goal by mid-June to receive a matching grant.
“The funds raised were not necessarily just from our congregation. I didn’t recognize some of the names of those who donated. Some may have been interested in historic preservation. Some I knew and some were from other faith communities,” said Temple Beth Hatfiloh’s Rabbi Seth Goldstein, in an interview with Little Hollywood on Friday.
“It was amazing. It’s not like this is just for us. This is for the whole community,” he said.
The Star of David is an important piece of Olympia and Washington State Jewish history.
It is in need of overall restoration and one window pane is broken, but that will be easy to replace, Goldstein said. After its restoration, it will be put on display in the synagogue.
Above: The original Temple Beth Hatfiloh at 802 South Jefferson in downtown Olympia as seen on Friday. The building is currently for sale and under contract with an undisclosed party, says the property’s listing agent.
Established in 1937, Temple Beth Hatfiloh serves the Jewish community of greater Olympia.
In 2004, the growing congregation sold the single story, wooden building at 802 South Jefferson to Calvin Johnson of K Records, and moved three blocks west to their more spacious, current location at 201 8th Avenue.
A clause built into the Temple’s sale of the building to K Records, and any future owner, states that if there were any major renovation to the building or a demolition, the synagogue would retain possession of the Star of David and the building’s four memorial cornerstones.
“It was bittersweet when we moved, knowing we couldn’t hold onto the building. We were glad to sell it to Calvin, who we knew wouldn’t knock it down. We obviously had no control over what people did to the building, but we could at least include this one piece into the contract, reclaim the Star, and bring it back to our community,” said Goldstein.
A few months ago, someone with K Records unexpectedly informed Rabbi Goldstein that the area around the Star of David had structural issues, causing leakage issues. The Star was removed, and the area was boarded up.
Rabbi Goldstein walked to the building, thinking he would just carry the Star back to the Temple.
“It was a lot bigger than I thought and I had to go back and get the car,” he laughed. 
The Star measures about 3 ¾ feet in diameter, and was scheduled to be picked up by professional stained glass restorers on Friday.
When it is returned, Temple staff will plan a dedication ceremony of its restoration in memory of Ben Bean, who passed away this past summer. Bean was present at the Temple’s original dedication in 1938. His father, Earl Bean, headed the Temple’s building committee, along with Jacob Goldberg and Rube Cohn.
There is no place to install the Star in the current Temple on the outside of the building, so it will be placed in an interior alcove facing the front doors of the synagogue.

Above: A close up of the Temple's stained glass Star of David with a broken window pane.
According to a Thurston County historic property inventory report, the original Temple was built in 1938 using the Centralia synagogue's architectural plans. At the time it was built, the Olympia area Jewish congregation numbered sixteen. The property was purchased for $537.12.
Above: The siding of the former Temple shows damage from a fire on the Fourth of July last year. The cornerstone memorials on the building are for Isaac and Minnie Cohn, Helen Bean, Fanny Goldberg, and Getz Neishuler.
Membership grew to about 80 families during the 1970s and 1980s, due, in part, to the establishment of The Evergreen State College. 

The congregation later affiliated itself with the Reconstructionist Movement in 2001. Reconstructionists define themselves as progressive, pluralistic, democratic, and communal, according to the Temple’s website.
The Temple’s membership now numbers about 160 families and serves other community members as well, said Rabbi Goldstein.

Acknowledging the many sweet memories associated with the original Temple, Goldstein said that the congregation once explored keeping the original Temple as an annex.

“We even thought, for about five minutes, that we could move it to our current location, similar to what the synagogue in Boise did,” Goldstein laughed. “They moved their building - it’s gorgeous - but, for us, it just wasn’t feasible.” 

The building was damaged in a Fourth of July fire in 2016, and is in need of repairs. K Records moved out, and the building is currently for sale. The listing price is $399,000 and is now under contract, said Brad Kisor, the property’s Coldwell Banker listing agent, on Friday. Kisor declined to disclose the interested buyer.
The building is listed on the City of Olympia’s inventory of historic properties, but is not on any local or national historic register.
Temple Beth Hatfiloh has a wide variety of spiritual life and learning events and classes for its members and the community.
The Temple’s popular Blintzapalooza, an annual fundraiser for local nonprofit organizations, is on Sunday, March 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 201 8th Avenue.
Temple members and community volunteers will serve blintzes and bagels with lox and cream cheese in the synagogue’s social hall. A used book sale in the synagogue’s second floor classrooms will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Frozen blintzes by the dozen and canvas grocery totes will also be for sale. Only cash and checks will be accepted.
The event also features a cooking/baking competition for the region’s best kugels. Awards designed by local artist Jean Mandeberg will be presented to the bakers of the winning kugels. Judges for this year's competition are Abbie Rose of Bagel Brothers, Jeremy Schwartz of San Francisco Street Bakery, and Lisa David of Nineveh Assyrian Food Truck.
The beneficiaries of the proceeds from this year's event are Cielo Project/Radio Ranch, Nisqually Land Trust, Thurston County Teen Council of Planned Parenthood, and League of Women Voters of Thurston County.
For more information about Temple Beth Hatfiloh, go to www.bethhatfiloh.com or on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/bethhatfiloh

First Day of Spring 2017

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:38pm

Above, left to right: Reed Tomita, 5, with his cousin, Connor Stephenson, 4 ½, and Alexander Kahn, 4, had a blast creating and chasing bubbles on the first day of spring at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia.
By Janine GatesLittle Hollywoodhttp://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com
Folks aged four to ninety braved uncertain weather to welcome the first day of spring at the 25th annual community bubble blow. 

Held near “The Kiss” statue on Percival Landing in downtown Olympia, the celebration goes on, no matter what the weather - come wind, rain, hail, sleet, snow, high tide, sea-level rise, or maybe even sun. 

Luckily, the rain held off during the noontime event and a good time was had by all.
Several batik windsocks from the nearby Procession of the Species studio added to the festive frivolity. Bubbles and bubble wands are provided.

Above: Connor Stephenson, 4 ½ , with his mom, Susan, is amazed by a monster bubble.
In contrast to the frenzied energy of several children, first-time bubble maker Dawud Al-Malik demonstrated a calm demeanor. His strategy served him well, earning his bubbles several ooh’s and aah’s from supportive bubble makers.
“The technique that I use to create the bubbles is being in harmony with the forces of the wind,” he explained as he held his arm high. 

“I was fortunate enough to get the right angle with the wind, turning the wrist slowly,” he added with a smile.
Above: First time bubble maker Dawud Al-Malik of Olympia was in harmony with the forces of the wind on Monday.

The annual event is sponsored by People-Who-Know-We-Live-In-A-Great-Place.