Isthmus Meeting on Tuesday

Sunset Ice CrystalsRemember the City Council meeting at the Washington Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday! It's a public hearing on the Isthmus rezone, which has already been recommended by the Planning Commission. Doors open at 5pm and it is scheduled to get underway at 6pm. There is much at stake, maybe even the future novelty of this city. Do you want Olympia to homogenize and conform? Or do you want something different for this special place?

At a time of massively increasing economic disparity between rich and poor, is the development of a luxury condominium wise, or even appropriate? Smart Growth sounds great to me. But the Isthmus [and the rest of the city] must be preserved for the benefit of all - it must be kept affordable for all - not just made so only a few can afford something, which the vast majority cannot.

Not everything revolves around finance and property. The true path to happiness is love, and a meaningful sense of work and belonging in community - not materialism. The Isthmus would be a perfect place to monumentalize that concept. A public park in the sacred heart of Olympia. A place to learn, to relax, and to memorialize our relationships as individuals, and as a society, with the natural world upon which we depend...

I created an Isthmus photo set, which I will embed in a slide show below the fold. But first let me leave with you some excerpts from an article I recently posted on In the Course of Events:

Opposition to Isthmus Rezone

...In Olympia, Washington the Isthmus is widely regarded, if not commonly regarded, as a sacred space. It is the heart of Olympia. It is where the fresh water of the Deschutes River, which originates from a glacier upon the majestic slopes of Mount Rainier, meets the deep waters of Budd Inlet and the Puget Sound - and eventually the Pacific Ocean and the World Ocean. The Isthmus is where a person can view the State Capitol Campus in one direction, and the Olympic Mountains in the other.

This area symbolizes the connection that exists between Olympia and the World...

I envision a park in this space...

The park would serve the people in many ways. It would provide for recreation. It would provide an avenue for education about the environment, about ecology and sustainability. It would also attract people to downtown - as residents, as visitors, as investors.

Olympia has a lot of novel features. It is a novel city in many respects. A park feature on the isthmus would only improve these aspects.

Part of my vision, and I think it is shared amongst a considerable population of Olympia residents, is for a dense urban core juxtaposed with an open park area, to include areas that would be semi-wilderness, as well as more traditional recreational features: walking trails, playgrounds, fields for games, etc.

Imagine: 15,000 more people living AND working downtown. People living within walking, bicycling or wheel chair distance to their work place. New schools. New businesses.

A park feature on the isthmus is the perfect opportunity to initiate that process. A park feature, and the denial of a proposed rezone, is the perfect way to begin to move toward a vision of true, functional, sustainability.

...the public interest outranks and trumps private interests, especially in matters that involve zoning.

For more information, please see Isthmus 2008 [my flickr isthmus photoset]


The rezone has been proposed by Triway Enterprises.

One group, OLY 2012, has formed to provide nuanced support for the rezone. OLY 2012 advocates Smart Growth.

Several groups are working to oppose the rezone:

People for a Participatory City

Friends of the Waterfront

20/20 Vision Olympia

Olympia Capitol Park Foundation

You can find more information here on OlyBlog: Isthmus 2008 (even though it's not an isthmus),

And at Works in Progress.

Here's the Isthmus slide show. Not all of these are of the Isthmus, but they are related:

Isthmus 2008, a photoset on Flickr

[addition: I am concerned about how the rezone fits in with a pattern of what seem like efforts to gentrify Olympia. Gentrification could hurt Olympia by making it less affordable and/or desirable for the "natives."]