Flower baskets are the answer

downtown

The Olympian comes out strongly in favor of a Business Improvement District (BID) for downtown Olympia. Business owners would be taxed between $300 and $750 per year, totaling $130k annually:

That money would be spent to promote downtown as a shopping destination and for other improvements such as graffiti removal or hanging flower baskets, more benches or construction of a parking garage.

To suggest that such a small amount of money will help with the "construction of a parking garage" is somewhat absurd (unless the help consists of buying coffee for the construction workers). It also seems disingenuous to claim that there will be more benches installed downtown. Business have already removed most benches because they don't want to attract street people. As we know, removing grafitti won't end grafitti. Thus, we are left with flower baskets as the tool that the BID intends to use to "promote downtown as a shopping destination."

If I owned a business downtown, I wouldn't want to contribute to the BID either. Ooops. Looks like payment would be manditory:

Now comes word that about 60 downtown business owners have signed a petition opposing the formation of the district. Opponents say they would prefer a voluntary assessment. They also object to the fact that, under the existing plan, businesses that refuse to pay the annual assessment would be turned over to a collection agency.

Voluntary assessments are a problem because they would not provide a reliable revenue source. Secondly, it's important that all businesses unite in the quest to revitalize the downtown core. It's a shared responsibility, and that means businesses should share in the investment.

As for the collection agency, it's appropriate to draw parallels to the neighborhood association again. Residents who don't pay their homeowners' assessment can have liens placed on their property. The business assessment is a tax, and owners have an obligation to pay it like any other tax.

Hmmm. This doesn't sound like it will encourage many new small businesses to start up in downtown Olympia. On the contrary, it sounds like one more burden that would prevent businesses (especially small ones) from even considering the idea.

We should be talking about this!

The various races for city council have been pretty boring lately, and this worries me. Whether you are a progressive or a conservative, there is reason to be involved. Doug Mah is talking about community building and working with social groups to reform downtown. Ira Knight wants to work with the police to create zero tolerence policies for loitering, panhandling, graffitti, etc. Silence from John Bell so far leaves Joe Hyer with no competition and I expect it to remain this way. This election is critical for our community, the Olympian is serving as not a community newspaper, but as a mouthpiece for the ODA and their agenda. Joe Hyer is a former president of the ODA (Olympia Downtown Association), Jeff Kingsbury is the current president of the ODA. Should they both be on the council together will they represent the Olympia community or will we see them strongly advocating for large businesses? A number of smaller, and some not so small, businesses in Olympia are against the ODA's Business Improvement District (BID), some who signed originally want to take back their support, but it may well pass regardless. Under the BID, even if a business doesn't agree to it, they will be taxed for it. If they don't pay the tax, the city will fine them. Is this an example of a free market?

We should be talking about this!

New features

I've added a couple of new features:

  • The video interview of Mayor Foutch is now accessible on the sidebar, as are the interviews with folks living on the street.
  • I've added an rss feed of blogs that mention "Olympia". It is located below the links section on the sidebar.
  • I've been slowly accumulating links to local blogs, resources, and music, and I'd appreciate any new links that folks know of that I haven't yet run across.
Any comments on the layout or funciton of the site would be welcome.

A debate?

I notice a lot of conversation going on in the comments about the merits (or lack thereof) of the "Community Values" Ordinance. I wonder if the commenters wouldn't mind consolidating their thoughts into a post for the front page (I'm thinking of TFI & Rob Richards, but anyone would be welcome to contribute). Waddaya think?

Another Lowe's?

Do we really need a third Lowe's in the area? The Olympian:

mapThe home improvement chain has a store on Martin Way and submitted plans for a 166,000-square-foot store at College Street and Yelm Highway in Lacey. A west-side Olympia site would be its third in the county.

First book for local author

Newsday.com reports on a new book by Olympia resident Jim Lynch.

book coverWe're eating lunch at Seattle's Pike Place Market, high above the life-choked waters of Puget Sound, talking about Lynch's debut novel. "The Highest Tide" (Bloomsbury, $23.95) tells the story of Miles O'Malley, a 13-year-old boy who discovers a lot of misdirected sea life near his house in Olympia, Wash. Miles, a marine biology prodigy, knows what belongs in his part of the sound - sand dollars, clams, crabs - and what doesn't belong. For instance, a giant squid with a single eye the size of a dinner plate. When he finds just such a rare squid on a midnight reconnaissance, Miles becomes a local hero, a media attraction, and then even a kind of minor-league environmental saint.

More reviews here, here, and here.

Meet the author: Tacoma Public Library AUTHOR Series Jim Lynch, author of “The Highest Tide,

Americans displaced by Katrina arrive in Olympia

Read about families that have landed in the Olympia area from the Gulf Coast here, here, and here.

Blogging the forums?

This morning's short article in the Olympian got me thinking about the series of upcoming candidate forums, and that more of happened should be shared here.

I'm going to blog the results of the forum next Wednesday.

There are three other forums that I know of:

Thurston County Progressive Network and South Puget Environmental Clearinghouse Forum, September 27 at the General Admin. Building Auditorium (210 11th Ave. SW – 11th & Columbia Street) from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

League of Women Voters, October 8. Other than the date, I don't have any other information on this one.

And, something called the "South Sound Forum" on October 11. I don't know the sponsors, time or locaiton, but its up on Phyllis Booth's wesbite.

Anyone willing to attend and share their views here?

UPDATE: I just realized that SPEECH president Keith Cotton just signed up to olyblog last night. Maybe he can share his views post-SPEECH forum (hint hint).

An Olympian returns from Iraq

Jeff DeLaCruz, a photographer and Olympia native, has returned from Iraq. Read about him here and here.

BuyBlue redux

The BuyBlue website has been revamped to include user ratings and other features. Contrary to my assumptions, it turns out that 7-eleven is very blue. I also heard a rumor yesterday about Venezuela distributing gas through 7-eleven. Does any one know about this?

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