Isthmus Re-Rezone Public Hearing

City Council and Executive Staff Assembled: Olympia, Washington, Interim Isthmus Re-Rezone Pubilc Hearing, Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympia, Washington - The Olympia City Council and Executive Staff presided over a public hearing regarding the Isthmus interim rezone. About 35 people made comments. I would estimate there were about 80 people in attendance. The meeting was held at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

At the City Council's first meeting back in the beginning of January, the Council took assertive and decisive action to revert zoning regulation on the Isthmus back to a 35 foot height limit. Last year, after a lengthy and divisive process, certain parcels on the Isthmus had been rezoned to 90 feet in order to allow development of a luxury condominium. This year's January vote in favor of reverting to the earlier 35 foot building height zoning regulation was unanimous, 7-0.

Isthmus RE-Rezone Hearing Tomorrow


There will be a public hearing on the newly re-re-zoned Isthmus parcels tomorrow evening, February 23. The hearing will be at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Doors open for registration at 5 pm. Testimony begins at 6 pm. Registration to testify closes at 7 pm. All the pertinent details are on the City Website: Isthmus Rezone Public Hearing

Speaking of Views...

All this talk has lead me to wonder... What are your favorite places around town to stop and really watch Olympia? Where do you go when you want to talk it all in and watch the tiny headlights crawl up and down the 4th Ave bridge? East Side water tower?? Capital Campus?? Where?

Extremely curious

I read Berd's latest thread today and then went and read the daily O's coverage of it, and came to my usual "eh whatever" that I normally feel about the isthmus and all of the issues that go along with it.

Later I was struck by lightning: So many times I've heard people complain about the sprawl, the sprawl is evil, turning into Lacey, etc. etc. but here we have a building plan and people don't want the building to be over 35 ft. Does this make sense to anyone else? For my part, downtown is mostly just a place that I drive through when the freeway looks jammed, but some people prefer to actually live down there right?

Even throwing the isthmus out of the equation. If a building is erected in downtown that is over 35 ft, won't it obstruct someones view at some point? If we want more things built in downtown Oly (besides the current buildings, some of which seem to be in shambles) aren't we going to block somebodys view?

Council Moves on Isthmus

View from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial, on the Washington State Capitol Campus, in Olympia, Washington, Photo from December 2, 2009

I'm kind of speechless after tonight's City Council meeting. The new Council made motions on, and passed, three separate items pertaining to the Isthmus parcels that were rezoned in 2009.

The first motion called for City Staff to draft an ordinance that would effectively repeal the rezone, and make it so land use standards would be set to the same status they were prior to January 1st, 2009.

Passage of this ordinance would require a public hearing to precede a Council vote. This motion passed the seven member Council without dissent.

The second motion was to withdraw a request to the Department of Ecology for an amendment to the State Shoreline Master Program. This motion passed without dissent as well.

The third motion was to decide on official City support Karen Fraser's Senate Bill (and its House of Representatives companion bill) relating to Isthmus land-use.

Vote was divided on this motion, 4 in favor (Buxbaum, Hyer, Rogers and Roe) and three opposed (Mayor Mah, Ottavelli and Strub.)

I don't have all the details. I'm still trying to figure out what it all means and what will happen next. For more information, watch the meeting video, and I am sure there will be more reports forthcoming!


Janine Gates reports on the Council's Isthmus re-direction: Newly Elected Olympia City Councilmembers Coordinate Coup on Isthmus Issue

Christian Hill reports from The Olympian: Isthmus plan in doubt
OLYMPIA: New council will revisit 2009 decision to allow taller buildings

Larida Passage Design Review Meeting: A Report from Little Hollywood

Janine Gates has a nice report about the Design Review Board Meeting and Public Hearing regarding the Larida Passage / Pearl Water proposal.

Here's a link the story and a short excerpt:

Design Review Board Hears Larida Passage Application - Board Continues Meeting To December 17th

By Janine Gates

After receiving two and a half hours of information and testimony, the city's citizen advisory committee charged with reviewing the design of Triway Enterprises’ Larida Passage project decided to continue tonight’s meeting to Thursday, December 17th.

City senior planner Cari Hornbein gave an overview of the project with staff recommendations, the applicant gave its presentation, represented by project manager Jeannette Hawkins and three others, and an overflow gathering of concerned citizens gave testimony until 9:00 p.m. Seventeen members of the public gave testimony against the project design. Two approved of the project: former city councilmembers Holly Gadbaw and Joan Machlis.

“Normally, we get zero members of the public….” started Design Review Board chair Thomas Carver, looking out at the crowd. The nine member board had two absent members.

click on link above to read the rest.

Oly2012 Editorial

by Enid Layes The recent election in Olympia followed the pattern of elections elsewhere in these troubled economic times. It was a tough year for incumbents. Two of our finest council persons were defeated by, in my opinion, far less qualified challengers. Joan Machlis and Jeff Kingsbury are smart, thoughtful, progressive and courageous individuals; they always did their homework. I didn’t agree with every action or decision, but admired their work ethic and their integrity. They both deserve our very sincere thanks for serving the best interests of Olympia during their tenures on our City Council. The election, however, provides a wake-up call for those of us who consider ourselves “progressives” -- citizens who want to create a liveable, economically vibrant, sustainable Olympia. Are we really going to continue to let the voters I call the “non-progressives” be the voice of our city? The groups opposing revitalization of downtown keep saying that state and federal governments and foundations will pay for repairs to Percival Landing, new parks and other amenities. This sounds like the cargo cult of the South Seas or the mythical peace dividend. The non-progressives were highly motivated to cast their ballots and they got out their votes. They won, but I refuse to believe they represent a majority of voters. In a city with 27,669 registered voters, only 15,593 actually cast ballots on November 3rd – a 56% turnout! However, the narrow defeat (96 votes) for Joan Machlis, in particular, points out that the voters, despite their frustration with the economy, were not overwhelmingly in favor of tossing out incumbents who voted for the isthmus rezone. The election of Jeff Davis and Bill McGregor to the Port Commission shows that the larger community remains committed to thoughtful economic development in the heart of Olympia.

Some Photos

A few photos, from Watershed Park, of Mount Rainier, on the Isthmus, and of a downtown construction site.

Watershed Park
Watershed Park, December 3, 2009

Wild Mercy

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wildness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.

by Terry Tempest Williams

A coupla photos from today...

Capitol Lake, Isthmus, Budd Inlet, Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound
Capitol Lake, Isthmus, Budd Inlet, Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound seen from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier
seen from Sunrise Park

Comments in re: Larida Passage Project File Number 09-1035

Here's a comment I just submitted in regard to a building permit request for Larida Passage. It is edited slightly for syntax and clarity. In addition to the comments below, I want to add another reason to not grant the permit; it's my understanding that there is currently litigation underway over the rezone. That's not to mention that there are also a number of regulatory hurdles to clear in regard to environmental and aesthetic impacts.

-- So, this is my understanding of the situation in relation to the building permit request, please chime in to correct if I am wrong about any of that! I am not an expert in the development and planning industries. I suppose that it makes sense that a permit request would precede the public hearing process regarding impacts.

To:        Cari Hornbeim, Senior Planner
City of Olympia
Olympia, WA 98507-1967

From:    Berd Whitlock
[address redacted]

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