OLYMPIA - Improving downtown and preventing homelessness rose to the top of 12 priorities for 2011 that the Olympia City Council adopted Tuesday night.
Council members, who developed the goals during their annual retreat two weekends ago, didn’t elaborate on them during a Tuesday night meeting, which lasted less than an hour.
City Manager Steve Hall said that city staff would put together a work program based on the priorities in the next several weeks. Some could be accomplished this year; others are more long-term issues, he said.
Here’s a closer look at what the Council wants to accomplish:
• Increase commerce in downtown Olympia. Goals include entering into a “results based” contract with the Thurston Economic Development Council, supporting food carts and mobile vendors, and trying to maximize investment in downtown.
• Create a safer and more welcoming downtown for all. Goals include clean, maintained sidewalks; discouraging people from blocking sidewalks; and connecting social outreach workers with the general public.
• Identify and prioritize blighted buildings in downtown for removal and mediation. Goals include adopting a policy and identifying a short list of properties that get priority for redevelopment, possibly by the city buying them.
• Focus on reducing homelessness.
• Assess and, as needed, renegotiate intergovernmental agreements.
• Establish communication protocols with the Squaxin Island Tribe. Topics include the 2012 canoe journey and West Bay activities.
• Complete the Comprehensive Plan and Shoreline Master Program updates, ensuring that the plans create more “water quality friendly land use,” are “easy to read and understand” and are “based on best available science.”
• Encourage food sustainability and security.
• Engage the community to help find funding for Artspace housing. The council made it a goal in 2009 to lure Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, to build artist workspace/housing in Olympia. But the council in 2010 was less enthusiastic about the next step in that effort, which would have meant spending $42,000 for a market study that Artspace required. The item did not make the council’s 2010 goals.
• Work with neighborhood associations to form a “Daylight Our Sidewalks” initiative, and hold a one-day celebration.
• Reduce jargon in city communications. This would include reformatting city staff reports to make them easier to understand, and using easier-to-understand language in the comprehensive plan and other documents.
• Develop a responsible, sustainable 2012 budget, making it accessible and understandable.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org