This is a call out to anyone who has experienced problems with wetland/stream buffers on their city of Olympia property. The next time the Olympia Planning Department imposes such buffers on your land-use activities, ask them why they only enforce these regulations against tax-paying citizens but not the homeless.
I just went fishing for the first time in a few years along the Black Lake Ditch below Johnson Boulevard. Although I had intended to fish the whole system to its junction with Percival Creek, I gave up just past the railroad bridge because of the homeless encampments. The barking dogs and steely stares from shady characters somehow took away the aesthetics of an otherwise beautiful day.
Two encampments were just tents, but one consisted of a permanent wooden structure with a footprint of at least 400 square feet that I first saw several years ago. All three encampments were on city property and within 10-20 feet of the stream channel that would have at least a 150-foot buffer for any regulated land-use activities.
Now, I’m sympathetic to the plight of the homeless, but I don’t understand why they are allowed to violate environmental laws that landowners get reamed for, especially because landowners use toilets and pay to have their garbage hauled away. When the city imposes environmental buffers on landowners but not homeless encampments, this action should define the legal term of being “arbitrary and capricious." Hopefully someone will someday sue to force Olympia to enforce environmental law uniformly.