Olympia Council OKs 5-year plan for PBIA

OLYMPIA - The Olympia City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to accept a five-year plan for the Parking and Business Improvement Area, a downtown beautification and marketing district that businesses pay for.

However, the PBIA still will cease to exist at the end of the year if the council doesn’t take steps to revive it, the result of a sunset clause put in the ordinance that created the group four years ago.

Tuesday night’s vote caused some confusion among City Council members over process – whether to consider accepting or approving the plan before a public hearing Sept. 21 on whether to keep the district at all.

Some council members wanted to wait, including Karen Rogers, who cast the lone no vote on accepting the plan. Craig Ottavelli cast a reluctant yes.

The 70-block district was formed in 2006. The board of the organization, better known as the PBIA, unanimously supported asking the city to repeal the sunset clause in March, according to a staff report.

About 440 businesses in the 70-block PBIA district are required to pay yearly dues of $150 to $750, depending on the size and location. The City Council runs the PBIA but generally defers budget decisions to the organization’s advisory board, 15 volunteers who own businesses in the district.

Ruthie Snyder, the city’s liaison to the group, said the PBIA has raised $546,000 in five years; it has been spent on such items as a sidewalk-cleaning Green Machine, hanging flower baskets, a steam cleaner to eliminate graffiti, decorative artist benches and holiday decorations. The board also helps fund the city’s second probation crew, which performs cleanup tasks around town.