The Olympia City Council has approved the Downtown Strategy, which establishes a plan to achieve the city’s goals for addressing downtown development, housing, homelessness, parking, private investment, public spaces, historic preservation, waterfront attractions, bike-friendly streets, walkable landscapes, protection of scenic views and more.
The Downtown Strategy was passed with a 7-0 vote at Tuesday’s council meeting after more than a year and a half of public workshops, surveys and downtown stakeholder meetings. The strategy will implement the goals set forth in the city’s comprehensive plan, which serves as a 20-year blueprint for planning and policies.
The comprehensive plan is part of the city’s preparations for an expected population growth of about 20,000 residents, including 5,000 in downtown Olympia, in the next 20 years. That growth will generate more demand for housing, businesses, parking and lodging.
Senior planner Amy Buckler told the council Tuesday that nearly 3,500 people have participated in the process to develop the strategy, which takes a holistic look at downtown Olympia’s priorities.
The city will track progress through performance indicators, such as sales tax revenue, vacancy rates, parking occupancy, resident surveys, arts events and more. Buckler said the strategy will play a critical role during the annual budget process when estimating the cost and funding sources for projects.
“What we have now is a very visionary framework to help us communicate in a more effective way,” she said.
Mayor Cheryl Selby attended several meetings on the strategy and praised the feedback process to ensure the public’s concerns were addressed.
“You always had a way to test the audience’s temperature,” Selby said Tuesday. “Now it’s all together and has been vetted by a bigger group instead of a commission.”