Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
In Olympia, it appears that the city planning staff, Planning Commission, and perhaps the City Council are repeating a mistake made in 1994.
When the city’s initial Comprehensive Plan was adopted, after passage of the Growth Management Act, it included an “upzone” of the entire Eastside neighborhood, from Eastside Street to Boulevard Road, to allow higher density housing. It was passed with little neighborhood involvement. A few months later, the residents found out what had happened, and demanded that the city repeal the changes.
The proposed “Missing Middle” rezone proposal is the same mistake all over again, but citywide. No neighborhood involvement. No actual study of locations suitable for denser development except for a consideration of proximity to existing bus routes (which Intercity Transit can change any time). No consideration of where the sewer, water, road, and school infrastructure can handle additional development. The proposal would apparently allow new apartments to be built with only septic systems.
A better proposal would study where the infrastructure is adequate for more development, and reduce development fees in those locations because impacts and costs are lower. And identify where upgrades will be expensive, and raise development fees in high-cost locations.
If adopted in the current form, the Missing Middle zoning changes will explode in the face of the City Council — maybe in months, maybe in a year or two. It will not be pretty.
We can do better.