I'm writing in strong support of the city of Olympia's Missing Middle Plan. Faced with a 3 percent vacancy rate and average rents of $1,200/month, Olympia has become an expensive place to live. The 1/3 rule — hat your income should be three times your rent — means you have to bring home $43,000 per year to live here comfortably, yet over 40 percent of our residents don't.
As a member of the Planning Commission during the Comprehensive Plan Update in 2012, we looked at increasing density in the neighborhoods. First, city staff proposed corridors that ran up arterials and cut a dense swath of mixed-use zones along them. Some of us didn't like that approach and opted instead for "nodes" in order to centralize density around transit/commercial hubs. Either idea met similar fear-based rhetorical resistance as we hear today in opposition to the Missing Middle.
The facts are:
1. The Missing Middle plan doesn’t give big developers free rein. It enables small, local developers and homeowners to help address the housing crisis.
2. While some poor condition and uninhabitable homes may be demolished to make room for new housing, the threat to “starter homes” is unfounded. Because of the restricted market, Olympia simply doesn’t have starter homes to demolish.
3. More housing priced in a range that the average person can afford means fewer people at-risk of becoming homeless.
4. Missing Middle housing enhances the neighborhood planning process by allowing more opportunities to create neighborhood centers, where additional residents can support local businesses.