Based on my 30-plus years of experience in the local housing industry, I believe there are four basic reasons why the Olympia City Council should approve the recommendation of its Missing Middle Committee:
1. The recommendations are a small, but important, step in helping to at least mitigate the impacts of the severe housing crisis facing this community. This problem starts with the homeless but extends to the 36 percent of homeowners who are cost-burdened or severely cost- burdened and other lower-income families who cannot buy or rent affordable housing in this community.
2. The committee was composed of a cross section of informed residents who analyzed and debated a long list of alternatives before making their recommendations. To the best of my knowledge, no other individual or group has ever made such a comprehensive and thorough study of this type. The committee fulfilled its charge by the council and warrants its approval.
3. The recommendations are consistent with the provisions of the state’s Growth Management Act, which governs efforts for greater density of the type being proposed.
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4, Olympia has a whole series of safeguards in place to prevent the dire consequences cited by critics of the recommendations. For openers, every building proposal of the type being recommended must go through the City’s permitting and inspection processes (which even some builders call “daunting”). Beyond that, there are design review, energy codes, statewide building codes, Olympia’s own codes and regulations, and the list goes on and on.