Letters to the Editor

The Missing Middle is the best use of space

In my book “Building Ghosts: A Month of Empty Commercial Properties in a Capital City, and the History that Haunts Them,” I use the metaphor of a phantom palace to describe not just the columns of the hidden past that rise invisibly around us, but also the wasted potential present and future uses of the places we pass by every day. This is true of the residential parts of town, too. The Missing Middle proposals would go a long way towards remedying this.

It would be a shame to let the spaces in between single-family homes (and above garages, etc) continue to go to waste, when they could be used to house not just the many incoming Olympia residents, but also those already here who don’t have enough housing options.

There is a third rail in the discussion of the Missing Middle that’s in the shadows, yet powers opposition to the plan: property rights. However, in the inverse of its usual manifestation, here people are objecting to how their neighbors might make use of their own property. Not only do their neighbors have the right to make the most pragmatic use of their land and structures, but we also, as a society, have a vested interest in encouraging the best use of all the infrastructure across this fine city we share.

I hope the city of Olympia adopts the Missing Middle proposals, and we see more vibrant humanity where once there were simply ghostly empty spots.