Letters to the Editor

Missing Middle won’t harm the environment

Opponents of Olympia’s proposed Missing Middle regulations raise concerns that impacts of increased density in single-family neighborhoods won’t be mitigated or will be environmentally harmful. This is simply not true.

Only single-family homes on older lots 200 feet from a sewer line are allowed on septic tanks. A house on a septic tank requires an acre with some exceptions. The Growth Management Act requires the city to provide for adequate infrastructure, including sewers, for projected growth and document this in its capital facilities plan. The city updates the plan annually to ensure this capacity.

Sidewalks are required for new infill lots. Frontage improvements including sidewalks, curb and gutter, street lights, and trees are required for development that generates 20 car trips per day. Triplexes and fourplexes require these improvements. The city allocates funding for adding sidewalks in neighborhoods where there were no requirements. The city annually spends about $1 million on sidewalk additions.

The Washington Environmental Council commended Olympia’s stormwater regulations and supports the Missing Middle proposal. WEC stressed new development and redevelopment will be required to infiltrate stormwater on site using best management practices, and these requirements are achievable with increased density. WEC concluded new infill development will achieve better treatment and flow control than past single-family development.

As former mayor and council member who worked for almost two decades to help create a framework for a sustainable city, I appreciate the city improving its environmental standards and its efforts to make the city more affordable.