A recent Olympian editorial noted a new national housing and homelessness study finding the lack of housing supply to be the key factor in more people being priced out of housing. Since 1994, Olympia’s Comprehensive Plan has included housing goals and policies that were dependent on “missing middle” housing types to meet the predicted need for smaller housing types for all ages and incomes. These were to be built as much as possible within areas already developed. A sprawling development pattern is the death knell for a social, environmental and economically sustainable future in the Thurston region – the major conclusion of the 2013 Sustainable Thurston Plan.
Consider the advantages of less water and energy use by smaller housing types, especially those located where walking, biking and transit use is an option. Consider the economic advantage of full use of the existing street and utility infrastructure — one of the most costly upkeep responsibilities of any jurisdiction. Missing middle parking requirements should encourage the use of existing street edges to satisfy parking requirements for as many of the new housing types as possible. This would reduce the amount of stormwater runoff from any project, lower development costs, and slow car speeds in neighborhoods since on-street parking acts as a traffic calmer.
Olympia’s “Missing Middle” proposals for regulation changes should be adopted as soon as possible to rectify almost 25 years of housing promises that have gone unfulfilled.