Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for Nov. 6

Proposed residential zoning changes in Lacey

The City of Lacey is proposing significant changes to residential zoning. This controversial issue with broad impacts has had very little opportunity for involvement by residents.

The proposed amendments are sweeping changes. Within the Lacey city limits, all land currently designated for 2-4 homes per acre would “upzone” to 3-6 homes per acre, a 50% increase in density. Some properties could double or triple their density by adding another house, or by replacing their house with a new duplex or triplex, or converting an existing single-family home to a duplex or triplex. More houses, more traffic, fewer trees.

City planners feel that neighborhood covenants, lot size, required street frontage and sewers will limit building. Those restrictions seem hard to quantify, as well as easily changeable criteria.

When you considered where to live, I imagine the first things you evaluated were the neighbors and the neighborhood; you would never expect that a neighbor could tear down his house and build a triplex. You would not expect the number of homes in your neighborhood to increase by half, or double or triple.

The Lacey City Council recently adopted an affordable housing strategy that includes these proposed amendments. I urge you to contact Ryan Andrews, Lacey Planning Manager, at 360-412-3190 and state your concerns about potential drastic changes to your existing neighborhood. Request that the city planners take a slower, more thoughtful approach to the housing problem and include residents in decisions that will directly affect their property, neighborhood and lives.

Patricia Williams, Lacey

SideWalk works

I am a volunteer with SideWalk, a nonprofit dedicated to housing the homeless in Thurston County. Since 2012, SideWalk has housed over 1,400 people. We have found that if we can support an individual in finding housing for 30 days, over 80% of these people will still be housed one year later.

Living on the street is extremely difficult. Life becomes much more manageable with the things most of us take for granted - a safe place to sleep, not having to haul all your possessions to keep them secure, a place to store and prepare food, a bathroom. Thirty days makes all the difference in the world.

SideWalk is an efficient, effective organization with five part-time paid staff and 60 volunteers. We support adults without dependent children with as little as $200 to find a landlord/homeowner who will put them up for 30 days. Last month, we ran out of funds on the 16th and still managed to house 27 people.

Homelessness is a complex issue. SideWalk’s operations will not end homelessness, but reminiscent of the fabled child throwing starfish into the ocean, there are many individuals SideWalk could house with more funding. Every month SideWalk runs out of funding; SideWalk never runs out of people seeking assistance securing housing.

Interested in volunteering or making a contribution? Have a spare bedroom or mother-in-law apartment you would rent to the right person? Check out SideWalk at www.walkthurston.org.

Dan Tennant, Olympia

It’s past time to act

Climate change is real. In the Pacific Northwest, we see record-breaking wildfires, threats to our water, and threats from sea level rise. These and other terrifying consequences are all happening because of human actions to produce greenhouse gases, forecast to rise to levels not seen in millions of years.

Governments continue doing more talking than acting. Worse, the Trump White House is reversing the beginning efforts of the Obama Administration to combat the effects of climate change, and Trump is doing other things very much to hurt instead of to help. It’s up, therefore, to local municipalities and us, the private citizens, to act.

The good news is that some local organizations are doing much more than just talking. The Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC), created in 1966 by the Thurston County Commission and the Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT), an independent non-profit formed in 2009, have been working with the county and the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater to implement specific, concrete measures to reduce greenhouse gases – making buildings green, expanding solar power use, incentivizing electric vehicle use, and closing loopholes to make energy use more efficient, to name only four major fronts for action.

Olympian readers should know they can make the crucial difference. Contact the TRPC. Tell the county and the three cities that you support the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan. Reach out to the Thurston Climate Action Team.

Our lives – life, itself – depends on what we do now.

Jonathan H. Kaplan, Tumwater
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