Residents of West Olympia, mostly from the SW neighborhood, gathered for dinner and a photo at the Mediterranean Breeze restaurant to celebrate delivery of a set of principles to guide changes to a “Capital Mall Triangle Subarea” selected by City Planners for new “transit-oriented” investment. Olympia’s Comprehensive Plan defines “Subarea Planning” as a collaboration between neighborhood communities and the City.
Learning that this Subarea Triangle encompassed Capital Mall and surrounding streets, neighbors on the westside met throughout January 2022 in zoom sessions to “identify the priorities, assets and challenges of the designated subarea” as stated in the Comp Plan. They also provided information to increase the planners’ understanding of the needs and goals of the community.
These included the following elements: 1) Prioritizing public space and community-oriented activity; 2) preserving existing housing and adding new housing affordable at below rising market rates; 3) recognizing the climate crisis with more trees and green design; 4) supporting public transportation, biking, walking and electric vehicles; 5) preserving and expanding locally owned businesses. The group created an interactive map showing the location of the Triangle Subarea and adding it to other information shared with households and businesses across the area. [You can request a copy of the principles and obtain a map of the Triangle Subarea.]
City planners, for their part, have identified their goal for the subarea as a “mixed-use, high-density urban center…that will address environmental impacts of development and community issues while reducing developer uncertainty.” The Planning Department has obtained a $350,000 grant to hire a new Senior Planner and to contract with an outside consultant.
The word “neighborhood” appears three times in the Comp Plan description of Subarea Planning—it appears nowhere in the planners’ Westside Subarea Planning Summary.
The work already done by the neighborhood community members (now known as the Triangle Asset Generation group or TAG) will be important for achieving the collaboration called for by Olympia’s Comprehensive Plan. There is an engaged community ready to work with the City and its consultant.