"High concentrations of renters, BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of color], and low-income households in/near the Triangle subarea" are vulnerable to economic displacement when Olympia redevelops the Capital Mall Triangle subarea, as an urban center with more housing development, Olympia senior planner David Ginther said last week.
At a meeting on Thursday, November 17, Ginther updated the Olympia Land Use and Environmental Committee members on the Capital Mall Triangle subarea plan, saying that the Community Planning and Development (CP&D) had completed the existing conditions report of the area.
The 300-acre project is on the city's west side, bounded by Black Lake Boulevard, Cooper Point Road and Harrison Avenue.
In the Comprehensive Plan, Olympia has envisioned the subarea to maintain it as a regional shopping destination and more mixed-use housing.
"We don't want people to think we'll try to shove out any existing users. It's simply adding to and complementing the area,” Ginther commented.
The Triangle area and nearby places have various zones, including High-Density Corridor 3 (HDC-3) and HDC-4. The northern end is zoned for Residential Multifamily (RM), and on the northwest corner is a Professional Office/Residential Multifamily (PORM) zone.
Ginther noted that the vast majority of the area is zoned for HDC-4, which allows for different things, including high-density residential. "But we have not seen a development like the Comprehensive Plan envisions."
Rising property values
Using the Washington State Health Department disparities map, Ginther said it shows that the Triangle subarea and nearby places have high concentrations of low-income households.
He described the areas as "exceptionally low," which means people are cost-burdened for their rent, spending more than 30% of their income on rent.
"That is a significant issue, especially if you will develop there. It may eventually raise property values. That's a big concern," Ginther commented.
"We will be addressing displacement within the subarea plan," Ginther said but did not offer further information on how the city will deal with the issue.
Through Engage Olympia, the CP&D asked the public to comment on the project. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping comment period ran from October 24 through November 14.
According to Ginther, they received more than 100 comments from the public. He enumerated the top four community members' concerns, including addressing the area's land use category and transportation, climate, and stormwater.
"People wanted us to look at everything that relates to land use, including buildings, housing, structures, development regulations," Ginther said.
"We are looking at a 20-year horizon to address a number of subjects like land use, transportation, development, all sorts of regulations, environmental issues, and this will eventually become part of the comprehensive plan," he added.
He said the city received $250,000 from the Washington Department of Commerce to work towards transit development, which people will be able to commute to work, shop, and have the option to walk or take bikes to things they need to go.
According to Ginther, safety is one of the things they heard from people who want safer crossings, bike lanes, and pedestrian connections in the Triangle subarea and the surrounding places.
On October 20, CP&D hosted a first community workshop, where they collected input from people, including their interest in:
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