Proposed West Bayview Landing building project brings out Olympia residents advocating for ecological restoration before development


On Wednesday, Olympia held an informational meeting on the West Bayview Landing project that would build 242 residential units and public amenities along the shoreline of Budd Inlet.

Associate planner Jackson Ewing outlined the permit review process, including the need for a shoreline substantial development permit due to the project’s proximity to the shoreline.

The proposed project would include building a senior housing community comprising 242 residential units and 161 parking stalls in three residential towers with a fourth building holding office and community space at 200 West Bay Drive NW.

The project also features a trail along the waterfront and restoration of the native vegetation upland.

Ewing explained that zoning is an urban waterfront, which allows mixed-use development and higher heights.

Project applicant Jean Morgan from Morgan Design Group gave an overview of the building layout for the West Bay Landing development. She explained there would be four buildings in total. The smallest is the Cultural and Welcome Center at the south end, comprising around 43,000 square feet with 19 parking stalls and five residential units.

Moving north, Tower 2 would have 59 units and be approximately 58,000 square feet. Tower 3 includes 64 units and is 67,000 square feet. The largest, Tower 4, has 114 units across 124,000 square feet.

Each tower is designed as five stories of residential units. Morgan noted the buildings are spaced out to maintain view corridors to the waterfront from West Bay Drive. A public trail along the shoreline is planned, connecting through the site.

Bryan Park, president of the Pacific Northern Construction Company which owned the property, said the proposed project aims to create a mixed-income senior living community. He mentioned the development intends to offer independent living for seniors, with about 20% of units set aside for those earning 50% or less of median income. Most other units would target below 80% of AMI (Area Median Income).

A traffic impact analysis conducted by TENW Consulting found that senior living units typically generate less traffic than a comparable market-rate development.

Jeff Schramm of TENW said they evaluated the West Bayview Landing project on what the transportation and traffic impacts would be from the development on the surrounding road network. They also identified measures to mitigate those effects.

He said a key mitigation measure is a new roundabout proposed at the intersection of West Bay Drive and Schneider Hill Road. This roundabout will improve safety and traffic flow at this location. Additionally, road widening and improvements along West Bay Drive through the project frontage will bring the road up to city standards.

Multi-modal transportation options are also part of the plan, according to Schramm. A 10-foot multi-use path, six-foot sidewalk, and five-foot bike lane will be constructed on West Bay Drive to accommodate various transportation modes. Access from these facilities to the planned public shoreline trail will integrate the development into the surrounding active transportation network.

Public comments

Many community members raised environmental concerns about the project’s impacts.

“One area that hasn't really been addressed directly is the whole issue of fish passage,” Chris Marr, a resident of West Bay since 2006, said. He questioned why the proposal does not include measures to enhance fish passage in Schneider Creek, such as daylighting the creek. He noted the creek is currently in a culvert under the site.

Marr also raised transportation-related concerns, saying that while the project proposed some traffic calming measures like a roundabout, he was unsure if that adequately addressed safety issues on Schneider Hill Road toward the intersection.

The resident also questioned the adequacy of the proposed bike lanes, noting that the project would only provide a bike lane on one side of West Bay Drive for about 100 yards. He pointed out that there is currently no dedicated bike lane for most of the one-mile stretch along West Bay Drive, so the proposal did not seem to sufficiently address bicycle safety.

Harry Branch supported Marr’s comments about daylighting Schneider Creek, which would allow sunlight to reach the water way and support phytoplankton growth that would contribute in dissolving oxygen levels in Budd Inlet. “One of the problems in Budd Inlet is low dissolved oxygen, and by daylighting Schneider Creek, we could help remedy some of that.”

Branch suggested prioritizing ecological restoration, guided by science, before beginning engineering and design work. He advocated restoring the nearshore habitat and creek corridor first.

“Science should tell us what to do, and design and engineering tell us how to do it,” Branch said, adding “if we were to restore the nearshore, we could piece our buildings into these natural features in this restored ecological function in ways that would really be productive for everyone. We would probably find outside funding in the form of grants to do all of this. And we would probably find it easier to negotiate the regulatory process because you'd be going beyond just trying to meet the minimum qualifications.”

Jim Lazar raised questions about the parking and traffic impacts of the West Bay Landing project. He noted that the project has only about half as many parking spaces as residential units. “How would residents be able to access places like grocery stores and doctor’s appointments without more vehicles?”

Park noted the project meets or slightly exceeds the city’s parking requirements. Citing experiences from their previous projects, he said senior residents own fewer private vehicles.

To support transportation needs, Park explained the development will offer supplemental transit through by providing one to two dedicated vehicles for scheduled vehicle trips. A car-sharing program using electric vehicles is also planned to allow low-cost vehicle access.

Olympia’s principal planner Nicole Floyd responded to Lazar’s question about evaluating cumulative traffic impact. She explained that in 2005, a West Bay corridor study for West Bay Drive anticipated future growth and established engineering standards now required for developments. She said both this project and West Bay Yards must adhere to these standards.

In an email to The JOLT, former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs asserted that the proposal fails to address the Shoreline Master Program’s requirements for ecological restoration and enhancement. “Is the SMP just talk?”

“Congress enacted the Clean Water Act ‘to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters.’ Under the Endangered Species Act numerous species are facing extinction. Some live here, some migrate through. All are impacted. The waters of Puget Sound are connected, and all species are mutually dependent,” Jacobs went on.

Jacobs suggested that the proposed development site would be a poor location to build a large residential project. Jacobs believed that restoring habitat and improving water quality should be higher priorities for that sensitive area than further development. He said that restoration goals would be “forever impossible” due to impacts of development.


5 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • JW

    I think the only growth that Lazar and his anti-growth cabal support is an increase in the transient population plaguing the city.

    Tuesday, June 4 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Awww JW.

    You could' be more incorrect or Rude.


    Tak about Glenn Morgan... there is Your Cabal.


    Jim Lazar would change an improve Olys Economy.

    Talk to B. Wabena

    POCAC Member about the Cabal, He continues to BS Olympia About Legacy Pollution and how The Public is responsiable for The Damage already Done.

    Truth is WE WILL NOT Build on a Polluted Brown Field ubtio it is Cleaned up Completely NOT Remeadiated!

    Senior Citizens should not reside over a Toxic Waste Site.

    CLEAN up West Bay shoreside.

    Remove Digs to the Toxic Wastelands OFF SITE!

    Tuesday, June 4 Report this

  • JW

    Boatyarddog, thanks for proving my point.

    Better hurry over to the shrine to the airport tree. Bev needs you to bring a lighter for the candlelight vigil tonight.

    Tuesday, June 4 Report this

  • Duffish

    Impacts from over 200 units on this shoreline area is way too excessive. Environmental measures can only do so much. The project needs to be scaled to achieve environmental goals. This is our legacy they are chewing up!

    Wednesday, June 5 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    Looks like a good project that meets many of the cited needs of the city. Let's build more housing!!!

    Monday, June 10 Report this