Friday, July 14, 2017

Mistake on the Lake Redevelopment Plans Underway

Above: Built in 1965 and vacant for about eleven years, the blighted nine story building in downtown Olympia, known as the Mistake on the Lake, is not so visible from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial on Thursday as Capital Lakefair wrapped up for the evening. The building is intensely disliked by many community members. Many have worked for years toward the building’s demolition to restore the scenic view north to Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains.  

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

The nine story building in downtown Olympia is not going away. It’s going to be redeveloped and it’s going to be great.

That was the message by local developer Ken Brogan and his architect, Ron Thomas, who presented their land use plans and architectural drawings at a city organized community meeting held on Wednesday evening at Olympia City Hall.

The project at 410 5th Avenue is bounded by 4th Avenue West, 5th Avenue SW, Simmons Street SW, just south of Bayview Market, and Sylvester Street NW, which is next to the Heritage Park Fountain.

It is planned to provide 138 new residences and a mix of ground floor restaurant and retail spaces. A vacant single story structure will be demolished and two new mixed use buildings will be built with onsite parking.

City staff kept a tight lid on the evening, allowing plenty of time for questions and answers, but also making it clear that the meeting was not a visioning process or a conversation about whether or not the city should buy the building from Mr. Brogan.

About 75 people were in attendance, many of whom seemed to be supportive of Brogan’s plan, but certainly not all.

“When will you be taking reservations?” a man enthusiastically asked Brogan. After considerable laughter, Brogan responded that he hopes to break ground by the end of the year, and have construction complete by the end of 2018.

The project will be subject to a State Environmental Policy Act review, a multi-permit process, and decided by a hearings examiner, which can be appealed.

Above: Plans for the proposed Views on 5th by architect Ron Thomas were shown at a community meeting Wednesday evening. 

Brogan’s architect, Ron Thomas, did most of the speaking, showing conceptual drawings, and answering questions. He quickly preempted known community concerns about sea level rise and risks of liquefaction in the event of an earthquake by highlighting the building’s features to address those issues up front.

City staff made the point of stating at the outset of the meeting that the project was not within the city’s shoreline jurisdiction. The area is zoned Waterfront Urban – Housing.

The project will have to plan to accommodate a 16 foot sea level rise, the city’s new standard for new construction for projects that are in a flood zone. The elevation in that area is 14.85 feet, said Thomas. The area is currently known to flood during minor storm surges.

Thomas said that in the event of flooding, a rapidly deployed barrier called a Flex Wall that rises up out of the ground 24 to 36 inches will be installed to protect the building.

Steel pilings up to 70-80 feet deep will be needed to support the new buildings, and the tower building is currently undergoing seismic upgrading, said Thomas.

For nearly an hour, Thomas presented his drawings, pointing out the obvious for any new construction, such as access for refuse and fire trucks, and public transit opportunities that already exist in the area, and all the “very Olympia things to do,” such as long term bicycle storage and colored pavers to delineate pedestrian walkways, without acknowledging the most obvious: that the nine story tower building is staying.

In response to that observation, he assured the audience that the “psychology of the building” will change with the application of a special glazing that will appear to reduce the size of the tower. A drawing on one side of the tower showed Native inspired salmon artwork that he said he hoped could be designed in collaboration with local tribes.

He also said that Brogan is committed to creating a vertical green wall and seek a LEED Silver certification, making the building highly energy efficient.

I'm sitting here trying not to scream at the fact that we're not even talking about the elephant in the room, which is that people in Olympia have been working for years to make this area a park. A green wall does not compensate, and enclosing the tower does not hide what's there, said Ann Holm, a member of Friends of the Waterfront.

Community questions included how the flood barriers and automated compact parking mechanisms will work in the event of an earthquake or a loss of electricity, whether or not the building will get a multifamily residential tax credit (it will not), whether or not the building can accommodate low income individuals (it will not), the building’s impact to stormwater systems, the difference between the use of steel vs. wood pilings, estimated traffic patterns and impacts, the process of assessing impact fees, job creation and overall tax revenue to the city, and the possible regulation and code enforcement of blighted commercial property.

Above: The proposed Views on 5th development in downtown Olympia.

City planner Nicole Floyd said staff has received about 70 comments so far. The first deadline for public comment was July 7, but comments will be taken throughout the land use process, she said.

A city advisory committee, the Design Review Board, will review the plan’s designs to determine if it meets the city’s design criteria on August 10, 6:30 p.m. at Olympia City Hall. Public comment will not be taken at that meeting.

Little Hollywood wrote a detailed article on October 19, 2016 at about Brogan’s plans to purchase the building, its history, and his initial plans. Some ideas, such as a swimming pool, have gone by the wayside. The article also features an interview with Jerry Reilly, chair of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation.

For interior photos and information about the Capitol Center Building, aka the Mistake on the Lake, or Views on 5th, previous hotel plans, the isthmus, scenic views, the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, the city’s Downtown Strategy, king tides and sea level rise, go to Little Hollywood and type key words into the search button.

Project plans and documents provided by the City of Olympia can be viewed online at . For more information, contact City planner Nicole Floyd, or (360) 570-3768.

Above: The Capitol Center Building has been purchased by developer Ken Brogan, above, who has mixed use and residential plans for the property. He stayed to answer one-on-one questions after the formal presentation on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New Ballot Box at Olympia City Hall

Above: A new ballot box was dedicated at Olympia City Hall on Tuesday.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Thurston County ballot boxes are now open and available to take your ballot. 

The primary election is August 1 and ballots began to be mailed out Wednesday. Almost three-fourths of registered voters in Thurston County use a drop box to cast their vote, said Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall.

Hall and other elected officials were on hand Tuesday to dedicate a new drop box, located in front of Olympia City Hall at 601 Fourth Avenue. The county now has 27 drop boxes.

“Access to voting strengthens our democracy, and my goal as county auditor is to break down barriers and make sure it’s easy for citizens to cast their vote,” she said.

In an interview after the dedication, Hall said that there are about 175,000 registered voters in Thurston County. 

Unfortunately, more than two thirds of voters will choose, forget, or delay until it's too late, and not vote this election. For those who have not registered, the deadline to do so is July 24.

Hall encouraged voters to check out the candidates.

“We have a lot of primaries, which is really exciting – the most we’ve ever had. People are stepping up to run,” she said.

Above: Eleven candidates running for Olympia City Council Positions 4, 5, 6, and 7 met community members at Little General Food Shop on June 5 in downtown Olympia. The cities of Tumwater and Lacey and Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey school districts also have primary races on the ballot.

Left to right: Daniel Marsh, Allen Miller, Lisa Parshley, Michael Snodgrass, Clark Gilman, Heather Wood, Renata Rollins, Max Brown, and Deborah Lee. Councilmembers Jeannine Roe and Jim Cooper, who are both running for re-election, were unable to attend the event due to a council related meeting. 

In a ceremony on Monday, Hall and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson honored 100 people who have a record of voting for 50 years or more.

Two had voted for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

For more information, or to receive a voter’s pamphlet, go to, or email or call (360) 786-5408. The Thurston County Auditor’s Office is located at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia.

Above: Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall and Olympia city council members pose in front of the new ballot box at City Hall. 

Left to right: Councilmember Nathaniel Jones, Councilmember Jim Cooper, Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, Councilmember Jeannine Roe, Mayor Cheryl Selby, Councilmember Julie Hankins, Councilmember Jessica Bateman, and Councilmember Clark Gilman.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Olympia Considers Trump Impeachment Investigation

Above: Supporters of Puget Sound Communities 4 Impeachment call for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump outside Olympia City Hall on Tuesday evening. 

Council to Send Letter to State Congressional Delegation Asking for Investigation into Trump’s Activities

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A resolution calling upon the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings and investigate President Donald J. Trump’s alleged wrongdoings was up for consideration at Tuesday evening's Olympia city council meeting. 

Fourteen cities nationwide, from Los Angeles, California to Newton, Massachusetts, have passed resolutions calling for an the initiation of impeachment proceedings.

But in a 4 - 3 vote, council members voted to send just a letter to Washington State's congressional representatives asking them to call for an investigation into impeachment. 

Mayor Cheryl Selby and Councilmembers Hankins, Bateman, and Roe voted for just sending the letter, with Councilmembers Nathaniel Jones, Clark Gilman, and Jim Cooper voting for the resolution and letter.

Council entertained the possibility of spending more time drafting a resolution after gathering more public input.

With the item pulled from the consent calendar, Councilmember Julie Hankins proposed a motion to not pass the resolution and instead send a letter to Washington State congressional representatives asking them to call for the investigation.

Councilmember Jeannine Roe, who said she is troubled by the actions of the president in “style and actions,” asked staff for clarification on the difference between the resolution and the letter.

Olympia city manager Steve Hall admitted that the resolution was hastily written with firm statements of criminal wrongdoing by President Trump that have not yet been verified, saying the resolution “goes deeper” than a letter.

Several councilmembers said they wanted it put on the record that they have heard constituent’s concerns about President Trump’s activities.

Saying he found no joy in discussing the issue, when it comes to matters of law and misconduct by an elected leader, “it’s our responsibility to voice our concerns into possible illegal activities and obstructing justice,” said Councilmember Nathaniel Jones.

“It’s clear to reasonable people that laws are being broken,” said Councilmember Clark Gilman.

During public comment, several community members spoke in favor of combining the power of a resolution and a letter to congressional representatives.

Phil Schulte was the lone speaker who said that the whole matter was a federal issue, not a city issue, and suggested that the question of a resolution in support of calling for an investigation be placed on the ballot so citizens can decide if it’s appropriate or not.

Bonnie Jones, of Olympia, started a group called Puget Sound Communities 4 Impeachment and was the first to speak before council

The group's mission is to ask the Olympia City Council to adopt a resolution calling on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation of President Trump, based on his alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution.

Jones told Little Hollywood before the council meeting that she has been politically active before, but has never been the leader of an organization. She felt compelled to act because she feels the country is in peril. She hoped Olympia would be the first city in the Pacific Northwest to recommend impeachment proceedings. 

Her husband, Marc Jones, also spoke in support of the resolution and a letter to congressional representatives.

“…So why an impeachment resolution six months into a presidential term? The resolution addresses two matters: emoluments and obstruction of justice….Emoluments….Is it skin cream? Is it candy? he began, eliciting chuckles from the audience in the packed council chambers.

“The issue of emoluments was serious business to the writers of our Constitution. They feared Presidents using the office to enrich themselves. They feared foreign interests influencing the President through bribery….They put clauses into both Article I and Article II of the Constitution that basically said ‘no’ to emoluments. Since then, many statutes and ethics rules have been put in place to reinforce this….

“Our problem is we now have a President who acts as if he is not bound by any of this. He refuses to reveal the extent of his financial interests here and abroad. He refuses to divest those interests…He claims it sufficient to turn things over to a trust run by his sons. But the sole legal beneficiary of that trust is himself. That is not a blind trust.  That is not divestment.

“He can take actions that benefit him financially. Foreign entities have paths to either enrich or financially threaten him. That is what the Founders feared. This is what the Emoluments Clauses were meant to prevent. I believe this situation is not just illegal. I believe it is dangerous. This situation must be investigated,” said Jones.

The Olympia city council often comments and acts upon national and international issues.

In early June, the city stated that it was “highly disappointed” in the decision of the Trump Administration to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. 

“The City was proud to participate in the Paris Climate Summit and remains strongly committed to the global effort against climate change. In 2015, the City joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. In doing so, Olympia joined with more than 7,000 other cities all around the world committing to bold action on climate change. The decision by the Trump Administration only strengthens our resolve that leadership must continue to come from local communities,” said a press release.

By resolution in December, 2016, the City of Olympia declared itself a sanctuary city that will serve and protect its residents regardless of their immigration status, and refuse any requests that are an extension of any federal immigration policy enforcement actions.

Above: Sharon Herting and Robert Lovitt, members of the South Sound Buddhist Peace Fellowship, made their opinions known outside Olympia city hall Tuesday evening. Herting's sign says, We want positive leadership. Lovitt's sign says, Sending him prayers and loving kindness - resisting his policies.

Lovitt, who was wearing a “Nixon Now” button, said Nixon was a sweetheart compared to President Trump.“It’s not about hating Trump. I really feel sorry for him, actually, because he is so unaware of how he harms others. I support democracy and don’t want to see its erosion,” said Lovitt.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Olympia’s Star of David Returns Home

Above: A newly restored Star of David is unveiled at a ceremony at Temple Beth Hatfiloh on Sunday afternoon. The 80 year old Star of David was removed several months ago from the Temple’s original building on Jefferson Street and returned home to the Temple at 201 Eighth Avenue in downtown Olympia.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

An intimate, emotional dedication ceremony for a recently restored Star of David was held Sunday afternoon at the Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia.

“Mah tovu,” began Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Temple Beth Hatfiloh.

Tovu, meaning fine, fair, or beauty in Hebrew, fit the restored Star of David, which Goldstein described as a simple yet striking piece of art that defines the Jewish community in Olympia and serves as a link between the past, present and future.

The Star's restoration was dedicated to Ben Bean, the son of one of Temple Beth Hatfiloh’s founders, Earl, who was instrumental in the 1938 construction of the original Temple on the corner of Jefferson Street and Eighth Avenue.

At the time of his death one year ago, Ben was one of the only original members of the congregation to have been present at the original building dedication, said Goldstein.

Saturday would have been Ben Bean’s 94th birthday, and Rabbi Goldstein and the Bean family dedicated Bean’s headstone early Sunday morning.

“Ben was our star, a beacon of light, and warmth, and joy,” said Goldstein. “Now, we dedicate the Star, for our entire community.”

About 35 Temple and community members were present, including the Bean and Goldberg families.

Dan Bean, son of Ben Bean, spoke with emotion to those gathered.

Knowing that this Star is back home...and that members of the Bean and Goldberg families are a testament to what this community means to all of us. Although Ben wasn't a particularly religious man, he was a fierce member of this Temple. He's looking down on us and he's really proud of what this community and this Temple has become, he said.

The restoration work was done by two local businesses, Eco Woodworks and Mansion Glass, who worked in tandem on the woodwork frame and glass pieces, said Goldstein. The funds for the restoration were raised through a brief GoFundMe effort.

The Star of David will stay in the Temple's interior alcove that also serves as a nook for the Temple’s historical items of significance, such as the Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light, which was saved from the original Temple.

In closing, Rabbi Goldstein offered a prayer of dedication, in part, saying:

“…May this Star continue to be our link to the past while serving as a guide to our future. May the spirit of those who created it inspire our lives. May their hopes and dreams of a vibrant Jewish home become our hopes and dreams. May their dedication to community and tradition become our dedication, and may their prayers for continuity and commitment become our prayers.

“May this beautiful Star inspire us to live into our lives to work for justice, to explore our heritage, to build community, to laugh and cry, to eat and drink, to sing and pray, to learn and teach, together, L’dor va dor, from generation to generation. Amen.”

Above: Three generations of the Bean Family in front of the restored Star of David at Temple Beth Hatfiloh on Sunday. Left to right: Steve Bean, Dan Bean, Alec Bean, Linda (Bean) Georges, Edie Bean, Tom Bean, and Susan (Bean) Poplack.

For more information about the history of Temple Beth Hatfiloh and the Star of David restoration effort, go to Little Hollywood’s March story, “Olympia Temple Saves Star of David,” at

Friday, July 7, 2017

In the Mood for Jazz

Above: Everyone was in the mood for jazz, swing, and boogie-woogie at a concert held at the Olympia Country and Golf Club Friday night. The Jazz Senators were joined by a group called Somewhere in Time, above, who performed a tribute to The Andrew Sisters. The concert was open to the public.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

With Mount Rainier and Budd Inlet as a stunning backdrop, the 17 member Jazz Senators gave a lively, open air, big band concert at the Olympia Country and Golf Club on Friday night. The concert was open to the public.

They were joined by a group called Somewhere in Time, who performed an energetic tribute to The Andrew Sisters. The three women, Melanie Bee, Alita DeLaCruz, and Gretchen Blair, made several costume changes throughout the show.

Bee and DeLaCruz have performed in several USO tours together, and Blair is a retired Army and Navy veteran who has performed for President George W. Bush.

Above: The Jazz Senators, led by band director Tracey D. Hooker, performed at the Olympia Country and Golf Club on Friday night.

I’m completely delighted! This is my first time here - what great energy! What a beautiful night! I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks,” said band director Tracey D. Hooker during a break.

The Jazz Senators formed in 2005 as a backup for dentists performing at a benefit for the Olympia Union Gospel Mission. The group is comprised of active and retired military members, middle and high school band directors, and musical instructors.

Since that time, the group has performed at Rhythm & Rye in downtown Olympia, Panorama in Lacey, Music in the Park, and the Capitol Theater.

Above: Musician Gary Scott, lead alto saxophone player with the Jazz Senators.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fourth of July in Centralia

Above: Centralia city councilor Peter Abbarno, 41, in gray shirt, participated in the SWAT challenge Tuesday morning. The activities were part of a fundraiser benefiting children in the community, sponsored by the Centralia Police Officers Association.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

On the Fourth of July, community members in the City of Centralia partied like it was 1776. Fireworks throughout Lewis County could be heard well after midnight.

The festivities began in Borst Park with a pancake feed, served by local city councilors, and an 8K and a 1.5K run called, “I Ran from the Cops,” followed by a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) challenge.

The challenge stations -- running, push ups, sit ups, and pull ups -- were part of an actual entry level SWAT exam as specified by the Washington State Training Commission. 

Administered by regional SWAT team members, the timed test is the same that every SWAT officer must pass on the first day of SWAT school. If an officer fails any event, the officer is sent home right then – no excuses or exceptions.

Luckily for these participants, no one was booted out, because it was all for a good cause.

Above: Runners start the 1.5K run on Tuesday morning at Borst Park. Annnie Voetberg of Centralia was the first woman to cross the 1.5K finish line at 8 minutes and 50 seconds.

Sponsored by the Centralia Police Officers Association, the funds raised through entry fees go toward scholarships, bike helmets for kids, and community projects serving hundreds of children.

There were over 100 participants this year, said Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza, who supervised the performance of many of the possible recruits, including eleven members of the Johnson Family. 

Ribbons were awarded for participation, timing, and ability ranked within several age categories.

Above: Bentley Johnson, 7, of Centralia, shows everyone how it’s done. He did 121 push ups.

Above: Samantha Johnston, 11, of Centralia, focuses before accomplishing six pull ups. She received a ribbon for coming in fourth for her age category.

Later, a parade was held in downtown Centralia, as well as a demolition derby and fireworks display at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fire Destroys Historic Oakville Landmark

Above: Close up of the Oakville Hardware Store sign on July 3, 2017. The store and other buildings burned to the ground in a fire on July 4.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Little Hollywood may have captured the last images of the historic Oakville hardware store, established in 1890, and other buildings before they burned to the ground on the evening of July 4.  

Oakville is a city in eastern Grays Harbor County, Washington. Incorporated in 1905, it has a population of about 700.

Oakville is perhaps best known for being the location of Washington’s last bank heist on horseback.

The town’s bank was robbed several times in the 1920s and 1930s. The robbers were almost always apprehended, except for the last time. The robbers took to the hills on horseback and were never captured.

Above: The Oakville Hardware Store on July 3, 2017

These photos, taken on the afternoon of July 3, show a nearby building that was most recently a thrift store, the hardware store, and other buildings, including the Oakville bank. The vacant house on the other side of hardware store was also destroyed, according to news sources.

Above: Oakville’s Main Street on July 3, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Olympia Candidates Discuss Sea Level Rise Plan

Candidates Fishburn, Zita, Miller, Gilman and Rollins comment about sea level rise 

Above: Port of Olympia Commissioner E.J. Zita meets with Rueben Males after a community meeting regarding the City of Olympia's sea level rise plan on Tuesday night. Males wants the Port of Olympia to be part of the climate solution, and not the problem, by initiating job creation to renewable energy and promoting the local sale of locally produced electricity. 

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Several elected officials and candidates for public office were present at the City of Olympia's community meeting on sea level rise issues Tuesday night. 

The city revealed a schedule of activities to be spearheaded by the city, the Port of Olympia, and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance. 

The process is expected to take 18 months.

This past week, Little Hollywood asked each candidate who was in attendance what they thought about the sea level rise planning meeting, the concerns expressed by community members, the concept of a strategic retreat, and what, if any, questions they had about the process.

Bill Fishburn is running for Port of Olympia commission, District 2, currently held by Bill McGregor.

“….What I see is a plan for a plan….Through a project management lens, I see that the engagement with the public seems late in the process. The first workshop comes three fourths of the way through what appears to be the third phase,” said Fishburn.

“The Squaxin Island Tribe, Washington State, and environmental groups appear to be absent from the early discussions and planning. And much of what I can see of the 'plan for a plan' appears to be focused on downtown. Such a narrow scope has the risk of leading to narrow solutions.

“That said, I was impressed by the number in attendance and the willingness of the city to engage with the public outside the milestone dates in their schedule. Since the city signed an interlocal agreement with LOTT and the Port, it was also good to see at least one port commissioner in attendance.

“My question would be: Given some of the pollution present in the impacted areas, what are we doing proactively to deal with that pollution? Between now and 2050, are there other phenomena such as king tides and heavy rains that need to be considered in our interim solutions?

“The strategic retreat discussion is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. I think it's worth exploring, but I think there needs to be a concerted effort to involve the public in how such a retreat would be planned.

“I also find it interesting that at the same time we are talking about sea level rise and how to perform a strategic retreat, the city appears to be still considering permit issuance in places that will be clearly impacted by sea level rise. I wonder if that will make the city and taxpayers responsible for costs associated with sea level rise impacts to buildings resulting from those permits?”

Port of Olympia Commissioner E.J. Zita was in attendance at the meeting. She is running for reelection to her seat in District 3, and has a challenger.

“The City of Olympia has a great start on evaluating risks to our area due to sea level rise,” said Zita.

“Andy Haub and colleagues have shared scientific knowledge so we can understand the impacts to Olympia. When seas rise two feet, we can expect flooding downtown every other day.  This is likely to happen in our lifetime, since climate scientists expect seas to rise by two meters, over six feet, by 2100.  King tides already flood downtown more often, so LOTT has already lifted and waterproofed some of its critical equipment.” 

“Do Olympia, LOTT and the Port need to consider moving or retreating from some infrastructure and operations? Other cities at sea level or built on fill show that we will have no choice but to consider these options. Many in Northern Europe have developed floating buildings. Does it make sense for Olympia to approve traditional construction where flooding is likely, in the lifetime of proposed buildings? We started some important conversations that will be continued. 

“It was disappointing to see no material from the Port of Olympia…. Should the Port increase global warming and sea level rise with fracking sands, or decrease warming by supporting renewable energy infrastructure and job creation? Voters will have a clear choice in the fall port commissioner election,” said Zita.

Above: Allen Miller contributed his opinion on a yellow sticky note at the City of Olympia's community meeting on sea level rise planning Tuesday night. It reads: Dredging Capitol Lake every decade for flood control is much less expensive than removing the tide lock and returning to mud flats.

Allen Miller is a candidate for Olympia city council position #5, an open seat. Two other candidates are also in this race.

“This is certainly the most important environmental issue the city faces.  I remember learning about the greenhouse effect in 5th grade….One of the reasons I led the effort to get the Olympia Metropolitan Park District established was to raise the revenue to buy LBA Woods, the Capitol Center Building and the 'Big W' trail,” said Miller.

“The 'Big W' trail from West Bay marina to Percival Landing, along the Port Peninsula, and up to East Bay will give us the opportunity for public access to the shoreline while protecting downtown from sea level rise by building the trail at elevation.

“The best available science from Evergreen State College professors Oscar Soule, David Milne, and the late Kaye V. Ladd shows that retaining the tide lock and dredging Capitol Lake will be best for water quality, sediment management, and wildlife, while also providing flood control in downtown and the North Capitol Campus. 

“I foresee a Capitol Lake management committee forming with the State, Port, Squaxin Tribe, Thurston County, Olympia, and Tumwater as members which will work together to manage the Lake and Deschutes watershed into the future.

“The State Environmental Policy Act will require us to consider the alternatives including a retreat from downtown.  The preliminary information shows that the environmental and economic costs of retreat will be much greater than providing downtown with more flood control, but a cost/benefit analysis will need to be part of the process under SEPA,” said Miller.

City of Olympia councilmember Clark Gilman is running to retain the seat to which he was appointed in 2016, Position 4, and has a challenger.

Soon after Gilman was appointed, he famously "threw the skunk on the table" at the council’s dramatic study session on sea level rise in February 2016 by questioning the assumption that downtown should be saved.

Little Hollywood asked Gilman after the meeting if he still felt that a strategic retreat should be on the table and explored.

“There were several important questions raised this evening. Most valuable to me were the comments about who should be considered a stakeholder or a recognized organization. I appreciated Judy Bardin's suggestions that we should broaden our outreach and consult with groups who represent social equity, environmental, and community economic development concerns,” said Gilman.

“Seeking reelection has not changed my deeply held understanding that the forces of the river and the ocean are mighty and that our best approach to sea level rise is to harmonize waterfront development with those powerful forces.

“I intend to listen and actively participate as a member of Olympia's Land Use and Environment Committee throughout the sea level rise planning process. My position at this point is that it makes practical sense to protect buildings currently in use through their likely useful lives.

“I don't see the community value in advocating for additional residential or commercial development on the port peninsula. I think it makes sense to apply our policy and incentive influence to encourage investment and revitalization on higher ground,” said Gilman.

Above: Renata Rollins, right, visits one of the storyboard stations explaining the City of Olympia's sea level rise plans at a community meeting on Tuesday night.

Renata Rollins is a candidate for City of Olympia council Position 6, currently held by Jeannine Roe. There is one other candidate in this race.

“We need to have all options on the table. By limiting the scope of the discussion, we can’t be sure we’re going to make the right plan, in terms of the environment and the financial/economic costs to the community, said Rollins.

“I also think it would behoove us to plan further than 20 years. We have 100-year sea level projections already, and we know sea level will continue to rise for centuries even if we make drastic CO2 reductions today. The question of whether a particular action is cost-effective depends on the time scale we’re looking at. Defense might seem to pay off in the short term when compared against costs such as relocating LOTT and other downtown development. But over 100 years? 500 years? Besides, hopefully by then we’re using composting toilets and other sustainable wastewater filtering/treatment methods, making LOTT at its current scale obsolete.

“The fact is, our downtown has been fighting the wisdom of a natural system since the settlers first began to fill the Salish Sea. We take the first step to addressing sea level rise in a realistic way by acknowledging this fact. Doing so doesn’t negate the real sentimental value downtown has for many of us, nor the significant financial investments made there by public and private entities, including our friends and neighbors. It costs nothing to acknowledge the wisdom of natural systems. And it opens the door in the present vantage point to understanding our past and envisioning our future in alignment with this wisdom.

“Rather than fighting sea level rise, we can take it as an opportunity to build a resilient community in the face of climate chaos. Perhaps instead of one town “center” we need the neighborhoods to have their own central social and economic hubs, residential options for all incomes and families, and urban farms to guard against food system instability - a development that will be needed as Washington’s fastest-growing city. 

We need a plan for emergency services to reach all parts of the city even if downtown streets are flooded. We need to move toward a more ecological plan for our wastewater, including significantly reducing wastewater, rather than depending on an Old World solution like LOTT.

The creative and practical possibilities for responding to sea level rise are exciting. And I say this as someone who loves downtown and has been emotionally invested in it for years. As someone who loves downtown Olympia, I really feel the folks who have made significant investments here. I think it’s only right to reframe the discussion and center the need for a longer-range sea level rise plan, over 100 years, and to choose the best and most cost-effective course of action from that data,” said Rollins.

Little Hollywood has written extensively on downtown Olympia sea level rise issues, flooding incidents, the management of Capitol Lake, current sea level rise projections for Olympia with maps and photos. Go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search button.