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Affordable Housing and Sustainable Growth

Over the next 20 years, Olympia is predicted to see an influx of 20,000 new residents. That's a 40% increase in population in our city.  It could dramatically drive up housing costs, traffic congestion, carbon emissions, infrastructure costs, and endanger housing for many.

The simplest way to address this hopeless-looking situation is to build more housing, just increase the supply. One problem: we are running out of places to build in Olympia. Sure, we could lower some fees that make the cost of building new housing more affordable. We could also address some regulation that makes it nearly impossible to build on certain parcels of land, but the vast majority of that is done outside the city limits. Plus, we still need to preserve our environment by protecting our green spaces and wildlife.

There is a solution, however. We could make our downtown core a hub of urban housing and economic development. Right now, that may sound preposterous. Not many people want to live, work, and play downtown, in its current state. That is precisely why it is so urgent that we address downtown Olympia's problems with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. What's the big deal about ending urban flight and suburban sprawl? If you are truly concerned about pollution, global warming, traffic, social and economic justice, or fiscal responsibility, then you definitely should support increasing our urban density in downtown Olympia.

Increasing urban density with a high quality of life has all of these advantages:
1. Preserves green spaces like wilderness, farmland, and protects wildlife.
2. Less carbon intensive.
3. Less automobile trips, less pollution, less traffic.
4. Promotes more walking and biking, creating healthier lifestyles.
5. Supports local entrepreneurs (your neighbors) instead of irresponsible and unaccountable corporate America. 
6. Fosters community and diversity, instead of isolation and monoculture.
7. Reduces tax burden on everyone, as government is not forced to provide infrastructure (roads, pipes, sewers) and services (fire, police, medics) across a larger and larger area.
8. Healthy downtowns are the most valuable per square foot revenue for a city.

Sprawling does not pencil out and exhausts the budgets of a city.  Repopulating downtown leads to huge efficiencies and better services for all.

Ross For Olympia
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