The Olympian rejects values ordinance

The editorial page of the Olympian came out against the values ordinance today:
Council members should allow the proponents of the community values ordinance an opportunity to speak their mind and air their proposal. But council members should not waste staff time or city resources pursuing this feel-good measure that is unlawful, unworkable and just plain silly.

Here is the text of the proposed ordinance.

Some things to note about the piece:
  • The main source is David Schaffert, president and chief executive officer of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce. He calls the ordinance "subjective."
  • The piece contains the claim that only "a core group of about 15 people" are behind the proposal.
  • The piece claims that "Under the proposal, those businesses that don't measure up would have two months to leave town." What the proposal actually says is that those businesses with a score below 50 must stop local operations in two months, rather than "leave town." One presumes that if they reapply and score better, the business can reopen.
  • The piece raises the question of equity, claiming that because the ordinance only applies to large business, it is discriminating against stores like Wal-Mart. It doesn't mention the inequity in resources that these corporations have brought to bear against small towns like Olympia. In perhaps the most interesting quote, Schaffert states:
    "Our community wants to embrace diversity, yet when it comes to businesses, some people in this community want to put all businesses into 'good' or 'bad' categories based on subjective measures.
OlyBlog's view: It is convenient for Shaffert to call the proposal "subjective". In fact, it seems quite objective. By the numbers: do these businesses contribute a specified percentage back to the community? Do they contribute a specified percentage to health care? Etc. Finally, rather than call names (silly?), perhaps the Olympian should engage in a discussion about the ordiance. Rather than use a single source, Schaffert, the Olympian should solicit input from the wider community. Perhaps the Olympian should examine the underlying value that the ordinance expresses, that big businesses should be good citizens in this community, and contribute something back.



From what I've read so far, this would appear to be an extremely proactive step for the City to take. I agree, however, that it is biased toward box-stores and that it should be opened up to include EVERY business, non-profit, or government agency within the City. Especially the Olympian. Why would the Olympian come out so strongly opposed to this. Why would the Olympian only go after one side of the story? Lately, The Olympian has been unabashedly pro business and pro O.D.A. The Olympian is a member of the O.D.A., which violates the O.D.A.'s own bylaws (The Olympian's office is located about three blocks outside of the Association's boundaries for membership). Knight Ridder moved in at the beginning of the month, with them they brought promises of a community newspaper. A focus on the local issues. I have noticed that the national and international news coverage has improved greatly, and it is my hope that that coverage starts coming out of their own newsroom as well. I have a number of friends who have worked for Gannett, and I think I'd rather join the Army than work there. We'll see in the coming months if the attitude that Knight Ridder promises to bring to our community actually is displayed in ink. We'll just have to wait, but in our waiting, we should remember that it won't happen unless we hold their feet to the fire.

The Olympian, in recent month

The Olympian, in recent months, has moved toward a common sense approach when dealing with the City of Olympia and Olympia City Council. The Olympian editorial board, along with many other members of the community, can see the Olympia City Council is going to eventually run the City into the ground if the status quo continues. The current state of Olympia is a textbook example of how not to run a vibrant, financially viable municipality. Creating a "values ordinance" will only perpetuate the problem of the City of Olympia not being able to pay the bills. In case you have not noticed, the Cities of Lacey and Tumwater continue to propel themselves ahead of Olympia. Just take a drive on I-5 northbound and stop in Hawk's Prairie for the best example of how stagnet Olympia is compared to their neighbors. Stop at The Ram on a Friday or Saturday night and think to yourself, "This was supposed to be in Olympia." Many of those businesses used to be in Olympia and would have gone toward filling Olympia's coffers. The Harley-Davidson dealership is moving more units in a month at their current location than they did in a year at the Capital Auto Mall. If I remember correctly, the H-D dealership is also owned by Steve Boone. Think the car dealerships in the Auto Mall don't know this? And finally, the biggest part of Olympia losing Lacey Cinemas which has not received enough attention is that the theater is now IN Lacey, not Olympia. A religious group is now examining the old Lacey Cinemas property, meaning not only is the theater lost but the property itself (should the building be turned into a church) will not provide any tax-revenue to the City.

It seems to me that the rapid

It seems to me that the rapid expansion of the Hawks Prarie region of Lacey has little to do with the actions of the Olympia city council. Businesses are building there because that's where the space is. The same thing is happening in Olympia between westside and mudbay. The other factor that is driving expansion to the north is the same factor that is driving expansion in Dupont: Ft. Lewis. This also has no connection to the city council.

Here's my question: How does the city encourage businesses to act as responsible citizens, if not through an ordinance?

Beware the terrible simplifiers.
Jacob Burckhardt

You're going to have to defin

You're going to have to define what a "responsible citizen" is. The expansion in north Lacey is certainly not all about the Olympia City Council, that's correct. I would say, though, that Olympia would appear to not be working very hard to either keep businesses in the City or lure new ventures. While there is business being built on the Westside, the largest I can recall is Rite-Aid (excluding expansion at the Capital Mall). If the Capital Auto Mall loses multiple dealerships to north Lacey it would be interesting to see how the City would cope and how much they would do to keep those dealerships from leaving. Also, for the record, The Ram being built in Lacey rather than Olympia had more to do with the Port of Olympia than the City of Olympia (which are supposed to be operated separately), although I have heard one rumor swirling that an Olympia City Council member stated they didn't want "another glorified slaughterhouse."

I would like to someone to sh

I would like to someone to show me where downtown Lacey is. Take me there, I can't find it. I drive through Lacey and I'm sickened by strip mall after strip mall, and box after box. I don't want Olympia to turn into that. We have to move away from the neo-classical ideals that have been driving our economy and politics. Lacey may be financially healthy, but I've lived in this area for many years and I've never heard anyone say "I Love Lacey", there's no civic pride.

Part of what makes Oly great is the pride we have in it. Money is great, money is nice to have, but without a balance between it and community, a city will undoubtably "run into the ground".

I think the Lacey everyone is

I think the Lacey everyone is familiar with ("strip mall after strip mall") is due to poor planning. In the last few years, though, they seem to have collected themselves. The north Lacey area is coming along fairly well, both in appearance and luring new businesses (but as Rick pointed out, the proximity to Fort Lewis and location directly off of I-5 is an easy sell). The problem with Olympia is not how they have developed. You're not going to hear too many people say it's an ugly city. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite is true. The problem, though, is that it could be so much more. There is a lot of potential for Olympia as far as attracting a broad consumer base, especially downtown and on the boardwalk while still maintaining a quality appearance and avoiding "strip mall after strip mall."

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