Olympia Visit

Early in February I went down to Olympia to visit with Representative Jessyn Farrell to discuss some bill language on a couple of bills. We mainly discussed HB 2763. HB 2763 proposes using the state environmental policy act to encourage development that is consistent with forward-looking growth plans. I was seeking clarification on some of the language of this bill and offering potential new language.

The portion of the bill I was seeking clarification on was the section where environmental impact studies (EIS) where being addressed. The bill states city entities would: identify smart growth boundaries, propose new density targets, and would perform their own EIS. Where the bill became unclear to me was if a developer would have to perform their own EIS if they built within the smarth growth boundaries and met the density requirement. I indicated that developers should be able to use the city’s EIS, within a time period, if they build within a smart growth boundary, and to the desired density. This would incentivize sustainable development by reducing the developer fee. I believe this language was already in the bill, but wanted to confirm.

The other area of the bill that I brought up was a section where it discussed how to establish smart growth boundaries. It proposed using the typical ½ mile radius off of a public transit hub as the boundary establisher. I spoke with Rep. Farrell that in the case of areas of significant grade change, the ½ mile radius standard may need to be supported with deeper site analysis. Walking ½ mile uphill is not the same as walking ½ mile on flat ground.

Rep. Farrell was very engaged and took notes and said she would follow up with the committee regarding my comments. She asked that I follow up with an email just to confirm, which I have. Overall, the visit was very enlightening and I felt that my voice was heard as a citizen.

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