Pat Tassoni's Guide to Downtown Olympia

(Originally Posted on Olyblog)

This is not meant to be objective -- when you're targeted, you have to have an opinion

I am Pat Tassoni and have been in Olympia for over 30 years, which is longer than most of the transients we call the Olympia City Council, who came in the 80s. I have lived and worked in historical buildings downtown for the past 20 years. I have been fighting city policies that target the poor for nearly 15 years now.

Simple facts:

2000 - Time magazine declares Olympia "Hippest" town in West [because of downtown]

2002 - Downtown business owner's son murders and dismembers frequent transient [his head is still missing!]

2004 - Major insurer declares Olympia 4th safest city in the nation [they set their rates to their word]

2006 - Micro-chain Mcmenamins buys the Spar in downtown for a sizable amount of cash [obviously they aren't worried about the boo-hoos]

Downtown History

When I was a kid, my parents used to bring us downtown to shop -- and there were department stores here -- JC Penney, Mongomery Wards, Sears to name just a few. Where did they go? Well our city officials, the forerunners to the current council, in their grand wisdom pursued a policy of sprawl and allowed the Capital Mall to go in the early 80s. And all the stores left downtown -- in fact the city made it easy for them to leave -- so downtown was pretty empty in the 80s. Me and my friends used to come downtown to skateboard and ride bikes because the streets were empty. Also during this time, affordable housing was being demolished and in some cases buildings were renovated to suit businesses. The city of Olympia was slow to respond and has scarcely replaced the number of units that were lost. And during the late 80s is when the downtown walking patrol was formed -- before that we would see a cop every two hours downtown, and they were mainly confused as to why we were there at all.

Over time businesses and state offices have filled in downtown, but not quick enough and not enough to satisfy those who want to pretend everything in the economy is right. Small businesses still have to compete with the malls and big box stores. The council has been so concerned about downtown that they have passed a number of laws to restrict individual behavior, but haven't yet reversed their decision that caused the problem to begin with -- They need to restrict business behavior and stop sprawl. And local businesses need to support and even lead that movement if they ever want downtown to be an area retail center again. [Capital Mall historically has been the most called for police services of any place -- probably still is. Be afraid of the mall!]

Over and over again, the spectre of 'public safety' has been raised to pass new laws, but it's shooting itself in the foot by constantly bringing up how dangerous downtown is in the hopes to project how safe it is there. And it's been going on for the past 20 years. And each time they promise it will fix everything!

The first wave was targeted at youth and increasingly so at the poor and homeless.


Local History 101
What Your Money Buys In Downtown Olympia

This guide is an attempt to help you spend your dollars wisely in Olympia. As citizens we must realize that one of the realities open to us is to vote with our money and let companies know what you are/are not buying and why. We don't just buy a product with a purchase; we not only support an economic system with it, but we also support the working conditions and the political environment of the company as well. This guide is meant to help connect you with the history of activism that has gone on here and continues to go on throughout the world. Not everything in the world is covered here, and nothing was intentionally left out even though much is left out. There are no easy answers and this is not meant as a substitute for grassroots organizing on behalf of the environment, workers, and other facets of our world and society.

Local stores keep money local, however, promote certain agendas and have taken sides on social issues. Some downtown businesses have formed the Olympia Downtown Association (which is funded in part by the City of Olympia) and have initiated and lobbied the city to enact certain targeted laws (at homeless and\or youth):

* 1986 - Criminalization of Skateboarding Downtown

* 1987 - Outlawing of Teen Dance Clubs Downtown

* 1990 - Criminalization of Loud Car Stereos

* 1991 - Outlawing of Cruising Downtown

* 1993 - Criminalization of "Aggressive Panhandling"

* 1994/5 - Attempted Stop of Transitional Housing for Homeless (Fleetwood)

* 1995 - Proposed Criminalization of Car Camping
- Proposed Outlawing of Fortified Wine Downtown

* 1996 - Outlawing of OAPP Needle Exchange

* 1996/7 - Attempted Banning of Sitting on the Sidewalk Downtown

* 1999/2000 - Criminalization of Graffiti

* 2001/2002 - Proposed Criminalization of Camping
- Proposed Criminalization of Car Camping
- Proposed Outlawing of Fortified Wine Downtown
- Attempted Establishment of Panhandling Zone

* 2005 - Downtown designated 'Business District' and gives extra funding to ODA

Below the good news (+) comes first in each category followed by the names of businesses that have taken bad social justice positions on particular issues (-). Businesses have over time changed ownership from the time of these issue and they are marked by "~" to indicate such:

Businesses in Support of Graffiti Walls

(+) Supporters: ~New Moon Cafe, Dumpster Values, Midnight Sun, Old School Pizzeria, Olympia Film Society, Otto's Bagels, Thekla

(-) Opponents: The ODA

No Sitting On The Sidewalk City Ordinance

(+) Opponents: Always Safe and Lock, Brown & Balsley Sign, Olympia World News, Cascadia Research, Childhood's End, Danger Room Comics, Earth Magic, Five Corners, Fuji Teriyaki, Haut Hats, Jamie Lee & Co., K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Kundalini Coffee, Midnight Sun, Mini Saigon, Old School Pizzeria, Tee's Me, MIXX 96, Whole Earth Imports, Working Systems Inc., YoYo Prod.

(-) Supporters: The Spar, Washington Center, Dean Whitter's, ~King Solomon's, Gold's Gym, Coast Office Supplies

The Fleetwood Low Income Housing Project

(+) Supporters: Traditions Cafe, David Stein & Associates, Thekla, Danger Room Comics, Electric Rose Tattoo, Five Corners, Olympia World News, Fish Brewing, Budd Bay Realty, Radiance, Archibald Sisters, Jamie Lee & Co., Looks Hair Design

(-) Opponents: Applebaum Violin Shop, Audio Northwest, B&B Auto, Bartels, Castle Enterprises, CD Connection, Chattery Down, Coast Office Supplies, Cuda Construction, Deskoba Inc., Especially Made Designs, Hodges Inc., Jinjor, JR Roofing, Key Bank, Koehler's Furniture, Little Richards, Lynch Paint, Olympia Printing, Panowicz, Pizzazz, Salvation Army, Storman's (Bayview and Ralph's Thriftway), ~Urban Onion, US Marine Sales, Walt's Radiator, Washington Center, Washington Travel, ~Wind Up Here

Farmworker Boycott (WA Winery)

(+) Supporters: Ben Moore, Chattery Down, Gardner's, Henry C's, ~Patrick's, ~Urban Onion

(-) Particularly nasty opponents include Budd Bay, Genoas, St. Martin's, Coast Office Supply, Olive Garden

Farmworker Boycott (OR's PCUN Gardenburger)

(+) Supporters: Olympia Food Co-Op, TESC, Budd Bay, ~Darby's, Sara's Kitchen, Pipers Lady

(-) Opponents: ~Urban Onion, Falls Terrace

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgendered Rights

(+) Active Supporters (as advertised in Capital Q): Altered States, Archibald Sisters, Batdorf & Bronson, Darby's Cafe, Hannah's Tavern, Jamie Lee & Co, Mike Cook's Antiques, MIXX 96, Olympia Food Co-Op, S. Don Phelps-Attorney, Radiance, Rainy Day Records, Shakti Cove Cottages, Sigafoos & Witcher, Thekla, Tumwater Travel Service, Wild Grace Arts; (also see Pink Pages)

(-) Anti-Union Establishments: ~Urban Union/Elysse's Potpourri, The Spar, Capital Coachman, Henry C's, Burrito Heaven

(-) Anti-Native Establishments: (with a Smoke-Shop Indian Carving): The Spar, Cigarettes Cheaper

>>> Over 60 business opposed the recent formation of the downtown 'business district'.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the posts I've copied to my hard drive for posterity. There is so much information in this post and so many dots to connect, that I'm afraid it will drop off the net before I digest it all.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, regulating and creating laws targeting specific groups of people are the wrong way to go for a community. Allowed to function as such, a community can become self policing. This is not self policing in the vigalante sense, this is self policing as in the community sets the tone for behavior in the community. Laws that target set the wrong tone. Communities that embrace diversity set the right tone. Certainly a downtown populated with actual residents will go a long way to creating a self policing state of affairs.

It is pretty well accepted that laws targeting pan handling, loitering, drug use, and public sleeping are enacted in response to an increase in the rate of poverty. It is well established that communities will enact these types of laws when the poverty rate goes above 25 percent. Things are not what they appear in paradise. The poor are under attack by government and business. To make matters worse, the wealthy are reclaiming the central urban areas. Tired of their 3 hour commutes each days, a reversal in the white flight of the last 4 decades is under way, with a vengence.

In the past urban renewal was just, as an African American minister once said, just code for "negro removal". Actually it was more like resettlement. Tear down old building and house people in fancy new ghettos. Today urban renewal is actually the "negro removal" the minister refered to. Get them, and the other poor, out of the urban areas and as far away as possible. Let the affluent live close to work, let the affluent not worry about transportation. Let the affluent enjoy the sterile new nightlife the new urban areas will offer. I've got to get off this soap box, i'm starting to get a nose bleed.

Crenshaw Sepulveda

10:54 PM  

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