A Light in the Attic
As Olympia seems to be on a course that will seal her doom it would be easy to just abandon Olympia and leave her carcass for the use of the developers and corporate interests. We have suffered a number of blows, we that love Olympia, and sometimes it is hard to see what can be done or, if indeed, something can be done.
Right now we are just seeing the skids being greased for the development of downtown. Concessions will be made, tax breaks will be given. Up in Tacoma the Old City Hall is being converted into condominiums. The cheapest condo there will be a one bedroom overlooking a halfway house for alcoholic men. This condo will go for $600k. And the buyer will not have to pay property taxes for ten years. This does not bode well for Olympia, one of the last best places. When money is to be made, deals to be crafted, we are in trouble.
Also in Tacoma is a grand old building that is presently being used as subsidized housing for the elderly and disabled. Around 200 units. The city officials have been determined to get the building out of the subsidized housing business and have been the opposite of supportive of those that wanted to keep it subsidized. I’m here to tell you that the building will now become a 4 star hotel. No one knows what will happen to the residents. Sure they will get vouchers to get other housing with, but in Pierce County there are thousands of people with vouchers and no place to use them. And by the way, the city will lend the billionaire developers of this property some low interest money as well. The city of Tacoma just doesn’t want poor people living downtown and they are determined to force them out to make it safe for monied people. The city admits this, at least they are honest about it.
Olympia’s city officials have not been as evil as those in Tacoma, but they are making a good start. The pedestrian interference ordinance is just the start. Soon social services agencies supporting the poor and homeless will be prohibited from the downtown core. Moratoriums will be put into place, retroactive moratoriums meaning that the present agencies will hardly be able to replace a light fixture in their facilities without fearing they will be forced out of downtown. Think it can’t happen? It is happening in Tacoma.
What I love about Olympia is her people. The spirit of her people. I don’t know all of them, I don’t know know how many there are, but I can feel the spirit of her people. The people of Olympia, the children of Olympia. The children of an experimental college and a brewery. I have no confidence in our city officials, but I have a surplus of confidence in the children of Olympia. Things may seem to be grim. The writing may be on the wall, but the children of Olympia will surprise you. Indeed, if the children don’t surprise you, the mother sure the heck will. And so I have a sense of optimism. The task at hand is large. The forces being faced are very formidable. It seems grim and dark and yet I know a light burns in attics all over Olympia. Cities can be taken away from the children of other cities, but the children of Olympia will not let this happen. At least not without a fight.
"The saddest thing I ever did see
Was a woodpecker peckin' at a plastic tree.
He looks at me, and 'Friend,' says he,
'Things ain't as sweet as they used to be.'"