Getting Down and Dirty.
While the housing market might be booming throughout OMB’s territory, it’s not hard to find jurisdictions which, from time to time, make things very difficult for home builders to create affordable housing for residents and even harder to run a profitable business. Unfortunately, many members like yourself are too busy to personally keep up with the decisions being made by jurisdictions that will affect the bottom line of your business and the affordable housing effort. That is why the OMB Government Affairs Program (OMBGA) is such a crucial benefit of being a member.
OMB’s Government Affairs Program is actively working to stay on top of current issues and proposed regulations that affect the building industry in Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. The purpose of the program is to research development codes, ordinances and proposed regulations. OMB works with local city and county jurisdictions by developing closer relationships in order to effectively represent the industry and find solutions to your concerns.
In order to preserve private property rights and promote the protection of business interests vital to OMB members, OMB’s Government Affairs program engages in the local legislative process in many ways. Government Affairs staff engage local officials to advocate on behalf of OMB members to ensure your collective voice is heard on issues. We track, research and analyze issues and regulations affecting the building industry, and based on guidance from our Government Affairs Committee, attend planning commission, city and county council meetings to be able to keep OMB members updated on the status of these issues. We also testify at these meetings, and help brief OMB members if they wish to speak at one of these meetings, or wish to meet individually with an elected official. Cultivating relationships with building officials, politicians, and business and community leaders, can take a lot of time and effort, but OMBGA helps to build those meaningful relationships for you.
Examples of recent advocacy success included a series of government affairs meetings where OMB members and staff sat down with Lacey city staff and elected officials to discuss their first comprehensive fee adjustment in 25 years for their building and planning departments. Members provided feedback and concerns to city staff, and over multiple revisions, Lacey staff accepted all of revisions requested by members and provided explanations for all of their adjustments. A thoughtful, comprehensive discussion like this between builders and the city would not have been possible without the assistance of the Government Affairs Committee’s input and relationships OMBGA has built with the City of Lacey.
Another example of our Government Affairs team’s effectiveness would be progress on the Mazama Pocket Gopher. OMBGA has been monitoring the development of the Interim Permitting Process since its inception. Before the beginning of Gopher season, OMB scored a major victory when the Thurston County Commission voted to reduce the number of “Gopher Walk” site visits from 3 to 2, a policy OMB has advocated for repeatedly, and dramatically increased the number of gopher review applications which can be processed by the county within a season. OMBGA is now pushing for the county to allow a private biologist to be hired by customers to conduct gopher reviews. This would also make a dramatic improvement to the county processing time, getting shovels in the ground weeks faster than they would have last year.
Most importantly of all, The OMB Government Affairs program creates a single, united voice for the home building industry in this region. As an advocate for an entire industry, our government affairs team has the ability to deliver a message backed by a knowledge base and a credibility on building issues, that rightfully carries a greater weight than the opinions of any one individual. If you have interest in making your voice heard, please consider attending one our next Government Affairs meeting.