Issues in Action

Government Affairs – Issues Update: May 2018

Thurston County – 2018 Mazama Pocket Gopher Screening

Description: USFWS experienced budget cuts which resulted in the biologists they provided to the County in previous years no longer being available.

Status: County staff has confirmed that this inspection season will allow private biologists, require 2 screenings and include an optional training course by USFWS (two classes are currently being offered, both full, with 40 biologists total). Unknowns include the permit cost, cost of inspection by county biologist, and cost for staff review of private reports.

City of Olympia – Reroofing Inspection Changes

Description: The City is requiring a ‘midway’ inspection during commercial or residential reroofs to ensure underlying framework is up to code. Roofer members brought the issue to the attention of the OMB Board, who formally opposed the change.

Status: The City has clarified that inspectors will only go on the roof during commercial inspections, that inspectors are not to use on-site safety equipment and created a formalized process for e-inspection in the case of inclement weather. City staff is meeting with OMB leadership to discuss action on the issue further.

Lewis County – Charter County Ballot Initiative & Freeholder Elections

Description: There is a ballot initiative for Lewis County to become a charter county. As a result, freeholders will be concurrently elected in November to begin the process, should the initiative move forward. The Lewis County chapter asked for information about both in March and May.

Status: The Lewis County chapter has not decided to take a stance on the issue at this time.

Thurston County – Comprehensive Plan: Housing Chapter

Description: The Housing Chapter is a part of the larger Thurston County Comprehensive Plan. The focus of the update is on ensuring compliance with state law and incorporating new information generated since the last major update in 2005.

Status: OMB has reviewed the first draft of the Housing Chapter and provided feedback.

City of Olympia – Missing Middle Housing

Description: Olympia Planning Commission is considering changes which would allow for more Missing Middle Housing in Olympia (complete report at:

Status: The process was delayed due to community response. The commission is reviewing each of the proposed housing recommendations individually and have voted to receive additional written comments on the subject.

General – Incentivized Housing Action Team

Description: OMB has been participating in Thurston Thrives’ Incentivized Housing Action Team to create a real-world model of housing incentives that can be used to create mixed income development. This includes decreasing impact fees, deferring taxation, and increasing the speed of the permitting process in developments that meet affordability criteria. The results will be used to educate long term planning departments, elected officials and the public at large.

Status: The model has been built and will be demonstrated to planning staff for feedback and editing at the Housing Action Team meeting in July.

Thurston County – Building Code Changes

Description: Thurston County asked Olympia Master Builders to assist in a review of current building code as it relates to minor permits, including permitting for exterior siding, windows and doors which do not require reframing, electric water heaters and flag poles. OMB provided feedback in May.

Status: The proposed code changes scheduled to go to the Board of County Commissioners in June.

Thurston / Lewis County – Rural ADU Review

Description: Both Thurston and Lewis Counties are reviewing the standards for ADUs in rural areas.

Status: Early in the process. OMB has facilitated communication between staff in both counties. Lee Napier will be discussing ADUs with the Lewis Co chapter during their June meeting.

Thurston / Lewis County – Watershed Plan Update (WRIA #11 – Nisqually)

Description: ESSB 6091 (the Hirst Fix) required the Nisqually watershed to have an updated watershed plan by Feb 2019. The Nisqually watershed is in Thurston, Pierce and Lewis Counties. By statute they are required to work with the tribe and the largest city in the WRIA to make the updates. If they fail to do so, the WA Department of Ecology is authorized to do so.

Status: OMB has brought the issue to the attention of Thurston and Lewis County staff. No further action is currently occurring.

Mason County – Permit Fee Adjustments

Description: Mason County has informed OMB that it will be adjusting its permit fee structure sometime this year. The adjustment will include the state-wide permit fee change and a cost of inflation.

Status: OMB had an initial meeting with County staff on the issue and anticipates receiving a draft of the changes for feedback later this year.

City of Lacey – Annexation Amendments

Description: The City approached OMB with draft language for a proposed amendment to annexation procedure. The change would require annexation to occur prior to a property being served by any city-owned utility OR if they receive land use approval prior to Sept 01, 2018, that they legally commit to annexation. Exceptions may be granted in cases of public health emergencies.

Status: A public hearing before the Planning Commission is set for June 14th.

All Counties – Ruckelshaus Center GMA Review

Description: The legislature is doing a state-wide review of the GMA and GMA framework (SEPA, SMA, etc). They are hosting workshops in every county. Pacific and Grays Harbor have been completed.

Status: Thurston, Mason, Lewis are scheduled for the Fall. If you have interest in participating, let Erin know. OMB will also be joining BIAW in a one-on-one meeting in the Fall to address housing issues specifically.

City of Olympia – Water Meters for New Construction

Description: Single family home developments were being charged the cost of full utilities upon installing water meters to check plumbing and test fire suppression systems.

Status: City staff resolved the issue. Home builders can file for a “new construction water meter” permit ($50) to request a water meter. Internal accounting has been fixed so these water meters no longer trigger full utilities. At final inspection, the meter will be read and if less than $50 worth of water was used, the builder will be refunded the difference. If more than $50 was used, they will be assessed the difference.