Issues in Action

Government Affairs – Issues Update: July 2018

*NEW* Thurston County – Habitat Conservation Plan

Description: OMB worked closely with the County to develop a new interim inspection process. Private biologists will be allowed for the first time (contact Erin for a list of qualified professionals). Two site inspections are still required. The interim inspection process is required until a county-wide HCP is approved.

Status: On July 25th the Board of County Commissioners approved a final draft HCP to be sent to USFW for consideration. One the HCP is approved Thurston County will be issued a 30-year, county wide incidental take permit to protect any impact to endangered species by development. There is no timeline for USFW response.

*NEW* Thurston County – Administrative Final Plat Approval

Description: After the OMB Building Bus Tour, Commissioner Edwards identified that the construction process could be sped up substantially by granting the County Manager authority to issue final plat approval. The county began drafting amendments to the code to authorize this process in July.

Status: The county has set a public hearing for Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. to receive feedback from the public on the topic.

*UPDATED* City of Lacey – Annexation Amendments

Description: The City approached OMB with draft language for a prosed amendment to annexation procedure. The change would require annexation to occur prior to a property being served by any city-owned utility unless they receive land use approval prior to Sept 01, 2018.

Status: On July 17th, the Planning Commission recommended adoption of the following language to city council “Owners of properties lying outside of, but contiguous to City boundaries shall be annexed prior to being served by a City-owned utility.  Owners of properties lying outside of but not contiguous to the City must legally commit their property to eventual annexation prior to being served by the City’s utility system.” City Council has not yet scheduled review of this recommendation.

*UPDATED* 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: On July 9, 2018, the Olympia Planning Commission approved its recommendations on Missing Middle Infill Housing. The Commission will prepare a comment letter to the City Council to accompany its recommendations.  The recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council who will have a work session before their final decision. The recommended changes are slightly different than those originally proposed by staff; primarily related to off street parking and proximity to transit routes for certain housing types in the R4-8 zone.

*UPDATED* Thurston County – E-Inspection

Description: OMB has begun discussions with the County about the feasibility of electronic inspection of building sites and structures (i.e. barn pole footings). Staff is exploring possible mechanism and medias internally.

Status: CPED will meet with OMB in August to review staff generated options. If you have suggestions regarding best practices for e-inspection or case studies where remote inspection would have significantly decreased the timeline for a project, please let Erin know.

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.

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.

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.

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 – Reroofing Inspection Changes
  • City of Olympia – Water Meters for New Construction
  • Lewis County – Charter County Ballot Initiative & Freeholder Elections