August 29, 2006

GUEST BLOG ENTRY – QUALITY OF L IFE IMPORTANT

Yelm is growing at a rapid pace. New housing developments and Walmart will add to the traffic nightmare we now face. That we can all agree on.

One factor I have not seen addressed is how the heavy volume of traffic affects our quality of life. The noise from the traffic reduces the quality of life and adversely affects health whether or not one is “used to it” or not. Noise causes involuntary physical reactions such as dialation of pupils and raised blood pressure. For many with high blood pressure or heart problems, traffic noise and other environmental noises can be dangerous and deadly. The stress resulting from environmental noise can produce angry individuals that often result in acts of violence. Noise impacts the learning abilities of our children in schools.

We all have low tolerances for certain noises. It may be a baby crying, a dog barking, sirens, loud vehicles, lawn equipment, loud music (bass that emits strong air vibrations in particular), air conditioners, etc.
Ask yourself how much is to much and consider how it may be affecting your quality of life. Yes, some things are necessary but so is consideration and respect for our neighbors. If you run noisy power equipment that can be repaired or replaced to eliminate excessive noise then do so. That’s being a good neighbor/citizen. If you enjoy loud music consider that others may find it annoying and turn it down. If your vehicle/motorcycle is loud then get it repaired/equiped to run quietly (yes, the means to do so has been available for many years).

Yelm used to be a quiet little town, but for many residents it is fast becoming an unsafe and unhealthy environment. Growth means change. How we manage that growth determines what our quality of life will be. Will we be considerate of the right to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes and community, or will we degrade our quality of life by ignoring the elements that produce negative impacts upon our lives? Will our city officials listen to us and act in the best interests of the people or will they act in the best interests of whatever profits them and their cronies? Do we have unbiased enforcement of our laws and regulations or do we get ignored or harassed when we speak up?

It’s about quality of life! It’s about working together to build a safe peaceful environment… to respect the rights of others.

Karen Kangas


August 26, 2006

PRINT MEDIA CONSOLIDATION A SAD AFFAIR

This writer received a call earlier this week from a reporter for one of the local daily newspapers to ask my comment on a certain matter.
I referred the reporter to stories written in their sister paper down the road. The reporter had no knowledge that this topic had already been covered extensively there,
which led me to ponder how sad the situation is for local newspaper readers to find their daily Puget Sound newspapers (The Olympian, Tacoma News Tribune, 49% of the Seattle Times) are mostly owned or controlled by one source: The McClatchy Co..

Quoting the Tacoma News Tribune of March 14, 2006:
“The McClatchy Co.s pending purchase of Knight Ridder newspapers means the South Sounds two daily newspapers The News Tribune and The Olympian would be owned by the same company. Readers posting messages to The News Tribune and The Olympian Web sites worried Monday that a single owner might kill off the smaller Olympian. Cheryl Dell, the Tacoma papers publisher, said that wouldnt be the case. We have no intention of closing the Olympian or selling it, Dell said. McClatchy announced Monday that it agreed to buy Knight Ridder Inc. for $4.5 billion. McClatchy publishes The News Tribune and the Tri-City Herald in Washington, as well as 10 other daily newspapers. Knight Ridder Inc. owns 32 daily papers, including The Olympian, The Bellingham Herald and 49.5 percent of The Seattle Times. The transaction wont change The News Tribunes commitment to covering the South Sound, Dell said…The purchase will make McClatchy the second-largest newspaper chain in the country, behind Gannett Inc., which publishes USA Today. The News Tribune, currently McClatchys fourth-biggest circulation paper, will rank ninth after the deal closes this summer.”

Further, Yelm’s weekly Nisqually Valley News is owned by Lafromboise Newspapers, which also owns the Centralia Chronicle. With consolidation even among the local weekly papers, perhaps this is the only way for some them to survive, yet is a disturbing trend.

No wonder readers are turning more and more to blogs, as newspapers consolidate and the readers’ choices to access news from the print media dwindle.


August 23, 2006

PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING UPDATE

Glen Cunningham, Planning Commission Chair called the meeting to order at 6:30pm. on Monday, August 21st & clearly did not know how to handle the protocols of this meeting and asked staff for assistance several times. Besides city staff, the only people in audience were new City Councilman Hendrickson, Yael & Steve Klein, Cindy Teixeira of the Nisqually Valley News (NVN), Jean Handley and only 2 others. This writer raised these issues on the record:

1. According to the WA. State DOT website, the Y3 Loop will not begin construction until 2013 subject to funding, with the first cars to use it a decade away. I requested the Comprehensive Plan be updated to note that all traffic studies include and traffic mitigation explained that a Y3 Loop will not operational for 10 years, instead of the way it currently is — where the Y3 Bypass is used to support all traffic issues here. Such is not the case & that that needs to be updated immediately to give a more accurate portrayal of the traffic situation here for planning purposes.

2. The Comprehensive Plan should have a separate section dealing with shallow groundwater hazards. Two specific areas that were impacted were the properties immediately downstream from the proposed Wal-Mart site and the area upstream from the Hawks Landing Subdivision and the new Ridgeline School. This past winter required that City of Yelm staff deal with a number of high groundwater and drainage issues. The present approach for handling shallow groundwater rise was totally inadequate. The Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated to reflect this.

3. Developer’s Impact Fees are going to have to be dealt with in Yelm as they are in other areas, providing a quote from the Tacoma News Tribune article of August 20, 2006. Further, Rep. Tom Campbell sat in this very chamber on Saturday, April 29, 2006 and stated publicly in his Town Hall Meeting that the traffic numbers the City of Yelm used for the Wal-Mart project were skewered downward and differ from the numbers supplied to him by State Highway officials.

The only other public comment was from Jean Handley who stated that the 6-year concurrence stats in Chapter 14 of the Comp Plan for the Y3 Loop are not clear in that the goal-posts of that 6-year period is moved continually or not stated at all. She stated that Rep. Campbell told her that if there is a winter storm, earthquake and/or major issue requiring the State of WA. to pony up money for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the 520 floating bridge or I-5, the money will be taken away from Y-3 and the Loop will not be funded – that info. needs to be in the Comp Plan, too.

Cindy Teixeira of the NVN asked:
“Is it true that the City of Yelm charges developers impact fees of developers now, Mr. Beck?”
“Yes.”
“Would you say these fees are fair & in alignment with city requirements?”
“Yes.”
Kathy McCormick, the City’s Comp Plan contracted adviser from Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) comes to the podium and interjects that the Yelm Comp Plan Traffic Section will be amended after the Thurston Regional Planning Commission (TRPC) holds their Comp Plan Public Hearing on Sept. 20th and both the County & Yelm update their plans in conjunction with each other, in “about a year” or so. HMMM!

This writer called Cindy of the NVN to say I wished to add the following information to provide a more detailed report to the NVN readers and Planning Commission as to my Impact Fee comment. Here are my emailed remarks, from doing more homework after the Hearing, which were provided to the NVN, the Planning Commission, City Development Diector Beck and now for you, the public:

1. Developer’s impact fees imposed by the City of Yelm are handled through a fixed impact fee of $750 per PM Peak Trip per each development. This approach would be reasonable if the existing infrastructure load were exactly the same for all development environments. Such is not the case. Per the Yelm Transportation Comprehensive Plan, the Yelm System is in a state of overload with intersections already designated as Level of Service F (lowest grade possible). As the existing Yelm Road Infrastructure is progressively more overloaded, the relative impact increases exponentially. This is why the Wal-Mart Traffic Studies had to rely on the Y3 Loop to achieve compliance with operating standards. Wal-Mart was assessed something over $400,000 in traffic impact fees based on a PM Peak Trip estimate of about 550. This may cover the inside Yelm improvements, but does not include the value of their reliance on the Y3 Loop in the Traffic Studies. If you assume that the Y3 Loop will accommodate 25,000 trips (Average Daily Traffic High Estimate) and that about 25% of the 8000 trips (ADT) generated by Wal-Mart use the Y3, then Wal-Mart may be calculated to use 8% of the Y3 capacity. At a total cost of $70,000,000, the Wal-Mart prorate share of the Y3 should then be $5.6 million. Wal-Mart is being permitted to cash in on road development paid for by Washington State residents with no reimbursement to the State residents. Until Y3 is competed (Wa. DOT estimated CONSTRUCTION START = 2013, from their website), the City of Yelm will be forced to deal with the additional traffic and accommodate the interim adverse impacts from their taxpayer-supported coffers at some point for intra-city road expansion to add more vehicle capacity.

Bottom line: For example, the City (not Wal-Mart) will end up paying for road widening to Yelm Hwy. between the Wal-Mart site and Five Corners in the near future to add capacity because of Wal-Mart generated traffic.

2. The existing connector roads serving as ingress/egress for the Tahoma Terra development are substandard for the projected volume of traffic this subdivision will require, and that they convey to State Hwy 510 (Yelm Ave. West). As a result, these roadways have to be brought up to standards to safely handle that traffic. The required upgrade is prompted by the new subdivision. Hence, the developer should be responsible for bringing city streets (i.e. the two routes serving the subdivision and the Killion intersection with Yelm Ave. West) up to standards. In nearly every other local jurisdiction (Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Thurston County) the full cost of such roadway access improvements would be borne by the subdivision developer as a mitigation fee. The fixed impact fees assessed by Yelm, which should be about $560,000, apparently do not cover the required improvements. Rather than increase the assessment to the developer, it seems that the City has seen fit to shift the extra cost burden on to the local residents that live along the roads to be improved through the development of an LID. It seems clear that again the developer has been allowed to pass on their responsibility to the taxpayer to fund road improvements and in particular, a LID specifically requested of the City by said developer.

I believe these clarifications need to be made to provide a complete context for my remarks about impact fees for the Planning Commission, the public & NVN readers in a story that Ms. Teixeira will write for this weeks newspaper.


August 22, 2006

YELM PRAIRIE ARTS ASSN. IN THE NEWS

“Artists from the Yelm Prairie Arts Association area were honored with an invitation to participate in the first annual SalmonFest of the Squaxin Island Tribe, The People of the Water, held on August 19th at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton.

Local artists in attendance at this premier event included Bettye Johnson, author of Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls, Joe Cattuti of Ginger Street, Jan and Kathleen Hazelton of Will of the Wind, and Myrna Orsini of the Monarch Sculpture Park in Tenino.

This event is a celebration of the salmon, integral to the tribes culture, said Charlene Krise, Council Member and Executive Director of the Squaxin Island Museum. Little Creek Casino Resort and tribal enterprises sponsored the premier event which began with an opening ceremony featuring traditional native singers, dancers and drummers. …

A long time goal, of Squaxin Island and neighboring tribes has been to provide cultural education to the school districts of Washington. SalmonFest proceeds are earmarked for that project. SalmonFest proceeds are also designated to the Squaxin Island Museum and the Education Department. The museum needs to build exhibits and offer more cultural events, but these are expensive and the tribe hopes to begin a yearly tradition which will help them meet their lofty goals.

The SalmonFest is a celebration of the salmon but it is also a celebration of the Squaxin Island Tribe’s growth with the surrounding local and regional communities. Other tribes as well as these communities were invited to share in this celebration. The YPAA artists thank “The People of the Water” for including them in this family-oriented, artistically and culturally beautiful, completely delightful day of festivities,” quoting the YPAA.


August 21, 2006

PIERCE COUNTY CONSIDERS ROAD IMPACT FEES – ARE WE NEXT?

This writer is on the record several time in 2006 and on this blog for all to see in trumpeting the abysmal traffic situation in Yelm currently and one which is about to get much worse within a year as Wal-Mart’s opening is expected to bring 8,000 cars per day plus Tahoma Terra and other city approved developments adding thousands more. This same situation is occurring to Thurston County’s big sister to the north Pierce County and now officials there are grappling with adapting developer impact fees to cover road improvements. Yelm officials are still in the dark ages taxing its own citizens with a developer-requested-LID (see entries here for June 12, June 13, June 14 & May 24) with one center turn lane, all the while allowing local traffic to be mitigated on that plus a bypass 10 years away from completion, which does nothing to add capacity in the immediate 10-year future, and approving more development. The time is now for this town to grow up into the city that it has become and start thinking for the future, just as this front page Sunday, August 20th Tacoma News Tribune article outlines what Tacoma, Spanaway and other Pierce County cities are doing with similar growth:

“King, Clark, Kitsap and Snohomish counties charge developers impact fees to help widen roads to handle the extra traffic that comes with new houses, stores and offices.

Pierce County doesnt.

Or, as Bruce Lachney, a county planning commissioner and cranberry grower, puts it: Pierce County has been stuck on stupid for years.

Now, with rapid development overwhelming some roads and threatening more, Pierce County leaders say theyre ready to start charging developers for their share of the cost of building or improving roads to handle all the new neighborhoods and shopping centers.

Except they disagree over what developers share should be.

The Pierce County Council is considering a nearly half-billion-dollar proposal aimed at reducing traffic congestion by widening key roads, rebuilding intersections and making other improvements over the next 20 years.

About 39 percent of the spending plan would come from traffic impact fees charged to developers. The fees would range from $34 to $3,300 per new house, depending on the location and other factors. Gas and property taxes and a real estate sales tax would pay for the remaining 61 percent.

Critics say developers should pay more.

Because of its scope, the proposal has touched off concerns about how it would affect the price of housing, how it would affect growth patterns and how it would affect taxpayers.
A public hearing is scheduled in September, with a final decision expected in October. Meanwhile, politicians are writing op-ed columns and preparing amendments, and developers and environmentalists are staking out their positions.

At issue is the quality of life in some parts of the county. From 94th Avenue East in South Hill to Spanaway Loop Road to Wollochet Drive Northwest on the Gig Harbor Peninsula, an increasing number of roads are exceeding their county-imposed limits on traffic congestion.

The proposal, requested by the seven-member County Council and written by Executive John Ladenburgs administration, would apply to new residential, commercial and industrial development only in areas that are not within a city.

GROWTH LAW GAVE GREEN LIGHT

Washingtons Growth Management Act, passed by the Legislature 16 years ago to curb sprawl, authorized local governments to charge traffic impact fees to help their roads keep pace with the traffic generated by new development.

The law also required local governments to ensure that road improvements or other transportation fixes necessary to serve new growth are made concurrent with, or around the same time as, the development.

If those traffic improvements arent made, local governments must either reject the development that produces the swarm of cars or lower congestion standards to accept even higher levels of traffic.

Other populous Western Washington counties King, Clark, Kitsap and Snohomish have impact fees, as do some cities.

In Pierce County, developers make some contributions toward road improvements, but theyre not consistent.”

Editor Note:
Since rejection of development applications has not been done by the City of Yelm, then the city must “lower congestion standards to accept even higher levels of traffic” according to the Tacoma News Tribune article. Is this what Rep. Tom Campbell was suggesting in his Town Hall meeting in Yelm (see April 29th entry on this blog) and why City Councilman Bob Isom bristled at Mr. Campbell on Yelm’s traffic numbers?

What do YOU think?

Will you let City officials know YOUR views?

There is a “The Yelm Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing to receive public comment on the proposed updates to the City of Yelm Comprehensive Plan. The meeting will take place on Monday, August 21, 2006, at 6:30 p.m. in the Yelm City Hall Council Chambers, 105 Yelm Ave West,” quoting the City of Yelm website.


August 20, 2006

PRIVATE SCHOOL’S HUGE FUNDRAISER SUCCESS

The Nisqually Valley News (NVN) is reporting in this week’s edition [Aug. 18]:
“Backers of the Children’s School of Excellence raised a record $175,000 for the Rainier private school during its third annual Garden Party fund raiser and auction night. Proceeds from the dinner, live and silent auctions blew through last year’s $117,000 tally. About 500 people attended…Funds raised go toward the operation of the school as well as financial assistance to parents… Children’s School of Excellence serves grades K-9, and opened in 1999, founded by RSE student Marjorie Layden… The school doesn’t have a financial relationship with RSE, but does have a relationship with presenting to children some of the concepts that adults learn from the School of Enlightenment. Many of the students go to Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, but some do not. Students don’t have to attend RSE to go to the Children’s School of Excellence, Church said [CSE board secretary Terri Church]. It costs about $4,725 per year for a child to attend CSE.” This story is fully accessible only to NVN subscribers. [Ed. Note: What is amazing to this writer is that for two years in a row, the 80+ student private school has raised more funds than the 5,000+ student Yelm Community Schools fundraiser sponsored by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce & with the same auctioneer Larry Schorno, however this as a story has yet to be covered by the NVN. HMMM.]

Photo from Children’s School of Excellence website


August 19, 2006

SAFETY TIP

This safety tip was submitted by this writer’s dad and is wise counsel:

“Here’s a safety tip I have never considered, but I think it makes a lot of sense, especially since an intruder doesn’t know what caused it to go off.

Safety Tip

Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator.”


August 18, 2006

LOCAL YELM AUTHOR MAKES NATIONAL NEWS

Local Yelm author “Bertha Rainen joins the program to discuss her book, “No Excuses [My Plea For World Peace]”” on Global Talk Radio August 15, 2006. You can listen to the archive here by scrolling to “2006-Aug-15”
This is a simply told story from a place of honesty intertwined with humor that is for anyone seeking something more in their life. While it is autobiographical in presentation, it is not meant to be so per se. It describes one persons journey and how anyone can lift themselves out of any circumstances they dont like into a greater, happier, richer life than they ever thought possible. This is about a spiritual journey in great joy that is never ending! This book is available in Yelm at JZ Rose, formerly the Outback Boutique.


August 17, 2006

YELM PLANNING COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING 8/21

From the City of Yelm email notice of this event:
“The Yelm Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing to receive public comment on the proposed updates to the City of Yelm Comprehensive Plan. The meeting will take place on Monday, August 21, 2006, at 6:30 p.m. in the Yelm City Hall Council Chambers, 105 Yelm Ave West.

The proposed comprehensive plan amendments will bring the plan up to date, making use of the latest available information, and keep the plan in compliance with the State of Washington Growth Management Act. The changes include updates to the land use, housing, environment, and miscellaneous provisions chapters.

For additional information, please contact Tami Merriman, at 360-458-8496. The proposed changes to the plan may be viewed at the Citys web site at www.ci.yelm.wa.us, or by visiting the Community Development Department at Yelm City Hall. Written comments will be received up to the close of the public hearing. Written comments may be submitted at the hearing, or may be mailed to Tami Merriman, City of Yelm, P.O. Box 479, Yelm, WA 98597.

It is the City of Yelm’s policy to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability in need of accommodations to conduct business or to participate in government processes or activities, please contact Agnes Bennick, at 360-458-8404 at least five working days prior to the scheduled event.


August 16, 2006

MAIL-IN VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE AUG. 19

The Mail-In Voter Registration deadline is this weekend to register to vote in Washington State’s September 19th Primary. Quoting the Washington Secretary of State’s website,
“The deadline for registering or transferring your voter registration is 30 days before an election. If you register by mail, your application must be postmarked by the 30-day cutoff or it will not become effective until after the election.

If you are not already registered to vote in Washington and you miss the 30-day deadline, you can register in person at your county elections department until 15 days before the election. Contact your County Auditor for assistance and information.”

“You must complete a voter registration form if you are registering for the first time in Washington or if you have moved to a new county. If you have moved within the same county, you may transfer your registration by completing a new form or contacting your County Auditor by mail, email, or phone. There is no registration by political party in Washington state.
To register to vote in the state of Washington, you must be:

* A citizen of the United States
* A legal resident of Washington State
* At least 18 years old by election day

You may not register to vote if you are:

* Presently denied your civil rights due to a felony conviction.
* Judicially declared mentally incompetent and ineligible to vote.

If you meet the above criteria you can register by completing and mailing in a voter registration form.
Mail-In Voter Registration Form


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