| Main |


The Thurston County Board of Commissioners took testimony at a Public Hearing last night about the Yelm Comprehensive Plan Amendments, and specially the Transportation Chapter. While Olympia, Lacey & Tumwater issues were included in the Public Hearing, no one was present to provide testimony about those cities.
Chair Diane Oberquell opened the Hearing stating that the City of Yelm would have 10 minutes, followed by the attorney representing JZ Knight, then the public would have 3 minutes each, without repeating what was previously stated.
Representing the City of Yelm were talks by Assoc. City Planner Merriman, Community Development Director Beck, TRPC Rep. McCormick & Mayor Harding. Others in the audience supporting the city’s plan were newly appointed Yelm Planning Commission Chair Carlos Perez, City Council member John Thompson representing the entire Yelm City Council and Mike Edwards, Thurston County EDC Board member, large Yelm landowner and Yelm pioneer family descendant.
Several letters were received by the Commission and several public members spoke highlighting various aspects of Yelm’s traffic issues and city policies that do not address several aspects of roads, developmental approvals and traffic approaching gridlock status.
The Public Hearing lasted and hour.

The Board of Commissioners will have Work Sessions on Dec. 12 from 3 – 4pm and on Dec. 18 from 4 – 4:30pm to review amongst themselves all of the public input on the Comprehensive Plan.
The public is welcome to attend as observers only, however no public comments are permitted at these 2 sessions. A determination will be released at a later date.

For those interested, my unabridged testimony is at the bottom of this entry.


“Letters were set be mailed Friday [Nov. 30] telling 75,000 current or former Wal-Mart workers in Washington that they are plaintiffs in a statewide class action against the retail giant.
The mailing is the latest development in the suit, which was filed nearly six years ago in King County Superior Court.
Set for trial in the spring of 2009, the suit is “the largest wage-and-hour class action ever certified in Washington state,” class counsel Beth Terrell of Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC in Seattle said Friday at a news conference.
“The workers will prove that Wal-Mart failed to pay workers for some of the time they worked and deprived them of legally required meal and rest breaks,” Terrell said. “Wal-Mart’s drive for profits has come at the expense of its low-wage employees.”
She estimated that damages against Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will total tens of millions of dollars in wages wrongly withheld from workers,” quoting the Seattle P-I.

Two years ago, Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott announced a bold initiative to turn the world’s largest corporation green. After numerous delays, the company has finally released its first progress report.

So how much greener are they?

The bulk of the report argues that Wal-Mart will never be a sustainable company as long as it is a major contributor to sprawl, relies on sourcing products from the other side of the globe, and pursues a business model based on slashing costs to the bone.

…In total, Wal-Mart is responsible for greenhouse gases that are the equivalent of nearly half the amount produced by the entire country of France, according to analysis by Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Policy Studies.

Wal-Mart also ignores the environmental costs of all the car traffic associated with consumer travel to its stores. Supercenters on town outskirts are accessible mainly by driving, resulting in increased traffic and customers having to travel longer distances for their shopping. The carbon dioxide produced by customers driving to Wal-Mart stores is more than all of its other U.S. greenhouse gas emissions combined, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, quoting AlterNet.

[Ed. Note: Hear that, Yelm City Council, who has turned the east end of Yelm into a car-strangled spanner connecting McKenna & Yelm with the approval and opening of a Super Wal-Mart?]


Mayor Harding says that 63% of Yelms traffic originates outside of the city and Community Development Director Grant Beck told the Thurston Planning Commission this is outside of the citys control. I find that an interesting comment, as there has been no traffic count in over 2 years to quote any accurate figure.
A Nov. 15, 2005 Pierce County Business Examiner story titled Yelm may become shopping mecca for south Pierce examined how the City of Yelm is working to make Yelm a retail hub.

Then on Oct. 2, 2006, the BE reported:
Not only does Yelm have one of the fastest growing population rates in the state, it also draws on much more than just its municipal population for its economy, said Michael Cade, executive director of Economic Development Council of Thurston County.
Yelm pulls from a larger region than Yelm proper, he said, pointing to a recent study commissioned by the EDC and City of Yelm. It even pulls from Pierce County quite a bit, even though it is located within Thurston County.
Yelm, which saw its population triple since 1990, has a primary trade area of 30,100 residents and a secondary trade area of 99,500 residents, according to the study done by consultant Eric Hovee of E.D. Hovee & Company LLC in Vancouver, Wash.
It means that while 30,000 people rely on stores in Yelm to provide convenience goods, almost 100,000 visit the city to shop around for bigger ticket items, such as appliances or cars.
Lets see, Yelms population has tripled in 15+ years and since the last traffic count, the City of Yelm approved phases of Tahoma Terras development and a recently opened Super Wal-Mart. And all of this is the cornerstone of the Yelm and the Thurston EDC [Mike Edwards is Executive Officer, Yelm Mayor Ron Harding & County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe are Board members] plan to model Yelm as a retail hub. Therefore, a lot of this traffic from outside of the city is directly of Yelms own making. This is no surprise, given this city objective. Both articles are attached for your review.

While I applaud Yelms progress on providing side connector streets, even your own
Planning Commission stated that the concurrency mark was set in 1998 and outside of
the inner loop connector streets, little has been done in almost 10 years to achieve concurrency,
while the city relied on an unfunded bypass. The Planning Commission said that if the city expected
the Bypass to be operational in 2011, which would be a full 13 years after the concurrency mark was set in 1998,
then Yelm should have not been using the unfunded Bypass for that length of time to determine mitigation,
while continuing to allow approval of large developments.

The document you received from TRPC dated Nov, 26th states,
TRPCs designation of Yelm Ave. as a regional strategy corridor acknowledges that in the short term, intersections may operate below adopted level of service standards during the pm peak period.
Note the key words here, short term.
This is how Yelm gets by on everything.
Without defining what short term means,
they will use TRPCs term to skirt a whole host of issues,
while approving and permitting unbridled growth. After all, short term
was the dictate of concurrency set in 1998, the Bypass when first proposed
to mitigate Yelms traffic in 1992, and the STIPs inclusion of the Bypass.
Short Term does not mean decades, as Yelm applies it. Now,
TRPC gives Yelm another out allowing intersections to operate below
adopted LOS standards in the short term, meaning for an indefinite period of time.
Additionally, the same paragraph closes by saying,
congestion levels at critical intersections may never be resolved.
So, there is a resolve to not resolve this issue to resolution.

However, the Comp. Plan Amendments before you begs further examination, as this whole paragraph was removed from the Transportation Chapter:
Development standards shall identify the method of LOS measurement and
implementation, and identification of the urban core, as well as the mitigation
plan and alternatives for transportation facility planning and development.
Development standards shall be identified to implement the urban core traffic
mitigation plan for appropriate sections of Yelm Avenue and Highway 507.

I ask you these questions:
Where is the mitigation plan and alternatives required in this Comp. Plan?
Where is a requirement for a traffic impact analysis in review of development proposals?
Where is a definition of the term Urban Core?
How are you, I and the public supposed to know where the City defines and allows the LOS F area of the citys Urban Core if the term is not defined?
What is the determination of LOS in the city?
What is the reason for LOS F if there is no mitigation plan?
Since the Comp. Plan says LOS D is improved with traffic mitigation such as Yelms much-heralded connector streets, then why does the city even have to use LOS F in their Comp. Plan at all?
WSDOT says the Bypass is unfunded at $56 million, an increase of $32 million over last years unfunded amount and will not begin construction until 2013, even if funded. Why do the Comp. Plan and STIP even include an unfunded Bypass?
Bottom line: Doesnt this omission delete the Citys obligation to define terms and mitigation? The reinforcement of accountability is removed and now called a Strategy Corridor. City planning officials just get by year after year by using these terms and must think none of us will notice. Isnt resting on the laurels of connector streets while the Mayor instructs the community to leave earlier disingenuous at best to our community and commuters, leaving Yelm Ave. a daily car-strangled spanner connecting a Super Wal-Mart with Tahoma Terra?

The Washington State Constitution states:
SECTION 1 POLITICAL POWER. All political power is inherent in the people,
and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,
and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

All of the public comments about traffic over the last 3 years have been begging city officials
to do something, while the City Council told the public as recently as Nov. 13 all is well with Yelms traffic,
with even one member having his vote on the Comp. Plan read aloud BEFORE the Public Hearing.
There is a huge disconnect out here. And anyone who questions city policies is a labeled a critic and cast aside as being anti-growth, quoting the Mayor in the Nov. 23 NVN. And, most of our City Council members
are the same people who earned the egregious 2006 Jefferson Muzzle Award for restricting the public from
using the word Wal-Mart in Council Chambers. So much for listening to your constituents!

In closing, the medical definition of cancer is unrestrained, unmanaged, uncontrolled growth.
Yelm is headed to be a dying town, choking on its own gridlock because of a lack of planning
and foresight into the future with the decisions made today. I humbly request your attention to
these grossly inadequate Comp. Plan Amendments. Your attention to our communitys number one
challenge is greatly appreciated.

Posted by Steve on December 5, 2007 at 6:07 am | Permalink

Post a comment

No comments yet. You should be kind and add one!

The comments are closed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com