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Yelm’s first city-issues Town Hall in over a dozen years
Food Truck and Marijuana Retailers public input requested

Butt Naked Organics owner Aria Cissney brought her food truck to the Yelm city council
parking area to dovetail with the YBA proposal, at the invitation of YBA V.P. Steve Craig.
Photo credit: Butt Naked Organics.

* Yelm’s City Council conducts a Town Hall forum to get feedback.
* Friday, Nov. 4, 7pm, Yelm Community Center.
* Two issues for discussion: allowing marijuana retailers and food trucks in Yelm.
* Councilors Tad Stillwell and Joe DePinto suggested holding a public forum.
* Police Chief Stancil says no increased crime with marijuana retailers.
* Councilor Tracey Wood, Mr. Doug’s Restaurant owner, opposes food truck regulations.
* The last public Town Hall community forum was in 2004 for proposed NASCAR track.

– About marijuana retailers in Yelm
There are no marijuana retailers in the Yelm city limits because the council rejected them in 2013 when the State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board started issuing licenses. We now have a new interim mayor and 5 new councilors seated within the last year, so the time has come to address this issue again. While some have cited their worries, Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil stated there has not been an increase in crime reported from area law enforcement officials who have marijuana retailers in their jurisdiction. Stancil made an excellent observation in that customers will buy marijuana products in Thurston County cities, so shouldn’t Yelm allow retailers in order to garner tax revenue for OUR local economy? Councilor DePinto even proposed revenues obtained through retailer taxes be utilized to fund public safety. Other councilors agreed.

– About food truck regulations in Yelm
Yelm’s Food Truck regulations proposal was submitted the city council by the Yelm Business Assn. (YBA). While newspaper polls and the public response has been overwhelmingly supportive, Councilor Wood, who owns Mr. Doug’s Restaurant, told the Nisqually Valley News, “food trucks in Yelm would be unfair competition to the brick and mortar restaurants in town, because of their ability to move around to find customers.”

Kudos to Councilors Stillwell and DePinto for proposing this Town Hall forum!
These councilors along with councilor Carmody continue to demonstrate leadership in putting the public interests ahead of their own.
When the Food Truck regulations are on the council agenda for a vote, Councilor Wood must recuse himself being owner of Mr. Doug’s Restaurant, as voting would constitute a conflict-of-interest.

Is Councilor Wood threatened by the idea of Food Trucks affecting Mr. Doug’s revenues?
Obviously the Food Truck regulations being part of a Town Hall discussion is to appease a very closed-minded Councilor Tracey Wood who owns Mr. Doug’s and must feel threatened. Food Trucks have been shown to be generative in bringing people into cities and towns, drawing visitors and tourists, which would only help Wood’s restaurant. I did not see him file a complaint when Margaret Clapp opened Uptown Lounge, the first of this type of bar, lounge, restaurant in within a movie theater in this area. That facility is open daily, as opposed to Food Trucks which usually are not, and should be perceived as more of a threat to Wood than Food Trucks. Yet, the redesign of the movie theater seating, plus the addition of Uptown Lounge has only been generative in revenue for Yelm, drawing patrons to our city from Tacoma, Olympia and Lewis County for this unique experience. Wood’s concerns are short-sighted & misplaced, another reason why Yelm has earned the nickname “non-business friendly.” That perception has to change and the only way to do that is through actions, not Wood’s type of attitude.

Interim Mayor Foster announced at the last council session this public forum would be held Nov. 4th. If he was really interested in engaging the community, the Friday night dinner hour was not considerate of being inclusive to the public, since our restaurants (including Wood’s Mr. Doug’s Restaurant) and Yelm Cinemas are filled with town patrons on their weekend night out.


The last Public Forum on specific city issues was held in 2004 at Yelm High School.
Local citizens conducted the session about the proposed NASCAR track. While he did not conduct the session, Mayor Adam Rivas videotaped the event, with other city officials present, which witnessed so many citizens protesting the potential destruction of our bucolic town’s character, the city took a different tactic the following year with the Super Wal-Mart proposal:
– eliminate public comment to the Council,
– omit any and all Town Hall Public Forums,
– reduce public Wal-Mart comments to a limited Hearing Examiner-administered session.
Wal-Mart was labelled “hurtful” to small businesses in 2005, yet Yelm issued their permit anyway.

The Yelm City Council received such an outcry against a proposed Wal-Mart here in 2005,
they denied the public mentioning the words “Wal-Mart” and “box stores” in council chambers followed by issuance of a moratorium on a suggested permits moratorium (suggested by a citizen to pause to allow all sides to cool down). A large group of citizens calling themselves “Protect Yelm” organized and crafted fact-based, long term objections focused on locally-owned, small business that would be “hurt” if Wal-Mart was approved. This group presented statistics about the demise of “brick and mortar” independent businesses across the country, which was all ignored. Indeed, Yelm’s then-major “brick and mortar” grocery store QFC closed as a result of Wal-Mart opening. The city council’s actions brought international attention from the ACLU, followed the next year by the Yelm City Council receiving the egregious Jefferson Muzzle Award for suppressing public comment to the council. The city also ignored their own Wal-Mart Traffic Mitigation Plan by not enforcing their own imposed conditions.

After this spectacle, Mayor Harding declined to participate in the 2005 NVN-conducted candidates forum and vowed as mayor to never conduct a Town Hall session, promises he kept.

– Bottom line:
The time has arrived where the majority of Yelm Councilors must vote to place the interests of the public ahead of their own.

Blogger Klein is a YBA founding Board member and current Secretary.

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2016 at 6:33 am | Permalink

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