About Us

We are the neighborhood association for South West Olympia.  Our "mission" is to promote a sense of neighborhood through activities and communication.  We are officially recognized by the city as the organization that represents the residents of South West Olympia.

Our purpose is to preserve and protect the character and infrastructure of the neighborhood, the rights of its residents, and the quality of the natural environment.  We will do this through involving all neighborhood residents and businesses in full and democratic discussion of issues that affect the neighborhood’s quality of life, informing the city of our views and advocating on proposals that affect us, and providing an opportunity for social activity and interaction  among  neighbors.

History of SWONA (last updated Feb. 1, 2020)

A brief history of our neighborhood and SWONA


The SW Olympia Neighborhood Association evolved with the West Side of Olympia… an early version sprang to life in 1977 when the city proposed locating a destination mall just to the west of the neighborhood. Prior to that, the area was an open wooded area, playground for kids from the nearby neighborhood, haunt of the original Decatur Raiders. 


Then a Ernest Hahn who built dozens of malls throughout the West set his sights on that fertile ground – a covered enclave for shopping, easily accessed by automobiles from parts south, west and east.  And plenty of room for parking. 


Neighborhood residents immediately realized that the temptation for cars to speed through the hitherto quiet streets would be irresistible.   In the words of Terry Cooper, president of the then Westside Neighborhood Association, “Fourth Avenue traverses the heart of a cohesive family neighborhood that begins at Harrison and extends south to Ninth Avenue.  Even now, before the opening of the new Capitol Mall, Fourth Avenue has begun to suffer severe traffic shock.”


A series of meetings with the city ensued and after deliberating various strategies, the city agreed to install stop signs at strategic spots throughout the grid of neighborhood streets.  Hence, the numerous stop signs – today sometimes observed and sometimes not, but at least communicating something very different to drivers than would be the case if they weren’t there!


Fast forward to 2001 or so, when the neighborhood we know today had been augmented when the city platted a whole new style of neighborhood – Wellington West – with a dogleg connecting the old area (north of Ninth) to the new area.  The city created a 3-way stop and some folks who drove that intersection regularly were irritated. They filed to create a new neighborhood association – the SW Olympia Neighborhood Association. 


But you can’t assume that your new organization will limit itself to one issue.  Around 2000, the city came up with another proposal that promised – once again – to flood the neighborhood with outside traffic. 


And with that, SWONA was transformed into the activist organization it is today. 


The City’s traffic engineers had long had their eye on the end of Decatur Street SW.  Maps that pre-date the construction of the freeway, show a link through what was then a wooded valley to the Tumwater Hills to the south.  The logic of that link was destroyed by the freeway. But Olympia’s traffic engineers decided to resurrect a form of it by opening up the neighborhood to Highway 101 via Decatur Street.  They added a circuitous backdoor route through the Auto Mall, with a new stub linking to the end of Fern St. Sw.  Two connections, they said, would spread out the traffic that might otherwise choke the streets. 


All hell broke loose.


{I’ll be adding to this history over the next few months.  Please feel free to contact me via the website if you have information to share, or questions to ask.  Bethany Weidner, 6th Ave. SW]

Our Association

SWONA Officers as of March 21, 2019

Office Officer
President Ryan Hollander
Vice President Mark Toy   
Secretary                          Nicole Grant
Treasurer Catherine Kelly
Outreach Coordinator    Brent McBride