Campaign statement Julie Hankins 7/30/13:
Dear SWONA Officers and Members, Decatur Raiders, Wellington West Neighborhood, NWONA, and Uptown Locally-Owned Businesses,
I really appreciate you taking the time to give me a tour of your neighborhood and explaining your concerns about opening the end of Decatur street SW and 16th at Fern to automobile traffic. I have not responded sooner because I was tracking down answers to the questions you posed and looking for specific steps we can take to address your neighborhood concerns, as well as other neighborhoods with similar concerns.
Let me begin by saying, your tour only reinforced my philosophy and response to your situation. I believe neighborhood streets are not, nor should they be, freeways. Neighborhood streets should accommodate neighbors and neighborhood children walking and biking safely upon them. I would not vote to open up any street in any neighborhood in our city that would destroy the safety and walkability of said neighborhood. My responsibility as an individual member or neighbor in the Olympian community, as a neighborhood leader, and as a council member, is to work with my community to get our community needs met. I believe a community need is to preserve and protect safe walkable neighborhoods for ourselves and our children. With your continued support, as your council member I will continue to work to preserve your neighborhood and get our community needs met.
Specific to Decatur and 16th, the Planning Commission's draft of the Comprehensive Plan does not include the exact same language that was in the previous version since they felt the intent was the same and that street opening decisions could not be made until the West Olympia Access Study, formerly known as the Westside Access and Traffic Circulation Study, was complete. The West Olympia Access Study is tentatively scheduled to begin in June of 2014. It is somewhat contingent upon other community plans being completed before work will begin so that date could be pushed further into the future. If the neighborhood feels the new language in the draft Comp Plan is not adequate protection and you prefer the original language, then I will pursue returning the original language to the updated Comp Plan.
Taking a broader view when looking at this issue, especially city wide, I feel it is important we, as neighborhoods look at how we can have a more collaborative relationship with our city government. While I am fully aware that is not how things have always been done in the past, we have to change this relationship. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, the neighborhoods and the city are not going to get better results until we start working together in a new and different way. We need to start conversing, collaborating, and compromising with each other and we can start with traffic issues on our neighborhood streets. We should start thinking now, about how we can improve our mobility without sacrificing safety and walkability. It will have to begin with conversations and with all sides recognizing that there are two needs, mobility and safety, that must be addressed, and they do not need to be exclusive of one another.
Working together we could craft specific standards and criteria for opening or keeping streets closed. We could tie traffic calming and street improvements to the criteria. We could also have a conversation about trying different alternatives and returning them to existing conditions if our agreed upon measurable outcomes are not achieved. The future possibilities could be endless, but it will require us to to begin with conversations, and now is the time to begin talking with one another to create transparency and to rebuild trust and confidence, long before the West Olympia Traffic Study is completed. Neighborhood issues, like this one that directly impacts you, are very important to me. That is why, as your council member I will work over the next four years to empower neighborhoods.
Thank you again for the opportunity to meet with you and to hear about what a special and unique place your neighborhood is. Working together, all the special and unique neighborhoods in Olympia can and will be preserved.
Friends to Elect Julie Hankins