The City of Olympia joins cities in Washington State to look at how to make leasing easier and is asking for the public’s help.
Olympia is a majority tenant city, according to US Census data. Although the percentage of renters in Thurston County was 35% for 2015-2019, Olympia had approximately 53% of housing occupied by renters.
The city has launched a series of surveys that community members can take to provide feedback on policy change options. They are separated between landlords, tenants and interested community members who might not be directly affected by rental policy changes.
All three surveys can be viewed on the city’s Engage Olympia website.
According to the website, city staff and consultants have studied how other cities in the state have implemented policies to stabilize tenant conditions. They analyzed code changes to landlord registration, rent increase notice period extensions, and limits on non-refundable fees and deposits in cities including Bellingham, Lacey, Seattle, Aberdeen and more. again.
Rent control is one thing that cannot be included in code changes because it is prohibited by state law, according to the website.
Christa Lenssen, housing program specialist for the city of Olympia, said surveys would continue until at least the end of March, but could be extended depending on response rates.
Once data from the surveys is collected, the city will hold focus groups to review the feedback and then make policy changes. People can provide their contact details at the end of the surveys if they wish to be considered to participate.
The discussion group schedule can be found on the same webpage. The four groups are for tenant advocates, tenants, large-scale landlords, and small landlords and tenancy managers.
Lenssen said the focus groups will be conducted over Zoom due to public health concerns.
Lenssen said while this type of policy change structure isn’t modeled after anything specific, she interviewed several leaders from other cities who have led similar community engagement initiatives to see how it worked for them. .
“Many cities have conducted some form of community engagement, including community town halls,” she said. “Burien, Tacoma and other cities engaged in dialogue with stakeholders, which helped inform the city’s approach. »