Olympia property owners reject Downtown Improvement District efforts


Efforts to establish a Downtown Improvement District (DID) in Olympia failed to gain enough support from property owners, according to Todd Cutts, executive director of the Olympia Downtown Alliance, who led the committee spearheading the proposal.

The DID would have been a taxing district managed by the private sector to fund improvements and services for downtown properties.

At the Wednesday, March 6 Parking and Business Improvement Area Board meeting, Cutts explained that after launching a petition drive in August last year, they only received signatures of support from just under 48% of property owners ––– short of the 60% threshold needed to establish the district.

Cutts said they started efforts in 2019 to establish the DID to fund additional downtown services. The steering committee paused during the 2020 pandemic.

The work picked up again in late 2022 with a petition drive the following year to gain support from property owners. That effort, too, failed to secure the support of 60% of owners.

In December 2023, the DID steering committee asked Cutts to analyze the district's parcels, leading to a potential reduction in the annual budget from $575,000 to $450,000 and an anticipated 58% participation rate.

"That would trigger a new petition drive district with the new budget, new math, and others," Cutts said. Feeling property owners' interest decreased over time, the steering committee decided to disband and drop the effort in January of this year.

Oliver Stormshak of PBIA asked Cutts to explain what caused the DID effort to fail to get the support needed. He said it appeared there was a momentum to establish the district successfully.

The PBIA had previously voted in favor of the DID.

Cutts explained that through engaging with property owners, the main reasons cited for lack of support included frustration over continuing to pay taxes to Olympia City without getting the services they felt they should. There was also frustration at the prospect of taking on an additional assessment through the DID on top of existing taxes. "That was articulated with varying degrees of aggressiveness."

However, Cutts noted there were opinions from some property owners that downtown was improving and felt additional services through DID were unnecessary.

Cutts said that these two perspectives and various positions were the most prominent feedback they received against establishing the assessment district.

Cutts said he and the steering committee members tried to educate property owners downtown about the services the city and the PBIA have provided. 


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  • AugieH

    Another money grab thwarted.

    Saturday, March 9 Report this

  • Deanima

    Another predictable dopey comment from Augie. Did you not read that this would have been based on 60% of the votes of those being taxed? Yhe process worked as intended. Your comments consistently betray the ignorance of an armchair quarterback. Get off the couch and make a difference, or shut up.

    Saturday, March 9 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    Another baseless liberal insult from Deanima. Just admit it, you want to take everyone else’s money.

    Sunday, March 10 Report this

  • Deanima

    SSG, someone banged you upside the head with the definition of "liberal" and all we heard was a hollow sound. Read the article, dope. It was decided by a vote, and the vote was against. It worked as it should have.

    Monday, March 11 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    @Deanima, You seem to be jumping on the name calling bandwagon for no reason. All Augie said was that the money grab attempt was thwarted. He did not say the process was flawed, and he did not appear to misunderstand the process. Maybe take the vitriol down a notch before you stick your foot in your mouth. Augie simply acknowledged the success for what is clearly his side's (and clearly the majority's) opinion. Folks are clearly tired of being taxed to death in this community, and I am certain that many liberals and conservatives share that opinion.

    Monday, March 11 Report this

  • Deanima

    It's not a "money grab" when it is decided through a vote. There is a difference between imposing a tax on someone else and voting on a self-imposed tax. Augie plays same note, over and over again, uncritically, from the comfort of an armchair. The voting process played out as it should. And I feel there were good reasons for why the outcome was against the tax by the business owners. No foot in mouth here. Perhaps you should read the comments more carefully.

    Monday, March 11 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    Deanima is angry because he is an aging boomer who is realizing the 60’s fantasy they all thought they were creating is fake and he is going to die.

    Tuesday, March 12 Report this