Yelm City Council unanimously votes to pay $12,000 for racial inequality housing study


Due to House Bill 1220, which passed in 2021, requiring cities to plan and accommodate for housing needs, the City of Yelm will pay $12,000 for a study aimed at racial inequality.

Yelm City Councilors unanimously approved the state-required study at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

The study will look for any old codes that could prevent people from acquiring housing in the area. Along with Yelm, the cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater will participate in the study, which costs $90,000 in total.

“This is something that has basically been mandated to all the cities that are planning under growth management. We’re one of them,” Yelm Planning and Building Manager Gary Cooper said. “This is kind of the third in a series of things we’ve been doing related to that bill.”

According to Cooper, the first action taken by the city was a housing allocation study done last June. The study required the City of Yelm to analyze how many affordable housing units are needed to be developed and supplied by 2045.

The second item, which Cooper said the city is engaging in right now, is a land capacity analysis.

“We’ve got the numbers we need in terms of the affordable housing units we’re supposed to provide,” Cooper said. “The second part of that bill requires (that) we do an analysis of our current zoning and current available lands within the city to see whether or not we have the right zoning, and enough land in general in place to accommodate those housing units. That’s also being done by the Thurston Regional Planning Commission on behalf of all of us.”

Cooper added that the agreement approved on May 14 was the final piece of the three-step process, and the city will not exceed $12,800 in spending to complete it.

“This is one that we’re going to do a request for proposal. A consultant is going to come in and do this piece. We’re again partnering with the other cities. We have to do this,” Cooper said. “We’re paying about 10% of the overall costs, based on the size of our community. It’s a relative cost we’re paying to it.”