Draft housing strategy dominates during Mayor’s Town Hall meeting

    Dave Earling Town Hall Sept 2018
    Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling addresses those attending Wednesday night’s town hall.

    Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s latest Town Hall meeting was mostly focused on routine reports on city projects. But the last 30 minutes was anything but routine, as several citizens grilled the mayor on what has become a hot-button issue — development of the city’s draft housing strategy.

    At the start of the meeting, held Wednesday, Sept. 19 at downtown Edmonds’ North Sound Center, Earling acknowledged that some in the audience of about 100 were attending specifically to discuss that very issue. He also said he was aware that fliers that had been passed out in Edmonds neighborhoods related to the housing strategy.

    “What is on those handouts does a great disservice to the community, because many of the things that are there simply aren’t true,” Earling said.

    Driving the creation of a housing strategy is the City of Edmonds Comprehensive Plan, a city council-approved document that calls for Edmonds to develop a housing strategy by 2019. The Housing Strategy Task Force has been meeting regularly, and has retained the services of Berk Consulting to assist. The first draft was presented at an open house in May, followed by a city council presentation in July and another public meeting in late August. Then, in early September, the city sent out an announcement stating it will start reviewing workshop notes and figuring out next steps for the process.

    The process has drawn a chorus of vocal opponents, who have expressed concerns that it could lead to negative consequences for the city — from crime to overcrowding.

    Wednesday night’s meeting was no different. After all of the mayor’s department directors completed their updates, Earling then opened the floor to questions. Most of those were directed at the housing strategy effort, which has been underway since 2017, when Earling appointed a task force to look at the issue.

    A couple of the speakers called out the mayor for being critical of the fliers distributed about the meeting.

    “We’re here because we care about Edmonds,” one man said.

    “And passing out fliers is part of a healthy democratic process,” a woman added.

    “How can you ask the citizens of Edmonds to support your strategy, if we don’t know the expected benefit and their expected costs?” one attendee asked.

    One attendee asked: “How can you ask the citizens of Edmonds to support your strategy, if we don’t know the expected benefit and their expected costs? When will your leadership bring the strategy to reality?” As an example, the man noted that the draft strategy called for property tax and sales taxes, but no mention of exact amounts of those taxes or what benefit those expenses would have. In addition, the strategy lists a possible reallocation of the city’s general fund revenue and multiple fee waivers. “How large will the loss of fees be and for what expected benefit?” the questioner asked.

    Earling replied that the housing strategy is still in the development stage — about 40 or 50 percent complete. When a final strategy is proposed, “and there are some of the taxes that you imply we might do, there will be a strategy on how we approach that,” he said. As a result, the mayor added, he can’t answer specific questions about cost and benefit “because we still don’t know what the plan will be.”

    Development Services Director Shane Hope, who is leading the housing strategy effort, added that a number of items mentioned in the question were taken from the assessment of housing tools located in the strategy’s appendix. That appendix includes “a whole list of things that the city could consider,'” she said. Some of the ideas may remain in the final draft, Hope said, but “many are things the city is not interested in doing.”

    For comparison purposes, she cited the comprehensive plan citywide that calls for Edmonds to reduce its energy usage. In that plan, the city also doesn’t quantify the cost. “Those are the general goals that we are trying to do,” she said. Similarly, the city’s draft Urban Forest Management Plan looks at ways to help protect trees citywide. “Does that say to do this — any of these particular actions — do we know what that’s going to cost? No. But it says we are going to head in this direction  — whatever gets decided — and at each stage we come back and look at what the priorities are, what is it going to cost, what are the various options we could choose, what’s the public process to get there and then we go forward,” Hope said.

    One woman said she lives within a one-mile radius of the proposed Edmonds Lutheran Church/Compass Housing project on Highway 99 and 238th Street Southwest, which has been proposed to house 60-70 low-income residents in the Aurora Marketplace neighborhood. She asked if the project would bring criminal felons and people with substance abuse problems into Edmonds neighborhoods, “and if such projects should be allowed.”

    The project is the result of a partnership between Edmonds Lutheran Church, Compass Housing Alliance , and home manufacturer Blokable. (See our previous story here). Bill Anderson, an Edmonds Lutheran Church parishioner who has been working on the project, assured the group that residents will be screened before they move in and that there will be a social worker on site to ensure that any tenant problems are addressed. (See more on that in another previous story.)

    Addressing comments by attendees suggesting that the city is accommodating the Edmonds Lutheran project by rezoning the area for it, Hope said that the project is already allowable within the area’s current multi-family zoning, “whether it’s for people who have less money or people who have more money.

    “We don’t control in our city what the income level of people needs to be to have housing,” she said. “There are all kinds of housing options being discussed and they are not all about people with low incomes,” Hope said.

    Another attendee who lives in the neighborhood said that the Edmonds Lutheran Church project is being developed next to a single-family neighborhood, with no buffer.

    “We are dealing with homeless people right now, camping out near the church, across the street from the church, in the church parking lot,” he said.

    “My wife was threatened two weeks ago walking across the street near Safeway, walking to work in the morning, from a homeless intoxicated person who pursued her,” he said. “We have issues here. My family walks to Safeway but we have to go around homeless people walking the walkway.”

    The man also said he lives next door to a rental home, where homeless people “are living in their cars and then go inside the home each morning to take showers.”

    To address the concerns of those living in the Highway 99/238th Street Southwest area, Earling proposed setting up a meeting with the Edmonds police chief to identify possible solutions.

    Another attendee at Thursday’s meeting said that the city has been focusing on the positive aspects of the draft housing strategy and doesn’t appear to be addressing the negatives, including the impacts that increased housing density will have on the city’s infrastructure. As an example, he pointed to the 90-unit apartment now being built at Westgate near Bartell Drugs and questioned whether there would be enough parking for those who live there. He added that his brother lives next to the nearby cemetery and has noticed construction workers from the Westgate project are parking in his neighborhood.

    Development Services Director Shane Hope Town Hall Sept 2018
    Development Services Director Shane Hope

    Hope assured the man that there will be “more than one parking space” provided for every resident as part of the new Westgate development.

    “I’m just concerned about Edmonds in general being overpopulated,” the attendee said. Hope acknowledged that concern, noting that Edmonds is facing growth like every other city in the Puget Sound region. City staff considers the impacts of proposed projects on streets, sewers and infrastructure and works to plan for them, she said. She also stressed that the growth in Edmonds will be relatively small compared to other areas. “We are not talking about adding 10,000 new units in our city, it’s not going to happen,” she said.

    Another attendee suggested the city consider conducting “a real survey among citizens,” asking what they want to see in a housing strategy. The mayor replied he would consult with staff about that idea and see what might be possible.

    The final question related to the housing strategy came from a woman who told the mayor that while she heard him emphasize that there is no final strategy yet, it appears to her that many city zoning changes “have already been made that support and enable this strategy to be implemented quickly” — and that has happened prior to a vote of the city council.

    “This smacks of a lack of transparency,” she said.

    Earling reiterated that no council vote will be taken regarding a housing strategy “until there is something final to be voted on. We’re part way through the process and when it comes out the other end, there will be public notice there will be public meetings and it will then go to the council and council will make their decision.”

    It should be noted that the mayor and his staff also fielded other questions not related to the housing strategy. Among them:

    One of the questions was related to possible development at Five Corners.

    – One resident said she read that the city has taken an interest in possible future redevelopment of Edmonds’ Five Corners neighborhood. She noted that the neighborhood — which is crowded with students walking to Edmonds-Woodway High School and College Place Middle School — is already experiencing congestion and parking problems due to new homes being built in the area.

    “We will be doing some work on the Five Corners area to try to develop a strategy to make improvements,” Earling replied, “but we are no where near having any kind of edict about what is coming.” He encouraged her to monitor announcements of future meetings on the topic, so that when planning work begins she and any interested neighbors can be involved in the discussion.

    — Another resident wondered if the city ever pursued the idea raised several years ago to dig a trench that would allow trains to run along the Edmonds waterfront without blocking street traffic. The mayor replied that the city did investigate the idea, but added that because the BNSF railroad owns the tracks and the right of way, “there wasn’t a chance in the world that was going to happen without a very long, prolonged fight.”

    Instead, the mayor explained that the city is pursuing the idea of an overpass running from Edmonds Street to Brackett’s Landing Park that will ensure emergency vehicles can have access to the waterfront during train track blockages.

    Earling recognized that there are still a range of opinions about the overpass, known as the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector, and more discussion will happen prior to project approval. “My first job in this role is to keep our community safe,” he said. “And that (the connector) will guarantee or come as close as we can to giving 24/7 access for an emergency vehicle to come out of our fire station here and be four blocks away over the overpass… and get to the people who need the attention.”

    Earling said the project also provides an added bonus: Most of the time people would be able to use it to get down to the beach, and as a result will be able to walk from Sunset Avenue north to the other end of the Port of Edmonds – “a continuous walk,” Earling said. “That’s the sort of the thing that will help us become a city of daytime attractions. And that they will say this was fun, let’s go to Arnie’s or Anthony’s to have lunch.”

    Several questions were also asked by Boy Scouts who attended part of the meeting, including one who wanted to know what the city is doing to prevent waste from entering Puget Sound.

    Public Works Director Phil Williams addresses the group.

    City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite replied that the city sponsors quarterly beach clean-ups and works to educate homeowners on ways to prevent pollution in  the streams that feed into Puget Sound, such as not using pesticides and taking their car to a car wash. Public Works Director Phil Williams also pointed to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and storm water management systems, and mentioned that Edmonds was one of the first cities in the state to ban plastic bags, and is also now working on a ban for single-use plastic items like straws, stirrers and cutlery.

    “A lot of that stuff can end up floating around in Puget Sound,” Williams said.

    — Story and photos by Teresa Wippel





    53 Replies to “Draft housing strategy dominates during Mayor’s Town Hall meeting”

    1. Thank you, “My Edmonds” for being willing to cover community meetings in an impartial way. Last night I was one member of a crowd which attended Mayor Earling’s “Town Hall”. Since I am mentioned in your coverage, I want to pass on a couple of thoughts about the meeting.

      The day before the meeting a group of Edmonds citizens distributed flyers throughout several Edmonds neighborhoods urging residents to attend the Town Hall to find out about the housing “strategy”, ask questions, and be informed. The reason we passed out flyers is that, no matter how many times Mayor Earling and Shane Hope, Edmonds’ Development Services Department Director, try to tell us that they have done a good job getting the information out there and inviting input, none of my neighbors seem to know anything about the proposed “affordable housing strategy” , nor did anyone in the surrounding neighborhoods. Ms. Hope and Mayor Earling must understand that it feels to many Edmonds citizens like city planners don’t really want us to have information about this “strategy” and that it is being rushed through before anyone can disagree.

      At the meeting I was disappointed to hear Mayor Earling use the bully pulpit to say that the flyers “did a disservice to our community”. First, as I said at the meeting, distributing flyers and talking to one’s neighbors about issues is the bedrock of a healthy democracy. Second, flyer information was taken directly from the “Housing Strategy” set of bound documents. It was factual and was not incendiary. Third, because residents now knew about the meeting we had a nearly full hall where everyone sat respectfully and listened to all the directors’ presentations. Finally, I was dismayed to see Mayor Earling try to shut down questions because he did not like the content of the questions. The very definition of a “Town Hall” is a place where elected officials can meet with their constituents to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss upcoming legislation or regulation. It seems as if Mayor Earling wanted the gathering to be more of an opportunity for Edmonds residents to rubber stamp everything Edmonds city government is doing.

      In future, let’s try and make such meetings more a place where Mayor Earling and the city government respectfully listen to the Edmonds’ citizens.


      1. Mayor Dave Earling seems to have lost his way from the days he was a candidate seeking the Mayoral job. Then he was willing the knock on doors and listen town residents about neighborhood concerns. Now he seems more interested in pushing and shoving through personal agendas, with a lot less listening.


        1. Lynne is helping bring information to people.
          To me, that is very helpful. Blame and shaming citizens is not helpful, Laura. To me it could be more thoughtful to consider barriers to knowledge and how we can help bring awareness. (Personal visits to neighbors like Lynne.)


          1. Engaging our neighbors is something to be encouraged and I applaud Lynn for getting out there and sharing HER perspective on the proposed strategy. And yes, barriers do exist and should be addressed. However, a common complaint from a number of those opposed to the strategy is “I did not know and no one in my entire surrounding neighborhood knew”. Given that this strategy has been in the works for nearly 2 years and was made public numerous times in a variety of news sources and city communications, what are the true barriers to being informed? Is it reasonable to expect a hand delivered notification from the city and, if so, what would the cost (tax) of such a communication be? How do we determine what information warrants hand delivery and what information is suitable for the more traditional modes of public notification?

            If you were paying attention and have concerns about how the process was handled, it is more than fair to bring your concerns to light. However, if the alarms just got loud enough to get your attention, is it fair to blame on an entire task-force, administration, and council that you missed it? Is it productive?

            If you just became aware and you have concerns, ok, let’s move forward. What are your suggestions to address housing issues? What parts of the strategy work and what parts need work? Addressing housing needs is one part of the legislatively mandated Growth Management Act http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=36.70A.070%20 and opportunities for public participation are mandated http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=36.70A.140.


      2. Lynne, For almost 2 years now, the housing strategy (and formation of the task force) has been written about numerous times in numerous news sources, as well as city communications. For the most part, the choice to be civically engaged and/or informed is just that, a choice (I want to recognize that there are a few exceptions). At this point, surprise that there was a study, resulting in the formulation of a proposed strategy, is not a failing of the city, but a failure to pay attention.


        1. And yet the fact that people had not yet heard about the housing strategy clearly demonstrates that previous means of communication are inadequate. With subjects this important the information should be pushed to all Edmonds households — rather than it being necessary for people to go find it


        2. During the work cycle for the housing strategy, it was very difficult to find out what was being happening. Web sites were not up to date for study sessions both in content and timing. Study group were told to not share copies of information. Public input was not encouraged during most of the long study period and when public input was allowed it was not shared with the study group. Other than that it all went well.

          Most folks do not have the time to do all the investigation work to learn when and how decisions will be made. To stay tuned into things is not always straight forward. Good government should be open to all not just for those who have the skills and time to dig into what is happening and when. We can do better if we can all work together to more fully engage the public.


        3. Mayor Earling and Edmonds City Council: This perfectly summarizes liberals and leftists everywhere. The voting public can’t be trusted to make the “right” decisions so we “experts” must do it for them. [email protected] yes indeed, thank you Lynne!


      3. Lynne, My Edmonds News has agreed to publish the flyer for those of us who were not as fortunate to see it. Could you provide a copy to Teresa so she can publish it?


    2. Presume for moment we all agree that we must invest into Affordable Housing. No investor would invest at the top of the market. We are at the end of the longest business cycle in American history, interest rates have been the lowest too low for the longest too long. Most, even in the real estate industry, recognise the bubble. No plan can be taken seriously unless it anticipates the market from a macro perspective. Lets invest in Affordable Housing after the market turns. Who denies the market will turn? Pump the brakes until we have empirical facts about how much housing actually cost, how many people might actually move here post-rush.


    3. Earling has got to go. This whole thing looks shadier by the minute. Are they going to allow a vote on this or ram it through in true thug democrat style?


      1. I agree! This mayor and his council are very shady imo. Reminds me of our current National Government. Mayor wants to do what he wants to and no one better get in his way. Using smoke and mirrors, misleading information and bullying are not how a Democracy works. Edmonds is on the verge of becoming a smaller Seattle. All to bolster the egos of a few people. It is very sad.


        1. Our City Council, maybe the Mayor, are a partisan office. It’s a farm-team for other offices. They coordinate directly with Seattle, likely directly with the 21st Dems. Republicans attempted to do the same thing out here, but a lot of it relies on getting vacancy appointments to maintain positions (Nelson). Being the incumbent party really helps orchestrate that, and the Republicans aren’t incumbent in this area so no one is scouting their players. There is not a lot of balance to the council, more loyalty to politics, and as the mayor demonstrates – some contempt for constituents. 3 minutes are up.


    4. Although I am no fan of the Mayor by any stretch, it is the City Council that is failing the City. They are supposed to act as a counter-balance to the Mayor and all his hidden agendas. When the Mayor took it upon himself to appoint all the members of the Affordable Housing Task Force, the City Council should have forced a vote to appoint some of the members of the Task Force. Instead, they remain silent until the Mayor presents a final strategy and tries to force it through. Its time for the City Council to represent the citizens-lets fund a survey to get the opinions of the citizens on these affordable housing ideas and what the impact on neighborhoods and taxes will be. This survey could be done very inexpensively by volunteers convassing the neighborhoods.
      The results of this survey should be presented by the City Council. As an electred official it is your repsonsibility to represent the citizens of Edmonds. This is not optional.


      1. Dave Earling’s election was financed by $ 10,000.00 from Chicago real-estate firms.
        You can’t change the color of the spots on the hyena.


      1. Thanks Lynne, The FLYER shows a concerned groups interest in having input to the process.
        How can someone find out more and participate in the SaveEdmonds group?


    5. I have attended almost all of the meetings about the Edmonds Housing Strategy. They all have a commonality where one (or more) speakers asks “WHY HASN’T ANYONE told me about this? No one called, wrote or knocked on my door!There has been media coverage prior to every meeting. It’s a choice to stay informed.

      Most Tuesdays there is a city council meeting at 7pm that addresses issues, resolutions, proposals that will effect your lives more than the Housing Strategy that builds no houses or raises no taxes. These meeting are NOT secret. I seriously question whether you (the anti-affordable housing cabal) are qualified to decide what is best for Edmonds.

      If a horde of drug-crazed Seattle homeless was headed to Edmonds a legislatively mandated comprehensive plan for the future won’t matter. The hysteria about the housing strategy is fueled by a lack of credible information, a clear lack of understanding of economic losses when our part time residents go home to other communities taking wages and potential tax revenue and, most importantly, lack of logic. Edmonds is not Seattle. Mayor Earling, Commissioner Nelson and Shane Hope are not conspiring against you.

      What I would like to see is people with strong feelings getting better educated before speaking at the meetings. And listening. Then you can be part of the solution and not a big rock in the road.

      If you can’t do that I want you to sit down and shut-up. And stop using the word compassion since it’s clear you have none. I do not want Edmonds’ reputation to be harmed by a few uninformed zealots.


      1. Nigel Farage, when talking about European Commission meetings, said an important strategy of governance is for it to be boring. Agenda is hidden in minutia. I’ve attended a couple meetings before, only to ask myself, who has time to sit through these meetings? Denise has the time and the rest of us are uninformed zealots who lack logic. 🙂

        Most of what the City Council does is paid for by those who don’t have the time to go to City Council meetings. The mayor is actually complaining about people attending this meeting. Denis is complaining about people she feels are morons who don’t attend the meetings. This is Ivory Tower.


      2. Denise,
        Thanks for trying to inform the Edmonds community about when the city council meets. As for our qualifications for deciding what is best for Edmonds, as citizens we have the right to discuss and formulate our own opinions about what kind of environment we want to live in. We pay taxes, we add value to our city. My biggest concern is safety. I owned a home in the Broadview neighborhood of Seattle and had to move because it was unsafe. We had people on the block living in a home with mental disabilities. We would hear screaming obscenities, couples having sexual relations out in the open, and public urination. What made us move was a man entered our neighbor’s home and refused to leave. He stood in her kitchen next to her knives, so she called 911 where he then was forcibly removed in a straight jacket on a stretcher by the police. I had two young children at the time.
        I am informed. I know Compass Housing Alliance allows convicted felons to live in their units. They will not tell the public this. They refused to answer this at the meeting. I am zealous about the safety of our community. I don’t want 200+ units near my residential neighborhood, I am concerned about overcrowding and I am passionate about felons moving in a block away who went to jail for burglary and auto theft. You cannot deny me this.


      3. “If you can’t do that I want you to sit down and shut-up. And stop using the word compassion since it’s clear you have none. I do not want Edmonds’ reputation to be harmed by a few uninformed zealots.” Denise, do you have a mirror in your home? Your “virtue signaling”, really is offensive and certainly not an intelligent way to express your opinion.


    6. “What I would like to see is people with strong feelings getting better educated before speaking at the meetings. And listening. Then you can be part of the solution and not a big rock in the road.

      If you can’t do that I want you to sit down and shut-up. And stop using the word compassion since it’s clear you have none. I do not want Edmonds’ reputation to be harmed by a few uninformed zealots.”

      Translation: If you don’t agree with Denise Miller, you are stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to speak. Sounds like a true ‘progressive’ to me.

      By the way Denise, if you think this won’t eventually raise taxes you are the one who hasn’t been paying attention.


    7. “I want you to sit down and shut-up.”
      Wow! At least you are being honest about you feel towards anyone who disagrees with you.
      Of course it is not very tolerant, not very open minded, and totally anti democratic.
      I for one plan to keep on speaking up about my concerns about the future of Edmonds.
      If this diversity of opinions is so offensive to you [free speech and all that, you know] perhaps you could move somewhere else less offensive?
      I waited politely and respectfully for 2 hours for a chance to ask the mayor a simple question [it WAS a townhall meeting] and never got the chance to speak before the mayor abruptly shut it down


    8. I would really like commend MYEDMONDSNEWS for doing such a great job on this issue. As a news junkie for 45 years I want to thank you for your great service to our Edmonds community. You guys are Pulitzer Price quality, much better than the mainstream Alt Left or Alt Right media.
      Please keep it up.


    9. Just to be clear, the 5-Corners Initiative IS, like the Westgate Bartells, in the Housing Strategy (for “affordable housing”) and according to the Planning Board meeting minutes of February 14, 2018, the city is looking to add 1,500-2,000 more residents to Edmonds at 5 Corners (670-864 units). According to the hired consultant (Heartland), to make it attractive for developers, they are considering reduced parking ratios of 0.6-0.7 parking spaces per unit. Thus, with the best ratio (0 7) that is an additional 450-600 cars with NO PLACE TO PARK. This is the Strategy – maximim density with little parking provided. We can already see this taking shape at Bartells, and this plan is even worse.


    10. LETTER to the EDITOR
      I attended the Edmonds Town Hall Meeting on September 19th. The meeting, led by Mayor Dave Earling, was held at North Sound Center and was informative as the directors of most of the 10 departments were given time to speak. I was raised in Edmonds and it has gone from being a town of 2000 to one of 41,000. At the end of the meeting we were allowed to ask questions.
      The main questioners were against bringing fair housing practices to Edmonds. Last spring there were 170 homeless children in Edmonds. They are not always visible here.
      I heard on the news the other day that the homelessness crisis is about to become a public health castastrophe. You can’t remain healthy living on the street or in your car. I applaud Edmonds Lutheran Church on the corner of 84th and 236th for spending over 5 years trying to do something significant to house people. The Blokables are coming and will be managed by Compass Housing. Some units will be free others will be fairly priced according to income. A social Worker will be on the premises all day. There will be a common room and parking and landscaping. They are quite beautiful as well and high tech. One small model is on display.
      However, most people can’t wait to get off the street for 4 or 5 years while we hear arguments by people not wanting to house any homeless people. Any one of us could be homeless if, for example, we went bankrupt or got an illness which caused us to lose employment. The homeless are not untouchables, but people often fear them as people did those with AIDS in the 90’s,
      It will be my Edmonds Kind of Day when we open our hearts to those who have no home, and while they wait offer them at the very least a well insulated shed with some solar power to be warm, have light, a locking door and a honey bucket. This will be temporary housing. Just as the coyotes and raccoons are losing their habitat so are the humans. Many churches are willing to use their property for this purpose. They would be carefully managed and could actually be very attractive little temporary villages. Edmonds Unitarian is caring for people by letting them park overnight. I learned they all have to apply to stay there and most of the ten cars are mothers and children, friendships have formed, showers provided and a village of a different kind has formed. A Church member stays all night as well to manage this village
      Carolynne Harris
      [email protected]


      1. You sound like a good compassionate person. Have you considered some “low barrier” housing in your own back yard,basement, garage, or even just your couch?


      2. Carolyyne, a friend of mine took in a homeless kid who was in the middle of a bad divorce – no paperwork. Charity is a big deal. How do we know that Edmonds won’t actually increase homelessness like Seattle increased homelessness? I think we all want fewer homeless kids, so let’s identify whatever Seattle did and not do it. Empirically speaking, looking at the effects and not the intentions, Affordable Housing is a catalyst for homelessness.


        1. Seattle, and Affordable Housing schemes, made homelessness worse:

          My lay understanding is that when rent is artificially low for one group, then rent becomes artificially expensive for the next group, plus the added expense of bureaucracy. The system relies on people receiving artificially low rent to eventually become the next group where they’d face artificially high housing costs. It’s a bow-wave that encourages people to be poorer. Also, subsidies actually discourage income mobility, because people who’d otherwise naturally better themselves defer opportunities that would jeopardize their subsidy (I grew up poor and in a welfare state, and saw this first-hand). Oil subsidies encourage more oil. Poor subsidies encourage more poor.

          Affordable Housing schemes are a component of why housing is so expensive to start with. Schemes like these throw ice water on natural price-finding, which automatically determines the lowest rent for the best property. The “Projects” used to be a good word.


          1. Matthew,
            The poverty pimps who benefit are the real estate owners/developers who have 12 years of paying zero taxes because they will allow the units to be subsidized for those 12 years. (That’s the deal they’re given by the city) After that, that can go for full market rate. So the city loses it’s tax revenue and the low income individuals will then have to anty up to pay full market rate or find a new home to live in.


        2. Hello
          I took in 3 homeless teenage boys 4 months ago. I had tried to keep them housed but their mother was making things worse so I quit paying the rent. Edmonds schools encouraged me and my church to get involved. So yes I took 3 boys in – I was not suggesting sheds in ur backyard – but well protected sheds such as Lynnwood has allowed at Good Shepherd Baptist – they are well managed – takes a village of caring people to undertake this work.


          1. Carolynne, let me be the first to congratulate you. You see, I WAS right. Now if your fellow church members would also step forward as you did, the entire homeless problem would be solved immediately. No need for all this government interference in your neighbors lives.
            Unless……I didn’t quite understand your post. Did you take the boys into your own home?
            Did you sign a lease for them in apartment somewhere? You said you quit paying the rent after 4 months. What happened then? Did you walk away from the lease and stick the poor landlord with the problem? Did he [or she] have to evict them? Did it cost the landlord thousands of dollars, like it cost me? Have you taken in any more homeless? Did the organization that asked you to get involved make promises and then walk away?
            That’s what they did to me. They promised the sun, the moon and the sky if I would rent to their “clients” and then refused to honor their promises to help if any problems arose. In my worst case they actually took the side of the tenant and forced me to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to have her evicted, and of course the place was trashed when she moved out. Not to mention that she was such a terrible tenant she drove my good tenants out of the building. It was a such a nightmare that when I sold out and reinvested I bought new buildings as far away from Snohomish and King County as I could reasonably get.
            So why would you want to inflict all those problems on your fellow citizens in Edmonds?


      3. “It will be my Edmonds Kind of Day when we open our hearts to those who have no home”

        Carolynne, I admire your compassion, and I have a suggestion for you that would solve this problem.

        If you and everyone who agrees with you [and I have been led to assume that there are great numbers of people who agree with you, and very few who agree with me] would take one homeless person into your home, perhaps into a spare bedroom or rec room, we could solve the homeless problem overnight!!!
        Think of the all the benefits. Since they are living in your house, you can provide them with healthy home cooked meals. You can drive them down to the hospital for medical care and write a check for that care right on the spot.
        No need for any government intervention, no need for building code changes, zoning changes, no need for government funding, no need for tax increases, no need for public hearings, no need for voter approval, just some compassionate activity on you and your friends part and bingo, problem solved and no more homeless people.
        To my knowledge there is no city, county, state or federal law that prohibits you from starting today.
        You would get my everlasting congratulations on following through on all your talk and “compassion” with some real action.


    11. All of this makes my heart bleed…maybe I should become one of those who prides oneself in spending other peoples’ money…

      Edmonds does NOT need more people!!


    12. I just re-read the “draft” housing document. Two things become apparent–

      1) This is not a draft but a finished document. In the document it says that the plan was originally scheduled to be submitted to the Council in 2019 but has been accelerated to 2018.

      2) While some of the people on the task force certainly believe their motivation is honorable, this document is about two things – money and greed. The mayor is making a full bore assault to make Edmonds a developer’s heaven by changing whatever regulations are necessary to encourage high density projects-not that the developers need encouragement-they just need some of those pesky regulations like providing parking changed.

      I was on the Economic Development Council when the Westgate plan was pushed through with any opposition ignored and there was some–quite a few people who felt the density was too high. This seems to be the “Edmonds Kind of Way” under this mayor–ask for feedback but ignore it.

      We need to get as many people as we can to voice opposition to this plan at every City Council meeting going forwared or we are going to end up with an Edmonds that looks a lot like Kirkland or Seattle. Just take a look at the Seattle Times for all the problems Seattle is having with crime and drugs.


      1. Doug makes several interesting comments. On the Westgate development as the EDC was evaluating the concepts for development they we not told anything about the Multiple Family Tax Exemption and its cost and benefits. As we now know the tax forgiveness will exceed the rent subsidy. It would have been cheaper to collect all the taxes and just give rent subsidy check to the few who will benefit from the lower that market rate concept.


    13. I just read the controversial flyer that was distributed prior to the mayor’s Town Hall. It’s very disappointing to see no names on it, and no link to a website with names, or even a Facebook page. Nobody had the courage of their convictions to put their name(s) out there. That’s no way to advance the civic conversation.


    14. I also attended the Town Hall meeting, as I have attended almost all of the meetings since I became aware of the Task Force last year.
      I have a lot of thoughts about this plan, more than I can put in one post, so I will be putting up numerous shorter posts.
      In researching the Task Force and it members, I found an interesting article from our own myedmondsnews from April 25, 2017.
      The event was presented — in cooperation with the City of Edmonds — by the Edmonds Housing Instability Coalition (EHIC) [this organization is part of the Task Force] and Elizabeth Kohl, Director of Social Services at Housing Hope was on the speakers panel.
      She had a very interesting comment near the end.
      Elizabeth Kohl observed that the city and its residents are “going to pay for it one way or another.”

      “If people don’t have housing they are more likely to commit crime,” she said. “You are going to pay police officers and for jail time. They are also going to end up in hospitals a lot more often. Do you want to invest in criminal justice system and pay more for medical, or do you want to build housing to stabilize people so they aren’t creating those issues for you?”

      Now, this not only sounds like an implicit threat [“give us money for homeless housing or become a victim of crime”] it also directly contradicts the assertion of Kevin Ramsey [PhD] that homelessness is not correlated with increased crime.
      I find it funny that the task force is trying to have it both ways.
      Kevin Ramsey “No need to be concerned about crime because there is no relationship between crime and homelessness.”
      The EHIC “Homeless leads to more crime” and higher police costs, higher jail costs, and higher EMS costs.
      How can I believe anything they say, based on their own contradictions? Why would you believe anything they say?


    15. When I attended the Edmonds Town Hall meeting Sept 19 it was my first exposure to Mayor Earling. I had never even seen him before, let alone hear him speak.
      While sitting through an hour and a half presentation by the various city departments, I found myself in agreement with most of the agenda. I think the Waterfront Connector is a good idea and a good investment in our future.
      However, when the topic turned to the Housing Task Force I was offended and insulted by the Mayor’s attitude towards those in the audience [who live in Edmonds, pay the taxes in Edmonds that pay the Mayor’s salary, pay for his benefits, and will be paying in the future for his retirement].
      In his words, he views us as a “disservice to the community”, while we waited patiently, quietly, respectfully for 90 minutes in order to ask a question about the radical redevelopment plans being pushed forward. I never got a chance to ask a question before the Mayor, obviously angry at the couple of questions he did acknowledge [note I did not say he answered them] shut down the meeting.
      Mr. Mayor, if you have lost interest in your constituents and their input, please do the residents and taxpayers of Edmonds a favor and resign from a job you did not seem interested in [as soon as possible], and let us install a new Mayor who wants to communicate with those if us who care enough about Edmonds to come to the Town Hall meeting.
      I was angry and appalled at the Mayor’s behavior. If we can’t ask questions at a Town Hall meeting, when can we ask questions?


    16. I have been doing some research into the members of the Mayor’s Task Force regarding Item 4 of the plan. It sure seems to me that there is a very heavy emphasis on homeless programs:

      4. Identify and adopt strategies to reduce homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are often struggling with issues that are beyond the scope of this strategy such as addiction, mental illness, or domestic violence. However, Edmonds can play an important role by coordinating with regional service providers and reducing barriers to the development of emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing for the homeless.

      There are many causes of homelessness and many barriers to housing stability, including poverty, unemployment, low wages, housing costs, disability/illness, substance abuse, domestic violence/child abuse, and criminal records. Housing solutions must often be coordinated with support services to help homeless residents address the underlying causes of housing insecurity. Housing solutions for homeless persons and families ▪ Winter and emergency shelters for short-term needs ▪ Transitional housing (particularly for women and children) ▪ Tiny homes and other flexible low-cost housing formats that can be built quickly to address needs ▪ Permanent supportive housing with coordinated services
      [I find this interesting because whenever attendees at all the meetings I have attended ask questions about this, we are ignored. I have never had a question I have asked even acknowledged, let alone answered. Furthermore I have been repeatedly told that the Task Force is about affordable housing and not about homelessness].

      Mark Craig [Task Force member from Henbart LLC website https://henbart.com/%5D

      “Henbart is a Seattle based real estate company that develops, owns and manages exceptional commercial and residential properties in the Pacific Northwest.” [from their website]
      [I could be wrong, but I couldn’t find any connection to Edmonds on their website. It appears to be a Seattle for-profit company. I don’t understand how their interests would connect to those of us who are concerned with the future of Edmonds.]

      Bill Anderson Compass Housing Alliance
      [from their website http://www.compasshousingalliance.org/%5D
      Compass Alliance Housing provides Housing, Shelter, and Support Services to people experiencing Homeless and Poverty in the Puget Sound Region.
      [Since Bill Anderson in on the Task Force and his focus is on homelessness, it seems obvious that homelessness is an integral part of the radical redevelopment plan for Edmonds].

      Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County
      [Some members of the Consortium]
      Snohomish County Office of Housing, Homelessness and Community Development
      The Snohomish County Office of Housing Homelessness and Community Development (OHHCD) administers federal, state and local funds dedicated to ending homelessness and developing and maintaining affordable housing. OHHCD also oversees the implementation of Snohomish County’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness and manages the annual Point in Time Count of homeless people.

      Washington State Coalition for the Homeless
      The Washington State Coalition for the Homeless has taken the lead since
      1984 in training, education, and advocacy with and on behalf of individuals
      and families who are homeless in Washington State.

      Catholic Housing of Western Washington
      “We believe in compassion, love and respect for all people, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. Catholic Community Services provides a continuum of care for homeless and low-income people throughout Western Washington. Through day centers, emergency shelters and emergency services, we provide warm, safe refuge from the streets.

      Many of our programs have facilities where homeless men, women and children can come to bathe, launder clothes, receive medical attention and alcohol and drug treatment, services that help to normalize and stabilize lives. To help them make connections to secure lives again, we provide case management and employment support.”
      [There are more, but this should make my point. It sure seems to me that there is a very significant presence on the Task Force of people who are looking to get into the Homeless Housing Industry in Edmonds. My question for the mayor, that I was never allowed to ask, is why is there such an overwhelming representation of groups wanting to get into the homeless housing business in Edmonds, and not one representative of the residents and taxpayers of Edmonds? Couldn’t the problems with the public that the Task Force is facing now have been mitigated by a more balanced community representation in the beginning?]


    17. As I said, I have attended many meetings and asked many questions, none of which were ever answered or even acknowledged.
      One of those question that was completely ignored was:
      “If Edmonds goes down the same path with the same plan that has been followed in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angles, etc. [after all, the are the same organizations that are pushing this plan in Edmonds; just look at the makeup of the Task Force], why in the world would anyone think that the result would be any different in Edmonds that it has elsewhere?” Just look at what is happening in those three cities and ask yourself if that is what you want for Edmonds?
      In fact, since Edmonds is a much smaller city, with fewer resources,and much smaller budgets, I would assume that the results would be even worse.
      I guess that is just tough luck for us who will have to pay the cost, right?


    18. Another question I have asked which was completely ignored was:
      Does the city had an exit strategy in case their radical redevelopment plans turn into a complete disaster? In other words, once the city starts down the same path as Seattle, and get the same results, do they have any contingency plan for how to clean up the mess they are about to create?
      Look at Seattle and San Francisco. Their only plan is too keep doubling down on the problem and throwing more and more of the taxpayers money into a black hole.
      Folks, sooner or later you run out of the taxpayers money.
      I am attaching a link to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

      “The Price of Homelessness: The Seattle area spends more than $1 billion a year on this humanitarian crisis.
      The Business Journal spent six months examining public and private spending to detail the economic cost of homelessness in King County and to identify effective solutions.
      The Puget Sound area spends more than $1.06 billion per year addressing and responding to the homelessness crisis. To estimate the economic impact of homelessness, the Business Journal spent six months examining the budgets of dozens of nonprofits that work on the issue; city and county budgets; police and emergency calls to encampments and resource centers; hospital services; permanent and temporary housing; and drug treatment and outreach.”


    19. Please consider attending the City Council meeting this evening and if you feel as strongly about this as I do, express your thoughts during the Public comment period. If you don’t “get involved in politics” at least attend and listen to the comments. The passing of this housing strategy plan will fundamentally change Edmonds forever and it will happen quickly. This is your City and you need to take action now to protect or it will be gone forever.


    20. I think that it’s worth noting that most of the elected officials, and none of the department heads, live in areas of our city that will be impacted by the housing strategy.


    21. Ron is correct and one of the best things that could happen for Edmonds is to go to Council members be elected to serve districts. We would then have representation that is not “Bowl” centric.


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