They also intuitively understand that upzoning significant areas of Edmonds, and instituting an aggressive subsidized housing program, would not resolve current housing issues and concerns for a vast majority of both Edmonds residents as well as those non-residents who wish to reside in Edmonds. It will only increase financial difficulties and decrease the quality of life for a increased number of Edmonds residents that will be negatively impacted by these policies.
Edmonds has embarked upon a designated “housing strategy” process that has the potential to transform targeted neighborhoods, as well as impacting the quality of life for much of Edmonds. This process has been presented with the underlying theory that thousands of non-residents will require housing in Edmonds, but many will be unable to pay for it. Overshadowing this process has been a pre-determined moral imperative narrative that Edmonds is required to transform some of its residential areas by not only dramatically increasing the availability of multi-family housing units for all these newcomers, but that Edmonds taxpayers should also be required to provide taxpayer-subsidized housing for those financially unable to reside in Edmonds.
The potential transformation of areas in Edmonds from a pleasant quiet town to urban center may not be the ultimate outcome desired by most Edmonds residents. Many residents settled in Edmonds because they valued lower residential density, single-family neighborhoods, less traffic, minimal noise and pollution, more privacy, lack of oversized buildings and a small-town quality of life. While never promoted as a positive option in the housing strategy process, limitation or outright rejection of any increased developmental density for Edmonds other than what is statutorily required is an important, positive and legitimate virtue and goal for many Edmonds residents in an increasingly densified Puget Sound area. Opposing the current housing strategy doesn’t make those residents bad or uncaring individuals, just individuals who are worried and concerned about their community, their homes, and increased housing expenses due in large part to escalating real estate taxes.
Many Edmonds residents contemplating those excessive and escalating property taxes, are unable or unwilling to have those taxes increase once again to provide subsidized housing for others. Many Edmonds homeowners are also unwilling to sacrifice their single-family residential areas to promote increased development and density. Informed residents understand that much of the current housing situation, particularly housing shortages and excessive taxation are in part the result of prior government policies on numerous jurisdictional levels that have been enacted.
That research was conducted 10 years ago; certainly those impacts have escalated since that time.
An increasing number of residents don’t believe they should sacrifice even more as a result of past government actions. They understand that attempting to resolve housing issues impacted by past government policies by supporting new government activities in this legislative area will only exacerbate matters for the majority of Edmonds residents, while the underlying issues of excessive taxes, regulations and restrictive land use policies that contribute to excessive housing costs are ignored.
The public is constantly informed that their involvement and opinion is not only welcomed, but is crucial to this process. In practice, the number of individuals that have been or will be involved in this process, by attending educational events, hearings and other related activities, are but a minuscule percentage of the Edmonds population. Those individuals — both passionate supporters and detractors of this housing strategy — are in no way representative of the Edmonds community. It is imperative that elected representatives who will have the power to implement housing strategies that may impose a transformation to Edmonds have access to accurate information as to the opinions of the majority of their constituents regarding these crucial housing issues.
A true scientific and accurate survey can be developed and implemented within the housing strategy process to provide that accurate information as to the amount and type of growth that most Edmonds residents truly desire. A scientific survey that actually attempts to accurately gauge public sentiment on this matter should be a high priority and an integral part of any housing strategy process.
That survey should include the following:
– The desirability or negative reaction and responses from Edmonds residents regarding proposed increased housing density and development with its accompanying impact upon noise, traffic, pollution, parking issues, loss of trees and other vegetation, loss of privacy and the impact of increasingly taller and larger buildings including accessory dwelling units adjacent to or near single-family residences.
– Positive or negative reactions and responses to proposed increased property taxes and/or decreased city services undertaken by Edmonds residents in order to promote subsidized housing for others.
It is imperative that residents be surveyed and tabulated as to their support for residential density and subsidize housing specifically for their neighborhood, as well as their street. The Five Corners residential area may be radically transformed by the addition of thousands of new residents through the construction of market rate and subsidized housing if current city studies are implemented. Other residential areas are not slated for any increase in housing density at this time. Support by many housing advocates for a variety of housing programs throughout the United States dramatically dissipates when those enthusiasts are informed that the housing will appear in their neighborhood, on their street, or adjacent to their single-family residence. The old adage “charity begins at home” is often jettisoned in favor of “charity begins (and ends) with the other person’s home” when it comes to public support of these types of housing policies and practices,
The survey results from property owners and those who rent should be differentiated when tabulated. Tenants in many jurisdictions are more inclined to support subsidized housing programs, as many tenants expect to personally benefit from a newly created program, whereas property owners will only experience increased property taxes. Many tenants are not aware that increased property taxes may increase their rent, as those costs are not itemized in their rent increase. If a neighborhood in any city is dramatically transformed by increased residential density, a tenant can simply relocate to a more desirable area with minimal financial loss. Not so for a property owner, who may be financially impacted if that high density and subsidized development is located in their formerly single-family neighborhood, and he or she decides to sell.
Future housing activities can and will have a significant impact on the character of the city of Edmonds. The decisions to be determined in the near future will lay the groundwork for the kind of environment the citizens of Edmonds will reside in. Will the city retain its special small-town character, or will residential areas (possibly yours) be transformed into yet another anonymous, bland and uniform area of high density apartments and townhouses lacking charm and character as is increasingly prevalent in many redeveloped Seattle residential areas? Should Edmonds property owners, a large percentage of them seniors who are already facing financial difficulty according to the city of Edmonds’ own research, be burdened by increased property taxes to benefit a limited lucky number of subsidized housing recipients? These decisions should be reached with the support of the majority of Edmonds residents, and accurate information is required to do so.
These are important decisions, and accurate information can be provided to all those involved in this process with a scientific survey. Are there resources to implement this survey? Assuredly financing can be obtained for this important process in a jurisdiction that is willing to appropriate approximately $40,000 for a new sign. This matter is too crucial an issue and will impact too many residents to be decided without accurate information as to what the citizens of Edmonds actually desire for their community and neighborhoods.