Contentious, capacity crowd as Edmonds housing strategy discussion continues

    3772
    54
    A standing room-only crowd gathered in the Swedish/Edmonds meeting room.

    While there’s no shortage of controversy over Edmonds’ housing strategy effort, Thursday night’s open house clearly demonstrated one thing upon which all agree: The issue remains a growing, divisive community flash point and it’s not going away any time soon.

    The crowd began gathering in Swedish Edmonds Hospital’s fourth floor conference room early, and was already at standing room only by the time the meeting opened at 7 p.m. More attendees continued to file in, and Mayor Dave Earling was forced to interrupt his opening remarks while hospital building staff removed a large partition to open additional space. Despite this, many of the estimated 200 citizens in attendance had to stand, sit on tables, or stretch out on the floor.

    The mayor noted that the city held a similar meeting in December, located in the Edmonds Bowl, “with a good turnout, but not as large as tonight.” The latest presentation would be essentially the same, Earling added, with a few updates and additions.

    “Basically, we’re backing up and taking another look at the housing strategy issue,” he continued. “We know there are misconceptions out there. Tonight we want to address these, answer your questions, gather good information from you, and walk you through what we know. The first draft was just that — a draft. (The Edmonds City) Council will be intimately involved as we move forward with a second draft, and as part of this they want to know what happened and how we got to this point.”

    Thanking those who came to Thursday night’s meeting, Earling said: “We need your input. We’re not looking for any particular outcome tonight; we’re looking for factual information.”

    The challenge facing the Puget Sound region — and a driving force behind the city’s housing strategy — is growth, Earling said. “Just in Snohomish County we’re looking at 220,000 more people by 2035, and according to the Puget Sound Regional Council 5,500 of these will live in Edmonds. We’ll need 1,200 more housing units and 1,000 more jobs to accommodate this, and we need to think now about how we’re going to do it.”

    While the city needs to develop a plan for accommodating population growth, “we need to do this in ways that preserve the special small-town atmosphere that we all enjoy – and value — in Edmonds,” the mayor said.

    The area’s recent skyrocketing housing costs raise another challenge, Earling added: “How to accommodate people who want to live and work here. For example, a starting teacher in the Edmonds School District earns $65,000 a year, which effectively prices them out of living in the community they serve. We need creative solutions to address this.”

    Edmonds Development Services Director Shane Hope fields audience questions Thursday night.

    Edmonds Development Services Director Shane Hope then took over the podium, explaining that the format would follow that of the Dec. 4 meeting, beginning with an overview of projects coincident with — but not part of — the housing strategy, time for questions, moving on to an update on the housing strategy itself, and concluding with more questions and answers.

    Edmonds Associate Planner Brad Shipley then provided information on two current housing projects that have been been mentioned during the ongoing housing strategy conversation, even though they are not part of the strategy: Westgate Village and the Edmonds Lutheran/Compass Housing Blokable Village project.

    Shipley explained that as a result of the 2010 study by the University of Washington’s Green Futures Lab, the Westgate area was rezoned in 2015 to allow for mixed commercial/residential development, opening the way for the current Westgate Village project now under construction. The project will add 91 residential units to the local housing base, 3,100 square feet of commercial area, and 121 parking spaces.  Additionally, the project is taking advantage of the Edmonds City Council-approved Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE), whereby 20 percent of the residential units must be affordable to low- and moderate-income households.

    He then went on to address the Edmonds Lutheran/Compass Housing Alliance Blokable Village planned for the vacant land east of the church, which was recently sold to Compass. Blokable offers a relatively new modular approach to housing, where units are constructed offsite. The units come in varying sizes from studio to three-bedroom, and are designed to fit together in a range of possible configurations not unlike Legos. The owners intend to bring the units on site in two phases, and ultimately provide an estimated 80 additional residential units. Shipley stressed that the necessary applications for the project have yet to be received.

    Edmonds Director of Economic Development Patrick Doherty then provided additional background on the Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program, which again is not a formal piece of the housing strategy, but figures into the issues surrounding it. He used Westgate Village as an example of how this works in Edmonds.

    “The Multi-Family Tax Exemption program was developed as a tool to encourage affordable housing,” he explained, “and many cities around the state have used this tool to get affordable housing in their jurisdictions. In Edmonds we think it’s smart to encourage housing and especially affordable housing in areas like Westgate that have good access to transit, and are best able to handle the growth.”

    Doherty went on to explain that by exempting residential components from the tax rolls for 12 years, builders are provided an attractive incentive, without which many would simply not choose to embark on such a project.

    Edmonds Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty explains the Multi-Family Tax Exemption.

    “It’s important to understand that the only thing that’s exempted are the housing units, what we refer to as the residential improvement value,” he said. “The land and commercial units — the non-residential components — are still subject to tax. This means that development results in an immediate boost in tax revenue, since it will push land values up and commercial enterprises will move in and pay taxes. Without the exemption, this project may well have not happened and the area in Westgate might have stood vacant for many years, generating minimal tax revenue.”

    Hope then paused the meeting to take questions on the information presented thus far.

    These included a question on how much revenue is being given up due to the MFTE at Westgate. Doherty responded that we’re not giving up money, because without the development-driven rise in land values and commercial activity, the tax revenue wouldn’t have happened anyway. He also pointed out that an exact amount would not be known until the property is built and an assessed value assigned.

    Another questioner asked about permitting for the Compass Project and whether it would have to go through a public hearing process. Hope responded that projects that meet exiting zoning requirement do no have to go through a public process, since the zoning is already set up.

    Several questions centered on local concerns that Compass Housing might intend to make all or part of the Blokable project so-called “low-barrier” housing, in which people with criminal histories would be accommodated, and activities including drug use within living units would not be restricted. Compass CEO Janet Pope was in attendance, and responded that none of these units would be low barrier. “This is not a model for any of our permanent housing, and all these will be permanent,” she stressed. “This is a place for folks who need a break on their rent.”

    Compass CEO Janet Pope was on hand to respond to questions and concerns about the Blokable village regarding how tenants are screened and community safety.

    Other questions centered on why Edmonds is setting a goal that folks who work here should be able to live here, why we want more density at all, and how we can set up strategies to accommodate the people who already live in our community in less-than-ideal conditions.

    In response to the latter, Doherty explained that while it is not yet completed, the Westgate Village project has a waiting list for living units almost completely comprised of current Edmonds residents.

    Responding to My Edmonds News via email, Hope expanded on this, stressing that “a key part of the housing strategy was intended to be how Edmonds can encourage more opportunities for workforce housing and moderate-to-middle income families, as well as to identify more ways to help seniors that might have special needs.”

    Hope then moved into the next section of the meeting, a presentation on the current state of the housing strategy effort, what has happened and what’s next.

    “The strategy document will change,” she began. “It was a draft, and needs lots of reworking. The consultant who put the draft together is no longer working for us.”

    She went on to review the background, including the State’s Growth Management Act, which mandates that local jurisdictions plan for projected growth, and provides several goals and guidelines for them to consider in this regard. In response, Edmonds included a provision to develop a housing strategy in the city’s comprehensive plan.

    Subsequent activities included 35 meetings of the Planning Board that took up housing issues, a joint housing forum in early 2017, the mayor’s appointment of a task force, the hiring of a consultant, a preliminary housing strategy draft, and a decision to pause, obtain more public input and work on a new draft.

    Most recently, the City Council passed a resolution of intent to revise the comprehensive plan to either delete the requirement for a housing strategy entirely, or push it out to 2020.

    Edmonds Associate Planner Brad Shipley reviews the Edmonds Lutheran/Compass Blokable Village project.

    Asked by My Edmonds News for more detail on possible changes to the Comprehensive Plan, Hope said in an email response that the city “could just remove the strategy requirement from the Comp Plan because the existing Comp Plan policies are adequate for the GMA (Growth Management Act). It’s just that a strategy would have more detail than a Comp Plan.

    “Either way, Edmonds and other cities still need to encourage housing opportunities for a range of needs and incomes,” she added.

    Looking ahead, Hope told attendees to expect a possible change in the Comprehensive Plan’s provision for a housing strategy, completion of work by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee appointed to advise Development Services, council consideration of a study on homelessness, and possibly a new housing work group along with a process to apply to be on this group.

    She concluded by assuring the audience that updates would be posted on the housing strategy website and encouraged interested citizens get regular email updates sent to them. To join the list, email [email protected] and request to be added.

    Final questions and comments included a suggestion — met with much applause — that the city pay for affordable housing by cutting government spending, and a request for a guarantee from Compass that no tenants with misdemeanor drug and other offenses be allowed in the Blokable village.

    In response to the latter, Mayor Earling said that Compass will need to screen tenants, and Janet Pope gave assurances that Compass tenants all must pass state background checks, follow the good neighbor rules of their living group, not engage in any illegal activity, and be subject to regular monitoring by on-site staff.

    The final questions concerned the 5 Corners neighborhood and the discussion became quite heated and contentious. Several participants repeated reports circulating in the neighborhood that the city has plans to develop the area and is keeping these under wraps, bringing out Planning Board meeting minutes from February 2018 to support this.

    Hope responded that while back in 2011 there was some consideration of a neighborhood plan for 5 Corners, it “fell off the radar” and nothing further came of it. She added that any project that meets existing zoning requirement could proceed, anything proposed outside this framework would require public meetings.

    While no plans were announced for subsequent public meetings on the housing strategy, developments will be posted regularly on the website and sent directly to addresses on the project email list. See Thursday’s PowerPoint presentation here.

    — Story and photos by Larry Vogel

    54 Replies to “Contentious, capacity crowd as Edmonds housing strategy discussion continues”

    1. The City can create more affordable housing by cutting government spending and taxes. That was the point I asked about last night, and Shane Hope simply refused to answer it. Government spending is driving the increase in housing prices. Rather than spend even more to subsidize the City’s favorite projects, the City should lay off some planners and cut our taxes.

      Ignored

    2. Please confirm the email address to receive housing strategy updates. “According to this email the address does not exist. Your message couldn’t be delivered. The Domain Name System (DNS) reported that the recipient’s domain does not exist”

      Ignored

    3. Considering the number of people who attended it would have been nice if the writer had included some input from some of the concerned citizens who took the time to come and listen to the city employees, who were after all paid to attend, while everyone else can on their own time and their own dime.
      Has My Edmonds News thought to reach out to some of the organized community groups are just as interested, if not more, as the city employees and sycophants?

      Ignored

      1. I actually agree with you. Why do we need more people moving here. Why? Edmonds is a nice quiet little town. What’s wrong with it staying that way?

        Ignored

    4. Housing prices are far more likely to be going up because nonresidents view Edmonds as a desirable place to live, and will pay good money to move here. The downtown core is viewed as a nice area to walk, and there is waterfront access as well. We have good access to the freeway, and it’s a far shorter commute to downtown Seattle than it is from Mill Creek, Everett or further north. Our taxes are similar to many other SnoCo areas, less than in some.

      Ignored

    5. I wanted to give a few take-aways from Thursday’s meeting: The article states: “Another questioner asked about permitting for the Compass Project and whether it would have to go through a public hearing process. Hope responded that ‘projects that meet exiting zoning requirement do not have to go through a public process, since the zoning is already set up.’” That is their modus operandi; the city wants to do a project, so they change zoning in the parcel before the project is introduced so they won’t have to go through a pubic hearing process. (see Compass Housing Alliance -Edmonds Lutheran Church project. This is exactly what happened to the Compass project and what their intentions are for 5 corners). In addition, the Mayor’s team stated that this project is not a part of the strategy, if this is true, why is it displayed on the cover of the Edmonds Housing Strategy document? From the strategy: Third Row (Left) “Edmonds Lutheran Church and Compass Housing Alliance have partnered to develop a multistory housing development for low-income individuals and couples in the City of Edmonds. The housing will feature an innovative new modular building technique that greatly shortens design and construction time to lower costs.”
      The article above states: “Several questions centered on local concerns that Compass Housing might intend to make all or part of the Blokable project so-called “low-barrier” housing, in which people with criminal histories would be accommodated, and activities including drug use within living units would not be restricted. Compass CEO Janet Pope was in attendance and responded that none of these units would be low barrier. ‘This is not a model for any of our permanent housing, and all these will be permanent’, she stressed.”
      Here are the criteria for Low Barrier, permanent housing admission like Compass from HUD (see link): Permanent supportive housing’s admissions policies are designed to “screen-in” rather than screen-out applicants with the greatest barriers to housing, such as having no or very low income, poor rental history and past evictions, or criminal histories. Housing programs may have tenant selection policies that prioritize people who have been homeless the longest or who have the highest service needs as evidenced by vulnerability assessments or the high utilization of crisis services. https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Housing-First-Permanent-Supportive-Housing-Brief.pdf
      Janet Pope is being deceptive when she says this isn’t low barrier. At the library meeting she said it would house people 80% ami (average median income) or less. Then she changed her answer at the latest hospital meeting to 60% ami or less. The reality is and has been 50% ami or less.
      This is taken directly from Compass’ to their 990 tax form: “Compass provides permanent housing to formerly homeless and low income households in 10 apartment buildings located throughout King County. Compass provided housing to 1136 people in 659 apartments. Almost all of our units serve households with income of less than 50% of median income. (A small number serve households with incomes 60% AMI or less).” Formerly homeless, felons, people with mental disabilities, and no income people would be allowed in.
      Brady Shipley from the planning department said there was confusion over the Compass project: “it’s not a mobile home, it’s a modular unit that’s been prefabricated offsite”. Then why did the city give the model unit that is on the church property right now a mobile home permit to allow such a structure, even though it does not meet definition of mobile home, and it is not located in a mandatory mobile home park? I think there is either confusion or purposeful deception within these city departments.
      I find it telling that one of the councilmembers who has been instrumental in the planning of the Edmonds Lutheran development, Neil Tibbott, was absent from this meeting. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can only assume Neil is now trying to keep a low profile. Could it be because it is an election year for him? I hope I’m wrong.
      These meetings seem to be held in good faith, gathering and sharing plans and concerns, but anyone in attendance would surely notice how the Mayor’s team tried to control all dialog, avoid any comments by stipulating that the audience is only to ask questions, and showed little respect for differing opinions.

      Ignored

      1. Excellent response Kari!!!
        Have you thought of running for office? Seriously, the mayor and city counsel are up for election this year and we need some new representation. I know that I am looking for someone to support for office and so are a lot of others.
        If not, how about writing for My Edmonds News?

        Ignored

      2. Snohomish and King County have different Fair Housing Guidelines. Compass would not be able to ask about the criminal background of a prospective tenant in their Seattle location even if they wanted to; but they can here. I am not vouching for the truthfulness of CEO Pope’s claim that they would be screening for criminal background at the Edmonds location, but I am telling you that if Compass wanted to have that policy here they could -and that their precedent of not screening for criminal activity in their Seattle location where they do not have the option to do so- is not a reason to suggest that we were lied to when told that they would be doing it here (where they can).

        Ignored

      3. 100% on the money Kari, you see thru their scams, so many in this City are blinded by the Mayors constant smiles. The wolf is in charge of the flock. Dave Earling (the Mayor), his campaign was financed by $ 10,000.00 from Chicago real-estate firms, I guess they are getting their moneys worth.

        Remember the City Council tabled $ 300,000.00 to $ 350,000.00 which was earmarked for a Five Corners Study within the last two months. There is no purpose to conduct a study, five corners is all private property. The study is to find out what developers want from the TAXPAYERS, change all the zoning, get artist renderings of what the city would find acceptable in appearance, and address infrastructure changes all to be completed before the developers step in. The developers then get MFTE, All paid for by you guessed it- The Edmonds Taxpayers. Five Corners will be four, maybe five stories high, all the way around the new round-about, with lots of bicycles, maybe a new BID (another tax), a new Creative Zone (which will be another new tax). Just can’t throw too many taxes at the citizens all at one time, just wait.
        MFTE, a total scam which puts the burden of development onto the property owners in Edmonds. While it probably cuts the payback on a development to be free and clear in 10 years. Did you get that for your mortgage??
        Westgate- all living units were exempted for 12 years under MFTE. Who makes up the shortfall due to the increased demand on public services, you the Edmonds Taxpayer!!
        Westgate- there are 121 parking stalls in total, including all of the stalls at the front of the building for commercial parking. Shane Hope can show everyone a layout of the parking in a blueprint, how many stalls are below the structure for rental unit parking?
        You think it is expensive to live here now, just wait.
        City Hall really does not care about taxpayer opinion. The meetings are all orchestrated, it;s really just to tell you what is going to be done. City Hall works for developers, but takes every dime it can from the property owners.
        “I think there is either confusion or purposeful deception within these city departments.” LOL, it’s the latter and you hit that on the head.
        Time to wake up Edmonds Taxpayers and Vote out Dave Earling, we need a new Mayor, and new Council members. Many have been there for far too long.

        Taxpayers want truth & honesty—-Dave Earling sits on the Sound Transit Board, and who lied to the voters, the State Legislature and lied on the voters pamphlet? Sound Transit did, and people think Earling tells the truth, time to wake up Edmonds.
        Earling says everyone deserves to live in Edmonds, regardless of income, citing a single teacher with a $ 60,000 salary can not afford to live here. They probably can’t live in areas of Mill Creek, or Snohomish either. Sound Transit is a $ 94 Billion dollar train system, they can commute from somewhere else. Income effects opportunity, and not all of us can live on the ridge in Woodway, or have a view of the Olympics, or own a brand new home, a boat, a plane or a new Tesla. If it is a married couple, that’s $ 120,000.00 a year, more than enough to easily live in Edmonds.

        And now you have a City Council who thinks transparency is something taxpayers have no right to. Citing– remember Watergate, they got caught. If Council is that worried about getting caught, maybe it is time for a RICO investigation as to what is really going on in City Hall.

        We had a homeless person in our yard last year. When the police came he was arrested for an outstanding warrant. This is what Edmonds is being turned into, and if voters do not change things. Drive I-5 and look at your future.

        Ignored

        1. Brent, we desperately need informed concerned citizens like yourself on the ECC. Have you thought running for office? I think there is wide spread support for a change in government in Edmonds. I would support your campaign.

          Ignored

      4. It is an inaccurate statement that I have been “instrumental in planning” the Edmonds Lutheran project. I have kept an eye on it like most Council members and concerned citizens, but “instrumental” is an overstatement. I am also not trying to keep a “low profile” which is another exaggeration offered by this author. In fact I attended the previous public meeting which was a repeat of this presentation and I am working on a proposal for the Council to consider forming a Citizen Housing Commission, which is a matter of public record. I look forward to a robust city-wide discussion on these issues and value the many questions that have been raised over the last year.

        I also plan to attend the Three Practices workshop at Edmonds Community College on January 30th to further my understanding of how to have important public conversations. The first facilitated conversation is on the topic of housing. More about that here… https://myedmondsnews.com/2018/12/learn-how-to-cross-the-difference-divide-during-3-practices-event-jan-30/

        Let’s keep working toward solutions that take us into a bright future.

        Ignored

        1. The following article speaks for itself: (you being instrumental in the project) From another My Edmonds News article (link below):

          “Edmonds City Councilmember Neil Tibbott walked the grounds of Edmonds Lutheran with Shane Hope, Bill Anderson, and Pastor Julie Josund in 2016 to discuss the church’s dream of building affordable housing on site and how it might fit it with subarea plan that was developing. “We could see that what they had in mind was a perfect fit for the direction that we were taking with Highway 99,” Tibbott said.

          Edmonds City Councilmember Tibbott said that the church project serves as a model for how other similar housing could come about as part of Highway 99 development.

          “One of the thing that makes the Lutheran church parcel pencil out for subsidized housing is the fact that the church is donating the property,” Tibbott said. The city would be “very eager” to work with other organizations or individuals who are willing to do the same, he added.

          “Part of connecting with the city is the opportunity to connect with all of the other partners that could help pull off a project,” said Tibbott, who until this year served as the city council’s representative to the Alliance for Housing Affordability. “One of the things that I’ve learned in affordable housing work is that it’s different than your typical market-rate housing. It usually requires multiple partners. There are five, six, seven, eight partners who kick in part of the cost to get a project off the ground, as opposed to market-rate housing which typically has a developer and a bank.”

          https://myedmondsnews.com/2018/05/transforming-highway-99-revitalized-roadway-could-attract-a-range-of-housing-options/

          Ignored

          1. You are confusing “instrumentality” which has to do with taking an active role to initiate an action AND my active involvement as a Council member assigned to explore housing options for the entire city. I take my responsibilities seriously and give extra time to understand a wide variety of factors before coming to a conclusion on the Compass project or any other that we must evaluate as a Council. It’s not “instrumentality” its my job.

            Ignored

          2. It’s hard to really know how much “instrumentality” you had in this Compass project. I can infer from knowing that both you and Bill Anderson (who is a Woodway City councilman, is a member of the Edmonds Lutheran Church, sat on the Edmonds Housing Strategy Task Force at the behest of the mayor) and is on the same board as you – the board for Alliance for Housing Affordability- that it must be a considerable amount.

            Ignored

    6. Here are some comments overheard as I left the meeting on Thursday:
      Would be nice if less time was spent on ‘presentation’ and more time for comments.
      How can the city continue to ‘host’ these meetings and not provide microphones?

      Ignored

    7. The article is interesting but a little long on defining the problem and assigning blame and a little short on solving it. Homelessness, crime and addiction have increased exponentially in the whole country, not just Seattle. I would point out that areas with a half way decent winter climate are much more afflicted than places, like say Chicago or the Midwest in general. You aren’t as apt to freeze to death in Seattle at 32 degrees as you would be in Chicago at 10 below. After a lot of ideological bashing, the article suggests that the answer is a combination of public and private funds to provide barrack type housing and limited social services in a particularly less appealing part of town on surplus industrial type property. Accompanied with this would be a sort of police state where the homeless are run out of all public areas and vagrancy and panhandling would be a crime punishable by imprisonment. There has to be an answer somewhere in the middle of all this. I do very much agree with the article that much of this problem stems from mental illness and the lack of the support of a social network of some kind for many of these folks.

      Ignored

    8. I think it’s helpful to keep housing issues in perspective. In his opening comments, Mayor Earling said that official projections show Edmonds growing by some 1200 additional housing units by 2035. But when you break that figure down, that’s only 75 units each year ~ fewer than that one mixed-use development going up at Westgate. City officials also told us they won’t be rezoning single-family neighborhoods to allow apartment houses.

      I believe that Edmonds can absorb 75 new apartments and houses each year without dramatically altering the look and feel of the city we all love. Edmonds will still be Edmonds, but with a few more apartment buildings and homes in places already planned and zoned for them. To me that’s just not a big deal.

      Ignored

      1. Yes, that’s true. But when the mayor waves his hands saying blokables is up there he is obviously dog whistling to the people unaffected. We are bracing ourselves for 200 unit apartments across the street from the church as well, and 125 additional units on 234th street. That’s too much congestion for 84th Ave.

        Ignored

      2. Roger – The 75 units per year are already exceeded yes so why approve more? The units are also being directed to only one main area. The City is segregating and concentrating by socio-economic class. High density low income at the edge “working class (as the Mayor calls us)” next then insulated in the center with unobstructed views of the water the elite upper classes who the mayor says “we all know and respect”. This segregation and concentration creates division and conflict as you saw at the meeting. A more fair and equitable strategy would be for every neighborhood to include a certain density and 20% affordable housing. Downtown Edmonds should have high density and affordable housing too.

        Ignored

        1. You can’t build market rate “affordable” housing in Edmonds becuase the land, labor, and materials are just too expensive to buy and build with. That’s why new houses in Edmonds are so expensive. By the time you buy the land, buy the materials, pay for the labor, pay all the taxes, your price point is above any kind of affordable housing.
          The only way to build affordable housing in Edmonds is to subsidize it, either thru direct means [cash grants] or indirect means [tax breaks, variances, zoning changes etc].
          In both cases it amounts to taking money from one group and giving it to another group.
          I personally think we already have plenty of that at the county, state and federal level and there is no need to bring it down to Edmonds.
          But we could always put it up to a popular vote and see what happens. Let the majority decide what they want for Edmonds?

          Ignored

          1. Unless it’s in a much less desirable location, and or creating a smaller size of unit, “affordable housing” schemes usually involve taking money from one group and giving it to another. Alas, there is only a limited amount of other people’s money to spend on these projects. For the lucky few, who get one of these units, it’s like winning the Lottery. In our system, we have periodic elections of the City Leaders fortunately to sort the whole thing out.

            Ignored

        2. Affordable housing can only be built where the cost of land will accommodate it. The cost of land in the downtown area is too high for affordable housing.

          Ignored

      1. Pave paradise and put in a parking lot. That’s what it seems like will be happening here. Too bad we can’t let our small town stay a small town. Someone must be making money on this, somewhere, somehow.

        Ignored

    9. Great article, Kari, to help understand the overall complexity and extent of the homelessness problem in Seattle and all over the country. My personal opinion is that the political format is not going to solve anything. Just like the National political polarization results in legislative paralysis, so will the local polarization. That is exactly what is happening in Edmonds. We put a political spin on every possible solution and if the possible solution doesn’t meet preconceived notions of how things should be done in America, we throw out the possible solution. As a result we keep doing the same old thing or nothing at all and wonder why the problem gets worse. Pretty crazy. I think maybe, how we have handled alcohol consumption after prohibition (a dismal political failure) might be one possible approach to the addiction problem. If we could somehow guide all homeless substance abusers into either a treatment program or a give them the drugs they want program in a live in setting, we would at least be stopping the drug importation and property crime aspects of all this and getting a portion of the homeless off the streets. We could then deal with helping the more rational and motivated of the homeless population instead of just lumping them all together.

      Ignored

    10. The latest change in the Fed. income tax laws was a major wealth redistribution upward (Taking money from one group and giving it to another). That was called encouraging Capitalism (more jobs) and tax reform (simplification). If you raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute it downward it is called Socialism and job killing. Yet one of the highest economic growth periods in the Nation’s history was the 1950’s when the top marginal tax rate was 90% and homelessness was pretty much a non issue in America. The “government” was subsidizing low income housing to the limit with the G.I. Bill. We were taking from the “rich” and giving to the “poor” big time. There was poverty and low class living for sure, but you didn’t have homeless people on every street corner and living in tents in the city park with some portion of them doing drugs and stealing us blind and littering needles and human waste. As far as affordable housing downtown in Edmonds, I’d love to build a “Casita” on my large lot and rent it out for income and helping the cause but the city wouldn’t let me and my neighbors would have a fit. Got to have some answers somewhere in all this.

      Ignored

    11. “major wealth redistribution upward (Taking money from one group and giving it to another)”

      I don’t support tax cuts when we have a 22 trillion dollar national debt and a 1 trillion dollar a year deficit, but…
      I would love to know how you can take money from the poor and give it to the rich when the poor don’t have any money and don’t pay any tax?
      Could you explain your reasoning to me?

      Ignored

    12. I am in total agreement with you, Dave, on your first point. On your second point, I would argue that the working poor pay plenty of taxes, especially at the city, state and county levels and in many cases the Federal level. I probably should have used the term “relatively poor” rather than “the poor” so your point is well taken on that too. The question you and I (and the people we elect to governments) have to answer is, what do we do about or for the people who are so poor that they can’t pay taxes and live on the streets? Whatever we are doing now seems to be encouraging more and more of them. In my 50’s example, we had hundreds of men returning from war who needed homes, education and jobs or they likely would end up a long term burden on the economy. As a society, we decided to tax extreme surplus wealth so the lesser advantaged of us could survive and thrive. We did this even with the burden of paying for WWII. And we built the Interstate Hwy system to boot. I’m all for new faces running for City government. We need some new thinking perhaps. But if candidates knock on my door and start to tell me all the things they are against with no ideas for what they would do to solve housing and homeless issues in town , I’ll vote for the incumbent. And yes I do vote without fail.

      Ignored

      1. “working poor pay plenty of taxes, especially at the city, state and county levels and in many cases the Federal level”

        The bottom 50% of the population pay no Federal Income tax and instead get money from the top 50% through the Earned Income Tax Credit, Section 8 housing, food stamps, Medicare, free education, free lunches and more other city, county, state and federal programs than I could possible name. So the bottom 50% may pay gas taxes, property taxes [through rents], sales taxes and excise taxes [but not much becuase they don’t have many taxable assets] but certainly not much and I would consider these to be user fees for services rendered and certainly not a transfer of money upwards. They pay the same price for food and gas as everyone else.
        As for the poor living on the streets, we should not be enabling them to live such a destructive [to everyone] lifestyle. I am opposed to government subsidized housing in Edmonds.
        In your youth, there were only about 152 million people in the US [1950] and now there are about 330 million people. The old days are never going to come back.

        Ignored

    13. Living in Edmonds is so desirable that building 200 units a year will not materially affect the market. Subsidizing development with tax dollars for the unattainable noble cause of “affordable housing” is just a mechanism for wealth transfer to developers who could not get approval for their project otherwise. And make no mistake, a tax abatement for a new property for twelve years is a tax increase for everyone else.
      Edmonds is a very desirable area right now mostly due to the lack of housing density. Increasing the housing density until it is no longer desirable to move to Edmonds will not:
      1. create “affordable housing”
      2. solve homelessness
      3. increase the quality of life of current or future residents.

      If you don’t think that is true, you should ask some of our neighbors that have moved to Edmonds from Seattle in the past two years.
      What it will do is allow developers to make top dollar on projects they otherwise would not be able to build.

      Ignored

    14. EDMONDS CITY CODE”
      3.38.040 Residential targeted areas – Designation.Email Link
      A. The following area is designated by the city council as a residential targeted area, consistent with the requirements of RCW 84.14.040:

      1. Westgate Mixed Use (WMU) Zoning District.

      2. Highway 99 Subarea, as designated in the Highway 99 Subarea Plan.

      B. If part of any legal lot is within a residential targeted area, the entire lot shall be deemed to lie within the residential targeted area.

      C. The area(s) designated in subsection (A) of this section may be amended and other areas may be added by action of the city council consistent with requirements of RCW 84.14.040. Any amendment to the residential targeted areas shall not affect the status of a project for which the city has received a complete application for property tax exemption under this chapter. [Ord. 4080 § 1, 2017; Ord. 4047 § 1, 2016].

      As you can see, Five Corners is not yet listed. But the Council will pass this, and more development will be coming all at the expense of TAXPAYERS.

      Ignored

      1. Development anywhere in the city generally adds to city revenue and other mitigation fees. The Westgate development for example will add to the tax base from day one and the mitigations fees for the development are measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There will also be almost $100,000 of public art added to Westgate. The taxpayer does not pay any expenses for any development at Five Corners with or without any code changes.

        Ignored

    15. Dave, Dave. Nobody is arguing for the old days to come back. I”m simply arguing that we might want to revisit some of the old solutions to similar, if not identical problems we have had. With the systematic destruction and discouragement of labor unions and major tax cuts for the upper layers of our society over the past fifty years, there has been a huge re distribution of wealth upwards. I don’t know the exact numbers, but CEO’s of large corporations used to make about 15% more than their average employee. Now that figure is more like 300%. Our corporations have also presided over a huge exodus of high paying union wage jobs to non union low wage countries which compounds the wealth re distribution upward. Combine that with the advent of robot “workers” who don’t form labor unions and don’t require lunch and coffee brakes. Greater efficiency and greater profits. I’m 100% with you on the fact that property taxes are too high with no end in sight, especially since we have chosen that tax over higher income taxes for the extremely wealthy among us. I understand and sympathize with your objection to taxpayers subsidizing affordable housing in Edmonds because I’m right there with you with burdensome property taxes to pay. That is only one small aspect of this whole housing and homelessness issue though. Real solutions will only occur at the National, State and Regional levels I’m afraid. I think there will have to be some very large contributions from the private sector if there is any hope at all for answers to these issues. I do very much admire your research and respect your views even if I don’t necessarily always agree. I think one of the biggest dangers to our mutual well being and safety in these times, is trying to make “bad guys” of each other over political/ideological positions. There is just too much of that, and please forgive me when I fail. I will surely try to do the same. Clint

      Ignored

      1. Very gracious response. As for your comments, I think an inheritance tax would solve a lot of problems. I hate to see taxes on working people, aside from user fees, but an inheritance tax only taxes people who don’t need it anymore. More fair than an income tax.

        Ignored

        1. An inheritance tax is double taxation. Often times the heirs do need what’s left to them.
          The shortage of funds by governments started when their workers were allowed to be unionized. Get rid of the unions and you’ll eventually get rid of much of the problem.

          Ignored

    16. Dave “Sound Transit” Earling needs to be voted out, along with the entire City Council this year. Its time for new blood in Edmonds; citizen leaders with a vested interest, not beauracrats on the take like what we have today.

      If you can ‘t afford to live here, go back to school like I did. Make yourself more valuable, take some ownership. I’m sick and tired of hearing about whats “fair” and “equitable”. Life isn’t, so get over it. Housing is not a right, which is why the word “homelessness” is a red herring.

      Lets focus on getting new leadership, and ensuring Point Wells doesn’t get developed, because THAT will really hurt all of us.

      Ignored

    17. Of course housing isn’t a right, but it is certainly a human need and homelessness is an issue whether we like it or not; even in Edmonds to a very small extent. We are all paying the price of homelessness, addiction and crime in one way or another. Police raids on homeless camps, jails and prisons aren’t free; you and I pay for them. The courts aren’t free, we pay for them. Emergency room visits for the indigent aren’t free, we pay for them. Comes down to what sort of society you want to live in I guess. I agree with you totally on Point Wells, but the fact is the City Council and Mayor of Edmonds have no real say in that matter. The Snohomish County Council doesn’t even have much power to prevent that development; since it is located in King County and Shoreline. The fact is, Point Wells will eventually get developed. The question is the type of development and density allowed. Changing the Mayor and entire City Council of Edmonds might feel good, but it won’t have much impact on Point Wells one way or the other.

      Ignored

    18. Ron, as to your fist point, so what? If you are dead, you are never going to be taxed again anyway as far as we know. (Hopefully there are no taxes in Heaven. I guess Hell might be it’s own sort of permanent tax). Of course, we might want to limit the inheritance taxes to the absurdly wealthy. Somewhere around the half billion mark maybe, wealth is pretty much just score keeping. As to your second point. What do Unions have to do with the shortage of Government Funds? I would say the shortage of Government funds is a result of severely cutting taxes at the same time you explode the budget for whatever reasons; hoping that the economy will grow to make up for the tax loss. (Fox News economic theory 101). I guess by your reasoning, craft guilds and professional associations were the beginning of the end for efficient Government the World over. Oh no, I’m sure it’s just the working class Unions that are the root of all our financial woes. Clint

      Ignored

    19. Double taxation thru inheritance taxes results in less money for the needs of those who get the inheritance.
      Prior to the unionization of government workers those workers use to receive mediocre pay and great benefits. now they receive great pay and superior benefits. The result of this is compensation accounting for an excessive percentage of revenues leaving too little for the other governmental needs.

      Ignored

      1. I agree that an inheritance tax and an income tax amounts to double taxation. So I would dramatically, drastically lower the income tax. Quit taxing working people saving for a house, investing in a new business, paying off a student loan. They can pay an inheritance tax when they die. Much more fair.

        Ignored

    20. Have to totally agree with Dave on this. Practically speaking, I agree, you would not want to take inheritance funds from beneficiaries who truly need those funds to survive and prosper. An obvious example would be exempting the value of the inheritance of family farms which can easily go into the several million dollar range. On the other hand, Warren Buffet’s heirs probably wouldn’t be too deprived if they had to give up even 50 or 60 % of their inheritance. Even Buffet has said as much. As for government Unions being blamed for breaking government, that’s a bit of a stretch I think. Kind of ignores never ending wars, tax breaks for people who don’t need tax breaks, loss of revenue due to companies going off shore, and pork barrel spending at the federal and state levels. Locally, we got a nice round about at five corners due to Fed. Gov.t largess; but was it an absolutely necessary project? Probably not. We are talking about a 30 million dollar viaduct on the waterfront that will screw up people’s views and be a general eyesore on arguably our most valuable city asset. Is it a totally necessary project for the public good? Probably not. We have a Federally financed emergency fire boat that is virtually unused about 95% of the time and plenty of room for a helipad for extreme life threatening emergencies. There is plenty of room down there to park a pumper truck to fight fires. Port personnel could be crossed trained as volunteer firemen and basic medical aids. No reason a police cruiser couldn’t be permanently assigned there either.

      Ignored

    21. Mr. Cooper:
      I was an Edmonds city council member from 2006 to 2010. I unsuccessfully ran for re-election in 2009 and 2013. It is difficult, but not impossible, to get elected in Edmonds if your opponent is supported by the democratic party. I will no longer be a candidate because my wife needs me 24/7.

      I do not have the time to address all of Mr. Malgarin’s non-facts, but I will comment on a couple of his constant ones.
      Mr. Malgarin often references a large campaign contribution received by our Mayor from a real estate organization, indicating that that causes the Mayor to inappropriately support builders and developers. I have taken the same kind of contributions, as have most elected officials. The contributors would obviously like to receive some special treatment, but they know that the best that they can hope for is to be treated reasonably and fairly. I have dealt with many builders and developers and have learned that all they are seeking is fair and reasonable treatment.

      Mr. Malgarin alleges that the developer of the apartments at Westgate are getting reduced property taxes for all of the building’s apartments. Not true; the reduced taxes apply only to those apartments being offered at reduced rents. And those reduced taxes obviously only benefit the renters not the developer.

      Finally I want to say that I have no connection with any builder or developer, but the idea that they are “ripping off” taxpayers is difficult to buy. In good economic cycles, like now, they undoubtedly are making above average profits. However, the profits from good times aren’t generally adequate to offset their losses during bad times. For proof of that you need go back just a few years ago to the last downturn when virtually all builders and developers of multi-family projects in Edmonds went bankrupt.

      Ignored

      1. Ron, Actually here is how the taxes work on MFTE. The land and the first floor will be taxes at the value assigned by the assessor. The full complement of 91 units will not be taxed for the first 12 years. Only 19 units will be rented below with a reduced rent.

        Ignored

          1. I have once again just had to delete a comment that was dripping with nastiness. Election season is barely underway folks. I am going to be brutal with the delete button between now and November. Please keep your arguments factual. Save the other stuff for Facebook as they don’t care. I am determined to restore some civility at least to my part of the world. Thank you!

            Ignored

          2. Ron, you should learn to read City Codes or RCW’s, it helps to minimize uneducated comments.

            Ignored

    22. The following is from the January 11, 2019 public meeting on housing strategy:

      “Edmonds Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty explains the Multi-Family Tax Exemption.

      “It’s important to understand that the only thing that’s exempted are the housing units, what we refer to as the residential improvement value,” he said. “The land and commercial units — the non-residential components — are still subject to tax. This means that development results in an immediate boost in tax revenue, since it will push land values up and commercial enterprises will move in and pay taxes. Without the exemption, this project may well have not happened and the area in Westgate might have stood vacant for many years, generating minimal tax revenue.”

      Hope then paused the meeting to take questions on the information presented thus far.

      These included a question on how much revenue is being given up due to the MFTE at Westgate. Doherty responded that we’re not giving up money, because without the development-driven rise in land values and commercial activity, the tax revenue wouldn’t have happened anyway. He also pointed out that an exact amount would not be known until the property is built and an assessed value assigned.”

      Ignored

    23. It should also be noted that any kid moving to the ESD from outside the district will generate income for the ESD somewhere around $13,000 paid by the state.

      Ignored

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *