Letter to the editor: Our expectations of the Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission

Editor:

We applaud the Edmonds’ City Council’s decision to create a new Citizens Housing Commission. If fairly and thoughtfully formed, this new commission could help make Edmonds become “the city that did growth right.”

We, as citizens of Edmonds, expect a commission that represents the true stakeholders of Edmonds, those who live here now, pay their taxes and have Edmonds’ best interests at heart, not some predetermined, imagined version of who will live here in the future.

We want a commission whose members fully understand that the “Edmonds’ Comprehensive Plan” is not a legally binding document, but a set of guidelines and recommendations. Moreover, it is a document that may be amended to more accurately align with Edmonds’ citizens’ vision for their city, as has frequently been done, while at the same time meeting any recommendations in referenced growth plans such as the Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Vision 2040” or the “Countywide Planning Policies for Snohomish County.”

We want a commission whose mission is to accurately define the issue to be addressed by following a set of steps: 1) examine Edmonds’ current housing stock, 2) look at future population trends and 3) make recommendations to the city to address specific housing needs based on the actual, verifiable data.

We want to see a commission that is fully supported and judged to be legitimate by the citizens of Edmonds, averting mistakes made in the past. Therefore, it is imperative the commission not be preassigned a mission that will yield a predetermined outcome or inevitable result. To that end, citizens and city officials involved are expected to come to the project with an open mind, willing to start over as needed in developing our future housing picture in Edmonds.

We want a commission made up of citizen representatives who reside in Edmonds’ neighborhoods. Homeowners make up 70 percent of Edmonds’ residents, and Edmonds’ homeowners must have a large say in future housing policy and therefore a presence on the new commission commensurate with their representation in Edmonds’ population. We also encourage the council to direct the commission to consider infrastructure implications of housing policy. Certainly, homeowners would be best suited to assure that all aspects of redevelopment are addressed, including safety, parking, schools, emergency services, transportation access, and neighborhood character.

We want a commission to which the city council has truly given a mandate to serve in an advisory capacity to Edmonds’ government. It should issue reports on a quarterly basis or more as needed to the city council, maintain effective communication with the public, hold regular and well-publicized public meetings, and put updates on the city’s housing website.  Chosen members should be willing to hold meetings with their neighbors to gather ideas and concerns and report them back to the commission.

We want a commission on which appointed members will present and champion a variety of views on housing policy, not a commission comprised in large part of those who clearly support one particular view. Specifically, because it is apparent from public engagement that a majority of Edmonds’ citizens have strong concerns about Edmonds’ utilizing growth strategies that are similar to those used in other Washington cities, Seattle being a prime example, the commission should be comprised in part of those who feel that a growth plan here should be measured and restrained, allowing for organic growth. This position was clearly supported by A.C.E., a well-respected citizen group in Edmonds in its January 25th position paper, “Transparency in City Processes Needs Improvement”, when it stated, “The appointing people or body should make a concerted effort to select not only those who would clearly be supportive of a result, but also to select persons who will represent alternative views,” and then listing steps to help make boards accountable said, “These steps will significantly improve public trust and eliminate what now has in many instances led to deterioration of the relationship between the City, task forces, boards, commissions and the citizens.”

We want a commission whose members understand that the “character” of a community is an essential and meaningful concept and one that can and needs to be clearly defined. Both the Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Vision 2040” and the “Countywide Planning Policies for Snohomish County,” which provided the framework for our own “Edmonds Comprehensive Plan,” stress protecting the “character” of a community. Moreover, it should be a consensus of Edmonds’ citizens who define what Edmonds’ charm and character is and how best to promote and protect that character and charm.

We want to see a commission whose members clearly understand that nowhere in the growth plans and policies referenced by city planners and the Edmonds’ Development Services Department (see Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Vision 2040” and the “Countywide Planning Policies for Snohomish County”) is there a requirement or suggestion that a city must either destroy its character or make itself into a copy of what other cities have done.

We expect a commission comprised of Edmonds’ residents who have not served on any other committees, boards, commissions or task forces in the last two years, nor should they have served in any public office in Edmonds or other municipalities. This goes to the appearance of fairness, transparency, and validation of this new commission’s work product.

This is an opportunity for the Edmonds City Council to regain the citizens’ trust and it is our hope that the council will look closely at the points we have made here.

Michelle Dotsch, DDS
Jon Smith
Robert C. Jeffers, MD
Mary D. Jeffers
Linda Mae
Robert Chaffee
Wendy Chaffee
Rick Huegli
James Fernandez
Alan Dull
Al Brobeck
Christine Kelly
Mark Bailey
Samm Jaenicke
Jeffrey Herman
John J. Hoag, DDS
Jeff Barnett
Lynne Chelius
Craig Chelius
Linda Niemi
Rick Canning
Kari Mikkelsen
Eric Mikkelsen
Joshua Mikkelsen
Michelle Ruis
Brad Ruis
Cynthia Cooper
Dino Cooper
Margaret Layman
Mike Layman
Bill Herzig
Cathy Herzig
Michelle Goodman
William Goodman
Nick Cooper
Karen Cooper
Mike McMurray
Dave Cooper
Bokhee Cooper
Denis O’Malley
Mike O’Malley
Trisha O’Malley
Tom O’Malley
Martin O’Malley
Mike Hanning
Chris Jennings
Gerald Bernstein, MD
Sarah Bernstein
Laurie Nelson
Brian Nelson
Scott Schrieber
Janette Schrieber
Nick Chigaras
Ryan Forbus
Bonnie O’Brien

6 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Our expectations of the Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission”

  1. Once again, I suggest forming a new town; Edmonds Bowl. Its’ residents are surrounded by all things beautiful. No ugly 5G towers, no “struggling to make it” individuals, it’s filled by homeowners, families, and dogs who’s biggest decisions are where to eat, to scoop or not, and what color of yoga pants to wear. Stop reinforcing this fairytale, charm and character, join the 21st century.

    When the commission is formed representative of the 70/30 split, in an act if transparency, the relationship to each other, business alliances, “irons in the fire” locally, as well as a, full family background check for miscreants should be made public.

    Ignored

  2. Our sacred dream of the future town of Edmonds Woodway Bowl lives on. We must form a housing commission of folks who mostly look, think and act just like us to make this great dream a reality. It’s manifest destiny I tell you.

    Come on folks. If the city uses only your criteria for forming the commission, it will pretty much just be you all on it. I understand and sympathize with many of your complaints and dissatisfaction with the previous commission, but in fairness to them, they (me included) were about the only people who were even thinking about the future of housing in Edmonds at the time. It’s not fair for you to try to exclude them from the discussion, just because you happen to disagree with them about how Edmonds should evolve and who should be able to live here in the future.

    On the personal level, I’ve chosen to disengage in being officially aligned with any given group on this. I totally understand where you all are coming from and some of you are my neighbors who I like very much. (Love watching your little ones grow up). All I know for sure is; as more and more people move here, which they will, this town is going to change in character and socioeconomic make up. Big city problems are on the way. All you have to do is read another article in today’s issue to see that reality.

    Ignored

  3. The growth Edmonds should take, should be towards 99. It needs better and more policing around that Safeway area. We need to clean that area up and build new apartment/condo areas. it seems to me “the bowl” area and even up to the high school is almost full. If we want more state/government $$, and isn’t this what it’s all about?, then build more around 99. That may clean up the crime. (Lots of druggies and street walkers there). You see them daily in Safeway. Most all our petty crime and mYbe worse is in that area. (Based on Police Blotter). Why have housing regulations for all our area when we truly only need it in specific areas. Which could be divided out.

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  4. Great comment again Joy. I very much agree with you. When you run for Council, I’m voting for you and I recommend you for housing commission. The Highway 99 Corridor and 5 Corners will be the next great battlegrounds over housing in our area. The pattern of the Bowl up to 5 Corners has pretty much been set, for good or ill, depending on one’s bias. Basically it’s large scale homes and condominiums encouraged with smaller homes and average size homes with attached ADU’s discouraged and unattached ADU’s outlawed. A bit discriminatory if you ask me. It seems like all decisions basically revolve around protecting high home values, creating property tax dollars and getting all the state and federal $’s possible for the town we can (no problem there; it’s the American way).

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  5. I hope that there is a equal representation of home owners and renters on this commission! I understand wanting to protect the value of your home but we need to realize a large portion of citizens can’t afford to buy a home but still pay their taxes and give back to the community of Edmonds. As this letter clearly states there needs to be all sides sitting on the commission with varying beliefs and views. Lets be sure its not just a home owners commission and that it truly is a fair representation of each side for a housing commission!!!

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