Council accepts sales tax revenues for housing, OKs funding for marsh open house

Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas opened the meeting with the first reading of the Native American Land Acknowledgment, approved by Council last month.

Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas presided (Mayor Dave Earling was out of town), and opened the council’s first post-Labor Day meeting by reading the recently-approved Land Acknowledgement statement, the first time it has been read at a council meeting since its approval.

With a relatively short agenda, the council voted unanimously to approve the two agenda action items. First was approval of an ordinance to accept at the maximum level the portion of the existing state sales tax as authorized by the state Legislature to fund affordable housing. Second was to authorize funds to hold an open house later this month to present the findings of the recently-completed Edmonds Marsh wildlife study and survey by Windward Environmental.

The council also heard a presentation on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Draft VISION 2050 report from Planning and Development Director Shane Hope.

The first action stems from the approval of House Bill 1406 during the 2019 legislative session. The thrust of this bill is to make available a small portion of state sales tax revenue to local jurisdictions for the purpose of encouraging investment in affordable and supportive housing. The Council Finance Committee reviewed this item last month, and recommended approval by the full council. Accordingly, at its Aug. 20 meeting the council adopted Resolution No. 1434 indicating its intent to adopt an ordinance that would allow the city to use the state sales tax credit.

“HB 1406 was supported by the Association of Washington Cities as a way to help address affordable housing,” Shane Hope explained. “It was passed by the Legislature and has now been incorporated into Chapter 82.14 RCW.  Implementation of HB 1406 does not raise any taxes or fees. It simply authorizes a participating city or county to receive a small portion, 0.0073%, of the state’s current sales tax revenue for certain housing purposes. While that may sound small, it will mean more than $71,000 for the City of Edmonds.”

Hope went on to explain that by adopting this ordinance, Edmonds would receive about $71,000 annually for the next 20 years, noting that actual amounts in a given year will vary depending on inflation and sales activity.  She also clarified that these funds are limited to serving persons whose income is at or below 60% of the area median income, and may only be used for acquiring, rehabilitating or constructing affordable housing, operations and maintenance of new affordable or supportive housing facilities, and rental housing assistance.

Moved and seconded respectively by Councilmembers Kristiana Johnson and Mike Nelson, the measure was approved unanimously after a clarifying question by Councilmember Dave Teitzel that this would have no effect on school funding.

Councilmember Diane Buckshnis then introduced an ordinance authorizing $1,515 to fund an open house with consultant Windward Environmental to present the results of its Edmonds Marsh study.

Buckshnis went on to review the factors that led to this study, noting that “some years ago” when the Marsh was being considered for shoreline designation, the council hired Windward Environment as an outside consultant to do the work necessary to make the marsh part of the shoreline inventory.

“We now have Windward’s final report,” she said. “The report is very informative and educational, and much of the information it contains came from citizens.”

Councilmember Diane Buckshnis presented an ordinance to fund an open house later this month for Windward Environmental to present its report to the public.

The open house would provide an educational and outreach opportunity during which Windward would present its report to the public, giving citizens the opportunity to learn about it and make comments prior to Windward’s scheduled presentation to the council in October. The ordinance would add $1,515 to Windward’s existing contract to fund its participation in the open house. The original scope provided only for the October presentation to council. Approximately $8,000 remains in the contract budget; the proposed $1,515 would add to that.

Ensuing discussion included clarification from Councilmember Johnson that the proposed ordinance would only authorize the $1,515, and a question from Councilmember Teitzel regarding whether the hydrology and Willow Creek daylighting report by Shannon/Wilson should be part of the open house.  Councilmember Buckshnis responded that while both studies concerned aspects of marsh, the thrust was very different, with the Windward report focusing on wildlife and ecology and the Shannon/Wilson report on the feasibility of daylighting. “These are very different things,” she noted.

Councilmember Tom Mesaros agreed, saying that in his opinion combining these two would be “trying to do too much in one meeting,” and that perhaps another meeting on the daylighting issue would be the best way to go.

Councilmember Nelson added that the Windward study was driven by the city council as a separate study, and that the council should have the opportunity to present it to the public before it’s finalized.

Moved by Buckshnis and seconded by Nelson, the measure passed unanimously.

Presented by Planning and Development Director Shane Hope, the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Draft VISION 2050 planning report provides a blueprint for future growth in the region.

Shane Hope then returned to provide councilmembers with an update on the VISION 2050 planning process.

“This is a product of the Puget Sound Regional Council,” she explained. “It is an update to the prior VISION 2040 effort, and is not a total rewrite.”

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is the four-county organization that oversees this process.

Hope then provided some background, saying that the central Puget Sound region is preparing to accommodate more people and jobs in the coming decades. By 2050, our region’s population will reach 5.8 million people. VISION 2050 is intended to be the long-range plan for how and where the region’s growth will occur.

She went on to explain that one of the differences between the Draft VISION 2050 and the current VISION 2040 is that the former has a greater emphasis on addressing climate change. Another difference is that VISION 2050 has a greater focus on equity — for example, thinking about the impacts of decisions and how to enable all people — including those who have been marginalized in the past — to reach their full potential. She also pointed out that a key thrust of the effort is to encourage growth in existing urban and regional centers, preserve rural areas and farmland from the kinds of growth that would threaten their character, and encourage mass transit connecting population centers as a way to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

“In a nutshell, VISION 2050 is about providing more housing choices, being proactive on the natural environment, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. “It’s about providing equity and opportunities for everyone to reach their full potential.”

The public comment period for the Draft VISION 2050 is from July 19 to Sept. 16, 2019.  Five open houses have been held around the region. Another way the public can learn the latest and give input on VISION 2050 is through an online Open House accessible here.

– Story and photos by Larry Vogel

 

  1. Great reporting Larry! To clarify a bit, the 18-month Windward study is a scientific based study completed by their scientists. The detailed report uses some scientific information gathered from Shannon Wilson and Students Saving Salmon and a few others. The public process involving uploading photos of bird and wildlife to assist in the identification of the large number of species present in the Marsh. That process was controlled by having specific platforms where pictures could be taken. So, the report was completed by the Windward scientists utilizing mostly their data and the public engagement can be found as part of the appendices. Having said all that, yes the report is for our citizens so as they can understand the unique attributes of this Estuary which is why the task force felt an educational open house would be appropriate. This baseline analysis will now be added to our shoreline inventory.

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