Letter to the editor: Contact your legislators about bills that could allow 3 homes on single-family lots


There are two bills quickly and quietly working their way through the legislative process in Olympia this week to radically change local city control over massive redevelopment.

One bill (SB6617), sponsored by our own local Senator Marko Liias, and the other bill (HB2570) sponsored by another local representative, Strom Peterson, would allow for up to two additional smaller houses on all single-family lots. What this means is that these smaller homes, attached and detached accessory dwelling units, would not be required to have any parking requirements if located even just somewhat near transit. In addition, there would be no requirement for owner-occupancy, literally opening all single-family residential neighborhoods to Airbnb, short-term rentals, excessive surface street parking, increased noise, increased traffic, loss of private backyards, green spaces, and loss of privacy and views, among the irreversible outcomes if one or both of these bills pass. There are no infrastructure nor architectural requirements in the bills.

Currently, local control over these types of zoning decisions allows for Edmonds to reasonably grow in its 40% of non-single-family neighborhoods to currently exceed the recommended growth the GMA suggests. If ADUs are permitted by the City of Edmonds, with local control of the process, it would most likely come with the protection of environment, safety and the impact on neighbors. Our community quality of life will be protected when control comes at the local level and not through a forced universal approach by the state. As most neighborhoods in Edmonds have no to very limited sidewalks, the safety of children and pedestrians would be greatly diminished. State-mandated ADU zoning in all neighborhoods would most likely put our iconic and cherished small town on a quick path to development on a scale like that is happening in high-urban communities such as Seattle.

A recent change recommended to one bill to say cities “may” vs “must” is alarmingly more likely to increase the chance of this bill passing now.

However the next inevitable step will be to make this a requirement as has already been done in Seattle and statewide in both California and Oregon.

You must email your legislators today at the links above directly about the bills or at https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder as these bills are closer to getting a full vote this week. Email our Edmonds City Council at council@edmondswa.gov as well to let them know your thoughts about this potential tool for excessive growth. Even if one or both bills don’t move on this year, please understand that these high-density redevelopment tools are being promoted by our own elected politicians and they need to hear from their constituents or else this will become a reality soon.

Michelle Dotsch

18 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Contact your legislators about bills that could allow 3 homes on single-family lots”

  1. I encourage everyone to call 1-800-562-6000
    This is the legislative hotline and you can leave a message for any of your legislators
    Tell them you will pose any step that takes away local control of zoning decisions


  2. Good information…melt the phones!!

    Remember…increasing population density is inversely proportional to the quality of life!


  3. National politics may steal our attention away from the scenes that most effect our daily lives! A quiet, uncrowned place of residence is so important! Now is the time to act.


  4. I’m definitely going to protest this proposed state-wide abolition of our cherished single family neighborhoods.


    1. Just to clarify these bills regarding Elena Popes point, these bills are statewide. This will enable the state to supercede most local zoning laws, including Mukelteo. Your 180 degree ocean view may have ADU in it. Maybe more than one.


  5. Or move to Mukilteo, pay less for 180-degree ocean views, and there is no room for more density. All of which also translates into locals being friendlier; one feels less stressed .


  6. Local Senator Marko Liias, and another local representative, Strom Peterson apparently think their constituent’s local government is too incompetent and or lacks enough intelligence to determine reasonable zoning for their communities. We sure are lucky to have them figure it out all for us. If these Bills past, maybe Strom can hand out some of his leftover “Build Love” cookies, after destroying single family housing.


  7. Just skimmed over the first of the two bills listed. It states no requirement for off street parking if within 1/2 mile of “major transit stop”. Dug further into the RCW and “major transit stop” includes (among other things) (e) “Stops for a bus or other transit mode providing fixed route service at intervals of at least thirty minutes during the peak hours of operation.” Then, for an example, I checked route 116 which runs up through Edmonds. It runs every 30 minutes morning and evening. … so this would mean everywhere within 1/2 mile of route 116 would allowed to have (2) accessory dwelling units with no additional off street parking. That swath of 116 would cover much/most of downtown Edmonds and up the hill. (As an example.)

    I wonder what is driving our “representatives” into proposing this?


  8. Elana Pope nail it. I am a Trump supporter, but this economy is a sham. Interest rates are so low, so long. Manufacturing is still down. QE4 is go. Deficits booming in the boom? Interest lowering in the boom? QE in the boom? There is a surplus of housing in this area. The Lynwood City Center looks like something Stalin would build; a big human filing cabinet. There’s so many apartment buildings everywhere. Population hasn’t seen any extra growth. Millennials aren’t even having enough babies to sustain their own existence. Boomers are retiring in place – who other than me predicted that? There’s population growth in this area, but no more year over year than any other decade. This will be the epicenter of the next real-estate market crash. The houses aren’t even that nice here. My wife and I look at houses, and I’ve discovered that our standards have lowered. We think a house is “cute” if it has paint and an Ikea kitchen. It doesn’t take much to impress us now. God Speed to anyone building or buying.


  9. Edmonds, and all that have a share of our property taxes now need to live at the present amount of taxes. To increase population on single family lots to come up with more taxes is criminal. I think we should go back to the days where one needed at least 5 acres to build a home.


  10. Darrell, great name!
    It is more than our reps it is our city staff and other local elected officials as well. There are probably several driving factors motivating our “reps” and others, and it is all around the notion of density. Our director of planning for example is on a Snohomish County Team that just released their report and much of it dwells on density. Our directors job on that work for 2020 is “sell the idea of density”. Land values are vastly different based on location. Waterfront, probably $4m/acre, In the bowl with a view $2m/acre. Esperance or parts of Lynnwood or MLT, not near transit station, probably under $1m/acre. Put more bedrooms on a given space then you drive down the land cost per bedroom. Use someone’s back yard for a ADU and more people, same acreage. Increased density allows for more people more tightly packed, and if done in connection with other zoning plans, politicals can limit or halt sprawl. Remember the 9 unit apt DT with not parking. 3 more units gained by not forcing parking on site. Some folk didn’t like it but this set of laws embraces it. 9 units share the cost of the land instead of 6. In theory it would be cheaper per unit.

    The current mood of folks is against ADUs, they want to preserve the single family neighbor hood. But wait, there is more. The next step might be to create incentives to build more with more density. Westgate gave tax incentives to build more density. What if we created a plan for single family areas that went something like this. Not tax on ADU for x years. No mitigation fees. Very low price permits. And finally cash reward to increase density in single family areas. Some would sell out to reap the rewards and could maybe afford to move.

    Density spreads to cost of the land and the resultant building is less total cost making the unit less expensive.

    There are other factors at work in background but density is the driving factor.


  11. I would hope our local elected folks would talk to the very people who endorsed some of them in this last election. Density is like a plastic bag. We were made to hate the plastic bag and did not push back on it’s ban. The sales pitch on density is not yet ready to make the sale but it is coming.


  12. Well, those ADUs would have to be built on a steep bluff that’s been determined too unstable to build even a fence on it. (This to John J. Hoag). Edmonds has a different oceanfront. We get geological studies up here, to make sure the building won’t slide down the steep bank, especially during the rainy season. So, no ADUs nor homeless tents. Not yet, anyway.


  13. I was both surprised and disappointed to read in MEN, Feb, 25, 2020, that Senator Marko Liias and Rep Strom Peterson have introduced SB 6617 and HB 2570.

    To Senator Liias and Rep Peterson I say: Are you not aware that Edmonds has a Housing Commission and is currently working on addressing our housing issues? There was an Open House at Edmonds Woodway HS on Feb 12, 2020 where many Edmonds residents came together with City staff to forge a path forward? You both were absent from that meeting.

    Today I learn that you have introduced legislation that allows three dwellings on a single family lot. I won’t go into the lack of parking requirement or the transportation concerns – Mr Darrell Marmion has addressed that. Your legislation completely lacks forethought or common sense.

    What gives you the authority to act unilaterally on behalf of your constituents? We, the citizens of Edmonds, elected you to represent us – the will of the people. Not to usurp and take away our voice.

    Perhaps you would like to join us at the next Housing Commission meeting and listen to what the citizens of Edmonds are thinking and working on with City staff. This would give you a good idea of what we, your constituents, want before you decide to decide for us.

    We want local control, not the state dictating to us. And not you deciding an issue of this magnitude with such far reaching implications and consequences without consulting those who elected you and who you swore to represent.


  14. The virus could be pricking the bubble. Some might be inclined to ask if the virus is causing the markets to take a hit, but a more healthy question is; why are the real estate and stock markets so unnaturally big to begin with? Something will happen which will create a cascade, real estate and stocks will race to the bottom. There’s too much housing here.


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