I am concerned Edmonds citizens have been given a week or less notice about one of the most important events for our town’s future. The new Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission, formed as a result of huge public outcry, is hosting an Open House to hear from you, Edmonds residents. This event takes place this Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6:00 p.m., in the Edmonds-Woodway High School Great Hall. Are you, as residents, who came out in the hundreds over the last two years to housing events, even aware that such a consequential event is taking place in fewer than four days?
The cty has hired a new consultant, Cascadia Consulting Group, and it has been given taxpayer dollars, which certainly includes a robust public engagement package. It seems this consultant might be missing the mark again, just as BERK did in 2018, costing the taxpayers $90,000 to $100,000, but failing to truly engage the public.
How is it that other local events, such as Oktoberfest and the Scarecrow Festival, can be so successfully advertised and the public so well engaged, while the city continues to hire consulting firms for $80,000-$90,000 which seem incapable of even giving residents one week’s notice about such an important event? Taxpayers’ money might be better spent on mailing a post card advertising each event to residents. Such a lack of real effort on the city’s part creates frustration for residents who will be most affected for years to come. The hard work of the new Housing Commission is to be applauded, but it is important that the public actually has sufficient notice to plan to attend Housing Commission-sponsored workshops and open houses, events where they will learn about proposed plans on potential new zoning, laws for new housing types, density and parking requirements and possible new taxes.
I do want to send a belated “thank you” to our new mayor, Mike Nelson, for being willing to hold his “Housing Town Halls” (as a councilmember) in the wake of the previous dysfunctional Edmonds Housing Strategy, which was being rushed through without input from Edmonds’ taxpayers. These town hall-style events gave Edmonds’ residents, particularly homeowners and taxpayers, a voice where before they had been left out of the discussion. These were events where a variety of opinions were voiced and discussed. Mayor Nelson built a sense of trust with Edmonds’ residents. In fact, his Town Halls were the impetus for creation of the current Housing Commission, which is supposed to be more inclusive and open to differing opinions and housing strategies. My sincere hope is that the upcoming Housing Commission Open House will follow through on that promise. I remain optimistic that will happen!
This is a call for homeowners and taxpayers to take these Housing Commission events very seriously and to plan to attend this first Open House! It is crucial that this Open House be welcoming to all attendees, including homeowners, who are in fact the largest stakeholder in Edmonds. Decisions made from information and input gathered at these events can and will be used to make major policy decisions about development in Edmonds, our tax burden, major new zoning changes at Five Corners, and what Edmonds will look like in the future.
Attendees must do their part as well; don’t automatically accept the idea that certain proposed strategies must be followed, that Edmonds is mandated to follow certain paths to growth such as MFTEs, rezoning of single-family home neighborhood to bring density and other subsidized housing initiatives. It is simply not true. Edmonds, being a small town, is already organically meeting the Washington State GMA requirements on its own with its current state of zoning.
Finally, if you, the homeowners and taxpayers of Edmonds, don’t speak up now and let city leaders know what you want and how you envision Edmonds in the future, others will do if for you.