Dear Edmonds City Councilmembers:
My wife and I are Edmonds citizens, residing in a Westgate neighborhood for 45 years. After we became aware of Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission activities, we have watched with interest all ECHC and relevant council meetings over the following 11 months. We understand the council will start discussing the six ECHC housing policy recommendations that would involve rezoning this week.
Shane Hope, firector of development services, announced that council will begin with the recommendations around detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) and cluster/cottage housing. Discussion on the four remaining rezoning policy recommendations will continue next year.
The thinking is, apparently, that the DADU proposal is comparatively simple and could serve as a stand-alone item to initiate deliberations.
I am concerned with an approach where council may consider these six rezone recommendations one by one, in isolation, over time, possibly adopting them sequentially, without fully working through the total effect several approved policies may have together.
Adopting the DADU proposal can add another structure on any/every lot in Edmonds. But the Missing Middle Housing proposal, to be considered next year, can also double the number of living units on any/every lot in Edmonds. If both units in a new duplex can also install a DADU, then the density on a single-family lot increases from one unit to four.
It seems far better to consider the six proposals as a group over time, not implementing any rezone changes until a coordinated and coherent overall policy recommendation can be arrived at, one that considers the ramifications of all of the individual proposals acting together.
A better approach could be to use the Medium-Density Single Family Housing proposal as a starting point, fleshing it out with attributes from other recommendations, such as the Neighborhood Village and Cluster/Cottage Housing proposals.
The Medium-Density option is a more circumspect and prudent proposal, suggesting increased density in appropriate areas, along high-volume transit routes, sited next to business districts, or close to schools or medical complexes. But I think these siting criteria should be applied carefully and narrowly, allowing increased density near college and hospital locations, for example, but not close to any school or medical office in Edmonds.
I think council should avoid adoption of the Missing Middle Housing and DADU proposals that would open any/every lot in Edmonds to increased density. I think these two proposals represent what 78% of Edmonds residents disapprove. The rationale for these is enhanced affordability/accessibility, but with DADU costs around $400,000 and duplex prices above that, these goals will not be realized. The subcommittee for Missing Middle Housing never acknowledged nor addressed ECHC concerns about affordability and increased density.