The City of Edmonds consists of a mere 8.9 square miles with a shoreline of 5.2 linear miles. If we eliminate single-family zoning, we will have smaller homes in Edmonds with a smaller carbon footprint per person and per home. Some say this will be good for the environment. Let’s look at this claim carefully.
While it is true that the carbon footprint per home and per person would be smaller, does that mean that the total carbon footprint of the 8.9 square miles of Edmonds would be smaller? The answer is emphatically – No!
Eliminating single-family zoning in Edmonds will create two, three or four homes on a parcel that now has one home. Large swaths of green spaces that remove CO2 from the environment will be eliminated. The updated Tree Canopy Report for the City of Edmonds reinforces the fact that the vast majority of tree canopy is on single-family residential land. The amount of pavement and roof lines will increase. More people will swell Edmonds’ population with more motor vehicles and boats. With more pavement, less green space and fewer trees, temperatures in Edmonds will rise. Edmonds will produce more CO2 for this world (critical location along the Puget Sound), not less. Water runoff into the Puget Sound with pollutants will increase, warming the waters of the sound, threatening marine life.
Edmonds’ (population) housing is over four times denser than King County and over seven times denser than the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area. On average, Snohomish County has 392 people per square mile while Edmonds has 4,778 people per square mile. We are already doing our part well beyond what is being recommended by the Growth Management Act.
Diversity of housing in Edmonds is happening right now, with around 800 new units of a variety of housing types permitted over the last two years, using our current zoning. This is based on information given to council from the last report in 2021 by the previous development director. The residents of Edmonds by a wide majority (78%), replied to a Citizens Housing Commission survey they do not want to change single-family zoning. By a majority of 78%, the people of Edmonds do not want to allow up to three to four housing units citywide in place of single-housed lot neighborhoods as promoted in the equity housing policy put forth and approved by some on the Citizens Housing Commission.
If we in Edmonds really care about the environment, we should keep doing what we have been doing rather than change our zoning to accommodate more high-density housing.