Ordinance addressing homeless people on public property, hearing on residential occupancy rules top Tuesday council agenda

The Edmonds City Council at its Tuesday night meeting is scheduled to continue its discussion regarding a proposed ordinance that would make it illegal for those who are homeless to occupy public property when overnight shelter is available and subsequently refused.

In a presentation to the council last week, city attorney Patricia Taraday of the Lighthouse Law Group sasid the ordinance allows police to cite individuals only if two conditions are met: 1) When available overnight shelter exists and 2) when that available shelter has been offered and refused.

The ordinance includes updated language to reflect a concern from Councilmember Will Chen that it should apply to anyone who is unlawfully occupying public property, and not only those who are homeless.

Creation of the ordinance was sparked by an incident in the Lake Ballinger neighborhood last summer, when a woman took up residence on a bench located at 76th Avenue West at the Interurban Trail for several months with all her belongings.

Taraday told the council last week that the ordinance was drafted “after much collaborative work” with the Deputy Parks Director Shannon Burley, who oversees the city’s human services program, and Police Chief Michelle Bennett and her staff.

While violating the ordinance would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail, it includes a provision that the court can order anyone unable to pay to instead perform “community service or work crew in lieu of a monetary penalty.”

The council is also scheduled to:

– Hold a public hearing on amendments to city code regarding residential occupancy, which are aimed at addressing the requirements of Senate Bill 5235. The state legislation lifts caps on the number of unrelated people allowed to share a home, and also lifts prohibitions on renters residing on lots with accessory dwellings.

– Hear a Buildable Lands Report and Initial 2044 Growth Targets presentation provided by Steven Toy, principal demographer with Snohomish County.

– Award the construction contract for the Highway 99 Gateway-Revitalization Stage 2 Project to Westwater Construction Company. The company’s low bid of $6,632,644 came in higher than the engineer’s estimate of $5.23 million, a possibility that Acting Public Works Director Rob English noted during a presentation last month to the council’s Parks and Public Works Committee. The scope of improvements include the installation of a raised landscaped median with mid-block left-turn pockets — replacing the center left-turn lane — plus gateway signs at the north and south ends of the city limits. There will also be a pedestrian-activated HAWK signal 600 feet north of 234th Street Southwest — similar to the one now installed on Highway 104 near City Park — aimed at making highway pedestrian crossings safer.

– Award contracts to three firms — Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Forma Construction and Saybr Contractors — that responded to a request for proposals to work with the city’s job order contracting program. The program will permit the quick engagement of contractors in performing small- to medium-sized public works projects.

– Approve a request to purchase a screenings conveyor for the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

– Consider a proposal to amend city code to provide “a clear and efficient process” for permitting special events.

The hybrid meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. Prior to the 7 p.m. meeting, the council will meet at 6 p.m. for  two items: considering a resolution adopting the council’s Rules of Procedure and interviewing a candidate for the Edmonds Sister City Commission.

Those wishing to join the 7 p.m. meeting virtually to provide audience comments can click on or paste the following Zoom meeting link into a web browser using a computer or smart phone: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261. Or comment by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261

Regular council meetings beginning at 7 p.m. are also streamed live on the council meeting webpage, Comcast channel 21, and Ziply channel 39.

The link to the 6 p.m. hybrid meeting, also available via Zoom, is here: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261.  Or join by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261.

  1. The Council is going to turn Edmonds into a not wanted overloaded community, SFR won’t have true value for those of us who don’t want
    our neighborhood filled with non family members just to cover your mortgage!. They have to realize what the long term affects are going to be. Leave the current SFR guidelines as they are.

    1. Please note that whenever “affordable housing” ( it’s not affordable if the rent on a studio is $1500+) is built, the developers get a 10-12 year tax break for those units. We, the residents do not: so whoever lives in the units gets free access to police, schools etc, and here, for the most important part, we, the other residents, FOOT THE BILL.

      1. The Multifamily Tax Exemption while on the surface looks strange in reality the Westgate apartment development produces more taxes now that it did in its prior configuration. In the future that tax number will dramatically go up. The result is govt collected more taxes not less.

        1. Darrol Haug, Now. We paid initially, and most likely will pay each time. WHY?

  2. If we don’t have a law, make sure you include peeing on the streets is illegal. Many cities don’t include this and they pee on open streets.

  3. I am looking forward to the council making a decision on the ordinance. CM Chen’s concerns have been heard and incorporated. The votes are there. The criticism from those who I believe are the very far fringe who would otherwise do absolutely nothing also offer absolutely no other alternatives other than the status quo. This is not hyperbole: the case study of Seattle is there and we are all well aware of the consequences. Importantly, when help is available and offered (which is exactly what is written into this ordinance), allowing someone to continue living on the street in inhumane conditions to their own detriment and also for the detriment for the community is cruel for everyone involved. Is there a perfect solution? No. Is doing nothing the better solution? Also no. And to anyone who thinks this is not a current issue in Edmonds and which has been incorrectly reported on in other outlets, I please urge you to take a very mindful and observative drive/walk along HWY99 from HWY104 to 212th. I even participated myself in a volunteer park cleanup at Mathay Ballinger this weekend (thank you to the North Seattle Grace Church for organizing the effort and for CM Olson for joining us – wow!), and I found multiple used hypodermic needles within 10 YARDS of the playground in addition to a weapon which was discarded in the overgrowth. Apparently the camping there got so bad that the city parks had to come and cut back the wooded area to discourage it. More needs to be done and this is it.

  4. Another single residence taken down in Edmonds and three built in its place. These homes are not affordable to me or a lot of my neighbors. Changing zoning laws is a farce to the community that will only bring an over crowded infrastructure to our neighborhoods while funding the politicians elite lifestyles. Look at how they live as the government politicians yell about equity and green spaces. Full Stop.

  5. Tricia, I would like to understand you question in order to offer some help. But I am not able to understand the nature of your question. My earlier comment was simply this. The property that was developed was on the tax rolls for a certain amount. When the property was develop they applied for and the city gave them the MFTE. When completed the taxes on the developed property was larger then before it was developed. When the MFTX expires the taxes will go up even more. In addition, the development made a significate contribution to ART in that area.

    I will offer the following opinion. Edmonds should have modeled the use of the MFTE along the lines of what some other communities have done. We would have improved availability and affordability. But that is just an opinion based on the research into the MFTE role in providing more and less expensive housing.

    TE if I have not helped with your question I am sorry. I just really do not know what you were asking me.

    1. Darrol, what’s missing in this discussion is WHY the city gave the developer the MFTE in the first place. It was to set aside a number of units as “affordable”. If you look at the rents, you’ll see that while these “affordable” housing units in the complex are less expensive than others in the same complex, they are no lower than non-subsidized rental units you can find in other parts of the city. And if you back calculate the developer’s savings based on reduced taxes, they are not passing all of it on to lower the rent of the “affordable” units like they could. So, the developer gets a tax break, and the community gets nice, market rate apartments. I don’t think that is what we had in mind when we approved MFTE.

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