Reader view: For sale — Edmonds, WA

For a mere $100,000 you too can purchase the city of Edmonds as we know it  At least that seems to be the going price according to our State’s Commerce Department. They are offering our city a $100,000 grant to transform 30% of our current single-family zoned property into higher density, multi-family “missing middle” housing (“duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments, cottage housing, and stacked flats”). Transforming our city from a neighborhood suburban environment into a denser urban one.

Make no mistake about it, their motivation is clear. The requirements for the grant are:

“Grantee jurisdictions must conduct actions relating to adopting ordinances that authorize middle housing types on at least 30% of lots currently zoned as single family residential”.

Read it for yourself on their website, which includes the grant requirements, guidelines and grant application form at Growth Management Grants – Washington State Department of Commerce.

Those who argue we should accept this grant will suggest that this is free money and that we would need to do this work anyway as part of our Comprehensive Plan update. They will also tell you that there is no commitment to enact anything. I would counter that this grant comes with many strings attached and is a blatant attempt to steer our city in a direction toward an outcome we may not like or want. It diverts attention, and more importantly, resources away from a comprehensive look at our needs and attempts to focus us towards their predetermined destination.

An example of their tactics; “Budget managers should be aware that the final twenty percent (20%) of the grant amount is contingent upon completion of the final deliverables (i.e., draft middle housing ordinance).” In addition, part of this grant money is also earmarked for subcontracting with community-based organizations who need to be identified as part of the grant application. I wonder who the city has identified?

Let’s look at the grant application itself. Citing one excerpt, it requires the city to fill out the following table:

You tell me how you read this. Seems to me that the city needs to propose the outcome even before the study is conducted! I wonder how the city would fill this out? This, along with a few other criteria, will be used by Commerce in determining who gets grant funding.

So to suggest that there is no “commitment” seems naive. Just submitting an application for the grant exposes the city to highlighting intentions which may not be in the interest of either the city or its citizens and could be used in some disingenuous manner in one way or another.  The deliverables are complex, the timeline is too short and the “commitment” identifies a preordained outcome.  Hard to spin it any other way.

Yes, we need to develop a vision for our city, but let’s do it on our terms and not with the “help” of some outside influence.  I would rather see that the city engage the community outside of this grant and look holistically at what our city needs and not for the wants of a few politicians.

Our mayor may have already signaled his desire to apply for the grant since there was a June 9 deadline to do so. The grant application itself is required to be submitted by July 5.. At Tuesday’s council meeting they will be discussing and voting on this issue. So there is still time to contact our city council and tell them we think it’s a bad idea to accept this grant. Spread the word and let’s tell them to reject this grant. We’re not for sale!

— By Jim Ogonowski

 Jim Ogonowski lives in Edmonds.

65 Replies to “Reader view: For sale — Edmonds, WA”

  1. Thank you for clearly outlining the grant requirements. The grant’s predetermined outcome of 30% increase of “middle housing” development within single family zoned areas of the City is a non-starter. It is contrary to the surveys taken regarding this matter. And the conditions of conducting the survey outlined to obtain the grant monies (timeline, consultant and limited public involvement) are not acceptable. This “free” money has too many strings attached and does not involve all members of our community. City Council please vote NO.

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  2. What are you using to identify the entire CITY of Edmonds as “neighborhood suburban environment”?

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  3. Edmonds citizens might want to take a drive down to Ballard to get a good look at what moving from single family homes to multi-family unit density ends up looking like. What has happened to this once a mostly single-family housing community and very livable neighborhood is shocking.
    The dense multi-unit housing has the area choking with people and their cars, which the developers are not required to provide parking spaces for. Crime has increased, as have the homeless encampments, and all the rest that comes with too many people living in too little an area that cannot support them adequately. The tall multi-unit apartments and condos are pillars filled with people, crammed into the smallest footprint of space that the developer can fit them in. The renters and condo owners live in their silos and have little contact nor interest in their neighbors.
    So go to Ballard. This is what density looks like.

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    1. Ballard is just bonkers. You certainly don’t want to turn into another one now. I’d know as I’ve lived here for years with my wife and two year old son.

      It is crazy that we can barely go a couple blocks without running into a darn playground. There simply isn’t enough space here for all those parks.

      And the people, so many people, such crowds. I was sitting on my front stoop the other day and had to deal so many toddlers walking by wanting to come in and play with my son’s toys. So presumptuous.

      And the teenagers, we have 4 on our block clamoring to babysit for us. So obnoxious. Why do they all think we might want a quiet adult night out.

      And the congestion. Oh my goodness, it took me 10 whole minutes on my bike to get my son to daycare. Clearly there is too much traffic.

      That zoo up the hill, absurb. Did you know chimps throw their own poop? Who’d want to raise a kid so close to that.

      We tried to go to a nice family dinner with our toddler the other day, and we had the burden to choose between pizza, burgers, Korean, Jewish deli, sushi, Turkish, Mexican, or Phillipino. Having so many options within walking distance is going to break his brain. What ever happened to the simple classics?

      And that ridiculous parade the other day. I know it was technically Fremont but who wants to hear that all racket of live music and laughter and see all sorts of different people accept each other and get along. Gross.

      Yeah, you don’t want to be like Ballard.

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        1. Brian, I appreciate your comments here in response to Robert’s comments. Just what a mother wants her toddler to be around, SeattlePD Person Shot Or Shot At 14XX BLOCK OF NW 45 ST reported on 6/20/2022 1:55 PM (I guess now little kids can put on their holsters and join in the fun). Ridiculous! With the fires, violence, filth and killing that has occurred in Ballard encampments no person in their right mind wants their kids to be subjected to this kind of thing. I guess the attitude is, as long as it happens to someone other than my family, “we’re good with this”. We watched videos of unhappy business owners and residents show up at town hall meetings complaining of all that was being allowed to happen that was destroying their neighborhoods in 2021 and beyond. Now, in 2022 the mayor of Seattle still has the task of taking back these neighborhoods. It’s been a long road for those residents so NO Robert, we don’t subscribe to your point of view about what density brings. Crime is on the rise and yes, talk to any law enforcement officer and they will tell you density brings crime. Geeze, I wonder if the rise in crime could be linked to political decisions to go soft on crime has anything to do with it. Duh!

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      1. Robert, sounds like you’ve found your forever home. I don’t want to live in Ballard, especially now. You can keep living in Ballard where you appreciate all it has to offer, and those of us who actually live in Edmonds can help it evolve in a thoughtful way so our residents are safe and our environment is protected.

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      2. Thanks for writing this. Ballard has definitely become more densely populated but so has our entire region. No surprise as it’s in close proximity to many Seattle business’s paying living wages to employees. I am sorry Ballard gets commented on as worst case scenarios for development. It’s insulting to people who live and love their lives in Ballard. Edmonds and Ballard are two very different demographics and in my view there is no valid comparison.

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    2. Mark…I fervently agree with you. Edmonds is one of the last vestiges, a gemstone of a community. Ballard? Ballard, once a beautiful Norwegian hamlet of a town, has been subverted into another extension of big city crime and destruction. Is this what we want for our Edmonds. I agree…find a means to fund projects on our own. Alter Edmonds beyond updated improvements, and we will find a new Edmonds that hasn’t been corrupted.

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  4. Of course this Mayor is for development, without thought, without consideration, without a long term view. Let’s not turn into Ballard.

    We are not NIMBYs. That said, there are plenty of options that do not hand our city over to developers.

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  5. Thanks for calling this to attention and sharing the details on this, Jim! I concur with you.
    We can do without the $100K grant money and make our own plan as a city.
    How do we know what % is the right number for Edmonds? Why 30%? What % is Edmonds right now? Will 30% be a massive shift? What is the timeframe this grant is tied to? How will re-zoning decisions be determined in this case? Why do only Single Family zoning changes count? Do condos count toward the 30%? If not, why? Why wouldn’t converting vacant business zoned property to multi-use count toward the 30%? It’s rather specific and targeted toward reducing Single Family zoning…tax base?

    Clearly it’s not the $100,000 motivating Mayor Nelson who recently threw more than $70,000 in tax dollars to a consultant for the “Equitable Engagement Engagement Framework” that could include compensation for engagement from select under-represented groups and most definitely includes weighting select input from certain groups higher than others.
    The Mayor has lost his “pack of 4” on CC and so he’s finding other ways to advance his agendas. Grant money sounds great- but at what cost?
    Planning Director McLaughlin, who came to us from Seattle, seems to be on board. All grant money comes with strings and this grant appears to be directly connected the actions & recommendations of CM Paine and CM Laura Johnson out of the City Council Planning committee meetings last week, do I have that right?
    Side note: I was also wondering how the two CM’s with identical housing objectives & strategies wound up on the the Committee that relates to “City Planning,” and had a note to look into whether there are other CM’s on that committee to balance it out. Haven’t had a chance to look into it- if anyone knows, please share?
    As a community I think we can work together on both of these ideas (community engagement and affordable housing strategies) without spending tax dollars on consultants and without signing a contract with outside organizations that have strings attached to their agenda-driven
    money.

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  6. I couldn’t agree more. Edmonds, take care. Protect your charm. Understand who you are and why you are so loved. To be clear, this is not a call to ignore the needs of a modern city, nor is it a comment on the merits of the grant per se. It is a note that buildings change quite a few things for a very long time. And 30% is a vast amount in a small jurisdiction. Care and a great deal of thought should be given to this. You have lots of opportunities and they need to match the soul of who you are. Thus far, you’re getting so many things right. Thanks.

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  7. Wow, seems like another back door attempt to turn our city into something us current residents most likely don’t want , the city already knows how many of us feel about forcing this change down our throat, creating neighborhoods that have no yards, no room for one car going north and one going south, where does the city plan to educate all these new students? Our schools are already packed, under staffed, limited transportation, and we can’t feed the children that need help now. I believe someone has already pointed out that Edmonds already meets and exceeds the GMA requirements, Thank you Jim for bringing this back door attempt to allow outside influence into the future of the city I have lived in the past 30 plus years for a reason! “It’s a Edmonds kind of day” SFR with enforceable code restrictions was just one reason We choose Edmonds , It sure seems like a money grab is the driving force behind this, So far the Council hasn’t come up with any reasonable ideas to deal with how to grow responsible, What ever happened to the multi model project that was on the burner for 20 years? Where is the overpass or access to the west side of railroad tracks? Let’s Refund our fantastic Police Department so there’s 1 per thousand or One per 500 , feels like the city can’t manage what we have now let alone trying to add another 15,000 residence.

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  8. Ditto Mark’s comments and Ballard is not the only example of what we do not want Edmonds to become. On the “upscale ” example of taking a once quaint, livable, small waterfront town and completely screwing it up with urban density, traffic and human congestion, you need look no further than Kirkland. No thanks.

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  9. $100,00 isn’t much these days. Lets subtract the 70K that the Mayor spent for Equitable, from that and there’s 30K left. And oh yeah, much of Ballard has been trashed….I used to live there, I know.
    Just sounding off.

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  10. There is no such thing as free money, and these strings feel like a stranglehold trying to choke the quaintness out of our town. I have lived in Edmonds for 65 years, and the house I grew up in is still occupied by a family. How many people are going to give up their homes? How many parks and open spaces will be lost?

    What is the cost of the research and time just to complete the application? It’s not worth the small size of the grant. $100,000 doesn’t begin to cover the cost of the obligations that are attached to the grant.

    Mr. Mayor, please don’t be tempted by every shiny thing that comes by. The return is not worth the investment.

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    1. As a teenager I lived with my parents in the same house where my wife and I live now. April Cook and her family were our neighbors back then. Our parents were friends and neighbors. At that time our house and the Cook’s house were two of the bigger homes in the neighborhood. Now our homes are pretty much the smaller homes in the neighborhood with a few notable exceptions of cottages still surviving but on borrowed time. The homes have gotten bigger and the open part of lots has gotten smaller with the tall trees pretty much all gone, to open up the view corridors.

      My point here is that change is inevitable and it’s going to come whether we want it or not. Change came to April and I and it will come to all of you who have arrived later than us. To me the big questions are who do we want to manage the change that’s coming and how is that change going to look after it occurs? What we all need (Edmonds and all surrounding communities) is balance in housing styles and availability based on what is appropriate for any given part of said communities. High rise multi family dwellings would just obviously work better up on the hillside rather than planted in the middle of downtown, whether it’s Edmonds or Ballard. A no brainer so to speak.

      Right now we have professional urban planners and professional politicians planning the future of what our city is going to look like and be. That needs to change, in my opinion, and I think that change would best get started by going to a strong City Council system elected out of districts so the people had some real input into what happens next door to them. At least one elected decision maker that can’t ignore them and still get re-elected to office.

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  11. “For a mere $100,000 you too can purchase the city of Edmonds as we know it.”

    No, not NIMBY rhetoric at all.

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  12. I don’t know why anyone is surprised by this proposal. It emanates from our growth management act which has as a basic premise…more density, getting people out of cars and on to busses , rail and bikes and walking …with cities like Edmonds transformed to a density and appearance like Brooklyn NY or , yes, downtown Ballard. Watch the area around 44 th in lynnwood redevelop and see the devastation the State planners have in mind for Edmonds.

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  13. This is what happens when your government decides it knows better and ignores the will of the people. We don’t need growth in anything really, we have a prosperous city what we need is just to maintain it. At this point growth is going to reduce quality of living. The authoritarian government you are so concerned about is already right here in river city. You will have high population density and you will like it says the mayor and his administration. Moving to the country gonna eat a lot of peaches as a rich man because I will be able to subdivide my lot and put up a nice sixplex.

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    1. Don’t kid yourself. City Council members read every word written here. Two of our Council members could care less what any of us think because they are basically staunch supporters of all things Democratic Party, just like our mayor; so you aren’t going to change their minds about anything. We have four absolutely non-partisan political thinkers on Council and one who has some independent mindedness but who does not want to alienate certain people in the D Party if he can help it, and that includes his mayor. The best we can hope for is that at least our four independents manage to do the right thing here. I’m actually pretty optimistic about this going the right way.

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      1. I hope you are right Clint. I have faith that the council will not approve this 30 % of the area. Its not a good idea in any way I can think of. One by one but not a blanket type thing as the Far L is suggesting. Democrats here will not like this either. SO I hope the council ALL of the ones we voted in here for a reason will not do this to the rest of our city. I have faith in most of them to say NO. One concerns me. I hope this person sees the light and doesn’t fall for the idea of taking away our yards, making traffic worse. We are not prepared for this in Edmonds anywhere. One who is in favor and pushing this lives in the Bowl and I think that person might feel differently if it was happened in 30 % of the Bowl. I may be wrong but I don’t think so. I believe we need to focus on the crime, the fear, help the people who need food and get busy with facilities to help those with mental health issues and drug issues. THIS to me is what we do first.

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  14. In my lifetime, I have lived in 5 different cities that changed their zoning for more dense living. In California there was Inglewood, Santa Barbara, and Goleta. In Washington there was Seattle and Shoreline. Each and every time it was a complete disaster. All 5 cities were confident they could handle it and failed. Public schools suffered, there was higher crime, bad traffic, and more traffic accidents. All of these cities were overwhelmed with the cost of trying to manage it. Quality of life and safety took a nosedive and seemed to affect the lower income folks a lot worst than the middle and upper class. So equity and equality took a hit, also. The City of Edmonds would be making a huge mistake to take $100,000 to sell their soul to the whims of developers and rezoning. The ultimate cost will be way more than can be imagined. Please City Counsel and Mayor do not consider or apply for this grant.

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    1. I agree, now is not the time. And don’t forget Ballard etc etc. On 99 there are many many complexes going up. That is good and will allow for growth. Your are right. With our entire city under duress right now and its not going to stop I think we need to ignore developers, make things right with people who have been offended. I mean new people to our community, we are building now Or Lutheran Church is some places for homeless and all the rest that is good. But to take away single family homes like this is ridiculous. IF it is a property that is more than an acre ok do it. But yards gone, People putting 2 story or anything in these smaller spaces helps no one. I fear starting this project on 99 right now is a mistake. I would like to see it happen just not right now. The violence seen today is really sad and it is continuing which is also sad to me. So I say SLOW DOWN… Take a breath, realize if you want Edmonds to be as you seem to want in the Bowl area ( I don’t live there) you need to realize what this will end up doing there also. IF a city is overtaken as Seattle was well where do you think the next place will be. If I were going to try to possess a city I would go for the cream… Just like in Seattle. Am I trying to frighten you YES. You should be frightened. I am. Many are all over this little city of ours from 99 to everywhere here. So SEATTLE had the chance to bring in the National Guard and do its job. WE do too. So do it. We have SWAT teams out today. We have shootings in Everett, We have sirens going crazy and firetrucks. We also have a person hurt when going into their own yard to see what a noise was at night! This is not ok. This must stop or well it won’t be good. tagging…sad.

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  15. Dense urban living = more traffic + more crime + crowded living conditions + environmental degradation. Change is inevitable and okay, but let’s aim for change for the better. Let’s not allow developers to dictate how we wish to live in Edmonds.

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  16. Great comments all. Look around Edmonds and see multi-unit housing everywhere. No change is necessary. We love Edmonds as is!

    Let Woodway claim the grant…

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  17. I live in downtown Edmonds in a condo, surrounded by condo buildings.
    I have good friends and neighbors in our building.
    We can walk to Walnut Coffee shop, Ace Hardware, masssge , movie theater, woods, train station, ferry boat, dentist, optometrist, clothing stores, great restaurants, banks, pharmacy, cleaner, exercise establishments, etc. I walk to the market and buy local fresh food, produced in valleys and plains protected by the forward looking WA State Comprehensive Development Plan.
    There are two businesses in our building on street level.
    There children on the corner catching the school bus.
    Older women in our building ride the bus , link to rapid transit to airport-alone.
    In, closing, I LIVE in a high density neighborhood in downtown Edmonds, with big street trees and a humming bird visited deck garden.
    It is not unpleasant.

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    1. So what? I live in a single family home four blocks from downtown and enjoy all the same things you do, Durive, but that doesn’t mean I want a bunch more high rise apt.s and condos crammed into downtown based on some sort of arbitrary formula that some kid right out of Urban Planning School tells me is the ideal mix. Or that some politician wants; to make brownie points with the Governor. I want everyone in town to have some say in what the ideal mix is and how we choose to evolve and absorb more population. I don’t begrudge anyone what they have now in Edmonds nor am I criticizing anyone’s chosen lifestyle as long as they can afford it. I’m just saying I think it’s time to put on the brakes a little and think a little more critically about our growth. We are being sold a bill of goods on this one by the Mayor and Staff.

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      1. This isn’t just a thing that’s being pushed by government. There is a major housing crisis going on right now and more housing is needed to solve it. It is extremely privileged to ignore that fact. People are struggling to afford a place to live. Something needs to be done.

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        1. We are at capacity and the decision has been made. Lets not fight about this anymore. There are many areas in Snohomish County that are not high density as we have here and I think we should let them have some more commerce too. In the interim the city here spoke loud and clear on this idea of packing areas, its not as if these were subsidized or low income. They too would be too expensive for many. SO we have big complexes coming on 99. That is a spot that will probably bring way over a thousand in to the area also. Those I believe are for rent or for sale not sure. But here people want their yards and frankly they should have them. We 78% of the city is a huge margin Serena. As I have said most can’t afford electric cars so it will increase bad air quality not help and it will also increase traffic already congested areas. This will make it difficult for all people, the bowl everywhere to get in and out from the intererstates etc 3 roads 220th 212th and 104 for Ferry and getting to the bowl. So its over. Right. Cheer up we need to also with Fed or State help find a realistic place for these kids in tents on drugs and I see them and I cry for them. THIS we should concentrate on now and making the up hill nice and 99 nice so all can have pride in ownership. Creation = jobs too. Ok. XO Deb

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        2. Serena, I don’t have a home near downtown Edmonds because I’m privileged. I have this home because my first wife and I were smart enough and industrious enough to purchase the home from my mother at it’s fair market value when she needed to sell it. We bought it, we did not inherit it. That is not privilege. It is brains and some real damn hard work on our part.

          That said I will give you that we live in a culture that has priced just basic living out of the reach of many ordinary citizens of our time. We couldn’t afford our house if we had to buy it now.

          We are in danger of becoming another Banana Republic thanks to our worship of extreme wealth and the protection of that wealth at the expense of our young people and our working class. Our middle class is rapidly shrinking with sudden inflation and badly over priced education for self betterment. Our being on the receiving end of the illicit foreign drug trade, corrupt legal drug companies that are in effect drug pushers, and a lack of a good cheap or free community mental health care system are the root causes of our problems. “Privilege” is just a convenient catch phrase that answers nothing really.

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  18. Too many undesirable strings attached to this Grant to make it a good decision to accept. Hopefully our Council Members who have wisdom will step aside from it.

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  19. Wow, what a timely and well documented letter Jim. This definitely is a poisonous pill that someone might not realize if they were not as diligent as you have been.

    Tomorrow 6/21 is a critical date to let the council know to not fall for this trap.

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  20. It’s a bad idea to accept this grant. $100k is a paltry amount of money to accept and be obligated to do anything regarding this city, except maybe something like giving away free bicycles or planting more landscaping. Hold the line, just say no!

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  21. (This letter was just emailed to our City Council members.)

    I am very concerned about the $100,000 grant opportunity that the City is considering applying for and/or accepting.

    Any significant commitment of funds to review and/or implement changes to single-family zoned properties deserves major study and consideration. I also believe that $100,000 is much too little an amount to commit the city to any sizable changes to zoning.

    Please do not accept nor apply for this grant, or at the very least, take several weeks to review it in more detail and consider all of the ramifications. I also suggest a public hearing to gather the public’s further input.

    Thank you for your consideration and for your work on our City Council.

    Carl Zapora

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  22. Just this morning I read an article by Linda Killian in American Thinker that sheds light on something very similar to what is happening in Edmonds (and probably every other quaint hamlet in the country). From the article:

    “Buried in President Biden’s proposed budget for 2023 is a $10-billion bribe for suburban communities to remove zoning barriers to high-density housing.  The federal government promises the suburbs funding for street improvements, traffic control, and water and sewer lines if they adopt “housing-forward policies” that eliminate single-family zoning and open their communities to “affordable housing.””

    The goal?… “to enact legislation — first to weaken local zoning and then to destroy it.  Their new tools are accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which can be apartments over garages and standalone dwellings, and large multi-family transit-oriented developments (TODs), surrounding train stations and bus depots.”

    We need to pay attention.

    Here’s the link if you’d like to read today’s American Thinker article.https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2022/06/why_democrats_want_to_get_rid_of_the_suburbs.html

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    1. THANK YOU, JEAN!

      This is excellent information and dovetails in well with what we’re starting to see. I would encourage all to read the article (it’s a quick read).

      Another insightful look is provided by Daniel Parolek who coined the phrase “Missing Middle Housing” in 2010. In his book, appley named “Missing Middle Housing”, he outlines a series of steps to go from where we are to where he, and other like-minded individuals, want to take the suburbs. The article Jean provided to us follows Mr. Parolek’s approach.

      A few excerpts from his book as to the typical end state:

      Densities >16 dwelling units/acre (Often not economically viable below 16 dwelling units per acre)
      Typically, 1- and 2-bedroom units
      Small building footprint
      Form based zoning
      Off-street parking: maximum of one per unit
      Simple, low-cost construction
      Missing middle housing typically affordable for households with incomes at 60% AMI or higher

      A couple of notable quotes go a long way to highlight the future state “vision”. Quoting from his book:
      “The recommended approach is to completely remove open-space requirements.” … “Private open space is not needed and should not be required.”

      Is this what we’re striving for? I think and hope not.

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  23. Hear! Hear! Ballard is a mess. Don’t Ballardize Edmonds. Edmonds is a lovely community, let’s don’t ruin it.

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  24. I just wanted to add the State’s explanation from the Washington State Commerce Report on the requirements for the Middle Housing Grant.

    “The grant application requires you to submit a zoning map, buildable lands report, and a summary of how you might be considering getting to the 30% threshold. If that shows that it is possible, and that you are considering a minimum of 30% of lots, you would be able to receive the grant. If the map and analysis shows that you are only considering 10 or 20% of lots or area, you are not meeting the minimum threshold for receiving the funds.”

    Meaning that we could adjust our review criteria for the 2024 Comprehensive Plan update in order to meet this grant’s provisions, and not receive any money if they show that we are not sufficiently considering the 30% limit.

    What’s worse is that we may have to redo the analysis for the 2024 Comprehensive Plan update altogether if we modify our search to try to meet the $100K grant, but not in a way that is useful for our cities plan.

    Edmonds Development Director Susan McLaughlin believes that accepting this Grant is a good idea. It is up to those who know the downsides to politely emphasize the downsides during the Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 6/21) when this will be discussed.

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  25. Jean, Jim, Brian, Clinton, Elizabeth and many more here, thanks very much for your thoughtful analysis of this situation that I have been able to peruse through so I too can contact city council and say no to Edmonds being for sale. I was under the impression that we already met the GMA density requirements for our community and adding in another 30% density will not only look horrid, but it puts a great deal of strain on our ecology here. I’m not versed in the major ramifications but it’s my understanding water runoff is one. Michele Doetsch of ACE (Alliance for Citizen of Edmonds) knows, and I hope she either does her own LTE or comments here. ACE has its finger on the pulse of the particular issue of housing density. Contact them online if you want more information. and they meet once a month. Nows the time to organize. This is how I learned about the GMA. I hope all citizens of Edmonds stand up against this kind of density because having multifamily units scattered throughout our entire neighborhoods will dwarf neighboring homes, easterly or westerly sunlight will be significantly diminished next to these large structures, home values in the short term will be affected being located next to these large unit buildings. We just can’t let this happen, there is a lot at stake and our government should not be deciding this for us. They work for the citizens. The “missing middle” is a sham for density and more people to pay taxes and we can call it what it is.

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  26. The main reason we are missing the “missing” middle in Edmonds and everywhere else in the country is we bought into the Reagan plan of destroying the Unions, lowering wages to become world competitive and, in the process, destroying most of the middle class. Further adding to the problem has been huge corporate tax breaks, encouraging offshoring production of what little we do actually manufacture at home (supposedly), and fighting useless, expensive, never ending wars.

    Middle class housing isn’t being built and, what has already been here is being torn down, because we don’t really have much of a middle class anymore; and as a result a severely threatened Democracy to boot. We are now trying to artificially create what we already once had, “the missing middle.” We expect our youth to pay a small fortune for an education, then work for peanut wages, and then live in subsidized, overcrowded apartments, they will never own.

    It’s a mess which we created ourselves by listening to self serving politicians of both major parties, instead of getting together and using our collective strength and intelligence in our own self interest and the best interest of our next generations. We follow carnival barkers and Wizzards of Oz. for easy answers, instead of using our collective good common sense to create a system where all are welcome, able to survive with good affordable health care, and have a chance at a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. We are becoming a nation of the “haves” and the “have nots”, like much of the rest of the world.

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  27. The “missing middle”from this thread is that high density housing is being built by and purchased by corporate investors whose interests are collecting high rents to satisfy those shareholders and hedge funds. No mom and pops here. They are also purchasing single family homes for rentals and leases. This drives up the cost of housing, it doesn’t create missing middle” housing.
    Higher density creates a larger tax base so politicians see dollar signs. Affordable housing has become an industry rather than a movement. Money has been dumped into it for at least a decade, yet creating very little affordable housing. Anyone recall the “projects?” High density “affordable housing” which was a nightmare for the tenants. Most of which have been demolished.
    In the housing disaster of 2008, corporate banks lent money to those who could barely afford the mortgage, then bundled sub primes up and sold them as a security basically. Two of my neighbors went sideways. One home became a squatters paradise while the corporate owner did nothing until home values started to rise.
    Welcoming the current corporate ownership of “missing middle” housing will create a similar disaster as fewer and fewer folks will be able to find a home of their own. They will be subject to a lease or rent with prices determined by the needs of shareholders and hedge funds.
    Edmonds has a choice now. Good luck with that, since our codes are such a mess any developer can drive a construction truck through them easily, while Council argues about the aesthetics they prefer.

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    1. Diane T, well put and true. Everything from basic housing, to good job producing education, to even corrections has been handed over to corporations and monetized to the maximum extent possible. By law Corporations are equal to people. What could possibly go wrong with that concept? I guess greed solves all problems.

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  28. An important point of clarification on how this state-directed planning grant application item found itself on tonight’s public agenda under council business.
    The intent by the administration and planning staff to pursue this state grant was presented at a work session to only 2 councilmembers on the Public Safety, Personnel & Planning committee a week ago.
    The 2 councilmembers on that committee, Laura Johnson and Susan Paine, voted to put this item on the following week’s consent agenda for today.
    For those that may not know the difference, the consent agenda allows no live staff presentation and no council discussion. It is used for routine items, such as the city’s payroll and expenditures, with assumed full council agreement. Roberts Rules of Order states that only non-controversial items that don’t need any discussion or debate go on the consent agenda.

    It is only on tonight’s agenda under full council business because council president Vivian Olson, who is in charge of the council’s agenda, took it off of consent and put it there for tonight’s meeting.
    Thankfully, now the administration and staff have to prepare a complete public agenda item presentation for tonight’s 7pm council meeting.
    Thank you, council president Olson, for your oversight to give this item full transparency to the entire Edmonds city council and the public.

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  29. Michelle, Susan and Laura are Partisan activists pretending to be non-partisan (by law) City Council Representatives of all the people in town. I assure you they do not see this issue as being controversial. It is a given city need in their minds. No discussion needed, because the Mayor and Staff say we need to do this. Their position will be that V.O. has over stepped her authority once again. Time to try a different type of government here or it will just continue to be more of the same forever. The partisanship may reverse course, but the patterns and dysfunction will remain the same.

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  30. Please come to the Edmonds City Council meeting tonight. The Council would like to hear your thoughts and feelings during u”public comments. You can tell us if you think accepting a $100,000 grant to rezone 30 percent of our single family neighborhoods is a good or bad idea. Your three minutes will be included in the minutes.

    Thank you.

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    1. The grant doesn’t take away local control and if took a minute to actually read your briefing materials, you’d know that. Instead you just throw red meat to the NIMBY mods. Nice job!

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      1. NIMBY mobs not mods. Apologies for the typo 🙂

        I wonder if most of the NIMBY mobs on here would be happier in a gated community?

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        1. Dan. No gated community for me although I would like a gate to my own property, those come with more rules and usually HOA dues. I bought into a single family neighborhood I want to keep it that way if that makes me part of a mob, I hope so, the bigger the mob the better.
          Captain Nimby.

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        2. Mobs? mods? makes little difference. Your intent is just to label and marginalize the people you happen to disagree with. This is similar to our Mayor and his subservient staff using the term “over represented” to label people who happen to disagree with them and oppose their biased tactics of control over how we develop as a town. Being “under represented” makes as much sense as being “under pregnant.” You are or you aren’t represented. The only way to be represented is to demand it. That’s what the American Revolution was about. Finding the “under represented” and claiming to give them a voice is paternalism and manipulation, not legitimate representative government by the people; at the will of the people.

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      2. I think one of the best things about the discussion about this issue is that it has for the most part been very civil and fact based. Jim did a tremendous job in putting this well documented letter together, and his comments and the other comments during the meeting were very respectful and well thought out.

        I welcome this space for comment in MEN, and appreciate that we have perspectives on both sides. I don’t mind the term NIMBY. In my mind it should be a compliment. People who care enough about the welfare, affordability, and safety of their community to get involved to make their community a better place.

        I would encourage you to go beyond the term, and explain in more detail what you like or don’t like about the cities move to not accept this grant. I believe you may have been caught up in the rhetoric, and do not realize the extreme requirements of this grant. Based on the 2015 Edmonds Comprehensive land report https://cdn5-hosted.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_16494932/File/Government/Departments/Development%20Services/Planning%20Division/CP_2017_adopted_LandUse.pdf

        61% of the city is Single Family Zoning, and 5.9% is multi family with 18,378 living units. The “Missing Middle” grant required us to spend money modifying our next Comprehensive to look at changing multi family zoning to 30%. In order to do that, we would need to tear down 6,616 houses in our city out of a total of 16,742 according to the numbers in the 2015 report. If we looked at any less than that, we would get $0 from the grant, and the process would have pointlessly wasted money.

        The problem is not only does that not make sense for affordability of our residents (I have elderly neighbors who would not be able to afford these new units) , but two of our Councilmembers and our mayor tried to push this through in a way that would bypass public input since they knew it was not popular.

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        1. Great comments Evan and I totally appreciate your concept of fact based argument being the proper model of good behavior. I get concerned a bit however when people use the term “civil” because it can also be construed as being “compliant” or not making waves. Semantics matter greatly and “civil” is one of those words that gets interpretive fast. I once went to a corporate management meeting labeled “Civil Behavior ” and it was a actually about busting a Union movement.

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  31. Certainly would have been appreciated having a council member be upfront and post this earlier than 1 hour before the meeting. I don’t think the council wanted the residents to see another behind closed doors attempt to hold the SFR zone hostage with hopes that someone else will help them figure it out. Thank you Jim for bringing this to light.

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  32. I’d like to thank EVERYONE who participated in this thread. Regardless of whether you supported or didn’t support the grant, what’s important is that you made your voice heard in a respectful manner. My ask is that you continue to do so.

    Our city needs all of our input as they start to rewrite our Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is the guiding framework that our city uses (or should use) to make decisions of how our city looks, feels and functions. I’ve been advocating that before we can develop this plan, we need to know what we want our city to look like in the future. OUR vision, not someone else’s. That’s why I wrote the letter in the first place. Council member Kristiana Johnson summed it up best at tonight’s Council Meeting before the vote when she advocated to maintain local control over subjects such as this. I whole hardly agree!

    Please stay tuned and stay involved. It’s OUR city! Thank you.

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  33. The 5 to 1 vote was a pleasant surprise. I expected 4 to 2 would be the outcome. Thank you for being independent in your thinking on this Mr. Chen. You keep pleasantly surprising me and I guess I owe you a bit of a public apology (again). Old grumpy goats like me never seem to learn you know.

    The City, at the behest of our Mayor and his staff, is spending over $70,000 to conduct studies of neighborhoods’ reimaginement (whatever that means), hiring an outside consultant to identify and listen to “the under represented” (whatever that means). We are also informed that the “under representeds” views may be given more weight than the “over representeds” views. Keep in mind neither of these under or over represented groups have been actually defined – that’s a work in progress. This is Orwellian and totally anti-democratic activity.

    Diane, Kristiana, Neal, Vivian and Will, keep asking the tough questions and making the “good trouble.” People like you keep us all free and independent. There just aren’t enough like you anymore. Malcontents like myself need to call out the good people like yourselves more often and thank you for your public service at every opportunity. The very nature of where and how we live is dependent on your good decisions on our behalf.

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  34. Annon, I would say “NIMBY mods” is just another useless put down label of someone you don’t happen to agree with about something. We are very good at marginalizing good people with good questions and good ideas by slapping a label on them and summarily dismissing their participation in any given discussion.

    The “over-represented” for example – a label with the subtle intent to be derogatory and dismissive of legitimate ideas of how things might be handled better in OUR town if done a little differently. I’d have much more respect for our Mayor and two council persons, if they would just come right out and state that they are active participants in a political party and are promoting that party’s ideas of how population growth should be handled in Edmonds and everywhere else. If they would be open and honest about that, and they still got re-elected at election time to non-partisan office, I’d cut them some slack. I just don’t think they really represent the people they claim to be representing. We all need to be protesting and pushing back against this neighborhood reimagineing nonsense they are forcing on us and making us pay for.

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  35. Well said Jim, I like having a front and back yard, or a garden if I chose, space to allow kids to play in the streets if they want to, If folks don’t like the SFR codes of Edmonds feel free to go elsewhere! I’m going to continue to speak up against changes the council or others who want to take away the reasons we moved to Edmonds from Brier 30 plus years ago, Why won’t the council be honest with the residents?? I’m More than happy to be assistant captain to Mr Fairchild and others that want to protect what we were sold.

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  36. Well, yes, we need housing. It is a very privileged position to try and keep zoning laws from allowing better housing accommodations in an economy where many people are struggling to afford rent. If Edmonds has any sort of humanitarian values, then we need to consider not only the aesthetic value but the practical value of what the city is able to provide its residents with. If done properly, higher density housing doesn’t have to make a city ugly. What’s important is ensuring that it will be done with best practices in construction, green building, and proper infrastructure.

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  37. For those who are following this, pay attention to the administration’s fast-tracked “reimagining neighborhoods” plan to change how we use (activate) our streets, intersections, alleys and also private property.

    Attending the first meetings held at 5-Corners and Downtown, consultants passed out an oddly-named “survey” with just two input questions asked: “Which activation strategy is most valuable in your neighborhood?” and “Where do you imagine this activation strategy being located? Please be specific about streets and/or property.” I’m pretty sure other than a few more questions about demographics, this is most definitely not a “survey”, yet the consultants said they will use this to determine how “excited” the few people who attended are and then where to make these pre-printed activation strategies happen.

    Both were free-for-all exercises as attendees wandered around with no interest by consultants to track the people there to match them and their “choices” – using stickers and a stack of 34 preprinted strategy types with a few write-ins. People wandered around, confused what was the purpose and how many to use. At the first meeting strings of stickers were given out to attendees and at both meetings stickers were unattended sitting next to the boards (you would think 3 would be handed out when people came in to be clear and to make sure no double-dipping). I watched one person, probably unaware of the rules, put up 10 stickers. With only 50 and the second 75 people attending these meetings (including consultants and staff), many noted they don’t live in that neighborhood. So how many are deciding on these reimagining neighborhood strategies? Seeing stickers being placed on privately-owned property with no concern by staff and consultants, when asked they stated no current plans to tell homeowners. businesses and landowners these activities could be taking place right in front of or actually on their private properties.

    Attend the next meeting on July 7 at Hickman Park near Sherwood Elementary from 6-7:30pm. Learn more about their plans, ask questions and participate in the process.

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    1. Michelle, I share your sentiments on this very odd fast-track consultant-led “reimagining” and “street activation” practice. I attended both of the first two meetings and can see the train wreck coming. Folks need to get out to the next four meetings when they are announced. Ask hard questions of our city staff. Get to the bottom of what these consultants cost and understand the scope of their work. Encourage your neighbors to pay close attention to what is happening. Hold elected officials accountable. I am not a fan of back door strategies like this. Seems like something Seattle-esque is being superimposed on Edmonds, rather than Edmonds itself deciding to strike off in a new direction.

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