The Washington State Legislature is once again trying to strong-arm Edmonds and most Washington cities into giving up local control over land-use, density and zoning decisions. Two bills have just been introduced that would do just that: SB 5190 and companion bill HB 1110. Categorically, this one-size-fits-all scheme does not take into consideration Edmonds’ unique location and critical area topography along Puget Sound, which includes the Edmonds Marsh.
For those reading this who think “nothing can be done,” consider what those who care deeply about Edmonds’ unique qualities and fragile natural environment were able to accomplish over the last several years:
- Facilitated a full Edmonds City Council review and rejection of a 2022 state commerce grant that would have required Edmonds to upzone a minimum of 30% of our neighborhoods.
- Participated in the Citizens’ Housing Commission over 16 months that worked to bring forward ideas and debate a response to growth accommodation that specifically addressed Edmonds’ needs and took into consideration that 78% of Edmonds’ residents want to retain single-family zoning. (EHCH survey 2021).
- Helped prevent passage of a bill HB1782 (2022) that would have allowed two to six housing units per lot anywhere near a “transit center,” which would include ferry terminals and bus stops, essentially removing almost all single-family zoning in Edmonds.
- On Dec. 7, 2022, six of seven city councilmembers passed a resolution in support of retaining rights to self-determination in land-use, zoning and building codes and ordinances and to urge county and state elected officials to not take these rights away through legislative action.
We in Edmonds are being called upon again to stand up to the bullies in Olympia.
Two bills recently introduced are stunning in their overreach. These bills allow for
- At least four units per lot in all residential areas.
- Six units per lot in all residential, if two of the six are “affordable.”
- At least six units per lot in all residential if within a half mile of a major transit stop.
The bill(s) would lock Edmonds into straitjacket compliance. If we do not comply within a certain time frame, “model ordinances” based on the language mandating the mass increase in density would “supersede, preempt, and invalidate local development regulations” until we acquiesce.
If the state wants cities to focus on housing supply, a better approach than these heavy-handed bills — which preempt local control, especially for cities like Edmonds that are complying with the Growth Management Act — is to update the Growth Management Act (GMA) housing targets and then let local jurisdictions do what is best for their own communities. Cities have elected officials, planning departments and citizens who know best how to thoughtfully and appropriately increase housing supply to fit within their communities.
What can we as mere citizens do?
- Call or email your lawmakers now to keep Edmonds in control of its own future. Absolutely reference the local rights resolution passed by our own city council. Let lawmakers know that we want to maintain local control!
- You can find your own (and all) legislators online at: https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder
- Don’t forget to include our local councilmembers to show your support of maintaining local control by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To continue staying involved, consider learning more about us at the Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds and join in our support of retaining Edmonds’ self-determination rights to our own city’s future.
— By Dr. Michelle Dotsch
Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds (ACE) President on behalf of the ACE Board