State housing bills a battleground for local control vs. density

Taken from Mountlake Terrace, with Interstate 5 in the foreground, Hall Lake in Lynnwood to the right, Edmonds and Puget Sound at top. (2020 file photo by David Carlos)

I’ve written it before, and it is still true: Nothing sparks more reaction in South Snohomish County than the phrase “single-family zoning.” What drives that reaction is equal parts growth, change, fear, the economy and history.

The Washington State Legislature is again debating a bill that could change single-family zoning and housing statewide. That fuels the fears of those who believe cities will lose local zoning control, and that would open up all single-family neighborhoods to duplexes and triplexes and in turn diminish the character of the communities. Balanced against that are those who believe it is past time to provide equitable and affordable housing opportunities for all incomes among the tens of thousands of people who will move here.

Mark Smith

“We are absolutely in support of this bill,” said Mark Smith, executive director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County. “There is not enough buildable land to continue the current land-use patterns and take in future population growth.”

Michelle Dotsch

A different view comes from Michelle Dotsch, president of the Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds (ACE): “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.”


The Association of Washington Cities (AWC), which lobbies city and town issues to legislators and represents all 281 communities in the state, is blunt: “Washington has a profound need for housing — much of which the private market cannot deliver.” AWC estimates that Snohomish County needs 140,000 new housing units by 2044 — half of them affordable to very low- and low-income residents.

My Edmonds News file photo

There is no doubt that we face a big population increase here in the next 20 years. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PRSC)’s Regional Growth Strategy estimates more than 300,000 people will move into Snohomish County in the next two decades. That is a 37% increase in our current numbers and would swell the countywide population to over 1.1 million by 2044.

The PRSC reports that 95% of those newcomers will funnel into urban growth areas —  that covers basically all of South County. Snohomish County planners estimate that in the next 20 years, Lynnwood will add 25,000 new residents and Edmonds 14,000 more, and that another 13,000 will move into Mountlake Terrace.

House Bill 1110/Senate bill 5190: increasing middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee set the stage for debate this month when he launched his $4 billion housing plan to speed construction of tens of thousands of multi-family units that will include affordable and low-income units and supportive housing and shelters.

“We must finish the job we started last session to address middle housing and increase housing density within our communities.  There is a way to do this that respects the unique character of our towns and cities, while also responding to the reality that we are a growing, changing state.” –  Gov. Jay Inslee

House Bill 1110 and its companion bill (5190) in the Senate, says the state faces …”an unprecedented housing shortage for its current population and without significant action will not meet its goal of creating 1,000,000 homes by 2044.”

 HB 1110 proposes:

– developing more housing at all income levels

– allowing people to live near where they work

– directing communities to change zoning in “some areas” to allow more affordable housing near transit and jobs

– reducing pressure to build on open space/farmland, supporting climate change initiatives, environmental recovery.

The bill claims the changes would make more affordable housing available, especially to people and families whose incomes are less than 80% of the county’s median household income – $95,600 in 2021.

It would apply to every community in South County — even to the Town of Woodway — because portions of all communities are within urban growth guidelines and close to mass transit stops, including bus, light rail, the Sounder train and the Edmonds ferry terminal. The bill supports more multi-family housing close to transit and that is where Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds are focusing their growth.

But under the bill, duplexes and housing up to four units could be developed on “all lots” zoned residential. If contractors promise to make two of the units for lower-income people, they could then build a total of six units. Within a half mile of a transit stop, as many as six units  could be built per lot. But the bill also states that “Nothing in this section prohibits a city from permitting detached single-family residences.”

State Rep. Strom Peterson, an Edmonds Democrat who represents parts of Edmonds and Lynnwood, is a co-sponsor of HB 1110. He told us that housing issues “… affect the economy, working families, contribute to the homelessness crisis… all of those things can really be seen in that lens of the lack of housing opportunity in this state.”

ACE President Michelle Dotsch calls the bill “shortsighted,” and a threat to a community’s local control. “That’s a cookie cutter idea and to plop it down in every city… Edmonds is not Shoreline, not Lynnwood, it’s not Seattle. and that’s why local planning has the real care to take a look at that, look at all the impacts of the type of density and where it makes sense.”

Other bousing bills

House Bill 1245  would make it easier for homeowners to subdivide their property into two lots and allow them to sell ownership of an accessory dwelling unit (a small house of about 800 square feet) on that lot.

House Bill 1026 would eliminate design review boards for residential construction. The argument is that the reviews can delay projects for months, driving up construction costs.

Rep. Peterson has introduced HB1124 to mandate that landlords give tenants six-month notice on rent increases, not the 60-day notice they do now.  That bill would also limit the amount of late fees and allow tenants to quit their lease if they face rent increases.

Two other bills, not yet introduced, are expected to seek to eliminate parking requirements for multi-family projects near transit stops, which might cut the cost to build apartments; the second of these bills could prevent landlords from retaliating against tenants by raising rents.

Local zoning control or state control

This is the second time lawmakers have tried to impose statewide changes to some single-family zoning; last year, a bill similar to 1110 never made it to the House or Senate floors for a vote.

Fred Safstrom

Fred Safstrom, recently retired CEO of the nonprofit low-income housing group Housing Hope, said it is fear that drives some of the opposition. “I say fear is a powerful thing and I don’t discount that. Just because there is a fear of change, doesn’t necessarily mean that those fears would become reality… (yet some) firmly believe what’s being proposed here is going to result in an adverse change to these neighborhoods.”

Dotsch argues the concern is not fear but the proposed state blanket policy “that basically takes all of the control out of the city, out of the citizens that live in those communities and just makes it a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to a problem that I think every city is going to have to challenge it differently.”

Mark Smith of the Housing Consortium for Everett and Snohomish County said that much of single-family zoning was created historically to keep some people “out.” There is, he said, still “a primal fear that the people who move in (to multi-family) are going to ruin the neighborhood somehow.”

Karen Haase Herrick

Karen Haase Herrick, vice president of ACE, counters: “I think this bill, as it did last year, creates a ‘noise’ and that makes it hard for the (city) council to actually respond to the work that citizens in this community did that would have increased housing; maybe not with affordability, but with some thoughtful planning.”

Rep. Peterson responded to concerns that the measure would threaten all single-family neighborhoods. “We’re not going to bulldoze swaths of neighborhoods to put in a fourplex,” he said. “I think it’s a false argument; when similar work has been done around the country, housing values actually increase, and neighborhoods are not overrun with fourplexes and duplexes. It is a very gradual, a much smoother transition than people think.”

Haase Herrick thinks there is a critical piece missing in the bill: “We’re not asking anything of apartment builders to actually build family apartments. They’re building studio, one and two bedrooms; that’s not family housing,” she said.

Most of the apartments under construction in all South County communities will charge market-rate rents, and as such, many people will not be able to afford them.

Hazel Apartments on Highway 99 in Edmonds

An example: the Hazel Apartments on Highway 99 in Edmonds. Rents range from $1,638 for a 500-square-foot studio and top out at over $3,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit. In 2022, 18 projects were under construction or in permit reviews in Edmonds — that’s a record-breaking 1,027 units for the city. But only 143 of those units are labeled “moderate” or “low-income” apartments. At Hazel, 40 of the 192 units fit that description and that is only because the developer got a multi-family tax exemption from the city to include lower-income units.

Proponents insist that building more housing will eventually lower rents; opponents argue that has not been the case.

What local city councils and mayors think of the housing bills


Edmonds made the city’s position clear last month when the Edmonds City Council passed — by a 6-1 vote — a resolution supporting local control in land use, zoning and building codes. That resolution states that “single family zoning will continue to be a component of our zoning codes”and that the city complies with all “current” federal state and county laws.”

  “The Edmonds City Council reaffirms our commitment to our citizens to reject any intervention by County and State Legislators to dilute any of City Council’s authority in all land use matters.”  – Edmonds Resolution 1510

Council President Neil Tibbott said that the council and Mayor Mike Nelson are working on a letter to the governor and lawmakers to reaffirm that stand. Tibbott and Councilmembers Will Chen and Jenna Nand will meet with lawmakers Feb. 16 to state their case. We asked Mayor Nelson for his feedback; he has not yet responded.


Artist rendering of the Lynnwood City Center project.

Lynnwood is already building more than 4,000 apartments — with a possible increase to 6,000  — in the City Center and around Alderwood Mall. Most of it is designed to funnel density into neighborhoods adjacent to light rail.

Shannon Sessions

“While my impression is most of the Lynnwood City Council doesn’t like this bill, no, we haven’t taken an official stance,” said Lynnwood Council President Shannon Sessions. “This is also a topic we will bring up to our legislators during city action days in Olympia in February.”

A spokesperson for Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said via email that the city does not like “a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to solving the housing crisis. The City of Lynnwood has and will continue to work to accommodate our region’s growth and its housing demands.”

Mountlake Terrace

Terrace Station apartments

Mountlake Terrace is already in a big multi-family construction surge, with more than 700 units going up at Terrace Station, next to light rail and as part of the overall Town Center development. Another developer has just brought the city plans for an additional 600 apartments in that area.

Kyoko Matsumoto Wright

Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright said that the city has taken no position of the possible state pre-emption of local zoning control but is monitoring the hearings and wants more details of what’s in the bill. “We fought this a long time ago; a lot of the stuff that’s in there (the bill), we’ve already done,” she said. “Our Town Center development next to the light rail station, we have the density to be built there… I don’t think we’re one of the problem cities.”


A map indicating how Woodway could be affected by state zoning changes. The area shaded in red is within a half mile of transit.

Woodway has just 1,300 residents, but it also may fall under the state mandate on zoning change. That’s because almost half of Woodway sits within a half-mile of transit stops and the community is part of the urban growth area that encompasses most of South County. The town has already created a map that shows a long strip of Woodway along the Edmonds Way corridor could face zoning changes if the bill passes. That would be a huge change for the town.

Will the housing bills pass?

“I feel very good that a strong version of this bill (HB1110) is going to pass,” Rep. Peterson said. “This is priority of the House, both Republicans and Democrats, rural and urban.” Peterson noted that several years ago, “we passed HB 1220, that asked cities to take a harder look at what type of housing we will need in the future.” This bill, he insisted, follows on that work.

Edmonds Council President Tibbott said that according to the city’s lobbyist, some version of the bill is “likely to pass.”

Association of Washington Cities Deputy Director Carl Schroeder has said that although his group has had more “productive conversations” with lawmakers this year, AWC still is concerned about ‘broad pre-emption of local zoning rules’, and about expanding the bill to apply to more cities.

Housing Hope’s former Executive Director Safstrom added: “We think the best neighborhood and best public policy is to create mixed-income neighborhoods,” adding that they “create a more vibrant community.”

Dotsch, from ACE, asked, “Where are the jobs, where’s the commercial business, where’s the tax base for the city to support all this — the cops, more firefighters, more infrastructure.. more environmental work…we are actually doing our part unless you want every square inch of Edmonds to be a house,” she added.

Rep. Jessica Bateman

One of the two prime sponsors of HB 1110, Rep. Jessica Bateman, warned that if the state wants to meet the construction goal of a million new housing units in the next 20 years, it must triple housing construction; “We’ve tried letting each city make their own zoning decisions for decades,” said Bateman, a Democrat from Olympia. “It’s 2023, it hasn’t worked. We need to try a different approach. We need to be bold.”

The questions — how bold? What will residents, cities and towns, lawmakers and advocates on both sides agree on? What compromises — and there will be compromises in Olympia and locally — will lawmakers strike to try to pass this bill? Will the long-term impact be more housing opportunities for more people or, as some fear, the erosion of communities? As I wrote at the start, “nothing sparks more reaction in the South County than the future of housing and the phrase ‘single family-zoning.'”

— By Bob Throndsen

  1. I to wonder where are the jobs for these predicted people? Lots of land available for construction in Snohomish county why force it on already dence areas? Well the nanny state has risen and it will only get worse if you continue to vote for it.

    1. Jim A retired builder/developer’s analysis…yes there is a lot of land In Snohomish county but it is not available for subdivision. Again, All due to the 30 year old growth management act prohibiting development in rural areas and mandating intensive development closer to and inside cities. Some of the prohibition may make sense but , for instance, consider why the land west of Woodinville and Clearview is “preserved”. NIMBY prevails. And that forces politicians to focus on cities like Edmonds to make feeble and probably futile attempts to rein in rising housing prices when the commodity of “land “represents the single largest out- of-control cost in housing. Thanks to politicians past and current.

  2. Tribalism loyalty beats local decisions, even if it risks the erosion of community. I guess this is the result of being too busy, or too lazy, or just lack of certain basic intelligence. So tribal leaders who are under the influence of special interests get their way. Maybe local city elected officers are only symbolic in the hierarchy ladder?

  3. Thank you MEN and Bob Throndsen for this very important article. I hope that there will be follow ups as these bills progress.
    I would also like to bring attention to a group of bills regarding rental properties, and the State’s attempt to control local rental rules. One of them is Strom Petersons HB1110. The others are HB 1388, HB 1389, HB1074, SB 5060, and SB 5197. I suggest that anyone interested should read these.

  4. One of the less talked about issue is schools. The growth in the Edmonds School District footprint will bring about the need for more schools. Currently many of our elementary schools are operating above capacity. Many are quite old and need replacing.

    An example is the development in central Lynnwood of more than 6000 apts. The old formula is 1 child for every 4 apartments. But that formula will change as families move to apts because they cannot afford a single family home.

    Even at the old formula that equates to 3 new schools. The taxes on the apts will not likely be enough to pay for the needed new schools. The current tax base will need to make up the difference.

    1. No doubt. My daughter and soon son attend/will attend Westgate Elementary, the boundary for which many of these new apartment buildings along HWY99 and HWY104 are located. Even if a 1/4 of these units have children, that is still much more than this or other current facilities can handle. I have had the pleasure now to see many other elementary and middle schools in the ESD due to sports and other activities, and am a bit perplexed how Edmonds where all this growth is happening particularly with young families such as mine, continues to have some of the worst facilities in the district. Westgate in particular, despite being a fantastic school, is one of the worst offenders as far as physical space is concerned. It is very concerning but not surprising that these proposals are not fully baked by any means by folks who generally are not effected by the consequences or rapid growth. One of the reasons we moved to Edmonds was the school district, and one of the reasons it has a great school district is due to the makeup/density of the city.

        1. Thank you. I missed this when it came out. That said, being within the ESD boundary of the majority of the growth in Edmonds, my concerns as a parent and taxpayer remain the same. I see another comment has already addressed that the majority of the bills for the ESD are already footed by SFHs.

  5. From my view as a now retired city planner with over four decades of local government experience in our our region, the current proposed legislation is far too extreme and cannot be implemented without creating a substantial number of new problems. The statewide public political pushback will also be extraordinary, beyond anything we have seen before. However, that being said, significant steps must be taken now, in an orderly fashion, to address the mounting housing crisis in our region. Local government zoning as usual cannot continue. The first key step is to greatly reduce the current cost, complexity and lengthy timelines for approval of both attached and detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), in all single family zones in all cities (as long as there is an owner occupant in one of the lot’s units). Second, with the inclusion of reasonable design and locational standards, duplexes should be allowed on at least half of the corner lots all in single family zoned areas. And third, substantial density multi-family housing should be allowed on all non-single family zoned land within 1,500 feet of transit centers and along certain higher service bus lines (exact heights, densities etc. based on adjacent land use.)

  6. You can kiss have an Edmonds Kind of Day goodbye! Edmonds will merely be a suburb of Seattle. This city needs to slow down. 20 years is a long time. Our growth is full our streets are narrow are infrastructure is not close to adequate. First things first. THESE bills are not a good idea if you want Edmonds to remain for those who have lived here for generations. It is very clear. It is true about our schools our hospitals and yes WHERE are the jobs. I suspect many are people working from home in the tech industry. I also suspect with no decks no fresh air, no parking our narrow side streets will be loaded with cars just like in a BIg City. If you don’t have a drive way you have no place to park your own car. Our water filtration systems are not prepared. Our Cable is not prepared or our electrical grid. Housing that is built inadequately will need to be replaced in 20 years. I say wake up before it is too late. Seattle will thrive again. City people will go there not here. Duplexes one story linear 3-5 per lot. TREES Needed.

  7. Though well intended, this type of development never pays for itself, always requiring endless expansion and increase of taxes to pay for yesterdays choices. We need low impact, low density solutions where peoples interests revolve around the home including work, daycare and recreation. I suggest tax breaks for not commuting, less driving, working out of home, virtual start up business, home schooling, daycaring and aging in place at home period! That way stay at home moms and family unity and business development are prioritized while reducing infrastructure, energy use and pollution. A neighborhood first approach. Add an ADU with a studio that is rent controlled and a separation inside the house for office, studio, elders, health helper, friend, roommate or a student. Thank you.

  8. There are plenty of good reasons to be critical of the legislatures top down broad brush approach to the basic goal of “expanding the supply of affordable housing”. Here in Edmonds we had a good chance to get ahead of the state a few years ago when our neighbors on the housing commission worked hard to come up with ideas/recommendations to expand the supply of affordable housing. Unfortunately it seemed like most of their ideas got shouted down by the NIMBY crowd and were never pursued by the City Council.

    I would like to see Edmonds allow dispersed growth by loosening up the zoning code. The current zoning restrictions on DADUs are preventing low impact small houses from being built on oversized lots around town. There are plenty of houses around town with lots of excess yard area that will allow for a nice little one bedroom DADU to be placed there…but the zoning does not allow it.

    1. John,

      Delay of review of the Housing Commission’s recommendations was not the result of NIMBYs, as you suggest. In fact, former director, Shane Hope, called the Commission’s ADU/DADU recommendation “low hanging fruit” and planned to bring that forward to Council first. However, director Hope retired, senior planner Kernen Lien resigned, and the new planning director is charged with overseeing the Comprehensive Plan update, a time consuming undertaking. And in fairness to Council, and staff, there have been other issues that have taken precedence during Mayor Nelson’s term.

      It’s likely that many would agree with you about DADUs. However, I see nothing in HB 1110 that would suggest any limitations on ADUs/DADUs depending upon lot size or any other criteria. Which would mean that owners of new town houses, duplexes, etc, could have the same option to add an ADU or DADU. Or developers could be proactive and add them as part of their project. Yet another reason why this legislation’s broad takeover of local zoning authority is concerning.

      1. Ms. Bloom thank you for the history and clarification. What you say makes sense. I would wishfully hope anyone contemplating a DADU or whatever structure would consider effects on neighbors and neighborhood before construction. It is simply just “not all about me.” We have plenty of that currently to go around in society. That tank is full. Yet another reason to worry about this bill.

        1. Mike,

          You’re welcome. Currently, ADUs are subject to a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which means that the application for the ADU must be posted at the property and noticed to surrounding home owners. Neighbors then have an opportunity to submit comments on the application with any concerns they have.

          There are many existing ADUs in Edmonds which have been grandfathered. There are two within walking distance of our home that have been there since before 1988 when we moved into our home. To my knowledge, they have never aroused any complaints or concerns from the neighbors. Personally, I’m more concerned about enforcement of the owner occupancy requirement on new homes with ADUs.

          Here is a link to Edmonds ADU code:

      2. If the City of Edmonds were to amend code to allow backyard cottages, also called DADUs, I expect it would require setbacks from the main house and lot edges, height limits lower than the main house, a size maximum (square footage), fire department access, and probably a few other factors. In short, I would expect a code that would minimize the negative impacts of any DADU on neighbors’ properties.

        Let’s be careful the bad examples we might conjure up. For example, the back yard of a 20-foot wide townhouse is too narrow to allow a DADU, under any intelligently written code.

        1. Roger, You make good points here, but the current concern is not so much about what the City of Edmonds might or might not allow, it is about what the State of Washington might mandate as required zoning across the board in all state municipalities. To me that concept is really a bit Orwellian and not a concept that one might normally expect from a political party that claims to be about broad based; grass roots type democracy. In my view, blanket edicts about what everyone must do about something that is as basic a need as housing (or health care, or marriage or any human requirement for basic well being) is a bad idea coming from either the extreme Right or, in this case, what feels like the extreme Left to me. I can’t believe all Democrats in the state will think this blanket “no zoning” (in effect) is a good idea.

        2. Roger,

          Thanks. Good point. It‘s likely that maximum space available, even on 12,000 and 20,000 sqft lots, would be used by the developer to increase profits. Those dwellings could be 3 stories high within 20 ft of the adjoining property line. Contrary to Strom’s statement “We’re not going to bulldoze swaths of neighborhoods to put in a fourplex,” that could result, as developers buy up older homes, perhaps owned by seniors on fixed incomes experiencing escalating property taxes and seeing neighbors selling their homes. Strom also said, “similar work has been done around the country, housing values actually increase.” And property taxes increase which could be the underlying reason for these bills, not to increase “affordable” housing, as legislators claim.

          Our current ADU code could be updated to include DADUs, providing an additional option for existing property owners to stay in their homes, with the added income provided. I disagree with the Housing Commission’s recommendation that Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requirements be eliminated. The CUP allows adjoining property owners to document concerns about potential negative impacts to their properties.

          Here’s a link to ADUs, affordability and equity:

        3. Thanks for the additional comments Clint and Joan. Just for the record, I too strongly oppose any state mandate imposing multi-family development on existing single-family neighborhoods. I spent three-and-a-half years on Planning Board and never once saw any reason, any need for such redevelopment. Edmonds can easily accommodate its growth expectations under the GMA within our existing zoning footprint. And even if we did need to increase our zoned capacity, the last thing we should do is put 4-plexes in the middle of existing single-family neighborhoods!

  9. Is it not a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy to see growth as inevitable and only search for ways to accommodate it? How about instead of merely always trying to accommodate growth and accepting a diminished quality of life, we look at ways to discourage it? Nowhere in the Snohomish County Comprehensive Plan have I seen anything along these lines. No, there are no easy solutions, but how many people can the county (state, country, planet) absorb? It’s axiomatic that growth can’t continue forever in a finite eco-system. This fact should always be part of our our thinking and planning.

  10. The right to self determination as the mayor recently said. Why have county or city government if the state can take away our rights. People didn’t move here because they want Edmonds to be like Seattle or Tacoma or Olympia etc. We should as a city be able to set our own rules around many things local zoning being one of them.

  11. There continues to be a huge flaw in all discussions regarding the Growth Management Act (GMA) and State mandates regarding zoning for density as it relates to the unintended consequences to the environment.

    Both bills lack any understanding of the impact on our environment as a result of density to an existing infrastructure such as storm, sewer, transportation congestion, parking, pedestrian and public safety not to mention the impacts of pollution, loss of habitat and garbage.

    With the drastic changes in our climate we be looking at the environmental impacts of density. The weather events are becoming more concentrated and our watersheds, rivers, streams and undersized culverts are creating crisis predicaments.

    Furthermore, previous zoning permits that allowed homes to be built in floodplains had been extremely costly to correct (Riverbend as an example) so zoning requirements should be done at the local level.

    If you need a solution, I would suggest exempting those Cities that are on a coastline or have lakefront or major watersheds to protect. Also, surrounding cities within a 15-mile radius need to realize their zoning impacts on coastal watersheds.

    HB 1181 and SB 5203 about Climate Change and our planning should be our focus FIRST.

  12. Council member Buckshnis, While I agree with you that extensive development and infill will overload our road and drainage infrastructure, I don’t believe that properly built DADU houses dispersed throughout Edmonds will overload anything. In fact, I would enjoy using my side yard as a perfect site for a DADU. I can build it with zero impact to the drainage infrastructure or environment and enough off street parking for two cars but the zoning will not allow it. I don’t understand why the City does not want this type of infill…it was a recommendation of the Housing Commission. Is there a solid basis for the City’s current restrictive zoning that will not allow residents with big yards to add DADU affordable housing?

    1. The Housing Commission recommendation need to start with the Administration with crafting code and/or design standards and moving it through the planning board process. Council did ask Planning Board members why multi-family design standards haven’t been brought forth (its been two years now) and when we had our joint meeting with Planning Board – it was brought up and some said they were told by Administration we weren’t interested? So somewhere there is a disconnect. The recommendation you suggest needs to be fully vetted since we have seen large DDU on properties in Seattle that are very large with zero lot lines. So, yes, I hear you. it’s unfortunate that all that work the Housing Commission did has slowed to a snails pace. Having said that infrastructure, parking, water, and sewer will have an impact with an added structure on the hundreds of folks who may want to build detached houses on their property. So, I will kindly have to disagree as some may not be a thoughtful as you in developing their detached structure.

  13. Surprising that given the concerns articulated here that no one identifying as a citizen of Edmonds or a lobbyist on behalf of the Edmonds City Council or Edmonds groups signed in ‘CON’ or testified at the hearing on the House bill, and thus far, the same is true of today’s hearing on the Senate bill. Contacting legislators is a good thing but if those in Edmonds opposed to the bill really want to be in the game, take a lead from the PRO folks and get your legislative liaison working the in-person contacts and citizens organize to testify, written or spoken. Anyone can do the latter, it doesn’t require an ‘in’ in Olympia and you don’t have to be a registered lobbyist.

    1. Kim,

      Thanks for pointing this out. Those who support these bills are more highly organized, likely because of profits to be made if the bills are ultimately passed. The public hearings you referred to, January 17 for HB 1110 and January 25 for SB 5190, were hearings in committee, not in the full House or Senate.

      I’ve attached links to both bills. Anyone can make a comment to their legislators through these links. One can also follow the time line of presentation to the House and Senate, including additional public hearings, currently not scheduled.

      HB 1110:

      SB 5190:

    2. This is more complicated it seems than I thought so I did Email legislatures from DIstrict 21 with my concerns and objections and why. However like many surveys here it is very limited on how much you can say. A couple sentences isn’t enough for all the problems and concerns we have here in Edmonds. BUT I thank you very much for giving us a way to try anyway. Deb.

  14. What? “Some (Planning Board Members) said they were told by Administration we weren’t interested” in regards to discussing DADUs. Yet, yesterday you, Diane, voted to confirm all of mayor Nelson’s current appointments to the planning board, all of whom probably favor some form of open zoning in current single family zoned areas and none of whom were given any real vetting by anyone on the Council. I’d say some of the “disconnect” is how you voted on these appointments. This vote suggests to me that you might favor Administrative influence in how and what the Planning Boards present to the Councils. I see this as the big problem with how this town is run. People are put on Boards and Commissions based on what someone wants to hear ( alleged experts), not based on unbiased studies about what might or might not be good to do in regards to planning for the future. I have a property with room for a very modest DADU, but I doubt any of my neighbors would like or appreciate that being allowed in terms of their property values and quality of life.

  15. I live in a terrific neighborhood with people who help each other, work hard to resolve any differences of opinion about views, property lines, parking issues and such and who have a very, very loose knit association dedicated just to friendliness, mutual information and watching out for each other. Our homes range from cottages to mini-mansions. Our residents range from ordinary sometimes irritating people like myself to one world wide celebrity who goes out of his way to share his wealth and help the world be a better place. I love all my friends and neighbors even when I disagree with them at times. To me, my neighborhood is what Edmonds is all about and exactly what Edmonds should be for everyone smart enough and lucky enough to live here. If over population of Edmonds is allowed to be forced on us; the town will not be the better for it. Where growth is allowed is crucial to Edmonds remaining Edmonds; rather than becoming an amusement park character of itself.

  16. In my opinion, DADUs, if tightly regulated and subject to Conditional Use Permits, can be part of a range of options to ease the housing shortage. This is one of the Housing Commission’s recommendations, and I hope the newly constituted Planning Board can consider this issue soon. I envision a scenario where a homeowner in Edmonds wishes to remain living here for his/her lifetime, decides to construct a small DADU in the large back yard, rents out the DADU for a several years until it is time for him/her to move into the DADU, then rents out the main home to create an income stream to help cover property taxes, utility bills, etc. to enable him/her to continue to live in Edmonds. In this scenario, if regulated properly, it is difficult to see a downside. Affordable housing is created while helping our seniors remain in Edmonds for as long as they wish.

    1. Dave, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

      How much will a “tightly regulated” DADU cost to build? Paid for in cash or borrowed money? Could that same money be put to use in an investment that doesn’t have the same headaches that come with rental real estate? Lots of laws in our “highly regulated” environment that protect renters (and it will only get worse watching where Olympia is going). Our hypothetical couple now is burdened with this landscape (maintenance, insurance, leases, utilities, etc.) of trying to manage rental property when they are most likely to not have the will or stamina. Solution: hire a management company ($$$). Then what happens when our hypothetical couple pass on their assets (we die)? Now we have a property with a DADU on it (presumably with renters) that needs to be sold. To who? A rental company which only wants to maximize profit?

      All I’m saying is that we don’t want to be short-sighted when we discuss this but rather look past the first owner of these DADUs.

    2. City of Edmonds government does not tightly regulate its current ADU laws.

      I think it important for citizens to know that the City’s website claims that the Code Enforcement Division of the City of Edmonds enforces regulations within the Edmonds City Code and the Community Development Code, generally through a complaint-generated system.

      Our City Code does not say that this is how it works. Our City Code states that the mayor shall see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city.

      Even when Code Enforcement complaints are filed, history shows the city is willing to ignore requests from the complainant for a status update on their request for Code Enforcement. History shows that staff and a city attorney will prosecute code enforcement after the Code Enforcement Officer has closed a request for Code Enforcement. I find much of it arbitrary.

      History shows that mayors do not consistently perform their duties. This may be something to keep in mind if we adopt new laws for DADUs. There is no guarantee that Edmonds Mayors will perform their duty to see that all DADU laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced.

    3. Sorry Dave, this argument is Pie in the Sky. Projecting a perfect scenario for seniors (of which i am) to stay in Edmonds in their own property is wishful thinking. when it is time i will sell my greatly appreciated property and move to a community where I don’t have to take care of anything but myself. A DAUD will not satisfy my needs.

  17. I can just see it coming now. If the current proposals get enacted at the state level, what’s next? They’ll be coming after our building height restrictions next. After all, once they run out of land, the only way is up.

    We need to think long term here and not be short sighted. Currently we seem to have many of our elected officials in Olympia who can’t see past their nose.

    1. State Rep. Strom Peterson, an Edmonds Democrat who represents parts of Edmonds and Lynnwood, is a co-sponsor of HB 1110. This questionable, poorly thought-out bill has Edmonds hometown roots, maybe it’s Edmonds locals that can’t also see past their own nose.

      1. Brian you might be on to something Clinton to. It has been coming down the pike for some time now. I can’t make decisions I am of no importance regardless of if I pay attention or taxes. Because for some reason my vote no longer matters and my ability to be on a comission requires extreme expertise. Government would like nothing better than to silence my voice also.. the game is rigged and the shouting match is of no consequence. If the state would get what many don’t want few will be alive to witness its end result. Again the right to self determination, when government starts to refuse that right to a significant degree people ought to be paying attention. And it is happening..

  18. We could see this coming before the last election but the incumbents still got 65-70% of the vote, probably including lots of people who are appalled by these authoritarian housing bills coming down at us from Olympia. Too late to change our votes now…

  19. I’m with Mr. Fairchild. Thanks to much of the lunacy I see coming from the ultra progressive Left in our state and reflected by our Mayor and many on our City Council, past and present, I no longer have a political home to relate to. Iraq War proponent NeoCon Liz Cheney has become one of my few heros, just for standing up against a lunatic fringe, led by a lunatic, coming from the Right. Now we have a Lunatic fringe statewide taking control from the Left, telling us what we can and can’t build in our own neighborhoods. Big Brother knows best; crapola from On High. Do we want to be like China and have the State tell us how many children to have, how our Dr. is to treat us, how big and where our homes should be and what websites we can have access to? Things are really going South around here. If we don’t figure out a way to come to the Center again, politically speaking, I think we are done as proclaimed free and independent people. Bring back the Eisenhower years (minus the Racism and sexism) please.

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