Proposed amendments to accessory dwelling unit code before Edmonds City Council Feb. 27

A presentation on proposed amendments to Edmonds’ accessory dwelling unit (ADU) code, which would allow for detached units known as DADUs, is among the items on the Edmonds City Council agenda for Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The City of Edmonds has been inviting the public to comment on the accessory dwelling unit code update ahead of the Edmonds Planning Board’s public hearing on the topic, scheduled for Feb. 28. Public comments submitted through the ADU Code Update web page will be recorded as part of the public hearing.

Under the city’s existing code, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have been limited to attached structures within or attached to a primary residence. In response to the growing need for affordable housing, the Edmonds Citizens’ Housing Commission in 2021 recommended an update to the ADU code to allow for detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs). This aligns with the housing element of the Edmonds Comprehensive Plan, which recommends clear standards and a streamlined approval process for ADUs as a standard option for any single-family lot.

In spring 2023, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1337, directing cities to amend their development codes and to include provisions for detached accessory dwelling units.

Other items on the Feb. 27 council agenda include an updated assessment of city facilities and the 2024 transportation plan. The council will also discuss a 2024 budget amendment ordinance.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N., in downtown Edmonds. You can also view and comment remotely via Zoom at: Or comment by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261.

Meetings are also streamed live on the Council Meeting web page (where you can also see the complete agenda), Comcast channel 21 and Ziply channel 39.

Prior to the 7 p.m. business meeting, the council will meet at 6 p.m. to interview a candidate for the Edmonds Sister City Commission.

    1. Unfortunately, most single-family residential area zoning issues have been removed from local jurisdictions by the state legislature. Most cities generally have a state mandated one size fits all as per minimum unit requirements in single family residential areas.

      You are absolutely correct that adding all these additional residential units will “cause us trouble”. Except for a few exceptions, Edmonds must comply with the state mandates as pertains to zoning in single family residential areas.

      And one size now applies to all. All cities, regardless of current density are required to comply with the state zoning minimum requirements. It is irrelevant if Edmonds has a much higher density rate of housing units per square mile than other cities. It is also irrelevant if there are infrastructure issues such as the lack of sidewalks. Everyone is in the same boat as pertaining to single family residential areas.

      I will remind concerned readers that the state zoning requirements for single family neighborhoods were enacted by our representatives. Not only is turnout for elections for our state legislators very low, but this area has voted overwhelmingly for legislators that enthusiastically supported the transformation of single-family neighborhoods.

      “We have met the enemy, and he is us” Pogo by Walt Kelly.

  1. The suggestion to ignore these recently passed housing bills is foolish and dangerous. If Edmonds does not incorporate these requirements into the Comprehensive Plan and related Zoning, Washington State will impose their “model zoning code” upon Edmonds.
    It is far better for our Planning Board and City Council to incorporate these changes in a thoughtful way, so the Bill requirements and public concerns are included in a considered approach that will fit far better with our neighborhoods.

    1. Mr Croak is absolutely correct, our infrastructure already suffers, don’t think for a second this would have any positive effect on the housing situation! It’s been stated before we already meet the GMA requirements for our city, we already don’t have enough Police EMTs to meet our current needs, I didn’t buy into a sfr neighborhood to have It ripped apart by these cracker jack box house’s , the whole EV parking as part of the deal doesn’t make sense. It feels like we are getting this crammed down out throats. I’m sure many law suits will follow.

      1. Mr Goettel, You are correct that we met the planning requirements under the GMA in the past. But we’re in a new long range planning cycle now, and the allocations to all the cities in Snohomish County were published in 2023. Edmonds population is forecasted grow by 30% (13,000 people) , and we need to plan for about 2700 more housing units than we currently allow on the zoning map. See the Planning Board meeting packet for 2-14-24 for details.

  2. John,

    When you look at what the Planning Board and administration are proposing, it’s the most liberal of all plans that I have seen. They are going well beyond what HB 1337 requires. For instance they want to: increase building heights, reduced setbacks, building on property deemed as a critical area, permit where existing deeds forbid, reduced parking requirements, to name a few. I’m not familiar with the “model zoning code”, but it’s hard to imagine that it could be worse than what our Planning Department is proposing. Currently it’s another tree code debacle in the making.

    I’m not suggesting that we do nothing. What I am suggesting is that we do what’s right for Edmonds. And what I’ve seen so far, this is not it.

    1. Thanks, Jim, for pointing out the radical Planning Department/Planning Board that goes well beyond HB 1337. Our new Edmonds Mayor Rosen ran on a platform that he was going to make government boring. So much for that phony promise. Local citizens are mostly going to be **** and have fits when they see these proposals. Good Luck Mayor Rosen, with this kind of planning, you’re gonna need it i

      1. Possible scenarios for street parking and view impacts?

        2 adults and a teen who drives occupy a DADU > 0.5 miles from transit. Residents may add 3 cars to street parking under proposed code. Home business may also add a few more cars to street parking.

        DADU is in the backyard of the primary residence and the primary residence is built on a hill (or primary may be 1-story). With a DADU height limit of 24′, the DADU may likely obstruct views. Add a roof deck for residents or short/long term renters, and views may be further impacted.

        I am not an expert on these issues but wanted to put a few scenarios out there…

    2. Jim:
      Have a look at Karen Herrick’s commentary also in today’s My Edmonds News:

      The lot setbacks and impervious areas are to be maintained and NOT relaxed as earlier proposed.
      Additionally, her idea for only allowing for the larger 1,200 sf footprint should only be permitted if the DADU were limited to a single story structure, is brilliant.
      Off-street parking must also be included in the plan and currently is not.


      1. Thanks John. I had not seen her commentary before posting my comment.

        While I agree with much of what she highlights, I’m not sure it captures some other relevant issues. I’ll post another comment attached to her commentary to elaborate.

    3. Hi Jim, I understand your concerns and hope you’ll provide your comments during the public hearing this week. I noticed you’re leaving out 3-meetings worth of critical context around the points you make in this comment and I would encourage folks to tap into previous meetings to listen to the inquiries and deliberations. There are board concerns that were raised about going above and beyond 1337 and alternate suggestions to consider. A lot of the discussion was also about incentivizing. If we’re mandated to accommodate this then we might as well ask the question on what we could incorporate to get to a model code that fits Edmonds from a massing perspective and part of getting to that while still meeting the mandates is trade-offs. The Board also hasn’t made any formal recommendations to Council. There is still quite a bit to discuss and work out in parallel with other mandates, pending ordinances, and early comp plan scenarios.

      1. Thanks, Jeremy.

        I’m curious why you, as the Planning Board chair, isn’t invited to the table at the City Council meeting tonight? Or are you invited? Shouldn’t the Council hear from both sides to get a better understanding where the whole process is and the discussion of pros and cons for any particular recommendation? As you’re pointing out, it seems like the public is being misled if we only look at the agenda package material.

        Thanks for your commitment to the community.

        1. Hi Jim, it’s just an intro to the code amendment tonight, no work session for Council. Yes we will be there at Council when the Board has made a formal recommendation and during their public hearing.

  3. The ACE commentary today appears to address some of the shortcomings of the current Board/Administration agenda on this. More people crammed into less space with less parking does not bode well for the Edmonds Kind of Day preferred lifestyle we all love.

  4. All one has to do to see what’s coming is to go check out the ghastly DADU going up in the alley on Sixth & Daly ( can’t miss it ). We’re doomed as a charmie small town.

    1. Greg,

      Our current code allows only ADUs (attached accessory dwelling units). If it is DADU (detached accessory dwelling unit) as you suspect, it is currently not legal in Edmonds. It would be interested to find out for sure if it is a DADU built on the property of an adjoining single family home.

      1. I drove by it again today from the alley, and it appears to have no connection to house. it also seems taller than 24′ high. Not really my business, but wondering what the building permit states. And…….it’s not a good fit, any way you look at it.

        1. Greg,

          A friend looked up the permit. It is a STUDIO APT ADDITION TO EXISTING GARAGE STRUCTURE (sorry for the caps, Teresa. This is taken from the application) and is in a BD5 zoning area. So not single family home zoning.

          It’s disconcerting to imagine how many “not a good fit” structures will be allowed in order to comply with the State legislature’s housing mandates. Another reason why it is so important for the updated ADU/DADU code to be as limiting as possible so more single family home owners can benefit from the code. The more wiggle room the updated code has, the more developers that will be driving their bulldozers through it, buying up property in Edmonds and tearing down existing homes.

  5. I’ve spent a little bit of time looking at what is contained in the new state law and it looks to me like the city is pretty well boxed in as to what they are “required” to allow within any new or revised city code at least in the area of single family residence zoning. In effect there is no such thing as single family zoning anymore; unless you are an HOA protected community, such as the “town” of Woodway. I suspect much of this state law will be challenged in the courts with lots of turmoil over it in the coming few years or longer.

    1. Clinton:
      The Town of Woodway is not an HOA.
      There are 2 developments within Woodway that are HOAs and will be exempt from the new zoning requirements. The vast majority of Woodway will be affected by the new zoning.
      Our town planner and planning commission are working on our Comprehensive plan to incorporate these new ADU/DADU requirements before sending them on to the city council. These new zoning laws must be completed by the end of 2024, and will take effect in June 2025.

      FWIW – the “Town of Woodway” is in fact a “code city”. We just like how “Town” sounded and fits the Woodway vibe.

  6. John, You are absolutely correct and I apologize for labeling the entire “City” as an HOA.

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