Reader view: A message to Edmonds City Council about reviewing draft growth alternatives

The following was sent to the Edmonds City Council and is being republished here at the author’s request.
You have many responsibilities to your constituents when evaluating the draft growth alternatives being presented by Director Susan McLaughlin on March 19. I will explain three responsibilities.
First: You must carefully review the following MRSC article:
This article by Phil Olbrechts highlights the importance of council being extremely cautious in how land use zoning is defined in our Comprehensive Plan. Once it’s in the Comp Plan, council has no legislative authority to deny subsequent development applications. The article is long. Here are excerpts:
“any amendment to the zoning map must be consistent with the comprehensive plan map.”
“Similar reasoning applies to comprehensive plan amendments. Any amendments you approve will have to be consistent with the GMA (Growth Management Act) in order to survive an appeal to a GMA hearings board, so you will want to assure that your approvals are supported by detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law that establish that compliance.”
“However, as previously discussed you can deny an application for a comprehensive plan amendment for practically any reason you want. So why bog yourself down with detailed standards for denial that take up a lot of staff resources and council time?”
Second: You must evaluate the alternatives presented by Director McLaughlin based specifically upon the affordability goal (required by the Department of Commerce and GMA) on p. 573 of your packet:
“The goal of the Comprehensive Plan update is to set conditions in place to encourage the market to develop housing that is affordable to all members of the community.”  (Note: All Members of the Community)
“The market” will never “develop” housing for those of “Extremely low income: 0-30% of AMI” (also p. 573 of packet). Snohomish County’s 2021 Median Income was $115,700, so 80% AMI for one person is $63,350/year.
Even with developer incentives, all of the housing presented in Director McLaughlin’s plans will be market rate.
Third: You must review all of the following articles, and comments, on My Edmonds News:
Cheri Zehner’s Reader View, A Case for Space:
PCC Market building for sale:
Former Councilmember Diane Buckshnis’ commentary:
“Waterfront vision design charette”:
Joe Scordino’s Reader View:
Anything less than careful consideration of all of the above would be a dereliction of your legislative authority. I would hope that after your review, you will be extremely concerned and have serious questions about the Draft Growth Alternatives that Director McLaughlin is presenting to douncil, and to the Edmonds community.
— By Joan Bloom
Author Joan Bloom is an Edmonds resident who served on the Edmonds City Council from 2012-2015.
  1. Thank You Joan. I have of course read every one of these and yes, they are all full of information and what I believe is the truth. It is so wonderful to see our community working so hard to show everyone the reality of our situation. Every single comment has merit in my opinion. I am sure the CC will read these comments and I am pretty sure they and our mayor will be thoughtful with these decisions in front of them. We have a lot of very intelligent people on our CC and even those that disagree I think will see that all of this isn’t going to help their causes whether they are social responsibility causes or environmental causes. This is a time to cross the isle so to speak and care about your causes and your fellow citizens and yeah, your children. Ya want them to stay. I want them to stay but take away the beauty, the nature, the unity and they may just move elsewhere. I do know some change is inevitable and yes, good but this approach is destruction and move on to the next city…It’s an old story. Ask other areas that fall prey to greed under the guise of social responsibility (helping those less fortunate,) environmental responsibility. No to zoning at this time. Build some yes.

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