Edmonds Housing Strategy expectations | Guest View

By Neil Tibbott | Oct 29, 2018

Like many people in Edmonds, I expected something different from the Edmonds Housing Strategy than what we have so far.

I’m glad to see that we will be taking another run at drafting this document. I believe a well-thought-out strategy will be useful for making decisions in the future.

As a councilmember, I am dedicated to a process that that engages Edmonds residents and stakeholders, and will continue reaching out to citizens to make sure all of our concerns are heard.

I first became deeply involved with housing issues in Edmonds five years ago. At that time, I was concerned about a lack of housing options for those seniors living in Edmonds becoming financially stressed and yet wanting to remain in Edmonds.

Included in that group were widows and veterans who said that there were very few housing choices available. I concluded that we needed more options for them.

Later, I learned that many young families with students in the Edmonds School District were experiencing a high level of instability because of increasing rents and the difficulty of finding housing so that their child could stay put in their current schools.

Their plight led me to explore what factors contributed to the lack of family oriented housing in Edmonds.

As a councilmember, I want to see data that helps identify potential new housing options for current and future residents. For example, I would like to know how much buildable land we have left and where it’s located.

I would like to know how much new construction we have in our city and how it’s being priced. I’d like to know about the current range of housing options that exists for people moving within our city and for those who are moving into our city.

I believe that this data would be essential to informing which of the potential strategies should be considered and advanced.

It is also important for all of us to remember that the city must follow legally established processes before zoning, ordinances or requirements may be enacted. In some cases, it takes years for one request to go into effect, and often only with significant changes.

Whenever a zoning change, for example, is considered, it starts with outreach to neighbors; it’s then sharpened through presentations to the planning board, along with their input. Then we have public hearings.

And finally, the cycle is repeated with the City Council. There are many opportunities for changes, or even rejection of the requested zone change. Zoning changes and significant ordinances take time to make it through our legally defined process.

The Westgate plan, for example, took over three years and involved a lot of working and reworking before approval of the final regulations.

As I see it, our Development Services director, Shane Hope, is following that process. She has listened to our concerns with the strategy and has taken steps to reset the timeline to receive more input and provide a more complete report.

I don’t expect everyone will be happy with changes happening with our population growth, but I do expect to hear their concerns.

I don’t even expect that I will be 100 percent happy with changes happening in Edmonds, but I know that the changes will be well thought out and represent the best work that we can do.

I am committed to doing my part and invite everyone with an interest in the future of housing in Edmonds to pitch in and have a positive influence on the process.

Neil Tibbott is on the Edmonds City Council.

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