Housing in Edmonds: Q and A
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
We reviewed many questions posted on social media in the last several weeks and determined these best capture all the questions we saw. These are real questions from you and your neighbors.
"The City is directing the Commission/telling them what to do and/or who decided what policy ideas should be discussed/developed."
The Commission is made up entirely of Edmonds residents from across the city. The Commission members selected and prioritized the housing topics they’re working on at the February 2020 meeting. Committees were selected and formed based on the Commissioners’ interest areas. The City is not directing them.
These committees have been meeting virtually over the last few months to develop the first set of policy ideas. City staff are available to support with publicly available research when asked by committee members. The policy ideas – developed by the committees - were presented to the full Commission at the June 2020 Commission meetings for consideration and discussion and are now being shared with you.
We are committed to hearing from the community throughout the process! To see the policy ideas the Commission has been exploring and to share your feedback, please visit the current online open house: https://www.echcopenhouse.com/. All feedback is shared directly with Commission members.
"How was the Commission selected?"
The Commission is made of up of Edmonds residents from across the City, representing a diversity of ideas and opinions. There are 15 Commissioners and seven alternates. For the appointment process, the City was divided into seven districts based on U.S. Census areas. All Edmonds households were sent a postcard about the opportunity to be involved. Each Council member was assigned a district and appointed two Commissioners and one alternate from a pool of applications. The Mayor appointed one ‘at-large’ Commissioner and one alternate from the same pool.
"I worked to afford a home in Edmonds. Others need to do the same."
The cost of housing in the region has increased dramatically in the past 20 years and the proportion of income earmarked for housing has risen just as much, meaning if you spent 30% of your household income on housing 20 years ago, it’s not unthinkable to spend 50% or more now.
This impacts the ability to move to Edmonds and around Edmonds. We hear from longtime residents who want to downsize but can’t afford it or find options listed. For example, there are many 3-4 bedrooms homes that two people don’t want or need. We also hear from the next generation who want to live near family in the community they grew up in but can’t.
The Commission’s mission, as established by the City Council, is to recommend policies to expand the range/type of housing available which may help future and current residents alike. This could include new options for aging in place, inter-generational living, or transitioning from renting to buying.
"We’ve already met the requirements of the Growth Management Act, why are we trying to increase density?"
The Growth Management Act and the Housing Commission are entirely different things.
The GMA is a state law that requires fast-growing cities to identify and protect critical areas and natural resources which includes designating urban growth areas and preparing comprehensive plans to manage that growth.
The Housing Commission is a group of local residents working to consider broad level of community values and needs when it comes to providing housing for our current and future residents. In short, there is no “target” the Edmonds Housing Commission is trying to reach under the GMA. The Commission’s assigned mission is to recommend things the Council may consider to help expand the range of housing available in Edmonds.
In short, there is no “target” Edmonds is trying to reach under the GMA and the Commissions goal is not to expand housing density, but housing variety.
"You’re trying to Ballardize Edmonds! I want Edmonds to stay Edmonds."
During the first survey and online open house in Winter 2020, we heard the importance of maintaining the character of Edmonds. We know that Edmonds is a unique and beautiful city. The Commission is made up entirely of Edmonds residents, and, as your neighbors, they share your care and concern for the City of Edmonds, its character, and the special qualities.
The Commission is also committed to hearing from the broader community throughout the process. To see the ideas the Commission has been exploring and to share your feedback, please visit the current online open house: https://www.echcopenhouse.com/
"Are these policy ideas the final recommendations?"
No, the policy ideas being shared currently are just that, ideas. Rather than wait until the Commission selects their final recommendations for City Council, the Commission wants to hear from you on all of the round one policy ideas being considered. (They will have more ideas to share in early Fall 2020).
Your feedback will help inform future Commission discussions and, ultimately, which policy ideas become formal recommendations to the City Council. To share your feedback on the ideas being explored, please visit our online open house: https://www.echcopenhouse.com/
"What will the Commission’s end product to City Council look like?"
The Commission is tasked with drafting a set of high-level policy recommendations, based on what they learn during this year-long process, for City Council consideration. These recommendations will be considered by City Council as they continue to discuss and set the path and vision for Edmonds housing strategy. The specific details on how, and if, any of the Commission recommendations result in changes to City code or regulation will be determined by the City Council.
In 2021, after considering the Commission’s recommended policies, the City Council may assign city staff and other city boards, such as the planning board, to conduct further research, development, and possible strategies for implementation. The Council could also choose to not move forward with one or more of the policy recommendations. Throughout this process, there will be additional opportunities for community input and engagement.
"Housing becomes available as seniors can no longer afford property taxes, move or die. There is no need to build in Edmonds to increase population."
The Commission’s work goes well beyond brick and mortar discussions. The Commission is interested in ensuring there’s a place for all residents, young and old, families with children and those aging in place on a fixed income, those with an RV in the garage and those who only take the bus, those who prefer condominiums or apartments in downtown near restaurants and bars, and those who want 12,000 square feet for their Great Dane puppies.
These children, grandparents, teachers, friends, first responders, and co-workers are all Edmonds residents and require a range of housing options to meet their needs. That is the Commission’s mission – to explore and expand the range of housing options available to meet these community needs.