A grassroots movement to preserve irreplaceable green and open spaces in the city of Everett, WA.
“Open spaces and parks are so important for our families and neighborhoods, with them we improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our cities and neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work. We as a community understand that we have major issues to tackle, but eliminating one of the few remaining open spaces in the city is a mistake we will never be able to take back.” – AnnaLea
The Everett City Council decided to extend the moratorium for just a few weeks to work on a compromise they are calling Option 3. This option will allow supportive housing in single family zones but that housing must blend into and meet the standards of the neighborhood. Exactly what they have in mind is not yet known. They are forming a task force with two or three City Council members as well as Planning staff, and will come up with details of this option within the next few weeks.
Consider costs of Housing Hope project on taxes, neighborhood
Monday, September 23, 2019
Have you heard the term “housing first”? It is a housing model that has been studied around the nation. There are many ways to implement this model and conflicting published data on successful implementation methods. It is further complicated with mixed results for addiction and mental health housing retention.
All the conflicting research and results lead many people to wonder where Washington state will achieve the best benefits with taxpayer dollars. Recent law changes have loosened regulations and led to more questions regarding taxpayer costs versus benefits of these tools. For instance, the city of Everett passed an ordinance in 2016 that waived the planning and zoning requirements for supportive housing developments on public land.
An example is the proposed supportive housing project located at the Norton Avenue playfield. Norton Avenue playfield is owned by the Everett School District and the proposed lease gives the property to Housing Hope for $1 a year for 75 years. Housing Hope will build a majority of this development with state and federal grants (taxpayer dollars) and then bring in tenants who will pay rent with taxpayer subsidies. The financial costs stack up for taxpayers but so do the social and environmental costs. Increased housing density and loss of open spaces, recreation areas, stormwater retention and habitat. These are large costs that may never be recovered.
The city of Everett is putting a lot of focus on the concept of a housing first model. This might be a great regional approach with a detailed plan, transparent implementation process, and defined success metrics. However, no one community should have a disproportionate amount of supportive services and housing projects, and the city of Everett should not bear disproportionate costs in Snohomish County. Region representatives, including the city of Everett, must work together to gain taxpayer trust by implementing a housing plan that includes measurable success metrics region-wide.
It isn’t just about this field on this block, nor is it only about green space.
In preparation for the 85,000 new residents expected to move here by 2050, our Planning department is working on changing zoning in single family zoned (R-1) areas to allow more density – this effort is called “ReThink Zoning”. Instead of concentrating growth in the areas already zoned for high density, as the Metro Everett plan outlined, your residential neighborhood is NOW AT RISK of losing its single family neighborhood to a multi-family development.
There are two critical decisions being made right now that effect YOU:
- A 2016 ordinance, in combination with a 2018 WA state law, has made it possible to easily add multi-family supportive housing complexes in R-1 neighborhoods on ‘surplus land’ that belongs to public entities such as the school district, City, or utilities. These developers do not have to get approval from City Council OR our planning commission and are approved with very little public process (through hearing examiner).
- Following the recent moratorium on supportive housing by city council, a developer of a project in Port Gardner submitted a re-zone application for 34-76 units of homeless housing to go into a single family, R-1 residential zone. This means that the city is considering allowing ALL multi-family developments (not just supportive housing) in R-1 residential zones and their decision will set a precedent for future projects in your neighborhood.
Drive down Broadway, Evergreen Way, West Marine View Drive, East Marine View Drive or any other main thoroughfare in Everett, and try and make the case that there’s no room for multi-family housing. These areas are close to transportation, services and grocery stores. This is where density belongs. Not in single family neighborhoods.
Everett is not about to become the next Seattle. But if we allow this type of development it will be well on its way. We have a matter of days to let City Council know that we aren’t going to let this happen.
If you are concerned about the loss of our neighborhoods, attend the meeting, or write to City Council members and the Planning Department today and ask them to stop reckless high density development in our neighborhoods. Right now, Planning has been tasked by City Council to look at the issue around these points, which are important concerns to include in your email to the two departments.
- Types of supportive housing (and management, such as 24 hour managers)
- Inclusion of supportive housing in single family neighborhoods
- Public notice process
- Height and density issues
- Proximity to health and human services
- Public process for challenging these proposals
- Impact on green space
- Developer must address impact on neighborhood
- An existing 500 feet proximity to a transit stop rule – this should be clarified
City Council: email@example.com
July 10 Emergency Ordinance Moratorium Public Hearing: Results
The City Council voted unanimously to maintain the moratorium, most likely for the remainder of the original 6 months, in order to allow more time to look at numerous points that were brought up by planning staff, council members, and public commentary.
The Council asked the Planning Commission to look at:
* Types of assisted housing and management
* Inclusion of supportive housing in single family zones
* Public notice process
* Parking standards
* Height and density issues
* Proximity to human and health services
* Public process for challenging these proposals (relates to hearing examiner process)
* Impact on green spaces
* Developer must address impact on neighborhood
* 500′ to transit requirement: needs more detail on that requirement
Attendance at the meeting was standing room only – thank you to all who attended.
Contact the City Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch archived City Council meetings here
Norton Playfield, pictured above, is a popular spot for baseball, soccer, dog walking, block parties, and playing with kids.
Norton Playfield has been an open space in the Port Gardner neighborhood for over 60 years. It is now in danger of becoming a high density supportive housing complex through a back door agreement explained below.
On May 21st, the Everett School District voted unanimously to approve a lease for a 34-76 supportive housing complex located at the Norton Playfield in the 3600 block of Norton Avenue, in the historic Port Gardner neighborhood. Most of the neighborhood first caught wind of this project from TV cameras (solicited by Housing Hope) asking to interview residents. Everett, like most cities along the west coast, is experiencing an increasing homeless population, effecting children as much as adults. Most of our residents understand the gravity of this problem and are eager to support balanced solutions that help solve homelessness in Everett. Our residents are also clear and aware that some of the concerns echo similar ‘Not in my backyard’ (NIMBY) arguments. However, it’s important to acknowledge that we already support many low-income and supportive housing units in our neighborhood, including two existing Housing Hope facilities on Norton Avenue, a new Cocoon House facility on Colby and over 300 homes affiliated with Everett Housing Authority and other similar low-income housing non-profits. After getting blindsided by this project, we have quickly realized the following concerns with the proposed development:
Transparency: Projects like this development take months, often years, to put together. At no point has Everett School District made any attempt to communicate to neighbors about this multi-family development. Projects of this nature typically require some type of public process. Housing Hope attended Port Gardner Neighborhood Association meetings just a few months ago and chose to use their time to discuss the Hopeworks Station II project, not even mentioning this project or that a critical vote involving the Port Gardner neighborhood was just weeks away. These type of back door deals simply make the public lose trust. This lack of transparency by the Everett Public Schools and Housing Hope is a cause for concern.
Zoning: A 2016 City of Everett Ordinance (3500-16) made it possible for developers to build multi-family supportive housing developments in single family neighborhoods if the land is owned by a public entity. These developments are subject to ‘Review Process III’ (Hearing Examiner approval). This means that currently in the City of Everett, any developer can build supportive housing of any size in R-1, single family zoning anywhere in city limits without approval from the city’s Planning Commission, a vote from City Council or any zoning changes. Given that any private developer would not be permitted to even build a duplex or triplex in R-1, single family zoning, how is it that this zoning code was approved?
Green space in danger: This zoning code change has endangered every green space and park in every neighborhood in the City of Everett, which could be permitted for a multi-family supportive housing development. This ordinance is crucial for Housing Hope and Everett Public Schools to take away a neighborhood park and forever change the character of a 100-plus year-old historic single-family neighborhood.
School Bonds and Levies: As the Everett School District continues to grapple with overcrowded schools and classrooms, along with classrooms without heat and air conditioning, the district knows they’ll need to turn to voters once again to ask for money. One must wonder why a school district about to ask taxpayers for more funds would offer nearly three acres for next to nothing. Further, given the failure of the 2018 bond requesting over $330 million, the district should be as eager for public trust as they are money. The lack of transparency and integrity in this back-door deal will surely have voters questioning their vote when their next bond reaches ballots.
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