Op-Ed: Shoreline's Deep Green Incentive program will sacrifice livibility

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Shoreline residents Pamela Cross, Barbara Twaddell, and Margaret Willson are deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of the Deep Green Incentive program. Shoreline documents can be viewed here.

The City of Shoreline has made a commitment to reduce harmful community greenhouse emissions by, among other things, encouraging the construction of environmentally friendly or “Green” homes.

Our concern is that applying their proposal in single family home neighborhoods will sacrifice the livability of our beautiful city.

The City has insisted that developers need incentives to build Green because:

  • the houses are expensive to build
  • there are few contractors qualified to build them
  • and demand is relatively low.
In our subsequent research we have learned that Green houses can be expensive to build. But an article in the Seattle Times 1/28/2017, section D. states:

“One of the biggest misconceptions about Green living is that it is more expensive. In many instances, it’s easy to get wasteful by purchasing products that are poorly made or lackluster performers. 
"As a result, those items are discarded and new ones purchased. Eco-friendly products in many instances are extremely well made and may be more durable and long-lasting. These materials may even end up saving you money.”

So if you focus on materials and energy efficiency, you can have an eco-friendly home that will save you money on utilities and not add unnecessary pollutants to Shoreline streams and lakes.

Are there a limited number of Green builders? Is there any demand?

We looked up Built Green, the second company listed in the Shoreline proposal. From their website we learned they work with over 200 builders certified to build these houses. They have completed over 27,000 Built Green Certified Homes.

So now we wondered, do we need to provide incentives for Green building?

Seattle offers faster permit review and streamlined processing for Green building projects. They have formed an advisory committee to review and assist with proposals that have items that may not be covered in the current technical codes.

Hmmm. There is no mention of financial incentives. What is Shoreline proposing to offer?

Shoreline’s Proposed Deep Green Incentive Program (DGIP)

The incentives proposed by Shoreline to increase eco-friendly construction of single family homes include:
  1. waiving of permit fees, licensing fees, and application fees.
  2. departures from current building codes, such as setback distances from neighbors, and coverage standards (the maximum percentage of the lot that can be covered by the house).
  3. a bonus to build another house or two on the same lot! 

AND! the entire lot does not have to be buildable to qualify for two houses. If part of the land slopes steeply, which is not unusual in Shoreline, then the houses can still be placed on the buildable part of the land because the developer can apply for other available code departures including setback and lot coverage standards.

If the houses fail to meet Certification requirements, there are financial penalties for the developer. However, the houses are already built - and that is a permanent penalty for the neighborhood.

Shoreline City Council will be discussing DGIP at their public meeting on March 27, 2017 and adoption of the measure is planned for April 17, 2017.

You can email the City Council at council@shorelinewa.gov or attend the meeting and speak there. Either way, be sure to provide your input before the Council votes, because once DGIP is accepted by the Council your ability to change it will be gone.

--Pamela Cross, Barbara Twaddell, and Margaret Willson


Anonymous,  March 15, 2017 at 1:35 PM  

Thank you ladies! I remain mystified why the City of Shoreline gives away $ to developers to encourage them to build in Shoreline, when anyone can see developers will build here without the multiple incentives.

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