Notes from Shoreline council meeting March 22, 2021

Friday, March 26, 2021

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
March 22, 2021

Notes by Pam Cross

Mayor Hall called the remote meeting to order at 7:00pm.

Councilmember McGlashan was excused for personal reasons.

Mayor Hall made the following statement on behalf of the Council to the Community:

Over the past year we’ve seen an alarming increase in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes and bias incidents, both locally and nationally. Last week we were all horrified to see the murder of eight people at Asian owned businesses in Atlanta. Six of those killed were Asian women who were working to try to support their families. 

All members of the Shoreline City Council absolutely condemn all acts of hate and violence. No one should ever be subjected to threats or physical or psychological harm because of their race or ethnicity. It is our collective responsibility as a community to fight hate in all forms.

So we stand in solidarity with Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders against all forms of racism, harassment and discrimination.We are committed to upholding anti-racist values so that all residents here feel safe, respected and belonging in this community.


Approval of the Agenda

Agenda adopted by unanimous consent.

Report of the City Manager, presented by John Norris, Acting City Manager


COVID UPDATE

While cases are significantly lower than they were in the winter, King County cases have now plateaued with a slight increase in ages 20 to 39. The good news is the number of cases in those 65+ have declined sharply as that age group receives vaccinations. Mutated strains have been detected in King County and have been increasing each week.

Washington is one of the safest states in the country. So there is a real need for people to remain vigilant.


Shoreline has had great numbers in the past 15 days thanks to the efforts of our residents.


The State has moved back to countywide phasing instead of regional phasing. The entire state is now in Phase 3.

The next evaluation for King County is April 12th.

Please continue to protect our community:
  • Wear a face covering, especially indoors in public settings regardless of the distance between people.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly.
  • Maintain six (6) feet of distance, indoors and outdoors.
  • Outdoor gatherings with a limit of 15 people from only two households.
  • Get tested at the first sign of illness. Then please stay home. Don’t go to work and don’t go out in public if you’re not feeling well.
  • It is always safest to stay at home.
City Hall remains closed to the public. Most services can be accessed online, by phone, or by drop off. For more information visit shorelinewa.gov/remoteservices

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Go to the DOH vaccine page for the most up-to date information on eligibility and locations providing vaccines. Supply has increased so appointments should be easier to schedule.

Not sure if you qualify? Go to FindYourPhaseWA.org

Open House: Sidewalks Project


Public Reminders

PRCS/Tree Board will hold a remote meeting on Thursday, March 25 at 7:00PM

Council Reports

Councilmember Chang attended two transportation-related meetings:

King County Regional Transit Committee Meeting. Metro service guidelines continue to be discussed regarding what restructuring means for the North End.

Puget Sound Regional Council Transit Oriented Development Committee meeting. The Committee voted to restructure so that it becomes an advisory board.

Public Comment (written comments available on line)

Jackie Kurle, Shoreline, encourages more specificity and monitoring in the area around the enhanced shelter. It would be beneficial to both the residents and the surrounding community.

Approval of the Consent Calendar

Consent Calendar approved unanimously by roll call vote.

Action Item 8(a) Appointment of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services/Tree Board Members

Presentation by Colleen Kelly, RCCS Director

Application for the positions was open for about two weeks. The number of applicants was most appreciated, but it made it a very difficult decision. A lot of people were interested in volunteering for these positions. There were 29 applications.

A subcommittee consisting of Councilmembers Chang, Roberts and Robertson read all the applications. They pared it down to 12 to interview. From the 12 they had to select four. It took hours, and they stated that they were impressed with the qualifications of all of the applicants.

Term is for four years.


VOTE

Agreed by unanimous vote 6-0

Study Item 9(a) Discussion of the Housing Action Plan (HAP)

Development of a HAP will help to implement City Council Goal 1: Strengthen Shoreline’s economic climate and opportunities. The Council goals include an action step of:

“Encourage affordable housing development in Shoreline and engage the community to determine which additional housing types and policies may be appropriate for Shoreline and codify standards for selected styles.”

Presentation by Nora Gierloff, Planning Manager

Elliot Weiss from Community Attributes, consultant on this project, is also available to answer questions.

We have been working on this project for about a year.


The Housing Action Plan consists of three components:

Housing Needs Assessment. We look at what we have now and what we are likely to need in the future.

Shoreline is currently 65% wealthier single-family homeowners and 35% low to median income renters. The up zones around the two light rail stations have spurred townhouse development, but we’re not seeing many condominiums being constructed. Three-quarters of new units are studio or one-bedroom rental apartments. The owner/renter balance is rapidly changing so they could be equal numbers within 5 years.

Regulatory Review. Analysis of our existing plans and policies.

Housing Toolkit and Action Plan. What are the things we’re doing, what are the tools that we might want to consider, and what is a prioritized subset of those tools that we can look at moving forward.

Our outreach to the community, that had to be done differently because of COVID, resulted in the following action plan priorities


75% of renters reported always or sometimes having difficulty paying for their housing, while only 20% of homeowners reported similar challenges.

We asked what missing housing would you like to see in Shoreline


As a result, and taking into account cost and effort (requiring significant staff and consultant time) we developed a Housing Toolkit Priority list.


This is as far as we could bring it without the regional guidance from King County. That was delayed due to COVID. Countywide Planning Policies should be available mid 2021. The Housing Action Plan will act as a background report.

DISCUSSION

Can you expand a little on the “missing middle” solutions, other than cottage housing?

Reply: some of those are defining a different type of housing. For example, a duplex or triplex designed to appear as a single family home. We need to look into the code regarding setbacks and lot coverage standards. It would take some effort to actually implement it.

If we adopt this, are we approving all of these housing plans?

Reply: Our goal was to give you a prioritized subset of actions. It is just a basis of things to consider over the next several years.

We spent a long time discussing the up zones in the light rail areas. Are MUR zones considered part of the “missing middle”?

Reply: MURs provide housing density between single family homes and large apartment buildings but people are referring to some more innovative housing types.

We concentrated density around the station areas, while preserving the feeling of single family home living in Shoreline. But these ideas are all about densifying R6. We can preserve single family feeling only with a few of these ideas.

I share concerns about keeping owner occupied as high as possible. We’re getting to 50/50 owners/renters. I think we need ownership as high as possible, because it provides some stability and a stronger neighborhood identity.

Cottage homes give the experience of single family home ownership without the size. They can fit into single family home neighborhoods. There is more interest in them than there used to be. Shoreline had some good ones and some bad ones. We need to look at it so we get it right this time.

Townhomes are addressing the “missing middle” in the station areas. We don’t need multifamily in SFH (single family homes) neighborhoods. Cottage housing is OK because a lot of work went into that. Cottage housing went through a long discussion over years. Although the final plan was not adopted, this would be a good time to look at it again. Don’t see need for new duplex/triplex in SFH right now.

Aging in place has become a bigger issue. Maybe ADU’s will make it more affordable to stay in your home. Studying this is a good idea.

This represents a lot of good work and gives us a lot to think about. This is the tip of the iceberg of what will come next in increasing our housing supply.

In the report, if we’re going to prioritize strategies, then the action steps should follow the prioritization schedule for more consistency and readability.

Some of the challenges are not as big as we might think. Many of the challenges, such as missing middle housing, have been addressed by other cities in the region, or even nationally. Other cities have developed some good policies that will help us develop this as we move forward.

There is very helpful information in the report. I have some concerns with the list of action steps, and I don’t want to endorse all of them. We have limited resources and there are a lot of things we want to do with housing throughout the City (obsolete zoning on Aurora, MUR 70 zones, ground floor commercial) so I’m hesitant to adopt a whole list of things that may not be as important. Do the action steps have to be adopted by Council? Or can we adopt the rest of the report up to that point, and the action steps be something we evolve with on an annual basis?

Reply: It could be short, medium, long term projects. We were just displaying the whole range of options out there.

The action steps need to be narrowed, making the tool kit more of a tool kit, identifying things the Council considers our priorities in the near term. Because a few years from now, priorities might change.

There aren’t a lot of places in Shoreline for first time and down-sizing buyers. The new townhomes are very expensive, and then there are very small apartments. Do we want this to be our future? We need more variety in cost and size.

The problem with innovative housing such as the duplex/triplex idea, is I would need some sense of how many might get built. Do they actually work to create more housing? We could just open the floodgates for ADU’s and cottage housing, but we wouldn’t get many built. There are a lot of other factors that go into putting an ADU in your backyard. And if we look at this in three-years, after multiple challenging community meetings over this, and we end up with a couple dozen ADU’s and a couple dozen Cottage houses, then that’s a fail. I would rather look at what we have now and whether form-based zoning is really a success.

NOTE: A form-based code is a land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. (from the FBCI Form-Based Codes Institute)

I like cottage housing but it will not solve the problem. Maybe we need to start mandating if incentives aren’t working in MUR70. We need two and three bedroom apartments and affordable units.

We need to know how much housing we are reasonably expected to get from each option.

Incentives like Deep Green actually raise the cost of housing. It is good long term, and good for the environment. Not so great for people who want to buy their first home. We want it to work, but we need to grapple with this.

I don’t understand why cottage housing, duplexes and ADU’s are seen as different types of housing. They are all in the same bucket of small housing units on one piece of property.

One difference between cottage housing and an ADU is the height that is allowed. You are allowed 35’ with an ADU. Cottage housing is 25’ I think. There is a very different feel having a super tall ADU in the middle of a one and two-story neighborhood. You lose the neighborhood feel.

Do we even have any remnant parcels that could be used for added development?

REPLY: there are some in MUR70.

Down the road, we should be looking at short term (vacation) rentals. Now is not the time but we need to have a conversation about this before it gets out of hand. It’s already happening.

We want to increase the housing supply and short term (vacation) rentals take houses out of the supply.

Since we are part of a regional market, there is only so much we can do to control prices. And we’re not getting the volume of units we expected in MUR zones. Also our standards are affecting the cost of housing. We can change some of it, but in MUR70, the cost of development there is driving up costs.

The condominium market needs to mature here in Shoreline. For years liability issues stopped most condo development, except for the most expensive areas in Bellevue and Seattle. Downsizing into a condominium isn’t really possible because there just aren’t that many available. I’m hoping the condo market will mature and we’ll get more ownership in the station areas.

What kind of direction is staff looking for?

Reply: the prioritization list appears to be the problem, there was nothing Council wanted taken completely out. We will focus our efforts on the prioritization list, with a few targeted items for study now. It would be helpful to know what those few targeted items might be.

If we’re adopting this as just a Planning Commission priority list, then ok. But if you want a Council approved priority list, we need lot more discussion of each individual item.

Reply: We started with the housing options, but it got broader. What would help you circle back to the start of this? We can keep as background planning action, for use as a reference document for Council, or else the Council can identify a few items they want to look at as a higher priority.

Council doesn’t want to go into details of the toolkit or debate priorities and options at this time. Let’s leave the toolkit out. Or let it live as a document for staff to use in the future.

Without a lot of data telling us what we’ll get, let’s leave the toolkit in as advisory that we need to keep revisiting. We can pick one or two things in the future that we want to work on.

Don’t think we need to make that decision today. Let’s have that be the central question when we look at it again: do we want a broad toolkit, or a fixed one?

Reply: So I’m hearing that you don’t think the shorter prioritized list is a useful tool for Council at this point. The report could be reframed as a background report. And that workplace items will be evaluated by Council at a different time.

Let’s proceed on that basis.

Meeting adjourned



2 comments:

Jim Hutter March 26, 2021 at 4:16 AM  

My concern is keeping existing trees that are around the light rail station. As condos and duplexes go up in the area and trees disappear there will be a chance that we create a wind tunnel effect knocking down newly exposed trees.

Anonymous,  March 26, 2021 at 10:18 AM  

I don't know if Condos are affordable. Have anyone looked at the costs and the HOA fees lately? Its shocking the average HOA fees in Seattle is inching closer and closer to 500 dollars. Thats in addition to the mortgage you have to pay. Your monthly payments for a condo is easily going to be 2k. You might as well rent a house/townhouse sigh.

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