Shoreline City Council Candidates discuss the environment

Friday, October 8, 2021

L-R Laura Mork, Eben Pobee, John Ramsdell, Chris Roberts

By Jamie Holter

The Washington League of Women Voters and the local non-profit group Save Shoreline Trees hosted a candidate forum Tuesday, October 5, 2021 devoted to green topics: climate change, the tree canopy, heat islands, parks and open space, building codes, and affordable housing.

Because all candidates are running unopposed and Chris Roberts is unopposed and the incumbent, candidates were mostly in alignment and supportive about what’s been done and what they will do.

This forum was a unique opportunity to see each future councilmembers’ strengths and passions in this area and see how they might complement each other as they will eventually be working together on these important issues.

Laura Mork is an engineer by trade and focused on engineering ideas like permeable (water-absorptive) sidewalks, rain gardens, new construction ideas like all electric buildings and painting roofs white, more incentives, and her experience with the Salmon Safe program and the City’s Deep Green Incentive Program.

Eben Pobee, a budget analyst and Ghanaian immigrant, shared his passion and experience with significant community engagement as the city makes these decisions and moves forward on policy and programs.

John Ramsdell, a mental health clinician, spoke fervently about the well-being of residents, the benefits of green space, access to open space, the creation of pocket parks, and eliminating the stressors of life like lack of affordable housing.

Chris Roberts brought specifics to the conversation when discussing the balance of high-density housing and the preservation of large-diameter trees, the comprehensive plan, looking at sidewalk width and how there might be some flexibility, and the planting of more street trees along transit corridors.

The candidates all spoke of the value of multi-family housing / affordable housing along and around transit corridors as a means of managing climate change and the efficient use of land. 

They supported tax-incentives to build the high-density communities and the concept of all-electric buildings (no gas utilities, only electric). 

They also acknowledge that large developments require the removal of the long-standing tree canopy and one idea might be to encourage or require more trees inside these developments as a way to find that balance.

They also supported pocket parks to give more residents the opportunity to experience open space. “Everyone should be within walking distance of a park,” said Mr. Ramsdell.

Mr. Pobee suggested raising the cost for tree cutting permits.

Councilmember Roberts would like to see the new parks bond support more open space beyond the areas near the new transit centers. He also discussed more flexibility in sidewalk width requirement. 

Ms. Mork discussed the need to keep our existing trees healthy and doing an inventory of heritage and valuable trees while Mr. Ramsdell said the City talks about a zero reduction in tree canopy, but acknowledged, regretfully, that’s probably not possible.

One question centered around the frustration of being brought into the development process when projects are at 60 percent design and neighbors have missed their opportunity to weigh in. Mr. Ramsdell emphasized the importance of council members attending neighborhood meetings to listen and bring concerns back. 

Mr. Pobee said community input throughout the process is necessary. Ms. Mork talked about the need for more data as we make these decisions. Mr. Roberts shared what the city is already doing, acknowledging that it could be better.

There seemed to be much agreement and passion with this group. They also seemed to complement each other so it may be that they will find agreement to move forward on these issues.

Shoreline Council Candidate Forum

October 5, 2021 Shoreline Council Candidate Forum. Here is the video link to this forum as posted on the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County website. The video of the forum starts at 1.5 minutes. This forum was co-sponsored by Save Shoreline Trees.

Updated 10-9-2021


Unknown October 14, 2021 at 11:14 PM  

John Ramsdell IS NOT running unopposed!
David Chen is on my ballot.

DKH October 15, 2021 at 2:48 AM  

Good point. I don't know why David's name is still on the ballot, but he has withdrawn and moved to Portland for a job.

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