Shoreline Council candidates respond to community questions

Thursday, October 28, 2021

L-R Laura Mork, John Ramsdell, Eben Pobee
Candidates for Shoreline City Council

By Pam Cross

The ballots have been received in the mail and it’s time to vote. Are you familiar with the uncontested candidates (other than Chris Roberts since he is currently a Councilmember)? 

Due to COVID, there wasn’t really an opportunity to hear more from the candidates, other than the environmental forum held by Save Shoreline Trees (Shoreline council candidates discuss the environment). 

These are questions that residents would likely have asked the candidates if there had been an opportunity. Questions and answers were provided separately so no comment is in response to another Candidate. The answers have been edited for brevity.

Are you vaccinated against COVID-19 and do you support a vaccine mandate for people who work for the City of Shoreline?

Eben Pobee, Laura Mork, and John Ramsdell are fully vaccinated and support the vaccine mandate for employees and volunteers.

Are you happy with current development along Aurora?

All candidates expressed general satisfaction, although John Ramsdell stated he is not happy that residents in these developments do not have adequate access to public open space.

Laura Mork commented that development along major arterials is important. Rapid Ride provides easy transportation, potentially reducing the number of miles driven in single occupant cars.

Are you happy with the Shoreline Police Department? Do you think we need more police officers?

John Ramsdell says he has had very positive interaction with the Shoreline PD while partnering with them on crisis calls when he was employed by Evergreen Hospital as a geriatric mental health crisis clinician. He also advocates for “always on” body cams and embedding mental health professionals on the force. 

No one saw an immediate need for increasing the size of the police department.

Do you think Shoreline should have another Enhanced Shelter?

Laura Mork: Each community needs to take action to assist vulnerable, homeless people, but no one community should be the only to provide these services.

John Ramsdell: I am encouraged by citizen reports during Council meetings that the current shelter is working well. If the same model is implemented and the current shelter continues to succeed, I would support a second shelter on Aurora.

Eben Pobee: I think an internal and external assessment should be conducted for the current one. After a detailed report has been reviewed, than an informed decision can be made. The decision needs to be made with the interest of the City and its residents at heart.

How do you feel about the King Co. Homeless Authority map plans to make Seattle’s Lake City Way “part of Shoreline”? And why do you think they are doing that?

Geographically it makes sense.

I can only assume the KCHA is trying to consolidate resources until the program is fully developed. 

Currently multifamily buildings being developed in the station areas offer studios and 1 and 2 bedroom options. Do you think multifamily buildings should have a 3-bedroom option?

John Ramsdell: Yes. The current 1&2 bedroom options are not affordable. This is particularly relevant to how affordable rates are determined in the current multi-family tax exemption (MFTE) program that incentivizes developers to set aside a certain number of units as affordable. The current formula that determines affordable rates in Shoreline is based on King County data. Because the rental data from Seattle and Bellevue are used in this calculation, “affordable” rental rates in the new apartment buildings on Aurora and elsewhere are essentially market rate, when comparing data in rentcafe.comand the City’s MFTE website. 

Laura Mork: On the Planning Commission, we have been told that city staff has received input from developers that 3 bedrooms are not economically viable for them to build. As a child, I lived for a year in a 3-bedroom apartment, so I am familiar with the concept. If this is an issue that is important to the community, the City should study this issue in more detail, and understand input from all sides of the issue. I do know that there are many creative building types being explored nationwide, and in Shoreline, in response to housing questions. 

Eben Pobee: I totally concur that multi-family buildings should have a 3-bedroom option as it may have some compelling benefits compared to what is currently offered for studios and 1&2-bedroom options. The flexibility to lower individual costs for students and/or individuals and the practicality of using one bedroom as an office for someone working remotely can only be achieved if we have a 3-bedroom option.

Are you in favor of our current residential zoning laws or would you like to see more multi-family buildings in the current residential areas?

Eben Pobee: I think the current residential zoning laws are very definitive, however, I do believe that we will have to make decisions to meet the needs of our residents. A lot of discussions need to happen for such a decision to be made, of course, with experts involved as well as community member involvement. 

John Ramsdell: I favor zoning incentives that encourage increased density on transit corridors, reducing our carbon footprint while preserving our neighborhoods. There is no reason that I can think of to up-zone residential areas that are not directly on transit corridors. Shoreline’s neighborhoods are what make our city so livable and attractive.

Laura Mork: This past year, the Planning Commission and the City Council had presentations regarding changes to the current codes that might provide additional options for “housing in the middle”. It is my understanding that city staff are studying this issue in more detail. Any specific change to these codes will include extensive opportunities for public participation, both at the Planning Commission and at the City Council, which I will be listening to the pro’s and con’s closely. 

Although running unopposed, these candidates will appreciate your support. 
Remember to vote by November 2nd.


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