by LUKE PUTVIN firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 12, the Lynnwood City Council passed a development agreement code amendment.
At the previous Business Meeting, Councilmember George Hurst moved to amend the proposed amendment to include that a “development will be required to provide a minimum of 15% of units be affordable based on an income qualification of 60% or less of the Snohomish County AMI (Area Median Income).”
“After fifteen years, all we have is ‘there may be affordable housing,” said Hurst, commenting on why he proposed the amendment. “Subsequent to all this and the discussion that has come forward, I still don’t like having the word ‘may’ in our discussion of affordable housing for this code amendment, but I’m willing, since the council now has taken up the discussion of housing… I can see that there is reason to not pass this tonight… That doesn’t mean that we can’t change things later.”
The discussion of the development agreement shifted back to the original proposed amendment; the purpose of the amendment was to give more flexibility for developers in the building process.
All councilmembers voted no on Hurst’s proposed amendment with Hurst abstaining from the vote.
“This is a very good start for us,” said Councilmember Shannon Sessions. “We are already doing more than the average city to move forward on making a housing policy, which I am really excited about.” Sessions went on to emphasize she thinks the city should not require affordable housing, but rather she thinks the city should incentivize affordable housing.
“My concern is, within this code amendment we are proposing, there is are the words ‘affordable housing,’ but nowhere in our Title 21 zoning is there a definition of ‘affordable housing.’” Hurst moved to add definitions of affordable housing to the amendment. Councilmember Ian Cotton seconded the amendment.
“I am really supportive of the intent of this, but I’m not going to vote for it because we continue to try to legislate on the dais,” said Councilmember Ruth Ross. “We don’t get to make this stuff up… We’re not going to do this here tonight, as far as I’m concerned.”
Council Vice President Frizzell echoed Ross’s concerns. “I’m not ready to put concrete definitions here,” she said. “I hesitate to just throw bits and pieces into an ordinance at this time.”
“I have similar feelings to the two previous councilmembers,” said Council President Benjamin Goodwin. He was also concerned with the definition being in the document itself and not in an outside document that can change as numbers change. “I completely agree that we need a definition of affordable housing… That’s something, as council leadership, we have been working on… I will not at this time support this amendment.”
City Staff responded to the amendment as well.
“What we would recommend, if you want to pursue that language, is to just adopt the RCW by reference. That way there’s no implications on the code or conflicting definitions,” said David Kleitsch, Economic Development Director.
Hurst moved to amend his amendment to include the language the city staff provided. The amendment failed 3-4; Cotton, Sutton and Hurst voted for the amendment, and Sessions, Goodwin, Ross and Frizzell voted against.
The original Development Code Amendment passed 6-1 with Hurst opposing.
“I think it’s sad that this council cannot even bring themselves to agree with staff on any definition based on RCW for affordable housing,” said Hurst.
Because the council is currently in recess, the next meeting regarding the development agreement will be on Tuesday, September 3 at City Hall.