Editor’s Correction, 10:45 p.m. May 19, 2021: The following statement was misattributed to Councilwoman Crawford instead of Councilwoman Sarah Kneller and has been corrected, “…included that it is ‘human nature’ that people who oppose something are more vocal than people who agree and therefore the twenty voices who spoke against the HAP were not an accurate depiction of what residents of Mukilteo want.”
UPDATE, 10:45 p.m. May 19, 2021: Included a quote from Councilman Bob Champion from Tuesday HAP meeting.
MUKILTIO, Wash – Residents of Mukilteo spoke out against the adoption of a Housing Action Plan, almost unanimously, during a public hearing on May 17.
Out of around 20 public comments, one was in favor while the others shared concerns about their cherished city threatened by the potential of “high-density living.”
“People choose to live in Mukilteo because of the community that it is. Mukilteo does not want to become Seattle. As the city council looks to adopt the HAP…city council needs to recognize that you are messing with people’s net worth. This affects the value of people’s homes. Mukilteo is not a social experiment. It is not a right to live here. You have been voted in to represent the people of Mukilteo, you have not been voted in to represent who may want to live in Mukilteo or play with a social experiment. And the people are watching to see if you are listening to us,” Paul Ellis, longtime Mukilteo resident said.
Mukilteo enters its last few weeks before the council votes on the adoption of the Housing Action Plan resolution on June 7, which aims to encourage construction of a greater variety of housing types at prices accessible to a greater variety of incomes.
In 2019, House Bill 1923 authorized grant funding for cities to develop a HAP which Mayor Jennifer Gregerson applied for and was awarded.
The Mukilteo City Council voted in favor of moving forward with the HAP in 2020, accepting the grant and approving a contract with BERK consulting to draft a plan, despite many resident’s disagreement.
“I whole heartedly object the HAP. I hoped the city council would listen to the residents and stop. But that is not happening. You guys are disregarding the voices of Mukilteo residents. No one on the city council seems to be listening. Things are going downhill for Mukilteo and this will definitely push it over the edge,” said Zanna White, Mukilteo local.
“Mukilteo means a lot to the people that live here. Really good schools, crime is low. It’s a nice place to live. It still is but it used to be a lot nicer. I like a small town and we’re really going away from that. You can’t just keep adding people and people and people. The Growth Management Act is a flawed idea. I hope that you guys say no to it,” said Ray Boyer, Mukilteo local.
Adopting the HAP does not implement the selected strategies; rather, it sets a work plan to study them. Public meetings, public hearings and other processes required by law will occur before most of the strategies identified in the HAP can even be implemented. The one exception would be internal permit processing improvements, which can be implemented by staff, according to the HAP summary.
“It’s a low-density community. We had many options when deciding to move to Mukilteo. If we wanted high-density, we would have chosen Seattle. The comments were overwhelmingly against the HAP. The planning commission disregarded the public comments. It’s really concerning that we have representatives paid for by our tax dollars that don’t listen to us,” said Joe Boger, another local.
City Council Public Hearing Comments
Upon closing the hearing to public comments, the city council shared their thoughts with split stances.
“Tonight we had 20 speakers. I did not hear one person for it. This is exactly the concern that we’re dealing with on second street. We have to be very careful with the things we choose to move forward with…What I’m concerned with is we have a city that’s basically built out and the only way to change that is to change zoning…I hope that we don’t move forward,” councilman and former Mayor Joe Marine said.
As councilwoman Sarah Kneller assured the people of Mukilteo that the Housing Action Plan is not about “subsidized low-income housing” and suggested to lose the term out of their vernacular, councilman Joe Marine said otherwise.
“Cottage homes, accessory dwelling units, townhouses…I don’t see one building in the plan that’s a single-family unit. This is high-density,” Marine said.
In an attempt to downplay the twenty voices who spoke against the HAP, Councilwoman Kneller also included that it is “human nature” for people who oppose something to be more vocal and that the public comments were not an accurate depiction of what residents of Mukilteo want.
“I kind of looked at this report as this is just a report that says, ‘Government you need to be doing your job.’ And if that is really what we spend $101,000 on, I am really sadly disappointed. I am disappointed in the outcome of the result,” said Councilman Bob Champion and a member of the Snohomish County Tomorrow committee.
“I feel like it is an uncooked plan. There are 800 people that signed up to petition not to approve it. And today, everyone said no. I am not satisfied with this HAP,” councilman Riaz Khan added.
While resistance from the council and public alike were voiced, many councilmembers remained in support of the HAP including councilwoman Elisabeth Crawford who said “growth is inevitable” and implementing the HAP could prepare the city for the future.
A Political Action Committee, Preserve Mukilteo, was founded by Electroimpact CEO Peter Zieve, to encourage the city councilto not approve. The PAC has 442 members.
Mukilteo is a city with a population of around 21,000 according to the United State Census Bureau.
“We do listen to what people have to say. I heard clearly about growth, about overcrowding in schools, about traffic. We know that. We live here too. We do want the best for our city and the best for our residents,” councilman Richard Emery said.
The Mukilteo City Council has three weeks to consider the voices of the city before voting on the Housing Action Plan, June 7.