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Mayor Franklin delivers Everett State of the City address

2023 State of Everett | City of Everett

EVERETT, Wash., March 12, 2023—Affordable housing, homelessness, violent crime, economic development, climate change and more recreational opportunities are some of the key challenges facing the city of Everett after a year of highs and lows, Mayor Cassie Franklin said.

While Everett drew its share of highs with the opening of Paine Field to commercial air service and new Grand Avenue Park Bridge, the lows were marked by the devastating loss of Everett police officer Dan Rocha, who was fatally shot while on duty a year ago.

“Navigating this city through the ups and downs as your mayor is one of my greatest honors,” Mayor Franklin said at her state of the city speech on Thursday. “And while the job is rewarding, it also comes with challenges. For example being in the limelight doesn’t allow for much privacy for me and my daughter.”

Franklin summed up, “As I think about the next three years, I do so with an incredible optimism about our City’s future. Everett is something special. And the thing that sets our community apart, is the people who live and work here. We have such passionate, hardworking and caring residents and business who feel a fierce sense of pride and ownership of our city.”

In her presentation, Franklin highlighted several accomplishments that touched on all corners of the community. They included:

  • Partnership with Bezos Academy, which last week opened a new, tuition-free, Montessori-inspired preschool at the Everett Station.
  • Partnering with Everett Public School in the Career Link internship program, connecting local businesses with students for summer internships.
  • Strengthening relationships with Everett’s many high education institutions.
  • New fenced, off-leash dog park at Lowell Park.
  • Everett’s public golf courses – Walter E. Hall and Legion Memorial – coming off record-breaking years.
  • Events bringing downtown alive again with Fisherman’s Village Music Fest, Sorticulture, Everett 3-on-3 Basketball, Upper Left Beer and Food Truck Festival, Schack’s Fresh Paint and the Street League Skateboarding Championship Tour.
Slide from Everett State of the City address | SOURCE: Everett State of the City

Franklin also rolled out several new directives that are essential to keeping the public safe, and giving law enforcement the tools they need. For example:

  • Everett police will reallocate resources to establish a violent crime unit to focus on response and investigation of violent crimes throughout the community.
  • Ramp up efforts to prevent gun violence. Franklin is advocating for changes at the state and federal levels to support policies that restrict access to semi-automatic weapons and require a permit to purchase a firearm.
  • Continue supporting and protecting survivors, Everett will remain a leader in pursuing Extreme Risk Protection Orders that keep guns out of the hands of people who are likely to use them to hurt themselves or someone else.
  • Keep up the vital work of the Mayors and Business Leaders for Public Safety coalition that Franklin created with the mayors of Marysville, Lake Stevens and Sultan. The group, among others, are focused on unlawful possession of firearms, behavioral health services and fixes to what’s broken in the state’s criminal justice system.
  • Addressing the challenges of behavioral health we see in our community every day.
Slide from Everett State of the City address | SOURCE: Everett State of the City

The city plans to work with the county and state, as well as service providers, to add behavioral health facilities and providers, while supporting legislative and policy changes to boost funding.

Franklin said there are too many people in crisis on the streets, struggling with addiction and serious mental health conditions, requiring medical care. The spread of Fentanyl and Methamphetamine, in particular, are taking an alarming hold on the region. Also, because the services and support that is available is concentrated in Everett, the entire county’s behavioral health and homelessness crisis largely in Everett as well.

Increased Housing

Another directive Franklin laid out is Housing Choices for All. She said the cost of housing is rising at a rate that far outpaces incomes.

Slide from Everett State of the City address | SOURCE: Everett State of the City

“We also don’t have anywhere close to enough housing for our growing community,” Franklin said. “To address this, we must be fiercely pro-housing.”

Franklin pointed out that Everett is adding more housing citywide. The new Four Corners apartment complex on Evergreen Way will add 430 much-needed affordable units in the community. In the past year, The Nimbus and the Carling both opened – adding nearly 300 more apartments.

In the next 20 years Everett’s population is expected to increase by 66,000 people. To accommodate that, the city will need to add 36,000 more homes.

As a result, Franklin is directing staff to move forward with strategies to help increase the supply of housing at all price points, include permit streamlining and development incentives. “We have to continue to make it easier and more attractive to build here.”

City leaders will advocate for middle-income housing as well as affordable housing while pursuing ways to make existing affordable housing permanent and to create a better rental environment for both renters and property owners.

To help Everett’s unsheltered population, the city will continue working with the county and other partners to sustain and increase shelter options with support and services. “The goal is to help people find shelter and stability and then move on to long-term housing,” Franklin said.

Climate action

Franklin said another of her directive in the new year is focused on ways to be more resilient and prepared against the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events that are seemingly becoming the norm.

Slide from Everett State of the City address | SOURCE: Everett State of the City

“Just think of the crazy winters we’ve been having,” she said. “Or the fact that wildfire smoke chokes our community every summer. This should be a wakeup call for all of us that we much do our part to reduce or impact and make environmental sustainability a priority.”

Franklin cited the Transit department continuing to electrify the fleet to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, transitioning buildings away from fossil fuels when possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and developing an Urban Forest Management plan.

“Climate change is not something any of us can solve on our own,” she said, “But working together, our collective actions can make a difference.”

Economic development

Franklin said that in order to keep the business and jobs sector growing in Everett and recruiting further investment and entrepreneurship, while shifting government from a significant structural deficit to more sustainable budget, economic development is a key factor.

Slide from Everett State of the City address | SOURCE: Everett State of the City

“We have a great economic development ecosystem here – and I want to see the city work closely with our partners, like the Economic Alliance, Greater Seattle Partners, the Downtown Everett Association, Northwest Innovation Resource Center and the re-launched Chamber, to support our local businesses and industries,” Franklin said.

It is important to ensure the area’s transportation network keeps up as businesses grow, she said. “As a member of Sound Transit’s board, one of my top priorities, aside from getting light rail to Everett as fast as humanly possible, has been to ensure that this growth positively impacts the communities it serves.”

Franklin is directing a team to work with the community on a 10-year business strategy for the Westmont-Holly-Evergreen-Boeing community to support wealth creation, preserve local businesses and to ensure support is available to businesses that will be impacted by light rail.

Franklin said another big part of her vision for a more prosperous Everett is expanding “our recreation, entertainment and arts scene, making our city an even better place to live and visit.”

Recreation, entertainment and arts scene

She mentioned pursuing new public-private partnerships to bring new parks and entertainment options to Everett and develop a plan that offers more support for big events. Everett will also partner with the AquaSox, Snohomish County and other parties to develop a plan to build or redevelop a multi-purpose stadium that will generate revenue for the community and ensure Everett is the county’s entertainment center for decades to come. With the AquaSox needing a field that meets Minor League Baseball’s updated standards, a new 15,000-person outdoor venue will benefit the team while also bringing other possible entertainment options such as an amphitheater and park.

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