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Public hearing on rezoning to high-density multi-family for HASCO project

LYNNWOOD, Wash., November 14, 2023—Two public hearings were held during the Lynnwood City Council business meeting on November 13 — both in regard to zoning. A third Public Hearing for a proposed $5.5 million property tax levy on Lynnwood residents that was to take place, was rescheduled for next Monday, November 20, the week of Thanksgiving. The Administration shared that it failed to provide adequate notice to the public according to Mayor Christine Frizzell.

The first Public Hearing was a revised amendment to the City’s comprehensive plan to allow for larger “multifamily housing” units in the city. 

This amendment was initialized after an application from the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO) regarding the Timberglen and Pinewood apartments on 5710 and 5714 200th Street SW. HASCO is seeking to rebuild the aging properties with additional units; however, the current code only allows for “medium-density housing” and the scope of their redevelopment requires “high-density housing.”

“We had our engineering estimate that it’d be approximately $5 million worth of work and that just didn’t make sense financially to only extend the life of the building for another 5-7 years,” HASCO Executive Director Duane Leonard said

Unlike the previous public hearing back in June, most of the public comments were in favor of the HASCO project and the zoning change, including one from a current resident. This resident did also state to the council that they needed more time on the matter.

“It is difficult to recognize that, yes, what HASCO has proposed could displace some existing residents,” Community Planning Manager Karl Almgren said. “At the same time, the intent and the goals of the housing action plan and the goals of the comprehensive plan are moving forward to provide additional affordable housing and housing of other types within the City of Lynnwood on a corridor that is supported by transit.” 

Overall, there was a general consensus among both public commenters and the council that the city is in need of more affordable housing and that this project could help alleviate some of this need. 

“I just want to say that I am very, very jealous that you guys are going to get over 100 units of affordable housing that’s brand new. I would love to have that in our city,” Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright said during public comments. “Full disclosure, I was on the HASCO board for 15 years — this is one of the best housing authorities in the country… we are lucky to have them.”

However, there were still similar concerns to hearing back in June about the time frame, displacement of the residents, the rental cost of the units after completion, increases in traffic and the lack of parking. Former Councilmember Ted Hikel also pointed out that the code for residential high-density zones does not limit the height of structures.

“That increase in population I know aligns with what Olympia wants and I know there are council members in favor of hyper-densification of Lynnwood — I’m not one of those,” Councilmember Patrick Decker said. “I’d like to see us maintain a reasonable density and pragmatic approach, rather than just doing what Olympia wants, which is just stuffing all these units into Lynnwood, where we don’t really have the ability to absorb it.” 

HASCO is offering assistance to residents to relocate. According to questioning from Decker, 23 units have already relocated, 19 are still looking, and another 10-12 units haven’t started the process.

A HASCO representative clarified that since residents were told the property isn’t closing until the summer 2024, some have chosen to wait until 2024 to begin.

“We are doing everything we can to help the families find new units,” Leonard said. “We do not plan on having to evict anybody, although we may have to if they refuse to move.”

The second public hearing pertained to the update to allow for smaller emergency medical facilities that can accept ambulances, something the council received a presentation on during their business meeting on October 23.

These facilities, according to MultiCare Vice President of Emergency Services Michael Mboob, are in between a full-fledged hospital and a clinic. They can take on patients a clinic would be unable to handle and route more serious cases to a fully equipped hospital. 

Mboob also emphasized the speed of these facilities.

“We do a 15-minute door-to-doc. That means when you come to our facility, you see a doctor within 15 minutes and we try to get you out in 120 minutes,” Mboob said. “So, really, an hour and half, you’re out back home sitting on your couch watching TV and relaxing versus when you go to a main campus, you’re sometimes there for 6-7 hours.” 

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