Cities face housing shortage

Monroe, Bothell and Brier might not have room for thousands of people expected to move into those cities between now and 2025.

Together, the cities’ plans are falling short of housing for about 5,000 people.

Snohomish County officials flagged the three cities during a state-required review of whether local governments can meet population targets.

It’s the first time that county officials have found such a population-planning shortfall. They will have to work with the cities to solve the problem.

“This is uncharted territory,” county principal demographer Steve Toy said. “Whatever the remedy may be, we have to come up with one now.”

Forecasters expect Snohomish County’s population to top 930,000 by 2025. That’s roughly a quarter million more people.

There’s room elsewhere around the county to take up the slack, but cities are supposed to adopt land-use plans that accommodate their share of the target population.

To close the gap, the cities might have to allow taller buildings and more homes or condos or find other ways to create room for more people expected to move into the communities.

The news is in the county’s “Buildable Lands Report.” The analysis was required by the state Legislature in 1997 as a “truth in planning” requirement, something demanded by developers.

It forces governments every five years to show they are making enough room for people, houses and jobs and are not artificially limiting the land supply in urban areas.

When population numbers don’t match, cities are supposed to opt to build up, not out into rural areas.

Monroe agreed to plan for 26,590 people by 2025.

However the county says the city’s plans contain enough room for just 24,252. That falls short in housing for an estimated 2,338 people under current plans, according to the county.

Mostly, the shortfall is in the urban growth areas outside the city limits, which are controlled by Monroe officials through sewer connections.

“We’re going to meet with Snohomish County again in late July to reassess assumptions made in the report,” said Kate Galloway, Monroe senior planner.

The part of Bothell in Snohomish County is predicted to be home to 22,000 people in 2025, but the land and current plans have room for just 19,889 people, Toy said.

Bothell officials plan to dig deeper into the numbers with the county.

“We need to meet with them and figure out the reason for the deficit they’re showing,” said Bill Wiselogle, Bothell’s community development director.

The small town of Brier has about 6,500 people today and is estimated to grow to 7,790, according to the county.

Plans adopted by the city peg the number at 7,500.

Either way, the county’s analysis shows room for just 7,280 under the city’s plans. That falls short by 510 people.

“I’d like to see the report and what they have,” Brier community development director Jim Cutts said.

Cutts said the town requires bigger building lots than the county. That can mean fewer homes constructed.

Even so, the city’s business area might have room for more people if it develops as a mixture of businesses and residential housing, Cutts said.

The city might annex county lands, too, he said.

“They have asked us to annex a couple of the county islands,” Cutts said. “We’re looking at the zoning of that as well.”

Population targets

Three Snohomish County cities might fall short of their 2025 population targets, requiring a change in their plans.


2006 population: 17,751 2025 target: 26,590 Actual room for: 24,252


2006 population: 6,480 2025 target: 7,790 Actual room for: 7,280


2006 population: 15,090 (Snohomish County) 2025 target: 26,590 Actual room for: 19,889

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Boeing 787's in various stages of assembly at Boeing's Everett Plant on April 29, 2017 in Everett. (The Boeing Co.)
Boeing workers signal support for strike if contract talks fail

The union is calling for a 40% raise for workers over the next three years.

A wall diagram shows the “journey of the ballot” at the new Elections Center on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County primary election ballots shipped to registered voters

This year’s primary election will feature races in every corner of the county. Turn in a ballot by Aug. 6 to ensure your vote is counted.

A skeletonized cranium found at Scriber Lake Park in Lynnwood, WA on March 24, 2024. The remains are likely a black male estimated to be over 25 years of age and unknown height and weight. He is estimated to have been deceased at least one year. (Provided by Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office)
Authorities seek help identifying partial skull found in Lynnwood park

A homeless man discovered the skull at Scriber Lake Park. Forensic scientists hope to connect the remains to a missing person.

Guests enjoy the sunset and wind Friday afternoon at Cama Beach Historical State Park on Camano Island on October 25, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
State commission weighs permanent closure of Cama Beach cabins

The Washington State Parks Commission said the park’s native history, sea level rise and septic issues will figure in its decision.

Animal Chaplain Shel Graves has her dog Lily pose for a photo in her home office on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is your dog or cat grieving? There’s an animal chaplain for that

Chaplains offer spiritual care for beings of all species: “Absolutely, animals do feel grief and loss.”

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains on Wednesday. (Provided by the National Weather Service)
Red flag warning issued for eastern Snohomish County through Wednesday

The National Weather Service says critical fire conditions are either imminent or occurring now.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.