EDMONDS — As Edmonds prepares for an estimated 6,000 new residents by 2035, a group of 15 locals is preparing a recommendation on housing policies for the city’s elected leaders.
The Citizen Advisory Housing Commission, formed by the council in April, held its first meeting Thursday in the council chambers. More than 130 people applied to sit on the board. Fifteen members with eight alternates were selected by council members and the mayor. They came from seven geographic districts across town.
“For me, I think it’s a good honest effort on the part of the city to make sure that representation in a probably year-long effort comes from all over the city,” Mayor Dave Earling said Thursday.
The group, which will meet monthly, has until January 2021 to craft a list of policy ideas for the City Council.
For the past year, housing has been a hotly discussed topic for the city of about 40,000. Housing prices are high, and the city is largely built out. Accommodating more people probably requires infill development.
In June 2018, the city released a draft of its housing strategy. The plan recommended more affordable housing and multifamily units, duplexes and townhouses.
At a public meeting in January, a crowd of about 150 voiced concerns about a lack of public input.
Additionally, while some said multi-unit and affordable housing structures are a necessary solution to the expected growth, others worried Edmonds could lose its small-town appeal.
The idea for a citizen commission arose at a February council meeting. More public comment in March solidified the notion, and the council passed a resolution to form the group in April.
Shane Hope, the city’s development services director, said Edmonds can boost housing options while maintaining its charm.
“We know that communities all change over time, so we’re trying to make that the best change,” she said Thursday.
At the group’s first meeting this week, members were expected to discuss important housing topics like available federal, state and regional resources, useful reports and data, and types of housing. That meeting was scheduled Thursday night.
But the committee is just part of the story, Hope said. With the help of a to-be-determined outside consultant, the commission will host public hearings to gauge what the rest of town thinks.
Those events will be announced in the coming months, Hope said. Other options for outreach are surveys, social media posts and focus groups.