Mukilteo to ask voters’ opinion on high-density housing

The city is seeking residents to write statements and rebuttals for the voter pamphlet.

MUKILTEO — The November ballot will most likely ask voters a simple question: Do you think the City should encourage more high density housing to be built in Mukilteo?

The city council is expected to vote Aug. 2 on a resolution that would put the question before voters. The council approved the draft language in a 6-1 vote Monday, after it considered two other versions of a similar question. The advisory measure wouldn’t immediately cause any type of action from the city, but proponents say it would make residents’ views on high-density housing clear.

“I need this ballot measure, so current council members and staff will have a clear direction of what the community wants,” said council member Joe Marine, who proposed putting the question on the November ballot. “That’s what I’m looking for.”

The desire for an advisory measure stems from a contentious, yearlong conversation over a Housing Action Plan for the city. The city council adopted a final plan last month. The purpose of the plan was to study housing needs in the city and find strategies to address them. Earlier versions of the Housing Action Plan, commonly called the HAP, proposed building high-density housing. The final version did not.

“We had a tough conversation for a year, but the end result is something that fits our community,” Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. “The whole goal of having that Housing Action Plan, and a conversation, is to find things that make sense for our city.”

Gregerson, who also chairs the Alliance for Affordable Housing, said the ballot advisory measure is in no way related to the HAP.

“High-density housing isn’t in our plan,” Gregerson said. “I don’t think it makes sense for our community. This is just an opinion poll about that topic.”

Marine is a former Mukilteo mayor, who is challenging Gregerson in the upcoming election.

During the council’s discussion on the advisory measure, members expressed confusion about the need for a ballot measure.

“The question about whether we might pursue more high-density housing has been answered,” council member Richard Emery said during the meeting. “The answer is no. The council already decided that.”

Residents who gave public comments said the purpose of the measure was to make it clear to the current and future city councils that they don’t want high-density housing in Mukilteo. Marine said that while high-density housing is not part of the final HAP, he believes a ballot measure will provide the city with more clarity about what residents want.

“I think if we can get a clear message from the community that they don’t want that, it makes it easier when we’re looking at it as a council to say ‘Nope, I’m not going there,’” Marine said.

At the city council’s next meeting, the council is also expected to appoint committee members who will draft statements and rebuttals for the voters’ pamphlet. Snohomish County residents can apply for a position on either the Pro or Con Committee through an application on the city’s website or in-person at Mukilteo City Hall. The application deadline is 5 p.m. July 30.

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

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