MUKILTEO — The businessman who didn’t want a mosque in town is at it again.
Peter Zieve is behind Preserve Mukilteo, a direct mail campaign that claims low-income housing “could bring in crime and drugs.”
“If you own a home, the AHP (affordable housing plan) could crush the value of your home,” read a flyer delivered to area residents.
“We want to preserve Mukilteo the way it is and don’t want it changed,” Zieve said by phone Wednesday. “We don’t want low-income housing.”
Mayor Jennifer Gregerson called Zieve’s claim “false” and said there are no plans to build low-income housing.
The names of 106 alleged supporters of Preserve Mukilteo are listed on one side of the cardstock flyer that residents found in their mailboxes this week. A space on the card asks voters to sign the card and text a picture to Zieve’s personal cell phone.
“Mukilteo will soon become a city with significant low-income housing,” the flyer headline states in bold letters.
It claims a grant proposal by the mayor says “Mukilteo needs 2,660 units.”
Gregerson called the information misleading.
“The 2,600 number refers to households who are cost-burdened, which means they pay over 30 percent on housing costs,” Gregerson said. “Someone could make $200,000 and have a $2 million house with a huge mortgage and be cost-burdened.”
Councilmembers on Jan. 21 voted 4-3 to accept a $100,000 state grant to hire a consultant to prepare a housing action plan that includes ways to increase housing options for those who can’t afford to live in town. Zieve spoke against the proposal at the meeting. In July, the council plans to vote to approve a contract to start public outreach for input about housing.
Mukilteo is a bedroom community of about 21,300. The median household income is $105,146, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which lists the median home value from 2014-18 at $544,200.
The city is a member of the Alliance for Housing Affordability, a coalition of 13 cities and other agencies in Snohomish County. Gregerson serves as the alliance’s chairperson.
In her January State of the City address, Gregerson said the rising cost of housing was at the forefront of the challenges ahead.
“The most affordable place to buy in Mukilteo requires a household income of $127,000 a year, higher than our average,” she said in the address. “But you have to earn $60,000 a year to afford a one-bedroom apartment to rent in Mukilteo, and even if you have a roommate or partner there’s not a lot of options that are available.”
In 2008, Zieve paid more than $1 million for his Chennault Beach home on 62nd Place West, according to property records.
He founded the aircraft assembly firm Electroimpact in 1986 that employs about 600.
Zieve ran for Mukilteo City Council twice.
He mounted an aggressive 2017 ad campaign against incumbent Bob Champion. He lost.
In 2019, he used flashy yard signs and a zealous Facebook campaign against his opponent, Elisabeth Crawford. He invited everybody in town to his house for a summer barbecue, and about 100 people showed up. Crawford, a newcomer to politics, won with 66% of the vote in the November election.
Preserve Mukilteo is Zieve’s second mail crusade. This time, he put his name on it.
In 2016, he mounted an anonymous postcard campaign to oppose plans for a mosque, claiming it would become a haven for terrorists. He later apologizedafter his involvement became public.
A year later, alleged discrimination against Electroimpact employees resulted in a $485,000 state fine against the firm. The attorney general concluded that Zieve refused to hire Muslim applicants, harassed workers based on their religious faith, and rewarded employees who married and had children.
Gregerson said her staff plans to contact Zieve about the housing mailer, “to help let him know how to be engaged in the public conversation in a productive way,” she said. “Public discourse is important. It looks like he has a lot of misunderstandings.”
Reporter Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.