Council to look at housing strategy

  • By Amy Daybert Enterprise editor
  • Thursday, March 27, 2008 3:02pm

The next step in a citywide Comprehensive Housing Strategy could be decided during the Shoreline City Council’s April retreat. Council members affirmed a commitment to addressing housing issues in the city by adopting the strategy at the March 24 council meeting.

According to a 2000 census report, 60 percent of the households in Shoreline consist of one or two people, senior planner Steve Cohn said. A drastic shift in a future census is not likely, he said.

“One of the main assumptions (in the strategy) is Shoreline housing demographics are changing,” Cohn said. “In the 1950s and 1960s the majority of the households had two to three children and today the households are smaller. That’s because the new households are made up of seniors, single parents and singles, many without children,” he said.

Members of the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Citizen Advisory Committee presented their ideas and a report to the council on Feb. 19. Council members decided to hold a public hearing at the March 24 meeting before adopting the committee’s report.

“This is a remarkable piece of work, you have taken a very big look at housing,” said Randy Bannecker of the Seattle King County Association of Realtors. “Housing for every jurisdiction in our region is a very big issue, it’s complicated, it’s expensive, the solutions don’t come quickly and easily and it’s very emotional. The recommended strategy is spot on.”

The strategies in the report call for educating and engaging community members about ways to promote housing choices while maintaining neighborhood character, exploring housing options including low income housing stock, and creating more “third places” to serve as social, neighborhood hubs.

“(The report) tries to meet some of the objectives of the neighborhoods that have been most affected by development while at the same time tries to meet some goals set by the state and by the city,” Martin Kral, a resident on North 183rd Street said. “Having been involved in the struggle to maintain neighborhood character in my neighborhood I can guarantee you it is crucial for the city to listen to the residents and give us an opportunity to speak.”

City manager Bob Olander said while he recognized some residents may be anxious about how housing strategies will play out in their neighborhoods, it is up to the council to pick a few ideas and begin moving ahead. One possibility, could involve looking at opportunities for the acquisition of multi family structures by nonprofit agencies and continuing to push forward with neighborhood subarea plans, said Rob Beem, community services division manager.

Resident Gary Batch told council members his concern is a potential rush to develop bare land within the city. Some developments won’t always be desirable, he said.

“Some of the older apartment buildings and some of those who walk in and out of those places are not what I would consider desirable,” he said. “I think we’re doing this without any sense of class, building these big ugly boxes that are eventually not going to be maintained properly because they are being built on the cheap. I think we need to start looking at some taste, some class in the development of our city.”

Mayor Cindy Ryu said she felt residents were reminding the council to take a close look at the city’s community vision. The comprehensive plan land use plan is an expression of the community vision, which should be affirmed by the council, according to Ryu.

“It will reduce uncertainties and I think it will reduce the amount of time we’re spending on projects,” Ryu said. “This is getting to be a lot of investment of time by all of us and we’re not moving our projects along as we should be.”

The council should come up with ways to address how to reach a community vision affirmation during its April 25-26 retreat, she said.

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