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Suggestions made on Everett supportive housing rules relating to moratorium

Next meeting is Oct. 15 public hearing at the commission

EVERETT — The Everett Planning Commission on Sept. 17 further discussed issues concerning the city’s emergency moratorium halting the construction of supportive housing in single-family neighborhoods.
The City Council set an emergency moratorium on June 12, which in effect delayed a proposed multi-family unit that would have housed some of the city’s homeless students and their families on a 3-acre site located at 36th Street and Norton Avenue.
Last month, planning commissioners addressed matters raised by the City Council and then asked the city’s planning department staff for additional information on their list of 13 identified issues.
One issue was determining how many parcels of publicly owned land qualify under the current code, that
is the subject of the moratorium, for supportive housing in the city.
Everett Planning Director Allan Giffen informed the commissioners that there are only four sites within single-family zones that would be viable due to lot sizes and the code’s requirement that they be located within 500 feet of public transit service.
He said that several parcels were taken out of consideration either because they are not large enough, are undevelopable or unlikely to change uses, “things like a wetland, a retention pond, or something that is highly unlikely to be surplussed like a fire station, public school or park.”
The properties that did qualify were all open spaces except for one plot that is currently developed with housing, “But at a fairly low density that might make it viable for redeveloping at a higher density,” Giffen said.
Planning department staff noted that with four sites that “there is little opportunity to site supportive housing in single-family zones.”
The Port Gardner and Madison neighborhoods each contain two of the four qualifying parcels, they also noted, “Most single-family zoned areas in the city will not be impacted.”
Giffen then presented the planning commissioners with options his staff identified for each of the 13 issues they had been directed to follow up on.
Eleven people spoke during the public comments portion of the workshop. Those in support of ending the moratorium mentioned the social needs and value in helping some of the most vulnerable people affected by a shortage of affordable housing in the city.
Speakers in favor of the ban generally singled out the character of neighborhoods, property values and historic overlay designations as reasons why it should be continued.
A draft resolution at the public hearing on the moratorium is scheduled for Oct. 15. No final determinations were made during the workshop.
The main concern of whether or not the city should continue to allow supportive housing in single-family zones on publicly owned properties proved to be the toughest for the commission to make a recommendation on. They agreed to “table” that issue until their next meeting, even though as Chair Kathryn Beck said, “So many of the other options are kind of contingent on (the option).”
A majority of commissioners determined that the management plans required for supportive housing under the current code allows enough flexibility to be accommodating to the needs of the populations that they would serve.
They expressed comfort with the idea of requiring developers to have a public meeting with neighbors before actually filing an application for supportive housing in a single-family zone.
Regarding off-street parking standards, many commissioners seemed to agree that requiring a parking study for these types of developments would be preferable to the current standards. They also voiced comfort with the current codes for sidewalks around the structures.
Commissioners were supportive of the consideration to expand the current proximity to transit requirement up to a one-quarter mile walking distance regardless of the location’s zoning designation.
They asked Giffen to look into providing more options for their consideration concerning the building heights and densities allowed for supportive housing with regards to the surrounding neighborhood.
There was a consensus to both maintain the current code’s requirements for proximity to social services and leave the overall project review process with an independent hearing examiner rather than make it the responsibility of the city council.
Giffen said that based upon Planning Commission and public feedback, his department “may come back with a recommendation for some tweaking of the definition,” of supportive housing.
The commission meets in the Council Chambers, 3002 Wetmore Ave., which is a room in the Police Department’s downtown building.



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