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  • paulgclark

Olympia seizes local control of housing

This week the legislature passed a bill seizing significant control of land use from cities, largely eliminating single-family zoning. This means that cities with a population over 75k, like Bellevue, must now allow six-plexes on some single-family lots, and quad-plexes on the others. They allow some exemptions for environmentally critical areas and other reasons. The final version is in flux as the house and senate bills are being reconciled at the time this has been written.

I think that this is an extremely unfortunate decision by our legislature. When it comes to our regional housing shortage, Bellevue is not the problem. We have done our part to support significant growth, with plans in place to have more than 50% more housing units by 2044. Despite this, Olympia chooses a simplistic, top-down controlling policy and applies it without consideration for each city's situation.

Implementation is key.

Moving forward, the key is to implement the mandated changes while taking full advantage of all flexibility under the law to minimize disruption to our neighborhoods.

The Council’s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) vote last July, which allows for transitional housing for those who have experienced homelessness, was a similar case of implemented state mandates.

The Council had the opportunity to vote for nine different amendments to protect the neighborhoods and provide a greater chance of stability for PSH residents by setting minimum standards for safety plans and minimum standards for a code of conduct within the housing, but the majority of the Council, including my opponent, rejected all of them.

The City Council failed to keep our neighborhoods safe with their unwillingness to take advantage of the flexibility within the law. This cannot be repeated.

Judgment and priorities matter.

I believe preserving livability in our neighborhoods should be a priority. We can grow significantly as a city without sacrificing this. We need City Council members who will protect our ability to make decisions for our city. If elected, I will be exactly that kind of Council member.

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