City Council says goodbye to departing councilmembers, discusses housing task group

Before breaking for its winter recess, the Lynnwood City Council said farewell at its Dec. 9 meeting to two departing councilmembers — Council President Ben Goodwin and Councilmember Shirley Sutton — and welcomed those who were recently elected to fill the vacant seats.

Sutton, who was absent from the meeting, was elected to Position 4 in 2015. Instead of seeking re-election to her seat, she decided to run against fellow councilmember Shannon Session for Position 7. However, Sutton lost to Sessions and will leave the council after serving one term. Sutton’s Position 4 seat will be filled by former Lynnwood councilmember Jim Smith.

During her time on the council, Sutton served on the Alliance for Housing Affordability; Historical Commission; Human Services Commission; the Lynnwood Public Facilities District; the Arts Commission; Lynnwood Tourism and Advisory Council; the Snohomish County Tomorrow; Snohomish County Health District; and the Sister City Board.

Goodwin was elected to the council’s Position 5 in 2011. Earlier this year, he announced he would not be seeking re-election and would instead be focusing more on his career and family. His seat was filled by newcomer Julieta Altamirano-Crosby.

During his time on council, Goodwin served as council vice president for one year and council president for three years. He also sat on the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Commission; the Historical Commission; Snohomish County Tomorrow; the Regional Fire Authority Transition Board; Citizens Patrol; the Affordable Housing Commission; and Snohomish County Health District.

“(Goodwin and Sutton) have both served Lynnwood well and I wish you both good fortune and great happiness in your next adventure,” said Mayor Nicola Smith.

The departing councilmembers received a certificate and will each have a brick with their name and years of service installed at Heritage Park. Council Vice President Christine Frizzell said brick dedication have been sporadic in the past, but the council is hoping to continue the tradition.

During his time on the council, Goodwin said his goal was to serve the city by leading and influencing with love, while being empathetic and determined.

“I was determined to be the best councilmember I could be and I hope that I qualified and quantified that goal,” he said.

After recognition of the departing councilmembers, Lynnwood Municipal Court Judge Stephen Moore conducted a swearing-in ceremony for the newly-elected and re-elected councilmembers. 

During the meeting, Mayor Smith reflected on the city’s accomplishments in 2019 with events like the Sound Transit Lynnwood Link light rail station groundbreaking and construction around Alderwood Mall. She also previewed initiatives to come in the new year, including the city’s updated website that will launch in early 2020.

“2020 is an auspicious number,” she said. “It implies perfect vision, so my wish for the new year is our city council, our city employees and our community members remain engaged and resilient.”

In other business, the council received an update from Goodwin on the ad hoc committee tasked with drafting an ordinance to help low-income tenants displaced by redevelopment. During the discussion, Goodwin said the committee — which met on Dec. 3 — has decided an ordinance would not be appropriate at this time.

Following weeks of discussion, the council decided at its Oct. 28 business meeting to draft an ordinance aimed at helping the city work with landlords who are displacing low-income tenants to cover relocation fees. The motion to form the task group was made by Councilmember George Hurst, in response to the September 2021 eviction date for residents of the Whispering Pines affordable housing complex, which is scheduled for demolition and remodel.

With the passage of House Bill 1406, local jurisdictions are allowed to retain a portion of the state sales tax to use for affordable housing. According to Goodwin, the committee decided to explore how HB 1406 can be used to help low-income residents with covering move-in fees, like first and last month’s rent, or moving costs. Additionally, Goodwin said the committee will look into the possibility of using Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) 2 funds to help displaced tenants.

“Basically, the decision was to look at bringing it to the council to run a pilot program with the HB 1406 funds and how that will be distributed,” he said.

After further discussion during the Dec. 3 meeting, Goodwin said the committee members expressed concerns about the scrutiny associated with the city partnering to help displaced tenants.

“Even if the city partners with Volunteers of America and someone either doesn’t qualify, or has an issue, rather than going to Volunteers of America, they will come to the city because the city’s name is on it,” he said.

Councilmembers will continue their discussion after returning in January 2020 from Winter Recess and decide if they want to run the pilot program.

Also during the meeting, the council unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance amending the city’s 2020 salary schedule. The amendments are adopted to reflect the 2020 cost of living adjustments with the approved labor agreements with the Lynnwood Police Guild representing Officers and Sergeants, the Lynnwood Police Guild representing the Police Supportive Service Employees, the Lynnwood Police Management Guild, Teamsters Local 763 and AFSCME Local 3035.

The council also voted to amend the city’s fee schedule, which included updates to fees for recreation facilities, reinstating the golf course green fees for non-profit tournaments and repealing provisions related to bicycle registration including the $1 fee.

As we reported in our previous story, the council on Dec. 9 voted to approve the development agreement between the city and Merlone Geirer Partners for the proposed Northline Village mixed-use development. The 5-1 vote was taken following a public hearing on the matter, with Councilmember Hurst voting against.

–Story and photos by Cody Sexton

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