Council learns latest on Lynnwood’s efforts to update its Comprehensive Plan

Lynnwood city councilmembers provided their feedback May 22 on progress the city has made so far on updating the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Community Planning Manager Karl Almgren

Community Planning Manager Karl Almgren updated the council on the housing, land use and community elements of the plan, a document used to guide development and policymaking for the next 20 years. 

He began by discussing some of the policy requirements put in place by state legislation, namely House Bills 1110 and 1220, in 2023. HB 1110 is intended to increase the supply of middle housing in areas traditionally reserved for single-family neighborhoods, particularly in places within a certain distance of major transit stops. 

Middle housing includes housing types that fall between detached single-family residences and larger apartment complexes, such as duplexes and triplexes. The requirements vary based on city population and do not apply to urban unincorporated areas. These middle housing options offer ownership and permanence to individuals looking to purchase a home without the financial means to afford a single-family home.

Housing needs by income

HB 1220, adopted in 2021, requires cities and counties to plan to accommodate for incoming population growth at all levels of income. Lynnwood is planning for a population of about 63,000 people by 2044.

Almgren said that the decision to use existing residential lots was a deliberate choice by the state Legislature and was not specific to the City of Lynnwood. He added that if Lynnwood did not comply by implementing new zoning regulations, a “model code” created by the Washington State Department of Commerce would be enforced instead. There are a few small areas in Lynnwood that are not required to adopt middle housing initiatives, though Almgren did not elaborate further on these spots.

Housing needs by income

HB 1110 requires Lynnwood to permit the construction of at least six of nine middle housing types from the following list:

  • Duplexes
  • Triplexes
  • Fourplexes
  • Fiveplexes
  • Sixplexes
  • Townhouses
  • Stacked Flats
  • Courtyard Apartments
  • Cottage Housing

To comply with the HB 1110 regulations, staff intend to implement a simpler system that involves  creating a residential neighborhood zone. Design regulations for all types of housing must be consistent, Almgren said.

Further, Lynnwood must create roughly 1,400 permanent supportive housing units. It is intended to assist certain segments of the homeless population, including working homeless people who are earning too little money to afford long-term housing, those between residences and disabled individuals. Also referred to as transitional housing, the units are intended to offer temporary assistance to people as they search for permanent and affordable housing. 

Council President George Hurst and Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell

Council President George Hurst said it appeared that these new zoning regulations and other planning changes would not take place until 2025 and asked if there was anything the council could do now, such as creating a functional Adjacent Dwelling Unit policy. Almgren said that was a workload question and informed him that staff were stretched very thin because they were rewriting a significant portion of Lynnwood’s zoning codes. 

Councilmember David Parshall

Councilmember David Parshall remarked that he was glad that Lynnwood’s planners were proactively working on this as nearby cities were dragging their feet and not taking advantage of planning opportunities. 

Almgren also presented a total of nine goals to serve as the basis for the land use element of the Comprehensive Plan:

Goal 1: Ensure development regulations’ land use patterns effectively plan for and can accommodate the anticipated growth of the city.

Goal 2: Preserve and enhance the city’s designated Urban Growth Center to support its long-term regional growth, while providing for necessary local needs.

Goal 3: Encourage compact commercial and mixed-use neighborhoods surrounding high-capacity transit corridors to serve residents and the greatest number of people traveling to and from Lynnwood.

Goal 4: Maintain regulations and procedures that allow for siting of essential public facilities, and coordinate with applicable agencies adequate facilities are available.

Goal 5: Enhance Lynnwood’s residential neighborhoods by promoting a range of uses, while ensuring well-planned and cohesive population growth.

Goal 6: Maintain and expand upon the city’s business, commercial and mixed-use developments outside of the Urban Center and transit corridors, through high-quality development standards.

Goal 7: Preserve industrial lands within the city while ensuring compatibility of design with and reducing adverse impact to surrounding uses.

Goal 8: Work cooperatively with Snohomish County to support the smooth transition of annexation areas to city governance.

Goal 9: Establish land use patterns that promote well-connected neighborhoods to provide increased accessibility to goods, services, multimodal transportation, and amenities.

Hurst asked how mobile home parks would be treated in the new code. Almgren responded that a new zone would be created specifically for mobile home parks.

Councilmember Nick Coelho

Referring to goal 7, Councilmember Nick Coelho asked why the city was trying to preserve industrial lands when the majority of people adjacent to those lands did not work there and thus did not benefit from them economically. 

Almgren said that regardless of who was working there, Lynnwood was required to continue creating jobs in the city and eliminating industrial land could make it more difficult to meet this requirement. He added the landowners of the industrial lots generally did not choose to delve into residential housing. 

Part of the decision to commute to a job in Lynnwood, Almgren said, could also be influenced by housing affordability. So, as new housing initiatives such as HB1110 begin to take effect, there could be a shift in the ratio of people who work and live in Lynnwood. 

Conversation on the Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to continue when Almgren returns in June to present on the transportation element of the plan. 

Economic Development Manager Ben Wolters

In other business, Economic Development Manager Ben Wolters explained a reimbursement agreement offered by Sound Transit related to the City of Lynnwood’s costs for staff and consultants in support of the Everett Link Extension project. As stipulated in the agreement, Sound Transit will reimburse Lynnwood for up to $370,000 should the city incur costs related to developing and reviewing documents related to the Environmental Impact Statement. The statement is required by law when a proposal is likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts. 

Rough estimates for the Link indicate that planning alone will last until approximately 2027

Plans for the Everett extension project are still in development and project managers estimate that the Everett Link will not begin service until 2037-2041. 

The council also interviewed Keton Handy for a vacant alternate position on the Board of Ethics. Councilmember Patrick Decker and Council Vice President Julieta Altamirano-Crosby were absent from the Monday meeting. Councilmember Josh Binda attended the meeting via Zoom. 

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.