Council reviews Comprehensive Plan, OKs parks grant application for Meadowdale Playfields

Following hours of drafts, countless council presentations and city commissions reviews, Lynnwood’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan update is beginning to take shape. Community Planning Manager Karl Almgren said that the council’s Monday, June 24 business meeting marked a turning point for the project.

Almgren provided the council with a timeline and overview of the steps taken to prepare the Comprehensive Plan,a document used to guide Lynnwood’s growth and policy direction for the upcoming 20 years. This requires Lynnwood’s Development and Business Services (DBS) Department to almost completely rewrite and reformat Lynnwood’s codes. Almgren stated that the department is working to make the codes easier for both staff and businesses to understand and implement. This will reduce the length and difficulty of the permitting process, among other tasks, he said.

Councilmembers had questions about the plan’s housing element. Council President George Hurst asked what they could do now, saying that decisions made on this item would not impact housing issues that were affecting residents with urgent housing challenges.

Almgren explained that the plan was a framework to support long-term housing goals and address the housing crisis. Not putting the elements of the plan together would lead to instability, delayed permitting for housing developments and more challenges as they continued. He added that the department was taking all the council feedback it was receiving about current issues, along with input from community members, into account when developing the plan. DBS Director David Kleitsch supported this, saying that although the plan was the focus right now, the department was still open for business – applications for developments are still being processed as normal. Councilmember David Parshall asked if this meant that the department would be more nimble and productive in the future, which Almgren confirmed, saying that the process would also be less frustrating for staff and applicants.

Council President George Hurst

Hurst also asked where the city would place the additional housing needed to support the growing population. Almgren answered that decreasing lot sizes would allow more units to be accommodated and that the city would expand as it previously has in the past – transitioning from a lumber settlement to modern-day Lynnwood.

Councilmember Nick Coelho

Councilmember Nick Coelho asked how the city would implement the remaining 1,400 permanent supportive housing units it needs to build for individuals who are between housing situations, since those  would likely require a large amount of space.

Almgren answered that permanent supportive housing units were often smaller spaces (estimated at 500 square feet) and that four of the existing developments already planned for the City Center area would serve that function. He also reminded Coelho that this process would be occurring over a 20-year period. In addition, Almgren stated that funding for the units would most likely come from many sources, including federal, state and city funds as well as organizations and nonprofits. By their very nature, the units will require heavy subsidy as the people living inthem are making 0-30% of the county’s average median income.

Councilmember Patrick Decker

Councilmember Decker added that he, like Hurst, was curious about where Lynnwood would find space for additional housing.

“Is it fair to say that Lynnwood has no choice about these hyper densification targets, that these requirements are forced on Lynnwood by politicians in Olympia? State law?” Decker asked.

“That is an incorrect statement,” Almgren answered. “State legislation does not dictate the numbers. Those are coordinated through Snohomish County Tomorrow [an interjurisdictional forum composed of representatives from around the county]. So as part of our coordinated effort with other jurisdictions in Snohomish County, through an analysis… done at both a state and at a regional level. So lawmakers are not saying ‘Lynnwood, you have to adopt numbers directly related to an additional 25,000 people.’ Those numbers come through a coordinated effort to accommodate a total of our population.”

Community Planning Manager Karl Almgren

Decker asked where Snohomish County Tomorrow got their numbers. Almgren responded that they came from a statewide buildable lands analysis. Decker said that was still a state target and the city needed to protect single-family neighborhoods.

Decker asked how much money Lynnwood would need to invest in the police department and to purchase, build and maintain new parks to accommodate more people. Almgren said he’d work towards determining that and explained that staff had an interdepartmental coordination group that includes the police. Under Chief Cole Langdon, he said, police staffing was not determined simply by a ratio of officers per person. Regarding the parks, Almgren said that the city’s parks team had taken into account that there was not an infinite amount of land for expansion and that land per person was not the only metric used to judge the parks’ level of service. Access to green space and facilities and the maintenance of said facilities were major factors, and Almgren said that it would be a good idea to speak to the “experts” for more specifics.

An aerial view of the Meadowdale Playfields. (Photo courtesy City of Lynnwood)

In other business, the council heard a request from the Lynnwood Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department to submit a grant application to the Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office. The grant application is for $595,000 to replace field lighting and add new dugout covers for two multiuse turf fields used for soccer, football, rugby and lacrosse as well as a combined baseball/softball field and three softball fields.

According to city staff, the existing lighting is nearly 40 years old and has reached the end of its useful life, and none of the five fields currently have dugout covers. The overall goal is to extend play by lengthening the amount of time sports participants can use the fields with consistent lighting and accessible dugouts.

In total, the project is “anticipated not to exceed $1,700,000.” Of that, $511,000 can be sourced from the department’s budget and $200,000 is eligible for park impact fees. If the grant were approved, the city would need to allocate up to $400,000 to complete the project.

The item passed unanimously.

A commemorative photo taken in honor of Independence Day

Other items at Monday’s meeting included:

  • A proclamation acknowledging Independence Day
  • A unanimous vote to appoint Heather Alder to position five of the Human Services Commission

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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