Smart Growth


Livable Snohomish County Coalition

Kristin Kelly, Smart Growth Director   425-923-8625

Snohomish County Tree Conservation Ordinance

Everett Waterfront Development Project

Smart Growth Report
February 2014
by Kristin Kelly, Director
In last month’s Smart Growth Report, I touched on the legislative process with the City of Everett regarding their Master Plan for the Everett Riverfront between the Everett Station and Rotary Park, which is now owned by Polygon Northwest.  The process continues into March.  On February 11th, the Planning Commission continued their public hearing because Polygon Northwest again amended their proposal.  While the density remained the same, 400 plus housing units instead of the maximum of 1400, Polygon made some concessions.  On the Simpson site area, they redesigned some of the housing from front-loading garages to alleys with garages in the back, making or a more walkable neighborhood.  They also re-instated the large public park.  Still the density issue remains.  During the planning commission hearing, the city’s attorney testified that the planning commissioners could not discuss nor deliberate on the density issue, because the Master Plan only provides for a maximum density of 1400, and that Polygon was meeting the intent of the Master Plan in their reduction of homes.  The Everett City Council will have a briefing by the planners on March 5th with a public hearing on March 19th
Increasing the density remains to be very important to Pilchuck Audubon Society.  The City of Everett must find room for another 60,000 new residents by the year 2035 to meet its obligation with Puget Sound Regional Council’s Vision 2040.  Reducing density in an undeveloped area just doesn’t make sense.
On another note with the City of Everett, three other housing opportunities are in the works.  First there is a proposal for a student housing project in the parking lot next to Austin’s has been proposed that would serve the students of Trinity Lutheran College.  Footprint, LLC, is the developer of this student housing project, and one that Pilchuck Audubon Society and Futurewise are supporting.  This will be a green built complex with affordable rents.  This is a pilot project that could bring In addition, I have been invited to be part of a stakeholder’s committee with the city to analyze and recommend brownfield areas for cleanup and possible redevelopment, from an EPA grant recently received.  This is a three-year  process, but a great opportunity to find areas within Everett that can house more residents and neighborhood businesses.
Second, the City of Everett has established a Brownfield Stakeholder Committee, of which I am now a member.  The City has received a substantial grant from EPA to identify brownfield areas in the city that have the near-term potential for redevelopment.  We had our first meeting in February, where we reviewed every area of the city for possible brownfields and redevelopment possibilities.  The City will now embark on a three-year process to identify contamination sites not already on a clean-up process.  The Committee will meet at least 6 times during those three years, and in the end establish a consensus-based recommendation prioritizing brownfield sites for cleanup and redevelopment.
Third, working with Forterra, Pilchuck Audubon Society and Futurewise are supporting a proposal for rezoning the Everett Transit Station area to include more high-rise residential use.  Originally this was a stand-alone ordinance, but when introduced to the Planning Commission, it was decided to incorporate this rezone into the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update.  We will continue to work with Forterra on this important issue.
In Snohomish County, we are working on an issue that arose very quickly…the tree replacement regulations for the unincorporated areas of Snohomish County.  In 2008, long-time PAS member Michelle Gundersen (Mickie) worked with then County Council Member Dave Gossett to find a way to retain more significant trees in new subdivisions in south county’s urban growth areas.  While an ordinance was adopted by the council, it did not include any retention standards, although it did have a replacement ratio for large trees of 3 to 1, and for smaller trees, 2 to 1 and 1 to 1 depending on the size of the tree and to be replaced on the same building site.  Now that the economy is rebounding, the development community is complaining that this ordinance is not workable.  This is an opportunity to not only defend the importance of a good replacement standard, but to also incorporate retention of significant stands of trees.  The Snohomish County Planning Commission will have a public hearing on this ordinance on Tuesday, March 25th.    Your help with this important issue is imperative.  You will be receiving an action alert soon.  Please stay tuned.

The Smart Growth Campaign, which trains and empowers local citizens to work for better growth management, is an integral force in Snohomish County's growth managment dialogue. Smart Growth works hard to stem the consequences of irresponsible development, and to ensure that sensitive areas and wildlife habitat maintain a high profile in growth management debates.

Snohomish County is home to some of the most productive forest and farmland, and diverse fish and wildlife habitat of anywhere in the United States. Snohomish County’s shorelines are among the most valuable and fragile of Washington’s natural resources. Native fish, birds, wildlife and the lake, estuarine, and riparian ecosystems that support them, depend on strong critical area and shoreline protections.

Snohomish County is now home to over 700,000 residents and the prediction is that by the year 2025, this county will grow to 950,000 people. In fact, over the past decade, Snohomish County has grown by 30 percent, outstripping Washington’s overall population growth by almost 50 percent. Salmon habitat, farmland, and open space in our densely populated urban areas are being converted to housing developments and shopping malls at alarming rates. The effects of this growth is impacting our urban neighborhoods; the increase of large rural cluster developments are forever changing the rural landscape; and the pressure to build a new city of 15,000 people out in the pristine rural areas that lack adequate infrastructure is real. The increase in impervious surfaces from roads and rooftops has led to more run-off and pollution of our streams and rivers and lakes, and the loss of wildlife habitat still continues despite some good efforts.

Rapid growth is a threat to the sustainability of our natural resources and rural lands, and will continue to greatly impact our wildlife and their habitats if Snohomish County’s planning process and regulations do not address protections of these areas adequately. As pressures from the development community grows to expand urban growth areas, to allow for more development in our sensitive areas, to rezone open space, forest and farm land into homes, we must be there to educate citizens and help them be involved in the public process to ensure their quality of life.
Pilchuck Audubon Society is part of a larger coalition of organizations, groups and individuals who will be working toward positive change in Snohomish County in order to have more livable communities and protect our environment. The coalition is currently named the Livable Snohomish County Coalition. If you would like to be more involved, please join our coalition to work on a proactive agenda for our future. For more details, contact Kristin Kelly at 425.923.8625 or e-mail

For a list of current activities, please click here to be directed to my Futurewise webpage. This list is updated every week, so visit this site for the latest information.