Everett City Council Vote Wednesday On Turning Playfield Into Supportive Housing

October 19, 2020

Everett, Everett Government

This field in the Port Gardner neighborhood is at the center of the zoning discussion.

In June 2019 signs popped up throughout the Port Gardner neighborhood opposing the project.


The yellow area on Norton would remain single family with the white area multi-family units per a revised proposal from Housing Hope.

Slide courtesy City of Everett.

A major step in a plan by Housing Hope to turn a playfield in the Port Gardner neighborhood into housing for families experiencing homelessness with kids attending school in Everett, Washington faces a big vote at Wednesday night’s Everett City Council meeting.

The plan has been controversial since first introduced in 2019. We reported it back then as a “loophole” in Everett’s Zoning Code designed to assist in the development of the City’s first low-barrier housing project on Berkshire Drive in central Everett.

On June 12th, 2019 the Everett City Council placed a moratorium on Supportive Housing in the R-1 Zones within the City. On December 4th, 2019 the City Council extended the moratorium on “Supportive Housing” in R-1 Zones and pledged to form a two-to-three-member committee to draft a “Supportive Housing” ordinance. From what we can find that legislation has not been brought forward as of yet.

Housing Hope formed what it called a Neighborhood Advisory Committee and changed their original plan. The new plan has single family homes on Norton while putting multi-family buildings on the Grand portion of the property. Last week there was a long public hearing in front of the Council with people speaking on both sides of the issue. There has also been extensive written comment submitted.

That brings us to Wednesday night’s meeting. The summary on the City Council the cover sheet says:

Hosing Hope made application with four requests regarding the Sequoia Field Site between Grand and Norton Avenues: 1) amend the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map from Single Family to Multifamily; 2) amend the Zoning Code Map from R-1 (single-family attached low-density residential) to R-3 (multiple-family, medium density); 3) amend the Norton-Grand Historic Overlay for the eastern portion of the project area; and 4) enter into a development agreement between the City and the Applicant that would address future plan review approval, uses allowed on the property, maximum density, historic design review and street access.

The Historical Commission held an open public meeting on August 25, 2020 and recommended (6-2) to the Planning Commission that the Norton-Grand Historic Overlay boundary amendment request be denied.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on September 15, 2020. The Planning Commission was not able to provide a recommendation as each of their motions resulted in 3-3 ties (motion to approve and motion to deny)

The attached ordinance for City Council consideration is to amend the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map only. The Rethink Zoning proposal would eliminate the zoning requested. In addition, staff has not prepared a Development Agreement that would bind this project to specific standards until we have direction from City Council that the Land Use Map is approved.

As such, this ordinance is limited to just the comprehensive plan designation changes. If approved, the planning director is instructed to bring back the equivalent zoning changes and development agreement.

The recommendation on the cover sheet describing the exact action requested of the Council says “Adopt or reject the Proposed Ordinance amending the Everett Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map for Housing Hope at the Sequoia Field Site.” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin issued this statement today in support of the Housing Hope plan.

“Housing children must be our priority. At our annual State of the City address last January I challenged us as a community to identify solutions to specifically address student homelessness. While the world looks much different today than it did in January, I think we can all agree that the need is greater than ever. The challenges facing students, in particular those that are unsheltered, or lack stable housing, are greater than we could have imagined at that time. I strongly support this project and appreciate the work that has been done to engage the community to improve it. I appreciate Council’s careful deliberation and know that once this is approved, it will create new housing so children and can learn, grown and thrive.”

Some City Council members have expressed concerns over the length of time people would be living in the housing if their kids were no longer attending school and have for example, graduated. The meeting is set for a 6:30 PM start on Wednesday night and can be seen on Xfinity Cable Channel 21, Ziply Channel 29 and online at the Everett Channel.

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