City Council Votes No On Turning Norton Playfield Into Supportive Housing

October 21, 2020

Everett Government


The entire area will remain zoned R-1.

With a vote of 4 against and 2 in favor, the Everett City Council has declined to approve the proposed ordinance amending the Everett Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map for Housing Hope at the Sequoia Field Site. Many of the councilmembers opposed said the issue was not the project but instead the location. Here is a bit more from the council deliberations.

Councilmember Bader noted the land had never been zoned as open space but had always been zoned R-1 and will stay that way if the vote fails and the lot will likely be developed as single family housing. He voted no.

Councilmember Roberts noted there was no way to make everyone happy. The need for this type of housing is clear and it was the right thing for the project to be paused and the subsequent public input has made the project better. He voted yes.

Councilmember Vogeli who made the motion to approve the ordinance commented that this was not about taking away space but in fact creating space. She voted yes.

Councilmember Murphy stated that he believed the suggestion that the project would forever only house students and families experiencing homelessness was a false premise. He also mentioned advocating for the former K-Mart site a couple years ago and said there are other potential sites. He voted no.

Councilmember Stonecipher said she spent a lot of time and energy on the issue and she felt the decision was being framed unfairly as homeless students versus single family residents. It was instead a land use decision on the comprehensive plan and said that planning is the backbone of a well functioning government and is best done outside of a heated moment. She voted no.

Council President Tuohy said it was a great project and she found no one who believes this is not an important project. She went on to say not every opportunity is the right one to accept and that the location is not the right fit. She voted no.

Councilmember Moore is employed by the Everett School District who owns the property in question so he recused himself from the discussion and vote.

You can see the vote and all of the comments made by councilmembers when the video of the meeting is made available on the City’s website.

Editor’s note: While not present at the start of the meeting Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin issued the following statement on Facebook about 20 minutes after the meeting.

Housing children must be our priority! We have a serious crisis before us in finding ways to ensure ALL of our school-aged children are housed. This problem existed before the pandemic, and I challenged our community in January at the State of the City to create solutions so that all students in our city would have roofs over their heads. Every time we delay action on housing it takes months if not years to find another safe and suitable site. Increasing density and making any changes in our neighborhoods is always hard and is met with a lot of concern and fear. But I believe this project would have brought us a step closer to creating homes for families in our community and an opportunity for children to learn and grow and thrive. I remain committed to identifying projects that we can collectively support; none of this work is easy, but housing our school children must be our priority. I look forward to working with council and the community on solutions.


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