City Council ends rooming house discussion
SNOHOMISH - Rooming houses are dead on arrival.
After nearly 200 people attended a recent planning commission meeting to show their opposition to rooming houses and a couple friendly nudges from community members, the City Council voted last week to end the discussion on allowing this new type of residential development in town.
It started when Mayor Karen Guzak received a note from Councilman Paul Kaftanski, who was planning on being absent from last week’s City Council meeting. In case it was brought up in the meeting that he was going to miss on April 16, he wanted to let Guzak know that he would support a council vote to stop the rooming house ordinance from moving forward.
Then Mitch Cornelius, a community member who Guzak said had been leading one of the groups in the battle against rooming houses, sent the mayor a note of a similar nature. Cornelius urged the council to put a stop to any further work on the draft ordinances that would allow rooming houses in single-family residential zones.
The city had drafted rules for rooming houses, known as “apodments” in Seattle, which are tiny apartment units within a larger building. The apartment units have their own private bedroom and bathroom with tenants sharing common kitchen and laundry spaces.
A developer wanted to convert a former nursing home facility near Snohomish High School at 402 Ave. E into a rooming house. The neighborhood was overwhelmingly against the idea.
The motion to kill the discussion passed unanimously.
“It was wildly unpopular and for good reason,” Councilman Derrick Burke said. “I’m looking forward to seeing this one go away.”
Burke and Guzak said Snohomish needs more affordable housing, acknowledging rooming houses isn’t the solution, though.
“I do think that there’s a need for lower income housing for folks that want to work in town for a service-oriented jobs, and there’s a need, but that’s not the right set-up,” Burke said. “The concerns that people had were valid and genuine.”
Guzak said she now hopes all those who were against rooming houses could shift their energy toward something positive.
“We need safe, clean affordable housing, so I challenge the people who were working against the apodments to work for affordable housing in our city,” Guzak said.
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