City council advances middle housing grant for approval at next meeting

City of Mountlake Terrace Senior Planner Jonathan Morales presented the proposal to accept the middle housing grant.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its March 28 meeting authorized moving to its next consent agenda an agreement to receive a $50,000 grant award that will help the city plan for middle housing.

Senior Planner Jonathan Morales, who presented the review, said the grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce would be paid in two installments of $25,000.

The deliverables-based grant requires a preliminary draft of the city’s middle housing ordinance, due to the commerce department on June 15, and a final ordinance by June 15, 2025, six months after the city’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan update, which is due to the state on Dec. 31.

He explained that although House Bill 1110, also known as the Middle Housing Act, coincides with and benefits the city’s Comprehensive Plan goals, they are not connected.

The city was notified of the grant award in October 2023, and several revisions to the scope of work were made between then and March 11. 

“We wanted to make sure that it (the scope of work) was aligned with the current status of the Vision 2044 [Comprehensive] Plan project,” he said.

The Washington State Legislature passed HB 1110 during its 2023 regular session. Effective July 23, 2023, the bill requires cities and counties to plan under the Growth Management Act to increase middle housing in areas typically zoned for single-family detached housing.

Washington state law defines middle housing as buildings compatible in scale, form and character with single-family houses and containing two or more attached, stacked or clustered homes such as duplexes, fourplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments and cottages.

As determined by Mountlake Terrace’s population of less than 25,000, HB 1110 requires the city to allow two dwelling units or duplexes per lot no later than June 30, 2025. 

Councilmember Erin Murray asked Morales about the short time frame, to which he responded that city staff have spoken with the commerce department about what level of detail is required.

Morales said he was confident the work could be done within the schedule. The commerce department will accept a preliminary draft of the housing ordinance with the understanding that the city will take it through a formal public review process.

According to Morales, the draft will be reviewed by the Mountlake Terrace Planning Commission in late May or early June 2024 before submission to the commerce department. Then, it must undergo the formal public review process, which includes being presented to the planning commission and city council and taken to the community for input.

“So, we have about a year to do this work,” Morales said.

The city council moved to place authorization of the middle housing grant on the April 4 consent calendar. 

Public Works Director Jesse Hoffman gave the city council a “smorgasbord” vehicle proposal that saved the City of Mountlake Terrace almost $70,000.

In other business, Public Works Director Jesse Hoffman reviewed a resolution to surplus and replace public works fleet equipment, which the council also agreed to place  on the April 4 consent calendar.

According to Hoffman, the three surplus vehicles have multiple mechanical problems and are past their replacement age. The vehicles will be auctioned to either the public or another governmental agency.

The total surplus value of the 2009 Dodge 2500, 2013 Dodge 2500 and 2013 Nissan Murano is between $18,500 and $20,000

Along with the request for surplus, Hoffman also requested a replacement for a truck in the public works water division that has a leaking head gasket and other engine problems.

The estimated cost of the replacement is $60,526, with a $4,800 cost to equip it for service and $9,798 for contingency, making the request total $75,125.

Hoffman explained that although the problematic Komatsu loader is several years past its replacement date, it will be traded in for a replacement Komatsu instead of a previously requested CAT 914, saving close to $70,000.

The originally requested  CAT 914 loader would have cost $240,595. However, trading in the existing Komatsu for a new one with the equivalent specifications of the CAT914 brings costs to $170,702.

Based on this request, the council moved to put an ordinance amending the city’s purchasing policy on the April 4 consent calendar. 

City Manager Jeff Niten presented revisions to three policies at the March 28 city council meeting.

City Manager Jeff Niten explained that new city purchasing policies include an ethics statement, consideration of environmental factors and standardization of purchase authority. The revision ensures that the city staff will not have an unfair advantage over the public if purchasing surplus equipment, he said.

Next, Niten presented an ordinance to amend the city’s public comment policy, which the council also moved to the next consent calendar. City staff has updated the public comment policy to match the language in the City Council Protocol Manual adopted in 2023.

Last, the city council reviewed  the city’s media sharing policy, also moving it to the April 4 consent calendar.

The new policy ensures that city communications—including social media— provide uniform, timely and accurate information to the community. 

It states the city will not share private fundraising events, promote private business interests other than context-specific economic development initiatives, or make posts promoting religion other than culturally significant events for which the city council has issued a proclamation.

The next council meeting will start at 7 p.m. April 4 at Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace. 

To attend the meeting online, visit and enter meeting ID 810 1113 9518; no passcode is needed.

To make a public comment remotely, complete the registration form within 24 hours of the meeting’s start at

To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the same meeting ID.

You also can view livestreamed meetings and past video recordings at

The agenda can be viewed here.

— By Rick Sinnett

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