MLT City Council remains neutral on state housing bill, approves 2022 budget amendments

Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Wahl voiced his limited support for House Bill 1110.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Tuesday, Jan. 17, business meeting discussed the stance the city will take on Washington’s House Bill 1110 regarding middle housing.

Compared with typical apartment buildings, middle housing supports fewer homes per lot, yielding structures such as duplexes, triplexes and even quadplexes. HB 1110 is aimed at decreasing the effects of Washington state’s housing shortage by creating multi-family housing within already developed single-family neighborhoods in smaller cities across the state.

Mountlake Terrace City Manager Andrew Neiditz told councilmembers that the neighboring city of Edmonds had voiced its opposition to the bill while nearby Bothell supported it

Neiditz said state legislators wanted to hear city officials’ voices to determine how to proceed with the bill. However, the city manager said that opposing, supporting or remaining neutral about the bill will not be disadvantageous to Mountlake Terrace going forward; the city’s stance would merely be another voice taken into consideration.

“I think we all recognize that housing is important,” Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Wahl said. “We need to address housing. We have a crisis on our hands. We need to, at a local level, make housing options more affordable and do our part. Every city needs to do their part … so my suggestion would be support, with concerns.”

Councilmember Erin Murray also voiced her limited support for the bill, saying Mountlake Terrace should be actively working to make the housing situation better in the area.

“I am very supportive of us moving forward in supporting … being part of the solution versus standing here and saying we know that there’s an issue but not being part of the solution,” she said.

However, not all councilmembers felt like the bill would be beneficial to the city’s residents. Councilmember Rick Ryan said the congestion that middle housing will bring will clog city streets and could cause more harm than good. Councilmember Steve Woodard decided to remain neutral at this time, stating he did not yet have enough information to make a definite decision either way.

The council decided to remain neutral regarding House Bill 1110 at this time but will continue to monitor developments on the issue.

The council discussed the city’s salary commission in relation to councilmembers’ 2023 salary increase.

In other business, Councilmember Laura Sonmore made a comment regarding the council’s unanimous approval of the updated language in Chapter 2.12 of the Mountlake Terrace Municipal Code governing councilmember salaries.

The council had originally wanted to hold off on voting on the matter until more information on the city’s future salary commission was given.

The salary commission meets every five years to determine the salaries the City of Mountlake Terrace will pay its elected officials. The salary commission in 2019 authorized a $100 increase to the monthly salaries of the city’s mayor and councilmembers, effective Jan. 5, 2020. 

The ordinance also authorizes a 2% increase to the elected officials’ monthly salary each year beginning Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2024.

The salary commission, established in 2019, is an independent body of five residents tasked to review and set the salaries of the mayor and city council. Prior to the 2019 ordinance, the last salary adjustment for the City Council was 2001.

Councilmembers will receive a $19 raise for 2023.

“[The council’s salary] will be looked at again in two more years,” Sonmore said. “So I just wanted to put it out there that we do strive to do the best we can with our budget and the council is very cognizant of what we spend and what we don’t spend. We take our salary seriously, but we don’t do it for the money.”

In addition, the council unanimously approved the 2023 funding recommendations from the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, an amendment to the city’s 2022 biennial budget and a memorandum of understanding between Snohomish County 911, Snohomish County Public Utility District and the City of Mountlake Terrace. The memorandum is related to leased property at Jack Long Park for use of a monopole housing Snohomish County 911 and Snohomish County PUD equipment.

— y Lauren Reichenbach

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