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Woodinville planners seek input on housing, jobs, transportation and more

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, News Writer

Woodinville needs to find room for more than 2,000 more housing units and 4,000 more jobs in the next 20 years, according to state and county growth targets.

The city held a public meeting on Nov. 13 to discuss updating the Comprehensive Plan, which guides development and growth in Woodinville over a 20-year period. Although few members of the public attended, the city staff, members of the planning commission, and consultants working on updating the Comprehensive Plan began discussing housing, jobs, transportation and the city’s Vision Statement.

Citizens can still give their input by filling out the survey found at ci.woodinville.wa.us.

"In the year 2015, Woodinville is a safe, friendly, family-oriented community that supports a successful balance of neighborhoods, parks and recreation, tourism, and business," the current statement, which was written around 2000, reads. "We have preserved our Northwest woodland character, our open space, and our clean environment. We have enhanced our ability to move freely throughout the community by all modes of travel. Woodinville is a pleasant place in which to live, work, play, and visit, with a compact, inviting downtown that is attractive and functional."

What parts of the vision statement has Woodinville already accomplished? What goals should the city keep working on? Which parts aren’t important anymore?

Several meeting attendees praised the idea of "Northwest woodland character" but wondered how to balance that with growth and development.

"It’s keeping that character of the woodlands and at the same time, increasing the density in order to accommodate our growth mandate," Planning Commissioner David Ormerod said. "How do you do that in a balanced way?"

Steve Yabroff, chair of the planning commission, said R-1 neighborhoods, which make up 60 percent of the city, make Woodinville special. "This leads to a certain ambiance that makes Woodinville somewhat special and unique," he said. "And if you talk to realtors, they’ll tell you there’s a shortage of good R-1 properties."

Planning Commissioner Kevin Stadler thought the vision statement was missing something important.

"The one word when I look at that that I think is missing is ‘diversity,’" Stadler said. "And I think that’s important that we recognize that … age, sex, racial ... that it’s a community for all people. I read that, that it’s a family-friendly, and it says to me, we only want families."

Demographic trends back him up. Lisa Grueter, a manager with Berk Consulting, which Woodinville has hired to help update the Comprehensive Plan, said senior citizens made up 11 percent of Woodinville’s population in 2010, compared to 9 percent in 2000. Single-person households and married couples without children living at home, together, now make up more than half of the population.

To serve the changing population, will Woodinville need different types of housing?

The consultants from Berk and Makers suggested compact single-family homes on small lots, townhouses, apartments and mixed-use developments with housing above retail space.

Ormerod pointed out that housing in Woodinville is expensive, and it’s especially hard for young families to afford to live in the city.

Grueter added that some people who work in Woodinville want to live here, but can’t afford it or can’t find any housing available. In addition, the number of cost-burdened households (in which residents pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent or mortgage) has increased from 1990 to 2011, she said.

Resident Tom Quigley said that high-density, affordable housing such as apartments and mixed-use developments is in conflict with voters’ desire for R-1 zoning and limited growth.

Woodinville will also have to find room for more jobs. Grueter said the city already has lots of retail and industrial jobs, but not many office jobs. Woodinville has been getting applications for non-industrial uses in industrial areas, and accepting those applications would help the city provide more jobs, since non-industrial businesses usually have more employees than industrial businesses, she said.

Ormerod said Woodinville has missed out on high-paying office jobs because of a lack of office space.

"It seems to me that the reason Google and Amazon and Microsoft have gone to the areas that they’ve gone to is that there was office space available, which we do not have here ... we have industrial that’s fading away," he said. He added, "We have a dichotomy here, of lower-paying jobs and the higher cost of R-1 housing and other types of housing. It doesn’t fit."

The Comprehensive Plan will also address transportation. Tom Hansen, the director of Woodinville’s Public Works Department, said the city’s biggest problem is dividing limited money between non-motorized transportation, vehicles and maintenance for existing roads. Most grant money is for vehicle transportation or for solving safety problems, he said.

"We do have traffic problems in town for vehicles," Hansen said. "That’s where the majority of our dollars have been spent in the past five years."

Growth in unincorporated King County and congestion on I-405 are also beginning to cause traffic in Woodinville, he said.

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