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M'ville considers waiving traffic impact fees

Proposed ordinance could make it easier for low-income housing to be built in the area


Christopher Andersson

Traffic on State Avenue in Marysville on Oct.

The Marysville City Council considered making development costs easier for low-income housing by reducing fees during their Oct. 3 City Council meeting.

Housing Hope, a local Snohomish County non-profit organization which provides housing to homeless locals, is planning a new development near Twin Lakes in Marysville and hoped that the city would consider an ordinance waiving traffic fees, like some other local cities have.

The 50-unit project for Housing Hope would be directly north of Twin Lakes County Park.

"Given the rising cost of construction for the project, we are seeking relief from all involved partners who are committed to reducing homelessness in Marysville," wrote Fred Safstrom, chief executive officer of Housing Hope, in a letter to the Marysville City Council.

"The need for affordable housing and services in North Snohomish County far exceeds the capacity of community providers," he wrote.

Marysville's Community Development Director said that low-income housing is needed more lately because of increasing rent and property values.

"Affordable housing is in demand because housing prices and renting prices have gone up," said Koenig.

"The goal would be to help people who need that kind of [low-income] housing," he said.

The proposed ordinance would waive a portion of the traffic impact fees that new development usually have to pay for any new development that serves low-income residents.

Low-income in this case would be defined as anyone who makes 50 percent of the local median income or below that.

The Housing Hope proposal is one and two-bedroom housing units that would mainly service individuals trying to transition out of homelessness, but if the new ordinance passed it would apply to any other new developers.

"The new ordinance would benefit anyone else who wanted to come in and develop low-income housing as well," said Koenig.

In practice, low-income housing projects are pretty rare, said Koenig, but the ordinance could be an additional incentive for developers.

"The biggest motivating factor for them is usually finding land at a reasonable price," he said.

Koenig said these projects usually come together with funds from multiple organizations, so any relief from the city is an additional boon.

Housing Hope's Marysville proposal is grabbing funding from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Snohomish County and private donors.

Many other communities, like Arlington, Monroe and Everett, have passed similar measures, said Koenig. "So Marysville is not alone out there in this," he said.

Traffic impact fees are paid by any developer that would create additional traffic for the city. The funds are meant to pay for traffic improvements.

The fees are "based on peak hour traffic and how much the development would add to that," said Koenig.

Koenig said that the fees usually a portion of the cost, but not all of it. Typically the city will use matching funds or other funds to make the improvements.

If Marysville officials wish to move forward with the ordinance the city council will have to approve it at a future city council meeting.


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