Housing Action Plan – FAQ

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Housing Action Plan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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What is House Bill 1923 (HB 1923)?

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1923. HB 1923 allows local jurisdictions to pursue certain actions to address housing affordability. The bill also authorized grant funding to support these efforts.

To be eligible for State grant funding, cities could pursue one of the following options:

OPTION A: Commit to adopting at least two actions from a menu of options, many of which involve amendments to codes. In 2020, the State expanded this menu of options under HB 2343.

OPTION B: Adopt a Housing Action Plan (HAP) involving data collection, assessing needs, working with stakeholders and developing recommendations. This option allows Mukilteo to work collaboratively with the community to develop housing recommendations and strategies.

The City’s grant application pursued Option B. The City was awarded $100,000 in grant funding on November 5, 2019; Council accepted the award on January 21, 2020, and a consultant was accepted on July 6, 2020.

Links to HB 1923 (2019), HB 2343 (2020), grant documents, and Council meetings can all be found in the Project Library.

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What is a Housing Action Plan (HAP)?

A Housing Action Plan (HAP) is a strategic plan to encourage the construction of affordable and market-rate housing. Most importantly, it is a process that allows for public and community engagement to identify those strategies and recommendations most appropriate and acceptable for the community. Key components of the HAP include:

Housing Needs Assessment (HNA)
Housing needs assessments typically involve a housing inventory, household characteristics (e.g. size, income, housing costs), population and employment forecasts, and an evaluation of needs for all demographic and economic segments of the community.

Community Engagement – Ongoing
To meet a requirement of HB 1923, preparation of the HAP must provide opportunities for participation and input from community members, community groups, local builders, local realtors, nonprofit housing advocates, and local faith-based groups.

You can stay involved by:

    • Submitting a Comment: Use our comment form to submit a comment or question at any time. General comments, ideas, or comments on specific draft documents are all welcome!
    • Getting Project Notifications: Please email the Permit Center to be included on the list for project updates, surveys, availability of new documents, scheduled meetings, and public hearings.
    • Watching a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) Meeting: These meetings will be available for you to watch as a recording.
    • Participating in a Meeting: Join us at a community meeting, Planning Commission meeting, or at a City Council meeting.
    • Participating in a Public Hearing: Planning Commission and City Council will each hold a public hearing on the final draft Housing Action Plan. Join us by watching, submitting a written comment, or speaking at the hearing.

Draft Housing Action Plan
A draft HAP will be prepared that compiles the housing needs assessment data, policy and development code review, and community feedback with recommendations. Possible recommendations might address:

    • Future updates to the 2015 Comprehensive Plan Housing Element;
    • Future code and permit processing changes to streamline and improve the permitting process to reduce housing costs;
    • Strategies to increase the supply and variety of housing, and minimize displacement; or
    • An implementation schedule.
  • The HAP process also provides an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of current development regulations. For example:
    • Do current requirements for accessory dwelling units stop some property owners from pursuing an accessory dwelling unit?
    • Currently, subdivision of land into four (4) or fewer lots is decided administratively by staff. Subdivision of land into more than four (4) lots requires a hearing examiner public hearing. Should staff be allowed to decide on subdivisions up to nine (9) lots?
    • Should final plats be approved administratively by staff rather than by the City Council?
    • Are there permit process improvements that will result in a more efficient permit process for customers?

Public Review / Adoption – Spring 2021
Although public involvement and comment will occur throughout the HAP process, formal review through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and the public hearing(s) processes will occur in 2021. Public hearings will be held by both the Planning Commission and City Council.

City Council adoption of the final plan, to include final review of recommendations, is due by June 15, 2021.

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What is not part of the HAP?

Certain public comments to date have encouraged the City Council not to pursue the HAP based on perceptions of what the HAP is. In response to these comments, the HAP is not:

  • A low-income housing plan. Under HB 1923, the goal of the HAP is to “encourage construction of affordable and market rate housing.” HB 1923 states this is specifically to include “…strategies aimed at the for-profit single-family home market.” The intent is to look at the broad spectrum of housing needs and supply, and not that for just an isolated segment.
  • A financial assistance program for low-income households (or any household for that matter). HAP stands for “Housing Action Plan,” not “Housing Assistance Plan.” The grant funding provided by the Washington State Department of Commerce is to prepare the HAP, and not to start a housing financial assistance program.
  • A plan to rezone the City to allow for higher-density multi-family developments.
  • Approval of low-income or market-rate housing development permits for construction.

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Why is Mukilteo developing this HAP now?

The Housing Action Plan (HAP) is intended to address the rising costs of housing, including market-rate single-family housing. This can be done by encouraging the construction of more housing and by permitting housing more quickly so it can be brought to the market faster. Expanding housing supply and bringing housing on to the market faster is one way to address rising housing costs.

The State legislature has been exploring a number of ways to encourage housing supply. The original version of Washington State Legislature House Bill 1923 mandated that cities adopt changes to zoning and development regulations. The legislation was amended to make changes optional and to allow residents and elected officials to be in control of the process and the outcome, rather than being required to follow a one-size-fits-all solution.

The City of Mukilteo is undertaking the HAP to better understand what housing challenges are facing city residents, workers, and employers and how to best address them. Examples of housing challenges include:

  • Older adults that may be unable to stay in our community.
  • Families who may be unable to find suitable housing or who face housing instability due to rising costs and must choose between housing that does not meet their needs and leaving our community.
  • Businesses that may be unable to hire and retain the best employees because housing prices make them uncompetitive employers.
  • Workers that are unable to live near their jobs, resulting in longer commutes that add to traffic congestion, pollution, and costs to both themselves and the region.

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Who is in the Stakeholder Advisory Group?

The group has not yet been selected. This is intended to be a focus group made up of community members who can help review information, share perspectives, discuss strategies, and assist with broader community outreach. Community members will be asked to invest their time at four meetings. Tentative dates are as follows:

  • SAG Meeting #1 – Early October 2020
  • SAG Meeting #2 – Late October 2020
  • SAG Meeting #3 – Early December 2020
  • SAG Meeting #4 – February 2021

Please watch for updates on this page.
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How is the HAP funded?

The City of Mukilteo was awarded $100,000 in grant funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce to develop the HAP. Please see the materials related to the grant and grant application in the Project Library.

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What are other cities doing for their Housing Action Plans?

A complete list of grant cities can be found on the Washington State Department of Commerce March 2020 List of Grantees. Links to other cities working on similar projects will be added soon.

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How does the HAP relate to future planning requirements?

Completing the HAP is a first step towards addressing the State-mandated Growth Management Act (GMA) periodic Comprehensive Plan update that must be completed by June 30, 2024.

The following HAP requirements will support the 2024 Comprehensive Plan update:

  • Quantifying existing and projected housing needs (RCW 36.70A.070(2)(a));
  • Analyzing population and employment trends (RCW 36.70A.070(1));
  • Evaluating existing zoning, policies, regulations, and permit processes (RCW 36.70A.070(2)(c));
  • Obtaining public input from a variety of community members and stakeholders (RCW 36.70A.600(f), public participation requirements for HAP); and
  • Providing a prioritized list of recommended future actions. Such actions could include permit process improvements, updates to development regulations, or programs to support existing residents of Mukilteo (RCW 36.70A.070(2)(d)).

Work on the HAP coincides with the State Mandated Buildable Lands Report due June 2021. The Buildable Lands Report documents how well local governments are progressing towards meeting their adopted Comprehensive Plan growth targets and is used to assign new population and employment targets for the 2024 GMA Update. The HAP could identify actions the City could take, if needed, to address residential capacity to accommodate future growth targets.

To learn more about Buildable Lands, visit the Snohomish County 2021 Buildable Lands Report Project webpage.

To learn more about the periodic Comprehensive Plan update process, please visit the Municipal Research Services Center (MRSC) Comprehensive Plan Update Process webpage.

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What are the City’s existing housing planning requirements?

All counties and cities of a certain size are required to plan under the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA). RCW 36.70A.070(2) requires the following for a housing element (emphasis added for language changed since 1990):

(2) A housing element ensuring the vitality and character of established residential neighborhoods that:

(a) Includes an inventory and analysis of existing and projected housing needs that identifies the number of housing units necessary to manage projected growth;

(b) Includes a statement of goals, policies, objectives, and mandatory provisions for the preservation, improvement, and development of housing, including single-family residences;

(c) Identifies sufficient land for housing, including, but not limited to, government-assisted housing, housing for low-income families, manufactured housing, multifamily housing, and group homes and foster care facilities; and

(d) Makes adequate provisions for existing and projected needs of all economic segments of the community. In counties and cities subject to the review and evaluation requirements of RCW 36.70A.215, any revision to the housing element shall include consideration of prior review and evaluation reports and any reasonable measures identified.

The Mukilteo Comprehensive Plan has had an adopted GMA Housing Element for almost 30 years, since the early 1990s, addressing the above requirements.

HB 1923 requires the HAP to “review and evaluate the current housing element adopted pursuant to RCW 36.70A.070, including an evaluation of success in attaining planned housing types and units, the achievement of goals and policies, and implementation of the schedule of programs and actions.”

Washington’s population is projected to increase by 2,609,000 people by 2040, both from births and in-migration (see Office of Financial Management November 2019 State Population Forecast). Mukilteo will be required to plan for a portion of that growth, also called a “growth target.” The population and employment growth targets for the 2024 Comprehensive Plan update have not yet been established for cities in Snohomish County.

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What are the City’s existing housing policies?

The City’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan (updated in 2018) includes the following goals and policies for housing:

Goal HO1: Retention of existing housing stock should be a city priority.

Policy HO1a: Programs that support the rehabilitation and maintenance of older and/or historical housing stock should be investigated and supported.

Policy HO1b: Programs that assist residents to age in place and stay in their dwelling units even after retirement should be investigated and supported.

Goal HO2: Housing policies, programs, and regulations designed to support and promote sustainability and which minimize the impact on environmentally sensitive areas should be developed.

Goal HO3: The city shall support fair and equal access to housing for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, familial status, source of income, or disability.

Goal HO4: The city shall actively collaborate with other municipalities, public agencies, and private entities to address housing issues; including the issue that there is an inadequate supply of housing that is affordable for lower income segments of the population.

Policy HO4a: The City shall be an active participant with Snohomish County and other county municipalities in compiling the “Housing Characteristics and Needs in Snohomish County” report as required by Countywide Planning Policy.

Policy HO4b: The City shall be an active participant with the Alliance for Housing Affordability and other inter-jurisdictional efforts to promote and contribute to an adequate and diversified supply of housing countywide.

Policy HO4c: Public and private partnerships designed to retain and promote affordable housing options should be formed to facilitate the construction of affordable housing in the city and region.

Policy HO4d: The City shall pursue programs on its own that will actively preserve existing affordable housing units, facilitate creation of additional affordable housing units, and assist private homeowners in maintaining their houses.

Goal HO5: A wide variety of housing options should be encouraged in the city’s residential and mixed use zoning districts to meet demands for housing, including affordable housing.

Goal HO6: When adopting anew regulations and fees the City shall consider the economic implications they will have on the creation of new affordable housing.

In addition to helping the City implement its existing housing policies, the HAP also supports implementation of Economic Development Policy ED1e: “Permitting and licensing processes shall be efficient, clear, and concise so they do not unduly inhibit conducting business in the city.”

Any regulatory and permit process improvements identified in the HAP are likely to benefit both residential and commercial development.

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What is the maximum density currently allowed in Mukilteo and where is it located?

The Mukilteo 2015 Comprehensive Plan sets density limits for various residential zones (see page 15 of the Land Use Element):

Comprehensive Plan Designation Units / Acre Zoning Designation
Single-Family Residential Low Density 3.48 Lots / Acre RD 12.5 or RD 12.5(S)
Single-Family Residential Medium Density 5.19 Lots / Acre RD 9.6, RD 9.6(S), or RD 8.4
Single-Family Residential High Density 6.0 Lots / Acre RD 7.5 or RD 7.2
Multi-Family Residential Low Density 13 Dwelling Units / Acre MRD
Multi-Family Residential High Density 22 Dwelling Units / Acre MR

Currently, only one zone permits 22 dwelling units per acre, which is the MR Multi-Family Residential Zone. As you can see on the City’s Online Zoning Map, this zone is shown in dark brown. These areas are already fully developed and staff does not anticipate any additional development in the near future.

In addition, the Housing Action Plan (HAP) does not have any development applications associated with it. This means that no housing construction is proposed nor will any housing construction be approved as part of the HAP itself.

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What are the landscaping and parking requirements for multi-family housing?

All new multi-family developments are required to provide landscaping. The amount of landscaping depends on where the landscaping is located and what use(s) are adjacent. In general, 25 ft. of landscaping is required at the street, 10 ft. is required between multi-family and single-family zones, and additional landscaping is required around storage, parking, and garbage/waste areas. Our landscaping requirements can be found in Mukilteo Municipal Code (MMC) Chapter 17.58.

Currently, the MMC requires the following minimum number of parking stalls for multi-family development (see MMC 17.56.040 – Spaces required):

Use Classification Number of Spaces Required
21. Multiple-family dwellings, except retirement housing 2 per dwelling unit

*1.5 per studio or 1 bedroom unit; 2 per 2 or more bedroom units; plus 1 per every 4 units for guest parking

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What is a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA)?

A requirement of receiving the grant for a Housing Action Plan is that the City quantify existing and projected housing needs. This includes documenting housing and household characteristics and analyzing population and employment trends. To do this, the City will prepare a Housing Needs Assessment using the most currently available data and information.

The draft housing needs assessment and its findings will be posted on this website and presented to the public at a community meeting tentatively scheduled for November 2020.

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When was the City’s last Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) completed?

Snohomish County coordinates the development of a countywide Housing Needs Assessment in advance of each major Comprehensive Plan update. The most recent report, the 2013 Housing Characteristics and Needs Report, was adopted in January 2014.

In 2015, Mukilteo collaborated with the Alliance for Housing Affordability to prepare an Affordable Housing Profile. This Profile specifically focused on cost-burdened households that spend 30% or more of their income on housing and utilities, rather than on all income levels.

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HB 1923 required the University of Washington Center for Real Estate Research to compile housing supply and affordability information by October 15, 2020. Why do we need to prepare a separate HNA?

HB 1923 directed the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington to compile housing supply and affordability metrics, due October 15, 2020. The Department of Commerce has indicated that the Washington Center for Real Estate Research is under contract and will provide a report based on preliminary Census data. Information on rental market data will not be provided until late 2021, after the HAP is due.

Requirements for the Data Reports Due Through 2024. Image table text is available in Mukilteo City Council Packet for July 6, 2020.

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What is affordable housing?

“Affordable housing” is a commonly used measurement that refers to when a household spends less than 30% of the household’s income on housing (i.e. rent plus utilities, mortgage plus utilities). Affordable

Households that spend more than 30% of their income towards housing may not have sufficient financial resources to meet daily needs (such as food, clothing, transportation, and health care) while also being able to save for the future.

The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) defines affordable housing as:

(2) “Affordable housing” means, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, residential housing whose monthly costs, including utilities other than telephone, do not exceed thirty percent of the monthly income of a household:

(a) For rental housing, households whose income is 60% of the median household income adjusted for household size, for the county where the household is located, as reported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; or

(b) For owner-occupied housing, households whose income is 80% of the median household income adjusted for household size, for the county where the household is located, as reported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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What is low-income in Snohomish County?

Under the Growth Management Act (GMA), a low-income household is defined as follows:

(14) “Low-income household” means a single person, family, or unrelated persons living together whose adjusted income is at or below eighty percent of the median household income adjusted for household size, for the county where the household is located, as reported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In Snohomish County, HUD set the following 2020 income limits for at the 80% Median Household Income Level, based on household size:

2020 United States Housing and Urban Development Income Limits for Snohomish County.

2020 HUD Income Limits (80% Median Income) – Snohomish County

A one-person household earning $66,700 or less annually ($5,558 a month) meets the Federal and GMA definition of low-income. Affordable housing for this person, including utilities, would be $1,667 per month or less (i.e. 30% of their $5,558 monthly income).

For a family of four, earning $95,250 or less annually ($7,937 a month) is also low-income. Affordable housing costs, including utilities, would be $2,381 per month or less.

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Will the Housing Action Plan require the City to adhere to any specific mandates or quotas for housing, Section 8, or rent control, or to build low-income housing?

No – HB 1923 and the Housing Action Plan do not establish specific mandates. The City is currently required under the GMA to ensure the identification of sufficient land for housing, including, but not limited to, government-assisted housing, housing for low-income families, manufactured housing, multifamily housing, and group homes and foster care facilities.

The City is also required to ensure there is adequate capacity (or “buildable land”) to meet population targets established by the State. This requirement will apply regardless of whether or not a Housing Action Plan is prepared.

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Will the HAP address the cost of housing?

The HAP will indirectly address housing costs by looking at the various regulations and processes that impact how housing is built. For example, the HAP may recommend changes to regulations that have discouraged housing construction in the past or identify ways to improve permit review.

The community outreach process is an opportunity to bring forward additional ideas that might address housing costs. Please feel free to submit a comment or question at any time.
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File: https://mukilteowa.gov/wp-content/uploads/Affordable-Housing-Profile.pdf
Link: https://mukilteowa.gov/departments/planning-development/housing/affordable-housing-profile/