Op-Ed: Council Vice-Chair urges Mayor to veto LFP Conservation Cluster Housing ordinance
SATURDAY, MAY 26, 2018
Tom French is Lake Forest Park City Council Vice-Chair and 49-year LFP resident
By Tom French
I am urging Mayor Johnson to veto the recently amended and passed Lake Forest Park Conservation Cluster Housing ordinance.
Despite a clear understanding at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting that the Council supported a path of repealing the Conservation Cluster Housing ordinance, a few council members took advantage of my good will and an unusual situation and passed the amended, but deeply flawed, Conservation Cluster Housing Ordinance.
I would have voted Thursday night to repeal the Conservation Cluster Housing ordinance.
Mayor Johnson was absent from the meeting and attending an FBI training session and Deputy Mayor Stanford was seriously ill and needed to rest. As a result, as Vice-Chair of the Council, the duty fell upon me to act in their stead and chair the Council meeting. By rule, I am not allowed to comment during discussion, nor am I allowed to vote in the proceedings, as the Mayor himself is constrained from doing.
I can assure you, I had a lot to say, but out of deep respect for the institution and its rules, I kept silent.
The Conservation Cluster Housing ordinance is supposed to do two things:
Firstly and foremost, (and the most important aspect) it is supposed to protect the environment; and
Secondly, it adds an additional housing option to the mix for those seeking to join our community or for others looking to downsize from an existing home in our city.I am afraid that that I am not convinced that either would be accomplished under the present, amended ordinance.
While the CCH idea potentially has merit in the broader picture of housing in Lake Forest Park, the public process has been poorly managed and the amended ordinance itself is fraught with unknowns and unintended consequences. City Planning staff themselves have struggled to provide clear, cohesive examples of the various scenarios that could play out under the ordinance.
I stated publicly at the outset of the CCH discussion in early 2017 that I was deeply concerned about the CCH discussion happening under the umbrella of the Critical Areas Ordinance update and that there was the potential “for unintended consequences.”
Well, here we are, yet again.
The citizens of Lake Forest Park deserve better.
I urge Mayor Johnson to exercise his veto powers and encourage my colleagues to have a real conversation about the Conservation Cluster Housing ordinance with all Council Members present.
I look forward to an open and civil discussion about the community’s housing needs with my colleagues and the community.
Originally Published in Shoreline Area News