I appreciated Megan Sokol’s article “Washington’s ‘Playground’ Sets New Rules for Leavenworth Housing” published on the back page of the September 15 edition of the Echo. While the article mainly highlighted the potential impact of the proposed 2020 Legislative Session Senate Bill 6446 with a special excise tax on lodging, it also brought attention to an issue that impacts all of us in our community—the issue around housing.
In the upcoming months, it will be important for members of our Leavenworth community to be involved with the ongoing discussions the City Planning Commission is having around rezoning to smaller lot sizes, allowing triplexes in single family zones, driveways and parking, raising building heights, and expanding the Urban Growth Area around the City Limits. These decisions are coming quickly and are going to impact our community for many years to come as developers and builders see the cash cow in the zoning and building codes the City is creating in order to bring more housing to Leavenworth. Since August, the Commission has been looking at changing lot sizes across the City, making them smaller and smaller to increase density and the number of dwellings that can be packed into a City lot. They are looking to rezone RL6 to RL3 and RL10 to RL8. That’s taking a 6000SF lot (like an average city lot in town) and cutting it in half, while allowing the same 35’ height limits, 35% lot size coverage as the large homes on Pine and Pinegrass. This rezoning will create homes and ADUs being packed in, city streets being clogged and little green space left in our tiny town. Dense, smaller lots will not guarantee affordable. The impacts of the decisions the Planning Commission is making are simply too great to sit back and ignore.
The need to expand the availability of housing has been an issue for our community for a number of years. Many will agree we do not want our pleasant rural community to become the likes of a little Issaquah or Redmond. The impending decisions the Planning Commission will be making and bringing to the City Council and a Public Hearing between now and the end of the year will drastically change the way our community looks and feels. I encourage our Leavenworth community to get more involved now. Use the City website to access and attend meetings, stay on top of agendas and to communicate with our City leaders the direction we want our community to go. The future of our community depends on it.