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Outcry from Shoreline residents doesn’t stop council from rezoning area around light rail

Despite a vocal community meeting Monday, the Shoreline City Council approved the zoning and development plans, which rezones an area around the future Sound Transit light rail station on 185th Street, near I-5. (MyNorthwest.com/Stephanie Klein)

More than an hour of public testimony against rezoning an area of Shoreline wasn’t enough to stop the city council from passing the ordinance to do just that Monday night.

The Shoreline City Council approved the zoning and development plans, which rezones an area around the future Sound Transit light rail station on 185th Street, near I-5.

Related: Shoreline residents stuck in limbo awaiting Sound Transit to take all or parts of their property

The council’s decision to even consider the rezone drew shouts from the crowd, where residents demanded a recall of councilmembers. At one point, Mayor Shari Winstead told the community members she would have police remove anyone who interrupted.

Shanna Sierra, 33, supports the idea of growth in the area, but not this much.

“We know that light rail has good potential, we are excited about it,” she said. “But regardless, this is too much. It’s too dense.”

The new mixed-use-residential zoning affects an approximate half-mile radius around the future light rail service station on 185th Street; many of the properties in the area have single-family homes.

The proposed rail station is not scheduled to begin service until 2023. The light rail will be built parallel to I-5 from Northgate to Lynnwood.

The new zoning primarily focuses on height limits. Areas immediately surrounding the rail station will allow for building heights of six to seven stories. The new ordinance will cater to development that promotes a more walkable city, supporters say.

Councilman Jesse Salomon told the packed chambers that Seattle is a growing city, and Shoreline needs to prepare for the future. He said the positive – from what he’s read – is that property values actually increase around areas experiencing transportation development.

“It’s not all bad for you folks,” he said.

The new zoning also allows a mix of housing types, such as single-family homes, town homes, row homes, and live/work dwellings. Some previously non-commercial areas will allow for certain businesses, but streets identified as “local” will not allow them.

Shoreline residents living in the rezoned areas have no obligation to change their homes or develop their property, according to information from the city. Residents are not being asked to move. However, neighborhoods may “transition” and new housing may be built.

The council is considering three phases for zoning changes, which would be done this year, in 2021 and 2033.

The city’s rezoning plans exceed Sound Transit’s request, said Shoreline resident John Behrens. The scale of the city’s rezone is unnecessary, he said.

Behrens isn’t opposed to the light rail. People will benefit from it, he said.

“There is so much wrong with the plan that they’re using,” he said. “That’s why there are several hundred people here.”

Behrens questioned the council’s reasoning. “It’s the process that’s gone wrong.”

This isn’t the first time Sierra and her family have been affected by rezoning. She said her husband’s company on Stone Way in Fremont will shut down in May and be replaced with apartments.

“Our lives are actively changing,” she said. Their family’s income is being cut by about 60 percent.

Now, the family is dealing with the idea of having 65-foot buildings at the end of their block.

“I think it would be awesome that we recalled our city council and made sure it was on their record that said, you did not do what your constituency requested,” said Sierra.

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