City of Redmond and LWSD hold annual joint meeting

School board and council touch on comprehensive planning, transportation, and workforce housing/family housing/affordability.

The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) and the Redmond City Council recently held its annual joint meeting. The annual meeting serves to review items of mutual interest for the city and the school district.

The meeting’s discussion revolved around comprehensive plan coordination, transportation, workforce housing/family housing/affordability, capital project planning, joint use of facilities and program and field scheduling.

The meeting began with an overview of the comprehensive planning process with Erika Vandenbrande, the city’s planning director.

Vandenbrande said the city is working with the Puget Sound Regional Council, which is the metropolitan planning organization for the four county areas that include King County. According to its recent data, the four-county region — King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties — is forecasted to grow an additional 1.8 million people by the year 2050 and an additional 1.2 million jobs.

“We’re currently in the process of trying to identify, in a King County environment, what growth capacity we still have within the jurisdictions within King County. That’s looking at zoning and so forth. That process should be done by June of next year,” Vandenbrande said. “We’re also looking at the growth targets in the distribution and similar timeframe June of next year, to be able to look at how those would be allocated. By the end of 2021, we should have all those numbers and be able to do effective planning because by June of 2023 we’re required to have a new comprehensive plan updated.”

The next topic discussed was transportation. Vandenbrande and Redmond public works director Dave Juarez provided an overview of School Pool. School Pool is a partnership between the city and LWSD. Ten schools are participating, meaning the schools and city encourage students to bike or walk to school instead of driving.

“We are encouraging students to walk ride or to school. In order to do so we need to provide safe routes to school. Our public works staff works closely with the schools, dealing with any issues that may come up. We have numerous requests for improvements and so we work closely with them,” Juarez said.

Juarez highlighted some of the improvements that have been made to several of the schools, including pavement markings at Norman Rockwell Elementary School and various crosswalk lighting improvements.

Moving onto workforce housing, Vandenbrande said many people — including teachers, police officers and firefighters — are unable to afford to live in the city. The council has made addressing this issue a priority.

“The legislature had appropriated funding for grants to put together housing action plans or to take action on specific items to be able to help facilitate making housing more affordable,” Vandenbrande said. “Redmond has applied for and later on this month, we will know whether or not we received a grant to put together a housing action plan…for us to be able to emphasize more affordable housing within the community.”

She said it provides opportunities. She mentioned the opportunities for schools to be able to combine school and housing.

“There’s many opportunities in terms of school district land potentially to be able to look at combinations of schools, housing, et cetera,” she said. “At a staff level, people working together to explore more urban models and so forth [in order to] be able to provide housing as well as educational space.”

The meeting continued and concluded with an overview of the capital project planning.

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