Before the Vancouver City Council unanimously approved a density exception for the Vancouver Housing Authority on Aug. 5, clearing the way for an 152-unit complex at the corner of Southeast First Street and 166th Avenue, councilors received an email from John Deeder, superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools.
While the council heard from plenty of concerned residents who said that two-lane First Street can’t handle additional traffic, Deeder’s concerns were about more children coming into crowded schools. And while VHA has to pay the school district $400,000 in impact fees, money doesn’t solve all problems.
“I realize that this complex will generate impact fees, but many of our schools are running out of land to place portable classrooms, so this may cause us to have to disrupt many families if we have to change attendance areas to accommodate this growth,” Deeder wrote.
Here’s Deeder’s email to City Manager Eric Holmes, which was provided to The Columbian under our standing public disclosure request for council emails.
From: John Deeder [mailto:John.Deeder@evergreenps.org]
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 4:35 PM
To: Holmes, Eric
Subject: Vancouver Housing Authority Project on 1st Avenue
Dear Eric, Tim, Jack, Bart, Larry, Jeanne, Jeanne and Bill
I spoke with Roy Johnson from the VHA yesterday and he shared their plans to build a 152 unit apartment complex on 1st and 166th. While we understand the need, I shared with him that they could not have picked a location that would be harder for us to accommodate that many children. Each of the schools the children living in this area are already overcrowded. Columbia Valley Elementary, Shahala Middle School and Union High School are all full and this will be a real hardship on the district and these three schools.
In addition, these schools will already be hard pressed to accommodate the additional students the apartments across from the Quarry will generate.
As you consider their application I want you to know what problems this will cause for the district. I am not sure what you can do, but as the economy picks up and there is a bigger demand for development I would like to know in advanced what is being considered so we can plan on how to handle to influx of students.
I realize that this complex will generate impact fees, but many of our schools are running out of land to place portable classrooms, so this may cause us to have to disrupt many families if we have to change attendance areas to accommodate this growth.
One other problem we face is the lack of available land in this area to construct a new school. Even if we found land we would have to pass a bond to build a school and that would take a number of years.
Thanks for listening and I hope you understand we want to work with you to be in front of the curve on these developments whenever we can.