A Bothell senior planner, speaking on behalf of Bothell Health Care representatives, provided an update at a recent planning commission meeting regarding proposed nursing home code amendments.
The amendment — which Monica Salusky and Jeff Martini of Bothell Health Care applied for — seeks to allow nursing homes as a conditional use in at least one single-family zone in the region. At the moment, nursing homes are exclusively allowed as a conditional use in commercial and multi-family zones.
The application for the code amendment was submitted in September 2018. Along with a traffic report, which was submitted about two weeks afterward, the application was sent in at that time to ensure it be ahead of the deadline for plan and code amendment applications considered in the city’s 2019 planning docket.
The deadline for applications is Oct. 31.
Bothell Health Care, located at 707 228th St. SW, is currently the only nursing home in Bothell. Both Martini and Salusky reminded the commission that it’s doubtful this will change, which makes amendments more crucial.
“I also want to reiterate the statements made by the applicants that it’s highly unlikely that Bothell will get any new nursing home sites,” senior planner Dave Boyd, who provided the update, said. “They are tightly regulated by the state, who limit the number of beds per county.”
To emphasize the small number of nursing homes in the greater Seattle area, Boyd said that for the upcoming public hearing, he will be providing data on nursing home numbers in Snohomish and King counties.
There were two options presented at the meeting. For the first, nursing homes would be allowed as a conditional use in R 5,400-R 7,200 zones. For the second, they would be more extensively permitted as a conditional use in R 5,400-R 9,600 zones. According to Boyd, the second option potentially sanctions the repurposing of a retirement home site in the specialized senior housing overlay (SSHO).
Bothell Health Care is in what’s considered an R 7,200 zone, and was established by Snohomish County prior to annexation, according to a July 17 memorandum. This means that it exists as a legal, non-conforming use, disallowing it from increasing in size.
Rather than seeking to up the number of beds permitted, which necessitates approval from the state, the applicants instead are looking to expand the existing facility, fostering a larger number of private rooms in the process.
An analysis done for the July 17 meeting showed that there are an additional, and hypothetical, six sites besides what already exists in the R 5,400 and R 7,200 range. Boyd said that some are marginal, have critical areas, have impacts or are partially developed but might be able to be repurposed. Fifteen other sites could be developed beyond that.
Eight other prospective sites — five in R 5,400 and three in R 9,600 zones — have been identified. Two of the 5,400 sites are currently professional office (OP) zones, which would currently allow nursing homes as a conditional use.
Boyd said that ultimately staff recommends special setbacks like those in the downtown transitional zones instead of making extensive standards like those in the SSHO.
In addition to presenting the commission with the two options, Boyd and Bothell Health Care gauged feedback from the commission.
Support for both options was vocalized by commissioners at the meeting, but interest was more tipped toward option one, in part because of option two’s wider implications. Commissioner Kevin Kiernan was concerned about the latter proposal’s impact on emergency-vehicle trips and other neighborhood effects.
“I’m a little ambivalent about upping it to 96,” Kiernan said. “I definitely want us to see us address the need at hand, or the request at hand, so option one looks good to me.”
Talks on the nursing code amendment will continue at a Sept. 4 public hearing. The amendment will later be discussed at the Oct. 1 Bothell City Council meeting.