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Waterfront Proposal to City Council

by on 11/19/2007

The last time I spoke before City Council was in December of 2006, in response to a request by the Mayor that the citizens of Edmonds become involved in planning for the future of the Edmonds Waterfront. At that time I characterized my vision for the waterfront as a cross between Pike Place Market, Granville Island, and The Third Place in Lake Forest Park.

Since that time I was selected to be a member of the Waterfront Citizens’ Group (CG33), which met in July of this year. I did my best to promote the concept of creating a destination on the waterfront, which would include pedestrian friendly heights and amenities.

The results of CG33 were deeply disappointing. What I saw were four plans for an urban village, ranging from 3-4 stories and as high as 8-10 stories, not the destination that I and others envisioned. I regret that I did not register my dismay by abstaining from voting for any of the concepts.

Following the gathering of citizen input on the four plans, a final version was unveiled on October 25th. It again was an urban village with buildings 5-6 stories high. On November 2nd, the Edmonds Enterprise reported: “Still, a clear majority of the community members who spoke at the Oct. 25 meeting were unhappy with the newest vision for Edmonds’ waterfront.” I counted only three audience members who spoke in support of the plan.

On page 26 of the Edmonds Comprehensive Plan, under Vision for the Downtown Waterfront Area, it states: “Opportunities for new development and redevelopment reinforce Edmonds’ attractive, small town pedestrian-oriented character. Pedestrian-scale building height limits are an important part of this quality of life, and remain in effect.” And under Goals for the Downtown Waterfront Area, it states: “Promote downtown Edmonds as a setting for retail, office, entertainment and associated businesses supported by nearby residents and the larger Edmonds community, and as a destination for visitors from throughout the region.”

In Chris Keuss’ editorial in the November 8th issue of the Edmonds Beacon, he characterized the private property owners’ solicitation of input on how to develop their property as “an exceptional display of regard for what other people think.” The key word in that sentence is “display.” If it had been anything other than a “display of regard for what other people think,” the final plan would not have included six-story buildings. On October 12th, regarding comments gathered at Harbor Square, the Edmonds Enterprise stated: “Almost every single comment that has been left has insisted that no code be changed.” The current code for building heights is 25 plus 5 on the Antique Mall and the Skippers’ properties. Citizen input has, so far, been dismissed.

$14,000 of Edmonds citizens’ money was allocated to develop the plan that was unveiled on October 25th. The Port of Edmonds contributed $72,000 plus the cost of staff participation, for over $86,000 of citizens’ money allocated to develop a plan for an urban village. I am requesting that money be allocated to develop an alternative plan that is consistent with the goals of the Edmonds Comprehensive Plan, stated above—a plan that is within current height limits, and one that creates a destination.

I urge the City Council to demonstrate an exceptional display of regard — no, make that more than just a display of regard — for the opinions of the citizens of Edmonds by allocating funds to develop an alternative plan for the waterfront.

From → Edmonds

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