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My Candidacy Has Been Endorsed by the Sierra Club

by on 08/12/2011

When we moved to our new home in spring of 1989, we didn’t know that a portion of our property had been a wetland. We did know that our home had to be located on the west setback of our property line to avoid having to put it on pilings. There was a lovely piece of property behind my neighbors, which, in winter, became a pond that housed as many as twelve ducks. The first two winters, there was a small pond on the corner of our property where some of those ducks would come to frolic.

In spring of 2002, I saw a man in the middle of the neighbors’ winter duck pond. He was from Wetland Resources, and was kind enough to explain to me the criteria for wetland determination: hydrology, soil, and vegetation. The area he surveyed met all of the criteria, and was approximately 10,000 square feet, well over the 2500 square feet that was regulated by the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) at that time.

The owner of the property, which was the size of three lots, sold all three lots in 2003, for the going price of one buildable lot. One would logically assume that only one house could be built on the property. However, on July 15, 2005, an employee of the new property owner came down the (steep) hill, also regulated by the CAO, in a backhoe to take a “soil sample,” damaging a significant amount of wetland vegetation in the process. The neighbors adjacent to the property called the City of Edmonds (COE) and learned that the property had been reassessed, that the wetland area had (miraculously?) shrunk to under 2500 square feet, that is, too small to be regulated.

Although my property does not border on the contested property, I spearheaded the effort to save this wetland on behalf of the neighborhood and the wildlife. During this time, at the public comment session, I made several appeals to City Council (several of which are replicated on my website, EdmondsForum.com, category: Wetlands). In my first presentation, Make Developers ask Permission, Not Forgiveness, I asked the planning department to require the necessary assessments by the State Department of Ecology (DOE) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Corps visited the site and determined that it was an isolated wetland, thus not subject to their jurisdiction. Later, the Corps reversed their earlier determination, based on inaccurate information received from the property owner saying there is a (non-existent) drain in the middle of the wetland.

To this day, the DOE has not been allowed on the property to complete an assessment of the wetland. The wetland has been partially filled, with Corps permit, cleared, and graded, without permit, by the property owner. In this process, the wetland has been invaded by numerous noxious weeds, including Japanese Knotweed, which is spreading rampantly.

This is a tale of lack of enforcement of the CAO on the part of the City of Edmonds. In the process described above, we learned that the City of Edmonds delayed publishing the CAO by 79 days, allowing the property owner to vest under the old CAO. (See my comments to council, Restore this Wetland, and Presentation to City Council on Delay Publishing the CAO, on EdmondsForum.com.)

In addition to my private-citizen efforts above, I have contributed to the stewardship of Edmonds in a variety of ways: I served a two-year term on the Edmonds’ Transportation Committee, and was able to put in the Transportation Comprehensive Plan the goal of providing a shuttle to transport people from the neighborhoods to the bowl. I reviewed the city’s Sustainability Element of the Comprehensive plan, and all of my suggestions were integrated into the element, except “restoration of critical areas.” I am currently a member of the newly formed Tree Board. I also have received certification for my yard as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. My yard integrates edibles, ornamentals, and native plants, and I garden, organically.

I do not presume to have the knowledge of the areas referenced in your questionnaire that would enable me to provide informed answers to many of them. It would be naive, when compared to the Sierra Club’s broad experience and involvement with the issues, to pretend to have that knowledge. Because I am dedicated to the stewardship of our habitat, I will seek consultation from the Sierra Club regarding environmental issues that come before the Edmonds City Council.

Thank you for endorsing my candidacy for Edmonds City Council, position # 5.

From → Edmonds

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