With its spectacular views of the Edmonds waterfront, Sunset Avenue is a popular place for dog walking. Yet, until six months ago, it was against the law to walk your dog along the heavily traveled path on Sunset Avenue’s west side. And even though the Edmonds City Council voted in April to open the path to dogs, the “No Dogs in Park” signs remained.
That bothered Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim, who issued a news release early Saturday morning — with a copy to all City Council members — that he was taking matters into his own hands at 10 a.m. with a “sign removal ceremony.”
“I have decided to remove them so that the signs are consistent with law, so the public is not confused by the incorrect signs, and to reduce the number of 911 reports of illegal dog walking along Sunset,” he said in the news release.
In truth, the “ceremony” involved Bernheim showing up with a bag of tools and his German Shepherd, Rolf, to physically remove the signs. In the case of one sign that he didn’t have the proper tools to remove, Bernheim actually spray painted over the word “No” so that that sign read “Dogs in the Park.”
There’s some history behind the sign removal. In February 2009, Merrilyn Alkire of Edmonds testified before the City Council that during walks along Sunset Avenue with her dog, she often needed to sit down due to health issues. However, she was told she couldn’t sit on a bench along the avenue because dogs were not allowed. In April 2010, the city council voted to open the west side of Sunset Avenue to dog walking, but six months later, the signs were still up.
Bernheim’s action drew praise from Edmonds resident Sondra Padgett, who happened to be out walking her dog Bear along Sunset Saturday morning. Padgett says she frequently takes Bear on that stretch of scenic road, and recently had a woman yell at her for violating the rules.
Now that the west side of Sunset is open to canines, Bernheim shared with My Edmonds News another idea for improving the roadway: Switching the parking for vehicles, currently located on the west side next to the walking path, with the bicycle lane, now on Sunset’s east side. That way, bicycle and pedestrian pathways would be next to each other.