Updated at 8:08 a.m. Tuesday with quotes, additional details.
The Edmonds City Council voted 4-0, with three abstentions, to approve a resolution supporting an effort in the Washington State Legislature to pass a law supporting same-sex marriage.
The three councilmembers abstaining–Joan Bloom, Frank Yamamoto and Lora Petso–said that they didn’t believe that the city should be focused on such an issue and the matter should be left to the state.
“I’ve thought about this awful lot,” said Bloom, who was elected to the Council last November after defeating first-term councilmember DJ Wilson. “I wholeheartedly support marriage equality as a private citizen. I do not believe that the citizens of Edmonds have given me the authority to speak on their behalf for the state Legislature.”
Yamamoto, elected in November to fill the seat vacated by Councilmember Steve Bernheim, said he chose to abstain because he didn’t believe the city Council was “the proper venue” for discussing such a matter. I think we’re charged with policymaking and making sure we spend our money wisely,” Yamamoto said. “To me it doesn’t directly affect our daily operations.”
Fraley-Monillas, who arrived from another meeting in time to cast the fourth vote in favor of the resolution, said that she “wholeheartedly” supported the Council taking a stand on the matter. “I don’t believe this issue is so far from being in our city,” she said. “I believe we need to stand up for equitability for all people no matter who they love.”
During the council’s public comment period, several citizens testified on both sides of the issue.
“In the community that we have, that I consider progressive, I would like to see us take a stand and really show that the support comes from grassroots and not just as an overall populace,” said Edmonds resident Royce Napolitano in urging the council’s support.
“It is not just that I, as a gay man, don’t have the same rights as everybody else out here,” resident Jeff Coe added. “The Constitution says we are all created equal. I am not equal.”
Speaking against the resolution was Dave Page, who called the issue “very partisan” and one that would be likely to divide the community. “You don’t need to do this,” Page said. “Anybody with a grain of sense can tell that the state Legislature is going to pass this. There is no need for the City of Edmonds to commit on this topic.”
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling noted after the council voted that he also would not be signing the resolution.
“Our core mission at the city is to aasure the city’s day-to-day operations and city needs are met with regard to public safety, infrastructure needs such as streets, sewer and water maintenance [and] long-term planning as well as land-use issues,” Earling said. “The resolution before us deals with a state issue, which is currently under discussion and which now appears to have needed votes by which to pass both the state House and Senate and the governor is ready and willing to sign the legislation.”
The mayor noted that if he belonged to the Legislature, he would probably support the measure, adding that he has a history of favoring similar issues, including domestic partnership legislation. “I am, however, not a member of the Legislature and I am an elected representative of the City of Edmonds with a different core mission,” he said.
In other action, the council :
– had a long discussion, but took no action, on a proposal to amend the Edmonds City Code to clarify that the role of the Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission is to “identify new sources of revenue as a direct result of economic development projects for consideration of City Council.” When this issue first came before the council a few months ago, it was alleged that the commission was attempting to create new taxes rather than focus on its mission of economic development. Newly elected councilmember Frank Yamamoto, the former commission president, said that the allegation was unfounded and added he would be happy to discuss the issue in more detail during the upcoming Council retreat Feb. 2 and 3.
– Voted 5-1 (Lora Petso voting no and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas absent at the time of the vote, although she did arrive later) to approve an Edmonds Planning Board recommendation to loosen restrictions on outdoor dining regulations. Under the approved measure, outdoor dining will be allowed under the following conditions without a conditional use permit:
- The site is not directly adjacent to any residentially-zoned property(ies).
- The site complies with existing landscaping requirements along the property line(s) directly adjacent to residentially-zoned propery(ies).
- The dining area is screened from adjoining property(ies) by a building and/or a 4-foot wall, hedge, or solid fence.
- Seating is limited to an additional 10 percent of the existing interior seating of the establishment or 12 seats, whichever is greater.
The Council did approved an amendment by Petso that requires any outdoor dining establishments located next to a residence to ‘sclose at 9 p.m. rather than the 10 p.m. time recommended by the planning board. An additional amendment by Petso to further tighten outdoor dining restrictions, failed on a 3–3 vote.
– unanimously authorized the mayor to sign a two-year interlocal agreement for the Lake Ballinger/McAleer Creek Watershed Forum, and approve $1,600 per year for administrative costs.
– approve municipal code changes to simplify rules for providing concessions in parks, also on a unanimous vote. City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carri Hite told the Council that the action, under which the mayor will have final approval of any concession applications, will make it easier for the city to invite a variety of offerings into the city’s parks. Last year, for example, a vendor proposed offering paddleboat rentals at Marina Beach Park, but the city had no mechanism in place to approve the idea, Hite said.