Council continues discussion on Sunset Avenue; deliberation set for next week

Public Works Director Phil Williams presents configuration options for the Sunset Walkway Tuesday night.
Public Works Director Phil Williams presents configuration options for the Sunset Walkway Tuesday night.

Updated Wednesday at noon with additional explanation by Council President Diane Buckshnis

City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams Tuesday night gave Edmonds City Councilmembers some additional ideas to consider as they get closer to making a decision about whether to go forward with the existing proposal to create a wider, paved walkway along the city’s scenic Sunset Avenue.

About a dozen citizens — nearly all of them opposed to the project and some repeat visitors from an earlier public hearing — had their say about the project. Two of those against the walkway cited safety concerns for those who might walk or bicycle directly above the BNSF railroad tracks — two speakers in particular mentioned the particular dangers posed to children.

The original walkway proposal called for a 10-foot-wide promenade on the west side of the street beginning at Bell Street on the south, running north along the bank above the railroad tracks, rounding the dogleg at Caspers Street, and finally meeting the existing sidewalk at Third and Caspers. The project design is being funded by a $159,000 federal grant; construction of the walkway is dependent on additional grant funding.

Following concerns expressed by citizens during previous council meetings about the necessity, cost and safety concerns related to the project, councilmembers asked Williams to examine other possible configurations and report back. He initially showed three additional options for designing the walkway, but said he couldn’t recommend going forward with two of them because they wouldn’t meet city regulations that require 20 feet of pavement left clear for fire trucks during emergencies.

The third design suggested by Williams, which meets fire equipment requirements, would move parking that is now on the west side of Sunset — directly along the water — to the east side of the street. The configuration was aimed at addressing the often-mentioned view by opponents that the new walkway design would severely reduce the number of parking spaces, hampering the opportunity for those who like to drive to Sunset Avenue so they can watch the view from their cars. The parking issue continues to be mentioned, even though Williams has repeatedly said that while the current plan does reduce the number of parking spaces from 55 to 43, it is likely that once the design phase is further along  more spaces can be included.

In the final analysis, Williams said, the council has “three viable options” for the walkway project: Do nothing (leave the path as it is), approve the shared-use path as originally proposed, or OK the path with parking on the east side of Sunset.

Councilmember Strom Peterson reminded those in the audience that the Sunset Walkway was originally initiated several years ago at the request of a citizen who approached him and then-Councilmember Steve Bernheim with the idea, and was not “a staff-driven project” as some might believe.

Responding to comments by some speakers that the council was moving too fast on the project, Council President Diane Buckshnis noted that the walkway has been on the council agenda for consideration since November, and that citizens have been very effective at making their opinions known. “We’ve heard a sufficient amount of public comment,” she said, adding that the council will begin deliberating the matter at next week’s (April 1) council meeting.

To further explain next steps, Buckshnis submitted this information to My Edmonds News Wednesday morning:

There seems to be some confusion over my use of the word “decision” last night.  Next week, I would like to start deliberating as a Council to determine a course of action.  That course of action or decision can be a myriad of ideas such as pulling the Sunset Walkway Project completely from the “Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) to “full-steam ahead” or a number of alternatives or points in-between.  Of course another decision may be that we move the deliberation process forward to another meeting so as certain Council Members can have more time.

My point last night was that I am of the opinion that we have heard a great deal of public testimony and have pragmatically worked through this process.  The staff has also done a wonderful job working with the consultant to come up with a variety of alternatives, as well as, meeting with the public and Council Members.   I am ready to provide input and I believe other Council Members are in agreement with me on this idea.  I do not believe that the Council, public or the staff should be criticized for needing more time to fully understand this very complex and intricate project and I appreciate the patience afforded us.



38 Replies to “Council continues discussion on Sunset Avenue; deliberation set for next week”

  1. Good idea! Glad it’s an idea that was presented by a lay citizen. I love the walk and the views. Kids will enjoy having a place that’s level and long enough of a stretch to ride bikes. I see parents happily bringing children here.
    Just cover your ears- the trains horns make a deafening sound. Maybe we can consider this in the plan?


    1. Well you had better make your thoughts known to the Council quickly because most of the opposition are Sunset Residents who are politically connected to the Council. This is a terrific idea that connects the entire downtown waterfront with a walkway extending about 1.5 miles from the Port, down Sunset to 3rd Ave. City Staff is working hard to overcome the objections raised, but the underlying issue as expressed personally to me by two of the residents leading the opposition was,” We don’t want any more people on Sunset.” I believe this is the underlying issue driving the opposition. Living on Sunset does not give one the right to limit others from experiencing the wonderful Puget Sound experience. As a resident of Sunset myself, I believe the issues the Council should be dealing with are :1. the issue of allowing bikes on the walkway, 2. trying to increase the parking on the west side of the Sunset, 3. Think about eliminating the east sidewalk or portions of it-In the area where the right of way is narrow( the northern portion) and use the additional right of way for parking on the west side. 4. Allowing the residents of Caspers st. to keep their sidewalk on the south side of the street.

      Liquidification, coal dust, fences, slides, etc are all “fluff” issues meant to kill what would be a heritage improvement to Edmonds.


  2. I resent anybody referring to those that disagree with this project as “politically connected to the Council”………….

    and yes! it looks like there were people up in Oso/ Darrington/area that referred to the “hazard” area maps (and the “don’t build there”) as ridiculous (“fluff issues”, you call it) also (see the Seattle Times today, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Everett Herald, etc!)……

    This (Edmonds at rail and Sunset) area IS on the HAZARD area between Seattle and Everett for mudslides according to the Department of Transportation (there is a map that shows our area in red, from Seattle to Everett), and ALSO on the Washington State Seismic Hazard Area map should an earthquake occur. These are SCIENTIFIC FACTS!……Geotechnical reports have been done on this area also and the soil in the past. There is a recent Geological Survey map of ALL the shorelines in the United States eroding away, enough that towns on shorelines are actually bringing in new sand!

    .Living on Sunset ALSO does not give the right of any landowners here on Sunset to have a remodeled corridor all the way from Sunset to the up and coming SALISH CROSSING or Edmonds beach area on taxpayer dollars.

    I just hate it when some people feel they should HAVE DOMINION over ALL that is on our planet, including the very ground we STAND ON. That is the main reason this small planet is where it is right now…..It’s about the FACTS…..SCIENTIFIC FACTS.


  3. I would also like to add that Phil Williams at the last meeting showed a map of downtown Seattle and where the two stadiums were and said that we shouldn’t worry because they BUILT those structures right on the seismic hazard area in Seattle……Well, I would like to say that BILLIONS and BILLIONS have been spent in regards to new structures in the downtown Seattle area to supposedly “earthquake proof” (if that is even possible), we shall see) those buildings……..again, BILLIONS and BILLIONS…….

    I think we’re at a MILLION now on the Sunset Project, and we don’t even KNOW that the land will accomodate it safely

    Just say DOUGH


  4. I keep hearing that more parking spaces will be added later in the design process. Can someone explain to me how that works? It seems to me it’s simple geometry; they either fit or they don’t.


    1. As we know, they will park in adjoining neighborhoods. Folks will just keep driving around the block(s) until a sport opens and then rush to claim the spot. I’m sure we’ve seen such behavior in other beach communities around the country.


  5. Controversies develop on a regular basis in Edmonds.

    Last night Councilmember Strom Peterson disclosed that the idea of creating a walkway along Sunset Walkway was initiated some years ago by a citizen who approached him with the idea. I believe Councilmember Peterson stated that he and former Councilmember Steve Bernheim talked to staff about it, and then pursued funding from the State Government.

    Did the Councilmembers approach City Staff and friends at the State House before they approached a representative sample of Edmonds’ citizens?

    What would have happened if the City’s first response to the single citizen’s idea had been to conduct OBJECTIVE research to see if such a project was NEEDED, a good use of taxpayer money, and desired?

    Why weren’t the citizens, especially those living along Sunset Avenue pulled into the process at a very early date? Why did the City take legislative action via Resolution #1273 on April 17, 2012 to represent to the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) that “We provided appropriate opportunity for public comment on this application”? Was that an accurate representation to the RCO?

    I hope the City of Edmonds will conduct a detailed study of the Sunset Avenue Overlook Public Process. A detailed timeline could be developed to assist the City in efforts to analyze whether the City’s Public Process is proper. Sunset Avenue looks like a great Case Study of a current controversy.

    I hope the Sunset Avenue experience results in Public Process improvements that will be of great benefit to all.


  6. Aside from all the reasons to have or not to have this walk is the fear of the reaction of Burlington Northern. The increase in foot, skateboard, bicycle and handicap access close to the tracks as envisioned by the proposal, makes us worry that safety issues would arise and puts the fear of a fence as a huge determent. In the latest proposal, there is already 150′ of railing 54″ high. Burlington Northern owns the property this project would be built on and I can only imagine having a fence the length of Sunset to obscure our now beautiful scenic corridor. That would spoil the road for residents and visitors alike.


  7. The Edmonds waterfront and massive slide areas like Oso epresent different soil stability conditions altogether. It’s disgraceful and dishonorable to use the Oso tragedy as an excuse to not build a legacy project in an area that doesn’t come close to the conditions or risks that resulted in the Oso slide. Generally, steep slopes along the Edmonds waterfront may exhibit some surficial sloughing of overlying soil over very stable till (like the minor but disruptive mud slides that impact railroad actvities during the winter and spring). However, no major destructive slides have occurred on the Edmonds waterfront in recent memory. Hazardous Area Ordinances are by their very nature conservative, and most “hazardous” conditions can be addressed through competent engineering and environmental design, without harming (and even enhancing and protecting) the natural environment. A safe project, as envisioned, can and should be built along Sunset Avenue. This is a wonderful opportunity to tie the waterfront together for the perpetual enjoyment of our current population and future generations. Don’t kill it with hysteria or pseudo science.

    As for the money…consider it an investment in our collective future. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.


    1. Steve–as a fellow engineer, I, again,applaud your words in response to these folks who neither know nor understand absolutely anything about the technical issues involved with these sorts of projects– whether they’re in planning or conceived in the mind’s eye by anyone in this city. The best that can be said about all this is that we’re all entitled to speak whatever we like about anything and hope that someone else is listening!


  8. I believe those who oppose the Sunset Walkway project deserve the same respect afforded those who favor the project. Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was just the latest indication that many people would not thank their parents or grandparents if this project had been done in the past.

    One improvement that I hope results from this controversial effort to change Sunset Avenue is an improved Public Process. We have a fresh Public Process that can be analyzed. That analysis may be painful, but I strongly support the City doing so. If ethics suggest grant money should be returned, I support voluntarily doing so. This may be an opportunity to build the City’s reputation and related trust.

    Let’s leave a true legacy to our children and grandchildren, significant improvements to the City’s Public Process, from project conception to project completion.


  9. There ya’ go again…

    Trying to justify something that is slide prone….

    Whose pockets are getting lined by this so-called project justified for the greater good?? for the kids, the grand kids, etc…give me a break!

    Competent engineering?? like the ‘competent engineering’ related to the continuous slides along the tracks between Edmonds and Mukilteo?

    Someone is getting rich off of all of the Sunset project…who?

    Will there be future maintenance levies on the Edmonds property owners because of unintended consequences of this Sunset Slide boondoggle?

    …Just asking


  10. Really.?..due to only 1 citizen’s request for this project to 2 council members this idea/project was pursued and moved forward??


  11. RIGHT OF WAY?? EMINENT DOMAIN?? bright orange markings about 18 inches in on private properties on Sunset this morning…….Does this mean the City of Edmonds will now take ownership of the front 18″ of private properties on Sunset Avenue to gain the space needed to ACCOMODATE the Sunset Project? ……..or does this mean something else.

    Clear markings on properties not owned by the City of Edmonds, private properties.

    Does anyone know from the city what those markings mean and who did them, some time between yesterday and this morning? Was this the 18″ Phil Williams was talking about at the meeting?……He certainly didn’t mention a Right of Way or Eminent Domain on private properties as being part of the plan.

    ……Maybe I’m just alarmed, but would like to know. ……..too MANY markings around this town….who knows? NOTHING fully detailed and EXPLAINED…….

    I find it hard to believe that one citizen mentioned this WHOLE thing, and VOILA! the whole planning department, city council, mayor, etc. steps up to the plate (without citizen input) and spends a millions bucks, lettuce, wads, dough, mulah, etc…….I guess nobody got the NAME of this citizen, huh?!

    Can we be DONE with this now, and have it ALL go away, please. Fix the sidewalks and streets around town……..Save a LIFE, put a HALT, SLOW, TAKE IT EASY PAL, CRAWL, etc. sign by where Ms. Bonano was crossing the street on 8th & Walnut (still NOTHING there) and killed, and at other bad spots around town……..Can we stop the work at Five Corners and the $$$ 4 million that will be spent (oh hey, we have grants! we know how to get ’em), and and spend a SMALL amount $$$ SOLVING the STILL UNSOLVED OPEN 38 year old murder case of my 15 year old sister, Allison Nakashima whose body was dumped right there at Five Corners in 1976, Can we STOP the “Slanted Eye” marijuana retail shop (license applied for) that has an address right around the corner from my house? Can we use our $$$ to put some more law enforcement on the streets NOW to get the speeders,, etc. …….So MANY other NEEDED projects, wouldn’t you say?!…….Can we VOTE EARLY!? this time around …..What kind of city do we really want here?….The government, staff, etc. of our city works FOR us, not the other way around. It is in the Wash. State Constitution


  12. Transparency/ Open Government FOIA……Attorney General Bob Ferguson for the State Of Washington TODAY

    “March 27, 2014

    Attorney General’s open government bill signed into law

    Requires training for thousands of public officials to improve transparency and reduce lawsuits

    OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bill to strengthen Washington state’s open government laws by requiring training for public officials was signed into law today by Governor Jay Inslee with strong bipartisan support. The law takes effect July 1, 2014”


  13. I think the solution is to discuss it for six more years, until then good folks on Sunset form a militia, and revolt by secession. After constructing a concrete barrier decorated by local artisans, they will sing their new anthem, “Not in My Backyard, No Way, No How, Never, Never, Never”. I am not saying that Council hasn’t contributed to this issue, but 15 or 20 homeowners are limiting the entire population from having a safe, attractive alternative to enjoy PUBLIC PROPERTY. Geez, the view that nothing should be done is exactly what is happening, except that city employees and council are wasting their time placating a select few. Pick a plan, build then plan.


  14. The more I think about this, the more bothered I get. Let’s talk about the Hazards in Edmonds:

    1. Tsunami
    2. Landslide
    3. Public Mobs, Violence, Earthquakes
    4. Not enough parking
    5. Claire’s runs out of bean soup.

    For years I have lived in Edmonds, quietly enjoying the benefits of a city that takes a proactive role in not just preserving a welcome piece of small town Americana, but does its best to bring progress in a controlled and responsible way. This issue, for me, is a catalyst to speak up to the NIMBY complex that thrives in this community.

    First – let me say, it would be good for the folks on Sunset to unite in fighting something that involves the entire community. Try Coal Trains. Fighting a sidewalk that beautifies a street, reeks of selfish personal interest. The thinly veiled approach that you are speaking up for “the safety of the poor folks who are going to perish in the next great landslide” is weak. Asking Edmonds to halt development so they can find the killer of your sister is abhorrent. (I apologize for your loss, but the sidewalk has nothing to do with it).

    Let’s talk about funding:

    The study was a grant. It is not costing the taxpayer an additional nickel – that grant would have been offered to another city, and they would have gladly accepted the funding. I am pleased that the City Manager took a proactive role in securing funds that would, for most cities, been missed, because of their lack of attention in drawing funds in to supplement the budget. That is a moot point. Edmonds does act in a fiscally responsible way. For Pete’s sake – I watched council debate for thirty minutes on whether to increase the budget for watering the play fields last summer – and now you are accusing them of being incompetent money grubbing unethical thieves? It would take them years to agree on how to waste the money – so rest assured on that one.

    Let’s talk about Five Corners –

    As much as I love pulling up to five corners, and watching three octagenarians stare at each other until all three decide to go at the same time, I am happy to see a traffic calming device being placed in a key component and entry to Edmonds. Why should only the downtown parks get beautification? Shouldn’t this access to Edmonds be afforded a welcoming (for businesses, residents, and vistors alike) a well-planned and scenic entry into the City? Of course it should. To say “Hey, let’s not spend the money there, those residents and tax payers in Edmonds don’t deserve it – but us folks down here in the bowl, we deserve better sidewalks and flower baskets and a funicular to get us up the hill on Main Street” is outrageous and offensive to the rest of us plain folk who happen to live “up the hill”.

    Let’s talk about the sidewalk on Sunset –

    The City Council has, and probably to some degree its own machinations, allowed itself to be paralyzed by their internal conflicts (I keep hearing about the retreat that is going to increase their ability to communicate) – but this project is designed to benefit the Public – on Public Property. It is designed to make Edmonds a walkable community with access to one its most beautiful assets. The argument that people present of safety and landslides is moot, and the argument that 20 residents put forward is even more reason to put a well planned, well designed access point for all of Edmonds and our visitors to enjoy. The City Employees have worked diligently with PROFESSIONALS AND WITH PROFESSIONALISM (even though I am sure that they know once it hits council it is going to go through the washing machine of indecision and conceit), to design a project that is going to keep Edmonds moving forward – instead of a muddy grassy bluff, that at current, does nothing for the city. I could understand the angst if the city were going to plant trees that would hamper the view – but they are not. I would understand if the city were going to install neon signs, but they are not. The city is maximizing its assets to keep it a vibrant community.

    Let’s talk about lining pockets –

    I have worked around city governments for years. To assume that the Council is unethical, or the folks at the City are “getting rich” is absolutely ridiculous. The last time I checked, no one takes a job at a small enclave in Washington so they can line their pockets. I respect many of the folks at the city and the work that they ATTEMPT to do for the ENTIRE city – I get a kick out of watching Council meetings every Tuesday as someone comes in with another reason to hamper smart development and beautification. The fantastic thing about Edmonds is that there is a city council that is active – even though the dislike and disdain they have for one another is apparent in the weekly meetings (maybe I am wrong about this, but that’s just the take I get when I watch them attempt to work through an issue) – and the community is active. Edmonds does wonders for small businesses, Edmonds preseves the culture and is vibrant, Edmonds, whether it wants to or not, is going to move forward – and so far, has done so in an overwhelmingly postiive way.

    Let’s talk about Legal Marijuana Stores –

    There are 48 other States in the Union that don’t allow it. My recommendation is if you are that opposed to responsible distribution of Marijuana, move to my old neighborhood in Chicago, and that way there will be no legal vendors who are regulated selling a product to consenting adults. Instead, you just get to watch the industrious folks who stand on the corner (I think it is just to soak up the weather) and talk to lots of different people all day long.

    At some point in time – it is time to stop talking –

    This project is a good project for the greater good of the community. It is a well-planned and overthought project that does not put any more lives in danger. It will enhance the appeal and look of the downtown area, and, aside from the benefits it provides to bikers, children, walkers, visitors, and others, it will present the image that Edmonds wants to present – a vibrant community with intelligent planning decisions that reflect well on the community as a whole.


  15. Mr. Bennett – Are you sure that this proposed project is all located on “PUBLIC PROPERTY”? Does your definition of “PUBLIC PROPERTY” include property that the City may acquire in the future to expand the right of way along Sunset Avenue? Does your definition of public property include land owned by BNSF?

    During the July 19, 2011 City Council meeting, former Student Representative Peter Gibson asked Public Works Director Phil Williams whether the project was funded via a grant. Mr. Williams answered grant funding was anticipated in the future to complete the design, any right-of-way acquisition and construction. Does the City intend to pursue right-of-way acquisition and/or Condemnation along portions of Sunset Avenue? If so, should the related details have been represented to the public in an Open and Transparent fashion from the start of this process?

    Yesterday afternoon I discovered that a Boundary Line Adjustment had been recorded recently at Snohomish County, Recording # 201402205005. I am fairly certain that the recorded document indicates that between 3.2’ and 4.5’ of the existing concrete sidewalk is located on private property on the western portion of these 2 PRIVATE lots. It appears that the owners of this private property have graciously allowed the public to use their PRIVATE PROPERTY for years to enjoy the wonderful views and walking experience along Sunset Avenue. Do you find this gracious sharing of their private property consistent with your so called NIMBY complex?

    Are there other Citizens along Sunset Avenue who have also shared their private property, and if so – why hasn’t the City of Edmonds disclosed this right from the start? Several drawings were displayed on the overhead projector during the March 25th City Council Meeting. I believe the drawings represented that the STREET ROW ended east of the existing sidewalk. Why would the city represent such if it knew this not to be the case in front of at least these two lots and possibly others? Of course, these drawings weren’t posted to the City’s website in advance of the March 25th City Council Meeting so the public could be PREPARED to comment the evening of March 25th. They still aren’t available as of this morning – the related information has not been updated since March 4th.

    Finally, can you support your comment that 15 or 20 homeowners are limiting the entire population from having a safe, attractive alternative to enjoy PUBLIC PROPERTY. Where did you get your information that only 15 or 20 homeowners do not want Sunset Avenue to be changed? My observation is that opposition to this project is growing as more details are discovered by the public at large. The March 25th City Council meeting was just the latest example of this.

    Mr. Bennett, I respect your right to your opinion that this is a good project for the greater good of the community. Please respect those who have a different opinion as their opinion is equal in value to yours.


    1. Ken,

      I am terribly respectful of the opinion of the community. I am not the one bringing up dead people, landslides, and all other possible low probability event to protect a front yard.

      If the city needs to condemn, then condemn. If the fine folks of Sunset have gone out of their way to donate to the city, out of the goodness of their hearts, we thank them. I tend to believe its more out of not knowing, but hey, I respect that ignorance or knowledge sometimes lead to good things.

      My point is simple. If you look at the majority of the comments and the opposition to this project, and plot it on a map, where do you think they live? If I formed an argument by saying my dead uncle hates trees, therefore Edmonds should have no trees, it would be insulting to your intelligence, right? If I believed cars were the devils tool, and opened a horse and buggy shop, I would go broke, correct?

      1. This project has not killed anybody

      2. There is a large group of people who think smart development is good to preserve and grow a community.

      3. A city cannot expect to attract a strong tax base in both business and residents if the city does nothing to make it appealing or sticks with a horse and buggy mentality.

      I am observing that local support for many projects gets trampled on in Edmonds by a vocal few who want to preserve something that is gone, and I see support growing for this project, and the voice of the consistent NIMBY Naysayers turning into the sound of Charlie Brown’s mom on the phone. I observe this just as you “observe” opposition growing.

      As far as being prepared, this has been an item now for about two years. How long should it take you to prepare? Should the City give you more time to prepare or less time to prepare. The city didn’t surprise anyone. Just because it gets closer to reality does not mean the city didn’t provide notice, it just means no one was paying attention until it ended up in their backyard.


  16. Maybe the citizen who requested this pr

    Maybe the citizen who made the initial request for this project to 2 council members would be inclined to comment on why he proposed this capital improvement.


  17. Mr. Bennett, you state the following:

    “If the city needs to condemn, then condemn.” I agree, there are times when the City NEEDS to condemn, and the ability to take property via condemnation is a very important City right.

    However, when there is no “NEED”, I oppose condemnation efforts. Before I can continue analyzing whether or not I support the Sunset Avenue Walkway, I need to know if it will involve condemnation and the related details. An open and transparent government should provide this type of information to the public BEFORE asking the public if it would support a certain project.

    The Sunset Avenue Walkway is a “WANT”, if that. I have seen nothing during my research that adequately supports the concept that the public even WANTS this project. Furthermore, as stated above, I don’t think enough information has EVER been provided the public to enable the public to make an educated decision on whether or not they would support such a project.

    Making it worse, the City has made the following two representations during the grant application process:

    Representation A made to the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) via Resolution #1273 on April 17, 2012: “We provided appropriate opportunity for public comment on this application.” Was that an accurate representation to the RCO?

    Representation B was made sixteen (16) months later, on Aug. 26, 2013. The City of Edmonds submitted another grant application, which represented the following to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC):
    “Public comment was received at a meeting held on April 11, 2012, and followed up with written survey results that were collected April 25, 2012. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with all respondents supporting the concept of a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility in this corridor.”

    Later in the document, the City of Edmonds also stated: “To date, there have been no negative comments recorded.”

    As I said yesterday, I hope this controversial effort to change Sunset Avenue helps bring about an improved Public Process. If ethics suggest grant money should be returned, I support voluntarily doing so. This may be an opportunity to BUILD the City’s reputation and related trust.

    Let’s leave a true legacy to our children and grandchildren, significant improvements to the City’s Public Process, from project conception to project completion.


    1. All of this information is available on the Council website. All of the public comments are noted in the meeting minutes. To paint this as a “back office smoke-filled room decision” is a poor choice. Obviously, you are well-informed because of the transparency of the council – or you have an insider feeding you these resolutions.

      I agree 100% with transparency and ethical approaches to any business or government venture – profit or non-profit – I also agree with leaving a legacy of transparent, open government.

      I could not agree with you more – but how many years do you or anybody else need – the public information is, and has been available. I am not even that good with the Interweb, and found it.

      I further agree that there needs to be an improved Public Process – start with electing approved Council Members – or severaly chastising council members who took 27 votes to agree on a replacement council member. The public process is alive and well in the Edmonds Council – what is not alive and well is the ability to make a decision after exhaustive hearings, review, committee, retreats, additional public comment, and expense is put out there.

      I respect the opinion and research that you have done – I don’t agree with it, but you bring up points that we can both agree on – whether for or against the project. I don’t need to cite all of the resolutions, or restate the council minutes – they are available to anyone who takes the time to read them.

      With that being said, I do not see this being an instance where transparency has been an issue – it is just now a controversy because a select group of people don’t want folks on “their” streets, in “their” parking spaces, or in “their” very unique and special community within Edmonds. The public comments elude to that, the grapsing for dire circumstances such as death by landslide, car accidents, BNSF closing their land to Edmonds, etc etc etc elude to that, and most of all, the fact that this horse has been beaten dead years ago eludes to that.

      The fact that we are posting here means that the process is doing something right – sending demands to the City Engineer does nothing – you can demand, complain, stomp your feet, but I think the majority of folks and the council are not going to browbeat Phil Williams – he is a great asset to the City, and does a fine job in the tasks at hand.


  18. Hi Melissa,

    In an email dated January 22, 2014, Phil Williams represented to me that paper surveys were passed out to perhaps a dozen people at a public meeting held on April 11, 2012. Through the public record request process, I have been provided what appears to be the only 4 responses made to these paper surveys. The 4 surveys are not dated or signed.

    Mr. Williams also stated that the survey was subsequently placed on the City’s website and that the City emailed 10,000 people in Edmonds asking them to respond. Mr. Williams said that over 300 people clicked on the survey and about 150 people responded. (Note: My Edmonds News also posted a link to the survey on April 24, 2012)

    I have obtained these online survey results also. What I was provided is very hard to read but it looks like 138 or 139 people responded, the earliest on April 23, 2012 and the latest 5 days later on April 27, 2012.

    I’ve looked at the survey questions closely and my OPINION is that it was not properly designed to find out if there was public support for the project. It starts off by stating that the City PLANS to re-purpose the existing right-of-way along Sunset Avenue and then asks the following questions:

    1. What is your opinion of this project?
    2. How could this project help your business?
    3. What amenities would you like to see?
    4. How would you use the trail?
    5. How frequently do you think you would use a “linear park” in this location on Sunset Avenue?
    6. How would you rate the following amenities in order of importance if budget would allow their inclusion in this project?
    a. Low level, bollard type lighting for the walkway only
    b. Artistic concrete surface for the walkway
    c. Public artwork along the trail
    d. Benches
    7. Are you willing to write a letter of support for this project? If so, please mail to the following address by April 25, 2012
    Phil Williams
    Sunset Avenue Overlook
    7110 210th St., SW
    Edmonds, WA 98026

    There is also a space for additional comments at the bottom.


  19. I would also like to add that somewhere in the paper-work for the project, it lists “RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL” I had wondered what the “commercial” meant, as this is a residential street. What does “commercial” mean to the city?

    Regarding us that KNOW nothing and “hysteria” comments by those closely aligned with business here in Edmonds (some forever) that could have a conflict of interest, maybe……certainly happens a lot here. …..articles in Wall Street journal today about permits, etc. given out in areas that are/could be hazard/disaster area, and why this happened (Oso)

    TWO of my lifelong closest friends (one now deceased as of recently), Kenichi Nakano….. were landscape architects working with Richard Haag and Associates on the famous Gas Works Park in Seattle way back when and the ideas for this park were modernist and minimalist ideals at that time and ecologically minded……..I walked that stretch of landscape many times with these two landscape architects before the project was complete……”minimalist” being a key word here…….and this special landscape architecture project is known and famous all over the world now. I have also seen many, many landscape drawings. The drawings I have seen with the Sunset Project make the rail tracks look like they are quite a ways away from the bluff/cliff edge, and one of the first things I noticed with the drawing presented to the public at the meeting in December was that the grass/land section from the curb was scribbled quite a ways up the drawing and actually made it LOOK like there was more land mass than there actually is between the western street curb and the actual edge of the bluff/cliff. That appeared to me (hey, I’m 65, what do I know?!) to be a misrepresentation of the small amount of land that is actually at that edge. Also, at the recent meeting, a large photograph was up on the screen (with ALL photographs and drawings BLURRY) that is south of Edmonds street (not the area most contested by people) that showed cars parked bumper to bumper (usually happens late in afternoon on weekends when people park to go to the two bars on Main street) and what looked like a CROWD of people standing on that little section of land next to the cars…….This certainly was not representative of normal conditions……I’ve been here 4 years walking numerous times every day/night and have NEVER seen that right there or anywhere up Sunset…..

    I would like some of the people here in this town to quit referring to anybody that disagrees with their development ideas or is older, as just having fallen off the TURNIP TRUCK. It is insulting, and at the very least, MEAN spirited and just not nice.


  20. I wish all the people who keep saying the residents of Sunset don’t want other people or outside cars on “our” street would listen to what we are saying. The hundreds of cars that park daily on Sunset now or the hundreds of people who walk here daily now are not related to any of us. Are you trying to say we, the residents, are the only ones who walk up and down the street and it is only our cars that are parking out front? Maybe you need to spend some more time down here and quit putting words in our mouths. Listen to the “real” reasons we don’t think it is a good idea.


    1. I am trying to hear those reasons. So far, I have not. What are they? I have read and respectively posed the question, but get no actionable responsible answers other than don’t call me old, respect my opinion, and people’s lives are at stake. What are the tangible reasons for not doing this project? What are the benefits and downfalls to the entire city population? I spend inordinate amounts of time in the Downtown of Edmonds, and love this city. I applaud the efforts of council to focus on key areas of concentrated business in Five Corners, Westgate, Downtown and 99 Corridor. I also applaud them in balancing the difficult task of strengthening the tax base and not letting all of Edmonds (with exception to those in the bowl), become a vision less extension of Lynnwood or MLT. Downtown needs to think differently, act appropriately, and continue making all parts of Edmonds a viable community for businesses and residences alike. Sunset development is part of that. When I see a list of good reasons, I tend to agree. When I see emotional ploys and attacks, I respectfully disagree.

      I would like to know how a person who owns two homes in Florida, one in Edmonds, is based out of Chicago could possibly have ties to business in Edmonds. I come to Edmonds because I love the community. As far as any age, sex, creed, religion, sexual orientation, race, or your shoe size is concerned, I frankly don’t care about that either.

      What I do care about us having a place that has undergone smart development in thirty years. I want my three children to come to Edmonds, and find a community that provides what they need. I cannot see any reason why not to clean up Sunset and capitalize on the asset that Edmonds has.

      I also do not see, by any stretch, any unethical, back room deals being conducted by council.

      So give me the reasons. I promise, I am objective, and see absolutely nothing presented that would not come up in the normal course of a public project along or within railroad right of way.


  21. Mr. Bennett – Resolutions are available on the City’s website. Here is a link to Resolution # 1273 that I was able to easily find on my own:

    Please take the time to read the Resolution in full. The representation is clearly made that “We provided appropriate opportunity for public comment on this application.”

    The related April 17, 2012 City Council Meeting minutes document that a citizen commented: “he has a number of friends who live on Sunset Avenue and he did not think they were informed of the opportunity to speak to the Council tonight.” He requested a formal public hearing to allow the neighborhood to be involved.

    After Public comments were closed, the next thing in the April 17, 2012 is the following:

    “Mayor Earling relayed there is a May 1 deadline to apply for RCO Grants.”


  22. So – here it is 2014 – and you still need more time? How much more time? To objectively do what? To keep saying council did it wrong? You have had between 11 and two years based on the story you believe – I respect your research, and cannot agree more with the items you point out about transparent government – what about a responsible and engaged public? They did what they were supposed to do, and legally required to do – and now you want a few more years to think about it. Come on – in my world of accounting, finance, business, and operations, we would politely and respectfully say, “Thank you very much for the items you have brought to the table. With that being said, let’s move on.” – because there is not a viable alternative presented – just finger pointing and complaining. I am not saying this in a disrespectful way – just that you keep going back to “they did it wrong” – and you have not posted anything (other than to keep asking the city for more public records and requests) to propose a solution that the council can take action on. So the mayor applied for a grant – big deal – you have had two years to build a case and an argument against the park – and the best thing the citizens of Edmonds get is Landslides and Railroads and a waste of city employees time, and a question to the ethics of the council. That’s why I am so piped up about it. Edmonds has difficult decisions to make for the entire population, and a VERY VERY VERY Small group of people are wasting my tax dollars in obstructionist, non-constructive ways. I still do not see one reason, one alternative, one negative consequence for this intelligent and smart project –

    That’s enough here. I imagine that the 7 elected officials on the Council will back into a corner, and 4 of them will say “we need more time to think about it” and waste more time and money thinking and sending city salaried employees on goose chases.

    I normally don’t waste my time on arguments that are circular in nature – but this is about the community my family lives in, and I have chosen to be home, it is high time that someone actually asked this small minority to get a grip and learn compromise is not everyone else backing off, and letting a group of folks feel like they own the joint – they don’t – that’s why it is a community.


  23. I’m amazed that anyone would claim that they haven’t heard at least some of the reasons. Following is a partial list.
    1. No reliable evidence that supports the public wants this project. Strom Peterson stated Tuesday that the process originated when one citizen approached him with the idea.
    2. The project is not needed. Sunset Avenue has worked great as it is for decades and is deeply loved by many Edmonds’ citizens. I would opine that it is a legacy area already, one that should not be changed unless there is a true NEED for change.
    3. Stewardship of public funds. Why should money be prioritized to re-purpose Sunset Avenue when so many true NEEDS exist, such as for traffic calming along streets such as Walnut Avenue between 9th and 7th? Why was $16,000 moved from Traffic Calming to Sunset Avenue via budget amendment on November 15, 2011?
    4. The street as currently configured is plenty wide enough for the Fire Department’s required 20 feet and for residents to get in and out of their driveways without parked cars blocking their views.
    5. The uniqueness of being able to pull right up to the edge and witness a spectacular view from one’s vehicle should be appreciated. I drove down to Sunset at lunch time today. There was more demand for parking spots today than there were spots available. The number of people enjoying the area from their vehicles greatly exceeded those outside. Sunset is a treasured destination of all types of people who desire the unique opportunity to enjoy a great experience from their vehicles.
    6. Significant portions of the property may be PRIVATE property.
    7. No public disclosure related to whether or not condemnation will be necessary and the related details.
    8. Environmental/soil condition uncertainty and BNSF uncertainty. Realistic concerns related to the recent cost explosion at Haines Wharf Park. I believe that project started out early in the planning phase as a $140,000 item and ended up costing well over $3,000,000.


  24. One of my concerns is the cost..what is it? and how does it fit into the overall City’s budget and priorities… Was that presented to the citizens taking the survey?… and I sure don’t want another Haines Wharf Park fiasco!!

    And I’m still waiting for the citizen who first presented this to two council members to comment.


  25. I will answer your concerns one at a time:

    1. Opinion. Survey says otherwise.
    2. Opinion.
    3. Opinion.
    4. Based in fact. The alternatives take this into account.
    5. The uniqueness of the car sitting remains the same. Like I said in an earlier post, “Edmonds – A great place to park and watch life go by” is a great tagline for the city.
    6. Significant portions may be indian burial ground, may be full of gold, may be anything – that’s not an argument.
    7. Opinion.
    8. My guess is that you are not a geologist, and if you are, have not conducted soil samples, surveys, etc to determine the safety of the bluff and soil conditions. If you are, and you have, I apologize- if not, supposition and opinion.

    So far we one, possibly 2 of 8 arguments that are based in fact, and that has been accounted for in the alternatives. The straight in parking still has a place. 20 feet is 20 feet.

    Sorry, not convinced of any fact. Convinced that 6 of the 8 arguments against are your opinion.

    A fact is –

    Council has been talking about this for a number of years.

    Council presented alternatives.

    Council has allowed the public to discuss and comment.

    Council has a decision to make.

    Those are facts. The rest – pure, unadulterated supposition and obstructionism.


  26. Please identify where I said I need more time. More time for what? My main point has been a discussion of Public Process.
    My opinion is that the most viable option is to halt planning and return the grant money to the PSRC. My opinion is simply that, one citizen’s opinion which is no more valuable than any other citizen’s opinion.
    You accuse others of finger pointing and complaining. Aren’t you pointing at what you refer to as a very small group of people who you accuse of wasting tax dollars in obstructionist, non-constructive ways. I believe all citizens are entitled to voice their opinion, no matter where they live, even those who live along Sunset Avenue.


    1. We agree on that point. What I see is effective public process underway. I don’t see any area where it has followed or created a course to keep public out of the process. It is working so well, that I actually am compelled to comment.


  27. I have been ambivalent about this project, and probably leaning toward opposing it, until listening to Phil’s presentation at this week’s city council meeting. The following opening statement, and photos, caught my attention:

    “Public Works Director Phil Williams explained several questions were raised at the March 4 meeting as well as requests for a more complete list of options. Reasons for this project include maximizing view access, improve safety for all travel modes and provide accessibility. He displayed photographs of the view from the west edge of Sunset Avenue, of people walking in the street and a bicycle riding the wrong way on Sunset Avenue to illustrate safety issues, and of the dirt path on the west side of the curb to illustrate accessibility issues.”

    I finally realized that while the existing situation there may be suitable for walking by my wife and I, it really is unsafe for the many people who come there using walkers or wheelchairs and are forced into using the street because the sidewalk is too narrow and the surface too uneven. That could be remedied by constructing a new and wider sidewalk on the east side, but that does not provide the much better view available on the west side. I hope that city council will support Phil’s proposal.


  28. I agree with Mr. Reidy that the grant money should be returned to the PSRC. I believe this is ALL under the Federal Highway Administration (when all is said and done) and I have read the criteria regarding getting FEDERAL grant money. It does not appear that the guidelines have been followed for the Sunset Project or the Five Corners Project in regards to respective grants. This is where my mention of the Five Corners Project comes in to this also.

    I believe there are entities that can really use these GRANTS for what they are actually clearly for and when there is a real need…….THAT is the whole idea of FEDERAL GRANTS!… honest NEED.

    We are the taxpayers paying these grants…..They’re not free $$$$ falling out of the sky.



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