Edmonds Planning Board to hold public hearing Wednesday, May 28 on future development of Westgate

Citizens had an opportunity to share their thoughts on Westgate with UW students in January 2011.

Citizens had an opportunity to share their thoughts on Westgate development with UW students in January 2011.

The Edmonds Planning Board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, on a proposed plan and form-based code aimed at guiding future commercial and mixed-use development in the Westgate commercial area, located near the intersection of SR-104 (Edmonds Way) and 100th Avenue West.

The idea behind form-based code is to develop neighborhoods according to physical form rather than by defining separate uses, as conventional zoning calls for. As a result, form and mass of buildings are regulated in relationship to one another and to the streets and blocks they are on. You can view an illustrated example of how form-based codes compare to traditional zoning here.

This is the third public hearing by the Planning Board on this project, which was initiated by the Edmonds City Council at the request of the Edmonds Economic Development Commission. The city worked with a design team from the University of Washington that included students from the undergraduate Community, Environment, and Planning program and graduate students in urban planning, landscape architecture and architecture.

The first public meetings took place in January 2011, and those were followed in March 201l by a design workshop (or charrette) to engage the public, business and property owners, and the local design community in exploring more specific design options. Results were presented at another public meeting in April of that year. In addition to the public meetings and workshops, the project included presentations to city officials, research on form-based codes, production of final conceptual designs, and preparation of a report with recommendations for implementation.

The Planning Board’s review of the Westgate plan and form-based code began in 2012. Since then, there have been a number of meetings and public presentations, including an Edmonds City Council presentation on July 23, 2013 and two Planning Board public hearings on Sept. 12, 2012 and March 14, 2014. You can read more background here. 

According to the meeting agenda:

With this long project history, and the substantial review that has followed, there have of course been changes from what the original UW team proposed. The most significant changes include several key items:

1. The overall plan provides for opportunities while not mandating that new development conform rigidly to certain minimum building heights or insisting that all buildings be pushed up against sidewalk lines. Nonetheless, open space and amenity space is still required, as well as pedestrian and non-motorized circulation within each of the four quadrants of the Westgate commercial area. The general emphasis of the plan has changed from buildings organized around the SR-104/100th Ave W intersection to a quadrant-based system which focuses on creating circulation, buildings and spaces within each of the four quadrants formed by the intersection.

2. Instead of allowing development of up to 5 stories, buildings are now capped in most places at 3 stories, with an opportunity to obtain 4 stories only where the nearby slopes are higher, or where no residences are nearby. In some locations with no adjacent slopes, heights are limited to two stories.

3. Street setbacks have been increased from the original 8 feet to 12 feet to provide a wider street interface and to assure that, if needed, turn pockets can be provided for traffic access.

4. The intersection of SR-104 and 100th Ave W has a significant step-back requirement radiating from the intersection, to assure that a sense of place is provided at this key intersection.

A transportation analysis, looking at potential traffic impacts if development occurred according to the plan, was completed in 2013. The study indicated that traffic level of service would not be degraded (see Attachment 3). Since this study was done when buildings were being allowed at up to five stories, the current plan capping heights at 2-to-4 stories reduces traffic impacts even further, since the overall level of development is substantially reduced by 18 to 20%.

You can view the complete agenda including attachments here.

The Planning Board will be making a recommendation to the City Council; the Council will have its own hearing before the process is concluded.

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28 Comments

  1. Standard building code addresses only distinctions in land-use type.

    Whereas form -based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks.

    If the development being proposed is an increase in density than it’s a distinction without a difference at best.

    What does the neighborhood of Westgate care if the development is form-based or not if it brings more taller condos, cars, congestion and confusion.

    Edmonds Planning Board will hold a public hearing Wednesday night on a proposed plan and for future commercial and mixed-use development in the Westgate neighborhood.

    The City Council voted (Petso voted no) to target the Westgate neighborhood for more commercial and taller condos density.

    You don’t have to guess, Council is on record to build more in Westgate.

    Building commercial and more condos to existing code is one thing but Wesgate neighborhood is being told that because it’s “form-based” development they should accept taller and more condos, cars, congestion and confusion.

  2. This news release prompted me to attend the meeting. However, I have three questions.

    The announcement states that the meeting will be held on “Wednesday.” Which Wednesday?

    What time will the meeting be?

    Where will the meeting be?

    I assume that Myedmondsnews simply forwarded the information from the city, and I appreciate the prompt to attend.

    • The meeting is at 7 p.m. and it’s tonight, May 28 in the Council Chambers.

  3. Most most people in pleasant communities like Edmonds understandably don’t like the idea of more density. But they also don’t like the idea of losing even more of our region’s already threatened world class forests and farmlands to more urban sprawl. All of us also want a healthy economy, good jobs and affordable housing for ourselves and our children. The state Growth Management Act requires all the cities and counties in our region to make balanced choices and some tradeoffs to keep our communities vibrant and livable. Our region is going to continue to grow and the GMA requires Edmonds to take its fair share of its future growth.

    The next round of growth sharing decisions for the upcoming 20 year planning period are now beginning. Westgate is one of the best of a limited set of options we have to accommodate some of this added growth that Edmonds must accept. Under the law we can’t just say no. The Planning Board is doing a great job of trying to accommodate this growth in the most responsible ways possible.

    If you have suggestions for a better place to accommodate this growth you need to inform the planning board soon. Goodluck, since a slim majority of the City Council has taken one of the most logical places for a reasonable share of that growth, the old town bowl, almost completely off the table. And if already developed commercial areas like Westgate and the central bowl aren’t allowed to take Edmonds’ growth share, ultimately, the Council might have to approve higher densities in single family neighborhoods that don’t have the political clout that folks in the bowl apparently do. I am certainly not in favor of even more just over your back fence mega houses in my neighborhood.

  4. Mr. Derickson makes a most important point.

    However, Edmonds meets all growth management targets for population. He suggest we can’t say no.

    Yes Edmonds can say no.

    Anyone is welcome to development within the existing code.

    What is being considered at Westgate is more development of taller condos outside of code.

    No one has a right to build outside the standards of existing code.

    The average population density of a suburban city is 2,500 people per square mile. Edmonds density is about 4,500 per square mile.

    Edmonds is already the seventh most dense city in Washington State.

    Mr. Derickson is suggesting Edmonds has to take more growth – even growth of taller condos that are outside of what the code allows.

    Why, why does Edmonds have to have taller condos.

    Ask Council President Buckshnis. She has acknowledge Edmonds is meeting growth management targets.

    Therefore, Mr. Derickson makes a point about state law and growth management; however, Edmonds is meeting the standards and therefore there is no reason for more densification in Edmonds.

    No reason for more taller condos, cars, congestion and confusion.

    I am open and willing to consider any documentation that Mr. Derickson or anyone else that can prove Edmonds is not meeting all state standards for growth.

    • My understanding is that Mr. Plunkett is correct when he says that Edmonds has met GMA (Growth Management Act) population requirements. But that’s the past. Our population grew steadily in the 70’s and the 80’s; growth accelerated in the 90’s. Growth slowed in the 2000’s, and then the population started to actually decline around 2005. The peak was 40,241 in 2005. It dropped to 39,800 in 2011; the most recent available number.

      The State says that we must grow by 5,000 between now and 2025. Since there is little or no open space in Edmonds, our population requirement can only be met by increasing density. And that can only be achieved by more multi-family projects. Not surprising, that’s primarily how past mandated population growth was accomplished.

  5. Edmonds HAS met the STANDARDS!!………To say it doesn’t is simply NOT TRUE……

    Let’s spend what money we have on foundation items (streets, sidewalks, signage, police, inspectors, clean air, sustainability, etc.)…..and let’s not WASTE anymore government time on projects that would only make money and business for a select few……THIS has been going on for many, many years and continues……EVERYTHING isn’t about development and people using the City of Edmonds as their CASH COW………

    EVERYTHING starts at the top, so remember THIS when you VOTE next time.

    HONESTY, INTEGRITY and FAIRNESS should be HALLMARKS of the City of Edmonds and we NEED to get THERE! THAT is what will bring GOOD BUSINESS to Edmonds……..This is an intelligent, smart, creative city and we can get there and be LAW ABIDING at the SAME TIME!……

  6. In this case it does make it true. The State has certified that Edmonds meets growth Managenent standards. Therefore the city council has no reason to allow condos to be taller than existing code. No need for more taller condos, cars, congestion and confusion in Westgate neighborhood.

  7. I remember those contentious neighborhood public planning meetings (Westgate, Five Corners, Perrinville) we had several years ago that was put on by the City. The City was pushing high density living in tall buildings. The ideas for growth and tall buildings were hashed out with the voice of the public well heard at that time. Enforce the current codes and zoning. What has changed? Who in the City government is lending a receptive ear to this latest sales pitch? Just because someone wants to live on the moon doesn’t mean we all have to accommodate that person(s) does it?

    Although a dead horse, the focus on growth should be businesses not how many people can be crammed into a square mile. Tax revenues are greater with fewer burdens on the aging infrastructure when growing commerce in my opinion.

    Also, the GMA was to provide a guideline on how an area should grow by setting minimum planned growth guidelines. The GMA has no addition requirement to increase growth beyond meeting the lower threshold of the standards. Locals that don’t meet the goals are potentially penalized by the State by reducing the amount of funds returned to a jurisdiction. That may be an option for Woodway, for instance, but it is not an option for Edmonds to do without State funds. Edmonds has not been penalized by the State to the best of my knowledge and has been most prudent in meeting the GMA.

    Meet the goals by building with existing codes/zoning, stay out of the stacking box business and promote business growth.

  8. EASY to figure out the people in our government lending a “receptive” ear to the sales pitch……It only takes a little bit of research to figure that out……It’s so obvious

  9. Tere ,It isnt so obvious to me so could you please be a little more specific

  10. Edmonds does not need more density to meet present or future growth projections.

    As Council President Buckshins wrote, ” We will definitely meet our targets,” Note the future tense.

    We meet present and projected to meet future growth projections without more density. Existing land-use and pace of future housing will meet state standards.

    Council has no reason to force more taller condos into the Westgate neighborhood. Building within existing code is all Edmonds needs.

    • We may meet our targets, but it cannot be achieved without increasing density. By definition, more people in a given piece of geography is an increase in density.

  11. 5000 more people in 10 years, 500 per year, that’s about 200 new households per year. We need some intelligent discussion of where we want those 5000 people to live. It may be nice to think we can wall off the city and preserve it as is it today but is that practical? 60-70% of the people favored added density in 5 corners, Westgate, 99, Perinville when responding to the questions in the Strategic Plan. So let’s start to some intelligent planning. Done correctly we can have development that adds people and adds other amenities at the same time. It also increases the tax base and reduces the pressure for new taxes.

  12. This city has been on the development trajectory for 30 plus years that I see from my research………and yet we still do not have the funds we need for basics……That is because this type of development only rewards the few…………..THAT is so obvious……the rhetoric is also the SAME as 30 years ago……The citizens are not stupid…….Y oh guys WORK FOR US for what WE NEED and that is not MORE of the same

  13. The actual growth targets for Edmonds, confirmed by Rob Chave, are 121 dewelling units for the next 20 years.
    Therefore, council has no reason to allow development above and beyond existing development code. Existing code can and does allow for sufficient development to meet growth targets. Why would Council increase density in neighbordoods when simply following the present code is sufficient. It’s not a question of no growth
    ( point taken Ron) the question is densification above and beyond which can not be justified. No need for more densification with taller condos,more cars, more congestion and more confusion.
    No need for the Westgate neighborhood to take more and taller density that existing code allows.

  14. I need to be clear that’s 121 per year for next 20. Edmonds has responsibility to have this capacity. Which under existing land-use policies Edmonds has capacity within existing code framwork. All commercial/ multi family and residential zones have capacity for 121 units a year. In fact any one commercialilto family zone has capacity for 121 units for 20 years.

  15. Just one commercial zone has capacity for 121 unites for 20 years was my point.

  16. The development trajectory that has continued for the past 30 years was a trajectory with the United States having a ROBUST economy. THIS is not the case anymore, and the New York Times had recently showed that once the baby boomers are all retired, the economy with be in even worse shape with none of the past big time spending by the baby boomers . …….This is already showing up in the figures and affecting the economy now, AND! our government is in fact BROKE, so unless China and Japan become our new best friends, this does not bode well for development or new jobs…The United States does not even have enough money for infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, highways, etc. that are long past their life span.

  17. I am concerned with the amount of business closing, 2 in downtown this week and the empty store fronts and vacant lots at Westgate is this a heathey economic climate for Edmonds. I think not maybe it is time to think about Edmonds future not just today

  18. Good points Don. We need new and creative ways to promote business development.

  19. Yes, I think there are many smart and creative minds in Edmonds……I believe it is possible to get a whole lot of people from out of town coming to Edmonds…..We couldn’t be in a better geographical place, right HERE on the water…….

  20. Connect the Dots
    Caution – do not let your gut feelings get dissuaded by trying to understand the States’ Growth Management Act (GMA). Like others have implied, Edmonds is in compliance with the GMA and has plans to sustain GMA compliance without building taller buildings. Planned growth is an issue but not for this project. Stay on track – follow the money trail. The only winners in building taller buildings are the developers.

    Look out for smoke screens. The first issue is tall buildings not the GMA in this case. The second issue is there are proposals for Form Based construction. If City Hall promotes both issues our current building protections will be out the window allowing taller box buildings. If you link high rise apartments to Form Based construction the issues are only compounded. Should Westgate go down with taller buildings you can count on the Port property to follow. This is what is known as an “End Run” I’m thinking.

    Have the City planners revealed who the developers are? If you think the City is promoting these issues out of the goodness of their hearts, you are wrong. It is a shame that our public servants are tethered to another sinking ship under the guise of obligations to developers. There are better things to focus on such as promoting businesses and maintaining infrastructure (read: roads, sidewalks, sewers, wetlands, etc.).

    It took a concerted effort by many private citizens to maintain the pleasing look of Edmonds neighborhoods as it is today, not City Hall. One of the founding members of a group (ACE) supporting low rise development past on not long ago but I bet she fully expected the private citizens of Edmonds to continue to stand guard and maintain the picturesque look of Edmonds. The citizens of Edmonds must remain vigilant as we are still fending off high rise development to this day. The constant has been that the “citizen’s have spoken” and our local government agency continues to test our stamina by opening the door to unwanted guests touting taller buildings.

    • John:
      One of your statements: ” Edmonds is in compliance with the GMA and has plans to sustain GMA compliance without building taller buildings.” Would you please tell us where we can see those plans to sustain GMA compliance.

  21. This is NOT intended to put anyone’s ideas down but we should all take into account the origin of the form base code idea and the Westgate discussion. It all originated with work the Citizen Economic Development Commission has done since January of 2010. There were and are several members of ACE on the CEDC. Also it should be noted that when the statistically valid survey was done in developing the components of the Strategic Plan around 60% of the people supported planning that would set the stage for redevelopment of Westgate, 5 Corners, Firdale Village, Hwy 99 and Perrinville. As the process for Westgate moves along you will see more information developed by the CEDC that will help understand what Commission has done over the past 4 years and 5 months. At EVERY STEP OF THE WAY(except at one Council meeting (5/10/10) , the public has be able to input to the process. The Council set up the original direction for the CEDC and has modified that direction on at least one occasion. The Council has approved all the work steps and authorized the funding for all the work steps along the way. Just wanted to share this information to help us all understand what has been done, who approved it, and make sure we all understand just how PUBLIC this process has been.

  22. I question the Citizens Economic Development Commission, particularily as it comes out of City Hall (and other commissions)……..When one starts seeing members of the media on commissions at City Hall, one has to wonder if the media can be unbiased, having a position at the City Hall of a city, and likewise with other commissioners………And, it has appeared that at least two medias are not unbiased at times. I am sure other people can see how this ALL works……

    .I don’t believe that our City Council should have to DOUBLE-CHECK everything coming out of City Hall

    It does not appear to be a government FOR and BY the CITIZENS. I’m even wondering why the City Clerk is now listed under/ or part of the Mayor’s office, when the City Clerk of any city is a separate ENTITY…….I have not found another city with the City Clerk Office listed under a Mayor’s office. I have checked about 10 cities. I believe, if I remember right, the City Clerk of Edmonds was not listed under the Mayor’s office previously. I would think this could impede TRANSPARENCY, and destroys TRUST from the citizens, of course.

    I believe EVERYTHING has been about DEVELOPMENT ONLY because this is a system that has been going on for a long time, hence no new ideas……..From what I have seen of our City Hall, they get what they want always, and many citizens have agreed on this point.

    This does not appear to me to be a democratic entity in the City of Edmonds…… This appears to be a select group of people running the whole show…..

  23. It is unfortunate that some simply do not believe in the role individual citizens play in the boards and commissions and committees we have in Edmonds. All who are willing to serve and give of their time should be shown some respect for their efforts. To paint each of the independently appointed commissioners in a way that suggest we are not independent is an insult. Who should we attack next? Just take your pick from the list below. This is only a partial list of where citizen volunteers are trying to help our city. You can go to the city web site and see them all. For many of them the agenda and minutes are also posted for all to see the working of the citizens.

    Architectural Design Board
    Cemetery Board
    Disability Board
    Library Board
    Planning Board
    Tree Board
    Edmonds Downtown Business Improvement District
    Arts Commission
    Citizens Commission on the Compensation of Elected Officials
    Civil Service Commission
    Economic Development Commission
    Historic Preservation Commission
    Sister City Commission

    In addition to these “official” groups we have a number of other groups like the flower folks, the ACE people, the chamber who supports the 4th of July stuff and the Halloween gathering. The list goes on and on of people involved with their community. My guess is we have more volunteers serving our community that we have employees.

    Our city is a better city because of ALL the citizen work for the community. Each of these groups hold open and public meeting and anyone can go and give there input. The CEDC is specifically charged with trying to find new revenues for the city so as to avoid or put off tax increases to provide basic services. That is our job and anyone who wants to make a contribution is invited to come to our meeting and chime in with there input.

    • Darrol:
      I agree with all of your comments because they are 100% factual, unlike many written here today which will never be substantiated.

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