Council sidebar: Earling calls out ‘mischaracterization’ regarding Westgate; Bloom asks Buckshnis to hold citywide town hall

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The Westgate development plan and Councilmember Joan Bloom’s Monday town hall meeting on that same topic generated some sparks during the mayor and council comments section of Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

“There’s been a mischaracterization that the staff plan is the reason that the Westgate plan is what it is. That’s certainly not true,” said Mayor Dave Earling, referring to recent criticism of the proposed zoning changes that have been developed following several years of study and public input. “It has also been characterized as ‘The Mayor’s Plan.’ That’s certainly not true.”

Earling said the plan has had ” a thorough vetting. I don’t want to count how many scores of public meetings have been held, including Councilmember Bloom’s.”

“I just want to be clear that sometimes in the heat of changes, that people jump to assumptions and this plan has been around and involved at several different levels as I say for a number of years.”

When it was her turn to comment, Bloom said that the town hall format “is conducive to conversation…you have an opportunity to hear from the public what their specific concerns are.”  She then made a direct request of Council President Diane Buckshnis that the entire council hold a town hall meeting on Westgate prior to the official Oct. 7 public hearing scheduled to gather citizen comments on the Westgate plan.

“I do not appreciate being put on the spot,” Buckshnis replied, adding that there will be opportunity for citizens to make their feelings known at a more informal Sept. 23 council study session. “We have to figure out protocol and all kinds of things in terms of putting on a town hall meeting,” adding that she would like to “take it under advisement right now.”

 

 

 

 

13 COMMENTS

  1. There has been no “mischaracterization” as Mayor Earling has stated. Any development in Edmonds is always about the developers for obvious reasons. I have not talked to one person that has known until recently about this huge mega plan! This is why the citizens of this town do not trust their government. ………….no traffic studies…….are you kidding?…..a “thorough vetting” with no traffic studies….are you kidding?

    It is incredible to believe that “years” have been spent on a mega redevelopment plan of our town spanning a whole State Highway here and nobody thought to do any traffic feasibility studies or parking studies. How could that possibly be, and why are we using students to reconfigure our town? Perhaps that is why there were no feasibiltiy plans or studies.

    I don’t believe the citizens of Edmonds want the total reconfiguration of a large area of their town left in the hands of students, developers, and whoever, etc.

    We have smart Council members and a town meeting would not be hard to set up, unless of course, that is what some don’t want. We want a whole town meeting where the voice of the citizens is heard.

    I believe many citizens would have a problem with what was said at Bloom’s townhall meeting Monday night about the developers deciding what they want.

    Last but not least, how much $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ has been spent on this from the town coffers, and could we start spending our $$$ on something important like our infrastructure, streets, sidewalks, crossing signs, sidewalks for kids to walk to school on, paved streets, getting all those “for lease” signed buildings rented, helping existing business downtown, building up tourism, a hotel and generally using the taxpayers dollar to allow this town to flourish. Clearly , this town is not flourishing, it is just being DRAINED!

    Our government needs to start listening to all of the citizens ……We are at the top and we can change and elect new officials very easily……It just takes one big groundswell of voters wanting their voices heard. This is not happening.

    “I just want to be clear that sometimes in the heat of changes, that people jump to assumptions and this plan has been around and involved at several different levels as I say for a number of years.”

    and no traffic study at this Highway and the thoroughfare of 100th with this mega development plan? We’re not jumping to any conclusions……It is simply hard to believe, years of study…..how much $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$…..caching!

  2. This plan hasn’t been thoroughly vetted… at least not by the citizens of Edmonds. I read this news website pretty regularly and I hadn’t heard about the Westgate plans until just a couple months ago.

    Any plans that will increase density and development in the Westgate area a bad idea.

    We’ve lived here 20 years and the Westgate area has only gotten more crowded and less safe with more traffic. You can barely park in the QFC parking lot any more and it’s now a dangerous, stressful place where there are fender benders, drivers honking, yelling, etc.

    And now somebody wants to put in apartments and more retail? Please don’t make our area worse to live in. Developers and UW students: Feel free to increase the crowding and traffic in your own neighborhoods. Leave ours alone.

  3. At Joan Bloom’s town hall, I indicated that opposing views and concerns about traffic and parking under the Westgate Plan had been “systematically squashed”. The following excerpt is from the July 16, 2014 meeting and can be found on the edmondswa.gov website.

    Doug Swartz–

    The white paper does not reflect that citizen input has not been 100% positive. Suggest including
    a comment in the white paper that the Westgate plan puts flexibility in the hands of staff and there
    is potential for things to happen that are not clearly defined

    Bruce Witenberg, Chairman of the Economic Development Commission–

    It is not the EDC’s place to recognize negative comments in the white paper; there will be
    opportunity for those with concerns to make them known to the City Council

    The Westgate plan will be a huge change for the City of Edmonds. If you do not make your opinion known directly to City Council members now, you will be stuck with this plan for the next 50 years.

    Doug Swartz
    Edmonds Economic Development Commission

  4. In my previous post, I want to clarify that concerns about the Westgate Plan have been “systematically squashed” within the Economic Development Commission. The extract is directly from the minutes of the July 16, 2014 Economic Development Commission Meeting.

    • I am the current chair of the Citizens Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and have been a member of the Commission since its inception in 2009. I’d like to address the allegations made about me by Commissioner Doug Swartz at a recent town hall meeting and here on My Edmonds News. I did not make the comments Mr. Swartz attributed to me. This fact is confirmed by the audio recording of the July 16, 2014 CEDC meeting, which is available from the City Clerk’s office.

      Mr. Swartz alleged that as the CEDC chair I “systematically squashed” opposing views and concerns about Westgate during the Commission’s debate on the Revisioning Westgate White Paper. As support for these allegations, he included a portion of the July 16 CEDC minutes. He used the minutes to quote certain comments purportedly made by me. Mr. Swartz failed to disclose that CEDC minutes are summary minutes and often, as was the case in the portion of the minutes he referenced, do not include attribution to a particular speaker. The entire version of the minutes in question is available at http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/images/COE/Government/Boards_and_Commissions/Commissions/Economic_Commission/Minutes/2014/07_17_14EDC_Minutes.pdf. The Westgate discussion included some three pages of comments by CEDC Commissioners and a member of the audience—hardly a “systematic squashing” of opposing views and concerns.

      Mr. Swartz’s allegations are disingenuous and unsubstantiated by the record based upon a thorough review of the audio recording of the meeting. The record does not support the claim that I, as chair, “systematically squashed” opposing views and concerns. In fact the record clearly shows the opposite. The procedure I outlined for the White Paper discussion was that every Commissioner would have the opportunity to speak before someone could comment a second time—a procedure encouraging all to speak rather than having a few dominate the discussion. Additionally, at one point, the rules were suspended to allow a member of the audience who wished to comment to do so before the vote was taken.

      If Mr. Swartz felt so strongly that his statement about the White Paper should have been included in it, he was free to make an amendment, which then could have been discussed and voted on by the Commission. In fact, one other Commissioner offered an amendment to the White Paper on an issue different than the one raised by Mr. Swartz. That amendment was debated and subsequently voted upon. It should be noted that the CEDC’s vote on the White Paper was 11 in favor, one opposed and one abstention. Mr. Swartz voted in favor of the White Paper as written, offering no amendments.

      Mr. Swartz unfairly characterizes the manner in which I handled the July 16 Revisioning Westgate White Paper discussion. By implication, he also indicts the CEDC. Mr. Swartz’s comments are misleading, unfounded and unsupported by the audio record of the meeting which is the only verbatim report of the entire meeting.

      Bruce Witenberg

  5. I am suddenly feeling déjà vous of the time I watched Ballard’s city planning process. I moved away from there as the condos started propagating. That is when I moved to Edmonds over 9 years ago. Ballard removed their favorite family bowling alley, too, btw. We all need to learn from what works and what doesn’t work for a community. Too bad we couldn’t just raise the road for the ferry traffic to drive over the popular Westgate intersection. While the subject may be “hot”, I think we can try less blame and more of finding the solutions to the problems as a cohesive community.

  6. The May 28 Planning Board agenda packet has a detailed summary of the Westgate process, including a traffic study. There have been many opportunities for public comment as well as planning Board deliberations, all of which are open to all. There is always a period for comment at the beginning of every meeting. I am a planning Board member and look forward to citizen participation in our meetings. Its simply not fair to characterize the Westgate plan as something that slipped in while no one was watching.

  7. This is pure poppycock anybody who wants to know anything about what is going on in Edmonds just hast to put city council on your favorites list on your computer. It’s not the cities job to make you come to meetings. If you do not know what is going on at Westgate it’s because you have not been paying attention period. I knocked on over 5,000 doors during the last campighn for council. A large majority of people do not have time or interest in following city events. That’s why they elect a city council to do their bidding. I attended the town hall meeting last week hosted by Joan Bloom and Lora Petso. That was a meeting of people basically against the project and very political. I had intended to put my two cents in but it was so one sided that I kept my opinion to myself. I also have reservations about parts of the plan and plan on making my views known at the televised public hearing in October.

  8. Hmmmm…is it possible we can find the 1% we agree on in this plan, give it 100% of our effort and move toward a solution that will add value to the city? Comments like, “This plan hasn’t been thoroughly vetted… at least not by the citizens of Edmonds” make me pause…this is certainly a great sound bite but not accurate. Are we looking for a percentage of Edmonds citizens who have vetted the plan?

    Time for us to stop playing grade school, move beyond scare tactics and inaccurate statements and realize that we have the opportunity to plan for growth or have growth happen without a plan.

  9. …………………this isn’t about “playing grade school” and “scare tactics”, it is about the systematic reconfiguration of a whole small town with no participation by the all of the citizens of this town. This isn’t what the citizens want ….. it is what the select few want, and their cronies……………Rarely do the citizens actually get to ask any questions…….Something wrong with that. …….Just the short term developers, real estate and construction companies all ready to profit off of this town. That seems to be all that happens in our town and wastes huge amounts of money, time, staff hours, $$$$$$$, etc.
    I would also like to add that we are a country of LAWS and cronyism I believe is against the law. I am sure that is exactly what happened along 5th Ave. and up and down those streets there……..It does not matter what “project” comes up and I shudder at the mass millions that are being spent for the folly of most of these supposed “vetted” projects. I’ve seen at least 4 supposed “vetted” projects, that I say is baloney coming from those saying the citizens know about it.

    When citizens do not know what is going on in their town and “had no idea”, and a select group keep repeating it is the citizens fault, something is terribly wrong, and it is time for
    the citizens to get together on this and start planning a complete change in regime here.

    Is this what we want here……to have to keep fighting these development people and planning people that have everything go the way they want it to?…….Didn’t we think the “Harbor Square Project” was squashed before? …..Well, here it is again…..And probably thousands and thousands of hours and time wasted $$$$$ …..to try to push it through again.

    I’ll tell you what is “squashed” here , it is the input from the citizens of what they want and it is time to make a big change, or these people are going to turn Edmonds into a town (oh excuse me, they want a “city”, I assume like Singapore, Chicago, or NYC)…….Tearing down every 30-35 years and them profitting……..The town of Edmonds is not profitting when business continues to be bad, businesses go way continually……

    Pay attention to the City Council meetings and who asks questions and who just sits there waiting to vote. …..and I’m assuming they already know how they are going to vote, with no questions asked……And don’t forget, some of those think they are moving on to higher office……… Time to vote them out.

    Time to take back our town before these people ruin it for short term gain. And, they work for us, not the other way around.

    We all came here for the small town feeling, and they’re trying to turn it into a metropolis…….And you can bet, if they had their way, they would line our beach with four story buildings, skyscrapers, etc. I don’t believe Doherty is here for nothing, chosen by Mayor Earling for a reason………..”economic development”, yes, the same as in the past 35 years……..tear down, only now we could be looking at skyscrapers……

    Yes, the citizens should be scared!! And how about if the citizens change things so we live in a town that has a government where all follow the letter of the law, including the staff!

  10. same old……same old development arguments…….take a look around……History repeats itself…….These guys don’t know what they are talking about……the development done has done nothing for the economy of Edmonds…..This article 10 years old, with the same development speak……….and those that get special bonuses…….the select groups

    how many “for lease” spaces do we have now?!….

    Developers think everything is a “tear down”…..well, of course, how else would they continue to make $$$$$$ without their “tear downs”….

    http://seattletimes.com/html/snohomishcountynews/2001990141_downtown28n.html

    Edmonds Spring

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