In work session style, the Edmonds City Council moved off the dais and sat around tables in the Council Chambers Tuesday night, with the goal of continuing its discussion about proposed changes to zoning of the Westgate commercial area.
For those who have concerns about how Westgate zoning changes may affect traffic, Councilmember Kristiana Johnson said that it was important to note that the city has hired a consultant to conduct a new study on Highway 104 traffic in Edmonds and that those study results will be incorporated into the zoning plan.
Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas asked Planning Manager Rob Chave, who is providing staff support for the plan, when he would prefer that the council make a decision about next steps on Westgate and Chave replied he was hopeful it would be by Thanksgiving.
In other business, the council also heard a presentation from City Engineer Rob English about the City’s Capital Facilities Plan/Capital Improvement Program, and next steps for council review and approval. Joan Bloom used that presentation as a backdrop for bringing Public Works Director Phil Williams to the podium to further question him about the Highway 104 crosswalk project. As she has in previous meetings, Bloom asked Williams why the city chose to provide money to the Washington State Department of Transportation to help fund a crosswalk near Pine Street, when the project “was never vetted by the council.” Williams pointed out that the project had been removed from the Capital Facilities Plan/Capital Improvement Program because the city believed that the state would fund the $300,000 project. The city’s decision to use $10,000 from the city’s traffic calming project to help the state has drawn ire of some residents who believe that money should have been used for other projects instead.
Bloom found herself under fire during the public comment period of the meeting, when former City Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton, who now works for Snohomish County, criticized Bloom for comments she made in My Edmonds News last week that “none of the directors working on this plan, including the former Acting Development Services Director, live in Edmonds. They will not feel the affect of the Westgate development, personally. This isn’t their city, it’s just their jobs.”
“What you are telling city staff is that they lack integrity,” Clifton said, adding that during his years working for the City of Edmonds, “I have never sensed that any employee was working for a paycheck.”
The council also
– Heard Mayor Dave Earling read a proclamation about Arbor Day and the role of the Edmonds Tree Board in helping the city earn Tree City USA status.
– Received an update on Edmonds Arts Commission temporary art projects on 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor
–Listened to a presentation from Development Director Shane Hope on development projects and activities, including statistics indicating how Edmonds building development has rebounded since the recession. You can see Hope’s information-packed presentation here.