Letter to the editor: Solomon and The Sunset Ave Issue

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Dear Editor:
(Sent to Mayor Dave Earling, Edmonds City Council)

The Council’s decision to compromise and make interim improvements to Sunset ends up pleasing no one. For once, I am in agreement with the Naysayers.   The “ interim improvements” have made it worse than it was before….with one big exception. The vast majority of the people now walking on Sunset Av.are using the new walkway. So that part works. And, never forget, that was the real reason for the project in the first place.

What doesn’t work is the missing parking and how narrow the street has become in the area of the angle parking. Not using the entire right of way with the interim improvements has turned out to be a clear mistake.

If the negative reaction to this Solomon-like compromise pushes the Council to act more quickly to acquire the funding for the project as proposed by Public Works…good. On the other hand, I fear some of the Council may use this initial misstep to kill the project entirely.

Undoubtedly, you will receive petitions suggesting the plan doesn’t work and urging you to return to the old layout and kill the Sunset Walkway. That would be a giant step backwards after all of the planning and public input that has gone into to the Sunset Walkway. Because it is now clear for all to see: people want to use the walkway. It simply needs to incorporate the entire right of way to make it work well.

Mike Echelbarger
Sunset Avenue resident

43 COMMENTS

  1. I just drove down Sunset, and it is a nightmare; ugly is not a strong enough word! This plan really ruins the quiet and peaceful view so many of us enjoyed. I can’t imagine it will not hurt the value of the homes on the street. The parking is the issue, not the walkway. Think of something else; get those cars off of Sunset! I am not have a resident on Sunset, just a concerned citizen.

  2. Mike:
    Would you please clarify what you mean about the entire right-of-way having not been utilized in the angled parking area. Are you suggesting having no angled parking?

  3. I’ll tell ya what works real well, the people who now have no parking whatsoever in front of their compounds to obstruct any view. All the $$$$$$$$$$$ that has been spent on this is shameful and so is any cronyism that looks to have put this whole dangerous ball in motion……. if it is true that one person or two people originally suggested this to a Town Council member! and away we go, I hope that one Town Council member isn’t running for any other office any time soon…….

    “all the planning that has gone into this”…….Are you kidding?! Yes, let’s spend some more $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ on this…………It doesn’t work, but hey, let’s waste some more money.

    Interesting that you are mentioning NOW, let’s get those cars off of Sunset…..Very funny!
    Maybe the City of Edmonds could make this a personal park for the two people that suggested this.

  4. My only real complaint is the loss of the 5-6 parking spots at the north end near the picnic table. Those spots were configured so as not to block the views of the homes on the east side of the street.

  5. WOW – much to do about nothing………………..

    I have walked my dog several times along the new walkway along Sunset Ave and think it is much better than previous arrangement for man and beast. The paved surface is easier and safer than the muddy path, navigating the uneven curb many times and walking around parked cars. Each time I have observed many empty parking spaces, plus have noticed construction workers parking along Sunset which needs to be discouraged by the contractors. I have noted a lot more people and dogs walking than before.

    Also people need to realize that there is no guaranteed street parking on public streets in front or near anyplace. The goal is improving the walking experience everywhere in Edmonds even at the expense of auto circulation and parking.

    • Thank you John Dewhirst for your meaningful comment. I suggest people may want to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson.
      The new walk way is a win-win for Edmonds. Nowhere in this world I traveled have I seen cars having priorities over pedestrians. I hope Edmonds’ leaders have enough backbone to get through this. How about designating a special parking zone for people who need to stay in their cars? By the dog park? There is room…
      Sunset is a public place and this is for the good for all of us.

  6. Put it on one of the upcoming ballots for an advisory non-binding vote! Other cities in Washington do this… Let’s find out what Edmonds citizens really feel about it…

  7. Tere, Edmonds has a city council not a town council. Edmonds was incorporated as a city by George Brackett. Who suggested it to which city council member. We need facts not rumors

  8. Obviously the people who want this have not noticed that just as many people, if not more, are still walking on the east sidewalk. Someone is going to be hurt on this street. And no one is using it when it when the slightest bit of nasty weather shows up. So all this expense and danger will be put into place for fairweather people and all those people who come all year round in cars will never come back again. Spend real time down here and see the near accidents numerous times a day. None of this accident conversation ever happened before 14 days ago before this dangerous project was put into place.

    • May I kindly ask you to refrain from projecting a seemingly negative vibe? Please! The Parks and Recreations Council approved a long time ago to make our city the walkable Edmonds. Sunset is part of this. Would you help keep Edmonds from sounding like a bunch of unhappy souls? Thanks.

  9. Thalia, I agree that Sunset is a ‘fair weather’ place for the general population. The first need for the local community and hardened walkers, is repairing the eastside sidewalk. And then expand it to allow better movement. My great concern is the supposed ‘evaluation’ of this experiment as I’ve not seen any info about who will design and execute the evaluation, and then who decides what the data means. I suspect that the designer, reviews and decider about this survey will be the Dpt of Public Works; and this is a true conflict of interest.

  10. I frequently walk on Sunset Avenue and like John Dewhurst I find the new arrangement appealing. I realize the lines are temporary, but they help me envision what The park would look like. I asked two other walkers what they thought of the larger walkway. One observed that there appears to be the same amount of parking. The other said they were 50-50 on the concept and keeping an open mind. I’d like to see an improved walkway thats more useable all year. I’m keeping an open mind.

  11. As a good compromise put the street back the way it was, let people parallel park all the way from south to north on the west side, put wood chips on the grassy part owned by Burlington Northern so people’s feet don’t get muddy, use the grassy parking strip along side the eastern sidewalk to widen it and fix that sidewalk and be done. We would not have to lease property from Burlington Northern at what expense and which could be revoked at anytime, the expense of shoring up the bank on Burlington property at the City’s expense in order to do this project under the grant guidelines, the possibility of a chain link fence going up, the huge expense coming from the City to complete this project as grant money will not cover it all, bring the tranquility of the street back, and bring safety back to the street. Years ago traffic went both ways and the City made it a one way street to calm it. Well the old street needs to come back to bring back the calm once again. One person said this used to be the “rock star” street in the state of Washington. He said there were no streets like the old street left in Washington. He said why can’t we treasure it and preserve it like it was. I do agree that it was a rock star street before. It was lovely. What a shame we don’t want to keep it that way.

  12. “The goal is improving the walking experience everywhere in Edmonds even at the expense of auto circulation and parking.”

    Whoa now — who decided this and when? The rain and cold weather will start soon, and there won’t be people walking on Sunset. There will be people coming down to park, if anyone is there at all.

    I don’t know whether this idea is a good one or not, but ignoring a whole class of users at the expense of another (who use it year-round) isn’t right.

  13. Thanks for this letter to the editor. I was on Sunset for a while on Sunday. All of the parking was full, people were walking to Sunset from adjacent parking areas west. About 100 folk plus 4 legged best friends were about. So very positive vibe there, but overall, it’s a half-measure and that street deserves full-throttle, parking and all. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

    Also, I saw a Sunset Ave resident gathering NIMBY signatures. Sunset Ave is possibly the most magnificent afternoon public right-of-way on Puget Sound, and OUR guests traveling to Edmonds are greeted with NIMBY. I’m not proud of that.

  14. I beg your pardon, they were not NIMBY signatures at all. And no one was approached by anyone. Anyone who signed did so because they wanted to and are unhappy about the changes and want the City to know that. These were signatures of regular visitors to Sunset Ave. from Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Snohomish, Shoreline, Seattle, Mukilteo, and Brier. These were people who were very familiar with how the street was before and were very angry about how it is now. They were not greeted in any such way and there is nothing wrong with doing the job the City should have done and that is to inform the public about what their intentions were with the street. Not everyone goes to Council meetings or reads the Beacon or My Edmonds News. There could have been signs that said proceed at your own risk.

    • I wonder how many of us would like the City to decide that our residential street is so outstanding that they need to rearrange life as we know it, make on ingress and egress difficult, impact our views, dissuade us from using our cars to get home, make putting out our trash an event, and make emergency vehicles iffy when they are needed.
      Would we want input on changes? Would we want to be considered as people who will see the changes daily ( not just on Sunday?). The residents of Sunset have good reason to be upset. The rest of us would not like what is being done there to be happening on our streets.
      Unfortunately, the changes are looking more and more permanent. Until someone gets hurt and or the City gets sued, it looks like that temporary project will become the grandiose one in the renderings ( for three blocks).

  15. I walk Sunset daily, early morning and again mid day. I love the new path. The speed limit should be reduced and more importantly enforced. Same with bicycles, which fly around the north corner going the wrong way. If the intent is to create a park then parking lot speeds are dictated. Personally I would love to see several speed bumps curb to curb.

  16. I’m a supporter of the originally proposed walkway improvements to the Sunset Ave. I attended some of the planning meetings and was shown renderings of the new walkway and beautification purposed unfortunately we got nothing like those renderings. What we did get simply doesn’t work and is not what this beautiful street deserves. We have a chance to create something the City of Edmonds can be proud of. I urge the council and staff to go back and get it right.

  17. How peaceful we all would be, if they had left Sunset alone to it’s old funky way. There was nothing wrong with Sunset. It’s sad that “someone” decided to try and upgrade a lovely street, that was somewhat quiet. The cars that parked should have been made to turn off their engines only on the occasion that a driver had not read the sign. Peace on the water front is lacking.

  18. Love the improved walkway and hope for additional improvements… could we have a proper sidewalk on both sides of the street, protected pedestrian / bicycle corridors?

  19. Sunset Ave. residents loved the street the way it was and have never felt it was “our” street. We don’t care if cars park in front of our houses. I agree with all the comments that say it was “lovely, charming, funky, rock star and peaceful” the way it was. We shouldn’t use the sunk cost fallacy and continue to put money into something that is clearly not going to work (toooooooooooooo narrow among other reasons), admit it was a mistake and return it to the way it was but allowing people to park on the whole street and fix the existing eastern sidewalk.

  20. Ms. Ryder – I learned a longtime ago to sit back and review an email before I hit send – I found that anger, foreign substance influence or just ignorance on the subject could color what I was trying to say. You clearly did not do that.

    The view in front of the homes along Sunset (city street) is not a sacred nor valid property right. Someone remodeled in front of my home partially blocking the view – the remodel was completed per city code so there was nothing I could do about it.

    Statement of opinion is great – the spewing of rancor and vitriol just for the sake of it is not.

  21. I enjoy a walkway along the west side of Sunset as we can then view the water more completely. It doesn’t have to be as wide as the painted area but is appreciated along that side. I do not walk well enough to stumble along the existing “pathway” so would like to see a sidewalk width walkway. My wife and I regularly walk that route and see it as a treasured viewpoint to be appreciated by all.

  22. Ah…don’t people walk year round also? Based on the amount of people I see walking daily on their way to Sunset…..I tend to think they do. Suggesting that cars are the only “year round” users of Sunset is ridiculous.

      • Ron, there’s no need to speculate — the rain will start soon and we’ll see how many people are still walking up and down that path. I’m guessing usage will drop off by 3/4 or more when the weather changes and the novelty has worn off. I hope no decisions will be made based on some unseasonably warm weather and everyone checking out the new lines on the road.

        As for the “non-residents” thing, yes, you are probably correct, and most of Edmonds lives too far away to get down there without a car. (Or a bicycle, I suppose, if their health allows pedaling up and down hills, which not everyone’s does.)

  23. To celebrate Diversity on Sunset, let’s rename the street to less White Privilege, e.g. “Martin Luther King Way”…or something like that

    • Yes, Mr. Ahmad, I believe in the original Federal Need Based Grant for this Sunset Project, there was mention of this project bringing people here from other areas that wouldn’t normally be here or have access (or something along those lines….would have to reread the grant to be precise in the language, but meaning was clear), which is interesting considering the recent threat of death hate crime with the Gambian family we had here right on Sunset Avenue where the Need Based Grant Project is unfolding…….Let’s see how quickly those in our government put together that Diversity Commission…..Someone, perhaps the Mayor mentioned a couple months……Seems like a couple months for what happened is a very long time……..I hope the citizens of Edmonds demand that our government put this commission together now. Yes, celebrate Diversity!

      .

  24. First, I will say that I am not particularly enthused about the new configuration. I have walked Sunset year round for the past 10 years using the path, sidewalk, and sometimes the road itself. It was, before the current “temporary” reconfiguration, unique and beautiful, and well worth preserving.
    That said, I am beyond amazed that they blacked out the crosswalk across Sunset at Edmonds St. I believe there should also be a crosswalk at the foot of Bell St. Does Public Works assume everyone enters Sunset at Main St. or from the far north end?
    Secondly, I think it would be helpful if the Public Works director ventured down to Green Lake to see how they have signed and striped the multi-use (peds, bikes, strollers, pets etc.) path around the lake. The current layout on Sunset would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.

  25. It just sickens me to witness the downfall of what WAS a real “Hometown”. It is still a nice place to live and enjoy an “Edmonds Kind of Day” however, those days are numbered. With the cry of “We ARE a City!” (get real, it’s a small town), the demise of Sunset Avenue, the “Ballard-ization” of Westgate and any residential lot larger than 1/4 acre, building a Hotel and the drive to bring Young people into “the City” not to mention hundreds of filthy coal trains, it will not be long before Edmonds is just another non-descript drive through, stopover for folks to use up and throw away. I, my Wife and, I am sure many, many others, moved to Edmonds FOR the “Small Town” atmosphere. As soon as that is gone, so are we. If we wanted to live in Kirkland or Ballard or Seattle or any of the other Gentrified areas, we would have moved/stayed there. It is so sad that the “American way” is to throw away History and build, build, build; new, new, new; all for the sake of; MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.
    I reiterate; it sickens me.

    • What an incredible amount of unwarranted doom and gloom! By definition, Edmonds is a city. Many like the proposed changes for Sunset. To date, no changes have been approved for Westgate and when they are the implementation will take numerous years. The possibility of a new hotel and having some younger residents is bad??? It has yet to be proven that there’s any significant amount of “filth” from coal trains.

      • This is not “doom and gloom” sir, this is my opinion. I was at the “town hall” meeting a couple of weeks ago re: the Westgate issue and you expressed your opinion rather forcefully towards Ms. Bloom. No one took issue with you for that.
        I stand by my statement. Any City, Town, Borough, Village or whatever you call it, with the population of Edmonds anywhere else would be referred to as a “Small Town”. I personally feel that persons who keep insisting on using the term City are trying to make Edmonds appear to more than it is. What is wrong with being a Small Town anyway? John Mellencamp wrote a song about it.
        Re; Sunset, if a questionnaire were sent out to the residents of Edmonds and they were asked their opinions on Sunset, Westgate, Coal Trains, etc it could be a game changer. What I have witnessed is things being foisted onto the People of Edmonds and I do not feel that is fair. We ALL live here and We ALL should have a say in what happens here. I may be Old Fashioned but I think the Leaders of the Community should ask the Constituents what they want, then proceed to do their very best to provide that.
        As for the Coal trains, if you feel that it has not been proven that they are filthy that is your prerogative. The evidence I have found states otherwise. We can agree to disagree on many things Mr.. Wambolt. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is dealt with in a civilized considerate manner.

  26. Wow. You people need to be nicer. That is what will keep our Edmonds a “Hometown”. Being kind to each other, even when you disagree. What I am seeing in these comments and replies are a lot of nasty angry neighbors. THAT will be the demise of Edmonds. You want ‘diversity’? Then stop being so nasty when someone doesn’t agree with you. I have watched you people in City Council meetings. I am now reading your comments. Very disturbing to witness.

  27. Agreed Glenda.

    I don’t think Edmonds itself is like this… it’s just a few of the same angry commenters here who choose not discuss the issues, but would rather insult and attack anybody who thinks differently than they do. Like many, eventually you just choose to stay silent rather than get dragged into a hatefest by a few angry trolls with too much time on their hands.

  28. I have run my dog many times along the new walkway along Sunset Ave and I agree that it is much better than previous arrangement. The surface is surer, the experience much more pleasant to be on the west side of cars and traffic. It is much safer and more secure for the pedestrian. Can it really be that bad for drivers ?

    I don’t believe Edmonds should prioritize the Sunset Ave. walkway for the drivers who park there to enjoy the view. I believe Sunset Ave. should be improved for all city residents because it’s such a prime million-dollar housing area with prime views and is a beautiful walking location. By expanding the west-side walking area, many more users can enjoy the experience…. and have been.

    I would expect drivers to handle the angle parking if the room allowed meets engineering specification. My goal, too, is improving the walking experience everywhere in Edmonds and we may not be able to preserve all the automobile subsidies currently in place when we improve the pedestrian experience.

    Fortunately for those who want them, there are many more car park view spots at Marina Beach and the Senior Center for those unwilling or unable to walk along Sunset Avenue or to take up the prime parking spots that will remain.

    (and for those who park, the pedestrians prefer no idling, please ! (idling = zero MPG) … and would you please turn the radio down ?)

    I also have noted a lot more people and dogs walking in this area than before, which is a good thing … isn’t it ? I am glad that so many residents are contributing their respectful comments, even to their neighbors with whom they disagree. This is an exciting project and having so many people make meaningful, thoughtful, and respectful contributions helps build community.

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