Town hall meeting on Westgate redevelopment plan draws crowd

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More than 100 citizens attended the meeting, drawn together by their common concern for the future of Edmonds.
More than 100 citizens attended the meeting, drawn together by their common concern for the future of Edmonds.

A town hall meeting Monday evening focusing on the future of the Westgate neighborhood sparked spirited discussion among the more than 100 attendees.

The focus was a plan that has been under development by the City of Edmonds for several years and included two years of work by the Planning Board and three public hearings, following initial data collection, citizen surveys and meetings, and reports initiated by University of Washington undergraduate and graduate planning and architecture students. But as always the devil is in the details, and many expressed considerable concern about issues including parking, building heights, building setbacks, and striking a reasonable balance between business, residential and other uses.

Edmonds City Councilmember Joan Bloom organized and moderated the town hall meeting.
Edmonds City Councilmember Joan Bloom organized and moderated the town hall meeting.

Edmonds City Councilmember Joan Bloom, who organized the event and moderated the discussion, was quick to point out that while she has issues with the plan in its current form, there are many good things about it.

“It’s not that there are no good things in the plan,” she said, “but it could be better.”

One issue she raised is the provision for affordable housing.

“Affordable housing means housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a person’s income,” she explained. “It doesn’t mean simply smaller housing units.”

David Barber, a member of the family that owns Bartell Drugs, provided testimony from the perspective of a business owner with a large stake in the Westgate neighborhood.
David Barber, a member of the family that owns Bartell Drugs, provided testimony from the perspective of a business owner with a large stake in the Westgate neighborhood.

Additional concerns were raised by town hall participants related to traffic flow, availability of parking, pedestrian safety, building heights and setbacks. An oft-repeated complaint was that the city had not taken sufficient measures to notify them about plan details and how they could make their voices heard. A comment suggesting that the Westgate plan be coordinated with an overall plan for traffic flow on State Route 104 drew sustained applause.

As the meeting concluded, Councilmember Bloom made a point of reminding everyone that the next hearing on the plan will be before the Edmonds City Council on Oct. 7. Details of the plan are available on the City of Edmonds website here.

We will post the video of the meeting on My Edmonds News TV Tuesday.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

13 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos to The City Council for postponing its vote on the plan, and especially to Joan Bloom for the heads-up to our community! Many of us may have thought the project wouldn’t have an impact on us, but it certainly will, in a number of ways: increased traffic congestion, lack of parking, no lid on the number of households it might include (think: number of car trips per day), taxes in support of infrastructure, etc. It’s not all bad and most of us have a positive impression of Bartell’s. But thanks again to Joan and the Council! BTW, Bartell’s wants to develop only the quadrant where it’s store exists. Other developers would do the other three.

  2. Yes, and thank you to My Edmonds News for covering this last night, including photos and video! You provide a real service to the community.

  3. I absolutely applaud the citizen involvement with the question of what to do with Westgate. Now I hope everyone at the meeting who has not had the benefit of three plus years of study, hearings, discussions, deliberations and revisions to be sure to read the 1000 plus pages of documentation on the Westgate Plan. Just like any other action, there has been a thoughtful, deliberate process that resulted in the plan the Council is now considering.
    One area of study that is mentioned in this story is the question of increased traffic. The Transportation Study conducted for Westgate concluded that there would be an increase in traffic at the intersection of Edmonds Way and 100th, but not enough to change the “Level of Service” rating. It’s also important to know that this evaluation was made prior to the Planning Board’s action to reduce the housing density originally proposed for Westgate after receiving public comment. The net effect, of course, would be to reduce traffic at Westgate.
    This is only one area of study that should be considered by those who want to continue the process. Of course, they could also delegate that immense study to a group of informed citizens who carefully disclose their findings in a public forum and then solicit comment from those who are concerned. Presumably they would do this to improve the plan in some way, or reject it completely. Then with that feedback loop and revision they could present a much better plan to the council. But, that’s what the Planning Board did and what other concerned citizens have already done.
    Neil Tibbott

    • Neil:
      Excellent comments! The Westgate issue is a perfect example of why our country is a Republic and not a Democracy. The public at large cannot be expected to gather and digest all of the information related to such issues. That’s why we have elected officials, supported by staff and small volunteer citizen groups, to do that work for us, and they hopefully take into account the appropriate inputs from citizens.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Tibbott for your service on the Edmonds Planning Board and for your willingness to speak up here.

    I am interested in viewing the Westgate Transportation Study you mentioned. Is it available online somewhere? I am hopeful that a review of this study will alleviate some or all of my concerns about traffic.

  5. I suggest downloading the entire PB Agenda dated May 28th, 2014. Here’s the link to the agenda page… http://www.edmondswa.gov/planning-board-agenda.html . You will find 11 Attachments pertaining to the Westgate Plan. The one you’re looking for is #3, but you may also wish to peruse the others as well. You may also want to look at the Meeting Minutes that contain the public comment of the citizens who took time to voice their opinion that evening. I believe there were close to 20 who spoke up with concerns, which were subsequently addressed in the plan that was submitted to the Council.

  6. Reid,

    You will also be interested in Council’s approval on Tuesday, Sept 16 of the SR 104 Complete Streets Corridor Analysis. You can find this agenda item (and can listen to the discussion by clinking the icon), here:

    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/government/city-council/agendas.html

    While studying the SR 104 corridor, traffic and parking issues in the Westgate area will be a focus. Council just approved the contract with Fehr and Peers to complete the study, so it should be getting underway soon.

    In addition, there is now a link to the most recent Westgate plan, and link to all other materials, on the homepage of the city website: edmondswa.gov

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