From the Edmonds Development Director: Highway 99—the next great place

Shane Hope
Shane Hope

Want a job? Or to dine at an interesting Asian restaurant? How about buying a car, getting medical care, or finding a place to live? Want to go grocery shopping or catch a fast bus? Highway 99 is the place.

The area around Highway 99 is very diverse. Some parts of it you may love; other parts you may wish to skip over. But a big area—in fact, a two-mile stretch—lies in Edmonds. Exactly how the Highway 99 area will change in the future remains to be seen. But right now, the City of Edmonds has a chance to help shape that future.

That’s mainly because a few months ago, the City Council appropriated funds to work on a vision and plan for the Highway 99 area, building on information from the past but also thinking about new ideas. The project was slated to get underway in late 2015 and continue into 2016. Currently, a more detailed schedule and project scope are being developed.

This project will involve the public. People who live or work in the area will have input. Other interested people will too.

Let’s be clear about what’s at stake. The plan will address two major elements in the Highway 99 area: the large swath of publicly owned right-of-way, and the even larger areas of privately owned land flanking it. As for the highway right-of-way, with generous opportunities for public input, the city can decide how wide the sidewalks should be, what kinds of pedestrian amenities should be provided, and set a vision for the roadway itself. This will include thinking about whether some types of roadway improvements recently made in the City of Shoreline would work in Edmonds. Having a good plan in place will help the city qualify for grants to construct transportation improvements.

As for the adjacent private land, private owners have many options for using their property, but the city, those property owners and the public can come together during this Highway 99 area planning process to craft a vision for future land uses and development — not only how the community may want some things to change over time, but what things should be saved as they are.

A vision can’t happen in a vacuum. It needs to be grounded in understanding the impacts of choices. These may be based on traffic, taxes, business, housing, safety, and a host of other issues.

That’s why the City Council has directed that this effort be made — to understand the options, the impacts, and make sure a good plan is in place.  Without a plan, the community is at the mercy of whatever happens on a piece-meal basis. And that may not always be the best outcome.

So what’s happened so far in this project? Our neighboring jurisdictions – Shoreline, Lynnwood and Snohomish County – have been contacted and have shared their experiences. Regional and state agencies are being notified. Community outreach is beginning. Process details are being worked out.

Next, a firm that specializes in this type of planning will be hired to assist the city. Public announcements will be made for a workshop or open house to kick off the activities from there.

That will lead to one or more “big picture” vision concepts being identified. Then more details, as well as impacts of the vision choices, will be explored. A special information page will be set up on the City of Edmonds website for all to see. The City’s Planning Board will weigh in. More public input will be sought as a draft plan is developed.

Sometime next year, after ample public input and consideration of key information, a final plan will be adopted by the City Council. Then will come the implementation phase —making sure that people know about the plan, that regulations match the vision, and that grants are sought for public improvements.

Already, the Highway 99 area is an important part of Edmonds. In the future, as a good plan is implemented, it will become even more important. And, as a result, you will be proud that this stretch of roadway and it surrounding area are a unique and vibrant Edmonds neighborhood, inviting you to shop, dine, live and own a business there.

— By Shane Hope, City of Edmonds Development Director






  1. Good to hear this is happening. There’s not even a need to reinvent the wheel here. Just do whatever Shoreline has done with 99 — it’s beautiful!

    It makes so much more sense to funnel development to this area instead of Westgate.


  2. Before Edmonds tries what Shoreline has done with Hwy 99, they should be aware of the millions of dollars that were taken for the general fund, the surcharge slapped on all Seattle City Light bills, the property tax exemptions given to the developers, and the always subject to change development code for a special project.

    In Shoreline the City taxes the single family home owners and increases utility rates for the benefit of developers, be careful what you wish for Edmonds.


  3. I live in the general area and while I’m not crazy about everything that’s happening down in Shoreline (all those condos!), unquestionably it is nicer and presumably safer down there than it was just a few years ago. I don’t know for sure but I have a feeling they have unintentionally pushed some of their problems north into our area. Property crimes here seem to be up, and we’ve had infrequent but still disturbing violent incidents that seem to be drug-related.

    I think some attention to this part of town is probably overdue.


  4. Those aren’t condos, they are rentals. The developers get years worth of proprty tax exemptions if they build 1, 2, or 3 reduced rental units that with a 30% discount on rent. But the rent in the new units is almost the same as the new units in South Lake Union, so the tax burden falls on the single family home owners. Condo developers don’t get the same tax exemptions because they don’t offer rent reductions. Condos at least offer the opportunity for home owership. Home ownership is the single largest vehicle for creating equity to the middle class and Shoreline is taking that away.


  5. We just happened to make the drive on 99 this morning from here to the heart of Seattle and I say if Seattle and Shoreline have not made a dent or difference (and millions spent to beautify) in the crime and homeless population situation there !!!!……pretty looks are totally DECEIVING
    (front and center…cannot miss the SAD reality of that whole stretch even with pretty looking development and apt buildings) STILL is what it is……no change

    How ’bout instead of giving the zillions, profits, $$$$$$, etc. again to the developers and those that could give a rats you know what about this sad population…… an entity instead that will actually use it to get to the core of the problem, which is the huge gap between the very rich and the extremely sick and poor thrown away in this country. One out of six (children 1 out of 4) now living at below the poverty level and many with mental health/physical issues. With all the money made on development on 99, we still see the exact same issues and worse……all the way to Seattle.

    I am assuming that with the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding segregating our populations, that some may believe that if it looks real pretty, then it wont be called “segregation” when cities keep putting people, select populations, in these areas. Then again, 30 years after the rulings on segregation, and segregation continued anyway, people are really paying attention now to those that find ways to continue this, which IS breaking the LAW…….It is shamefull.

    Highways have always been what they are. One can look at the FBI map regarding crime on highways and see nothing has changed just because of development and fancy talk about strolling highways……..A lot of developer people have walked away with mega profits and given none back

    Why dont we do what they have done in UTAH and actually help these people…….they have no homeless populations in Utah………why not use our money for this instead of giving it away to the developers and people that dont give a damn

    Oh yeah, and “love thy neighbor as thyself”……..and, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world”

    so more rhetoric on development on that ol’ 99

    What is long overdue is attention to people and not money to be had!…..Ive heard all the same rhetoric before in Seattle…….I say baloney if there ever was some………Lets as a community actually do something to really help…..what a concept!…….really help this little part of our world and the people that call this home….all of them


  6. Shoreline spends little money on the poor, the homeless, or the mentally ill. Right being all the desirable commercial real estate along is the Inter urban Trail, rife drug deals, prostitution and the homeless. Did Shoreline come up with a plan, they did, they made it illegal to use all of Aurora Square and the Inter urban Trail for both minor and major crime. Even the City of Kent has a more proactive approach to the population above, they have the police and social services visit regularly to get people into treatment and into housing. One or 2 years ago at a joint Shoreline-Seattle council meeting, Seattle asked Shoreline what they were doing about the problems along 99 since Seattle was spending money on this very same problem, Shoreline had no answer because they don’t care at City Hall.

    It must be nirvana for the developers in Shoreline since they beat City Hall like a drumb.


  7. Seattle did have a pilot program for housing for the homeless, and THEN treatment, services, etc. for persons with addiction issues, mental health, etc…….This program was not amped up and made bigger in Seattle…..;UTAH used the same pilot program from Seattle only made it HUGE to totally fight all the homelessness, and it worked……I think there are only about 1300 people on the streets in all of the state of Utah.

    ****** While getting rid of all homeslessness in Utah, they also found out that having housing first helps with people’s sobriety……..Everybody always thinks the treatment has to come first, but Utah has proven providing a place to call home makes all the difference in the world for those with addiction issues…….And afterall, isn’t that what most people want in this world… know someone really cares and they have a place they can call home…..

    We could do this here. Housing first


  8. I don’t get the feeling that most of the people causing problems on 99 are homeless. Solving that problem would be wonderful but isn’t going to fix our crime problems.




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