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