The crowd began gathering well before the opening of Tuesday’s Edmonds City Council meeting, carrying signs showing support for the anticipated vote on the Safe City Resolution.
The public testimony period was entirely taken up with citizen comments on the resolution. Many shared heartfelt personal stories. All with the exception of one were overwhelmingly in support.
During discussion, all councilmembers voiced strong support for the measure
“The strength of our community comes from our rich diversity,” said Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, who drafted the resolution. “Harassment and violence are not OK, and have no place in our community. Sadly, there have been a number of recent incidents in our community, and even more sadly, these have been on the rise. That makes it particularly important at this time that we as a council take a stand in support of human dignity.”
Councilmember Teitzel underscored the distinction between a “safe city” and a “sanctuary city,” pointing out that this resolution supports the right of all citizen and visitors to Edmonds to a safe, hate-free environment, but stops short of declaring Edmonds a sanctuary. Fraley-Monillas responded that this resolution is a “baby step” and while it could pave the way for a future sanctuary city effort, its intent is to reaffirm the rights of all in Edmonds to a safe environment.
The strongest comments however were voiced by Councilmember Mike Nelson, who took issue with those who oppose this resolution. Reading from an email he received, he quoted the writer as saying that it’s not the council’s business to engage in social engineering, and that if someone wants to help undocumented persons, they can do so individually without involving city government. Nelson drew applause when he responded, “This is America. We don’t leave people by the side of the road. We help our neighbors, and city government does not get to choose who it will or won’t help. You are in Edmonds now. If you want to spew hate and fear, go somewhere else. Not in our town; not on my watch.”
The Safe City resolution passed unanimously.
Also at the meeting, the council:
– Heard the City Attorney’s annual report from Jeff Taraday of the Lighthouse Law Group, who reviewed the role of the City Attorney in advising and representing the council and the Mayor. He also highlighted the major work items addressed by the City Attorney in 2016.
– Listened to a presentation from Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty on the interlocal agreement with the Snohomish County Health District, formalizing the recent Council-approved appropriation of $40,900 in the 2017 budget to support the Health District. Council agreed to forward this to the consent agenda for Jan. 17.
– Received a report from Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite on the proposal to purchase the Edmonds fishing pier for the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Recent rehabilitation work on the pier means that it will last for an estimated 40 more years without additional rehab. Calling it a “tremendous asset to Edmonds,” Hite asked for direction from the council about whether to pursue this with the state. The council was overwhelmingly in support, and directed Hite to work with the state to move forward in acquiring the fishing pier for Edmonds.
– Heard a presentation from Public Works Director Phil Williams and others on the Snohomish County Hazard Mitigation Plan that details the potential hazards facing Edmonds, and their potential impact on the city. To be eligible for federal funding to cover disaster-related costs, the city must approve and adopt a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan such as the Snohomish County Plan. While other jurisdictions have already adopted the plan, Edmonds still needs to. Councilmembers had a number of questions, and Williams will provide additional information for their consideration.
– Received information from Development Services Director Shane Hope about the Tree Board member appointment process, and how it has changed from the original code-mandated procedure that each councilmember would appoint a member, to one where the entire council considers each member. Hope suggested revising the code to bring it into conformity, and suggested that these changes could reflect whatever the council wants. She went on to outline the specific issues, and asked that the council provide direction prior to a new code being drafted.
* Also heard from Shane Hope about the recently-received letter from the State Department of Ecology Director in response to the Council’s recommendations regarding the size of buffer setbacks in the Shoreline Master Program. According to Hope, the Ecology Department agrees with some of the council proposals, but is asking for additional discussion. Ecology representatives will attend the Jan. 24 council meeting, and are asking for a response from the City by the end of March. Read more in our related story here.
* Approved the purchase of a new bucket truck to replace the current one with a 17-year-old lift. The money is already budgeted, but according to Public Works Director Phil Williams the order needs to go in now because of the length of the manufacturing time, which takes almost a year since each truck is custom-built to order.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel