The Edmonds City Council made quick work of several agenda items Tuesday night, unanimously approving a request for proposals (RFP) for a consultant who can assist the city in determining the extent of the homelessness problem in Edmonds and establishing a fund so that individuals and groups can donate toward restoration and preservation efforts for the Edmonds Marsh.
And at the end of the meeting, Council President Mike Nelson took an opportunity to challenge Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan on his statement Monday regarding an Edmonds high school student who was late to soccer practice and fabricated a story about being stopped by Edmonds police.
Compaan had expressed frustration about the community’s “rush to judgment” on social media about the incident, stating that “a lack of factual information combined with heightened emotions often result in erroneous conclusions and rarely lead to well-reasoned outcomes.”
Nelson pointed to the recent arrest of a Harvey’s Lounge employee for threatening two African American teens with a baseball bat, the discovery last fall of a noose at an Edmonds construction site, and incidents in the past year of swastikas and racial slurs on cars and school buildings. “In this context, your publicly shaming an African American teenager will not resolve these emotions,” Nelson said. “Nor will capturing a suspect make this all go away.”
“The facts are, we’ve had a series of racial incidents in our community, with many of them unsolved,” Nelson said. He then proposed “deeper community engagement” and invited the police chief to join him in meeting with affected community members “to listen and to put together a plan that fosters tolerance, acceptance, trust and a safer community for us all.”
Regarding the homelessness RFP, the goal is to find a consultant “to assist the city in determining the extent of the homelessness problem in Edmonds, and to identify services available to the homeless.” The proposal must not exceed $25,000, which is part of $250,000 approved by the council to tackle the homelessness issue.
“One of the reasons why we’re doing this…is we don’t really know how big the problem is,” said Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. “Until we have a better understanding of who (the homeless) are and where they’re at and what the needs are, we’re just kind of spinning our wheels.”
Councilmember Dave Teitzel, who along with Fraley-Monillas and Nelson sits on the Homelessness Task Force formed to explore the issue, said the task force also is examining existing resources — such as those from state, county and faith organizations — that “we believe are not well enough coordinated.” The goal is to figure out “how we can efficiently use our $250,000 because it is precious taxpayer money,” Teitzel said.
Regarding the Edmonds Marsh Restoration and Preservation Fund, Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said she’s been working for years to develop a mechanism by which individuals and entities could donate to a fund aimed at assisting city efforts to ensure the health of the marsh. All donations will be added to already existing city funds set aside so far for Marsh restoration and preservation, as well as the future daylighting of Willow Creek.
Buckshnis noted she already has received donations of two checks totaling $7,500 to place into the fund.
The council also approved changing the city’s code governing how frequently businesses are required to pay a utility tax. Under the amended code, businesses with a monthly gross income of $10,000 or less will pay those taxes quarterly rather than monthly, which will be more efficient for city staff to process.
In other business, councilmembers learned from Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling that the state’s capital budget includes $500,000 for the new Edmonds Waterfront Center and $500,000 for waterfront rehabilitation work next to the planned center, which will house both the senior center and an all-ages community center. Earling said that State Sen. Maralyn Chase deserves the credit for obtaining senior center funding, while Rep. Strom Peterson acquired money for the rehabilitation project.
And the council received an update from Public Works Director Phil Williams on the status of the planned trackside warning system at the Dayton and Main Street railroad crossings, which would significantly reduce train horn noise along the waterfront. The city has completed the right-of-way permitting process with the BNSF railroad, and the next step is to install PUD service meters that will power the system. The hope is have it ready for operation this summer, Williams said.
The council also heard, among other items, the Edmonds Arts Commission Annual Report for 2017, the City Attorney Annual Report and the December 2017 Quarterly Financial Report.
— By Teresa Wippel