Complete Streets meeting becomes forum for Edmonds car tax supporters

Last Thursday night’s meeting about the Cascade Land Conservancy’s “Complete Streets” initiative — aimed at producing pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets in Edmonds — became mostly a forum for those supporting Edmonds Proposition 1, a proposed $40-per-vehicle increase in licensing fees to fund 37 separate city traffic safety, congestion and pedestrian improvements.

Among the approximately 20 people attending the meeting were Edmonds City Councilmember Strom Peterson and City Transportation Engineer Bertrand Haus, both of whom said they were there as private citizens and not as official city representatives. Kristiana Johnson of the Edmonds Citizen Transportation Committee provided an overview of Proposition 1 and the projects it would fund if approved by voters in November. A list of those projects can be found here.

Both Peterson and Johnson (along with the majority of the Edmonds Citizens Transportation Comittee) have endorsed Proposition 1, and Sierra Club representative Rebecca Wolfe announced to the group that her organization is supporting the measure. City Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Steve Bernheim and Diane Buckshnis, and Mayor Mike Cooper have also signed on as endorsers.

But the city council’s vote to place the proposal on the ballot was 4-3, and another Edmonds councilmember, D.J. Wilson, is leading the No on Proposition 1 campaign. The No campaign now has a Facebook page and a website will be launched soon.

Complete Streets representatives Patrick Green and Skye Schell told the group that the Cascade Land Conservancy is not taking a position on Proposition 1, which has been the subject of spirited debate throughout Edmonds in recent weeks. (See the My Edmonds News poll here.) But they did provide an update on their efforts to secure eventual Edmonds City Council passage of an ordinance — completely separate from the Proposition 1 measure — to ensure that the city will incorporate “Complete Streets practices” into the planning, development and construction of transportation projects.

According to the draft ordinance language, Complete Streets are defined as “design features that contribute to a safe, convenient, or comfortable travel experience for users, including but not limited to features such as: sidewalks; shared use paths; bicycle lanes; automobile lanes; paved shoulders; street trees and landscaping; planting strips and green infrastructure; accessible curb ramps; bulb outs; crosswalks; pedestrian and traffic signals, signage; street furniture; bicycle parking facilities; public transportation stops and facilities; transit priority signalization; traffic calming devices; and those features identified in the City of Edmonds Transportation Master Plan.”

Other Puget Sound-area cities, including Kirkland and Tacoma, have signed on as Complete Streets supporters, Schell said. Yet, while Complete Streets would give direction to city planners, there is no current funding available to support those directions, and that’s what Proposition 1 supporters were quick to point out during Thursday night’s meeting.

  1. Hi Teresa
    You are so correct with your article… myself; who was hosting the event, and Cascade Land Conservancy “Complete Streets” folks are definitely not taking a position on Proposition 1. The meet & greet, informational meeting was set to help folks in our community learn more about the “Complete Streets” initiative. I wanted to let your readers know this information and you as well. I truly appreciate your interest in the project and attendance at the meeting. Your news source is valuable to our community and helps us all to stay informed and connected.
    My Best,
    Laura Spehar

  2. Wish I could have made it to the Complete Streets meeting, and sorry that it got sidetracked into Prop 1 politics. Complete Streets is an approach to transportation planning, not a list of projects. I hope that, in the future, we can all keep that in mind, so that Complete Streets doesn’t fall victim to crossfire in the Prop 1 debate.

  3. So, Mr. Peterson says he wasn’t there officially (is there any other way for him to have been there, he is a sitting member of both the City Council and the TBD).

    Why is the Sierra Club endorsing Proposition 1 What is the interest of the Sierra Club in Edmonds streets and infrastructure? What is the agenda? Do we need lobbyists, and special interests to help draft our town’s ordinances? Complete Streets is a National Organization, as well. Those organizations take no consideration of the fiscal hardships to some of Edmonds citizens should they get this passed, They may have some great ideas, but can Edmonds citizens afford to pay for those ideas (as well as some not so great ideas)?.

  4. How many “private” citizens are endorsed by the Sierra Club? Mr. Peterson needs to disclose his affiliations, and be honest about them. (I personally don’t care who endorsed him, but dislike it when politicians aren’t straightforward and forthcoming about such affiliations).

  5. This is an apples-and-oranges discussion. Complete Streets is an abstract package of design guidelines. Prop 1 is a tangible $65 million package of highly debatable road projects. It’s wrong to commingle the two; you can support the first but not the second. I resent the Sierra Club meddling in Edmonds fiscal affairs; I share Diane T.’s suspicion that it is downright weird, and probably well outside Sierra Club’s mission brief, for them to be thumping the tub for Prop 1.

    National organizations pressing for local policy changes while “tak[ing] no consideration of the fiscal hardships to some Edmonds citizens,” as Diane T. puts it,. deserve no place at the debating table.

  6. Well put Tom Farmer, Diane T, and Todd Cloutier!! BTW, aren’t we still up in arms about corporations telling our government how to govern us, the people?! Last time I checked, Sierra Club is a corporation!

    GOVERNMENT FOR PEOPLE — not government for corporations!!!!!!!

  7. @Tom. Thanks for the info about Complete Streets , and if they aren’t tangled in Prop One they have my apology. Why they allowed a meeting of theirs to have a presentation in support of Prop One if they do not want to be intangled in it, is a mystery to me.

  8. I just wanted to clarify a couple of points in the article and the responses.

    I was attending the meeting as a citizen and member of the City Council. I was not, as the article correctly states, representing the “City” when speaking to any of the issues we discussed. The City, by law, must remain neutral regarding the issue of Proposition 1 or other ballot measures.

    I have to disagree that the conversation about Complete Streets became a forum for Proposition 1. Right now, Prop 1 is the only funding source on the horizon for transportation needs so it was a big part of the conversation and many citizens in attendance asked some tough questions regarding the proposed fees. To talk about the benefits of Complete Streets without any talk of funding would be shortsighted and unrealistic. I agree with Mr. Cloutier that Complete Streets should not fall victim to any disagreement over funding, but the two conversations can’t be completely seperate.

    I would also like to note that we discussed the Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Groups new Bicycle Safety Education program in our schools, crosswalks, the Edmonds Marsh, some Edmonds history, and many other issues that had nothing to do with Prop. 1.

    To Diane T’s question, I have been endorsed by the local chapter of the Sierra Club in the past and have always been open and honest (and proud) of that endorsement. It was also the local chapter (made up of citizens from Edmonds and surrounding communities) that endorsed Prop. 1, not the national organization. To my knowledge, I did not have any influence over their endorsement of Prop 1.

    Finally, like so many others, I would like to thank myedmondsnews for the thorough, fair, and straight forward coverage on so many issues in our community. And thanks to Laura Spehar and Barbara Tipton for organizing such an important community event.

    1. Thanks to Councilmember Peterson for noting that there were indeed a variety of other transportation-related issues discussed during the meeting that I did not list in the article, but hope to highlight in the future — especially the wonderful work of the Bicycle Safety Education program.

  9. So, how does it work, Mr. Peterson, that you as both an elected City Official, and TBD Board Member act as a “private citizen” and discuss Prop One, while it is still just a proposition, it has not been approved by the voters.
    Would citizens have been been asking you “tough questions about the proposed fees” if you were not their representative on the Council? Is speaking about “Prop 1″ being the only funding source on the horizon” right now” (since it hasn’t passed) appropriate. (The other funding source on the horizon would of course be a levy).
    It is entirely possible to discuss streets and design issues without dealing with the TBD funding. Maybe it would be less short-sighted and more productive to wait for the vote, to discuss funding issues. (That vote is only 2 months away..)
    The Sierra Club is a National Organization with local chapters, I don’t think you can have one without the other. They are not separate entities.
    How much money if any, did your campaign receive from the Sierra Club? (Local and/or national) ? The Sierra Club, at the meeting Endorsed a local city issue ( and may have used the Complete Streets forum inappropriately to do so). I have some major issues with that.

  10. @ Diane T. As I stated before, I was there as a citizen AND city counilmember.
    Here is a link to some information regarding an elected official’s ability to advocate for ballot measures

    Probably the most pertinent section is this.

    “5. Local elected officials are free to support agency ballot issues and engage in other political activities as long as such activities do not make use of government facilities, time or resources and do not either pressure or condone employees’ use of agency facilities, time or resources to support ballot issues.”

    And just for clarification, the Complete Streets meeting was coordinated by private citizens.

    As for the Sierra Club, they did not donate to my campaign.

    1. I do want to make it clear that this was indeed a meeting hosted by Edmonds citizens, not a city-sponsored meeting. And it was advertised as a meeting about Complete Streets.

  11. @ Mr. Peterson. I am sure you were crystal clear to all concerned when you spoke as a citizen, when you spoke as a council person, and when you spoke as a TBD board member.
    If the meeting was about streets and design which the “private citizens” who held the forum were trying to do, why were you entertaining TBD questions at all? Whether or not the funding from the TBD fees will or will not be available will be known in a couple of months. Why did the Sierra Club endorse a local taxation proposition?
    The Sierra Club is a national organization with local chapters (with Edmonds citizens who support their work). The issue is why The Sierra Club is endorsing THIS Proposition (they have no interest in it at all) and why they did it at that forum. You were endorsed by the Sierra Club and know good and well it is a National Organization with an agenda (we can agree or disagree about the agenda….but it truly has no place discussing raising our taxes or supporting such a huge increase).

    The City’s Website does appear to have a small issue with the PDC document you so kindly provided. Stating that the Council voted to place a $40 renewal fee on the ballot, does appear to be less than neutral, and in conflict with that document you cite. (I have brought this to the attention of each councilmember more than once over the past several weeks, and no one seems,except Council Member Petso. in the least bit concerned).
    So, thanks for the reference to the document.

  12. It is unfortunate that this debate has been sidetracked by those who wish to attack the Sierra Club, in particular the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club. It is well within the mission of the Cascade Chapter to endorse local campaign issues that affect the environment.

    This is from their website, “The priorities of the Cascade Chapter also encompass the crucial third part of the Sierra Club mission: Protect the planet that we love to explore and enjoy. Our volunteers work hard to achieve a broad range of well-defined conservation goals, in ways ranging from hands-on habitat restoration to active lobbying for better legislation.” Better legislation includes transit and transportation issues such as Prop. 1.

    For example, if we can move people and cars around more efficiently, then we decrease the negative impacts those activities have on the environment, especially Puget Sound.

    The Sierra Club is not the problem, our cars and lifestyles are. Now as I’ve just remembered I haven’t yet renewed my Sierra Club membership and will do so straight away, I leave you with these words of John Muir, founder and first president of the Sierra Club, “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. “

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