Edmonds Council president makes sure dogs are welcome on Sunset Avenue

Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim with dog Rolf preparing to remove a sign from Sunset Avenue.

With its spectacular views of the Edmonds waterfront, Sunset Avenue is a popular place for dog walking. Yet, until six months ago, it was against the law to walk your dog along the heavily traveled path on Sunset Avenue’s west side. And even though the Edmonds City Council voted in April to open the path to dogs, the “No Dogs in Park” signs remained.

That bothered Edmonds City Council President Steve Bernheim, who issued a news release early Saturday morning — with a copy to all City Council members — that he was taking matters into his own hands at 10 a.m. with a “sign removal ceremony.”

“I have decided to remove them so that the signs are consistent with law, so the public is not confused by the incorrect signs, and to reduce the number of 911 reports of illegal dog walking along Sunset,” he said in the news release.

Bernheim spray painted this sign after being unable to remove it. He's shown here with Sondra Padgett, who said she has been yelled at for walking her dog along Sunset Avenue, even though it's now legal to do so.

In truth, the “ceremony” involved Bernheim showing  up with a bag of tools and his German Shepherd, Rolf, to physically remove the signs. In the case of one sign that he didn’t have the proper tools to remove, Bernheim actually spray painted over the word “No” so that that sign read “Dogs in the Park.”

There’s some history behind the sign removal. In February 2009, Merrilyn Alkire of Edmonds testified before the City Council that during walks along Sunset Avenue with her dog, she often needed to sit down due to health issues. However, she was told she couldn’t sit on a bench along the avenue because dogs were not allowed. In April 2010, the city council voted to open the west side of Sunset Avenue to dog walking, but six months later, the signs were still up.

Bernheim’s action drew praise from Edmonds resident Sondra Padgett, who happened to be out walking her dog Bear along Sunset Saturday morning. Padgett says she frequently takes Bear on that stretch of scenic road, and recently had a woman yell at her for violating the rules.

Now that the west side of Sunset is open to canines, Bernheim shared with My Edmonds News another idea for improving the roadway: Switching the parking for vehicles, currently located on the west side next to the walking path, with the bicycle lane, now on Sunset’s east side. That way, bicycle and pedestrian pathways would be next to each other.

11 Replies to “Edmonds Council president makes sure dogs are welcome on Sunset Avenue”

  1. Interesting story! The Council passed an ordinance and the City Attorney was told to prepare and submit a prepared written ordinance. But this lawyer does not do so, so why not? Did Mayor Haakenson tell him to not do so? And why did I for years have the impression our “City” Attorney was in reality Mayor Haakenson’s attorney? Maybe Mr. Snyder will have an explanation on Nov 1st!

    Its stuff like this that has convinced me that a council manager form of goverment would be superior to our current system! So much for the “strong” Mayor system!


  2. Guess somebody missed the “Rally to Restore Sanity” yesterday.

    Gents – please maintain your perspective and objectivity in your comments, so that we can all move forward. Taking potshots solves nothing.

    If you have real objections, please state them clearly and factually, followed by a reasonable suggestion for how you’d like to see things handled, if you have one. This should be part of our code of civil discourse, so that we can get past the pettiness in our local politics. I invite you to eliminate the name-calling and dark insinuations of the past, and join in the solution solving of the present.

    As for the matter at hand, perhaps there is a technical reason why the sign removal event should have been delayed until the passed ordinance was fully published. I like things by the book – it’s a good way to run nuclear reactors and submarines. But really – to imply that dark forces were at work, in the manner in which these signs were removed, doesn’t bring clarity to the issues we face in our City.


  3. The update of the park ordinance to remove these signs was approved months ago just like the ordinance for financial clarity and new financial disclosures was approved in April 2010. I mentioned it to Strom to ask why the signs had not been removed as a founding member of OLAE (Off-Leash Area Edmonds) we had done a study to remove these signs for this area.

    I think Mr. Bernheim was proving a point that the legislative branch really should have the last word for our administration and to set the record straight, Brian Mc Intosh did appoligize to Mr. Bernheim for not removing the signs earlier.

    So, it was again a matter of miscommunication.


  4. so… Council President Bernheim issued a press release that he was going to deface public property, he removed signs and defaced one, and the police are good with that?
    There are no replacement signs that dogs must be leashed, no “bag it” signs regarding the mess, and further his “vision” is to move the parking to where the bike lane is currently (next to the very nice sidewalk) so that the bicycle and pedestrian walkways will be next to each other (which they currently are).
    The very patient and pleasant owners of those view homes must be tickled silly to hear that their view will be hood ornaments from their front yards.
    Councilperson Buckshnis explains that “the legislative branch really should have the last word for the administration” (I think the Courts already own that responsibility), and some how it relates to the financial reporting changes in April. And as always, it is a miscommunication somehow.
    Rolf and Bear have a bigger job than I thought!


    1. I would encourage those commenting on this story to heed the post from Todd Cloutier below. I’ve already had to remove one comment.


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