Strategic plan survey results: Edmonds needs wider variety of stores, more affordable housing

After months of asking residents, business owners, customers and employees what they think about Edmonds — from housing prices to shopping opportunities to transportation options to schools — the consultant hired to develop a road map for Edmonds’ future presented his findings to a joint meeting of the Edmonds City Council and Planning Board Tuesday night.

Among the highlights of online surveys and in-person focus groups: Edmonds needs a wider variety of stores to keep people from shopping in nearby communities; it should encourage creation of more affordable housing to accommodate young people and families; and the city needs to develop a more user-friendly regulatory environment for businesses.

Consultant Tom Beckwith said he wanted to give council and planning board members a chance to review the data before it is shared with community members during a Strategic Plan open house set for Thursday, May 3.  You download the full 110-page report from the city’s website (click on April 24, Retreat #4 Presentation Material) that summarizes the results of the online and mailed surveys, and in-person focus groups and brainstorming sessions, otherwise known as charrettes.  The next step will be to go out in late May/early June with a statistically valid survey distributed at random to registered Edmonds voters, Beckwith noted.

The surveys were divided into five categories: adult and young adult residents, businesses, employees and customers. Here’s a summary of each:

Young adults (119 responses)

Because many of the survey respondents were from Edmonds-Woodway High School, the majority of those answering the questions (79 percent) ranged in age from 14-18. Based on their responses, young adults “do seem to have an affection for Edmonds,” Beckwith said, but the availability of jobs are an issue. Among the consultant’s recommendations: Create a youth jobs placement service and youth-oriented programs and places.

Adults (681 responses)

The majority of those surveyed were in professional/managerial jobs with college/graduate school educations. Citing a tendency for more women than men to complete these type of surveys, 68 percent of those responding were female, Beckwith noted, and 93 percent of all respondents were 45 and older.

The survey asked adults to rate a variety of areas, including city governance (lower ratings for “managing public finances” and higher ratings for “providing information to the public”) and employment opportunities (average to low ratings for number and quality of jobs available). Safety and security — including police, fire and hospital services — got medium to high ratings with ambulance/paramedic services rated the most favorably. Streets, sidewalks and roadway lighting did not fare as well, and in a different section of the survey, street maintenance — an ongoing issue due to the city budget — was also rated low. Educational opportunities, from preschools through adult continuing education, received average to high rankings.

Transportation conditions — in particular the availability of bus routes, stops and schedules and on and off-street parking — were rated lower, and Beckwith noted that the issue of bus schedules and stops also came up in the business survey. In particular, PCC Natural Markets noted that the majority of their employees commute by bus because they can’t afford to live in Edmonds, “and bus schedules don’t match the PCC schedule.”

Parks and recreation activities — in particular beach and shoreline access — received high rankings, but one area noted as lacking was the availability of public restrooms.

Adult respondents also gave high rankings to Edmonds’ arts and cultural programs, including the Edmonds Arts Festival and performing arts events in general. The city’s special events, from festivals such as the Taste of Edmonds to the 4th of July, Halloween and Tree Lighting celebrations, also received high marks.

When it came to “design appearances” of the city’s neighborhoods, those responding rated the downtown area highest, with Highway 99 receiving the lowest marks.

Adult residents said the city should recruit more tourist and art services, restaurants, retail and high technology businesses. These opinions were also reflected in the customer surveys (484 responses), which indicated that people are shopping elsewhere for clothing and shoes, housewares and hardware store items. The latter of which reflects the closure of the Ace Hardware store last summer, Beckwith said, adding: “You need to bring a hardware store into town.”

Edmonds is also surprisingly weak in drawing customers for professional, legal and dental services, Beckwith said.

For their part, the 219 Edmonds businesses that participated in the survey expressed strong feelings about how the city treats its businesses. A significant number of those responding rated the city regulatory environment and procedures average to very low, and gave average to low ratings to businesses’ ability to get city approval of projects.

The issue of affordable housing came up often in both the survey questions and the focus groups, which is likely connected to the desire to attract younger people and families, Beckwith said, describing it as “the need for community to renew itself.”






  1. S E R I O U S L Y! We spent money on a consultant to do this? We’ve known this forever. These very issues keep popping up over and over again. We didn’t learn anything new from this. Another example of fiscal mismanagement — getting low reviews on the the paid for survey! HELLO!

    More businesses in Edmonds that sell products that we need at affordable prices?! HELLO!

    Public transportation sucks. HELLO!

    I could go on and on but won’t cause you get the idea.

    The real question is that now that the Mayor and Council have gotten the same information from a PAID consultant (because us citizens telling them wasn’t really really credible evidence) are they going to do anything about it?!

  2. Wondering if I misread the article… Only 7 percent of “adult” respondents were between 18-45? The percentage of respondents in this age bracket drops even further when children from EW are included.

    Is this caused solely by methodology? Nope. It’s symptomatic of Edmonds larger problem and a glimpse of the future- a large, pretty retirement community.

  3. i agree with some of the above comments. i love the downtown area, but find that being retired and with out lots of money to spend, i cant do too much shopping in DT Edmonds. I do lots of walking for exercise. i go to Petosa’s to shop. i eat at a couple of restaurents. i miss Ace & remember the Variety Store? where you could by a little something you needed with out going on top of the hill somewhere. otherwise i absolutely love living in DT Edmonds and living the dream.


  4. We don’t need another Lynnwood in Edmonds. Cheaper housing provides a Lynnwood affect. Why don’t you ask Woodway if they should provide “cheaper housing”? Property values need to be maintained and increased if possible. If you want cheaper housing, go to Lynnwood. Keep Edmonds the way it is. Don’t destroy this jewel on Puget Sound.

  5. Jeez. Are you kidding me? I’ve lived in Deadmonds for my entire life (now living on the ‘rim’ of the bowl). The only places to do business in downtown Edmonds (which is what I believe this survey is mainly pointing to) are a few select eating establishments, one tavern, and the book store.

    And for affordable housing, forget it. I’m doing pretty good financially, and I wanted to buy a single family home downtown a couple years ago, but got priced out by the lack of homes, the old people, their condos, and their sweater-wearing poodles.

    That’s all Edmonds is: a retirement community. Oh well, better than big-hair Lynnwood. You reap what you sow.

  6. Agree that these are well-documented, old issues. Some issues we don’t control like public transit, with bus service declining again. I know kids are not, generally, fond of Edmonds and much of this is due to the adult orientation of activities, resources and the like (when will a teen oriented music event be scheduled @ the Edmonds Arts facility?). The city with the oldest population (by average age) in the County with the money and policitical/social position to decide what happens in our fair city. This may be as good as it gets and if so, let’s make the best of it.

  7. Tom hit the nail on the head. Perhaps this is the wrong place to moan about my gripe, but his comment about the survey being aimed soley at downtown Edmonds is correct. More focus needs to be paid to the housing areas north and south of the bowl. John Dolan is aslo correct; Woodway is great, but so is Sherwood Village. The City Council members should visit sometime… but be warned! The horrible roads in the area haven’t been paved in over 30 years. You should consider walking.

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