By Harry Gatjens
The Edmonds City Council can check two major issues off its list: On Tuesday night, a majority of councilmembers voted to make building requirements in the commercial business district the same when it comes to setbacks, and they also approved the city’s long-awaited Strategic Plan.
With Mayor Dave Earling in Japan with the Sister City Commission, the meeting was chaired by Council President Lora Petso, who voted against both measures.
The council voted 4-3 to amend the Edmonds Community Development Code so that building requirements in the four main commercial business districts — BD1, BD2, BD3 and BD4 — are the same. Before the amendment, buildings in BD2, BD3 and BD4 were limited to 25 feet unless the 15-foot setback was used. Now the overall height is 30 feet for all buildings, regardless of whether a setback is used. All buildings are required to comply with new architectural design standards.
Councilmembers Petso, Joan Bloom and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas wanted to set the maximum height to 25 feet but they were voted down 4-3, with Councilmembers Frank Yamamoto, Kristiana Johnson, Diane Buckshnis and Strom Peterson in favor. Petso did make an amendment to change the language to require longer buildings — for example, those extending nearly a city block — to have architectural variations, to match the historical look of Edmonds. This amendment was approved.
With several citizens stating their objections to increased building heights, Councilmember Buckshnis released the following statement.
“We did not raise building heights in our decision tonight; we changed design standards. The design standards in BD-1 are now the same in the other BD zones. This approval tonight only removed a 15-foot step back between the 25- to 30-foot height requirement. There was no change in height as the maximum height in all the BD zone areas has always been 30 feet.”
The second major item discussed was the Strategic Action Plan. Tom Beckwith and Steve Price of Beckwith Consulting Group presented an edited version of the Strategic Plan as covered in My Edmonds News article here.
Several Councilmembers asked questions, particularly about how to avoid getting sidetracked on lower-level priorities and instead focus on those of high priority.
The two consultants pointed out that anything listed in the plan was there because of interest by Edmonds citizens. Low-priority items should still be considered important — just not as important as the higher-rated items. They also mentioned, in response to a question from Fraley-Monillas, that this plan will work well with the City’s proposed “budgeting for objectives” system when it gets implemented.
The council approved the Strategic Plan 6-1 with Petso voting against, stating her preference to hold a public hearing before adopting the plan. A copy of the final plan is located here