Many Edmonds residents may not recall the definitive feedback results presented in April, 2009 by the 60-plus participants on the Edmonds Citizen Levy Review Committee. Their work included a broad study of [still] ongoing budgetary/fiscal challenges facing our city. Their final report to the city concluded universally that Edmonds does not have a “spending problem”, but a “revenue problem”. Furthermore, this citizen committee also concluded that our city’s elected officials over the past many years (primarily the council) have been lacking in both leadership and direction toward creating solutions, which could place us on a more sustainable fiscal platform crucial for the future of Edmonds. Instead we continue to limp along “resolving” such heady issues as plastic bags, trees damaging sidewalks, cat leash laws, domestic fowl, and community vegetable gardens.
Some effort has been made over the course of 2013: The council has reactivated the city’s Economic Development Commission, but most recent misunderstandings between council representatives to the EDC and the commission itself as to authority and purpose are contributing to a distrusting relationship between the two bodies. In April of this year, the council formally adopted a Strategic Action Plan with over 80 items identified by citizens and stakeholders across a broad demographic representation involved in the plan’s development. Within this plan Strategic Objective #1 [comprising 37 of the 80+ action items] calls for creation of “economic health, vitality and sustainability” in Edmonds. Thusfar we have neither observed nor experienced council action in leading this major objective within the plan.
The unfortunate long-term situation of slow economic recovery in our state and region has taken full effect as many economists and analysts had projected. We must accept and deal with the following: part of our economic recovery necessarily involves commercial real estate financing and development and/or re- development of existing properties. We need this toward continued growth of quality of life in Edmonds— for residents, taxpayers, and visitors. These aspects of recovery are very “sluggish” in our city. There has been little if any significant real estate development in this city for many years.
In my judgment, continuing economic recovery plans for Edmonds must include a more vigorous physical development growth profile (both commercial and residential) than currently voiced by some of our city council. The carrying out of such development objectives will take time—likely more than several years. Without fundamental change in leadership policy and adoption of such objective goals, Edmonds will continue dealing with budgeting problems leading to ongoing stagnant levels in city functions and services, not to mention continued decline of city-owned property and infrastructure. At current pace we will be looking at property tax increases in order to alleviate these problems.
Our elected leaders need to work harder at this and we need a city council united to work consistently on behalf of this most pressing need for our city: sensible growth. It’s not “OK” to “keep Edmonds exactly the way it is”. It’s not “OK” to attempt exacting “freebies” for the city from property owners/developers who want to improve our town through new construction projects. We need project champions on our council for sensible real estate re-development of city properties as appropriate–including viable financing proposals. We need stronger and united commitments by our city council towards the fiscal growth and sustainability of Edmonds. We need Strom Peterson, Kristiana Johnson, and Ron Wambolt on our city council. These are the candidates that we should support in the coming election as well as those of like mind and purpose in future elections.