Edmonds City Council approves study on waterfront access; finalizes Point Edwards decision

Edmonds City Councilmember Frank Yamamoto receives a plaque and congratulations from Council President Lora Petso Tuesday night. Yamamoto is resigning from his council seat effective Dec. 31.
Edmonds City Councilmember Frank Yamamoto receives a plaque and congratulations from Council President Lora Petso Tuesday night. Yamamoto is resigning from his council seat effective Dec. 31.

After a lively debate about the best way to ensure that Edmonds can provide emergency waterfront access across railroad tracks that separate the waterfront from the rest of the city, the Edmonds City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to approve a study that will emphasizes and prioritizes “near-term solutions.”

Voting against the measure were Council President Lora Petso and Councilmember Joan Bloom, who objected not to the emergency access portion, but to including as part of the study a consideration of options to the Edmonds Crossing Multimodal Terminal project. That state-proposed project, which would have involved relocating the Edmonds ferry terminal south of the existing terminal site, is currently on hold due to lack of state funding. However, Petso and Bloom expressed concerns that the city — by looking at options to the Edmonds Crossing project — leaves the city vulnerable to having the project taken over by the state ferry system.

There was no shortage of emotion, however, about the need to move as quickly as possible to solve what has become a nagging worry: What happens if someone suffers a medical emergency at the Edmonds Senior Center or anywhere along the waterfront and a train breaks down, blocking access for emergency vehicles trying to get across the town’s two train-crossing intersections.

“Eventually we are going to run out of time here and I don’t want to be the councilmember that has to look that family in the face,” said Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas.

The alternatives analysis proposed by city staff to study waterfront issues included four components: 1) emergency vehicle access, 2) at-grade conflicts where Main and Dayton Streets intersect BNSF rail lines, 3) pedestrian/bicycle access and 4) options to the Edmonds Crossing project.

Several councilmembers made the case that emergency access should be separated from the other three items and addressed immediately, given that when a train is stuck on the tracks, citizens are currently stuck on the other side until the train moves again.

But Economic and Community Development Director Stephen Clifton and Public Works Director Phil Wiliiams pointed out that such a project in itself will require significant planning and funding — and that it would be better addressed “holistically,” as Clifton put it, to ensure that the city can take advantage of any state and federal grant money. Government dollars are more likely to be allocated to an overpass project that is less “Edmonds-centric,” Councilmember Strom Peterson added.

Councilmembers continued to push the issue, however, so Clifton came back with revised language that included “emphasizing and prioritizing near-term solutions” for providing emergency access issues, along with looking at the other three areas as part of the study.

In other action, the council:

— To the applause of many visitors in the room, voted 4-3 (Councilmembers Peterson, Frank Yamamoto and Kristiana Johnson against) to approve the findings of fact and conclusion resulting from the Council’s decision Nov. 12 to reverse the City Architectural Design Board’s approval of plans for Building Number 10, a five-story, 85-unit apartment building proposed for the Point Edwards development. (There was mention during the meeting that Point Edwards developers have already filed a lawsuit against the city related to that decision; we have asked for a copy and will provide more details when they become available.)

–Voted 4-3 (Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Bloom and Petso voting no)  to approve a planning board proposal to include a definition of “reasonable economic use” within the city’s critical area regulations.

— Unanimously approved the city’s 2014-19 Capital Improvement Program.

— Unanimously approved the city’s 2014 legislative agenda and a professional services agreement to continue working with the city’s longtime lobbyist Mike Doubleday.

— Continued discussion on Edmonds’ Shoreline Master Plan update.


  1. When voting next time the citizens of Edmonds need to do their homework and make sure there aren’t any conflicts of interest or candidates with political obligations to outside entities. This is ALL very easy to research on the Internet.

  2. Thanks for the report on City Council action last night (12/17). The vote results seem to confirm that the city is attempting to move forward in it’s planning and potential actions, however the distribution among voting council members ONCE AGAIN confirms that we have a group of elected ‘leaders’ who continuously demonstrate the apparent divide within our city; one side progressive, the other regressive.

    This fact Is becoming more and more evident to taxpaying residents in Edmonds as well as outside observers. Is there no reasonable middle ground plan that supports mandated growth and development within our city upon which the citizens and commercial interests can rely? What are we doing to assure the future sustainability of Edmonds — physically, economically, and environmentally?

  3. I was just going to say that here comes another lawsuit when I read it above. What is most unteresting is that a council who has very limited experience with architectual design is over turning a committee where several members have made their living in that field. Makes no sense whatsoever.

  4. no surprise!

    the priority on “emergency access” across the railroad crossing is on – spending money!

    the emergency access is just an excuse!

    i haven’t had the opportunity to address the council at the meetings recently – however . . .

    about a month or so ago, on this very web site – i posted an – inexpensive solution!

    at the same time, i sent my solution to each and every member of the council AND the mayor

    total responses between the web site AND the city “representatives”

    1 big – goose egg!


    i can only assume – it didn’t give enough $$$ to the right people!

    so – for anyone that wants the project done without much ado . . .

    a stair case/elevator on either side of the tracks with a connecting bridge. i have frequently used this in southern california – at the train station in orange county – though if forgot which one…

    and leave – what do you call the bed on wheels – with a modified golf cart – at the ferry pedestrian building – with 24/7 emergency access

    anyone – the bed can easily use the elevator to get up to the bridge and down the other side to a waiting emergency vehicle.

    yes – the only problem with that??? it doesn’t use enough tax dollars!


    and feel free to notify those that give away tax dollars!


  5. Not that anyone should be without emergency response availability but it happens sometimes. For instance a few years back when we had the ice storm there were many locations that became essentially inaccessible to an emergency responder. How about someone look at the number of times that a train has been stuck across those two intersections and I would be willing to bet it is on the order of the occurrence of a natural disaster or even a major natural event such as an ice storm or major power outage. Combine this with the probability that someone requires medical attention at the same time and now we have a very small probability of occurrence. Finally it is not at all unreasonable to hop between the cars of a stopped train, certainly our emergency response teams are trained in moving a person in need of a hospital through much more precarious conditions, like out of a burning building. Otherwise how about yearly training for emergency responders to communicate with train operator, jump between a train and hand a cart through or even store some equipment on the other side at the apartments for just such an event. This may cost the city a whopping $5000. Agree with above, tell people what the real reasons are and let us decide what is best for our fair city.

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