In an Aug. 25, 2014, article in the Herald Business Journal (“Westgate wants to be more walkable, green, diverse”), Mayor Dave Earling is quoted: “What’s the missing piece [of Westgate]? A walkable neighborhood.” The Westgate plan is being promoted by Mayor Earling and his staff as creating a walkable urban village. As the plan is currently configured, with commercial mixed-use allowed in all four sections of Westgate, it will have the opposite effect. It will create a nightmare of pedestrian, traffic and parking problems for those who shop at the many large commercial spaces: QFC, PCC, Bartell, Goodwill, Walgreens, and the smaller shops.
Westgate is not now, nor will it ever be, a walkable urban village. Westgate is divided into four quadrants, by SR 104 and by 9th/100th Ave. Thousands of cars travel on SR 104 daily, going east to Interstate 5, and west to the ferry, waterfront, and downtown. Because of narrow sidewalks and their close proximity to SR 104, and because cars enter and exit onto the highway, it’s not comfortable to walk along that road. In many places, it is downright unpleasant, if not scary. Crossing the intersection, from PCC to Bartell, for example, is a fun game of don’t get hit by cars turning right. Same game of chance walking on 9th/100th at Westgate. The development as proposed will make pedestrian crossing worse, far worse. How is that “a walkable neighborhood.”
I urge everyone who cares about the future of Westgate to walk the area, cross the roads, and experience the fun for yourself. While you are doing so, please think about what it would be like to walk the same highway and roads with three- or four-story buildings within 18 feet. That is about how close they would be to you with the current proposal.
In his editorial “Perfection vs. good,” Earling referenced Voltaire as saying “perfect is the enemy of good.” Mayor Earling goes on to ask, “What should we do at Westgate? Change it or leave it the same?” I don’t recall any plan that has been presented that is good, let alone perfect: bad is the enemy of acceptable.
Apparently, Mayor Earling is unaware of another of Voltaire’s famous sayings: “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” To the Mayor, staff, and fellow councilmembers, who are critical of questions, critical of concern over mega-developments that will affect our city, forever: indifference is the enemy of good.
I agree that change is needed. I also agree that carefully planned residential at Westgate could enhance the area. I don’t agree that the proposed plan for Westgate is anything more than a ploy to increase residential density by adding mixed-use buildings, without consideration for the many concerns posed by residents who live and/or shop in the Westgate area. As soon as a good plan is presented to council for review with the public, I will be happy to discuss. I will be happy to consider. I will be happy to talk compromise.
Some claim that “we” have been working on this plan for four years. They will review how many public hearings have been held at the planning board, and talk about the public meetings and work by the UW architecture students. Contending that an extensive public process has occurred, contradicts that only a single public hearing has been held in front of City Council. The public discourse should begin, not end, with the participation of council, where by the time it reaches a vote, all that’s left to compromise on are the details of bad design. No thanks. In his editorial, Mayor Earling references Carol Sanford speaking about “Deliberative dialog for development of full understanding and respect.” I agree with Mayor Earling: let the deliberative dialog begin!
I am sponsoring a Town Hall meeting at Faith Community Church, 10220 238th St. S.W., Edmonds, on Monday, Sept. 15, from 7- 8:30 p.m. Please join the deliberative dialog. To make your voice heard, do the following: Comment, below, on this article. Write to [email protected] to request additional public hearings to consider the Westgate plan.
— By Joan Bloom
Edmonds City Council