Council hears update on Sunset Avenue project; residents air safety concerns

Angled parking along Sunset Avenue.
Angled parking along Sunset Avenue.

City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams provided the Edmonds City Council Tuesday with an update on the temporary Sunset Avenue Walkway, but not before Sunset Avenue residents let the council know that — from their perspective — there are still  safety problems with the project

As he had done for the council earlier this summer, Williams went through traffic data and accident history collected since the temporary paving and re-striping was completed in September 2014. You can see the report here. Striping was added to the current pathway indicating shared use between pedestrians and those on wheels (bicyclists, strollers or skateboarders, for example) and to redistribute some parking spaces, which included some angled parking. The idea has been for the city to evaluate users’ feedback before pursuing additional grant money for a permanent configuration.

Before Williams began his presentation, those who live on Sunset Avenue as well as those who use the pathway offered their opinions on how the project is going.

Sunset Avenue resident Jim Wassell said speeding on the street — which has a posted speed limit of 20 MPH — is still a problem. “They still speed down Sunset,” Wassell said. “I yell at them. They ignore me.” Other problems mentioned by Wassell and others included people being unable to see when they back out of angled parking and Illegal parking along the street. “Police come down when I call 911 but they don’t ticket any cars,” he said.  “I can’t understand that.”

“Between the parking and the speeding, something’s got to be fixed down there,” Wassell added. “I have almost been nailed twice by people backing out of those angled parking spaces.”

Another resident, Shirley Pauls, said her concern “continues to be safety,” noting that people tend to speed up as they go through the area of the angled parking “and that’s the worst thing they can do.”

Pauls said that she and her husband also have experienced trouble getting into and out of their driveway under the new configuration, something that Williams said that the city is working with the couple to mitigate, at least temporarily, until the demonstration project is over.

“We like the walkway, that’s not the issue,” Pauls said. “We’ve had people using Sunset for 40 years and that’s not a problem. But it is a problem to not be able to use our own driveway and to have that speeding issue going on past the parked cars.

Offering a different perspective was Mike Herb, a retired Edmonds City Councilmember who says he walks Sunset Avenue “every day and I just love it.”

“I think it’s a great design,” Herb said. “It’s much safer than it used to be for walking because street is so level.” Herb noted that prior to the paving of the walkway, he had broken his leg after losing his footing on the former grass pathway’s uneven surface. “I totally support what you have done,” he added.

As for the most recent statistics included in Tuesday’s report, which were measured in November 2014 and April and July of 2015, Williams noted that average daily traffic on the site is about 1,000 vehicles a day. “That’s pretty low volumes,” Williams said, noting that by comparison State Route 104 averages 35,000 to 40,000 vehicles daily, Olympic View Drive averages 3,600 to 4,000 a day and 76th Avenue West North of Perrinville “is a couple of thousand.”

The city also measured speeds at which people traveled at both the south and north ends of the walkway, using an “85th percentile speed,” a standard traffic engineering number that reflects the speed at which 85 percent of drivers are traveling at or below. In November, the roadway average was 26 MPH in the north and 23 MPH in the south; in April it was 23 and 21 and in July 21 and 18, Williams said. “Speeds are fairly modest, quite honestly,” Williams said.

As for accident data on Sunset Avenue, the city began on Jan. 1 2014 and measured all of 2014 and 2015 through the end of July. There were seven accidents total but five of those were outside the project area. Of the remaining two, one accident occurred in the vicinity of the angled parking area but that was before the new design was implemented. The other, farther north, was a backing accident, with someone coming out of their driveway and hitting a car traveling on Sunset, Williams said.

The city also looked at pedestrian usage along Sunset Avenue between July 20 and Aug. 19, and observed that about 80 percent of users during that month walked on the west side of Sunset while 20 percent walked on the east side.

Williams said the city would like to begin surveying people regarding their opinions on Sunset, and shared with the council a range of draft questions, including their opinions on parking, bicycle use, additional amenities like picnic tables or artwork, how they currently use it and whether the existing temporary configuration should be made permanent.

A statistically valid survey would be expensive so the city may instead look at an option like Survey Monkey, Williams said. Councilmember Kristiana Johnson suggested that the city also consider distributing the survey through local media outlets like My Edmonds News and the Edmonds Beacon.

Councilmember Lora Petso said she would prefer that the city hold a public hearing and/or public meeting to gather citizens’ input on possible changes. “There are a lot of ideas out there from people and I think it would move us closer to a final answer on this if we find a way to collect this input,” Petso said.

Williams also addressed worries from both residents and councilmembers about potential dangers from speeding and angled parking.

Many of those concerns could be addressed if the city had funding for a permanent project, Williams said. For example, traffic calming measures could be added to the street to slow speeders. In addition, “you could move that whole angle parking 3 to 5 feet further west… which would create another 3 to 5 feet of bare pavement behind it,” making it safer for people backing out, he noted.

“Angle parking in general comes with a whole list of different concerns than parallel parking does,” Williams admitted. But he reminded the council that the angled spaces were created following early discussions with Sunset Avenue users, who said they valued the angle parking so that everyone in the car could look out the window.



19 Replies to “Council hears update on Sunset Avenue project; residents air safety concerns”

  1. I’d like to see them make it parallel parking along the street on the West side of Sunset and then make the sidewalk wider on the Eastside so it can accommodate more than two people across and there would still be room for bike riders and people could get in and out of their driveways. I never see anyone being ticketed and I walk there every night and during the peak of summer when the sun is going down there are multiple cars parallel parked along the yellow line where there is no parking.


  2. The sooner the city paves the sidewalk on the east side of Sunset the sooner many of these issues will resolve themselves.


  3. We walk Sunset every day and sometimes numerous times in one day. I dont care what anybody says that INFREQUENTLY walks this street and that includes Mr. Wiliams surveys because in my opinion, these will not contain the realities we SEE Every day.
    …..just more good money spent after bad

    It is still an extremely dangerous street for many reasons . We have seen many times now hair breadth misses of small children almost going over the edge while parents are tending dogs on leashes, other kids, scooters, baby strollers, cars, etc. We have also witnessed many times people with children having to walk out into oncoming traffic on the waterside path…….into oncoming traffic because of bicyclists coming at them from behind on the path. …..or a bunch of people….and dont get me going about cars having to back into oncoming traffic…… the very least, a stop sign at the south corner of Edmonds & Sunset would help slow cars down. ….thats a no brainer.
    Also walking on the east sidewalk and cars coming toward you, almost up on the curb coming at you as they try to view the water inbetween cars and are totally not looking straight ahead while driving……hence, cars almost up on curb……Under these conditions, this street is a huge lawsuit for the city waiting to happen

    Im sure that even mentioning the numerous dangerous situations here will just make those that be just dig there heels in more. In my opinion, the city needs to have a professional traffic engineer assess this whole street and THAT would be money well spent in regards to safety issues here……..a professional……a traffic/street engineer professional

    This isnt about a street with a view asthetics, it is now a real safety concern.

    I believe our Mayor is plugged in to all the transportation people in the state ……… I wonder if BNSF is aware of what is going on ON their property. …..afterall it is their property and I suspect they would be held liable for certain accidents.

    This is our reality….We live here, we walk here every day


  4. It appears the accident data is only the “reported” data. It is intriguing that the City is not interested in a statistically significant survey about Sunset because it would “cost too much”. Instead opting for a very cheap and statistically meaningless survey to determine the response to the now “pilot” program which it seems clear is going forward no matter what. No longer a “test” program, and it has been about a year. No talk at all of changing it back, as was how it was presented when the project was done.


  5. I was not a resident when this happened, however it sounds to me like alot of the same issues with how this was approached are the same some of us have been trying to make people aware of with other projects around town. Little to none public input, no professional traffic studies or other relevant data, just a bunch of “winging it” from the Administration.


    1. Well, Mr. Blomenkamp, you hopefully learned from the Hearing Examiner yesterday that the Administration is a whole lot more competent than you have been giving them credit for.


      1. Actually, I am quite happy. I would recommend you go back and read the transcript, what he said was:

        1. He did not feel he could review code violations. He did not rule on them he just did not hear them. What should be more interesting to the citizens is that the Cities position was “The Development Services Director has the ultimate authority on the interpretation of Code.” Which by extension means Mayor Earling. Now this is actually not quite accurate since if you are served with a violation you can appeal it and coincidently it goes to the Hearing Examiner. My position was that likewise if the department will not enforce the code because of either incompetence, corruption, or other reason then a neutral third party, the Hearing Examiner should hold a hearing. This appeared to be available to me through the code since if the Department Director was doing their job why would it allow for the other 2 ways to initiate the review, a motion of city council or 3 citizens within 300ft paying $250.
        No this was just a case of the poorly written code even the Administration has described since 2007. As I recall you were once a Council Member, maybe you should have been looking at this.

        2. Since the City waited to make their argument until the day of the hearing, I have until Monday 5pm to file a brief more specific to the issues he felt he could hear. This has been the same thing they have been doing all along, rotate in idiotic reasons of why they cannot enforce the code. You for one should find it offensive to take all this City Employee time to review and show up at these hearings as well as Taraday’s time and the Hearing Examiner. Just Enforce the Code, everyone’s time would be better spent.

        3. Maybe you should read up on Nuisance, both public and private, quite interesting. Now instead of just the statutory remedies I was seeking I have a whole range of things.

        Frankly what is scary is that from that hearing is the citizens found out that in the City Administrative opinion that no matter what the Council passes it is up to the interpretation and enforcement of the Mayor.


        1. I guess we should label you the Spin Doctor. You lost on 3 of your 4 issues as the Hearing Examiner wouldn’t even adjudicate them. The 4th one, the Nuisance issue, is yet to be ruled on by the H.E.


        2. Keep drinking the Mayors Coolaid. I think I hear your “house of cards” shaking. As I said, we will see. All it did was point me to an alternate recourse.


      2. The “possee” (past government members and whoever) has spoken evidently for the continuance of an old system here in my opinion…….

        Well, for those of you that wish the continuance of a very old, well known “system” here, just read statistics regarding our population in the last 10 years (Beacon article)…….The citizens that wish to see a VIBRANT city of Edmonds should be alarmed……Statistics and science do not lie…..just the facts and people do not go out of their way to move to areas where laws , rules and regulations are constantly skirted in my opinion

        “Between 2000 and 2010 the percentage of residents between the ages of 65 and 84 grew, from 28 percent to 33 percent, the percentage of residents between the ages of 20 and 44 shrunk ( yes, SHRUNK!) from 32 percent to 27 percent and the percentage of residents between the ages of 0 and 19 shrunk from 23 percent to 21 percent.”

        This should be alarming to those that wish our town to move into the future and NOT stay in the past. This old “system” does not attract progressive, smart young people. Edmonds claim to fame regarding revenue from car lots is so in the past. Young people do not view cars the way people did in the 50s and sixties and also do not view development for the select few as a way for a city to be progressive……Its about the greater good for all with young people

        Times have changed and Edmonds needs to move forward with new , creative ideas…..not more of the same.

        Now, we know the WHY of the reference by young people DEADMONDS……stuck in a “system”of its past……

        .statistics dont lie but politicians are real good at painting pictures with their rhetoric (which I know you can get a degree …..rhetoric…..better ye t, hire people with degrees in rhetoric) and “branding”. Those of us coming ot of the 50s know this used to be known as “propaganda”……for all sides

        Time for change


  6. How are you counting those of us who USED TO walk along Sunset and enjoy it so much just about every day and now hardly go there at all because it’s become such a congested mess? The parallel parking is a safety problem and an inefficient use of space and an eyesore for such a very lovely part of Edmonds. And to the man who likes it better now because he broke his leg on the trail that used to be on the west side, why didn’t you just walk along the beautiful and easy east side sidewalk? With the parallel parking the views from that sidewalk were breathtaking. I pray every day that these changes don’t become permanent. A spectacular joyful spot has been turned into a mess.


  7. I wonder if the reference to speed of drivers was based on the large, electronic signs? We all know you can typically see those blocks away and of course we all slow down – but that in no way gives a true representation of the real speed of drivers. Have someone sit unseen and use radar – then we will know how fast drivers are going.


  8. It appears the Council has been hijacked and they don’t know it. Go back a few years and no one can see the need to spend this money on Sunset. Mr. Williams explains parking was eliminated to the north end of Sunset due to driveway issues. Apparently driveways are not an issue to the south of Sunset. Councilmember Monillas has saved this project twice based upon Council meeting notes, why. It is time to move to a City Manager form of management rather than a mayor who can make deals without review. His Townhall meetings were managed by him controlling comments. Having a city manager be responsible to the council would allow for real transparency in the business of the city.


  9. We live on Sunset, walk it every day, and love it. It is such an improvement over the way it was. The west side walking area is fantastic, so much better than the old dirt path that was slippery and muddy 9 months of the year. Now we can walk, not dodge parked cars, yet people in their cars can enjoy the view. It is grand seeing so many people enjoying this special place. As an avid biker, my only suggestion is to restrict the west side path to walking only. It would be crazy to try to ride a bike amidst all the walkers; its no problem to just share the road with cars, which is what I do on every other street in Edmonds.

    The city should just leave it as it is. Maybe put a curb separating the walking lane from the cars. Don’t spend a lot of money on this. Listen to the objective data, which contradicts all of the naysayers who claim it is not safe, don’t act on the subjective negativism of those don’t want to share this space with everybody.


    1. Wow! My wife and I have been walking Sunset twice a week for the past 11 years. Mr. Strong’s description of the Sunset experience precisely matches ours – it is reality.


  10. Factual “reality” as opposed to subjective opinion includes the following:

    1. City staff did a lot of work on the Sunset Avenue project prior to it being added to the TIP on July 19, 2011. Why was this work done rather than working on projects already in the TIP? Also – we had many documented traffic calming needs.

    2. On August 26, 2013, the City of Edmonds submitted a grant application, which represented the following to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC):

    “Public comment was received at a meeting held on April 11, 2012, and followed up with written survey results that were collected April 25, 2012. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with all respondents supporting the concept of a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility in this corridor.”

    Later in the document, the City of Edmonds also stated: “To date, there have been no negative comments recorded.”

    However – through the public record request process, the City has provided survey documentation that indicates negative comments were received 16 months before August 26, 2013. Yes – the truth is that negative comments were made.

    3 Significant public funds were paid to Macleod Reckord to develop a Temporary Trail and new Striping Plan. This plan was presented in detail to the Council on August 19, 2014 and they approved it via a 4-3 vote. The City Council did not approve concrete parking bumpers in Sunset Avenue. The approved angled parking was to the west, not sticking out towards the middle of Sunset Avenue.


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