Council votes to remove angled spaces, reduce parking time limit on Sunset Avenue

Existing angled parking along Sunset Avenue will be removed.
Existing angled parking along Sunset Avenue will be removed.(My Edmonds News file photo by Larry Vogel)

The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night approved more interim changes to Sunset Avenue, including a 4-3 vote to remove all of the angled parking along the walkway and a 6-1 vote to reduce parking time limits from four hours to two hours.

The vote came after Public Works Director Phil Williams explained that several significant upgrades are planned to City of Edmonds utilities along Sunset Avenue, which will result in replacing a large percentage of the roadway. In addition, the design, funding and construction of related underground utilities are likely to push walkway construction further into the future, perhaps by several years.

Williams came before the council to ask for authorization to continue the design of the walkway project so the utility projects can be designed with a clear picture of how the street level improvements are expected to look. In that way the surface restoration required after completing utility upgrades can be done  to reduce duplication and lower the cost of the future surface improvements.

The adjustments, which will be included as part of the City’s 2017 budget process, follow the interim adjustments made two years ago when the temporary parking and walkway configuration was installed, including an 8-foot paved pathway and the addition of angled parking.

Since that time, Sunset Avenue residents have had ongoing complaints about the impact that the interim configuration has had on their neighborhood. The angled parking has been singled out as particularly problematic, with residents and visitors alike citing the difficulty in being able to see around cars when backing out of the new parking spaces. Residents have also noted an increase in the number of people visiting the area and violating the four-hour parking limit, as well as problems with loud noise and parties outside their homes.

To address these concerns, Williams had proposed several recommended interim changes, including improvements in the angled parking area; the addition of seven to nine parallel parking spaces and changing parking restrictions on Sunset from four hours to three hours.

Council President Kristiana Johnson proposed that the council direct staff that the council would like fewer angle parking spaces and more parallel parking on Sunset, but that motion was defeated 3-4. Instead, Councilmember Diana Buckshnis, declaring that the area is “a mess” in its current form, moved that angle parking be removed altogether and the street be limited to parallel parking only.

“Let’s just try and make this residential street as safe as possible,” she said.

Councilmember Dave Teitzel added: “It’s my hope we can recapture some of the ambience that’s been lost at Sunset and one way to do that is to reduce the concentration of cars…to move toward parallel parking.”

Responded Johnson:”Although the angled parking has clearly been a problem I think we can make the angled parking better in the future and allow people to enjoy that as well.”

Councilmember Tom Mesaros said a bigger question than the type of parking on Sunset, is one of enforcing existing parking time limits. “I walk there a lot,” he said, “and just witness the fact that a number of people ignore the parking rules. Whatever we decide, we need a commitment from the administration and the police force that we’re going to enforce it. Because we’re trying to make this a place that our whole community can enjoy, without infringing on those who live right there.”

Supporting the motion to remove angle parking were Councilmembers Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Mesaros and Teitzel. Opposing it were Councilmembers Johnson, Mike Nelson and Neil Tibbott. Williams agreed to bring back a design for what the new parallel parking configuration would look like so that council could review it.

Then Fraley-Monillas moved to limit the parking along Sunset from four hours to two hours. “That is a public parking area. I can’t think of any reason why anyone would need to stay there over two hours,” she said.

That motion was approved by a 6-1 vote with Councilmember Tibbott opposed.

A motion by Buckshnis to reduce the current pathway from its 8-foot width to 6 feet was defeated by a 2-5 vote, with Buckshnis and Teitzel voting in favor.

The council also agreed to install a raised curb along the walkway’s edge to separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic; have staff develop an interim solution to discourage wrong-way driving at the Caspers Street/Second Avenue interchange; and work on permanent design for the Sunset Overlook and an extension of the walkway on Caspers.

Buckshnis also asked about a timeline for completion of the new interim improvements. Williams replied that during the council’s consideration of the upcoming 2017 budget, there will be information provide about scheduling the interim improvements, “and you’ll hear more about utility projects as well, because that is going to be what decides what is interim and what is final.”

In other action, the council:

– Heard a report from Jamie Reece, the chair of Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission. The commission, which was reformulated earlier this year from 17 members to nine, has been meeting monthly since April.

“Our goal is to make sure whatever we do is to generate economic development,” Reece said. “And I like to think of it as growing the economic pie. Not just trying to redistribute it but rather grow that pie so there’s more to work with, delivering public and private services to our citizens while maintaining the unique charm of Edmonds.”

The major theme for the commission is collaboration and communication, and Reece said the group hopes to align its goals with those of the council and the mayor.

The commission has developed the following high-priority items that it plans to address in the next six to 12 months: helping to contribute to the Highway 99 subarea planning, Civic Field planning, and parking strategies.

You can see Reece’s report here.

– Received a presentation from the Edmonds School District Foundation’s Executive Director Deb Anderson regarding youth homelessness.

Anderson described the foundation’s efforts to provide weekend meal programs for homeless students through its Nourishing Network program.

The school district has more than 20,000 students in 33 schools, and as of June had 641 homeless students, with 164 of those in Edmonds, she said. You can learn more in her presentation here.

– Agreed to move to the following items to the consent agenda for the next council meeting, which will be Sept. 6. (There is no meeting next Tuesday, Aug. 30.): Approval of the 2017-2022 Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program, authorization to contract with James G. Murphy to sell surplus city equipment, and to modify an agreement with the Cold Spring Granite Company for the Veterans Plaza project.

– Heard an update regarding the Stormwater Management Code Update, with a final report to come back during the Sept. 6 council meeting.

– Approved a bid of $147,987 for site preparation for the new downtown restroom planned for the parking lot between City Hall and the Rusty Pelican restaurant on 5th Avenue North. The total cost will be $428,637 and the new facility is expected to be open in time for the city’s Halloween celebration downtown, said Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty. The restroom will cost an estimated $25,000 annually to maintain, Mayor Dave Earling told the council.

— By Teresa Wippel



  1. Councilmember Tom Mesaros said “a bigger question than the type of parking on Sunset, is one of enforcing existing parking time limits.” That is a chronic problem throughout our downtown. Vehicles can park long enough to have weeds grow around their wheels. More resources need to be allocated to parking and to traffic enforcement. Edmonds is a dangerous city to walk around. It is safer to jay walk than to cross at corners. Those issues should be a much higher priority than spending money on our big Civic Field.

    1. No Ron, Seattle is a “dangerous City to walk around”. I do not understand how anyone could say Edmonds is a dangerous city to walk in. My Wife and I walk around Edmonds all the time and after almost 7 years of walking around Edmonds, have yet to come across a ‘dangerous’ situation. I agree though that traffic enforcement could be stepped up. Especially at the 5th & Main where it seems no one knows how to navigate that 4 way stop.

      1. Joe, Give Ron his due. He was hit as a pedestrian and injured not that long ago. He and his wife walked in the City daily. But he got hit by a car while trying to cross the street. We have also had several fatalities involving pedestrians in the last few years.

  2. Thank you Teresa, I appreciate your coverage and report on the city council meetings. Another way that MEN is important to me, I feel informed about my community whether I’m home or traveling!

  3. If the goal is to make the street safe, for ALL users, they should consider back-in angled parking. Many places are figuring out that it dramatically reduces collisions because if you back in, then you’re looking forward when you pull out. The only difference is the angle of the painted stripes. Parallel parking is not safe. People exiting a vehicle can “door” a cyclist causing serious injuries. In Holland people are taught to open the car door with the opposite hand, forcing them to look back and see if someone is coming. Time limits never work. If the council actually cared about people parking too long, they would put a price on it. That also helps to keep some spaces available for retail customers. If I want to park for 15 minutes there should be a spot open and though it may seem an expensive hourly rate, for a few minutes and a shorter walk I’d happily pay. Same if I want to wander for 5 or 6 hours to shop, meet friends, attend an event, etc., then there should be a place downtown where I can pay the market price for vehicle storage and know my car is safe for as long as I want to pay to keep it there. Maybe that’s not on Sunset. If its too much of a hassle or expense I could, um, ride my bike or take the bus. It runs downtown from my house and back every half hour. Asking us to pay for parking enforcement without revenue is insult on top of the injury of already paying taxes to provide and maintain free parking for private vehicles on public land.
    Thank goodness they voted down making the walkway smaller. 12 ft. is considered a good safe facility for walking and biking. 8 ft is mediocre, and below that is just standard sidewalk, not a well used public viewing promenade.
    Overall, it’s incredibly discouraging to see my councilmembers putting so much time, energy and money into satisfying a few rich squeaky wheels, while my daughter has to walk to elementary school in the mud, on a steep grade with no sight distance and regular speeding. Will our priorities get straightened out or should I give up and move to a community that cares about its children?

  4. There is, unfortunately no way to turn Sunset and the “temporary test” program back. It was not a priority in the plans at all. It looks as though it will become, or is becoming a “front yard” and walkway promenade for those new expensive homes with no yards at all. Now it is an “interim plan” probably to garner grant money. It is just sad to see so much going to benefit so few. The remaining old Sunset homes now look out of place. There are so many other priorities ( like sidewalks to schools, which is grant money worthy) maintaining the parks we have, and making walking around safe ( which it is not currently). The whole Sunset “test” is and will be from the sound of it a mess for years to come and the lack of clear cohesive amd funded planning has lead to what it currently is. But interim is not a plan.

    1. I agree with D. Talmidge, especially her comment about the traditional, craftsman style homes now seeming out of place. I don’t know any of the Sunset Avenue longtime residents personally. But it’s clear by observation that they maintained their yards and homes with such pride, understanding the location made them a showcase for the City.

      As Mr. Williams stated during the recent Council meeting referring to the historical parking situation, “… It was all marked, there were rules, but since everyone was parking 10 ft. further West, it didn’t matter if anyone broke the law, no one seemed to care.” Yes, that’s the point! I understand the Council decision was based on safety. But reduced parking will cause the area to become a destination for only those living in the immediate area with others parking on the surrounding streets, annoying those residents. This is in complete conflict with the original justification for the changes, which was to enhance Sunset Avenue for downtown tourists.

      This project was fubar from the start. Sure theoretically, it could be designed on paper. But from a practical basis it just doesn’t fit… square peg – round hole. What we’re left with is such a shame. I wish some had the courage to admit a mistake… that the test was a failure… and start over. Band-aids will only make it worse. There are many less disruptive changes/additions that could have been made to the original configuration which would have enhanced the experience –a peaceful respite– instead of turning it upside down. Changes that would have cost less, even without the “coupon” (aka grant).

      When folks and candidates talk about the character and charm of Edmonds, Sunset Ave. was one of those places. When it’s gone, it’s gone… and it’s gone. Same can be said about our Wildlife Preserve, but it’s not gone yet… despite that some act as if the Wildlife Preserve is just something in the way of more high density, residential-centric development.

  5. As we continue to evolve the “interim” plan for Sunset, I’d be interested in revisiting the reasons the council made changes to Sunset from its original configuration. What were the drivers for the change? As we talk about limiting parking spaces and limiting parking times and, in the comments, charging for parking (which I feel is a terrible option); are we still meeting the needs that drove the council to make the interim configuration of Sunset to begin with? If I recall correctly the original goals were to attract more people to use that space as a park-like area and to provide additional parking for people visiting downtown. Time limits and parking fees will greatly reduce both those goals. If we are okay with fewer parking spaces – then my vote would be to go back to the original Sunset configuration which felt less hectic and much safer (my opinion on that).

  6. Bravo to the Edmonds City Council for listening to the needs and wishes of it’s residents! Thank you Council Members: Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Mesaros and Teitzel. Sometimes “temporary” becomes permanent just because it’s easier to go ahead with a proposed or “temporary” plan and hope the resistance dies down, than to reverse the plan. Voting to remove the angled parking along Sunset Ave. was a thoughtful, and considerate decision. Walking and driving along Sunset for the past 20 years, I was disheartened to see this lovely byway turned into a virtual parking lot. Although I neither live on Sunset nor have friends who live there, I have long appreciated the care the homeowners have taken with their homes and lovely gardens. These are many of the same residents who continue to add to Edmonds’ reputation for beauty and friendliness.
    When thinking about expanding or reducing the width of current pathway, please remember that the sidewalk is also a pathway for walking Sunset Ave. It’s actually the one I prefer using because it borders the lovely gardens and with the angled parking removed, the views will, once again, be incredible. I think a 6 foot wide walking path should be adequate and would even contribute to a less congested walkway.

  7. I agree with Ron. I have seen people nearly hit by cars while in a CROSSWALK, and halfway across the street. Also, the parking situation is a joke. 3 hour parking zones without a permit are almost always ignored on some streets. My father used to say “Never make a rule you can’t enforce. It makes you look ridiculous.”

  8. ok, let me have it . . .

    re: pedestrians . . .

    first – i’m sure there are many people that have special needs, they may not be able to move quickly, and/or in wheel chairs

    that being acknowledged …

    safety for pedestrians lies with the pedestrians!

    sure, we all hope that drivers will be alert – but humans are not going to be always completely alert to pedestrians and hazards – and hopefully “the others” will be when we are not

    when walking where there are no sidewalks – ALWAYS walk FACING traffic, take those “raspberries” out of your ears! and TURN OFF THOSE GD “devices”!

    with sidewalks – learn to be aware before crossing driveways as well as streets! Look for vehicles coming from the WRONG direction! cars have been known to use sidewalks and enter buildings . . .

    Exercise your neck and eye muscles (i’m often guilty of this 🙂 Be curious, learn to become aware of your surroundings

    this does not mean you are “perfectly safe always” – again, we are all human!

    i’d guess the first thing to learn about “safety” – don’t depend on others, or especially laws for your “safety”!

    if you’re concerned about your kids – get them in the habit of – walking safely

    if anyone, especially Ron, based on the previous comment wants to educate me, let’s do it over a cup of coffee – i’ll treat

    often, the unknown is more valuable than the known 🙂

  9. I don’t have time for coffee, and don’t feel it is necessary to educate you. I do agree that pedestrians are responsible for his/her safety, for the most part. But when a person, disabled or not, is halfway into the crosswalk, one would hope the person would be able to cross safely without playing Dodge Ball. The minute someone has stepped into the crosswalk, cars are supposed to STOP.

    1. agreed!

      and i think by and large the majority of people do!

      while i drive, i am probably a pedestrian more often than most people.

      drivers making right turns are the most fun to watch! will they remember to look for a pedestrian on the right? i’ve – safely – surprised quite a few drivers! others just never saw me! there are times i realize i, myself forgot to look – whoops…

      i frequently try to give drivers the right of way, especially if i’m on the other side of the street and they are holding up other cars! and most drivers refuse and insist on waiting for me!

      regardless of how many laws are created and punishments threatened – there will be people that for whatever reason(s) – not to mention the ubiquitous #$%^&*( electronic devices/distraction – will not see the pedestrian until too late

      as i understand from quantum physics – there are consequences for everything and probabilities, there is no absolute “safety”, we can just do the best to improve our chances

      and be aware of our own situation

  10. As any relatively small city sees an increase in population, traffic and consumerism, you have to re-evaluate conditions in the areas that are effected most.

  11. This is an opportunity to provide revenue for Edmonds…put in metered parking!

    Fill those city coffers…

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