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