Letter to the editor: Waterfront is our future — vote Petso, Paine and Harris



The Edmonds waterfront brings thoughts of ducks, seagulls and herons, of the ferry, our beach parks, pathways and boardwalk, of the newly re-developed (code compliant) Salish Crossing, and of course, of our priceless Edmonds Marsh. These thoughts should bring the calm and peace that a waterfront evokes. Unfortunately, my thoughts of the Edmonds waterfront are fraught with anxiety.

The incumbent port commissioners have a plan for Harbor Square: an urban village with over 300 condominiums, in buildings that would loom 55 feet over the waterfront. The port’s adopted plan would privatize not only the views of the waterfront and of the Edmonds Marsh, it would privatize our public property.

At the ACE candidate forum, incumbent Johnston called the plan a “placeholder.” Gouge said it won’t be built as long as he is a commissioner. Faires said, “There is no other plan that makes economic sense. This is the only one that’s feasible.”

The Harbor Square Master Plan was adopted in 2012 in the Port’s strategic plan. In the five years since, no effort has been made by the port commissioners to change their plan. The incumbents are holding the community hostage to a future plan that will not protect our marsh, will not protect our views, and will not protect our publicly owned property from private ownership.

We do not have the right to degrade our habitat for a dubious economic fix. We do not have the right to abandon stewardship of the waterfront, for now and for future generations.

I am voting for Lora Petso, Susan Paine and Angela Harris for Edmonds Port Commission. They will re-open the Harbor Square Master Plan and initiate a broad community process to discuss a new and better vision for the future of the Edmonds waterfront.

Joan Bloom

18 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Waterfront is our future — vote Petso, Paine and Harris”

  1. Joan, as I recall the City Council didn’t want to work with the Port in creating a better vision for Harbor Square.

    The Port had completed its due diligence. It was the preliminary step of changing the zoning of the property the Port was seeking so that future development of Harbor Square would be possible. An exhausting 2 to 3 year process in refining the Harbor Square plan including working with the Planning Board and Zoning Board before bringing it to the City Council. They were willing to work with the Council to refine the process. Yet, some of the Council members, over a period of months of negotiation, pretty much wanted to change the plan so completely that it forced the Port to withdraw from further negotiations. I also recall you and Laura Petso were on the City Council at that time.

    I’ve only skimmed the surface and know I have missed a lot of the details. I suggest for anyone who’s interested in doing more research that they look at the City Council minutes for more detail before making their decision on who they vote for.

    I support the current Port Commissioners. They bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the issues at hand. Sit down and have a conversation with them and get the complete scope of what they do before making a decision based on an editorial. Please be a wise voter and know the full details of the issues. Don’t be blindsided by partial information.


    1. Larry,

      It’s how the boundaries were drawn ages ago.

      The broader Edmonds community includes the 98026 residents, and other users/stakeholders – business and community groups. It would be important to hear from all stakeholders for large redevelopment proposals before those become permanent.

      Susan Paine


  2. “The incumbent port commissioners have a plan for Harbor Square: an urban village with over 300 condominiums, in buildings that would loom 55 feet over the waterfront.”
    This is nothing but a scare tactic from Joan; she knows that what gets built anywhere in our city is controlled by the city council. These kind of comments made by the supporters of the three unqualified opponents of the port commissioners are desperate attempts to get votes for Harris, Paine and Petso. Please vote for the candidates who know the job: Faires, Gouge and Johnston.


    1. Ron – on what basis do you feel that these three people are unqualified? Is it because they don’t share your opinion of maximum profit at maximum cost to the citizens of Edmonds in lost views, snarled traffic, and private ownership of what should be public property shared for the benefit of all. If you want Kirkland Ron then move to Kirkland.

      This sentence is from the Port’s Mission statement

      “Operate and develop marina facilities with the goal that it be fully self-funded.”

      To me this means stopping the property tax assessment when it is no longer needed. The Port is currently highly highly profitable without the assessment and yet they are crowing (boasting) because they have not “increased the assessment”. By highly profitable, I mean that they are increasing their cash at an incredible rate- on March 31, 2016 they showed a cash balance of $10, 810,000. 15 months late it has increased to $12,590,000. At the same time, they paid down $2,591,000 of debt. It is clear to me the Port does not need the property tax asessment and is not operating within their mission statement.

      In not one but two other places in the mission statement is the phrase “consistent with community values”.

      Again, by not changing the Harbor Square Master Plan after the City Council made it clear they did not want it as presented, the Port is not following its mission statement to be “consistent with community values.”

      The responsibility for these issues falls directly on the existing Port Commissioners.

      Just the fact that these commissioners have been in place so long and “desperately” want to keep their positions sends a strong signal for a needed change.

      I strongly support Petso, Paine and Harris as a long overdue change in composition of the Port Commission.

      I have no issues with day to day operation of the Port-it seems well run. It is the long term policy of creating this big “war chest” of cash to eventually implement their Master Plan that does not follow their Charter and Mission.


      1. If Petso, Paine and Harris are elected the day-to-day operation of the port will be bogged down by the need for the two experienced commissioners and the executive director having to explain every operation and issue to all three of the newly elected. I believe that Petso has only ever attended one port meeting since the beginning of time, Paine only in the past couple of months, and Harris never. They do not know what they do not know!


        1. Waterfront is our future — vote Petso, Paine and Harris
          Ron – New leadership and sometimes”Disruption” is need to address the 21st Century Port of Edmonds needs.
          Last Sunday’s Seattle Times business section, page 1, waterfront of Edmonds is included in the front page article, could see 6 foot increase. you most likely already read this Ron, if not here is the link.
          Rising sea levels could flood 1 in 200 Seattle-area homes by end of Report century
          Originally published October 20, 2017 at 6:00 am Updated October 20, 2017 at 1:23 pm
          By Mike Rosenberg
          Seattle Times business reporter


        2. Ron, please see p. 19 of today’s Beacon regarding Port meetings I have attended over the past two decades as Council liaison to the Port, filling in for the Council liaison to the Port, or as a concerned citizen.


        3. This entire election is just so frustrating. Edmonds is on the springboard of forever leaving the moniker “Deadmonds” behind. Let’s make sure our town moves forward. Grow or die. How do we do that? Certainly not by electing recycled city council members who voted “NAY” on everything and prevented our fair city from coming into full bloom. Edmonds can be more fantastic than ever. We need port commissioners who see a bigger future for our wonderful city.


  3. I’m all for the developing of the port area. I remember when the city council of Coerdalene, Idaho were all against the redevelopment of that town and it turned out FABULOUS. The made it a destination area and is a very popular area now. The local citizens love it.


    1. ….and it can have devastating, irreversable consequences. My vote will be in the interest of a thoughtful balancing of economy and environment. My vote will be for Susan Paine, Lora Petso, and Angela Harris.


  4. Ron,
    I find it amazing that you can say the things you say, with absolutely no knowledge about me.

    Yes, I have only just begun attending Port Commission meetings, but guess what? These meetings are handled very similarly to the 6 years of Edmonds School Board meetings I attended as a Director, serving twice as Board President. I’ve got excellent credentials as an elected official.

    In my working life, I have decades of policy and program development where I worked closely with the operations groups to ensure these programs would be both effective and operationally efficient.

    Ron, you have no idea about my capacities or background, but you are very eager to define who I am. I’m asking you to stop saying these falsehoods and to only speak about what you know.

    Susan Paine


    1. Susan:

      I understand that you’ve done an admirable job on the School Board. That experience allows you to understand the processes that take place at Port meetings, but having attended only a few Port meetings, only after you had already decided to be a candidate, hasn’t given you, in my opinion, adequate knowledge of the issues that the Port is dealing with.

      I stand by what I said about the three of you in an earlier comment – you don’t know what you don’t know.


  5. Gail and Ron – If the Port Commissioners are doing such a great job, why did they spend over $84,000 in public money appealing the approved Shoreline Master Plan that was approved by the city this spring? If they care so much about the Marsh, why do they want only a (very) inadequate 25′ buffer? If they have no real interest in constructing 55′ buildings on the Harbor Square site, why is this still in the Harbor Square Master Plan? Along the same lines, why did Steve Johnston, current incumbent, state in March 2017: “community tenor is changing, and eventually the makeup of the city council will change as well”? I know a shell game when I see one. The Port Commissioners are busy telling us how wonderful they are, when in fact their plan is to just wait it out until they can get council members of their choice elected, and then look out. Seen the Kirkland waterfront? That’s where we’ll be headed. I’m tired of Port Commissioners who cry long and loud about their environmental track record, when in fact they’ve sometimes done the bare minimum, and other times have done nothing at all. I can’t believe in their vision for the Marsh or Edmonds! Give me Petso, Paine, and Harris all day every day.


  6. Mike Shaw points out important contradictions between what the current port commissioners say and what they have done. The question of why they have fought so hard against scientifically recommended buffers for the Edmonds Marsh leads to the obvious conclusion that they are working toward the development they deny.
    The Marsh and our Edmonds waterfront will be much safer with Harris, Paine, and Petso on the port commission.


  7. Gail Meyring,
    Your comment “I’ve only skimmed the surface and know I have missed a lot of the details”, is an understatement. I suggest you take your own advice and review the minutes of the meetings when Council discussed the Harbor Square Master plan.

    I was on Council and was strongly opposed to the Port commissioners’ plan. Here is a link to an editorial I wrote posted on myedmondsnews: https://myedmondsnews.com/2012/12/why-i-oppose-the-harbor-square-master-plan/

    And another posted on edmondsforum.com: https://edmondsforum.com/2013/03/11/lets-not-play-on-their-turf/


    1. It occurs to me that I have heard this all before. There were similar arguments about development versus non-development of the Empire Ranch when I was in Tucson, Arizona. As this was one of the best grasslands (along with the San Rafael Valley) in Southeastern Arizona it seemed to make no sense to develop the area. The developers argued that the new town would provide jobs, more tax money to Santa Cruz and Pima counties, and , because they were going to drill BELOW the level used by surrounding areas, they would not affect the water table! I think that you have to always read the fine print and examine proposals in detail before you go degrading an existing ecosystem. I have no doubt that the current commissioners are certain in their own minds that they are protecting the environment, but from their Master Plan, I fail to see that. In addition, a 25-50 ft buffer, as has been suggested, is not best science based! If that is the basis for “protection” of the Marsh I can easily see the Marsh being degraded to the point that it would no longer be recognized as a valid ecosystem. I support the candidates who will use best science solutions – Lora Petso, Susan Paine and Angela Harris.


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