Letter to the editor: Will Edmonds remain divided?

2005
33

Editor:

I recently traveled to Berlin, Germany where I visited just a few of the many museums that provide a stark reminder of what East German life was like during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s when government decided where you live, how you live and what you could say.

Through all of government’s great ideas on how life should be lead in a socialist society, it is clear that the one thing they forgot about was the people and what they wanted.

In some ways, Edmonds is a divided city. On one side there are citizens who have lived here a long time — some born here, lived their whole life here — and they like the kind of city we have — its culture, its character and most of all its small town atmosphere.

On the other side, Edmonds is being required by the Growth Management Act, a law written in 1990, to make room for more people and that requires sacrifices of those living here to help pay for making room for more people who have no stake in Edmonds and maybe don’t even want to live here.

Could the 1990 legislature be so smart that they knew what people would want in the year 2000, or 2010 or even 2020? We didn’t even have smartphones, Uber or flat screen TVs then.

Does the Growth Management Act make the same mistakes the socialists made in East Germany — forgetting what the people want?

Also: What good is a Diversity Commission if we can’t have a diversity of opinion?

And furthermore: What does the Edmonds City Council feel about Heroin Injection Sites?  They have been asked, but refuse to put it on their agenda.

Jeff Scherrer
Edmonds

33 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Will Edmonds remain divided?”

  1. I agree with your assessment, Jeff! We see the tremendous problem that Seattle has brought upon themselves! Recently, a news video has brought that into focus. We should carefully assess whether we should bring that on ourselves. I believe that our city does not want to be a “Drug Enabler City” with drug injection sites! Why bring that to our beautiful city and our wonderful people. We can take care of people in need, but we must leave the drug culture out of the equation. These people need help with drug treatment which we are not qualified or equipped to give.

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    1. I grew up in East Germany during the worst times. The dislike against the West still remains. People felt like we paid for all the damage while the West was catered to like they had no part in Hitler etc.
      I see it happening now in the country with illegals their priorities etc.Americans do not want to look at all sides just make themselves feel good and show what a big heart we have.t to many of us ignore our own who need it first. Yes I am a proud citizen of this country.It was a great honor to become one and I take it seriously and worry about all the danger facing us or my children .We have constant arguments on how little they know really about their own country. You have to love it really to stand up for what is right.

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    2. One other comment I’d like to make! I had a friend who struggled most of his life with alcohol abuse!
      DUIs, Jail time, etc., but he was a great friend and would do anything for you. Someone you truly want to help. We took him to the Sundownranch.org near Yakima, WA. for treatment. He came out a totally new person and was forever after sober. They have a great history of helping both drug addiction and alcohol abuse. What I like about it is, it removes a person from their environment here on the Westside and gets them out of doors in a clean, fresh environment. Their counselors are excellent! So, if you have a friend or neighbor or child in need of help, they do a great job!

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  2. I’m another person who completely agrees with Jeff. I grew up in Edmonds and have fond memories of so many wonderful times with my family here. The politicians of Seattle and King County have denigrated this fine region with so many of their wrong-headed agendas. I fear Edmonds political leaders are doing the same. All this focus and money toward the drug user criminals, homeless and de-policing and this is what Edmonds will get. A beautiful area that simply attracts more of vagrant drug users/dealers/homeless. Of course we, as compassionate people, want to provide help but if you know someone with addiction problems, you know there is a fine line between helping and enabling.
    We often hear the voices demanding “diversity”. Well, it seems clear, they mean some things diverse but not want diversity of thought, as Jeff states so well.

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  3. Isn’t it all about the money? If you don’t do what they want they with hold money for Edmonds.
    Growth Management Hearings Board
    The Growth Management Hearings Board resolves disputes concerning comprehensive plans and development regulations adopted under the GMA. The board is made up of seven members from three distinct geographic areas: Eastern, Central Puget Sound, and Western.

    Challenges to the GMA are heard by a three-member panel comprised of two members residing in the geographic area of a challenge, with one acting as the presiding officer, and a third member drawn from one of the other regions. Each hearing panel must include an attorney and a former city or county elected official and must “reflect the political composition of the board” (RCW 36.70A.260).

    The Governor has the authority to impose sanctions on cities, counties, and state agencies that do not comply with the GMA, as determined by the Growth Management Hearings Board (see RCW 36.70A.340 – .345). Sanctions may include withholding portion of one or more of the following:

    Motor vehicle fuel tax;
    Transportation improvement account;
    Rural arterial trust account;
    Sales and use tax;
    Liquor profit tax;
    Liquor excise tax; and/or
    Temporarily rescinding the city’s/county’s authority to collect REET

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  4. Jeff, achieving the population targets of the GMA is not a mandatory requirement the State does have leverage to urge us to take our fair share of the population growth. In reality Edmonds is already on a pace to exceed our suggested population estimates. With the approved code changes for the Hwy99 area the rate of population growth will further “overachieve” the targets. The first question we may want to ask is what is the population target we want to achieve? More, equal, or less than the current targets? My bet is a majority of Edmonds would be ok with the current suggested targets but would not want policy changes that significantly increase our population. If that be true, our challenge is to assess our current policies and determine what changes may be needed to bring about the results of what our citizens want. If we look at the facts first then craft plan to achieve the goals we want then we can be much less divided in our views.

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  5. There no difference between discrimination and
    Hate speech. You speak of Germany – Hitler’s hate speech killed hundreds of thousands and east Germany Suffered poverty and want – it takes ages to undo the damage of discrimination and hate speech and war.

    There is a children’s song:ALL GODS CRITTER got a place in the choir. And that goes for Edmonds.

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  6. Good morning, I hope some day we can get away from always comparing everything to Germany and Hitler. This comparison is so far off base, and has nothing to do with Edmonds. Why would the city council want to discuss heroin injection sites? We do not want any. Visit Vancouver Canada to see what happens to the neighborhood. Why would we want anymore high rise housing? We now have enough housing and enough traffic to go along it. The only new housing we should see is if an old small house is torn down and a new house is built. If someone becomes homeless, it is family that needs to step in and help. One can either afford to live in Edmonds or not. There are less expensive places to live in the United States. We would never suggest that Woodway or Richmond Beach need more affordable housing, a heroin injection site, a homeless shelter, or a tent city. The best advice for our city is to leave well enough alone.

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  7. Comparing the challenges Edmonds faces today with communist East Germany is dramatic and inflammatory. Raising the specter of evil “socialism” (an emerging theme for our next presidential election) also misses the mark: Scandinavian countries, Canada and Great Britain have a mix of government programs and mandates (like universal health care, government-owned utilities, legislation affecting business practices, etc.) that shape society. Results aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty darn good.

    As for the writer’s question “What good is a Diversity Commission if we can’t have a diversity of opinion?” —- you can think what you want all day long. No one is stopping you. Doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with you.

    Edmonds is facing challenges and things to sort out, as every community has since…forever. We work together to solve problems with the skills, technology, historical insights and information we have on hand. Without a yearning for “the good old days”, which really weren’t so good for people of color, women, children, minorities, etc.

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  8. First, hats off to Joy for researching the GMA and how it works. Got to say, it seems pretty complicated and maybe giving too much power of the purse to the Governor. As far as Seattle creating all of it’s own problems, then you would have to say, Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angles, Phoenix and Tucson have all also created their own problems in one way or another. All these cities are struggling with an influx of homeless people and rents squeezing people out of where they would like to live. The Seattle police chief has a good article today in Crosscut on line news about the problem that homelessness creates for law enforcement in Seattle. She makes the point that the revolving door of arrest, jail and back on the street is both expensive and futile as far as solving anything positively for the homeless for whatever reasons they are homeless. I don’t think anyone wants an East German style of government anywhere in our region, and I think it is a bit of a stretch to compare that to what people are trying to do with government action in our region. The truth is, lack of affordable housing and homelessness is the result of many problems in our society and will require many different approaches to solve all the aspects of it. I think one of Joy’s earlier posts best captured what really needs to be done in the South Snohomish County Region to begin to solve all of this in all of it’s presentations. Some sort of regional all purpose transitional housing issues center seems to have possibilities to me. (Social services, cold weather shelter, temporary decent housing, drug rehab. and/or incarceration is some instances). Maybe a combination of caring help and tough love. From personal experience, I can tell you that the religious communities working together are growing weary of shouldering most of the load for what is really all of Society’s problem. It’s time to think about a regional center for the homeless and marginally housed manned by professionals and volunteers from the community to keep everybody honest. There the problems can be sorted out and addressed as needed. Is this perfect? No. Is this expensive? Yes. Is what we are doing now perfect? No. Is what we are doing now expensive? Yes. Life is all about choices. One choice, of course, is to do nothing for our fellow human beings and I’m sure many people in our area favor that approach too. I can’t honestly say I respect that choice; but I can say I support and understand their right to feel that way about it. Large amounts of tax money will be spent no matter what is done or not done.

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  9. I would say Mr. Brecht’s model for Edmonds tearing down small houses and building new ones (I would add “Giant new ones” to his description; my words not his) is succeeding beyond our wildest dreams. I have no problem with this model, as it may line my pockets nicely one of these days if I don’t wait too long or die too soon, but I don’t think this model bodes well for the generations coming up who will have life long education loan payments to deal with along with lots of relatively low paying dead end jobs at their disposal. Add A.I. taking jobs away to this equation and it really looks dismal. I suspect lots of these homes will eventually be occupied by extended families and communal living arrangements unless income distribution becomes more equitable down the road. I think if we are really honest about it, our current booming economy isn’t really working for millions of our population. I notice a few CEO’s of major corporations are beginning to realize that young people want and deserve a better piece of the American economic pie.

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  10. Good points Clinton, beyond ‘tear down” is the “empty nest” actions. The data shows Edmonds has a larger than average older people. As we age the kids leave home and older couples or surviving spouses often downsize. Homes that had room for a family of 4, now occupied by 1 or 2 get sold and new families move in with the kids and population goes up. My neighborhood of 60 homes has increase in population over the last 5 years by 20% just on the “empty nest” actions. I would guess this is happening and will continue to happen all around Edmonds. One of the key questions for most older folks is can I downsize and stay in Edmonds or will we have to move out of town to downsize. The free market tends to work more efficiently than govt trying to subsidized things.

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  11. Yes, I’ve been considering this possible downsizing approach to my own staying in Edmonds, the city that I regard as my home town, but a move just doesn’t pencil out based on the high price of condominiums with the kind of view I have. Add in the HOA dues, lack of parking, hassles of being part of an HOA, and basically; no thanks as long as I’m relatively healthy and mobile. I suspect I will remain in home until assisted living becomes a must. What’s totally unfair about how Edmonds handles the free market economy is that the single family lot zoning absolutely favors the building of large out of proportion to the size of the lots type dwellings that are so popular now. Down the road I would seriously consider putting a very small ADU handicapped friendly dwelling on my property and renting out the bigger house but the prevailing zoning would not allow this. This is the free market not really working in my favor, and in fact, it is not such a free market really.

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    1. I agree with the issues you raise. While serving on the Architectural Design Board I first started stating this concern from 1998 to 2004 that my husband and I wouldn’t be able to downsize in Edmonds.

      Currently, with the Planning Board the Members raised this same issue with City Council in 2016. The PB minutes of the past few years address the challenges for our elders to find appropriate housing.

      It is difficult to think of life long residents- who built and enriched our town- are dealing with a lack of housing stock.

      I conjecture this started to occur during the time of apartment conversions and State regulations on making it challenging for builders and developers to aquire financing to construct condominiums. The recession greatly depleted stock as banks were not financing projects as before. The spectrum of housing has diminished over this past decade.

      My hope is for Edmonds to return to a housing supply which meets the life cycle: our young adults need entry housing (supply of apartment rentals appears lower than in the past); entry level housing is less than in the past; cash challenged equity healthy elders are find it difficult to secure down sized housing in Edmonds where their friends, doctors, and community groups reside. Affiliations, such as these keep most of us more healthy.

      Many can speak more eloquently on the other housing issues.

      Thank you for this forum and reading my comment.

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  12. Maybe we just build a wall on the Sno-King boundary?
    I am a newcomer to Edmonds, having lived here almost 20 years.I have seen many changes; some I liked, some I did not. However, let’s make sure we address the unspoken context; population growth. The local population is growing fairly rapidly; a major reason housing is unaffordable. Yes, it is growing but in the next decade, it is likely to explode. For many reasons, but climate change will have a role, as will demographics, and trade. Edmonds cannot be the dog in the manger. We better figure it all out now or, like Seattle, we will be playing catch-up and it will not be pretty

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    1. As the mayor has said on numerous occasions, (paraphrasing) ‘people from Seattle come here to escape the city. They come here for the day to our restaurants, shop, and go home.’ I don’t see how the politicians can justify what they do, when the say the complete opposite. It’s time to hold them accountable come November.

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  13. I think its a bad idea..how can you drop a mini city in a small radius area and succeed? Where are all these cars going to go? Where are they going to park? I notice they are putting up more apartments but not enough parking. How about the streets. What is the long term plan on that? I used to be able to drive 9th with average traffic. Now, your waiting constantly and the building on Edmonds Way isn’t even finished yet and that will be double the traffic. Edmonds has had a parking problem for longer than I can remember..now what? No planning just doing.

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  14. When we talk about Edmonds, most of us are really referring to the Bowl, Downtown and Waterfront areas and not the greater Edmonds area in general. In my opinion, much of the up zoning issue depends on what area you are talking about. Up zoning in the Hwy 99 corridor isn’t going to have the same affect as up zoning at 5th and Main for example. As a person who lives in the Bowl area, of course I don’t want up zoning, but I’ve lived here long enough to know that there will always be a faction that want’s to up zone the downtown, waterfront and bowl as much as they can get away with. The first city council meeting I ever attended here was with my Dad when most people in town were trying to stop the building of a 12 story condo on the waterfront that ended up being only 4 stories, thanks to public outcry. It has been a battle thus ever since. Anytime an Edmond’s official say’s it’s “not about the building heights”, you can be 99% sure, it’s about the building heights. Listen and vote carefully, my friends, in the next election. It’s an important one.

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  15. I agree with many of the commenters here on this subject. Obviously a lot of folks who care about what’s going on in our city. I want to state my agreement that there are many indications with the Edmonds city officials that their focus seems to be on “virtue signaling” similar to Seattle on homelessness, drug rehab, affordable housing, etc. Are these really big issues to most Edmonds citizens or just a small but vocal group? In the big picture, just how important and serious, practically speaking, is the need for so much attention to these social issues in our city? Should we care about these issues? Of course, but the city officials are making them seem so much bigger a problem here than they really are. It’s about managing what is most important. The City Inclusion Committee’s attention to the Edmonds Bakery is an example. This need to show others just how socially concerned and connected we are to societal problems in a small city where most folks just love the community and want it to remain as a good place to live.
    The point here is that our political leaders in Edmonds seem to have taken their eyes off the ball. You are here to manage the practical matters of our town not to show your SJW virtue signaling.

    As many have said here, this next election is very important. Those in politics here who feel they have a mission to solve drug addiction , homelessness, unemployment, criminality, etc., in Edmonds should run for office in Seattle. There are 7 seats on the SCC open.
    Let’s not “Seattleize” Edmonds!

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  16. Well said, Mark! If Seattle has not found a solution maybe Edmonds should hold off. I believe the major problem in Seattle is drug addiction. They need to find a way to rehab people, not provide areas to shoot up, let alone supply them with drugs. The City of Seattle has become an “Enabler City” and has capitulated to drug and alcohol abuse! The result is a city with fast growth, but also a city of despair. Trash, feces, assaults and theft have left the scenic streets of Seattle a mess. San Francisco, like Seattle, is a huge convention and visitor city, but many organizations are moving their meetings elsewhere. I suspect this will happen to Seattle, if it hasn’t already. Let’s not bring all of this to our lovely little city.

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    1. I’ll paraphrase Janet Pope, the CEO of compass housing when asked about drug usage in their blokables, “whatever they do in their unit is their business.”

      Imagine that!?! At taxpayer’s expense. Because the initial informational meeting said renters will be 50% ami OR LESS. Doing their drug habit in a rent free unit.

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      1. The big question is who is going to pay for the added costs [police, sanitation, mental health, public health, drug overdoses, increased crime, etc]? I have asked the city and the sponsors this question at every public meeting and never gotten one single response.
        I have been trying to make a very simple point for the last two years.
        If Seattle can’t make these programs work, if San Francisco can’t make these programs work, if Los Angles can’t make these programs work, what makes anyone think a small town like Edmonds that is full of retired taxpayers can make it work?
        I really really don’t understand the reasoning behind this.
        Subsidizing and enabling homelessness and drug addiction will not reduce the problem, it will only exacerbate the problem.
        I wish it were not true, but it is. Look at the track record.

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  17. Just want to make the comment we have homeless campers now on Edmonds Way (heading our of Edmonds) just past 242nd. On the north Hill. You can’t miss all the litter. Oh, yes this will be a Edmonds problem too. If they are not moved along..

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  18. I think Joy is right. Ignore this addiction homelessness phenomenon and the problem will come to Edmonds, whether we like it or not. The Edmonds police will soon be in the same predicament as the Seattle police. Move them on, but to where? In Seattle, you just about have to be charged with dealing a large quantity or some other major felony to be charged with anything. The Courts and Jails are full up. As I pointed out elsewhere in MEN, we have been doing the same thing about substance abuse for about 50 years now and the problem just gets worse, but I’m sure it will start working soon, if we just stick to business as usual.

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  19. Edmonds is divided. Those living in “the Bowl” should put forth a vote to break apart from the less than perfect greater Edmonds area and form a new quaint, friendly, fairytale town named, Edmonds Bowl where the largest concern is what restaurant to walk to next and who’s dog friendly.

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  20. Edmonds is not divided! It is city made of brick, mortar, asphalt and concrete.

    Are Edmonds residents divided by political, economic and personal reasons? Without a doubt.

    The focus of this level of focus by the MEN respondent’s should be to hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box. If you don’t like what is happening, then vote for better politicians or run yourself.

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  21. My compliments to Dave Cooper; his March 25th comment. My sentiments exactly! If other cities have been trying for years after throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at hundreds of different programs and the result is not less, but more homeless, more vagrants, more drug dealing, more crime, more misery, why is Edmonds so fixated on the need to “solve” the miniscule homeless problem here? It’s about feeling good and relieving guilt, not anything rational. Those who have had loved ones addicted to opiates or alcohol and want to get them help know one thing very clearly. Nothing you can do will solve their addiction. Only they can solve it and they have to WANT to get off the stuff and that requires a long, long process of determination and courage to do so. Giving free stuff to addicts, which make up the majority of the homeless, simply enables them. It is not compassion. Compassion would be to allow them to feel the consequences of their choices, not allow them to break laws and stand by ready with detox and rehab when they finally make the choice to get clean. Well meaning people who have no knowledge of drug addiction are clueless just how manipulative addicts are. Go to some Alanon meetings, befriend an addict, read some books on it, go to an AA meeting. Your compassion is commendable but you are dealing with people who’s number one priority each and every day is getting their next fix and they will seek out compassionate people to manipulate to provide them anything they need to continue to get that next fix the next day. The only thing you should offer them is a ride to the detox center and rehab facility. That’s is it.

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  22. I think Cindy is on to something. “Edmonds Bowl” could break off from greater Edmonds. Then Woodway could annex Edmonds and have the new town of “Edmonds Woodway Bowl.” After all, they already have the high school and the police department firmly in their grip. Think of the advantages. Woodway would no longer just be a speed trap on the way to somewhere else. They would have a real downtown for the first time ever. They could turn their new Town Hall into several token low income apartments and all would be right with the world. It’s all so simple, if you just visualize a little. No, I’m not serious about this, just having a little fun. Lots of nice well meaning folks living in Woodway and all over Edmonds area. In reality we are all in this housing future development thing together and we better figure out a way to all pull together or things just get worse, like in Seattle. Dave and Joy both have some really good ideas about all this and I think we ignore them at our peril. Why not convert some of the County Court system incarceration funding to a multi purpose regional center of some kind to help all these folks. We are already spending that money anyway. Church volunteers, general public donations and financial support from large corporations could also defray the costs. Dave’s idea of putting substance addiction into the medical arena, instead of the penal system is right on in my opinion. The current model doesn’t work. Doctor/Patient confidentiality just might work and save society a ton of money in the process.

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  23. I mostly agree with you Mark, but I don’t think it’s so much about compassion or the lack there of, as it is about the social environment the majority of us want to live in. The police, social workers and family member helpers have to have an affordable detox and rehab center to take addicts to, willing or unwilling. Private detox./rehab costs literally thousands of dollars. The fall back places to take rock bottom addicts to are jail. hospital emergency and the morgue all of which cost the tax payers millions anyway. You are already giving addicts “free stuff” of one kind or another and that’s not going to go away on it’s own. That’s like saying, “I have a small case of cancer now but it’s expensive to treat, so I’ll just ignore it and hope it goes away.” I guarantee you that when you start seeing tents going up in Yost Park and the police tell you there is no place to take the folks to, you will be demanding affordable care and housing for them provided by government in some capacity. It would be much cheaper to just give the addicts their drugs than what we are doing now.

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