Beware. The city council is potentially about to make the same mistake it made with the original housing strategy process. Let’s not let this happen again.Tuesday evening, Aug. 20, Council will be voting on whether to hire Framework as Edmonds’ parking study consultant. There are multiple important reasons to delay selection of which consultant to work with:
- $84,000 is a lot of money to spend on a consulting firm hired to explore parking options for Edmonds when that firm does not specialize in parking improvements and supply analysis.
- The work Framework does is too diversified. We need a firm who specializes in parking issues including managing of current inventory, but more importantly on the supply side. We need a plan to effectively and aesthetically add more parking. There were four possible consultants on the short list. Three of those work exclusively on parking issues and plans: Dixon, Walker and Transpo Group. Framework will be voted on Tuesday evening and on its website lists parking as only one of a list of 18 project types on which it works. Parking is number 16 on that list. In fact, Framework advertises itself as a “multidisciplinary design and planning firm focused on Cultural Placemaking.” We need a firm skilled in parking planning.
- Framework, as per its own website, lists BERK Consulting as a collaborator. As we all remember, BERK is a Seattle-style focused firm which was essentially fired after a disastrous process where there was little citizen outreach or input about a housing strategy and where meetings with BERK were run in a frenetic and disrespectful manner, with public input carefully manipulated to support their own agenda.
- Because we are in the early stages of planning for future parking needs, all options must be on the table, including a parking structure. Framework does not include “parking structures” as a part of its work. Staff lead on this, Phil Williams even stated publicly at the committee meeting with Councilmembers Teitzel and Johnson on Aug. 13, and Councilmember Johnson pushed, to take a parking garage option “off the table” and not even have it in the scope.
- Residents and businesses have responded to the initial survey about parking and the consensus seems to be that we need more parking and/or better management. A firm that can deliver on that request is the one that should be hired.
Perhaps in the long run, Framework will turn out to be the consulting firm that is approved by the city council. However, for such an important project, this selection is being rushed through. Just because city staff want to get one day left of summer to use for a parking count is not a justifiable reason to push this to a vote now. We even have multiple blocks around Dayton Street closed right now, which is a main parking and driving route. Let’s take the initial $20,000 proposed for city staff time to get the data and public outreach prior to jumping the gun on a consultant before we even have the scope that the public wants the city to pursue. Only 2% of the public has gotten involved during this peak of the summer vacation season — we can do better!
I believe an in-house process, involving downtown and waterfront businesses, condo associations, new projects in the pipeline like Civic Park and the Waterfront Center, DEMA, Ed!, Chamber of Commerce at a minimum will give us actionable data that can help to make this process a success. The listed management strategies that Framework put together already are ones that the city is using as solutions. We don’t need an expensive consultant to tell us what we already know. Councilmembers have expressed a desire to change the “business as usual” process to involve their constituents first, so let’s encourage them to vote against this consultant and put that money to better use. E-mail Council now to tell them to vote NO at firstname.lastname@example.org.