Edmonds City Council July 21 to hold public hearings on bicycle lane project, transportation improvements

The Edmonds City Council is set to hold two public hearings during its Tuesday, July 21 business meeting.

The public is invited to comment on two matters:

– A citywide project, funded by a $1.85 million Sound Transit Access grant, to add bike lanes on both sides of various Edmonds streets, including: 100th Avenue from 244th Street Southwest to Walnut Street; Bowdoin Way from 9th Avenue South to 84th Avenue West, and 228th Street Southwest from 78th Avenue West to 80th Avenue West. In addition, sharrows will be added along 80th Avenue West from 228th Street Southwest  to 220th Street Southwest.

– The city’s Six Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP),  a transportation planning document that identifies funded, partially funded and unfunded projects that are planned or needed over the next six calendar years.

Other items on the council agenda include:

– A development activities update.

– Approval of a contract with Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts for another four-year term.

– Review of a proposal to extend the personal services contract for a program administrator at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

– Review of a proposal by Mayor Mike Nelson to modify the confirmation process of mayoral appointees for director-level jobs. Under the proposal, an exception would be made to the requirement now in place for the council to interview three candidates for position — allowing them  to confirm someone who has served the City of Edmonds in an acting director capacity for at least six months.” Such an exception makes sense because the mayor and council would have ample opportunity to judge the performance of such a candidate prior to confirmation,” the agenda memo states, “and therefore, would know much more about such a candidate than could ever be learned through merely conducting an interview.” Like any other exception to the three-candidate rule, the proposed exception would still require a supermajority vote of the city council to waive the three-interview requirement, the memo adds

– Review of the updated draft City Council Code of Conduct.

The remote meeting will begin at 7 p.m. via Zoom. You can see the complete agenda here, which is where the video will appear when the meeting is live.

Citizens who would like to participate in the audience comment portion of the meeting may connect via Zoom at any point before the conclusion of the audience comment period. Citizens will sit in a virtual waiting room until their turn to speak. When the citizen enters the live Council Meeting, their time will begin. The clerk will be the time keeper and provide a 30-second warning and a final warning when their time is up. The citizen will be removed and the next speaker will be allowed in.

You may connect with a computer or smart phone at: https://zoom.us/s/4257752525. Or join the meeting by phone at: 888-475-4499 (toll free) or 877-853-5257 (toll free). The meeting ID is 425 775 2525. Citizens not wishing to participate in audience comments may continue to monitor the livestream on the City Council Meeting webpage, cable TV, or telephone by calling 712-775-7270, Access Code 583224.

  1. No Acting Police Chief the position has been vacant for 21 days according to the City Code. My Oh My, this is shocking behavior of our Mayor, Human Resources Director, City Attorney and City Clerk to allow the acting police chief’s appointment to lapse and the police chief position to be automatically vacant. This isn’t about the City’s ability to retroactively compensate our former Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless for back pay. It is about who is steering the government ship. Our Mayor needs a period of introspection of his duty to ensure all laws of the city are enforced. Not to continue to only react, when a mistake has been discovered. Who is making all the mistakes? How can we stop the expiring of contracts and agreements and not renewing them on time? How do we get the Mayor and City Staff to follow city and state law? There seems to be continuing problem that needs to be addressed. There needs to be accountability.
    Another example, the Hearing Examiner contract expired in December 2019. The City scheduled a Hearing Examiner hearing in January 2020. It wasn’t until a citizen pointed this issue was there any city reaction. It is a repeat of what took place with the last Hearing Examiner contract. The previous Hearing Examiner contract expired on December 2014 and wasn’t renewed until January 1, 2016.

    Back on February 14, I emailed the Mayor (with no response) asking him two questions:

    1.) Whose responsibility is it to ensure all city contracts and agreements are followed and current?

    2.) Does the City Clerk, the City Attorney or is it the Mayor that tracks the expiration dates of city appointments, contracts and agreements.

    The City Council needs to recognize there is management problem and changing good city policy isn’t going to fix it!

  2. Following is a link to the last time the Hearing Examiner Contract expired. It was citizens that brought this to the attention of the City government in late 2015:
    Incredibly, it has happened again.
    I brought this new failure to the City’s attention by emailing Councilmember Laura Johnson an email that included the following on February 16, 2020:
    Former Mayor Earling and his staff failed to issue an RFQ/RFP for Hearing Examiner Services for a 4 year term commencing January 1, 2020. During January, 2020, Phil Olbrechts held a hearing and acted as if he was the Edmonds Hearing Examiner. He did so when:

    1. No RFQ/RFP was issued related to the 4 year term slated to commence January 1, 2020.

    2. No appointment to the Hearing Examiner office was made by Mayor David Earling for the 4 year term slated to commence January 1, 2020.

    3. No confirmation of Mayor Earling’s required appointment to the Hearing Examiner office was voted on and passed by the Edmonds City Council for the 4 year term slated to commence January 1, 2020.

    4. No Professional Services Agreement for Land Use Hearing Examiner Services was prepared and executed by Mayor David O. Earling and Phil A. Olbrechts for the 4 year term slated to commence January 1, 2020.

    Despite the 4 points above, Phil A. Olbrechts has acted as if he is appointed, confirmed and contracted to perform Hearing Examiner services for the City of Edmonds during January of 2020.

    Former Mayor David Earling and his staff facilitated Mr. Olbrecht’s conduct by failing to make sure the Edmonds City Code was followed. It would have helped if they had simply kept track of when Mr. Olbrecht’s appointment term and related contract expired. How hard should this administrative task have been to accomplish? Especially when this was such a huge issue back in late 2015. How could they miss this yet again?

    Councilmember Laura Johnson did not respond to my email. Now, over 5 months later, City Council is being asked to approve a new contract and make such contract retroactive to January 1, 2020. This is different than last time. Last time, Council did not approve a contract with a retroactive date of January 1, 2015. Instead – they adopted a contract term of February 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019.
    Why the different treatment?
    Furthermore, the Mayor has not appointed a Hearing Examiner or asked the Council to confirm his appointment. Why is Council being asked to approve a contract before even being asked to confirm the Mayor’s appointment?

    1. The last time this happened, a Request for Qualifications and Proposal for City of Edmonds Hearing Examiner could be found on the City’s website.

      Is that the case this time or is Mayor Nelson’s plan to skip competitive bidding, skip the appointment, skip Council conformation and go right to contract approval – a contract retroactive to January 1, 2020?

      The following is taken from the November 10, 2015 City Council meeting Minutes:

      Councilmember Bloom referred to an email the Council received today from a citizen with four points
      related to the expiration of the Hearing Examiner’s contract at the end of 2014. She provided Ms. Hope’s
      response to her inquiry: “In looking more carefully at the four statements you referenced, I believe they
      boil down to the following question: Did the four year contract for our Hearing Examiner, Phil Olbrechts,
      expire? The simple answer is yes.” Councilmember Bloom relayed her understanding there is an RFQ out
      for a new Hearing Examiner. Given that the Hearing Examiner’s contract expired at the end of 2014, she
      asked Mr. Taraday the status of decisions made by Mr. Olbrechts in 2015 since he was not under contract
      with the City during that time. Mr. Taraday responded he just found about this today and has not had
      enough time to fully research all the possible angles in the question. Councilmember Bloom requested he
      return to the Council with answers very soon.

  3. So far, there are no responses regarding bicycle lanes here. I guess people aren’t reading and then commenting….Just commenting about stuff they want to talk about. How about the crappy parking places on Sunset Ave? No more watching sunsets because the locals have deemed their street off limits…..Money talks….You know the rest of the saying……Regarding bicycle lanes; my belief is if you ride on the streets you should get a permit and a license. We already have enough bike-riders who don’t follow the rules of the road but still seem to claim the right-of-way….Get a license, display your license plate, pay your taxes and if you disobey the rules-of-the-road get a ticket and pay it…..No Freebies.

    1. Fair enough, I guess I need more information on the design considerations of bike lanes, not just the street locations, as that is not enough information to make a fair assessment. I am pretty happy with a lot of the bike lanes so far, and I would assume these new ones would be done with the same quality, but you have to make enough room for car lanes and areas for parked cars to open doors.

      In general, if done right, bike lanes can be of great benefit to both bicyclists and drivers by making everyone more safe. It is really great to see more cyclists on the road, as Edmonds is just a beautiful city to ride around. There are lots of great things that you just don’t see locked up in a car. Encouraging more biking is also a tremendous way to reduce the parking problems downtown as well.

      The walking/biking area along Sunset is very heavily used and loved. Probably one of the best planned and implemented ideas that the city has done this year. You would likely have a very large majority of residents who would want to keep it there permanently.

      As far as capital improvements go though, it would be good to add additional areas. 80th st between 206th st SW and 212th St. SW is a literal death trap waiting to happen. It definitely needs safe places for people to walk as they currently walk in the middle of the road, hoping that drivers will see them in time to come to a complete stop, or move into the oncoming traffic lane. With little to no street lights, no sidewalks, or areas for people to safely move off of the road, it is an incredibly dangerous stretch of road. At the very least it needs a lot more street lights and warning signs.

    2. 100% bike riders think they are above the law.
      They should be required to have a plate $ 150.00 per year, get tickets just like autos.
      And have bike insurance, the same as a motorcycle.

    3. More government bureaucracy won’t change cyclist behavior. As vulnerable users of the roadway, cyclists already have more skin in the game than any driver of a vehicle, with self-preservation being a strong incentive to not ride irresponsibly. Of course, there are always those, cyclists and non-cyclists, who take risks, but the majority of cyclists, just like the majority of drivers, behave responsibly.

      As for cyclists seeming “to claim the right-of-way,” you’d have to be more specific because RCW 46.61.755 gives cyclists all the rights and duties applicable to the diver of a vehicle on the roadway with additional provisions specific to cyclists, such as riding as near to the right side of the lane as is safe. This means if a cyclist is in front of you on the roadway, you need to slow down and pass only when safe to do so, coming no closer than 3 feet. And there are no freebies; with few exceptions, cyclists own vehicles, and pay taxes and can get ticketed for infractions of traffic law.

      Sometimes people misinterpret cyclists’ behavior due to an inadequate understanding of the law. For instance, cyclists can, but are not required to, ride on the shoulder of the road or in a bike lane even when one is present. Conditions, such as gravel, debris or disrupted pavement may make it unsafe to do so. Also, cyclists can ride in a designated right turn lane and proceed straight without turning. Come October 1, cyclists can treat a stop sign as a yield sign, yielding right-of-way as required by law with or without coming to a full stop. So education may be the key here, for cyclists and non-cyclists.

      I would be in favor of bicycle sellers being required to provide purchasers 15 and older with a readable copy of current state law as it pertains to cycling and a list of resources teaching cycling safety.

  4. Bike lanes are great, but not at the expense of homeowners and street parking. The idea of not having street parking on Bowdoin Way in order to our in bike lanes is ridiculous! Overflow from Yost Park already spills over to the street when pool is open and there are special events….where will they park? There are adult family homes, condominiums and a group home on Bowdoin, all requiring street parking -where will their staff, visitors, deliveries, dart buses park? The speed limit on Bowdoin is 30 mph. The few bicyclists using this street often travel much faster. There are multiple blind driveways making it really dangerous for everyone. The proposal references parking on side streets. How will my disabled husband walk 100 yards of more with no crosswalk or working streetlights to make it home? Or anyone coming to our home for a visit or to deliver goods or work on our home?
    What are the proposed # of rider’s expected to use this route to access public transportation? Or was this just another example of a city applying for a Grant because they can and doing so without considering the costs?

    1. Sounds to me that you have many very valid concerns. Sometimes projects originate with city staff as make work projects for them. And sometimes city staff isn’t adequately concerned about any undesirable ramifications of projects because they do not reside in Edmonds.

    2. I agree with Rosemary 100%. As a local who lived 4 doors down from the entrance of Yost Park & Pool for 8 years, I can attest the surface street parking Capacity on Bowdoin is so vital to the viability and enjoyment of our community Pool and Park in the summer months. I recall cars lined up and down Bowdoin all summer long utilizing and supporting $ our community pool and park. Yost Pool is closed for the season so any parking study conducted now is a clear misrepresentation. I Hope city council can at a minimum insure Yost Pool parking is protected on Bowdoin as its been a complete non factor in the discussion thus far? Yost Pool is such a Gem for our community, disappointing to witness it being devalued.

      1. I’d like to see the bike lane grant money go to the Interurban Trail…it checks all the boxes for access to the MLT transit station, improvement close to the SR99 corridor, etc. There is a segment crossing SR104 that is in dire need of completion to create a safer crossing. Will be expensive but seems like a better use of grant money than painting lanes on downtown arterials.

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