Council approves bicycle lane project, will proceed with police chief recruiting process

Councilmembers, mayor and staff Tuesday night discuss the director hiring process.

It took a while to get there, but the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night made decisions on two key proposals Tuesday night that have been under consideration for the past several weeks.

First, the council approved, by a 5-0 vote (with two abstentions) a staff recommendation to proceed with a $1.85 million Sound Transit Access grant to add more bike lanes citywide. Second, it agreed via a 4-3 vote to move ahead with a full recruiting process to fill the permanent police chief position now occupied by Acting Chief Jim Lawless.

The police chief vote was a rejection of efforts by Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson and his administration to amend the current city code requirement for the mayor to bring three candidates before the council for director positions. That proposed change would have paved the way for Nelson to permanently appoint Lawless, who was the mayor’s choice for the permanent police chief job.

Last week, the council had two administration-supported code change options before it: The first was a revised version of an earlier proposal that reduced the time period of an “acting” position from six months to three months. This would allow an acting director’s confirmation “to occur prior to the expiration of the acting appointment,” which can last no longer than six months. The second option would have allowed the mayor to delay active recruiting if he or she was considering the permanent appointment of an acting director.

Even though Nelson had come into the mayor’s office in January announcing he would open up a recruitment process for a police chief, he explained last week that he chose Acting Chief Lawless after watching the long-time Edmonds police veteran in action during the COVID-19 crisis. Nelson also said he was “very doubtful” the city could find candidates “that will fill the need and immediacy during this crisis. He (Lawless) is the best person for the job.”

But some councilmembers were concerned about the concept, noting that the code change would apply not just to Lawless — but to future director appointments as well — and could erode the council’s authority when it comes to the process. To address those concerns, City Attorney Jeff Taraday Tuesday night proposed another option — inserting a sunset clause into the code change so that it would expire after a year.

That idea didn’t gain traction, however, and neither did a proposal by Councilmember Kristiana Johnson to delay the decision until next week so the council could study an appointment process followed by the City of Lynnwood. Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Councilmember Laura Johnson reiterated their earlier stance that it was important to follow council procedures in selecting the new police chief, and they were joined by Councilmembers Susan Paine and Luke Distelhorst in the 4-3 vote to stay the course with a recruiting process. Voting against were Councilmembers Vivian Olson, Diane Buckshnis and Kristiana Johnson.

Human Resources Director Jessica Nell-Hoyson said she has already presented a plan to the mayor for police chief hiring, and she estimated it would take two to three months to bring final candidates to the council.

Proposed bike lane projects.

Under the approved Citywide Bicycle Improvements project, bike lanes will be added on both sides of the street along 100th Avenue West from 244th Street Southwest to Walnut Street, Bowdoin Way from 9th Avenue to 84th Avenue West, and 228th Street Southwest from 78th Avenue West to 80th Avenue West. In addition, sharrows (basically bicycle arrow designations that indicate the roadway is shared with bicycles) will be added along 80th Avenue West from 228th Street to 220th Street Southwest.

During a presentation Tuesday night, staff emphasized how the project will improve safety for cyclists by providing a lane separated by vehicles, and will also make motorists more aware of bike activity. Staff promised there would be significant public engagement during the design process for the bicycle lanes, which is expected to last from September 2020 through December 2021. Construction is expected to be complete in 2022.

Public Works Director Phil Williams said one idea would be to hold a public meeting once the design process was at 10 percent, so that citizens could provide their input.

Councilmembers have received close to 100 comments from citizens about the proposal, some of which were generated via a flyer passed out to homeowners in the affected areas. Topping the list of citizens’ concerns was a loss of on-street parking, especially in congested areas such as 100th Avenue West/9th Avenue South and Bowdoin Way near Yost Park. Some also wondered whether the selected routes were the best streets for bike lanes and why other, less-congested streets couldn’t be considered.

Speaking to the concerns about parking, City Transportation Engineer Bertrand Haus assured the council that while the city did parking studies in the bike lane areas in early to mid-July, staff would conduct additional parking studies during the design phase. Williams noted that there is space in the neighborhoods of concern to add more parking, and that installing tick mark guides similar to those used downtown would “pretty dramatically improve the efficiency of parking on the street.”

As for how the routes were selected, both Haus and Williams agreed it was simply a matter of choosing the fastest — and flattest — route for cyclists.

Expressing worries about whether the 100th Avenue and Bowdoin Way routes were the best choice for cyclists’ safety, Councilmember Buckshnis attempted to have those removed from the list of routes, so they could be studied further — but that proposal wasn’t supported by others. Councilmember Vivian Olson asked for more time to talk with citizens about their concerns but that idea was also rejected. The final vote to accept the project was 5-0, with Buckshnis and Olson both abstaining.

Also during the meeting, the council:

– listened as Mayor Nelson declared Aug. 4 as John Reed Day. The late Mr. Reed, who was dedicated to preserving Edmonds’ small-town character, died March 29 due to COVID-19.Many councilmembers also shared their memories of working with Reed.

– heard the city’s second quarter finance report.

– approved an 18-month extension of the city’s wastewater treatment, disposal and transport with the City of Mountlake Terrace and the Olympic View Water and Sewer District and the Ronald Sewer District.

– Received an update on the city’s climate goals project. More information on that, as well as action steps, will be presented at a future council meeting.

 

25 Replies to “Council approves bicycle lane project, will proceed with police chief recruiting process”

  1. Hopefully zero money will come from Edmonds funds. While I support bike lanes, this is a ‘nice to have’ project; non essential. I believe cities, counties, state, and transit will be facing some very tough times ahead financially due to Covid.

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    1. It is definitely coming from “Edmonds funds”. Edmonds citizens’ funds. There is no magic free money. All these dollars are coming from the tax payers – us. It’s ok to say “no thanks”.

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    2. This plan is structured in such a way that 100% of the construction costs will come from money already allocated to Sound Transit. Edmonds will pay for maintenance as we do on all of our other roads, but will pay 0% in construction costs.

      There are real safety issues especially along 100th/9th that need to be addressed, and this plan addresses them.

      It is easy to get people worked up, and I think that with a little more review, they would see that accepting this agreement with design modifications is a big win for the city.

      If we switched Bowdoin way to sharrows instead of bike lanes, and switched to a consolidated the parking plan along 100th/9th to still allow for bike lanes, than there are a number of important benefits.

      – There would be no loss in parking along the affected roads
      – Edmonds would pay 0% in construction costs while still paying for maintenance like we do on all our other roads.
      – There would be an improvement in the parking situation downtown. Especially near the ferry and Sound Transit station (which is why Sound transit wants to give us $1.85M for these bike safety improvements in the first place).
      – It helps address parking capacity downtown without dipping into the Edmonds general fund.

      If you really look at the actual impacts of this plan, accepting the proposal WITH modifications was the right move.

      All of the other ideas and projects that people have come up with are great, but we can’t spend this money on them, and we likely won’t be able to afford them from the Edmonds fund anytime soon either. In such a tight year, not accepting this grant because we didn’t think through the benefits would have been a mistake.

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  2. Re-starting a process to recruit a police chief is bureaucracy at its finest – a total waste of time and money.

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  3. It is clear that there is no actual study being done of either the use of the current bike lanes or whether new ones would be used. The City built the lanes along 76th for reasons we still cannot understand and they are all but completely empty nearly all hours of every day. There simply is no demand for what is being planned. And the straight or flat analysis is simply not relevant either. Those who are biking in Edmonds are rarely commuters. The riders we see daily are doing it for exercise or touring. And they choose Olympic View Drive, which is neither straight nor flat, and it is incredibly unsafe. All of which is to say, the Council is creating problems, not solving them with this action. We should tell Sound Transit “thank you, but we don’t need the funds,” rather than looking for a way to spend them.

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    1. Keith Kemper brought up some good points. From a different perspective, I live, twenty years now, on the straight section of OVD south of 176th. When this road was redone, many of us lost the ability to park in front on our homes, on our own property, due to the much needed added sidewalks. Yes, I realize we homeowners don’t really own the first six feet… Also we were told there would be bike lanes, only to have them scratched due to costs. (The city said it would cost more than the entire project to acquire the needed space from homeowners.) I feel for the bikers. Drivers fly on this stretch with little to no LPD intervention. Apparently even though Edmonds is on one side, Lynnwood is responsible for patrolling. The majority cross the divider bumps into incoming traffic to go around bikers. Very few slow down unless forced to do so. And now there’s a huge increase in construction trucks on OVD, probably trying to stay off Hwy 99 with very long, poorly timed red lights. Too bad there was no ST Grant money for OVD.

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  4. “As for how the routes were selected, both Haus and Williams agreed it was simply a matter of choosing the fastest — and flattest — route for cyclists.”

    Clearly safety or time to talk with citizens about their concerns about the routes is not part of the City’s way of doing business. Good luck.

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  5. Maybe the Mayor and Council will fill a few potholes while jousting with the windmills of bicycle routes and police chief selection processes…

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  6. In this new plan, please please please bring some crosswalks crossing Bowdoin Way past 88th Ave. Too many folks crossing and cars are speeding through. The south side of the street doesn’t even have ADA ramps at the ends of sidewalks so walking strollers is nearly impossible in areas. This area has lots of kids and needs increased safety.

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  7. I absolutely feel it’s a ridiculous idea to have bike lanes along 100th/9th Avenue. Getting in and out of that shopping center with QFC and Goodwill is already very dangerous. With bikers traveling along there I am sure there will be injuries and fatalies. I live a few blocks from 100th Avenue on a residential street and bikers or scooters travel by frequently. It appears to me about 50% of those bikers/scooters are motorized and travel by pretty quickly. Children obviously would be traveling along those lanes and most of us parents know that children sometimes do not stop or slow down when they should.
    I’m really disappointed in the city of Edmonds in their decision as I value peoples lives and I feel this is a recipe
    for disaster!

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  8. Bike lane vote shows total disregard of the majority of the citizens wishes. Phil Williams says there is room for more parking in the affected neighborhoods. How can that be when “the plan” is : “Under the approved Citywide Bicycle Improvements project, bike lanes will be added on both sides of the street along 100th Avenue West from 244th Street Southwest to Walnut Street, Bowdoin Way from 9th Avenue to 84th Avenue West, and 228th Street Southwest from 78th Avenue West to 80th Avenue West.” Where do you put additional parking if there are bike lanes on both sides of 9th? On the steep hills of Walnut, Spruce, Pine and Fir streets or in the Cemetery?

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  9. I am so surprised as I read this. I made a comment on this before the final vote and was told it would not be on both sides of Bowdoin Way. It is already hazardous to even pull out on the street from our cul-de-sac because of a blind curve and no crosswalks. This street is not all that wide and with bicycles on both sides we will not even have room for visitors or repair people. We see few bicycles on the walk to Yost Park, mostly motorized. Obviously there was no real look or time for input.

    Thanks to the council member who responded especially the one saying it would be on one side. Guess not.

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  10. There is a way to address the safety issues effectively without any real loss to parking, and it basically comes down to whether or not enough people want to help be part of the solution.

    I was able to read the contract with Sound Transit, and it did read like a ‘take it or leave it’ contract from what I can tell. You either use it on these exact roads, or you don’t take the $1.85M in funding. You can’t choose to use it on the Interurban trail or sidewalks. That said, it does leave room for how it is designed. That is the key element to focus on.

    The current plan shows that there would be half of the parking lost along Bowdoin way, and it looks like all of the parking lost along 100th/9th.

    If we switched Bowdoin way to sharrows instead of bike lanes, and consolidated the parking along 100th/9th that was around 90-95% empty when I drove along the route Monday, than way no one loses parking, and everyone wins. As a bicyclist who uses both of these roads, these modifications would still allow safety improvements and be in compliance with the agreement.

    Two main changes to the current plan would make an enormous difference:
    1) The center turn lane in the 100th/9th current plan could be eliminated since I think it is unnecessary and wasteful, and that would make room for more than enough consolidated parking on one side than would ever be used on that street.
    2) Bowdoin could be switched to sharrows markings, and there would be no loss in parking along that street, while still adding appropriate safety improvements there.

    This basically switches the current Bowdoin plan to be on 100th/9th, and switches Bowdoin to Sharrows.

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    1. Parking on 9th Ave S isn’t always 90-95% empty all the time. I live on 9th Ave S and parking can fluctuate. You will see more cars on the weekends and evenings. Our family walk and jog on 9th all the time and parking is being used.

      I bought our house on 9th Ave S knowing that it’s a main road but there’s parking in the front. If the parking go away where will my friends and family park? It’s nice that my old mother can park in the front and not have to walk very far to the front door.

      Obviously the Council didn’t think of the residents when they approved the bicycle lane project.

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  11. Fraley-Monillas tells us, ” the roads are public facilities and individual citizens have no claim on parking or how they are used.” Fair enough, and I totally agree with her on that. So, how does this square with the concept that a certain group of individual citizens (bike riders and enthusiasts) get to have their own lanes and routes on the roads that are supposed to belong to us all equally? I think the Sharrows concept on all our main roads is a great idea and generally good for safety, but the rest of this plan is just a thinly disguised use of public funds for the benefit of a special interest group. Another program brought to us from on high, with all the citizens not to be fully heard until the near end of the planning process. (The claim is the citizens will be heard when the plan is about 10% complete, but I’ll believe that when I see it). Based on passed events in town, I predict this will not end well for the planners involved with lots of public discord getting expressed.

    Also, right on and totally agree with Ron Wambolt on the Chief situation. This decision is bad for the Mayor, bad for the Chief, bad for the City and really bad for the Citizens who pay the freight for all this nonsense and waste of time and public funds.

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  12. Please don’t put bike lanes on Bowdoin Way, please! People speed down that road too fast now and no cyclist will be safe.

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  13. Did we really need another example of what a complete and total disaster the election of Mike Nelson has been? Way to completely disregard the will of the people when it comes to the bike lanes. Nelson won’t be happy until Edmonds completely emulates Seattle….complete with vagrant filled tents lining every street.

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  14. Well said Ron, re: the Chief. “This decision is bad for the Mayor, bad for the Chief, bad for the City and really bad for the Citizens who pay the freight for all this nonsense and waste of time and public funds.”

    It was worth repeating.

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  15. I drove down Bowdoin Way yesterday and I have to say, I agree with Mary Bruce above. That street is pretty narrow for a dedicated bike lane on one side, let alone two, if that concept is in the works? Forget lots of parking spots with either scenario. If the road is meant as a main bike commuter lane to and from transit base shoreline or the waterfront it looks like you would need two lanes, as the one bike lane for bikes going in both directions would be pretty narrow for passage. On the other hand Sharrows would be a great addition on the whole length of that road in the interest of slowing down cars and watching out for bike and pedestrian traffic.

    When I drove to Shoreline Costco using the already marked roads with Sharrows and bike lanes, I saw a total of three bikes. Two adults in the lanes and one child and mother walking her little bike in a crosswalk. This was at about 2:00 PM yesterday. I’d sure like to see more documentation on how much these bike lanes will be used for the purposes stated and what they are accomplishing in the way of proven safety for the users. So far it looks to me like the bikes I see are where I would expect to see them with, or without, the dedicated lanes. Too much planning can be just as bad as too little.

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    1. Hard to get accurate data on bike usage. When they do the counts its mainly volunteers from local bike clubs and there can be a tendency to up the count. Not to mention they do get out and ride reminders prior to the counts or will even schedule an event. Electronic counts can be spoofed with stuffers (group of cyclist that circle the block over and over).

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  16. Not one more bike lane should be created until such time they are required to be licensed. If you use the road, pay for it. In my experience, most riders ignore the existing traffic laws by blowing stop signs, not riding single file and the like. Maybe a test is also required as part of the licensing process to address this. Look how simple it is to actually create a revenue stream people.

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  17. I would like to reiterate that there is an option to move forward without loosing any parking and still have 100% of the construction paid for by Sound Transit. In fact we would get a small net improvement on parking in the most busy areas downtown, and near the Sound Transit station and the ferry.

    All that it would take is for enough people to support my proposal to:

    Switch Bowdoin way to sharrows instead of bike lanes, and switch to consolidated parking along 100th/9th to still allow for bike lanes, and more than enough parking than would ever be used there.

    That’s it, it really is that simple.

    This would still adhere to the agreement signed with Sound Transit. It would still address the safety concerns, and it would improve transit options for Sound Transit station. There has been parking capacity issues at the Sounds Transit parking lot, and they have been looking at ways to alleviate those issues there, but do not have the money to spend on a large garage. Downtown Edmonds has also been dealing with parking issues, but we also don’t not have the money to spend on a parking garage either.

    Steps like this where it could be a win for everyone if my amendment was approved, and we really need people to focus on the situation at hand instead of getting bogged down by sidetracks.

    – Edmonds is not going to be one of the only cities in the world to license bicycles. That has always resulted in a HUGE waste of money, and is almost always abandoned.
    – We can’t spend this money on sidewalks or other roads.

    If people want to actually make this better, than I think they should consider backing my proposal.

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  18. I would like to see the construction plans for 100 Ave W. To retrofit these roads to accommodate bike lanes, the outside lanes would have to be eliminated leaving one travel lane in each direction and possibly enough room left for a center turn lane much like Richmond Beach Rd. I would think that this would eliminate a lot of rear end type collisions due to vehicles turning left from the inside lane, and provide some separation from vehicles and pedestrians who use the sidewalk. Sounds like a reasonable idea to me.

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