The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night gave a thumbs down to a proposed street vacation and street map change for property on 184th Street Southwest in the Perrinville neighborhood, voted to keep the 2021 city’s property tax levy at the same level as this year and okayed a 1% increase in the emergency medical services (EMS) levy.
Although homeowners will see no property tax increase next year, the council agreed to direct the city attorney to prepare an ordinance that allows the city to “bank” the 1% increase — a practice that gives local governments the authority to levy that additional 1% at a later date. The property tax measure was approved by a 6-1 vote, with Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas voting no. The EMS measure was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Fraley-Monillas and Councilmember Laura Johnson opposed.
Both ordinances will appear on next week’s consent agenda for final approval.
The proposal for the property that many neighbors call the Perrinville Woods involved a five-acre parcel in which the property owner had proposed a street vacation of the easterly portion of 184th Street Southwest between 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive. (A street vacation is a process in which the city transfers publicly owned right-of-way to a private property owner.) The property owner has development plans for the site that include subdividing it to build approximately 14 new homes. The owner had also proposed an official street map change that would have eliminated a 60-foot-wide planned right-of-way in the same area.
Opponents — some of whom testified during a public hearing Tuesday night — cited a number of concerns related to developing the property at all, pointing to the large number of mature trees and the fear that removing them would result in increased stormwater runoff and impact the Perrinville Creek watershed. As for the specific proposal at hand, they were against the idea of having the city transfer public property rights to the developer, since the development could still be built without access to the additional property.
City staff noted that if the development is eventually approved, the property owner will be required to retain at least 30% of the site’s native vegetation under the city’s critical areas code.
By law, the council was required to consider the proposed street vacation and map change first before any development proposal comes before the city, which will be reviewed during a separate process later. While the council doesn’t usually take action on the such matters the same night as a public hearing, Councilmember Susan Paine made a motion to reject the street vacation and map amendment, citing the the large number of emails the council received opposing the proposal.
Both Councilmember Kristiana Johnson and Vivian Olson said they would prefer to wait until next week to vote on the matter, and the council approved an amendment by Johnson to have it appear on next week’s council consent agenda instead.
In other business Tuesday night, the council:
– By a vote of 4-3, adopted two 2020 Comprehensive Plan map amendments (Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Kristiana Johnson voting against). One amendment involved the Haines Wharf site and adjacent properties, changing the designation from mixed use commercial to open space. City staff said the change was necessary to ensure that the Haines Wharf designation was consistent with the recently updated Shoreline Master Program. The other map amendment changes the designation of two undeveloped parcels in the Perrinville neighborhood — located off 76th Avenue West — from Neighborhood Commercial to Multi-Family Residential — Medium Density. The owner of the Perrinville property has proposed building six to seven townhomes on the site.
– Unanimously approved a request by Mayor Mike Nelson to present two rather than the required three candidates to the council for the chief of police position. The two candidates are Acting City of Edmonds Police Chief Jim Lawless and Sherman Pruitt, chief of police, director of public safety and emergency management services, with the Sauk-Suiattle Police Department.
– Held a public hearing on the proposed 2021 city budget (no one from the public offered testimony) and also had an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about possible changes they were planning to propose. Among them:
- Councilmember Diane Buckshnis asked why the budget did not include a placeholder for an anticipated percentage increase in the city’s contract with South County Fire, which is still negotiating its labor contract. Acting Finance Director Dave Turley replied that the fire authority hasn’t had a contract since 2017 and doesn’t know when an agreement will be reached. “We have ample reserves so that when they bill for the retro(active payment), we’ll be able to pay the bill,” Turley said.
- Councilmember Susan Paine said she had heard that changes will be coming to how the city is billed for prisoner care through the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and wondered how it could impact the city’s budget. Acting Police Chief Lawless told the council that the sheriff’s office has notified jurisdictions of its intent to change the fee structure for the use of the Snohomish County Jail. “Nothing has been formalied yet,” said Lawless, who added the current amount budgeted for 2021 should cover the increase.
- Councilmember Laura Johnson signaled her intent to add $25,000 to the $50,000 already proposed in the city’s human services budget for diversity, equity and inclusion training for city staff, “to more fully establish an equity plan that goes beyond just training and creates a solid foundation.”
- Councilmember Vivian Olson said she had concerns about the $500,000 allocated for the city’s building maintenance toward an estimated $9 million backlog, stating she wanted to ensure that $210,000 also be carried forward from the previous budget for that purpose.
- Councilmember Luke Distelhorst asked for clarification on whether the new human services program that appears in the proposed budget — at a cost of $500,000 — includes any employees. Community and Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty replied that it currently does not, although he has heard several councilmembers express the desire to use some of that money to hire a full-time social worker. Part of that person’s duties could include those that had been performed by the social worker position that had formerly been shared by the Edmonds and Lynnwood police departments. Some of those funds could also be used for specific services, provided through contracts with agencies that do that work, Doherty said. Before any of that is decided, though, the council would be involved in “goal setting for the usage of the funds,” he added, after which there would be a public hearing and the city could issue requests for proposals for the agreed-upon work. Councilmember Olson said she believes that the city’s current part-time human services program manager position should also be included as part of that $500,000 — right now, the $50,000 salary is outside the program.
- Councilmember Paine said she would propose $120,000 for a Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan update to acquire open space and ensure the city has access to grants “along environmental lines.”
- Paine also said she would be bringing forward a proposal for $140,000 to fund the first year of a three-year position in the city’s planning department to help write and update the city’s code. “This has been a long-term plan for a decade now and it’s time that we get this done,” Paine said.
— By Teresa Wippel