In planning a second season of Walkable Main Street, city asks community to weigh in

Pedestrians are safe from traffic as they stand in the Main Street crosswalk on the last day of Walkable Main Street in October 2020. (File photo by David Carlos)

The City of Edmonds is considering again implementing its Walkable Main Street program downtown this summer, and is inviting residents to take a survey to share their ideas.

The program closed Main Street between 3rd and 6th Avenues to vehicles last summer, running on Saturdays and Sundays from June 20-Oct. 11.

With pedestrians free to walk along the street, restaurants and retailers also expanded their footprint beyond their brick-and-mortar establishments to provide the ability for distanced dining and shopping.

“After our success with Walkable Main Street last year, we are looking at offering a second season this year,” said Mayor Mike Nelson. “We would like to hear from our residents on how we can make it even better.”

An online survey, available as of Thursday, can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/WalkableMain. The survey is until 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 24.

Additionally, City staff will be meeting with downtown business owners and surveying them for their ideas, and this feedback will be added to answers already collected from last year’s Walkable Main Street discussions.

  1. So where are people supposed to park? The goal of the city seems to be to eliminate as much parking as possible. The number of people in walking distance to downtown is a very finite number. Before eliminating all of these parking spaces. Come with a workable plan to replace them. Could the city work with the Methodist church for parking and then provide transportation to and from the church?

    1. No, I will not do that to shop in my own town!! NOT when there is and always has been adequate parking here in the 33 years I have lived here. This needs to stop here. That idea does not solve anything at all.

    2. I am a longtime Edmonds resident and had no issues whatsoever finding parking during the street closures. I look forward to the city expanding Walkable Main Street, and bringing in more and more visitors to our great town! Thank you, city leadership for thinking outside the box!

  2. I just looked at the survey. It didn’t even allow for the possibility that people don’t want it to continue. It was primarily about how they can expand the program. If you want to run a quick errand or grab takeout on a weekend, the City of Edmonds makes it impossible.

    1. I noticed the exact same thing. This is right out of the Nelson playbook….he truly doesn’t want your opinion if it differs from his. Can’t WAIT to vote him out.

      1. Totally agree. Quite a piece of work this one!! In my humble opinion. Such arrogance just looking at him it is there. And watching his bored face on zooms and his very abrupt rude NEXT.. is quite arrogant also. We need a nice man not a prima donna for Mayor.

    2. Yes that is right. IT apparently is not at all about what all of the citizens of Edmonds want it to be like here. You are right those little last minute I’ll run down to the paint shop for instance will be going to the AM keyboard instead. Its not like everything in this town cannot be purchased someplace else. Either another area or online. I don’t like to use online all of the time at all. I would much prefer to shop locally and patronize my city but hey if they don’t want us there then I guess we will have no choice. Remember those levy’s you will be wanting a yes go for more taxes ect. You may find you don’t pass those this time if this continues here. Just saying. Even the folks with lots of money don’t want their property values effected!! Just think.

    3. I agree 100%.

      It’s basically a “push poll”. A “push poll” is a form of interactive marketing in which political operatives try to sway voters to believe in certain policies or candidates under the guise of an opinion poll.

  3. The pandemic will end then where do the cars go? It is a “main” street. Closing it is a bad idea. Scrap the idea of this.

  4. Even thought the survey is about continuing and how to expand Walkable Main Streets, there are a couple of places for comments. Please take survey and utilize comment section to voice concerns. My concern is that Walkable Main Streets may help a few businesses, but does it help all businesses, especially with the challenge of parking? Does closing off parking just keep people away? With reducing restrictions, the Saturday Market will have more flexibility this year so how will Walkable Main Streets impact people coming to the Market? Will Walkable Main Streets end when Covid restrictions are removed or is the plan to make this a permanent fixture?

  5. YES, I definitely support the Walkable Main Street. Developed during the CoVid peak, it helped restaurants survive. But more importantly it taught us how a walkable downtown brought the community together. We could walk unobstructed by cars and enjoy the surroundings and other walkers. It feels like a street party and people will travel to Edmonds to be part of the small town feeling. Keep it going and expand.
    Last year I saw much parking available, with a short walk to Main. If that does not remain true, then the City may have to explore people transporting options.
    Thank you for our Walkable Main Street.

  6. Sounds like a mix of fun and community to me. But then, I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe where people are accustomed to parking their cars farther away and walking more for the sake of pedestrian-friendly downtowns. While there are reasonable arguments against such people zones, and everybody’s needs can’t always be met, I love how–for the majority–every day’s a festival when you are enjoying pedestrian zones.

    1. As much as I admire and respect Rick Steves a no car zone in the heart of Edmonds is a mistake. Edmonds is not a quaint little city in Italy.

      Nor could it become like Santa Monica CA or Boulder CO as others would like us to believe. The pedestrian malls are not the heart of those cities like Main street is to Edmonds.

      Traffic on Fifth and Main has never ever been a problem on weekends in the 21 years I’ve lived in Edmonds. Crowded, yes but not a problem. After attending the summer market my partner and I enjoy sitting on the corner with coffee in hand people watching and meeting acquaintances. To me it had the feel of a vibrant healthy town. Not now.

    2. Exactly! The Walkable Main Street makes Edmonds a destination for visitors from all around the area. I know it may inconvenience some who are used to things being a certain way, but instead of looking at all the negative things (which I would argue are minimal), look at the positive things this does for our community and its reputation as a place to be.

  7. Mr Steves
    We were not given a choice. You proposed it and under Emergency powers it happened. Whether or not the majority of Edmonds residents enjoy it has never been established. It is a public road not a plaza yet. It is also a main route for ferry traffic. Anyone wanting to just do errands will likely go elsewhere. No parking particularly with streeteries taking up spaces. But hey, it will probably be fun for folks from elsewhere to visit for a day. And that is what all of it seems to be about really. I have enjoyed many plazas in foreign countries too. Edmonds ain’t that , nor will it ever be.

    1. Diane your comments are right on the mark. When I filled a public record’s request to see the surveys last year they were non existing. The mayor believes in you scratch my back l will scratch yours.

  8. I personally like the idea, but I have to agree with Tina about the survey assuming everyone does. Reminds me of the bike lanes.

  9. With the growth of high density housing close to Edmonds the people that live in apartments are going to drive down to Edmonds to enjoy our parks, beaches and restaurants for much needed entertainment and an opportunity to enjoy time outdoors. Our parks, restaurants and entertainment venues will be in high demand and we have to find a way to accommodate them. I like having a “walkable” Edmonds because it brings our city to life.

  10. I too invite everyone to check out the survey. It’s only 5 questions and like others have already commented, it assumes that everyone who participates in it is in favor of the concept. There is no question such as, “Do you think the city should have another Walkable Main Street program?”

    My point is, what if people aren’t in favor of this? How do they communicate it to the City? Does the City want to know more about the people completing the survey. Where do they live? Did they participate last year? Did they even know about it?

    Also, what were the metrics used to quantify the Mayor’s quote, “After our success with Walkable Main Street last year, we are looking at offering a second season this year,” said Mayor Mike Nelson. “We would like to hear from our residents on how we can make it even better.”

    What were the goals of the program? To increase business revenue by a certain percentage? To increase foot traffic by a certain number? To mitigate the need for social distancing during a pandemic while giving consumers access to some of the businesses downtown?

    Again, as has been noted, if you didn’t support the Walkable Main Street program you could note that in the comment section, but still, why not have a simple yes/no question?

    In conclusion, a simple five question survey with all the questions pointing to continuing the program doesn’t seem to be a survey that really wants any community input other than confirmation about having the program again.

    1. The other cities that the city provided as examples are larger and have great transportation systems. There are no cities in Wash. or Oregon that shut down there main street. Unfortunately we are preaching to our shelfs as the mayor won’t read the comments just like he doesn’t answer his phone or emails

    2. I’m in favor of the WMS, but this is an obvious example of manufacturing consent, expertly done against the Edmonds merchants.

      1. It clearly started from the perspective that WMS is a good thing (which I agree with wholeheartedly). That said, I had no trouble finding how to leave my opinion on the survey.

  11. Edmonds is a carnival town…
    Almost any summer weekend, we have a festival, fair or show which caters to “out of towners”.
    If tax paying residents would like to park or enjoy a local restaurant, you can fight the crowd or forget it. Shutting down Main street is just more of the same.
    Edmonds is a nice place to visit, but….

  12. It sounds kinda cool until it’s not. The combination of “streeteries” & denser housing ( with more cars parked on ancillary streets ) has made as mentioned, running errands or picking up to go food too much of a parking challenge. As a long time Edmonds resident, I am more curious as to what the majority of impacted businesses have to say, as well as the citizens. I realize that the curbside dining will most likely go away post Covid & 2020 was probably not the best sample size to draw from, but the lack of parking is the Gorilla in the playpen. I, along with many others wondered why there was not a park n ride shuttle of some short from a church ( Holy Rosary upper lot? ) or school. I think I like the old just block off Fifth for the Saturday Market and leave Main open.

  13. Exactly! The Walkable Main Street makes Edmonds a destination for visitors from all around the area. I know it may inconvenience some who are used to things being a certain way, but instead of looking at all the negative things (which I would argue are minimal), look at the positive things this does for our community and its reputation as a place to be.

    1. I would only ask whether Edmonds is for those of us who live in Edmonds, or for out of town visitors? The two are not mutually exclusive, but at the moment the tourists seem to be the ones we cater to. I expect I am not the only resident who has simply given up coming into the bowl at weekends – festivals, closure, parking, crowds… All doable, even balanceable with planning, but again, the ‘plan’ seems to consider the people who live here least of all.

      1. I don’t think Edmonds can thrive without money coming from out of towners, especially post-pandemic and with other highly competitive municipalities in the area. I moved here 30 years ago, and for much of those years, Edmonds was Deadmonds. You couldn’t find many people under the age of 40 downtown. Today, that has changed markedly. Families and young people live here and travel here because it’s a cool place to visit and spend an afternoon. I’m be proud of what Edmonds has become, and it’s because we’ve had leaders who dared to do things differently.

        Bottom line: Edmonds can be for everyone. And should be.

        1. Yes Mike, “Edmonds can be for everyone,” and that should include the non-restaurant merchants downtown. They proposed Save Our Saturdays~ do Walkable Main Street from Saturday night through Sundays. Leave the street open for parking before 5 or 6 PM on Saturdays. But unfortunately Mayor Nelson chose to ignore that thoughtful compromise.

        2. Interesting Mike, which business do you own in downtown Edmonds? What do you have on the line? How you feed your family, like the retailers downtown do? How much knowledge do you have how this is affecting them with the WMS? I believe what the retailers are saying that WMS is their hurting business.

          I guess for some it’s just party on. Cool.

  14. Yeah but that compromise eliminates the busiest time of the week for families — daytime on Saturdays. So I get why that didn’t fly.

    1. Nope. Saturdays and Sundays are interchangeable for families, Mike. Merchants proposed a reasonable compromise, Save Our Saturdays. Close Main Street on Saturday evenings and all day Sundays. But that was rejected for unexplained reasons.

      1. Well, Roger, I disagree that Saturdays and Sundays are interchangeable for families. For a number of reasons.

        1. Hmmm. “For a number of reasons”…and you chose to state *none* of them.

  15. Dear Edmonds neighbors. Clearly there are differing opinions on this topic about what’s best for Edmonds. But we can respectfully differ and assume good intent. Review the thread: The angry and mean-spirited edge on so many comments are generally from people who oppose the pedestrianized Main Street. The mayor did not choose to “ignore that thoughtful compromise”. He considered it along with all the other thoughtful input and made a decision in line with his assessment of what the community as a whole would like and what’s best for Edmonds. It’s a healthy debate, and I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve lived in Edmonds for over fifty years and we’ve debated hard questions as a community, made our decisions, and lived with them without sounding like an angry MAGA rally. Let’s assume we want what’s best for our town as we respectfully share our opinions on just what that means.

      1. Bob, I have no problem with the compromise. I’m not weighing in either way. I wrote an editorial a year ago envisioning a pedestrian only piazza around our fountain (which European communities find so good in bringing people together) and have stayed out of the debate since. I’m really fine either way and am curious what the community as a whole would prefer.

    1. Respectfully Rick my family has also been in the Edmonds area since the 1960’s and has seen changes. If your travel business was on the line by WMS, or you were no longer able to have travel seminars in downtown Edmonds because of WMS you might be singing a different tune. This has nothing to do with partisan politics, and there are lots of angry irresponsible mob people on the left too. Why go there? People are angry because the Mayor marginalize their opinions. Lot’s of learning to still be done apparently.

    2. Mr. Steves,
      While condemning “the mean-spirited edge on so many comments”, you feel compelled to throw in your snarky “angry MAGA rally” remark?
      So much for “respectful sharing of opinion”!

    3. Hi Rick. Re your “The mayor did not choose to ‘ignore that thoughtful compromise.’ He considered it along with all the other thoughtful input and made a decision in line with his assessment of what the community as a whole would like and what’s best for Edmonds.”

      That may have been the mayor’s thought process, but we actually don’t know because he didn’t explain it; he just announced his final decision. Transparency is a scarce commodity in this City Hall.

      1. Right on Brother Pence. An honest non-biast reaction to the compromise would have been to meet with the proponents; and agreeing to try it out for at least a month. But listening to the other’s side is not Nelson’s style. Democrats complain about Republican tactics of no compromise and then go right out and imitate them when they have the power. (I know City government is non-partisan, wink, wink).

  16. Mr. Steve’s is one of my neighbors and I appreciate and admire much of what he has done for his home town (Waterfront Center Civic Field etc.) He is not selfish with his wealth which is a good thing.

    Unfortunately, the downside to such generous gifts from wealthy donors is that the gifts give said donors great access to and influence on elected officials, whether intended or not. Both Nelson and Steve’s are very active in the democratic party locally and to think they haven’t conferred a great deal on the WMS concept and things political in the Edmonds realm asks us all to be quite naive.

    S.O.S. did not get a fair hearing from our executive or legislative branches and everyone knows it. I have another really great neighbor who I differ with on politics, but consider he and his wife salt of the earth folks and the best of neighbors. They are being harmed by WMS and no compromise on the issue and that ticks me off. Won’t be voting for any Edmonds Dem.s anytime soon, even though I am one.

  17. Rick Steve’s, you have truly offered nothing of value to this conversation. Perhaps you would like to delete your comments and start over. The MAGA comment was really unnecessary. Most people here in Edmonds are trying to resolve this. It does not matter if you have lived here 60 years or 60 days, we and our opinions are all valid, without name calling.

  18. Brian Drechsler, sorry that I apparently made you upset. Isn’t the general public an audience that should have a voice in this matter? I get that the businesses need to have a say, but not any more of a say than anyone else. Many of the businesses are loving WMS, btw.

    I would think the strong will survive by getting creative and looking at new ways to attract customers. If you are solely dependent upon having parking available within a block or two, then perhaps it is time to rethink what you are offering? Demographics in Edmonds are changing, too, and the businesses that may have thrived a few years ago may not meet the needs of today’s customers.

  19. Which retail businesses are loving WTF? I get it that restaurants like it because they don’t have to pay rent on their street usage. Who doesn’t like free rent. This is a political decision and I agree with you eventually we all should be able to have a voice in this matter. In our system we call that an election and if the mayor’s decision on WMS is not approved by the electorate he should be booted out the door. In the meantime, later this year, maybe we can add a couple of city council members to that exit list.

    1. Should socialize the situation, have the restaurants pay their fair share to the merchants. Whatever extra the restraints make could be shared with the merchants. Rising tide floats all boats. The parking spots are socialized, but restaurants are using more than their share.

      1. A great idea, the restaurants should pay a fee to the city for using the street which is on the public right away, then that money could go to the retailers losing business because of WMS. It’s a win-win. Those who love the WMS can go and have a good time and pay what is the fair rate of money for their fun of being able to eat the middle of the city street.

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