Letter to the editor: There’s a new power structure in town

Editor:

If you haven’t noticed,  we have a new power structure in our town.

For those of us downtown Edmonds businesses that have (up until recently) worked together embracing and exercising our freedoms, choosing how and when we do business, this new structure has added an additional  and serious burden on top of an already pandemic one.  Definitely a challenge.

Walkable Main Street (WMS), implemented the summer of 2020,  is one of the platforms of this power and is seen by many businesses and citizens alike as a huge mistake. Some in our city government are literally using this event for their personal agenda, all under the guise of safer streets. This is never a good exercise for leadership. Communities and its people never operate healthily in these kinds of vacuums because we  are always part of a greater whole, of something bigger, whether we like it or not.

At this very moment we have retailers in town who are hanging on through these pandemic times by threads, operating anywhere between 50 to 80% of pre pandemic sales. This too has far reaching effects. These folks have their livelihoods at stake. These folks have spent years building not only their brick and mortar businesses, but an economically vibrant downtown community that so many of us enjoy today. These are viable businesses that help support the tax base of Edmonds, businesses that also support families. Closing the streets down on weekends takes away volumes of sales and sales tax due to limited parking and the carnival activity that keeps the locals away.

WMS was initially implemented during the height of the pandemic with social-distancing-safety in mind and resulted in streateries for upward of 20 of our great restaurants. Do our 2021 streets really need to be safer yet? Isn’t that what the recent survey implies?

The survey, thought by many to be a little skewed, was an attempt by the city to “cover their bases.” How can we argue when the city  implements WMS after they have asked for everyone’s input? Come on…who wouldn’t vote for safer streets? 

But, ask yourself…Do we really want a carnival atmosphere every weekend for five months in our town where there is limited parking and our retailers suffer for lack of serious shoppers? This is truly a bigger issue than just eating and drinking. Are we willing to sacrifice what we have built altogether only to have it eaten away?

We already have a walkable Edmonds. We don’t need a new one.

What we do need is a balanced mix of businesses run by caring people for caring people. Let’s not limit the freedom of any of them by imposing personal agendas.

Our present city government has already placed itself several times in positions that require the ability to understand how its actions affect others, not a concept that all comprehend. Genuine leadership is a great responsibility. It’s all about understanding the basic tenets of good government which includes good working relationships, good public administration and the ability to compromise to achieve the best result for the public at large.

I am just telling it like it is, not from the left or right, Republican or Democrat, pro marijuana or not. My opinion comes from all that I hear the locals talking about and the direct impact it has had on my business and that of my fellow retailers in the center of town amidst all the action. We are, after all, fortunate to have so many of us that truly care. 

Working for the benefit of the general public should be the goal of any competent, successful leader…not creating power structures that make uninformed decisions to harm it. 

Jenny Murphy
Edmonds

  1. Thanks Jenny. I am completely against Walkable Main St for all of the reasons you mentioned.

  2. Thank you Jenny, for being a voice for all the businesses who have suffered financially through the pandemic and the WMS. It is my hope our city leaders will wake up and listen to those the small businesses. Forty plus years ago the Edmonds Art Fair was held in downtown Edmonds. Many of the downtown businesses and restaurants suffered during the time the fairs were held downtown and with the lack of parking. The art festival was later moved to it’s current location the Frances Anderson Center. Let’s get back to having our beautiful thriving picturesque city back. Right now it is not looking so great with all the wooden structures and encroachment of our sidewalks. Because one local citizen had ” a picture this” moment and was able to bend the mayor ear doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Especially for those who depend on their downtown. business for their livelihood. And also, for the active seniors, who would rather shop local without having to park elsewhere.

  3. Jenny, you know you and I love your store.
    There are plenty of people walking around in Edmonds, If business isn’t coming in your business, you need to ask why people aren’t coming in?
    There isn’t enough room to safely walk on Saturday & Sunday when it’s sunny outside to walk around.
    Monday through Friday the streets are open for people who are retired to park or have someone drop them off. We can work on community transportation to do door to door for those who have difficulty walking around. We need to look at a bigger picture.
    We are a community, this isn’t a power struggle just because someone says it is. We need to look outside the box to be united… joining together and visiting with one another, having space to chat and play and have fun.
    There’s plenty of parking around Edmonds; people just need to walk more.
    I care about you and your store.
    I always start in Edmonds before I shop anywhere else. If I can’t find it in Edmonds then I’m forced to go outward. Call it WE walking Edmonds.
    People will walk into your store.
    Rather than fighting, let’s find a better solution and move forward.

    1. The old way of parking on first available found spot and walking around seemed to be ok. Until the city took away a lot of free parking spots.
      If we DO democratically decide to close streets to cars…then all Edmonds parking spots must be Free of charge during the times of no cars on main storefront streets.
      If we DON’T democratically decide to close streets, it will open more parking spots along storefronts…and be easier for the elderly/ handicapped to shop at stores.
      What one free parking garage ( muti level) would do to increase capacity of shoppers in downtown Edmonds??? Looking for solutions…..

      1. Using your post. Hope that’s OK.

        I saw something saying it’s not Edmonds folks drinking and eating…in the day when I drive about it sure looks like lots of drinking. But this person says they are out of area, other towns. I doubt this but if it’s true…are they driving home to other towns??? Woops. If that’s the case we’ll heck you can collect a fortune in DUI’s. Just set a road block at 220th and 99 and 212th and 99. Ha…I am kidding of course.but it was a silly I think untrue observation of who is right now doing the eating and drinking in Edmonds. It’s better if it is us. I am SURE MADD would agree.

    2. I agree completely Marta. Restaurants ‘pivoted’ to find a way to keep business coming in. People NEED food even during the pandemic. People staying home, working from home, not going out to events, etc. do NOT need to buy clothing and considering how many people now are trying to survive day to day on unemployment or even no income at all are not going clothes shopping. It is unfortunate but buying clothes and jewelry during this time is not high on anyone’s priority lists. Someone stated in an earlier reply to a similar letter from I believe this same author that maybe retailers should find a way to pivot to keep income coming in as well. Walkable Main street is a great thing. It will promote a sense of Community and many other towns and cities are doing the same thing. As for the Retirees and elderly, they typically are out during the week and mostly during the day in order to avoid crowds. My Sister and I insisted that our elderly and disabled Mother only run her errands between 10 and 2 on weekdays only. BTW, Mom had her right leg amputated and walked around Downtown just fine on her prosthesis. ADA parking close to downtown during WMS would be a great solution. We are only talking about 1 day of walkable streets for crying out loud. On a side note, the prices of the Downtown clothing stores is pretty much out of reach for most folks which adds to this situation.

      1. Joseph and Marta, what small business do you two own/operate in Edmonds? What’s that? Oh, you DON’T.

      2. That parking lot would allow us to be able to accommodate out of town shoppers. They don’t come here as much probably because of the parking issues. Build it and they will come really applies here in Edmonds. Advertising it county wide and in King also.
        Edmonds is the only city on the waterfront here in ALL of Snohomish. Lynnwood…no actual town, just strip mall after strip mall. Mukilteo same thing, Shoreline same. Even Everett although they do have a small town near the water doesn’t have what Edmonds does. So, people do like an actual city Square type situation. Mill creek getting nicer and nicer but they too have no waterfront and views etc.. This in my opinion will bring people here…they sure won’t be Christmas Shopping or any shopping in Downtown Seattle…
        One other thing I saw stated here is ” most people can’t afford clothing in Edmonds ” If you can afford Nordstrom, Local boutiques, you can afford Edmonds. But as has been said over and over…parking is essential. When the word gets out that yes, we now have parking for everone…they I hope will try us again.
        Now, saving people can’t afford Edmonds again sounds snooty…Also I believe it was meant to make the restaurants seem to be the draw. I disagree. First, I have and will go to Edmonds restaurants BUT they too are expensive. I had lunch with a friend at Salt and Iron one day before pandemic. It was without drinks, except coffee over 50.$. Now don’t knock prices in stores with restaurants this expensive…..I am not suggesting lowering prices I am simply pointing out we shouldn’t try to denigrate our shops when restaurants are so high too.
        Maybe people should cook…if …

      3. Please stop referring to retirees as people who only shop during week days. Avoid crowds…
        This is first not true I and many my age love crowds, music events, mountain climbing, marathons…too much to mention. 60 70 not that old…maybe you are young and you just assume this because of your youthful ignorance. Did you like that? I am sure you did not. It goes both ways, you know. Or do you?

        1. More concerning is that “walkable Edmonds” takes the enjoyment of the downtown area from disabled folks who might enjoy some activities downtown. Why it has not been addressed as an issue? How many blocks would you walk? Well, some folks would love to but simply can’t. The crowds and parking make it impossible for those folks to navigate it. As a community, it is important that all have access to our streets and sidewalks, such as they are. Our taxes are being give to restaurants in the form of a gift from the city to those restaurants of our public right of ways. But not giving consideration to folks who cannot walk, well. Sorry. I believe their taxer rights to enjoyment are being totally ignored. No accommodations at all. Americans with disabilities act mean anything to anyone anymore?

  4. Making Walkable Main Street on Sundays only is a great compromise and I enthusiastically support it. The idea that my retired disabled partner should just shop on weekdays or get dropped off to shop by himself or “just needs to walk more” is a let-them-eat-cake idea that I frankly resent. SOS offers a solution to everyone and we should take it.

  5. Thank you for your VOICE Jenny! It seems our city “leaders” are not the voice of the city at all; but the voice of their own egos. With the limited parking and the new outdoor “booths” we have lost so much parking it makes it very difficult for any of us to park in town. If I wanted to get a “mall” feel to my shopping experience I would go to a mall. I love my town and its quaintness which is going away bit by bit. Wake up and listen to our voices!!!!!

  6. Thanks for your Editorial opinion on WMS. It is always good to hear all sides of the issue. That being said, I am not hearing the same concerns that you are hearing, and I do support WMS.
    Most everyone I have spoken with strongly supports the WMS. The Market, the streeteries, and the open streets meet a public need. COVID has changed many behaviors and one of those is spending time inside a closed area.
    Hopefully, this year people are ready to shop inside stores.
    Parking does not seem to be an issue for people to attend the Market . So I struggle to understand that lack of parking creates a problem to shop in stores. The City has worked to provide parking availability and I hope they will continue that effort.

    1. I agree. I have not actually talked to anyone that opposes it. Everyone that I talk to around Edmonds loves the idea and would like to see a solution. One business Owner attempting to create an Us vs. Them scenario in Edmonds disturbs me. I had hoped that this mentality was starting wane in this Country. Let’s all work TOGETHER to find a solution.

      1. I think I’ll call the handicapped society and the ACLU tomorrow. I’ve reached my limit. That isn’t a good thing. I supported the walkable Sunday and Sat night after 6 p m. Even though it is ugly down there now. I felt that was fair if people wanted that one day to pretend they are elsewhere. I didn’t really think it was great as many work 5 days a week and need the weekends for shopping. But I thought ok…let them have it. I was trying to be nice and friendly and agreed to share.
        I suggest the business owners of our Retail stores…speak up loud and clear and get a parking garage down there and close. If not I am afraid you can kiss shopping to the degree you would like will never happen. I for one will take my business elsewhere and I love to spend money.
        I would much rather give it to you, businesses in Edmonds, I would prefer to bring my guests who visit often and now more as we have been retired for several years, to My own town and show it off.
        But, I guess we will see what happens….

  7. To properly address an issue of this magnitude, it is essential to use a decision making matrix that is objective, measurable, fair and transparent. That requires careful attention to (a) who is measured, (b) what is measured, and (c) how the measuring is conducted. It would seem to have been far more useful to collect information directly from individuals while they were walking around in downtown Edmonds. An online survey cannot measure the extent to which respondents actually shop in the downtown area, and obviously one cannot verify if respondents reside here or in the general area. Too, one has to wonder about the value of surveys that are essentially asking questions in the “How do you feel about…?” mode. If data from shoppers is needed, let it be collected by an entity that has a proven track record in conducting surveys. For me, the other “who” is more important- and the “what” is easily obtainable. Our retail merchants represent the key stakeholders in this matter and the data they see from their cash registers at the end of the day is the primary “what” we should be using. We need to have that input to be fair and objective. Let’s get this right.

  8. “We already have a walkable Edmonds. We don’t need a new one.” The point exactly. Thanks Jenny.

    1. Agree ~ Edmonds is already walkable. Time to do away with the outdoor dining areas that only benefit a small percentage of businesses and people in Edmonds. We should all have a voice, and the mayor and council would do well to listen to everyone.

  9. I agree with this we already have a walkable town. Further, I’ve been the places in Europe that would love to emulate our current town’s charm.

  10. Right on Jenny. Best letter to editor in a long while. The Ed! BID (as illegitimate as it is) should be employed to organize against the WMS. It’s a country club scheme, designed to cater to those who go along with it.

  11. How many restaurants are in that area? Now ask yourself how many small businesses are in the same downtown area. by far more small businesses. If the small business is telling people it is killing there business , and I know it does because I had a business on Main Street for years…believe them. The Vintage Car Show used to be on the weekend too and they moved it up to Anderson field. (Why because the downtown business was hurt by it. A carnival atmosphere people are mainly interested in drinking and eating and not shopping. With such limited parking, people make a loop or two looking for a spot and if they can’t find it they drive away. The downtown looks terrible. Build a parking lot and problem solved. The city can “find” money….

  12. Thank you Jenny. I feel the same way. Edmonds has always been a picturesque walkable town. This WMS idea has outlived its purpose. Many who have difficulty walking are excluded from shopping during WMS. I have enough trouble with the decrease in parking because of the eating areas currently sitting on prime parking. I was unable to shop at a certain store the other day because of that issue alone. Let’s not add more burden to our already threatened businesses.

  13. The current mayor and many of the city council members have simple poisoned the civic discourse in the city of Edmonds. I do not like the idea of closing the streets for vapid ideas that promote woke politics.

    1. Ray, you are correct. This is a political stance taken up by our mayor and his minions. It does a disservice to our community and the retail businesses. WMS was done for visitors, not the people who pay taxes here in Edmonds.

    2. I’ve been hanging around this town for quite some time and can assure everyone that doing what the mayor, downtown business interests and real estate special interest groups want, is not unique to this Mayor and city council. This group is simply making the old control group angry that they aren’t still in charge. The only way the average John Q. Citizen of Edmonds has been able to control anything is to take to the streets, protest in front of city hall and write nasty letters to the newspapers. This is what stopped too tall buildings, exploitation of all the waterfront for private gain and the Connector debacle. This is also what will stop WMS on all weekend days or even permanently which some of the power brokers now want for the city. The only way to stop crazy control schemes is the display of public outrage. Shouldn’t be like this, but it just is.

      1. Absolutely. I’m with you. True too bad I agree. But the squeaky wheel get the grease..so squeak we must, and squeak we will.

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