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.