Letter to the editor: Outdoor eateries take up parking, hurting retailers

Editor:

The restaurants are at full capacity, but Edmonds still has space dominated by outside eateries. Other cities have removed the outside eateries (some cities haven’t, but most have). Edmonds eateries are decorated, have electricity and heat. They’re practically permanent structures at this point. That said, it’s not fair to the retailers who rely on parking for commerce. Unfairness is especially important when it comes to livelihood. The restaurants that are using more than their share of space should pay a stipend to other businesses, retroactively. Adding insult to the injury, the Edmonds BID (Ed!) has been charging retail business dues during the COVID shutdowns, and is now threatening to turn people over to collections and report on their credit.  Lockdowns are coming again, and businesses are feeling as though Edmonds is neglecting them on purpose. It would take political courage to recognise this inequity.

Matt Richardson
Edmonds

  1. Matt Richardson, your response is very short sited. Restaurants bring traffic to down town Edmonds. And having outside eating areas allows them to accommodate those who want to eat out but are not comfortable inside. It’s not as if it is miles and miles to walk to all the downtown shops. It is a very condensed downtown area. If lockdowns come again and restaurants don’t have outside eating, downtown will be dead and businesses will fail. Then there will be nothing to come to Edmonds for.

  2. I find it very pleasant and uniquely Edmonds NW to dine or have a beverage outside!
    I hope this becomes tradition and I also enjoyed walking around by all the local retail stores to get there, so I think it helps them in many ways. Parking has always been an issue. Know parking further away is beneficial !

    1. This is not a diverse and inclusive statement. Parking further away or requiring additional steps for those who may not be able to walk farther, up and down the hills, and on crowded jammed sidewalks means they cannot equally enjoy the food shacks. Unique is subjective.

      Although being slightly sarcastic above, There’s always an effected group when policies are changed. The people on surrounding streets now are dealing with traffic hazards. Should we make Dayton and Walnut reduced parking TCD streets and have Walkable Dayton and Walnut? Sure. Now we have to get the money from somewhere. Then, next election, Edmonds is going to hear about the lack of equitable distribution outside of the Bowl. We see it now with Pastor Dave and the Councjl Choir. We have and hear plenty of issues and we are seeing plenty of so called.solutions. What we don’t get are a simple analysis of the effects that may occur.

      I like a vital downtown. It’s nice to have.

      1. Point of clarification, I listed my actual former youth Pastor, Pastor Dave. Now, I actually follow (I kind of have to, they are in political power) the teachings of Preacher Nelson and the 4 anointed. Although it would be interesting to see all of Council in a choir. We could sing of unicorns and zero tax projects. As.long as.no unicorns are harmed.or intended to be harmed during the singing of any songs.

      2. Well it isn’t Vital now and that will get worse. The rain and wind is coming…Policies are changed give me a break. THESE policies were an attempt to help when we were mandated to not be open at full capacity. WE are and have been now for plenty of time. There is no reason at all for these Restaurants to increase their seating potential to inconvenience your parkers, and your Retail Stores and frankly room to walk on the sidewalks without getting a whiff of the covid particles coming out of these places. Or tripping on a piece of a 4×4. They are a hazard to walkers, drivers and yes WE will always have cars in Edmonds!! I think these 4 we hear of have really gone over board and now we must stop them. First step remove shacks now. Second step retailers advertise and have a welcome back 10% off sale. Its a draw thats all… If people want to set outside and eat they can go to the Beach. They can go get take out and go to one of the many water front parks. They even have tables. Picnic tables I believe. Restrooms all you need. Now this is a bit out there…but apparently many enjoy consuming alcohol during the entire day. Fine. So since we do not arrest people for open drug use it appears why can’t you have your bottle of wine on the beach?? Why not? If others can do anything they want why can’t we have that drink out in the fresh air…Have your council pass that. Then you can Eat, Drink, Chat and have a great view while you are doing it. The retailers and the eager to come and park and shop will then return.

  3. For some inexplicable reason people on the political left seem to like their downtown business and entertainment districts to look like third world bazaars. When normal social order is allowed to break down social disruption, chaos and “livability” for civilized people is pushed aside. If I want to stroll through trashy streets cluttered with temporary shelters, I will go to Freeattle or other failed city. Please, do not let this “Camel’s nose in the tent” situation remain any longer. There is nothing “charming” or “attractive” about any of it.

    1. Well, I’m on the political left, as are most of my friends, and we’re all ready to see these things come down, I have always thought of myself as “civilized” too, and have never advocated pushing anyone aside.

      Perhaps it’s time to put broad-brush characterizations aside and look for ways to work together, rather than indulging in finger-pointing? We’re all part of a community, and nothing destroys community so fast as placing people into narrow pigeonholes in order to dismiss them.

      1. Nate,

        I agree with you. This is a non-partisan council and a non-partisan City government. Most of the past 12 or so years that I have lived here, the Council and Administration have lived up to that promise. Of course there has always been an agenda and priorities for every elected official. The current tide isn’t a positive shift.

        I honestly believe the people who are the most muted and ignored in any political process are those moderate citizens who inhabit the sky blue and light pink sides of the spectrum. In our town, I suspect that there are a lot more sky blue moderates.

        With that being said, the temporary outdoor dining (supposition) was probably a godsend to the dining establishments downtown. Now, perhaps longer term zoning, codes, structural requirements, clearances, or alternatives to the current temporary structures should be explored. It’s one thing to have an awning and tables, it’s another to have shelters.

        Agreed, we shouldn’t pigeonhole folks into an ideology. We also shouldn’t allow ourselves to be railroaded into an ideology.

        Streets, sewers, safety and services are not partisan. The trend throughout the west has been to introduce and grow partisan movements at the local level. It corrupts the process in my opinion.

  4. Clearance on those streets with these “temporary “ structures is tight. It’s only a matter of time before a car or truck comes crashing through one of them.

    1. We are long-time Edmonds residents and we love what is going on downtown. Such an inviting, people friendly atmosphere. Our thirty-something son visited on a recent weekend and was excited and delighted by downtown Edmonds.
      Let’s pay attention to and address legitimate concerns but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
      Rita Baeyen
      Edmonds

      1. The outdoor eating areas detract from the natural beauty that Edmonds makes a point to protect, they’re eyesores.

        1. We live in extraordinary times. Edmonds is a small town that needs its businesses to survive. I am more than willing to see the less than elegant temporary structures to keep the restaurants open and act as a draw to all businesses. And having cars off a couple of streets is a blessing.
          We are in a pandemic that is not going away soon. “Natural beauty” is the vibrancy that still exists. The happy people who are able to enjoy the restaurants and stores because of the special accommodations. Businesses shut down or boarded up would not be things of beauty. Restaurants have worked hard to be creative and nimble on their feet to stay alive and I applaud them and the city for working with them.

      2. Well said! As another longtime Edmonds resident I totally agree with your statement. I have had many visitors from UK over the years and if they were here now, I know they would love what is happening both in terms of helping businesses battle through the pandemic and the festive atmosphere of walking car free streets, eating and shopping.

    2. Ed, this is definitely the concern of many. Safety first. The core of Edmonds has never been a safe place walk. No ones really to blame. Prior to the ‘shacks’, visibility limitations were a challenge to driver and pedestrian alike. Since 2010 there’s been at least 2 traffic fatalities within 2-3 blocks of the Main and 5th. I believe both were attributed to ‘blind spots’ for drivers(correct me if I’m mistaken). Regardless, the COVID culinary curb shacks have made it worse.
      Any thought to having a specific location designated for outdoor dining, short or long term?
      Possible the City parking lot area south of the admin building. Bathrooms are present there too; set up small stage for local musicians to entertain the foodie crowd on weekends. Put a table every other parking space. Open up the streets, help local business thrive and keep Edmonds safe.

  5. It’s time to bring back the Edmonds core as we know it.
    Remove the unsightly temporary outdoor eating structures soon to bring back the ambiance and parking to our core district.
    Many restaurants with both the temporary parking lot dinning and their traditional indoor dining now have from my estimation increased their seating capacity from anywhere from 10% to 100%. There doing just fine. Have the retailers been given this ability to expand?
    The short answer is no!
    It’s time to give the rest of the city a break.
    Please remove the structures as soon as feasible.

    1. There are many things that have not been addressed by most of the responses. 1. Restaurants had to put out funds and make costly adjustments for a long part of this pandemic when they were bleeding cash.
      2. They are still struggling. They may have the go ahead for full capacity but because of shortage of staff, they are not open all normal hours/days. In fact if you look at it logically, restaurant hours don’t coincide 100% with retail.
      3. We are in yet another wave of this pandemic. It is not over and we could easily see restrictions return.
      4. Parking has long been an issue in Edmonds not related to the pandemic. There is no logic to thinking that restaurant goers have an easier time with parking than retail shoppers.
      5. I don’t see anyone considering that in a pandemic, people moved to online shopping, hence their billions in profits. So eating in or outside a restaurant and visiting a retail store come down to comfort level with the risks involved.
      6. We are in a phase of the pandemic that is spreading at rates more than double those of previous variants and so removing the possibility to not be inside a closed space does not seem appropriate.
      7. I am a 50 year resident of Edmonds and love the town despite the many disparaging comments on this page. I have always shopped and eaten in Edmonds when I was able but I have not visited a retail store anywhere, not just Edmonds, in the past 17 months until I finally began to go back to the grocery store in the last 2 1/2 months even though I have been fully vaccinated since mid-March. Bottom line for me is it is not restaurants v retail stores. All traffic, vehicle or pedestrian, brings potential business for all. The reason for declines are not black and white but complex, varied and deeper than most of the comments on this page imply. As for the negative comments regarding the temporary structures, for me they are representative of survival, ingenuity

  6. The single most infuriating thing about these “streeteries” is knowing which one to go to. Am I in the mood for a nice outdoor Mexican meal at Las Brisas? A street-side cocktail at The Loft, perhaps? Or am I more inclined to sip a hazy IPA while enjoying the cool evening breeze at Salish Sea? Sometimes all the happy chatter from others enjoying these outdoor eateries can make it difficult to decide.

  7. I am undecided on this issue. Downtown Edmonds business owners like Matt should have a larger say in this issue, Especially given how they were ignored in the reasonable compromise for walkable Main street.

    However, I agree with Susan that the outdoor eateries are definitely popular and bring in more people downtown. If you have a business that benefits from increased customers (as opposed to an office), than those increased customers are a good thing. Especially since there still seems to be plenty of parking every time I am downtown.

  8. For those who asked, I like the streeteries too. My business is not retail. Some retailers in town have shared their books with me and they are hurting. It’s extremely unfair to give realestate to restaurants at the expense of retailers struggling already. This is textbook Corporatism. That one word sums this up.

  9. If Edmonds is such a perfect place to live, why does it need “fixing” all the time? When I lived here in the 60’s it was a pretty respectable place to live; a big notch above the budding young street malls of our neighbors to the East and the hub bub giant city to the South. Then people started moving in here from all over the place because it was so desirable; yet for some reason(s) they just needed to fix it; to make it more perfect, I guess.

    Mayor’s Gary and Dave just had to change “Deadmonds” for the better with “choosing kindness” and promoting “an Edmonds kind of Day at every opportunity to make Edmonds a monetary success. Giant houses and luxury Condos for all. The envy of the Northwest. Mayor Mike with the help of his Left leaning friends just had to save the downtown from the plague by creating a weekly downtown walking mall and a favorite place for the masses to eat and drink. Not to mention a Mecca of anti-hate and inclusion and the sourcing of a “perfect” police chief (after running off the perfectly good one we had). Maybe we need to elect some people who just want to maintain the town we have and quit improving and fixing it? Just a thought.

    1. Nelson will never be reelected, he is finished in this town.
      Then Citizens can get someone in who knows how to lead, and reverse all the damage Nelson has caused to Edmonds.

  10. Most recent US Census figures indicate 21.8% of Edmond’s residents are 65 or over. Many of us have mobility issues. You have totally failed to address those of us who are handicap and elderly.. The median age in Edmonds is 47 while state and national averages are 37. That coupled with the toll being experienced by retailers should be taken into account. Have we no voice in Edmonds!

    1. The simple answer to your question, Joyce, is, no we don’t; unless we start voting more wisely for people with a little more common sense and less need to sell Edmonds to the highest bidder all the time.

  11. I was one to initially come out in full support of the “shanties” to help support our local restaurants during the COVID restrictions. I thought they were an eyesore but a necessary one for the greater good. I, many of us Edmonds residents, wanted our restaurants to succeed and stay afloat financially.

    Looking back at my naivete, I now am disappointed, feel duped, and frankly disgusted, at the greed I see in full display on the part of our eateries. Edmonds initially, in essence, said to to them, “here is this temporary gift/loan until the pandemic is over. We care about you, we want to help”. They took the gift/loan with open arms. Now the pandemic is over and they are now saying to you/us, “thanks, but we don’t want to give back this loan. We want it forever and don’t care how it has or is hurting others”. These shanties are a blight on our downtown and it looks like the owners want them permanently – with planters/flowers, decorations, and the “all the seemingly amenities of home”. This is disappointing and greedy behavior. All for me and none for you attitude.

    We should be willing to work together to lift everyone up. The eateries need to behave like they are part of a community. Every business. is important, not just your own.

    I agree with Matt Richardson, if your restaurant is using more than your share of space, you should pay a stipend to other businesses retroactively during the COVID shutdown. And to the Edmonds BID, I had no idea that you were charging retail businesses dues during the COVID shutdown and are now threatening to take them to collections!

    Edmonds downtown gives one the impression of streets of starving border towns. And, with the resulting traffic congestion, we are a step away from a foreseeable, but ignored, traffic accident.

    Eateries, it’t time for you all to step up and do the right thing by your community and fellow business

    1. Theresa Hutchinson, Fiirst, I cannot believe that as a nurse you can say “this pandemic is over.” Far from it. We are in another wave of rapidly rising infections with the delta variant and it is capable of infecting at double the rate of previous variants. That is naivety.
      Agreed, these were intended as temporary structures but sadly through mismanagement and lack of vaccine acceptance, Covid-19 has not been temporary. It is still very much with us.
      And in response to restaurants “using more than their share of space,” it should be pointed out that all is not equal their. Their are larger restaurants with very small sidewalk space while smaller ones have much larger areas. This is not a perfect solution but it brought and continues to bring hope and business that is only limited to restaurants by the desires of the patrons. People who visit a restaurant and want to shop retail will. So it seems to me that the potential for business for all can be driven by the presence of restaurant patrons.
      I also have not seen the level of creativity to think outside the “retail box” aka store that has been evident in the restaurant business.

      1. Susan, I’m trying to understand the other side of the argument. People take their masks off to eat, but not to shop. Is it a fair or reasonable assumption to assume that someone has died due to infection at an Edmonds restaurant? This is a pandemic after all, so I don’t think this is an unreasonable assumption. Assuming this, then the public eating is dangerous. Masks keep us very safe and public activities that are maskless should be discouraged. Why not allow the retailers to put their wares out into the parking spaces and have the restaurants provide take-out only (retail-style) food options? -that way everyone can be masked and safe.

        1. Matt Richardson, First let me say I am 100% in favor of masks in indoor settings. Even when we were told that fully vaccinated people could go without, I never gave mine up. Clearly people take their masks off to eat but the Edmonds restaurant I am associated with (not an owner) requires patrons to wear when not eating even though that is often a difficult conversation with some people. Staff are all vaccinated and servers wear masks.
          Under current rules vaccinated people are not automatically required to be masked to shop unless the establishment requires it. Current guidance, however, is for those of us who are vaccinated to continue to wear masks indoors in public settings.
          I personally would never assume that someone died from Covid due to an infection contracted at an Edmonds restaurant. Mask definitely provide another layer of protection but I believe vaccination is the primary weapon at this point.
          With regard to the difference between restaurants and other retailers, hard as it may be to hear, people need to eat to stay alive but as nice as It may be to own, we do not need to buy jewelry, a vase, a new dress for the same reason. But then why haven’t retail stores come up with plans to offer and sell their wares in non-traditional ways? Restaurants do offer takeout but for a full service restaurant it is not a very profitable option. Selling wares from a parking space seems like a much more complicated issue. There are inequities all around and hopefully one day things will be different but everyone wants to survive and in my opinion it would be much easier without the finger pointing, the negative comments and for all of us to the big picture.

        2. Susan, some of the eateries are effectively putting people eating without masks into the middle of the foot traffic of a busy street sidewalk. None of us need be scientists or doctors to rationalize this, right? The eateries on main (especially) are like a gauntlet where people without masks are eating while pedestrians crop-dust viruses as they walk by. Looks like we’re agreeing on the science for argument’s sake and this is clearly dangerous according to all the guidance. For some reason viruses follow the it-tag gool rules and don’t bother people while eating. No way.

          Ya know I’m trolling right? – but there’s also a lot of truth in this. Ridicule seems to be the only thing that breaks thru. I’m sort of hoping the restaurants and the city stick up for the retailers who are disadvantaged. There’s no way ya can “believe the science” and support the eatery traffic jams. That’s a crisis in faith.

    2. Really Theresa H.?

      “Edmonds downtown gives one the impression of streets of starving border towns.”

      What does that even mean? What is a starving border town? And what failed town has hundreds of people visiting on the weekends enjoying the shops and restaurants? Regardless of what you mean, count me as a fan of shanty-town Edmonds.

      Also, it seems a bit early to say “Now the pandemic is over.” Not great to see from a registered nurse. This past 7 days saw a 40%+ increase in Covid cases across the US compared to the previous 7 days. Hospital beds are running low in multiple states, thanks to this pandemic you say is over (https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/louisianas-covid-hospitalizations-continue-record-breaking-rise/289-bd7b4c69-2571-446c-8853-f683fae0f264)

  12. I do support the eateries in Edmonds as I believe they are necessary to help the restaurants survive. Yes, last year the retailers did experience a loss of business and I’m sure the books for 2020 reflect that. It is logical that people may have stopped buying clothes and/or jewelry during the pandemic what with the loss of income and the reality that work and entertainment were for a time not part of their lives. What people did not want to give up was the feel of socializing and the restaurants streeteries provided that.
    However, is that true today. The restaurants are still busy. And the downtown stores are busy too. Yes, this year, most people have become more comfortable with shopping and this year they have the need and resources because they are back to work and/or have the vaccine. When I’ve been downtown during the main street closure this year, the stores were very busy…so much so that I noticed the increase in shoppers. Good news, the stores are back on track. We need all our businesses here in Edmonds–both restaurants and retailers.
    The eateries and weekend Main Street closure attracts consumers from both Edmonds and outside the area. The City has provided free parking at City Hall and other businesses that are closed on the weekends. For those that need “Disabled Parking” that too has increased. Can the City do more to accommodate disabled individuals…maybe yes, so let’s talk about that.
    Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over so let’s continue what is working.

  13. If everyone had rushed out and got vaccinated as soon as possible (95% of hospitalizations and most deaths are now among the non vaccinated) the need for the plywood shanties would now be a mute point, but I suspect they would not be coming down anytime soon, even under those ideal circumstances. I suspect walk-able downtown and the shanties are now a permanent fixture. Much like the fountain in the middle of the road which was also someone’s idea of fixing something once upon a time in Edmonds. You might as well learn to try to see the humor and pretentiousness in it all, because it isn’t going to change anytime soon based on my 50 plus years hanging around here. Sometimes I’m a little angry, but most of the time I just shake my head and laugh at the absurdity of it all.

  14. My wife and I moved to Edmonds Bowl in Fall of 2020. One of the things that made us so excited about the city on our first visit was the Walkable Main Street and the wonderful pedestrian-friendly atmosphere it creates.

    After enjoying multiple walks through downtown this summer, I can’t understand why so many residents dislike Walkable Main Street and the outdoor eateries. For all you naysayers: have you walked thru the community on these weekends? Do you really feel the downtown is more pleasant when the streets are dominated by cars rather than families walking with strollers or children decorating the street with chalk?

    Converting just ONE parking spot into outdoor seating allows 12-20 people to safely enjoy a meal or a drink outside. Even before the recent increase in Covid cases with the Delta variant, we didn’t feel safe eating at restaurants indoors. Thanks to the outdoor seating areas, my family and our visitors have eaten meals downtown almost every weekend this summer, and then walked through the downtown and visited multiple shops. We would not have made these trips into town or spent money in the retail stores if it weren’t for the outdoor seating and Walkable Main Street.

    I keep hearing how bad Walkable Main Street was for businesses last year, and that it only benefited restaurants. Doesn’t it seem logical that retail stores were hurt more by the fact that people were afraid to go indoors all last summer during the height of the Covid Pandemic? Isn’t it possible that the businesses were hurt more by the pandemic rather than Walkable Main Street, and that restaurants did ok because people felt safe spending time outdoors but not indoors?

    It’s sad how much public space we designate to cars in this country. And it’s disappointing that something as wonderful as Walkable Main Street may not even be around in the future all for some darn parking spot. I’d love Walkable Main Street and outdoor eating to be a permanent part of the downtown.

    1. If you didn’t live in the Bowl you might have a completely different view on this. I do not want to argue so that is all I am saying.

      1. I understand your comment, Deborah, and also don’t want to argue. But I disagree that I would feel differently regardless of if I lived in woodway/Westgate/MLT/etc.
        When we had a newborn earlier this summer and couldn’t walk from our home to downtown, we had to drive and find parking around the police station and civic park on our weekend trip to Downtown. I dropped off my wife and newborn son as well as my injured mother who couldn’t walk from our house, then found parking within about 2 minutes of trying and walked to meet them. It was absolutely no issue, and there is plenty of parking surrounding the downtown district, even with street eating and walkable Main Street.
        Once again, my belief is that too much public space is given over to vehicles. This was true when I lived in Indiana, Seattle, and now Edmonds.
        I see great value and find joy in public space centered on people and rather than automobiles.
        It’s alright if you have different opinions or feelings, and feel free to share them or not, but know that I am also not here to argue with anyone.

  15. Jordan Inman, Thank you for your reasonable, rational comments. They echo my feelings exactly. As a very long time resident of Edmonds I have seen many changes and many businesses come and go. We are living in extrordinary times and I believe we need to do all we can to keep the downtown businesses alive. While the temporary structures may not be the most elegant, they have as you say, offered people options, both the businesses and the patrons, otherwise would not have had. Coming from UK and having traveled extensively in Europe, pedestrianized streets are not new to me and I applaud the city for providing this opportunity for business.
    I truly feel that the restaurants are a draw and provide exposure to retailers that they might otherwise not have. However, in a pandemic, people may not feel comfortable entering a small, indoor location and it also seams logical that spending on none essentials would decline in strained economic times. But as we know, we all have to eat.

    1. Susan: Glad there are some people in this town and on this news site that have similar feelings. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks the eateries are actually a blessing and a wonderful community asset rather than an eyesore. It gets rather discouraging to walk thru the wonderful, vibrant downtown this summer knowing there are so many residents here who are angry about Walkable Main Street and the outdoor eating. It’s hard to believe people could stroll thru the open streets on the weekend and think “you know what would make this better: more oversized trucks!!”

      Many of the same people who love to walk down Disneyland’s Main Street and enjoy the safe “public” space it creates are too engrossed in American car culture to think we could have the same types of wonderful environments interspersed amongst our own REAL Main Streets all over the US (and in Edmonds). Honestly, on our sunny weekend walks thru walkable Main Street this summer, I can’t help but feel like I’m on vacation somewhere. It’s wonderful!

      Maybe the outdoor eateries aren’t a draw for some folks. But I can tell you that for my family and friends, the outdoor eateries are a huge draw and asset to downtown; not only a benefit for the restaurants but for the retail stores as well by bringing in people who otherwise wouldn’t be spending time downtown. Data shows walkable places produce far more tax value per acre than auto-oriented places—and that holds true in communities across America. (https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/1/16/why-walkable-streets-are-more-economically-productive)

      I understand many people are concerned about access, particularly if they are older and not able to walk far. My opinion is that the city has done a pretty good job providing accessible parking very near Main Street, and have also allowed cars on cross streets to act as a sort of drop-off zone.

      1. Jordan, Many Edmonds citizens don’t want to live in Disneyland. We want to live in a city that isn’t overtaken by tourists, shanty structures on public streets and sidewalks and shut down roads. Many have businesses here that aren’t catering to tourists and vacation goers. Many — young and old– have happily and successfully lived here many years or most of their lives and would just like to go freely about their business and daily lives in a real city (not Disneyland!) that worked very well for over 100 years.

        1. With all due respect, I don’t believe that the many young and old Edmonds residents alone can provide enough revenue to the restaurants, businesses and retail shops in the downtown core. I can’t imagine that the business owners would want to discourage people who don’t live in Edmonds from coming here to enjoy it and contribute to the local economy.

        2. Hi Kathy, I understand your point about not wanting to live in Disneyland. I agree, and also want to live in a real city, just one that chooses to designate more of our valuable public space to people instead of cars. That was my point: not that Edmonds should be Disney-fied, just that glorified old town Disney “Main Street” is a successful and enjoyable place to spend time because it’s people-centered instead of car-centered. Same goes for many successful public centers in Europe that people like spending time in. These spaces are great and enjoyable because they are people-first, rather than car-first like much of our American town planning. We could have these wonderful public spaces in USA if we just started planning towns for people rather than automobile traffic, and I think Edmonds Walkable Main Street on the weekends and outdoor eating spaces is a step towards the town planning I’d like to see made more permanent.

          I’m an architect that spends a lot of time dealing with aesthetics and visual appeal. Even to my critical (and often cynical) eyes, I find the streeteries structures much nicer than rows and rows of parking despite their temporary and not-always-elegant aesthetic.

          I’m not a tourist, and am very happy and fortunate to have bought my first house here in the Edmonds Bowl. It seems we just have different opinions about what makes downtown Edmonds enjoyable and successful, and that is ok.

        3. Rita, I never suggested either of your statements. I simply said many citizens don’t want to live in a Disneyland-like city, which Jordan referred to, with shut-down roads and shanty structures. Edmonds was doing quite well before the shanties popped up and will still be a popular destination if and when they are removed.

        4. Kathy King, it’s not Disneyland. It’s survival mode in a pandemic that is the point. In many people’s opinions, mine included, I love having a couple of streets with no cars on the weekend. Granted the temporary structures are not elegant but they have provided options for the businesses and the patrons in dire times.
          As for businesses not catering to tourists, I would only see that as a mistake. Edmonds is not a town you drive through en route to somewhere else. It is the end of the road, bounded by the water and the ferries so it makes sense to cater to out of town visitors. I would venture to say since most of what the stores in Edmonds offer, tourist and vacation business is vital. You can’t buy a set of towels, a kitchenaid appliance, or even groceries in the downtown core. So I really wonder how much business is locally driven and not by locals but out of towners.
          I’ve lived in Edmonds for 4 decades and seen the changes and the businesses come and go. I believe we need to do all we can in temporary or even permanent accommodations to help them survive because without them, we all lose.

        5. Susan, What is it with you and Rita putting words in my mouth? I never suggested businesses should not cater to tourists. Again, I simply said that many people here have businesses that aren’t catering to tourists — such as construction and other residential services — so shutting down roads and eliminating parking for shanties can make it more challenging to run a business and get around town. I think this perspective should be heard, and I also suggest it might be helpful for some, such as retailers who have made the request, to not shut down Main Street for the whole weekend. That seems fair to me.

    2. Jordan Inman and Susan Butler, I agree with both of you 100 % and couldn’t have said it better.
      It is difficult to understand the antipathy toward a pedestrian oriented downtown Edmonds. It is a lively, vibrant atmosphere that should be encouraged. All towns with an attractive and desirable downtown core need to deal with parking issues. This is intrinsic in a car-based culture and solutions will be ever evolving.
      Attention should be paid to legitimate concerns of business owners, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  16. Matt’s letter was about the eateries, and I’m reading many posts that focus on Walkable Main Street. They’re not the same, though they have some similar impacts. Specifically on the eateries, I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of downtown. I have eaten in a few of the eateries, and it is nice to eat al fresco. I still find them exceptionally ugly, however. All of the corrugated plastic, the industrial-looking bare wood, and the crowding they produce on sidewalks make Main Street, in particular, feel like what others have aptly called a shanty-town. I walk down alleys now because I feel less claustrophobic. The few times I’ve had to drive east on Main from the fountain, it’s been nerve-racking because pedestrians come walking out into the street from behind the Market and Loft, Fire & Feast, and Tiki eateries like it’s a sidewalk. That’s the worst stretch, both visually and in terms of safety, I think.
    References to other cities with outdoor dining fail to acknowledge that those cities did that as part of their development planning. Edmonds has done it as an abrupt transition without the kind of analysis a civil engineer or urban planner would do as part of the process. Those professions exist because cities discovered there were unplanned consequences of many decisions, and that’s part of what we’re seeing.
    I do like Matt’s idea that the restaurants should be paying rent for the public space they’re using – and better that it go to the retail shops, than to the city.

  17. Question for Frank Demme. What is “camel’s nose in a tent”?

    I like the outdoor seating sheds. They’re charming and inviting and give me many more balcony/deck meal options.

    1. Google says the “Camel’s Nose” idiom is “A small, seemingly innocuous act or decision that will lead to much larger, more serious, and less desirable consequences down the line.”

      Given Frank’s need to turn this discussion about outdoor eating into a political ideology-war and bashing of Seattle as a “failed city” (which is laughable given it was the fastest growing big city in the country in 2020 [https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/surprise-seattle-was-the-fastest-growing-big-u-s-city-in-2020/]) I wouldn’t count on him responding to your comment in a constructive way.

      I agree with you, and find the outdoor eating structures a godsend in this never-ending pandemic. They provide a way to continue to support Downtown businesses while keeping my family safer by not eating indoors.

      Frank has a different opinion, which is ok. But hopefully he realizes not everyone shares his opinion that the outdoor eating structures are horrible eyesores. Despite what Frank writes, I’d like to think that just because we like the outdoor eating options, that doesn’t make us “uncivilized,” but just have different things that appeal to us and different priorities, particularly during a worldwide pandemic where indoor eating is proven to be more risky than outdoor eating.

      1. Hi Jordan,
        I only referred to “the left” because that is the ideology that has ( and still does ) run Freeattle ( and this state for that matter) for decades, and if you feel Freeattle is more than a culturally failing city, you don’t see it or don’t care. I am a 40 year resident of Edmonds and the very last thing I want for my adopted home town is for anything remotely “Freeattle like” coming here. Pandemic is over and it is time for the street shanties to be over as well.

        1. Frank: the Pandemic is not over, despite all of us wanting it to be over.

          “During A 4th COVID Surge, Louisiana Hospitals Report They’ve Never Been Busier” (https://www.npr.org/2021/08/03/1024108196/during-a-4th-covid-surge-louisiana-hospitals-report-theyve-never-been-busier)

          Unlike before, the delta variant is having a significant impact on children. (https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/childrens-hospitals-covid-louisiana-capacity-full/289-bc234f66-2ee8-43bb-99ea-853c4cd9528a) So good luck to us all when schools open back up in a month.

          I know I won’t change your opinions about Seattle as a failed city, as your insistence in calling it “Freeatle” and bringing up “the left” ideology lets me know you have very strong feelings much different than mine. Personally I think the issues facing Seattle are issues facing the whole country, be it big cities or smaller towns: drastic wealth inequality, unaffordable housing, and inflation rapidly outpacing wage growth.

          Not sure what you hate so much about Seattle, but I hope you are able to find peace with the inevitable changes that continue to happen to the world around you. Because things are going to keep changing regardless of if “the left” or “the right” control your local government, state government, or federal government.

  18. downtown edmonds looks like a large homeless tent city with all those shacks next to the eateries. kinda reminds me of the city of seattle.

  19. The December 15, 2020 City Council Agenda makes it very clear that if the Streateries Ordinance 4209 was adopted as an Emergency Ordinance, a Public Hearing was required within 60 days. Council voted 7-0 to adopt as an Emergency Ordinance. Then, our City Government failed to have the required Public Hearing. (The same failure is true for Emergency Ordinance 4210.)

    Whether you support Streateries or oppose them, I fear the City Council failed to do what was necessary to make Ordinance 4209 effective as law in Edmonds. As such, I fear all permits issued under Ordinance 4209 are invalid.

    I’ve been emailing related questions to the City. So far, the City has chosen to not respond. If I am wrong, hopefully the City will tell all what law or Ordinance has allowed the streateries to be legal in Edmonds throughout all of 2021.

    1. Ken… you can call a public hearing. If the city council consistently is neglecting process and law, go around them. Send minutes from your hearing to the county. Edmonds is a failed state.

    2. Thank you Ken for pointing this out~ again. In the City of Edmonds, our elected officials have an unfortunate practice of ignoring the rules, just moving ahead, doing what they wish in some ad hoc manner. Quite mystifying to me, why this continues to occur. I’m glad we can count on you to keep us apprised of their rule-breaking.

  20. Edmonds’ form of city government has no built in system of checks and balances except the ballot box. All representation of constituents’ needs/wants is done at large (Mayor and Council) and our so called “representatives” have no power to investigate or oversee administration actions except possibly not approving appointments and/or withholding funding. It simply doesn’t work well anymore, if it ever has? It’s strong man rule by design and even by name – Strong Mayor/Weak Council. You live with it or you change it; or spend your life griping about it until election time when a few names and faces change but the dysfunctional system remains forever.

    1. I always enjoy your comments, Clint, but I disagree a little with your criticism of our form of city government. In reality, there’s no form of government exempt from chicanery or dysfunction. In cities with councilmembers elected from districts, or governed by a city manager instead of an elected mayor, shenanigans still happen.

      You often champion city managers as superior to elected mayors, but look at Mill Creek, what a circus they’ve been through the last couple of years. under their city manager system. In reality, there’s no fool-proof system of city government. In the end, any system is only as good as the people elected to run it.

      1. No problem Roger. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me about everything or anything. Mill Creek seems to be a failing city manager style of government; but from what I’ve studied, seen and heard about Shoreline (from people who actually live there), it has been very successful with scores of 80% or more favorable on their annual survey. I suspect Shoreline is much more multi cultural than either Edmonds or Mill Creek which could be a factor I suppose. My point is, our only check on an essentially all powerful Mayor and Staff in Edmonds is an election every four years. We do not have any sort of Representative who is really obligated to listen to any of us. Maybe two year Mayoral terms would help some? I don’t know.

        1. Bottom line Clint, like I said above, no matter how city government is structured, it’s only as good as the people we elect to run it. Fortunately we have elections every two years, and this year voters seem to be choosing *change*~ based on primary election results this week.

          As I understand the Optional Municipal Code (state statute which functions as our City Charter), the city council has more authority over city affairs than they choose to exercise. City council is controlled by a Bloc of Four which is tightly aligned with our mayor; they seem comfortable sitting back and letting him do his thing. We will have one new council member come January, possibly more. Perhaps that Bloc of Four will no longer be in power and city council will become more effective, more representative of the people of Edmonds.

  21. Mr. Inman,
    I do not hate Seattle, I hate what 40+ years of single party ( D) rule has done to her. I have spent my career in construction in and around Seattle and there was a time when one had to actively “search” for social degradation and now in “Freeattle” there is violence, trash, drug addled street zombies and homeless wall to wall. Nothing has been done to mitigate any of this and in fact the situation has worsened year over year as more money is thrown at it. The situation is metastasizing outward and I simply do not want any of it infecting Edmonds in any way including appearances.

  22. Thanks Matt, Roger, Susanna, Clint and others for you interest in this matter. (Thanks also to Mike Landau and Evan Nelson for other nice comments and helpful advice provided me recently).

    It is hard to comprehend why basic RCW’s like this are missed, even when all knew of the requirement up front and discussed the requirement during the December 15, 2020 Council meeting. Multiple City Officials could have put this on calendars or extended agendas. I wonder how this was missed and if anybody will be held accountable. Now we have 2 Ordinances (4209 and 4210) for which required public hearings were not held. I wonder if the City will attempt to address all the related problems or not. Will they provide us evidence that they don’t hold themselves to a basic standard of following law? I hope not. I hope leadership will be displayed that demands we follow state and city laws and take appropriate action when it is found out that the City violated an RCW or City Ordinance.

  23. What I think we should be out to try to get rid of is voting blocks on city council of any stripe. (Seven truly independent people from seven specific geographical areas or neighborhoods in the city who have to answer to their specific constituents at election time). What I suspect we are going to get out of this election is a new block of four oriented toward a more conservative viewpoint regarding town issues; housing, trees, racism etc. In my opinion, the city administration shouldn’t even be worried about saving trees (outside of parks) and solving race issues – what does that have to do with efficient running of a city?

    We were recently led by a Mayor and some of his staff that also had their hands deep in solving regional transportation problems. And what came out of that alliance and sphere of influence; the ill fated connector which was only stopped by public outrage. All we will get out of this election is a possible temporary fix in the minds of about half of our citizens. The block voting will forever go back and forth without systemic change. And, that’s great if it’s what the majority wants for leadership locally. I realize, I’m probably in the minority on this.

  24. Candidates always say the plan to represent more than the bowl. After elected the first time the sometimes even have “neighborhood” meetings. Two long time serving current council members even held sessions around town together and soaked up the opinions and needs of the respective neighborhoods. One current council member sponsors neighborhood walks, complete with safety vests to save during the walks. Mayors past and present have “sessions” to discuss neighborhood issues. These actions are good but seldom lead to the neighborhood to feel they are fully represented.

    Clint has suggested using our 7 zones as a way to create a more formal way of representation. While interesting there will always be arguments for and against formal changes to election by zones. That has and will be an endless discussion with all the same pros and cons offered. Kind of like Second Amendment and Gun Control and all the other “issues” on which we tend to trot our our opinions and then often end up criticizing others along the way and MEN stops the discussion.

    Here are but two ways to have council gather input from the zones.
    1. Make each zone an entity just like we do for commissions and boards. Assign a council member to each and they are obligated to report back to the full council what they learned in their last meeting with the folks in the zones. Our current technology would make this very easy. Make it a monthly report and rotate council members every six months. (A newly elected CM would get a change to represent each zone once during their first term, that may help guide voters from each zone on future voting.
    2. Set up a “special report from the zones” in the council agenda. Give each zone 30 minutes or so to tell the full council needs and opportunities in their respective zones. Each Zone could have a page on the city web site and we could all begin to understand what is common and what is different in each zone.

    Lets stop talking and start doing!

  25. I agree with Darrol’s ideas, at least as a start, to get some true, regular, and meaningful input from ALL the people supposedly getting represented by the city council. I would hope this could maybe evolve into something like the make up of the Edmonds Port District which has three zones each represented by a Commissioner and one Commissioner elected at large as I understand it. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong on this. Having used the Port off and on for years, it looks to me like it functions rather well at meeting the needs of and caring about all it’s various user groups. Anyway, that might be a possible model to use for revamping our city government if the people finally get fed up enough to try making some real change.

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