Reader view: Is Edmonds losing its livability and charm?

Photo by Joe Scordino

I used to be proud to say that I’ve lived in Edmonds for over 40 years; but it’s becoming embarrassing to admit I live in Edmonds.What happened to our slogan “It’s an Edmonds Kind of Day”?

For two years, I watched our mayor and the majority of our city council ignore what the citizens of Edmonds believe to be important.And now, the remaining city councilmembers, who were indeed listening to the public and trying to fix the fiscal planning problems in this city, are being bashed in the media and during council meetings.This is flat-out embarrassing for our city.

Further, the city is venturing into future planning and budget priorities for our parks and open spaces (which everyone in Edmonds cherishes) and again without listening to what is important to the citizens of Edmonds.Our new parks director used a very questionable survey and public input process to conclude that “community values have changed” in Edmonds away from preserving the “gems” in our city.Recalling the huge public uproar when the city was about to lose one of these “gems” (a large portion of a public beach) to the Waterfront Connector bridge, I’d say the new parks director needs to start listening to the public, and not biased surveys, before concluding community values have changed.

The revised parks plan (called the PROS Plan) downplays overall community values and the importance of preserving and improving the unique aspects of Edmonds that make it the place people want to live and visit – – such as the Underwater Dive Park, the Edmonds Marsh-Estuary, marine beaches and the waterfront, salmon streams, migratory birds, the off-leash dog beach, Puget Sound views (Sunset Avenue), the nature trails in wooded areas, the Willow Creek Salmon Hatchery and Educational Center, and the green spaces (trees and natural areas) within our parks and open spaces.
We all want neighborhood playground parks too (I know I did when I was raising four kids), but should that be in lieu of preserving the city’s “gems” and natural areas that kids love too?

Shouldn’t the priority of the PROS Plan be to plan and prioritize how to preserve and enhance these unique city properties for future generations first, and then plan for new parks when possible?The city has already failed us with its lack of planning to resolve the stormwater issues in the Perrinville watershed, resulting in the destruction of a salmon-bearing stream (Perrinville Creek) — a problem that was predicted over 22 years ago in a report that admonished Edmonds and Lynnwood to develop effective plans and take action.And here we go again, with an inadequate parks plan that allows our natural areas to erode away.

Our community does have citizens who value our natural areas and they are willing to help the city; but there needs to be a plan for volunteers and public donations, and that is totally lacking in the revised parks plan.

Unfortunately, not only is the new parks director ignoring the importance of our natural areas, but so is our new police chief. This is evidenced by a recent incident on north Brackett’s Landing Park involving an out-of-control, unleashed dog chasing migratory geese – and an Edmonds police officer announcing in advance that he would only give a warning to the dog owner rather than a ticket for a possible repeat and flagrant violation of city ordinances (i.e., dog on prohibited beach, dog without leash, dog harassing federally protected migratory birds).And our new police chief supported that ‘no ticket’ approach in spite of the public and wildlife safety issues this created on one of our cherished public beaches.And to top it off, this and other problems on our public beaches, let alone planning possible solutions, aren’t even mentioned in the revised citywide parks plan.

It’s time for the citizens of Edmonds to speak up and say enough is enough.We want our “It’s an Edmonds Kind of Day” back again.This city needs to take a holistic approach to planning and undertaking actions to solve “real” and not “perceived” problems.The intentional exclusion of public input in our local government processes must stop.Let’s start with the draft parks plan (the PROS Plan) and demand it be revised now to reflect what’s actually important for planning and actions in our parks and open spaces.

— By Joe Scordino

A retired fisheries biologist, Joe Scordino has lived in Edmonds for more than 40 years. He also serves an an advisor to the Students Saving Salmon Club at Edmonds-Woodway and Meadowdale high schools.

  1. We have a wonderful dog off-leash area south of this beach where volunteers assist in keeping that dog park clean. We are a non-profit to allow individuals to donate or become members ( We do track dog park issues, purchase the bio-degradable bags and work with the parks and recreation crew on items that need to be repaired in the park The Seattle Times called our Off-Leash Area – the Club Med of dog parks.

    Thank you, Mr. Scordino for providing this input and we hope that change occurs in regards to warnings versus tickets for dogs running loose on the Marine Sanctuary of North Brackett’s Landing. The dog owners can easily walk their dog on the sidewalk (or drive) to the opposite end of our coast line and allow their dog(s) to romp where other dogs play.

    There should be no reason for dogs to be on any of our beaches except in the designated area when we have this wonderful venue. There are other off-leash areas close by as well: about 4 miles away in Mountlake Terrace or one mile in Lynnwood near the Perrinville area (Lynndale).

  2. The signs warning dog owners that their pets are not allowed on the beach are often either overlooked or ignored. To be fair, in many areas (although not North Brackett’s Landing) the signs are small and infrequent. I have occasionally pointed them out to dog owners, mentioning the off leash area, and some do remove their pets but more frequently they ignore any suggestion their dogs should not frolic freely, or offer a silly excuse as the reason their situation is an exception (“I am just taking a picture of my dog in the waves…”). There also seems to be a marked increase in the amount of dog excrement on the sidewalks and green spaces. And no, I am not a pet hater. Animal companions are wonderful but they cannot be allowed to interfere with the activities of others–including wildlife– trying to enjoy the parks and beaches.

  3. Just recently the geese have been resting at the Anderson Center field. Sadly, some dog owners have unleashed their dogs to chase the geese. Very cruel for the geese.

    1. I live in Lynnwood. I use to like going to Bracketts landing just to watch the sea life. But not anymore. Last time I was there I got asked if I wanted to buy some Drugs. It has really turned in to a Dump. Trash all over the place, Dog poop on the sidewalk. I have a small dog and I pick up after her. I know that if I brought my wheelchair there I would probably just drive in the poop. That is why I Don’t come to This place. The Police need to write tickets or give them a Job to clean up Bracketts landing. I have also been there before and someone is parked in the handicap parking with out a placard. Edmonds has really gone down hill. When I went to school in Edmonds back in the 70s it was a GREAT PLACE to go.

  4. These Black Brant migrate from the Arctic to spend the winter at Bracketts North every year. There are smaller and smaller numbers of them overwintering in Washington and Oregon. Having dogs chase them causes stress and uses up valuable energy reserves. Fun for the dog, not so much for the Brant. If you see a dog doing this, talk to the owner. If they persist, call the police.

  5. i moved out of edmonds november of last year, i lived in edmonds for 36 yrs. the secular leftist culture the primary reason.

    1. I must not be doing something correctly….my posts seem to….disappear..when I am critical of certain people… I will post this ….again.
      Diane B…..Thank you for expressing such self gratitude for your ‘pet’ project…the dog park that cuts off the public from doing a beach stroll longer than 200 yards..and keeps the Willow Creek stream from being daylighted….
      You need to push your park southward a bit.
      Build a structure southward that rebuilds the beach that disappeared when oil dock was torn down. Make the old oil dock land, now that it is cleaned up, the top side of creek daylighting project, extending under the polluting , noisy train track to the water.
      This will take planning, but the end result would be nice…
      Stop hiding behind the dog park…and move it…out of the way. Show that you actually love dogs ( I question that one, also)……by fixing a few parks up,with water….for dogs. Pine Ridge Park trail, with pond deepening,shoreline improvement, added trails around it….
      ……..and the big field across from Olympic Deli, which is already used by neighborhood for dogs, but not maintained like it could be.

      1. Just an fYI that many times people sign up to follow comments on posts, then they reply via email to the post rather than posting it on the site. That email then comes to me directly rather than being posted. I always notify people when they do this, suggesting that they post their comment on the website so it shows up. So if you have not seen your comments posted, you may want to check your emails to see if there were notifications from me that you did this. — Teresa Wippel, publisher

  6. We live very near Brackett’s Landing an visit almost daily. Dog owners constantly take their animals on the beach, and often let them off leash. We try to politely remind them that the beaches are sanctuary, and that the dog park is available. Sometimes owners are unaware, and are glad to learn about the dog park. A citation seems unwarranted in these case. Most of the time, however, a polite approach is met with hostility and profanity. Without at least random enforcement there will be no compliance. The police also do not not close Brackett’s Landing and close the gate even though park hours are posted. The City of Seattle has been learning this (hopefully).

    Progressive/Conservative has nothing to do with this…it has to do with giving up minor individual liberties for the good of all. As a culture, we seem less and less willing to do this…to wear masks to protect others, to restrain pets to protect wildlife, wait one’s turn in a ferry line (instead of cutting), blocking intersections, yielding to pedestrians…civility is vanishing. I don’t think that’s an Edmonds kind of thing.

    1. Dean Strong, I agree with you that that the “vanishing civility” has nothing to do with “progressive/ conservative.”

      We have seen the lack of civility, selfish behavior increase statewide, nationwide and indeed internationally in the last few years. I don’t think any of what you describe is unique to Edmonds. Respect for others, the environment and the laws is what keeps us a peaceful, functioning society.

      I have lived in Edmonds for over forty years and have no plans to change that. Change and growth in communities are inevitable in this world and we may not always like all the changes but I still find Edmonds to be a good place to live.

  7. Thanks for writing this commentary. The process to adopt the 2022 budget was sad, the poorest process I have witnessed in the years I have followed City Government. Two days ago, I emailed City Council an email with the following subject:

    “As a reminder: I attended the November 16, 2021 Council Meeting with my hand raised to comment. I was blocked from participating under Susan Paine’s new “chimed in” rule. This is a serious matter.”

    In that email, I requested: Please form a citizen task force to conduct this investigation and to recommend the appropriate action for the City to take to address the conduct of Mayor Mike Nelson and Council President Susan Paine prior to and during the November 16th Regular Meeting of the Edmonds City Council. Please have the citizen task force interview all citizens mentioned in the attached email sent Mayor Mike Nelson at 3:56 pm on November 16, 2021 by City Clerk Scott Passey. Please have the citizen task force interview City Clerk Scott Passey to find out why he emailed Mayor Mike Nelson the attached email at 3:56 pm on November 16, 2021.

    I have yet to be told if a citizen task force will be formed.

    Budgeting is one thing, executing the budget is another. The Code Rewrite has been budgeted multiple times, but the Code Rewrite has never been executed.

    Our City Code requires a review of the mid-biennial budget to commence no sooner than eight months after the start nor later than conclusion of the first year of the fiscal biennium.

    We haven’t budgeted on a biennial basis for years, but our Code says this is how we budget.

    Thanks for asking what the priority of the PROS Plan should be. City Code says the Planning Board shall serve as an ongoing park board and advise the mayor and city council on all matters relating to the acquisition and development of all city parks and recreation facilities.

    The City has just issued an RFQ to Develop New Public Space Typologies and Activation Strategies.

    Why not use our Planning Board?

  8. I also am embarrassed to tell people I live in a town where dogs chase geese on the beach. Law and order. Plain and simple.

    1. Oh my goodness! It is a natural instinct for a dog to chase the geese. It is the owner who is at fault for allowing their dog to do so. But while I think it is a mean and irresponsible action. I don’t see how it is embarrassing to be a resident of Edmonds because someone, who may or may not live there chooses such behavior.

      In my opinion it is highly unlikely that it is an enforceable offense unless there are animal. control officers at sites where geese happen to land at any given moment.

  9. Three cheers for the comment that progressive/conservative has nothing to do with our community. Those who misuse civility try to have a loud voice, but as a regular Edmonds walker I enjoy many brief, kind and fun interactions with people and their dogs.

  10. I think the main point in this Letter to the Editor is the request for the citizens of Edmonds to be active participants in the planning for public parks and the possible inclusion of volunteers and private donations for public parks. Public participation in the processes that impact the development of our city, whether it is parks or developments or environment, is essential.
    It is true that the past 2 years have not been as citizen inclusive as I would like to see. I agree with Joe Scordino that the citizens of Edmonds want to be, and should be, part of the process. The surveys used to include public opinion should be honest and unbias, and not slanted to obtain the “wants” of a department. Hopefully, our current City Council will make sure that happens.

  11. The simple answer to Joe’s question is a resounding YES. The downhill slide started when someone decided Edmonds was “Deadmonds” and the never ending hype, rampant development, braggadocio, arrogance and pushing for Edmonds to be an area entertainment destination and pay check for business’ of all types began.

    Getting discovered was the beginning of the end of Edmonds just being a quaint little village of livability and charm. I suspect it is too late to un-ring the bell but good on all those people like Joe, trying to give it a shot. It will continue to be an uphill struggle I suspect. Life seems to always go downhill when good people remain silent and accepting of being dictated to when they should speak up and fight back. In Edmonds the mayor and his/her staff tell us what we should want when it should be just the other way around.

  12. Thank you, Joe, for your well explained concerns. I agree with you. And thank you, Helen, for getting the train back on the rails and highlighting the point of the stated view. It’s sad that Ken Reidy’s “hand raised” is ignored in the city council meeting. I have experienced this as well. Edmonds is a wonderful place to live and rather than moving away I hope more people will hold city council accountable as our representatives.

  13. Thank you, Mr. Scordino,
    You have expressed my concerns perfectly.
    I have lived in Edmonds for 24 years and have seen it losing its charm as a small town on a year-by-year basis.
    Maybe it’s time to move because I don’t think that the critical issues involving the liveability of our community are ever going to be addressed??

  14. I understand being upset about a dog illegally on the beach chasing birds, but not why a warning and removal of the dog isn’t “enough”. This post inspired me to read through the 235 pages of the PROS plan and there is nothing in there that is harmful to our beaches. There’s some upgrades to public restrooms, but that won’t cause harm. Connecting a few paths, not a harm. Planting some trees for shade, not a harm. Fixing some trails to help avoid erosion, not a harm. Investigating areas to purchase for more city-owned wild and green spaces – not a harm. You know what’s harmful? City Council voting down rain gardens and green streets.

    1. Pam,

      City Council did not vote down rain gardens and green streets. They forwarded that budget item to Council committee to further clarify what is meant by a “green street” and clarify location and design of rain gardens. Not all rain gardens perform their hoped for function. They must be located and designed properly to reduce flooding and clean run-off from streets. Questions have been raised by citizens about that budget item. The money will not go far if impermeable pavement is replaced by permeable, rain gardens added, sidewalks, etc. Many neighborhoods don’t even have sidewalks. Who will be responsible for maintenance of the green streets? Clarification of the use of the money is the fiscally responsible thing for Council to do.

      1. And, Ms. Brisse, your remark that nothing in the PROS plan does harm is out of sync with the terms protection, restoration and enhancement used by environmental stewards. Joe Scordino and those who agree with him would like to see the city of Edmonds meet a higher standard of environmental stewardship in our PROS plan.

  15. Surveys don’t provide an accurate read of citizen wishes. They are often biased towards the results that staff hope to achieve. And if the results are something other than what staff hoped for, as with the CHC commission surveys, the data is ignored or discounted. It’s disturbing that “Our new parks director used a very questionable survey and public input process to conclude that “community values have changed” in Edmonds.”

    Many of us can assure the new parks director that community values have not changed when it comes to preservation of the Marsh-Estuary, Yost Park, the underwater dive park, our beaches, nature trails, public views, woods and streams. Those gems are also a draw to many visitors (stakeholders) to Edmonds who support our businesses. Environmental preservation and sensitivity must be included throughout the PROS plan. Given the challenges that we are facing with increased flooding and aging infrastructure, preservation and enhancement of our critical areas must be a city-wide priority.

  16. If you care – speak up where it matters at the Planning Board Public Hearing about the PROS Plan on the 23rd Feb 2022. Timing is 7PM on ZOOM.
    follow the link for the pass codes etc.

    The documents in question are there for your review as well. Plan some time for reading as they are lengthy.
    There will be a second chance at the PROS Plan presentation to the Council also coming up also with a public comment period. Keep track for the timing so your interests are on record – not just in the news.

  17. As I see it there are a couple of issues here.

    1. Members of the community feel that Laws are not being enforced.

    2. Members of the community feel that petty law braking is ok.

    Brackets Landing is one of the few places that you can go with a wheelchair or walker with family.
    I have noticed a reduction of these members of the community there. It maybe changing times, but there is always someone getting old.
    They probably don’t feel secure that they won’t get knocked over. As it seem to be overrun by people walking their dogs.

    If I was on the council,
    1. I would have enforcement of the laws of the park or abolish the laws if they are not going to be enforced.

    2. Erect a sign with a map to the dog park.

    3. Expand the disabled parking to show that these valued members of the community are welcome

    Flack jacket on

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