Meeting in person for the first time since Aug. 14, 2022, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night decided to delay adoption of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan to allow for additional public comment.
Following two years of COVID-19 restrictions that has included mostly Zoom meetings, Tuesday’s gathering was a hybrid affair, with the public and councilmembers having the option of attending in person or remotely. Of those on the dais, Councilmembers Susan Paine and Laura Johnson, and student representative Brook Roberts opted to wear masks, while the remaining councilmembers and Mayor Mike Nelson were maskless. There were fewer than 10 spectators in the the council chambers for the in-person version, and several speakers continued to offer comments via Zoom. Councilmember Kristiana Johnson also participated remotely.
Noting the seamless process for the hybrid meeting, Nelson thanked city staff for their hard work behind the scenes to make that happen.
The PROS Plan vote came after a continuation of last week’s public hearing on the plan, a six-year guide for managing the city’s parks, open space, trails and recreation opportunities. Prompted by comments from some residents who suggested the plan needs further review, especially since action items that were a component of past plans were removed, a majority of councilmembers agreed that it was important to gather additional PROS Plan feedback before moving ahead.
This came after the council defeated — by a 2-5 vote — Councilmember Laura Johnson’s motion to approve the plan as written Tuesday night, with Paine joining Johnson in voting yes. As has been the case in past discussions regarding the PROS plan, Laura Johnson passionately raised the issue of equity in the current plan, particularly noting its focus on the previously neglected neighborhoods in South Edmonds and the Highway 99/Lake Ballinger areas. Speaking in favor of further vetting, Councilmember Diane Buckshis said that while she supports the concept of equity in those neighborhoods, “if you were to ask the tribal lands people they would totally believe and tell you that the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) issue is our (Edmonds) Marsh and our near-shore estuary because the white man and the industrialists have ruined their lands.”
Councilmembers then suggested that a citizens’ committee be formed to work wtih councilmembers and staff to review the plan. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Angie Feser noted that there was no more money to pay the plan’s consultant for additional work, so councilmembers agreed to give her a few weeks to estimate how much additional consultant time was needed and bring back a plan for their approval in early to mid April.
In other action Tuesday night, the council conducted a short annual joint meeting with the South County Fire Board of Commissioners. South County Fire is the shortened name for the South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Regional Fire Authority, which includes the City of Lynnwood and unincorporated areas in South Snohomish County. The fire authority contracts with the cities of Edmonds, Brier and Mountlake Terrace to provide fire and emergency medical service (EMS), but is looking to extend its reach. Mill Creek voters will decide whether to join the South County Fire RFA this fall, and the authority has begun preliminary talks with Brier and Mountlake Terrace about putting a similar issue on a future ballot, Hovis told the council Tuesday night.
The council also held public hearings on two matters involving proposed amendments to the city code: one regarding Edmonds’ electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and the other, bicycle parking development standards.
The EV code language is aimed at planning for future growth of electric vehicle technology, and city staff noted electric vehicle usage has tripled in Edmonds over the last five years. The code change amendment also supports specific city, state and national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed regulations differentiate between the three “staging types” for electric vehicle (EV) charging:
EV Capable- Contains electrical panel capacity and conduit for future EV usage.
EV Ready – Contains EV Capable elements plus circuits to allow plug-in EV charging.
EV Installed- Contains EV Ready elements plus specialized equipment for efficient EV charging.
The proposed standards also define the percentages of parking spaces that must accommodate each type. They would apply to all new and significantly altered single-and multi-family development.
The proposed EV charging infrastructure standards were referred to next week’s council consent agenda for final approval.
Regarding the inclusion of facilities for short- and long-term bicycle parking in all multifamily and non-residential development, staff explained the difference between short-term bike parking, such as bike racks at building entrances, and long-term parking that includes a secure, on-premises space. Under the proposal, required short-term bike parking would be 1 space per 10 in multiple dwelling units and 1 per 12 vehicle parking spaces in non-residential units. For long-term parking, the requirement would be 0.75 per unit in multifamily housing and 2 per 25,000 square feet of floor area in non-residential units.
Due to numerous comments received on the bicycle parking issue, the council agreed to bring it back for a council vote next week.
— By Teresa Wippel