In-person for first time since August 2021, council delays decision on Edmonds parks plan

Councilmembers gather on the dais for the first time since August 2021. (Photos by Larry Vogel)

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.

A small group of citizens and staff attended the meeting in person Tuesday.
A video of those participating remotely was projected onto a large monitor for in-person attendees to watch.

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.”

Administrative Services Director Dave Turley, left, and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Angie Feser were present to answer questions about the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan.

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


  1. With all the grumbling about the need to return to in person meetings, I was surprised to read that there were fewer than 10 spectators in the chamber.

  2. The EV code regulations that increase costs, might help Council members feel good about themselves in some kind of imagined environmental touchy-feely kind of way, oh but will do little to enhance affordability of housing, equity or diversity.

    1. True, but I still think along with the emphasis on equity, diversity and affordable living we should encourage the fixes we can try at home for those who have a home like most of us on here I suspect. Beautification encourages more beautification and pride in ownership or rentership. New word ha. Just as they were speaking about the bike chargers in homes increasing the homes value. That is true.
      So we should discuss them all together when speaking with people who are simply trying to survive and the last thing I would guess on their minds is the marsh or any of that. WE LOVE it. But to many it is worlds away from their reality.

  3. Not mentioned in the article is the fact that one of the commissioners for the fire authority pointed out that our Edmonds Fire stations combined need $16 million dollars in upgrades and repairs just as Darrol H. had predicted would come out in this latest CC meeting. Probably information the citizens should be aware of in terms of the Council and Executive branches doing their due diligence of planning ahead and budgeting, or at least having a plan for covering not so future needs.

    1. Yep… its always more than we expect it seems everywhere in life! I agree Clinton. I did think the Fire Authority explained it pretty clearly. I can’t remember if this was discussed before but it seems it was once at council?? Everything always costs more. I did a total remodel pretty much over a three year period and I swear every thing done was more than quoted and well it was a pain…We need to always know how much before we promise to pay. if we can’t do that than I think a deal should not be made until its a final $ number. I don’t know a lot about this like you Clint and many many others here or in Edmonds in general so I depend on you all for my knowledge and the internet but it is seldom helpful with local issues for me anyway. Hi Clint. I like you. You are a very smart man. I think. DEb.

  4. I was there for a while last evening and thought I counted 14 citizens in attendance. The people in attendance weren’t simply spectators either – several participated in the meeting as evidenced by a number of public comments made at the podium. Other citizens participated in the meeting remotely, something I am thankful citizens can do.

    I don’t know that the need to return to in person meetings is measured by how many citizens are in Council Chambers. I think it more complicated than that. I think Council and the public benefit when Council meets in person, even if no citizens attend.

    Last summer, there was a large turnout for an in person meeting. Attendees had to sit through a 40 minute delay. Mayor Nelson later cast aspersions broadly, stating:

    Last week packing of the Council Chamber was part of an organized effort by a partisan campaign to bully and harass specific elected officials and City staff by a local City Council candidate’s campaign. They began gathering outside at 5:00 and were seen drinking beforehand.

    I spoke at that meeting and still have no way of knowing if the Mayor thinks I was drinking before that meeting.

    Following is part of a public comment I made the night citizens packed Council Chambers:

    Ken Reidy, Edmonds, thanked his fellow citizens for attending the meeting and urged the Council to
    listen and respect all citizens. He urged the Council to adopt the new Council rule that citizen voices are
    the last voices heard before Council makes decisions. Citizens are at the top of the City’s organizational
    chart; City Council represents citizens, not the Mayor, Staff or City Attorney.

    One more thing, last night I asked for an accounting of what the $140,000 budgeted for Code Re-write in December of 2020 has accomplished. I also asked what the hundreds of thousands of dollars budgeted since 2006 for Code Re-write has accomplished. I hope full disclosure will be made.

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