‘Today we bring the city to you’: Edmonds dedicates Highway 99 neighborhood city hall

Mayor Mike Nelson officially cuts the ribbon dedicating the new facility. From left: former Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Police Chief Michelle Bennett, Nelson, Judge Whitney Rivera, former Edmonds Director of Economic Development Patrick Doherty, Edmonds City Council President Vivian Olson, Edmonds Acting Director of Economic Development Doug Merriman, Community Engagement Officer Tabatha Shoemake, Assistant Chief of Police Rodney Sniffin, and Executive Assistant to the Mayor Carolyn LaFave.

Almost a decade after being first envisioned, the City of Edmonds officially dedicated its first branch city hall at 23632 Highway 99 in the TJ Maxx strip mall. The aim of the facility is to bring city government services to where they are needed, and until now have been difficult to access.

“For too long our city has ignored the most diverse and underserved part of our community – no more,” said Mayor Mike Nelson. “I’m here today to announce the grand opening of our neighborhood city office. Here you’ll find an array of services including our community court, our community engagement coordinator, and a police presence.

Mayor Mike Nelson officially dedicated the new facility, saying that “today we bring city government to you.”

“We are changing how we serve you,” he continued. “It used to be that you came to city government. Today city government comes to you. We listen to you, we see you, and we are here for you.”

The mayor was followed by Municipal Court Judge Whitney Rivera.

“I’m so very excited that the Community Court is now back,” she said.

Begun by former Municipal Court Judge Linda Coburn, Community Court was created to bring the court out of city hall and make it more accessible.  Unfortunately, it only operated a short time before being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Running the community court will be Municipal Court Judge Whitney Rivera (right) assisted by Court Administrator Uneek Maylor (left).

“Community Court is focused on bringing the resources and services directly to folks who need them,” Rivera continued. “This includes things like resources to combat substance abuse disorders, mental health treatment, housing, transportation vouchers – and everyone who comes to court leaves with a sack lunch. It is our aim to meet directly with people to address the underlying causes that get them involved with the court system and stop that cycle from continuing.”

Sworn in only two days ago, Edmonds Assistant Police Chief Rodney Sniffin stands at the new branch city hall reception desk. Behind him is a some of the art that will be placed in the facility, including a flat screen that will feature a rolling selection of art by children.
Edmonds PD Community Engagement Officer. Tabatha Shoemake, center, with Assistant Chief Rodney Sniffin and Chief Michelle Bennett.

Edmonds Chief of Police Michelle Bennett spoke next, stating how pleased she is to have a police presence — via the new building — in the Highway 99 area.

“Having a visible presence on Highway 99 with officers and vehicles on site will bring an enhanced element of safety and security to the neighborhood along with faster response times,” she said. “And Tabatha [Tabatha Shoemake, the Edmonds Police Department’s community engagement officer] will be permanently housed here to help engage with citizens and businesses.”

Bennett then introduced Shoemake, who remarked that her special affinity for the neighborhood stems from owning her first house just two blocks away, that she looks forward to getting to know the residents and businesses, and look for better ways to serve the community.

According to city officials, the new branch city hall will open for business sometime next week.

According to city spokesperson Kelsey Foster, the office will open for business “sometime next week” after furniture and other equipment are moved in.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. I could see a big city doing this, but not a little town of Edmonds. Waste of time and tax payer money.

  2. From reading the police action reports in the paper, the new office is precisely in the area where at least 80% of crimes happen in Edmonds. Good work!

  3. Our City hall is open from 10 am -2 pm and yet we need another location. Only people spending other peoples money think this is a good idea. I think Costco and Home Depot need to reduce their hours to 4 hours a day and open a second locations next to the Burlington Coat Factory. That should be cost effective for their shareholders and customers. Mayor Sponge Bob Square Pants can make himself available for the Ribbon cutting ceremony.

  4. I am quite sure this office will evolve as the needs change. I hope it can include Chamber of Commerce type information about the various features of our town. We need to integrate the city features. I am sure many out of towners stop there to shop. Let’s be open to new ways of providing services.

  5. I support this move as long as the office can migrate if the high crime locations move. To me this isn’t about serving a part of our community that is underserved. It is about serving a part of our community that needs serving. If this office ends up not having the highway 99 police presence needed it needs to be closed. But for now I will wait to see how this works.
    Has anyone seen anything on how they will evaluate the office and what the benchmarks will be to keep it open?

  6. Good we have an extra place for all citizens.
    is the City Hall in downtown Edmonds actually open now??

    1. As someone who lives in this area, I welcome any additional civic presence. Why all the negativity around this tiny piece of strip mall real estate? The increase in crime on and near the highway 99 corridor from 205 to 220 needs to be addressed. If this is a first step towards that, it’s welcomed.

  7. Fantastic opening!!! It was a long time coming and we who live up here so appreciate being included as part of the city

  8. This is a good start I think. Actually, the whole city business operation should probably be more toward the center of town than in the two main fringe area business districts as it is now. We have this neighborhood vs. neighborhood vibe going on here that is not at all healthy and being milked by some of our local high profile political activists. Why not look for some simple, less costly answers to some of our problems.

    For example, we know we have a shortage of parks and public recreation spaces in the Eastern portion of our city. Why not have an electric or plug-in hybrid people carrier of some sort stationed at the new City Hall and manned by volunteer community members pretty much all day everyday to take people to the park rich areas of the city. The service could be free with donations to defray costs greatly accepted or something along those lines. Our politicians would rather make controversial mountains out of mole hills than actually solve real problems of the people in our various neighborhoods and bring people together, not push them apart.

    1. I cannot agree more. Acquire property, redesign the public works facility that currently exists in the corridor, and move the City Hall to the corridor. Or, invest a crap ton of money on aging facilities that require essential rebuild. Highway 99 is the key to Edmonds economic and housing viability go-forward. The corridor is in dire need of investment and sometimes that investment has to come from Government spending. The Lynnwood Convention Center and City Hall are great examples of a “catalyst” spending. Granted, it is a different scenario….

      The satellite office is a much needed step in a good direction – but Highway 99 is an excellent spot for Edmonds City Offices.

      That reminds me – has there been any more talk about getting that Business Improvement District along Highway 99 up and running?

  9. Just as SPD has parked a mobile precinct on the corner of 3rd and Pine with immediate positive results. ” Having a visible presence on Highway 99 with officers and vehicles on site will bring an enhanced element of safety and security to the neighborhood along with faster response times” I agree, Bravo!

  10. I especially appreciate James O’Brien ‘ s comment regarding the difference between underserved versus a community needing more services. I think this project has a good potential to make services more accessible and I also hope there will be good metrics to know the cost vs benefits. This seems like a significant investment in the Hiway 99 corridor.
    I’m glad to see Adrienne Fraley-Monillas acknowledging the investment made by Edmonds, which included those she called “racists” last year.

  11. All the people commenting about how this is unnecessary need to spend a bit more time up on 99 before making comments about how we don’t need increased police presence here. This is FAR more needed here than it is down in the bowl, which has negligible crime compared to our neighborhood, a situation that’s existed for decades.

    If we only need police in one location, as many here are arguing, it is not in the bowl. That police station should be up here where the crime is happening.

    1. You are probably correct but you will never see that happen. I agree with you John but the fact it is from 10 AM to 2pm is what I find the worst part of it all right now anyway. Its at night when I hear the racing and the sirens the most often. Just like the Fire Dept said most calls are at night not in the morning hours until 2 pm ha. We actually need police presence there 24/7.
      It does make perfect sense to have the police where they are needed. WE need much more but I will let that go for now. So I say increase the hours. Put more police out there all of the time and less police in the bowl. Lock your cars or do something so your converters are safe as that seems to be the main theft in the Bowl. Here it is smash and grab and take all you can get. No police can get here that fast and people afraid to even go on vacation fearing they will be broken into and robbed or worse. I hope they consider expanding this. I wish they would have found a larger place with ample parking to begin with but too late to fix that.

  12. This is why they are opening another city hall. Those of you that stay in the bowl do not see the growth in this part of Edmonds.

    Where is the outrage for this in Edmonds? Because it is at 234th and Hwy 99 it doesn’t warrant the same anger? I guess you folks in the bowl just care about the view side of Edmonds and the rest just support you with our tax dollars.

    The project will provide 192 units—most of which are small studio or one-bedroom apartments. Zoning requires 174 parking stalls for the units. The project will provide 252 parking stalls on two floors of structured parking. The building in progress will be 68 feet once completed. This includes two levels of structured parking below five stories of residential units.

    This is why they are reaching out – there are going to be more people living in this part of Edmonds than the bowl.

    1. Exactly! I don’t think everyone in the bowl thinks this way but many do I believe. Why well its always been a bit clicky here. I noticed it as soon as I moved here 33 or so years ago. I think they have grown so used to it being the way it is and getting more so every day. People who have known generations of families and they are tight. I get that because I want to get it so I can understand the cold, the freeze out so to speak.
      What you say here is the reality of Edmonds WA now in 2022 and forever forward. You are right there will be far more people and the tax dollars they bring in to the city will be a huge amount. So yes we need to remember this. Remember where your bread is mainly buttered. Gas stations, Cars, many items with high price tags. You want them to go somewhere else a different county or city? I don’t you don’t now we just have to convince people here that we must support all of our residents or we will lose that and we will most importantly to me miss the excitement and fun of diversity and the experience of all different cultures. Thank you again Virginia. XO Deb

  13. Mary, I actually thought you were brighter than that.
    What I faced was continual campaign rhetoric.
    I NEVER said everyone in Edmonds was a racist.
    That is ridiculous!!!
    What I said is that we have racist incidents By SOME racist people living in Edmonds. More than happy to give you 5-10 incidents that have happened in the last few years. But no, you probably don’t wanna listen to that.
    As I’m sure you know how to do it, contact the reporter and ask him what I said.
    When the piece came out I called the reporter and asked him why he cut and paste the interview to make it look like I was saying people in Edmonds were racist. His response to me was well they’re going to think about it and make that accusation anyway.
    Go figure?
    I did find that in the last six months all the people that keep bringing up my opponents campaign rhetoric are uncomfortable with people that are different than them.

    1. Publisher’s note: After I closed this comment thread, I was contacted by Mary Dever who said she had been attempting to reply to Ms. Fraley-Monillas’ comment but was having technology difficulties (before the thread was closed). As a result, I am publishing her comment here on her behalf. (The comment thread does remain closed.) — Teresa

      Adrienne, thank you for your March 25th reply that started with:
      ” Mary, I actually thought you were brighter than that.”

      I apologize that the wattage of my intellect disappoints you. That aside, I will focus on the rest of your comment.

      You stated ” I NEVER said everyone in Edmonds is a racist.”. Well, I certainly didn’t say you did!

      Quoting from my previous comment,
      “…..which included those she called racists last year”. There was no attempt to quantify how many that was.

      So , did you call some of your Edmonds constituents racists? Apparently so, here is another quote from your comment:
      ” What I said is that we have racist incidents by some racist people people living in Edmonds”
      Those are the very people I was referring to.

      Using negative labels, flashing Loser signs, and questioning the brightness/intellect of a competitor rarely works to create a collaborative environment.

      However, looking forward, I agree with you that the new City Hall may be a helpful step and that we need to invest in the higher crime areas.
      You know what doesn’t help? Disrespect.

  14. Well done. I do love seeing City services made more accessible to the communities they serve. In that same vein, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce would also benefit from having some small footprint in this location as well. There are thousands of Edmonds businesses along the 99 corridor that could gain access to training and resources from the Edmonds Chamber. And the Chamber would benefit from having membership from these different business communities–providing a more well-rounded view of all business needs in our lovely city. A win-win scenario for the City of Edmonds. Hopefully Council would welcome a proposal along this line. Congratulations again for this welcome addition to the neighborhood.

    1. Erika, so glad you’re thinking out of the box. This would be a fabulous place to organize more businesses to be involved with the chamber. I think some of it will come naturally when they start to go to this new office for assistance. Building trust is a hard thing with the neighborhoods and businesses up here.
      Thanks again Erika

  15. “Mary, I actually thought you were brighter than that.”

    Rude and confrontative as always. Perhaps this approach points to why the vote turned out as it did?

    “I did find that in the last six months all the people that keep bringing up my opponents campaign rhetoric are uncomfortable with people that are different than them.”

    Examples? Evidence? Or just more assertions? And of course, no one should ever believe or refer to an opponent’s statements!

    Please remember George W’s dignified post-office silence…

  16. While I whole heartedly agree with this in theory for many of the reasons already mentioned crime being at the top of the list, I was more than concerned to hear from many that the mayor had an issue with signage signifying that there is a police presence. There is NO current signage planned on the exterior of the building for the EPD. If you also have an issue with this, please contact city officials to request this be added to the plan. We (I live near this office) need constant and visible law enforcement.

    1. I actually don’t think signage out front advertising the presence of police is really necessary — the police showing up immediately after something happens on a regular basis will be more effective than any sign. You can be very sure that our local shoplifters and mail thieves know exactly where the police are (and aren’t), and plan accordingly.

      1. Thanks, John. Although if that was true there wouldn’t have been a homeless encampment in front of Seattle City Hall for over 2 years and one by the court of also places downtown. Yes – the city presence is better than nothing. But I don’t agree it doesn’t help.

  17. As someone who frequents the south end of our city, I am looking forward to seeing how this new office works out. It will be interesting to see if it helps reduce crime and builds community relations. Often the mere presence of law enforcement can be enough to deter some crime. How many of us check our speed when we see a police car? I know I do. (smile)

    I’m also looking forward to learning which services are used the most and the overall effectiveness of this city branch office based on the goals laid out for it.

    Actually, are there tangible, measurable goals in place for this office? I hope so. Will they be reviewed regularly?

    Hopefully the city has a plan to keep Council informed of its operations on a regular basis so it can gage the effectivness of this expense and make adjustments as necessary for the good of Edmonds.

    Great job!

  18. Bravo to ALL that made this come to fruition. The idea of a satellite has been discussed for more than a decade – costs and personnel were always a consideration. I was not able to attend as I wasn’t invited and I wonder who was in charge of this aspect of celebrating a new office!

    Rebecca, in next finance meeting, I’ll see if we can create a separate cost center or tracking mechanism.

    1. My apologies to Director Merriman as the email was forwarded to me from the Council President on March 19.

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