Letter to the editor: Let’s protect, preserve and promote business in BD2 zone to maintain a vibrant downtown


An important decision is about to be made concerning permittable use in the BD2 Mixed Commercial zone. If 100% residential is allowed to be built there, our ability to protect and grow diversity and equity in that important business zone is at stake. Losing ground floor commercial will have devastating effects on the ability of businesses to grow and thrive in a zone set aside for them by our predecessors. Ground floor commercial must be protected.

The city is changing rapidly as more restaurants and services fill the downtown core extending up Main Street to the BD2 zone. With the new construction of the Commons on the corner and Civic Park nearby, the intersection at 6th and Main will soon have an even greater prominence for our downtown. It is indeed the eastern gateway to our downtown business district.

As I read through the memorandum that the planners and city attorney put together to justify 100% residential, I see more evidence to support keeping ground floor commercial in the BD2 zone. Both sides of Main Street east of 6th currently have businesses – nine on the north and seven on the south. This makes this an extension of the business corridor that needs to be protected.  Eliminating commercial on the north side will destroy this corridor permanently.

In the memorandum on page 11 paragraph 1, it states: “In the core area the intent was to avoid extending the designated street front along areas where there are significant residential uses…” There are few residential uses near this intersection. Conversely, designated street fronts should be reserved for areas where there are businesses on both sides of the street. It makes perfect sense to extend the line east on Main to include this part of the BD2 zone. There are a couple of areas in town where this extension would help clarify the code and eliminate the need to rewrite spot zoning for BD2 areas left behind.

Regarding  the blue line identifying the designated street front on page 12, it states:  “Council has the legislative discretion to alter the designated street front maps if it sees fit to do so.” This is a no-brainer. Please extend the line and save the eastern gateway to the downtown core for business on the ground floor. The businesses are already there, right across the street from each other. It’s by far the easiest way to clean up the confusion.

There is a special council meeting to vote on design standards in the BD2 zone this Thursday, April 21, at 5:15 p.m. The meeting is virtual online.  Please show your support for the council as they seek to protect the downtown business district.

Greg Brewer

8 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Let’s protect, preserve and promote business in BD2 zone to maintain a vibrant downtown”

  1. UPDATE: Time of the special council meeting on Thursday, April 21st has been moved to 5:15 p.m.


  2. There are not 9 businesses on the north side of main in the 600 block. The number of residential units on that block is an astronomically larger percentage of the current use, therefore, bringing those 2 outlier lots into the same use as the entire rest of the block is not “destroying” anything. Everyone needs to simmer way down and look at a map.


    1. Chris, there are/were nine businesses in the commercial location. One ND, one law firm, one MSW, an acupuncturist, a tutor, an art studio, a leadership coach and an integrated counseling service all in the current existing commercial building.
      The converted house( the combined lot)next has a home wares store. That nine. And all half a block from the downtown core.


      1. It’s kind of weird that there’s a contingent of dismissive folks in this town that consider any business that doesn’t serve alcohol or and nachos as lesser. BTW many of these smaller businesses are entry-level for those who have historically have had it challenges establishing themselves such as women and minority owned businesses.


  3. Given the limited retail and commercial space available in the downtown Edmonds business districts, and the growing population, it feels imperative that we need to be planning for how to grow our downtown commercial spaces vs. reducing the number of available places for business to operate in our downtown. People move to Edmonds for a variety of reasons, including the ability to enjoy our services. If we take away the potential business storefronts, our business core will have limited services to support the residents we have, let alone those coming in new.

    Requiring ground floor business/commercial space in housing projects in BD2 would help to maintain the charm and pedestrian/business friendly feel of our waterfront retail core. We are losing nine local businesses to this development with limited-to-no-option for them to relocate downtown as there aren’t commercial spaces available. That is today, what will it look like 5-10 years from now? Planning needs to take into account all growth, business and residents alike.

    Larger housing projects would be better suited along major arterial/transportation lines. The downtown BD1 and BD2 zones are designed for commercial use and commerce, let’s not short-change ourselves on the number of businesses that can move in and service our fine city. I hope the Council takes a serious look at requiring ground floor retail/commercial designs in any new building proposal. Especially for locations that already house commercial business space in our BD1 & 2 zones. Let’s think long-term growth for Edmonds downtown business AND residents as part of our planning endeavors.


  4. So, if the criteria is that we should always have business next to other businesses, which block does that stop on exactly?

    There are only 8 businesses being affected by the currently proposed project but there are also THIRTY THREE residential units (with up to 4 residents each) also on that strip on the north side of main between 6th & 7th. The proposed new project is on a transitional zone bridging business and residential district and, as much rhetoric as I see claiming we “need” more business space (interesting as I walk by 3 “office space for lease” signs within 2 blocks of there every day), there is a reasonable counter-point that we LITERALLY need housing options so that our teachers and city staff and librarians and grocery clerks don’t have to commute from Anacortes or take a ferry just to serve this community.

    So which need is greater? More places to live (which is arguably ALSO the same place where many people end up actually working), or more hair salons? And… where are people comfortable moving the transition to (between BD and residential)?


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