Edmonds city councilmembers and the public had a chance to share their opinions Tuesday night during a public hearing on draft permanent design standards for multifamily buildings in downtown Edmonds’ BD2 zone. While the council won’t make a final decision until Oct. 4 on the standards, they did take action on one element Tuesday night — removing a proposal to allow rooftop deck space.
Prompted by concerns regarding a 24-unit apartment building proposed for the 600 block of Main Street, the council in June unanimously approved an ordinance outlining interim design standards for BD2.
The interim standards were aimed at ensuring multifamily housing units are compatible with the downtown area. They focused on requirements that included building materials to break up massing and strengthen building identity; private amenity space to improve livability of small residential units; a street-side amenity space or pedestrian area; and roof treatment or modulation.
The idea of allowing rooftop decks as an amenity space was considered but rejected during earlier council discussions, due to concerns about safety and privacy. However, Senior Planner Mike Clugston noted that both the Edmonds Planning and Architectural Design Boards had recommended their inclusion in the permanent standards, noting they are sought-after amenities for multifamily residential projects.
During Tuesday night’s public hearing, two residents expressed their opposition to rooftop decks, and after that the council passed motion — made by Councilmember Diane Buckshnis — to remove them from the permanent design standards.
While the council is set to approve permanent standards in two weeks. it’s possible those could be invalidated altogether due to another issue now making its way through the Edmonds Planning Board: an extension of designated street fronts in certain areas of the BD2 zone.
Under city code, new buildings in the BD2 zone located along a designated street front must have a street-level floor with commercial uses at a minimum 12-foot height. New buildings located outside of the designated street front, on the other hand, are not required to have commercial uses on the first floor and may be multifamily residential-only buildings.
The council in May approved an interim extension of designated street fronts in certain areas of the BD2 zone, and the planning board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on permanent standards next week, with a recommendation coming back to the council for final action.
Clugston noted that the interim standards “slightly extended some of the BD2-designated street front areas,” but if the designated street front was extended permanently to all BD2 zone parcels, multifamily-only buildings would not be allowed in that zone. “You’d have to have some sort of commercial in all buildings in BD2,” he told the council. “If your work eventually leads to that, a permanent dedicated streetfront ordinance could repeal the multifamily design standards.”
Given that possibility, Buckshnis said it’s unfortunate that the council couldn’t take up the designated street fronts before approving the design standards. Clugston noted the matter was governed by the timelines of each of the interim ordinances — and the design standards were addressed first.
In other business Tuesday night, Councilmember Susan Paine read a proclamation on behalf of the council honoring the contributions of former Councilmember Laura Johnson, who resigned from her Position 7 seat last weekand and is moving out of the area. Paine noted Johnson’s work to support the establishment of the city’s human services program, her efforts to promote redevelopment of Highway 99, her commitment to equity citywide and her development of the council code of conduct, among other accomplishments. Appearing remotely via Zoom, Johnson said she was most proud during her time on the council “of the collective work that was undertaken to assist the most vulnerable residents.”
Related to Johnson’s departure, the council also agreed on a plan for filling the vacant Position 7 seat. This will be a new selection process, rather than a continuation of the process used three weeks ago to fill Position 1 — a vacancy occurred with the death of Councilmember Kristiana Johnson July 18. the council received 17 applications for the Position 1 opening and ended up appointing Dave Teitzel Sept. 6.
Applicants who previously applied for Position 1 are eligible to be considered for Position 7, the agenda memo says, but won’t be required to go through the interview process again. Those applicants may request by email to the council executive assistant Beckie.Peterson@edmondswa.gov that their previous application with attachments of questions, resume and/or cover letter be considered in the process for Position 7. Previous applicants may also submit an updated application if they desire.
There had been a proposal to add a date of birth to the application, but that addition was removed by the council Tuesday night.
The same interview questions will be used again, with newly appointed Councilmember Teitzel asking the question that had been posed by Laura Johnson.
The application is scheduled to be posted to the city website between Sept. 21 and Sept. 23, with an application deadline of noon Wednesday, Oct. 5. Councilmembers will receive the redacted applications as part of the Oct. 11 agenda packet for the Public Safety, Planning, Human Services and Personnel Committee meeting.
All new applicants will be interviewed during a special meeting or meetings conducted set between Oct. 12-15. The selection will be made during a special council meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 17.
Also on Tuesday, the council:
– After a lengthy discussion, approved a proposed street vacation of an unopened alley located south of Fir Street in downtown Edmonds. There was a question raised about whether the applicant requesting the street vacation should have to pay the city a fee, based on one-half of the property’s assessed value. Councilmember Will Chen made a motion to waive the $17,500 fee but his motion failed on a 1-5 vote.
– Approved a number of amendments to the September 2022 budget. Among them was allocating $30,000 to convert two offices on the southeast corner of Edmonds City Hall to make it available for the public to watch city meeetings when they are held over Zoom only — access that is required by law. Those meetings had been held at the Edmonds Waterfront Center but the room there is no longer available.
– After a brief staff presentation, awarded a construction contract for the Seaview Park Infiltration Facility Phase 2 project to WSB Excavation & Utilities, LCC, which was the low bidder at $374,000. The project will expand capacity of an existing infiltration facility at Seaview Park.
– Discussed a proposal to extend the city’s current contract with Lighthouse Law Group — which expires Dec. 31, 2022 — for one year to allow additional time to review the firm’s work and whether it continues to be the best choice for the city. Lighthouse is putting together a one-year contract extension for the council’s consideration, and on Tuesday night the council authorized up to $1,000 to hire another law firm to independently review the contract proposal.
– Heard an update from Parks and Recreation Director Angie Feser on the city’s efforts to acquire parkland. Feser said the city is continuing to look at a range of options for park space across the city, including the possiblity of transferring the ownership of South County Park — located in Edmonds — from Snohomish County to the city. While the county wouldn’t charge for the transfer, the city would have to absorb costs associated with parks maintenance and security.
– An agenda item outlining a work plan for rewriting the city’s development code was postponed due to lack of time.
— By Teresa Wippel