As Porchfest entertainers take to streets, city releases draft vision for Edmonds’ future

Part of the exercise during the visioning statement announcement included the opportunity for attendees to react to various aspects that will drive the plan by placing emoji stickers indicating their opinions.

The first Edmonds Porchfest kicked off under sunny Saturday afternoon skies, attracting hundreds of people to downtown Edmonds to enjoy the free, walkable event featuring more than 20 music and dance acts at various locations. Mother Nature was right in step, getting into the spirit by turning off the wind and rain from earlier in the day, parting the clouds and bathing the streets in a warm autumn glow.

Mosquito Fleet offered classic Bluegrass tunes.
With power still out for many businesses from the overnight windstorms, some got creative and served selections to passersby on the streets. Leftcraft served their non-alcoholic whiskey sours.

While entertainment and the chance to enjoy city streets in a new way was the main draw, the event had a larger purpose — the official unveiling of a city vision describing how residents want to see the community take shape and grow over the next 20 years.

The City of Edmonds Vision Statement:

Edmonds is a welcoming city offering outstanding quality of life for all. We value environmental stewardship, vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, safe and healthy streets, and a thriving arts scene. We are engaged residents who take pride in shaping our resilient future.

Attendees gather outside the Red Barn prior to the event kickoff.

The vision is the outcome of months of work by city staff and residents as part of the Reimagining Neighborhoods and Streets: Creating Community Spaces Together effort. Staff spent the summer talking to residents about what is important (and not important) to them. It included walks, talks, table chats, surveys and even staff armed with microphones and video camera doing impromptu person-on-the-street interviews. The goal was to collect comments, opinions and wish lists from a wide cross section of Edmonds citizens that will shape Edmonds’ 2024 Comprehensive Plan update. (Mandated by the Washington State Growth Management Act, Edmonds’ Comprehensive Plan update is scheduled to be complete at the end of 2024.)

Edmonds Planning and Development Director Susan McLaughlin models the official Porchfest T-shirt.

“Our goal was to collect 3,500 comments,” said Edmonds Planning and Development Director Susan McLaughlin. “But by the end of this summer’s visioning effort we were overjoyed to have amassed 8,500. The comments were then reviewed and formed the basis of a revamped vision for our city that crystalizes our shared values — all originating from things our citizens told us. All good plans start with a vision, and this one now gives us a basis to form a plan to bring these to reality.”

Kicking off with a gala opening in downtown Edmonds’ Red Barn on 5th Avenue, the event began with comments by Mayor Mike Nelson and McLaughlin, and included a 30-foot-long graphic upon which citizens were encouraged to vote thumbs up, down, happy or sad on a wide array of ideas and goals that could be part of the effort to “reimagine Edmonds” over the next 20 years.

Mayor Mike Nelson welcomed the group, stressing that city streets are not just for transportation, but for people to gather.

“Today’s event is part of a community-led partnership,” Nelson remarked. “One key objective of this is to raise awareness of how residents can use their streets and public spaces in ways that promote community togetherness and support economic development at the neighborhood level. Our streets are not just for transportation — they are a place for people to gather — and I truly believe that more of us want to be together than be apart.”

According to McLaughlin, next steps will focus on the technical aspects of the Comprehensive Plan, aimed at translating the wealth of community-driven ideas and comments into action.

“We’ll dedicate the winter to this activity, and then come back to the public to share it,” she concluded.

John Pinetree and the Yelling Degenerates perform on the Red Barn main stage.

As soon as the speakers were finished, the music began with some toe-tapping roadhouse rock by John Pinetree and the Yelling Degenerates. The group took the Red Barn stage by storm, setting the mood for attendees to hit the streets and enjoy the more than 20 acts performing on porches, private yards and street corners throughout downtown.

Those who want to provide feedback on Porchfest can fill out the survey here.

Some entertainers performed in a group and others solo.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Thank you so much for posting the Bongo Player. Seeing him was a breath of fresh air. We need diversity. I need diversity it enriches me, plus I really like the rhythms of Black music, Jamaican music played by Jamaicans. the Hawaiian sway, The Latin hip movement music. BUt maybe these folks don’t have porches to play on. Given the power outages I think a graceful recovery was made and the event was successful in many ways. Just keep tuning it.

  2. Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington (MRSC) advises:

    Washington cases have observed that the primary purpose of a right-of-way is public travel. However, municipalities may authorize other incidental uses of rights-of-way, including private uses, which do not unreasonably interfere with public travel.

    A municipality has a duty to exercise ordinary care in the construction, repair, and maintenance of its public streets to keep them in a reasonably safe condition for ordinary travel. Keller v. City of Spokane. In addition to motor vehicles, this duty extends to bicycles and pedestrians.

    The 2011 Edmonds City Council voted unanimously to adopt Ordinance 3824 requiring “Complete Streets”.

    The term “Complete Streets” describes a comprehensive, integrated transportation network with infrastructure and design that allows safe and convenient travel for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicle drivers, public transportation riders and drivers, and people of all ages and abilities, including children, youth, families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities.

    Does anybody know how Washington State case law and laws adopted by Edmonds City Council support the Mayor’s representation that city streets are not just for transportation, but for people to gather?

      1. Thanks to Glenn Douglas for pointing out I referenced Ordinance 3824 when I should have referenced Ordinance 3842. The article linked to below discusses the adoption of our Complete Streets laws:

        I wonder how using streets as “gathering places” integrates with our Complete Streets laws and Washington State Case law that observes the primary purpose of a right-of-way is public travel.

  3. Livens up Edmonds!! Loved the outdoor music.

    Pls consider including the key word, ‘music’ to name of event….Porch Music Fest. Many friends skipped the event because Porch Fest meant nothing and they would have come had they known music was the focus. Bravo City of Edmonds and all the volunteers and planners !

  4. Why was this done in conjunction with a survey? It obviously skews toward those who favor these sorts of City sponsored events and attended the event. Not at all representative of all the neighborhoods in Edmonds. Streets are to be used for and dedicated to transportation. That is why every car registered in Edmonds pays $20 a year to maintain them (even though no vote was/ is required to impose it. Everyone who shows up at a party is going to enjoy it and think it a good thing. Aside from folks who live in the bowl, most attendees drove to the event. Just saying.

  5. This is all part of the push by our current mayor, staff and their entertainment oriented FAVORED constituency to push toward turning the downtown area into an over populated pedestrian walking mall. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to live in the Edmonds that was really just a great little town by the bay, rather than the around the clock amusement park which it has become and will continue to be. This is what happens when you have a city government model with a strong powerful executive, subservient staff, and a very weak council with the very minimal amount of public input to make it all somehow look legitimate. You are all welcome to enjoy your circus, but you can count me out on most of it. It’s just not that special here anymore, but most of you don’t have much experience to compare it to, so I forgive you and wish you well in managing this mess you are creating.

  6. The Mayor is in his last year of service to Edmonds. Expect ridiculous to happen this year as he campaigns. It is disturbing to me that an intern for the City Planning Department is behind PorchFest. Pay attention Edmonds. This Mayor is desperate to change the City Parcel Ordinance before his term ends. Do you want commercial mixed use on your residential street if not it’s time to stand up and picket porch fest.

    1. What harm did it do? People of 4th welcomed it. It brought so many people to Town.
      Its difficult to understand such negativity towards something so positive

    2. Denise, you’re misinformed. There are no city interns “behind” Porchfest. In fact, I brought the idea to our community meeting after experiencing a Porchfest in Wellfleet Massachusetts this summer. Porchfests are throughout the US and Canada are incredible opportunities to community to gather and experience the joy of live music. We have amazing musicians in this town, of all ages, and I’m so thankful to the city of Edmonds to provide us (the citizens) an opportunity to plan such an event. The feedback from those who attended and volunteered their time, talent, and “porches” has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re very excited and motivated to plan our next Porchfest in 2023!

    3. Picket Porchfest? Do you understand how utterly ridiculous this sounds?

      Why does this need to be a political jab? It’s a community event for FUN.

      Clearly taking notes from the Tiffany Smiley doodle pad with all this nonsense ‘Watch out! They’re out to getcha, Edmonds.’ rhetoric. Lots of toxicity here. Wow.

  7. Porch Fest was an incredible event and my family had such a great time shopping and eating downtown while we enjoyed the music and community! We hope more events like this one happen in the future! I love what happens when spaces are transformed into true community gathering spots where people can enjoy running into friends and meeting new people. I would visit downtown much more often if it was more pedestrian/bike/family friendly with spaces to sit outside eating and be a part of the community. Bravo to all involved in planning this wonderful event!

  8. What a wonderful vision statement! I wasn’t able to attend Porch fest but I hope it comes back. Great concept.

  9. Another great community event in Edmonds! People out enjoying the music and having fun on a fall day, what’s to complain about??? I grew up in Edmonds and we called it Deadmonds because there were so few restaurants and certainly not the year round events that there are today. I may not attend all of them but I encourage more of them because although one might not be my cup of tea, why should I deny someone else their cup? Well done to the organizers and performers!

  10. This is awesome! So bummed I missed it. Hopefully it will become a part of the fabric of Edmonds like the art festival, day of the dead, Lunar New Year, and taste of Edmonds. Gotta love all the political curmudgeons convinced this is a conspiracy to get the mayor re-elected. Can you imagine what they would say about the Art Festival if this was its inaugural year? Slow down, enjoy your neighborhood, and listen to some music… or move to Marysville where you won’t be forced to enjoy any of these nice things.

  11. Porchfest was delightful! (Although I love the idea of adding “music” to the name to draw more folks.)

    I’ll admit to being somewhat confused and saddened by some of these comments. Edmonds is (not was) a great little town by the Sound. I find it extraordinarily special and feel so lucky to live here.

    I understand if some residents liked that Edmonds was very sleepy in the past. But 1) as the region grows, every part will become busier–I don’t know how you stop that without dying, and 2) I LOVE that there are events like Porchfest that I don’t need to commute to and that have a very local feel to them; I love that kids have interesting things to see and do without traveling far and that they can be safe wandering around on their own; I love that we run into neighbors and friends and family when we are out and about at these events on the weekends.

    And there are still more days than not where Downtown feels sleepy when I walk through. I love the charm of sleepy days, too. It’s the best of both worlds!

  12. Great event all-around to engage the community. As a community member, I look forward to more of these.

    Reimagining streets and neighborhoods is an exercise that the majority of established cities do, especially those that are 100% urbanized, like Edmonds and is an important part of the Comprehensive Planning visioning process. Thinking outside of the box to discover new ways to develop placemaking and engage the community with existing urban framework is not a bad thing. Streets and neighborhoods can become cultural destinations and experiences for people to connect, they don’t always have to be vehicle-centric. If we are always building our landscape around places to go, then we lose places to be.

    Louis Kahn once said, “In a city the streets must be supreme. It is the first institution of the city. The street is a room by agreement, a community room, the walls of which belong to the donors, dedicated to the city for common use. Its ceiling is the sky. Today, streets are disinterested movements not at all belonging to the houses that front them. So you have no streets. You have roads, but you have no streets.”

  13. Let’s shut down Hwy 99 as a vision statement so it’s pedestrian, bike and family friendly. “Our streets are not just for transportation”.

  14. Edmonds just doesn’t have enough meeting places, art exhibits and festivals and everyone knows we need way more population to keep the town viable for the next 20 years. Man, how I miss good ‘ol Deadmonds.

    Guess I’ll walk downtown and watch ’em lay more bricks and make street barriers permanent. Let’s just get rid of all that pesky parking and useless thourofares that get in everyone’s way for having a good time.

    1. Yes, Brian’s got the right idea. Let’s shut down Hwy 99, 5 Corners, Perrinvlle Strip Mall, and Wesrgate too. An around the clock never ending art and music carnival everywhere in Edmonds is the total answer to all our dreams. I wear and own the name of “Political Curmudgeon” proudly. I’ll take that anyday over, “Mindless, Everything should be a party Twit.” Thanks for the compliment Geoff.

  15. More of this please! What a joyful and life filled town we live in! Thank you Edmonds! I don’t understand all of these cranky people complaining. Do they not have anything better to do? Enjoy life people and participate in the celebration of our community.

  16. It would be nice to have activities such as this without motives. This is smoke and mirrors in action. Reimagine your neighborhoods the way the government wants. The surveys were ignored, that let the city know citizens were against new zoning.

    1. But it’s really not smoke and mirrors. The process was extremely transparent and the public was invited to plan an event that would benefit their neighborhood and community. We ran through a ton of ideas. The city did not plan Porchfest, the public did. We would have loved your involvement and made a call out for volunteers. Perhaps next year?

  17. I participated in many initial planning sessions for this event and was completely impressed by the mix of residents and business owners who came together to brainstorm ideas. This was community-driven and I’m so thankful to the many volunteers and the support of the city to make this happen in a very short time! Everyone I saw and talked to was having a great time, can’t wait for the next one—bravo!

  18. How much fun is Edmonds?? This event was wonderful, even though there were some hiccups, like storms and power outages. How wonderful to see so many happy friends and neighbors out on a lovely evening enjoying LIVE music. Thank you to the city for capturing and creating a VISUAL representation of the feedback during your outreach and planning meetings. Kudos to all the departments that came together to make this happen, the lovely people who were porch hosting, and the wonderful musicians/performances. Thank you for listening to the surveys and feedback. Looking forward to more events! Bravo.

  19. I can’t believe all the negativity in the comments section on this article. The same old dribble. Please give it a
    Rest. A few streets were closed for a few hours for neighbors to meet each other and have a good time while enjoying music. I’m seriously shaking my head with the level of mistrust and misguided comments. Gosh maybe we should cancel the summer market so people can park and issue citations to those who walk down main street during the polar bear plunge. Just to be clear, that’s sarcasm. I fear other comments aren’t a joke.

    Please bring back Porchfest again. I had a hoot.

  20. Porchfest Edmonds was organized by a group of dedicated volunteers, small business owners and residents, who put their whole hearts (and a ton of hard work) into creating a day of free family fun and celebration for our town. It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, to see the usual suspects here trashing our small business community and neighbors once again. If you really want to live in the town from Footloose, where no music, dancing, or fun is allowed, feel free to set off for browner pastures to find it.
    While you sit at home and complain, the rest of us are out here building community, as was evidenced by the hundreds and hundreds of our neighbors, from infants to seniors, who all enjoyed a beautiful fall day together despite the power outages.

    1. Did the City fund the event? How much did the City contribute? Or was this fully funded by the small business owners and residents?

  21. Bummed that I couldn’t attend Porchfest and wondering how/where one might be able to access the visioning statement/feedback graphic that was unveiled at the event?
    I checked the City website but was unsuccessful.

    1. Beth, I asked about that too and from what I understood, they are trying to find a place to display it for further public view ASAP. It was really cool to see community members at Porchfest interacting with it (they had emoji stickers that people could stick on it to voice their opinions on the content.) I’m honestly just really excited to hear that over 8,500 people responded to the survey. The poster is a beautiful reflection of all of those ideas. Hooray for community engagement!

      1. I think it was 8,500 comments received rather than responses from 8,500 separate individuals? At least that’s what I remember from Director McLaughlin’s explanation at a past city council meeting. — Teresa

        1. You are correct, Teresa. Planning staff briefed City Council on Oct. 25th, and they verified the 8,500 comments came from a substantially smaller number of individuals. Based on the data shown, probably less than a thousand people responded to one or more of the surveys circulated by staff.

          While the survey results are interesting and useful, they represent the views only of those who chose to respond. It’s not a “scientific survey” that can be extrapolated to the whole of Edmonds.

          Planning Board will be discussing the Draft Vision Statement at this week’s meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 9th, at 7:00 PM in person in City Council chambers. There will be a Public Comment period early in the meeting.

          -Roger Pence-
          Chair, Edmonds Planning Board

  22. Easy folks. As the old “Political Curmudgeon” in the room, let’s be clear. I have absolutely nothing against free music, a street party now and then, definitely a few beers with the boys at a local watering hole almost every Fri. afternoon, and our well known local and established festivals. In fact, I always invite visitors to park all around our corner lot during these events at the near by FAC and Civic Field Park. What I’m opposed to, is our mayor and his loyal band of Merry men and women using events like this to stroke us toward making things like closed streets downtown, streateries, and wondering minstrels and clowns roaming the town round the clock, a permanent thing. Too much of a good thing is rarely a good thing.

    1. Clint, I understand you have critiques of the mayor and the city but your comments are bordering on conspiracy theory at this point. More over, we all read your previous comments. You can’t “well actually” after a bunch of ppl, many of whom did the work to make this event happen, push backed against the narrative you and others presented up thread.

    2. Not against the event or more like it. Not a fan of the poster targeting the like minded to drive policy shame on whoever did that and it should be disallowed. Nor would I be in favor of permanent closure of streets. I too think the mayor has a agenda and is working to implement as much as he can regardless of support for it.

  23. Mary, I think there is a difference between a conspiracy theory and an actual conspiracy. The Mayor and his staff have taken on the task (for whatever reason) of “visioning” for us what the next 20 years should look like in Edmonds. One of their tactics to accomplish this is to identify “community champions ” and pay them for their opinions, if necessary. So far they haven’t defined “community “champion. ” You think this is good government. I don’t. Difference of opinion.

  24. My family had so much fun at this event. We lost power for the entire weekend and it was so nice to get out of the house. I walked around with friends, so did my 15 year old and my 11 year old. Loved that this was appropriate for all ages and gave my kids a healthy outlet with friends.

  25. To my comment above I’ll add that the Mayor and his current Planning and Development Director (in official public statements and city council meetings) have referred to some of us as ” the over represented,” and others as “the under represented.” Just who are they to label us like we are their subjects? Some of us will even get paid for our thoughts because we are so pitiful and under rated. Is this really the city government you want?

    I want our citizen volunteer planning board and elected Council Persons to determine our future as opposed to a powerful executive and his paid to perform staff. Mayors and Staffs are supposed to run the town efficiently in the best interests of all, not be visionaries for the future and manipulators of our elected representatives. In my view we have an outmoded, illogical governmental system, but let’s at least try to make it work how it’s theoretically supposed to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.