Reader view: Time to weigh in on Pine Park project

I’m writing to call your attention to an upcoming Edmonds Hearing Examiner meeting regarding a proposed new development on the south end of the Edmonds Bowl. The Pine Park project, located on the site of the old Baskin Robbins and just north of Barkada, has been in the works for a couple of years.

The developers have submitted plans for a 14-unit “townhouse” complex, the first of its kind in the Bowl. As such, it is precedent setting and future developers will be watching to see how it goes.

The Pine Park project narrowly passed the Architectural Design Review Board a couple of years ago by a 3-2 margin. Many of the concerns raised by those of us who attended the hearings (via Zoom) were left unaddressed. These included:

1. Traffic and congestion concerns. The access to the new project (which includes eight townhouses facing west and six “live/work” units fronting 5th Avenue) would be from the narrow alley on the north side of Barkada. The “live/work” units are designed for small businesses as well as being private residences. The alley currently provides access to several condominiums and apartment buildings, and is used daily by delivery trucks and for trash/recycling pickup. It is a narrow, one-lane thoroughfare. The inevitable congestion, as people attempt to turn in from 5th Avenue, promises to slow traffic up and down Fifth.

2. Trash and recycling location and pickup. The developers have requested that the city grant them the right to subdivide the property into 14 discrete lots. The plans leave no room for a trash collection site (up to 20 garbage cans plus recycling bins). It is difficult to imagine which new homeowner will consent to having part of their narrow lot used for a trash can location.

These are just a couple of the concerns that have arisen as this project has unfolded. There is a meeting with an opportunity for public comment scheduled for next Thursday, July 27 at 3 p.m. at Edmonds City Hall, 121 5th Ave. N., Third Floor, Brackett Room. You may also join by Zoom here.

Edmonds is growing and housing density is an inevitability. It must, however, be done thoughtfully. This project is precedent setting and will likely be a model or justification for future, similar projects. it’s important that we get this one right.

— By Ed Lorah

Ed Lorah lives in Edmonds.

  1. Wow!!! That’s a really tight spot for so many homes and offices.
    I thought this area was going to be a bank.

  2. We could use more parking… about”Pine Street Parking”….a free parking lot with street trees (so it dosen’t look to ugly)…there are other places to build townhouses I would imagine.

    If the parking availability continues to be almost impossible….people will go elsewhere?

    Just opining..

  3. Once again, a project that I had heard nothing about even though I read MEN every day. I have wondered why nothing had occupied that building since it was vacated.
    We can see the trend of turning our quaint small town of Edmonds into another Kirkland. We have enjoyed our years living here but we will not be here much longer. It really saddens me to watch this town crumble. It was such nice quiet, neighborly town to live in. RIP Edmonds.
    BTW, density may be a fact of life around here but it does not need to happen in the city proper.

    1. Here is the MEN article about it from two years ago. Very few members of the public attended the public design review hearings at that time and the design was approved. It was originally slated to be short-platted into two lots but that plan was shelved, so now the developer wants to subdivide into 14 “fee simple” lots. This project was brought up during a City Council meeting sometime in the summer of 2021 and there were a lot of concerns from both Council members & the public about the potential traffic, parking issues, placement of garbage/recycling bins in the alley (since they are not allowed on 5th Ave S.), and lack of green space. But the design was already approved with none of those issues having been resolved. Just some background info. My hope is that more voices than the immediate neighbors to this project will weigh in next week!

  4. NO. Not only have I never heard about this ridiculous plan, but it is a horrible idea. Please, Edmonds, do not let this happen. The resulting chaos with traffic and trash problems should be enough to stop it.

  5. I hope many show up for the meeting either in person or via zoom.
    I see no parking for these lots. If businesses are added, where will they all park?
    There is very little parking around that area. Once the coffee,/wine bar and the remodeled old Harrys restaurant open up, then there will even be less parking available.
    This is not an appropriate building plan for this area .
    I think downtown Edmonds will suffer by allowing this project to go forward.

  6. This is exactly the area that I proposed for a city parking garage. We must reduce the carbon in downtown Edmonds; not only is the traffic terrible and dangerous for pedestrians, but those cars disgorge tons of carbon just when we must be reducing the carbon in our city to address the climate crisis. The garage would have two levels, or however many would not block the view of the neighbors to the east. Perhaps even a basement level (not sure about the water level). Like Ft Collins, CO, it would be funded partly by the city and party by community angels. Parking would be 50 cents an hour, all fees collected by machine, with perhaps one or two walk arounds by an officer each day and at night after a certain hour, it would be locked. Most people could walk to town from there -2-3 blocks. We would establish a shuttle for individuals with handicaps. I am not a professional planner, builder, or architect, and I only know what I have experienced in Ft. Collins, but it seems a beginning solution to two problems in Edmonds- Parking and Carbon.

  7. Why isn’t the park and ride at the train station area used more thoughtfully? If a parking garage is built, build it there. Or put parking meters there for use only on the weekends so everyone can park there. It is always congested near the beach in the summer. Also a place to run a shuttle. That lot is mostly empty and so restricted as is the parking around the Cascadia Museum. I do not understand why we cannot park there when we come into town for a short visit.

    1. Ruth –
      That’s a question for Sound Transit, Amtrak and possibly BNSF. It’s primarily for commuters on weekdays, but I don’t see why it can’t be added to the list of after hours parking lots? That way, it would be made available to everyone on weekends.

  8. Please attend the meeting and ask for dramatic changes or a full re-visioning of this project. 1. These are highly likely to be inventor-owned rentals with no HOA oversight causing variable issues, including roof-top open air living 2. Parking is too limited for such high density housing and businesses, which may require over 20 vehicles for employees a residence using only 8 spots, even before consumer use at businesses. 3. Ally access to 5th Ave is partially blind causing more risk with volume increases – a traffic study must be required. 4. As many as 40 trash cans for recycling and waste could be required as full capacity in an area that is already congested. 5. First-responder access may be constrained as street and driveway parking are expanded significantly. 6. Environmental and drainage impacts should be more closely considered. Thank you.

  9. This discussion about one parcel is a foreshadowing of the discussion coming this year and early 2024 about increasing density City-wide as Edmonds complies with the housing related laws passed by the state legislature in 2021 and 2022. It would be helpful if city staff creates a web page that summarizes the new housing related laws in one place so that we can learn what has changed, and are equipped with the knowledge of what’s allowed when we participate in the public debate (e.g. new condo regulations, new lot subdivision regulations, etc.)

  10. It’s obvious from what we have seen allowed to be built recently and what is on the books to be built, that the current administration’s vision of downtown is to be a basically car free area with lots of supposedly “affordable” small living units crammed into small spaces. Heaven help us if the height limit codes get revised upward along with this state mandated up-zoning; we now have no choice but to incorporate into the mix. I LOVE to sound like a broken record but the next mayor will be in charge of a mess. A big expensive mess. This mess goes back before the current mayor and council as most of the previous ones never met a developer they didn’t like or support and the chickens are coming home to roost.

  11. I did think it was interesting that some of the two bedroom units only had a master bathroom but no bathroom for the other bedroom. Guess they have to go downstairs to go. Also the sidewalk side to the units on 5th look more that store fronts and not front doors to a home.

  12. This project in Business District 3 was denied unit lot subdivision by the City Council in August 2021. Now the developer is back trying to get a formal subdivision. There was considerable public outcry about lack of open and/or green space, increased congestion in the alley and on 5th Ave, concern about emergency access with the narrow alley, and the looks and hazard on 5th Ave on garbage day when 40 garbage and recycle cans will line the sidewalk. The entire lot will be mostly covered by buildings or asphalt.

    This project is clearly an end around of requirements for the BD3 Zone — business on the ground floor first 45 feet. If a subdivision is allowed only 30 feet of business is required on the ground floor — in Pine Park’s case, work-live townhomes yielding very small commercial spaces on 5th Ave. Will the first floor even be used for businesses or be blended into the units as 100% residential? Do we really want to pack the downtown core with townhomes?! Beware, if subdivision is allowed on this site a dangerous precedent will be established. Please attend the hearing and let your voice be heard!

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