Letter to the editor: Who’s underserved?


I am sure that I am not the only one wondering about this constant claim that folks living outside downtown and the Bowl are underserved. A quick look at a map and you can see that this is hardly the case.

Besides the many services in the area, a great deal of money has been spent here including the new Welcome to Edmonds sign, the beautified Highway 99 median, the city office/police station next to Safeway (which is never open), Ballinger Park improvements, etc.

Let’s break down the services as there are plenty up near the Hwy 99 corridor:

Medical facilities such as Swedish and the multitude of doctors surrounding that campus is quite a service. Those living in the western side have to travel here for most of their medical needs.

As for parks and entertainment, there is Lynndale, Ballinger and Esperance Parks to name a few plus the municipal golf course.

For schools there is Edmonds-Woodway High School which is not central to downtown and Edmonds College as well. K-12 grade schools scattered around for younger kids.

It is a boon for shopping with all kinds of stores along Highway 99 including the TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory and Costco/Home Depot centers, which is technically in Shoreline but a great convenience. There is shopping at 5 Corners. Safeway, WinCo, QFC, Country Farms and many more.

There are more restaurants than I can count, churches, hotels, coffee shops, dealerships and auto parts.

What’s underserved about the area?

Gary Neuman

  1. Good afternoon Gary. How far is it for you to safely walk to a park? How many parks are within walking distance of your home? Do you have to cross six lanes of traffic after walking several blocks to a crosswalk to get to your favorite restaurant or to a grocery store? Is there green space or nature within walking distance of your home? Would you feel safe letting kids walk from your home to the nearest park or corner store? Do you have safe places to walk in your neighborhood?

    Do you truly not understand the definition of underserved communities, or are you being glib?

    1. Hopefully Heather no one forced you to move to a location you seem to dislike. Why do you live there if you’re not happy. There are many services, schools and parks around town including the east side as I listed on my letter to the editor.

      1. I was asking you all these questions to maybe help you understand the definition of underserved neighborhood because you seemed confused.
        I live in an area that has an abundance of parks (I can safely walk to at least 5 in 10 minutes or less) and I recognize I’m fortunate and want that for others. It’s interesting that you thought that since I asked all those questions that I experienced those things – I actually do not – just exercising empathy, being observant and listening to people who do. All our residents should have access to at least one park or green space within a short, walking distance. It’s possible and it isn’t pitting neighbors against neighbors.

      2. To add to my previous comment – what if I was talking about my lived experience? Would you really be so dismissive of me and my needs and wants as a fellow taxpayer and resident of Edmonds?

  2. I live halfway between the downtown Bowl and the Highway 99 locations. Each has its advantages, and there’s things I really like about each one. Luckily I’m just minutes away from either one’s amenities. Generally I think it’s not helpful to act with a victim’s mentality, With the upcoming election I would hope to have leadership that would unite us, instead of dividing us pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.

  3. Yes the basis for the editorial is pretty divisive. Gary, just spend a little time on foot in the neighborhoods east of Hwy 99 and you might feel differently.

    1. Under-served means no or few services. That is not the case per my list. You are talking about a different issue but using the under-served buzzword. If where you live doesn’t meet your needs then find one that does.

  4. I live along Highway 99 since 1984 and fairly close to the only city owned park Mathey Ballinger, next closest park to Mathey Ballinger owned by Edmonds is 3 miles away from here Hickman Park Mathey Ballinger has two parking spaces and one disability parking. Hummmmm equal services?
    I think not! Running across seven lanes of traffic to get from one side of the road to the other, does this happen in the bowl? I think not!
    The ability to shop at chain stores, oh, that’s a great thing! Providing a tax base to Shoreline, even better.
    Having the highest crime rate in all of Edmonds, along Highway 99 is just fantastic to all of us that must live up here.
    Having the highest homeless population in the city of Edmonds, along Highway 99, just precious.
    Along the highway 99 corridor is the highest sales tax base in all of Edmonds and where does our sales tax go? To the bowl!
    I’m so pleased that the commenter thinks it’s so great to live up here and how equal it is to the bowl! I know my neighbors agree!

  5. I live near the convenient shopping locations, medical facilities and highway 99. My concerns relate to a disproportionate homeless presence, crime, pedestrian safety (minimal to no curbs, crosswalks or sidewalks), consistently speeding vehicles, lack of enforcement, no walkable parks. Our neighborhood group has attended many city council meetings and some of these things are now in the budget, but few before 2027 or later. It takes a long time to catch up from previous administrations lack of attention to our infrastructure. Fortunately, the current city council includes members who live in SE Edmonds and are actively working to improve our situation.

  6. Does your map have sidewalks on it, by chance? Don’t forget, there is also a difference between quantity and quality. Some amenities for areas outside of the bowl, like parks/playgrounds, had not received updates in a while. I am grateful that the city staff and council are listening to residents about the imbalance in services they receive across our footprint and making sure ALL Edmonds residents benefit from the city’s investments equitably.

  7. I think recognizing the whole of Edmonds is not necessarily putting neighborhoods against each other. It is healthy for our community to acknowledge all of our neighborhoods- Five Corners, Firdale, Perrinville, Highway 99. We need to work to ensure there are parks, safe walking and services in all of these areas. Much if our future growth can occur in neighborhoods outside of downtown Edmonds.

  8. The Highway 99 project is one of the largest capital expenditures ever made by the City of Edmonds. The Car Dealerships that we love to build there bring in an overwhelming amount of tax revenue to our City. We have a major hospital that owns a significant portion of land along Highway 99, a State Highway, two major thoroughfares, and a neighborhood trapped between a family owned property that is poorly maintained and major highways/thoroughfares. The SE Edmonds community is fully developed – and much like the current park expansion, is going to take bulldozing houses to add park space. What is challenging is that SE Edmonds sits next to one of, if not the, largest regional park in the area. That is an amenity that should not be overlooked or ignored.

    I believe the majority of the growth is going to occur outside of the Bowl. It is going to occur in Five Corners, Perrinville, Westgate, Lake Ballinger, and Highway 99.

    I am 1.1 miles away from a bus stop, 1.2 miles away from a Grocery Store, have two major intersections without crosswalks, and also deal with crime – and I am not on Highway 99. Does that mean I am underserved or do I need to live in SE Edmonds to qualify? Do I need to petition government to move my favorite eatery?

  9. This will be my last comment. Pointing out the obvious is not divisive but that’s just another buzzword. If sidewalks were important to you when you decided where to live then a place with them would have been a better choice. If a 6 lane highway was not what you desired then someplace else world have been more appropriate for you. Same for parks, shopping, etc. Don’t expect the rest of the town to pay for your choices and improve your property value.

  10. First world problems. Whether you are going to rent or buy you make choices. If you want transit then you pick a place that has good service, if you want to walk to everything you choose a place that has it all within walking distance. If you want lots of different parks to visit you pick a place that has lots. If you want a view you find a place that has one. Very few places have everything you want right outside your front door and most people have to make compromises. This area was built up decades ago it is close to a lake close to the Puget sound close to a hospital close to grocery stores, close to restaurants and retail. I am not against expanding this park but there is a fantastic park less than a half mile from this one ballinger and another really nice one a mile away esperance. Few people in the world have it any better than those in our underserved areas. My advice if these areas aren’t good enough find a place that is more suiting cause no matter how much money the city invests it still won’t be a perfect utopia and somebody somewhere will still have it better. I don’t have a view should the city cut the trees so I do?

  11. Much of the bowl has been a part of Edmonds for 133 years. Areas around Hwy 99 have been incorporated into Edmonds for a fraction of those years. For that reason alone it’s possible that they may have less than what exists in the bowl. But they also pay less for their accommodations. Equivalent homes cost less and rents are lower.

  12. Underserved means junk vehicles with expired tabs parked in the public right of way and not being ticketed or towed.

    Underserved means 238th St SW being shown for new sidewalks on the 2015 Pedestrian master plan with zero new sidewalk progress east of Hwy 99.

    Underserved means piles of potentially hazardous garbage in parks and trails and streets that don’t get cleaned up until repeated complaints are made.

    Underserved means shopping carts scattered around the neighborhood.

    Underserved means drug dealer houses being ignored until a lone citizen stands up and forces the city to do something about it.

    Homeowners outside the Bowl pay the same property tax RATE as those inside the bowl and are therefore entitled to the same services, period. Lake Ballinger neighborhood has been part of Edmonds since 1961, the time for stalling and excuses is over.

    1. Yes to all of this! Let me add that underserved also means: oh that problem you’ve had for years? Actually, that’s not our problem because of [insert excuse]. That’s if you can get an answer from anyone even acknowledging you exist. Your other option is to walk or drive around waiting to snap pictures of said problems to try to solve them through the FindItFixIt app. I basically walk with my phone out along the Interurban now or when approaching 238th and 99. Looking forward to voting for Mike Rosen who’s spent hours learning about these problems and spending time in our neighborhood. Something has to change.

    2. I can hear that this area has issues that have been in this area since it became Edmonds, likely much longer than that, so I can agree the area isn’t perfect, but it is no DC, Baltimore, Chicago or Los Angeles even Seattle yet. I see things going the wrong direction and I put half the blame on criminal justice reform that has the bad guys walking the streets. Oh and don’t make jail a comfortable place to be the best deterrent is the idea the place you go is far worse than being a good citizen.

  13. The comments here by Heather and Adrienne, Andrew, Chris, Glenn and John are absolutely true. I appreciate Heathers very kind words as she admitted she lives (I assume in the Bowl and in an area that does have all of the major amenities Good on ya Heather. GARY, WOW has really confirmed how unfair things are here but he seems to think up here we have it all. Now I am sorry Gary but this community as well as the 99 area is underserved. 5 Corners has very little retail for shopping, box stores and discount stores don’t count (on 99)! A hospital doesn’t count either. Ok we have Winco. what I read, shocked me…I am disappointed to see how little you care it seems about these taxpayers. I know the $ to acquire this little slice they want is minimal. Let them have it. Now I don’t want Landmark as it is very $$$$ but this is barely as much as 1 salary to purchase that land and retain some trees and give them a bit there that is Edmonds. At one time not long ago, there was a bit more retail in 5 c’s but its gone. BARC? Nice but not retail, A coffee shop. one restaurant? A couple spots. No Gary this is an underserved area in every way. 99 too.

    1. I agree that their comments are true – but this is a common theme throughout Edmonds – not just SE Edmonds. The Bowl has gotten a lot of attention in the past decades – a new park, a new waterpark, etc etc – but has also gotten quite a bit of funding to keep the Mayberry like arts district vibe alive and well.

      In Seaview – we deal with the same issues – missed trash pickups, drug houses that are well known, speeding/crime down Olympic View, no crosswalks, parks that have needles or trash – so it is not unique to SE Edmonds – but SE Edmonds is also a unique part of Edmonds! It is the highest traffic area that borders the highest crime rates for all of the cities along 99 – and requires a unique approach. The random break in or bike theft or property crime in Seaview is probably more frequent in SE Edmonds.

      I also agree (and agreed when Laura Johnson gave a 20 minute soliloquy on the downtrodden) that Mathay Park should have the same amenities of other parks in Edmonds.

      I think you’ll find that Mike Rosen agrees that all of Edmonds should be included in decisions – not pit against one another by creating an us and them. Again, I have issues in Seaview – underserved?

      1. George, we are not underserved in Seaview. We’re missing a few sidewalks, but it’s going to take more than four years to fix decades of neglect of the infrastructure of areas other than the Bowl and Talbot. Seaview has three Edmonds city parks, one Lynnwood city park, one county park and tons of trees all within walking distance. I do wish there were more sidewalks, but my kids could still safely walk to their excellent neighborhood school. Trash pickups aren’t a city issue, so I guess take that up with Republic Services? The only people pitting people against each other are the haves who already have theirs and don’t want the have nots to also have a piece of the pie. Rosen is not the solution to this problem. He’s made it very clear he’s not about spending money in the southern portion of Edmonds, making snide remarks about the Landmark property during the candidate conversations. It’s pretty sad someone who would drop 8k+ of donor funds on a fancy kickoff party for his buddies at the yacht club would balk at spending to improve the lives of regular folks outside the Bowl.

        1. I did not know there was one arbiter of the underserved. I am glad that I have been informed that I am not underserved. This is my point. Using a word like “underserved” is a dog whistle and disingenuous. I believe that the taxes I pay justify no needles in parks, sidewalks, sewers and water mains that work, and projects and programs that are budgeted.

          There have been council representatives from SE Edmonds on the Council for decades. Decades. There has been a highway for decades. SE Edmonds has the longest contiguous walking trail, the largest park in the region, and easy access to I-5, transit, hospitals etc. I have to walk a mile across two dangerous streets to get to Grocery store – and still deal with drug houses. Yes, it is appropriate to ask State Agencies to improve safety, it is fair to want better facilities, it is responsible to force the businesses in that area to clean up.

          Rosen is the right choice – instead of telling the people of Edmonds, much like Mayor Nelson does – “You are underserved, you are a racist, you deserve this much, you do not deserve this much, you are a meanie, you are nice” – Mike Rosen will actually take the time to detail out goals, detail out plans, and report on results without rhetoric.

  14. Just one more point on high crime areas – I downloaded the State Statistics on crime – and one stands out like a sore thumb. The arrests for drugs – now keep in mind, we can probably say much of it was related to Cannabis, but I believe not all of it can be related to changes in Cannabis laws. See the data below for Washington State –
    STATE Adult Arrests – NIBRS Drug Violations 2022 1,694
    STATE Adult Arrests – NIBRS Drug Violations 2021 3,430
    STATE Adult Arrests – NIBRS Drug Violations 2020 11,716
    STATE Adult Arrests – NIBRS Drug Violations 2019 14,977
    STATE Adult Arrests – NIBRS Drug Violations 2018 14,590
    STATE Adult Arrests – NIBRS Drug Violations 2017 13,447

    I do not know if this is related to softer policing on drug crime, I do not know if this is what is meant by “open air drug markets”, I do not know if this is related to increases in theft, assault, or other crimes – but it seems that Seattle and the surrounding areas have had an increase in property crimes that can sometimes be related to a habit…

    I am not sure about the correlation we all see to increased crime and these decreased arrests, but maybe we have gone a bit too far on the do not arrest approach?

  15. There is something to be said for the accuracy of both sides of this argument (problem). In my estimation the place to start would be quit gelding the lily all the time; start buying stuff that we actually need, and stop buying show off crap we don’t need. I 100% agree with Adriane that at least 90% of that civic field park money should have been spent in another part of town. What we got for that money is a magnet for dragging car and bus loads more people into the downtown area. We got a park space that is now too nice to use for parking vendor rigs for the art festival and too delicate for the annual fireworks show that so many people love, in and outside the bowl. This year parking space along my Bell St. side, that used to be used by festival goers, was blocked by a vendor truck cargo van with the owner sleeping in it and leaving cigarette butts all over the place. This is a town that is and has been run inequitably and has had screwed up backward priorities; usually favoring developers of all stripes and the latest picture of a tree instead of the tree itself. Lack of money will soon make us face this reality.

  16. I would just like to clarify that as a resident who lives in Lake Ballinger, Mike Rosen has in fact visited and doorbelled multiple times in the neighborhood (my own house and confirmed by the many neighbors I know who have spoken with him), has listened carefully to the concerns, has been extremely responsive on email and phone acknowledging issues that are happening in real time, and has spent a substantial amount of time and resources on learning about the fabric of services available within Edmonds and externally as well. He is taking particular note on how the confluence of jurisdictions play into the significant issues we are facing at times. In fact, I think one of his major priorities is how this area of town is being and going to be served, and doing so in a fiscally responsible way that addresses these concerns as quickly as possible. In addition, multiple council candidates have also been present in-person to view these issues which are growing rather substantially to get a better understanding of what needs to be corrected. There are many ideas being floated around, some of which people are for and against which is part of this process, but I have full confidence that specifically in regards to Rosen, he has a deep and personal commitment to our neighborhood.

    1. I don’t live in the bowl and I don’t feel underserved although a undersized storm drain pipe has been a issue for 30 years so I guess there is that. The SE part of Edmonds has always had more crime drug and transient problems the seedy motels make it a magnet area. People that bought and rent there should have had a clue before they choose to live there. The question is what can be done. Is a 37 million dollar plus development costs maybe a hundred million more going to fix these problems? Or will they continue to persist? Sidewalks street lights more police presence and better social services are the things that will help improve the area, getting rid of the motels probably wouldn’t hurt either.

      1. Yes certainly – in some regards we knew what we were getting into and we bought what we could afford as we are not the type of people to be house poor. There are many great families that live in this neighborhood and want to live peaceful (and primarily, safe) lives. This is not a dump of a part of town, and with Mountlake Terrace’s continued improvements of their gem of a park, will probably only continue to get better. In addition, the light rail addition, regardless of if you are pro or against it, will skyrocket our property values when you look at the fact the Interurban will be a main connector for that. I am not naïve to your comments, of course, about personal decision making. My issue is that while some things without a doubt have improved, some have certainly gotten worse, and the ones that have gotten worse are the human aspect of this all. As you mention, there seem to be some very simple improvements that can be made – cost effective at that – that would go a very long way in improving some basic elements that are being overshadowed. I might add that a permanent police station on HWY99 is desperately needed. The crime is actually on 99, and migrates down to Ballinger.

        1. Tom I understand things have gotten considerably worse in recent years and in my opinion some of that can be tied to local, regional and state policy, one might say it is our fault because we voted for the leaders that have taken us in this direction. I know something about being house poor and for many today it is hard not to be with high rents and high interest rates those problems aren’t going away anytime soon and government policy is likely to only exasperate the problem. To many people living on the edge.

        2. Thanks Jim – I appreciate the respectful conversation. My main concern as I have always tried to communicate here in this forum is that as a younger family with children, my full focus is on their safety and ability to have a productive community to raise my kids in. I have a level headed and reasonable approach to politics, do my research, and try to see things from multiple angles and listen to opposing voices and come to my own conclusions. What really got me involved and quite passionate was my perception that people in positions to create some change were insinuating that I had to put those values I just communicated a second ago aside or that they were at worst, annoying/unreasonable/silly to those listening or that they had to deal with or respond to them. Just acknowledging the situation oftentimes would have just been enough, understanding that there is no magic wand to fix all the ills. I am also not ignorant to that. For what it is worth, I think a lot of this conversation in this thread has highlighted a commonality of what people are hoping for in their communities, even though we may not agree how we get there. I am a true believer most people just want the same thing: safety, prosperity, and a sense of community.

        3. Tom your welcome but I have to say your last comment is one I hope our leaders and potential leaders read, like you said your purpose is not of a ideological position but that of a lived experience and a desire to make it better for your family and we can all appreciate that. I don’t know if we need a police station up there but increased presence would help a field office for officers to hide and do unnecessary paperwork isn’t making a difference a cop parked at the park on a every few hour basis might help detour some of what is going on – chief are you listening? FYI the squeaky wheel on a well read forum usually gets the grease. I hope things start to improve.

  17. Dave Teitzel, for the record, and I know you already know this because I’ve seen it discussed in forums you’re in, along with my photo and our business – I am not this time around. Just a citizen who went in fresh faced and really positive in 2019, all about campaigning on voting record and a solid platform. I was so excited about really good policy and making a positive change. I quickly became jaded, exhausted and honestly, heartrbroken after seeing the underbelly of Edmonds politics and the lengths the old guard will go to to keep progress at bay. I could write a novel.
    Thanks for caring!

  18. If Progress is supporting Politicians who March for Defunding police and getting rid of school resource officers or legalizing hard drugs……I’m all for the old common sense guard ….please….all their progress made Seattle a top ten in the USA for crime.

  19. Heather, I could not agree with you more. When I saw machine politics, Blue Wave, and had the family I married into brought into the reason for my political choices, I found it disgusting. Former Councilpersons made that point. So now, I disassociate myself with all of the groups and just look at results. I find that to be the most reliable endorsement vs. Voting block politics and rhetoric based endorsements by like minded politicians. The old gaurd in the PacNW has certainly damaged this region, but people still drink at that trough. I am glad Mike Rosen is going to change that for all of us.

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