Council committees tackle planning, procedures and finances during Tuesday meetings

From transportation planning to road construction, from financial reporting to council rules and procedures, Edmonds city councilmembers tackled a range of issues during their three monthly committee meetings held remotely Tuesday.

The Council Parks and Public Works Committee — with Councilmembers Susan Paine and Michelle Dotsch — heard an update on the city’s 2024 Transportation Plan, which includes a new multimodal level of service element.

City Transportation Engineer Bertrand Haus explained that the city updates its transportation plan every eight to nine years. Work on the latest update began in June 2023, with completion planned by December 2024. Part of the Edmonds 2024 Comprehensive Plan update, the plan is based on a 20-year forecast, to 2044.

One of the key aspects of the plan is to identify funding strategies, Haus said. The city also has a transportation advisory committee of local volunteers who are meeting monthly to discuss the plan, he added. Online and in-person meetings are planned in the next few months to get public input.

Councilmembers and staff listen as Patrick Lynch of Transpo Group, at right — third from top — explains multimodal levels of service.

Patrick Lynch of consulting firm Transpo Group explained for the committee the plan’s multimodal level of service (MMLOS) element, which is a new planning requirement from both the state Growth Management Act and the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Level of service standards are used to measure whether cities are meeting transportation requirements. The City of Edmonds now has an intersection-based methodology based on how quickly traffic moves through main crossings citywide.

Another consideration when looking at levels of service “is not just how we measure it but when we measure it,” Lynch said. The typical measurement time is the PM peak hour — the local evening rush hour. While that measurement has been “kind of an industry standard,” Lynch said, “the question has always been, is that the best way to inform infrastructure decisions — when it’s such a narrow point in time.”

A multimodal level of service “is balancing the needs of all the modes that are using our…transportation system,” he said. “And really we need a measure that helps promotes the mobility and safety of these other modes.”


Sharing a graphic of an inverted pyramid, he stated “maybe this is the way of looking at the priorities” — balancing the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit customers with freight and vehicle traffic. That includes a level of service standard that measures the performance of all those modes, he explained.

Councilmember Dotsch pointed to the transportation challenges facing Edmonds, with a limited number of roads going into and out of the city. “I see…trying to make it everything for everybody makes it kind of nothing for nobody. Most people don’t really want to walk on those major streets or bike on those major streets where there’s a lot of traffic.

“With this model in a suburban city with very limited highway access, how do you make that balance?” Dotsch asked.

Lynch replied that the “complete streets philosophy” has good intent but can be difficult to implement. “It’s difficult to prioritize every mode in every corridor,” he said. The idea is “to create an active modes system that is connected, but isn’t necessarily prioritized in every corridor, because you have to make those tradeoffs.”

Another task the Transpo Group completed was updating the city’s traffic calming program along with all the maps with the existing traffic conditions of Edmonds’ transportation system. The goals and policies identified in the previous 2015 transportation plan are now being updated.

Another project discussed by the parks and public works committee was the Main Street overlay project, which includes a full-width grind and pavement overlay on Main Street from 6th to 8th Avenues, plus upgrading all non­compliant ADA curb ramps and new pavement markings.

The project will include compliant pedestrian ADA ramps at 7th and 8th Avenue. The design also includes bulb-outs aimed at improving pedestrian safety at the crosswalks by reducing the crossing distance and increasing the visibility of pedestrians and approaching vehicles.

An example of the bulb-out design at 8th and Main.

City Engineer Rob English explained that Main Street’s current lane configuration provides a traffic lane in each direction and parking lanes on both sides of the road. Staff is proposing to narrow the traffic and parking lanes to add an eastbound bike lane from 6th to 9th Avenues to support cyclists traveling uphill.

Dotsch, however, expressed concerns about several aspects of the project. For starters, she criticized “the Taj Mahal of bulb-outs,” describing them as “pretty large,” using “excess cement” and involving “excess cost.” She also worried about narrowing the roadway lanes to accommodate bicycles, pointing to large vehicles using the street and noting that “the Frances Anderson Center has events and they bring in large trucks.”

In addition, Dotsch said it seemed odd to add a bike lane on Main Street when past studies have shown that bicyclists have preferred other routes. English replied that the city has been discussing with the Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group a possible Main Street route from 6th Avenue up to Five Corners, aimed at “the more serious” bicycle commuters.

The Main Street overlay project design phase is expected to be completed in spring, with construction — estimated at $900,000 — set to begin this summer. A public meeting has been scheduled for March 7 to provide information on both projects and the timeline for construction.

In the Council Public Safety-Planning-Human Services-Personnel (PSPHSP) Committee, Councilmembers Neil Tibbott and Chris Eck heard a proposal from City Clerk Scott Passey to discontinue city meeting notice postings at Edmonds Library. The library is one of three public buildings where physical notices have been posted, but the notices in the library are often removed or defaced. Passey made the case that the two remaining city buildings — Edmonds City Hall and the Public Safety Complex/Council Chambers — make the most sense for such postings. In addition, the meeting notices are published electronically on the city’s website, which is where most people find them. Councilmembers agreed to place on an upcoming consent agenda an ordinance amending city code to eliminate the library as a posting place.

Also in the PSPHSP committee, councilmembers discussed a proposed work plan for Council Rules of Procedure. City Clerk Passey explained that there were 14 procedures, but the council has already approved two of them — regarding Council Conduct and a Code of Ethics. The intent is to discuss one procedure a month at various council committee meetings. If the committee recommends a segment for council approval as a consent item, it will be placed on a future consent agenda for approval. If the committee recommends revisions or full council discussion, it will be added to future council business when agenda time allows.

The committee on Tuesday addressed two procedures: agenda preparation and public testimony.

Passey noted that the public testimony section includes a definition of disorderly conduct. It comes from a 9th Circuit Court decision, Acosta v. City of Costa Mesa, in 2013, which he called “the gold standard and sort of the legal foundation for establishing an incidence of disorderly conduct in a limited public forum that is our council meetings.”

Passey added there have been recent concerns regionally about hate speech expressed in public meetings (both the Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace City Councils now require advance registration for remote testimony due to separate incidents there). “This proposed rule isn’t going to prevent it (hate speech) from occurring in Edmonds but it will set us up to respond in a responsible way without risk of speech restrictions or viewpoint discrimination,” he added.

The rule would apply to comments made both virtually and in person. As to enforcement, for online commenters speaking permissions would be removed and “the chair would have the discretion to take measures to address any violations” for in-person commenters, Passey said.

The proposed language, verbatim from the court ruling, is as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person in the audience at a Council meeting to do any of the following: Engage in disorderly, disruptive, disturbing, delaying or boisterous conduct, such as, but not limited to, handclapping, stomping of feet, whistling, making noise, use of profane language or obscene gestures, yelling or similar demonstrations, which conduct substantially interrupts, delays, or disturbs the peace and good order of the proceedings of the Council.

Councilmember Neil Tibbott (top row-center) discusses Council Rules of Procedure with other councilmembers and City Clerk Scott Passey.

Committee Chair Tibbott asked about a portion of the public testimony section addressing what happens when large numbers of people are signed up to speak on the same topic. He recalled a previous time when a large group of speakers appeared, and the mayor and council president agreed to change the time limit of those testifying from three minutes to two. Passey replied an easy way to handle that situation would be for the council to suspend its rules during a meeting to change the time limit.

Council President Vivian Olson introduced the idea of allowing speakers to comment not only during the regular public comment period but also after the conclusion of any council presentations and related questions and answers — but before the council deliberates on that item. Councilmembers agreed they would like to give the concept a try, with the idea of assessing it later to see if the new system is working as intended.

“We just need to see how this plays out but I see some real benefit in the possibility of using this as an option,” Tibbott said.

Under the section related to agenda preparation, councilmembers agreed that every item before them should have at least two readings prior to them taking a vote.

“Most human beings need that time to reflect,” Councilmember Eck said. “You’re given the information, you need to time to digest — the public as well — have that moment and then be able to decide. I think that should cover many topics. Every once in a while we may need to do three.”

Councilmembers agreed to place the two sections on a future council agenda for further discussion.

At the Council Finance Committee, Councilmembers Will Chen and Jenna Nand received a 2024 February budget amendment, which Administrative Services Director Dave Turley said wouldn’t affect the city’s general fund. The committee agreed to forward that item to the full council for a presentation.

In addition, the committee received a preliminary December 2023 quarterly financial report, which showed that REET revenues were down $1.2 million compared to December 2022, mainly because development and home sales have slowed. Sales tax revenue was up $357,000 compared to last year, while the city’s development services revenues were about $369,000 higher than the year prior.

Higher interest rates have helped the city’s investment portfolio bring in $1.7 million of revenue to the city in 2023 — almost $450,000 (36%) more than any previous year, Turley added.

The committee also discussed future budget reporting to the council and what that might look like, in light of the recent council presentation by finance consultant Mike Bailey.

Mayor Mike Rosen announced in January that Bailey would be leading a blue-ribbon panel of volunteer financial experts designed to help the city achieve financial resiliency and instill confidence and trust among community members. The panel was established in response to City of Edmonds budget issues, including a much-smaller-than-anticipated ending fund balance for 2023, which prompted the council to declare a fiscal emergency in October. 

Turley said he sat in on a meeting of the panel earlier that day and he was “very impressed with the people on it and the conversation that was had. They were very knowledgeable,” He said he would share the committee’s thoughts on financial reporting with Bailey to see if they can be incorporated into the group’s recommendations, “so we can make all the changes at once.”

“I think the recommendations that come out (of the blue-ribbon panel) are going to be really good,” Turley added.


  1. I appreciate hearing plans from Rob English about main street revisions. I would hope
    that before the work is begun the plans might themselves be considered for revision.
    The important questions raised by CM Dotsch should definitely be addressed. I have
    difficulty understanding why main street would be the route chosen for bike riders. It seems the city has the authority to choose another route that would be safer for riders and also respect the other important uses of main street. Another aspect of the planned change would be to reduce parking for residents on one side of the street. At least that seems to be the case if the implementation of bike lanes on 9th is a model. Additionally, the bulb-outs are aesthetically attractive and shorter Cross walks are a small plus but is the overall cost and labor diverted from other projects a good trade-off?
    I would suggest a priority be given to fixing the mess on 9th caused by the previous similar attempt to add bike lines. At the moment the parking on one side has been eliminated and
    that is partly due to the center line being shifted too far to one side to accommodate bike lanes.
    The lanes themselves are poorly planned and not consistent or appropriately marked. A previous comment writer suggested that the current state of the revision there suggests the
    work was performed by inebriated pranksters. I would hope Mr. English would seek an opportunity to proactively address this for the Edmonds public and invest resources in
    finishing this job, correcting the obvious deficiencies which have remained in place for the past many weeks.
    A final thought, how do the residents along Main feel about potentially losing their parking if a similar Plan is implemented there? Has the process involved any citizen consultations?

    1. You have a lot of good questions here especially about the Main Street revisions. Mr. English works for Mayor Rosen, so the mayor should be held responsible and answerable to the citizens about any proposed changes and or how the community was consulted.

  2. CM Dotsch asks good realistic questions regarding bike lanes on Main Street. I hope someone listens to her. Additionally, why would one want to decrease the size of the main road into and out of town in an already congested area? Trucks already have a challenge delivering goods to the downtown merchants. Where is the money coming from for the project and large amount of cement work? What is the specific number of bike commuters who will use the lanes on a daily basis in and out up Main Street hill? When will the already confusing wayward bike lanes on 9th to both bikers and motorists be addressed? How many bike riders are using 9th currently? Thank you Ms. Dotsch for asking questions some may be thinking.

    1. Very good comments, Mike. The city has performed an abortion on 9th, we don’t need another one on Main. We have thousands of motorists in our city; it is simply nonsensical to continually cater to the handful of bicyclists by severely compromising what the motorists must deal with.

      Councilmember Dotsch pointed to the transportation challenges facing Edmonds, with a limited number of roads going into and out of the city. “I see…trying to make it everything for everybody makes it kind of nothing for nobody.” A perfect summation of this issue!

  3. The expensive revision of streets to make relatively little used bicycle lanes has been and continues to be a huge expense. There are many, many more walkers in Edmonds then there are bicyclists; yet, many streets are without
    sidewalks which should come before more bicycle lanes.

  4. Mike and Al,

    Thanks to both of you for adding more key questions that should be answered prior to pursuit of the Main Street overlay project, “set to begin this summer.” Mike, your question “What is the specific number of bike commuters who will use the lanes on a daily basis in and out up Main Street hill?” must be answered. Why should we invest in bike lanes for ““the more serious” bicycle commuters” (to the Sounder?) unless there are many who will benefit?

    The expense of bicycle lanes should be allocated where there is the most current, and likely future, demand for them with consideration to all neighborhoods’s needs.

    I’m also appreciative of CM Dotsch’s reference to “a limited number of roads going into and out of the city.” The implications of this are far reaching.

  5. I’m recalling a conversation with former Councilmember Luke Distelhorst, an avid bicyclist. His commute route out of downtown was on Bowdoin Way, not Main St. Bowdoin is a more gradual slope and a much easier climb for cyclists.

    Main St. east of the Shell Creek crossing is nearly a third of a mile of very steep grade~ probably why eastbound bicyclists are (almost) never seen there. Bowdoin already has new bicycle lanes, installed because the City knows bicycles ride on Bowdoin and not on Main St.

  6. Common sense should prevail as it relates to any proposed bike lanes on Main Street. There are very few bikers who are using our current bike lanes so why add more to an already congested main thoroughfare to the downtown business district? Edmonds has 3 barriers to riding bikes, 1. topography 2. weather 3. growing traffic congestion with reduced driving lanes. I really hope our new administration and our current city council stop catering to a very vocal small minority and keep the needs and wants of the majority of citizens in mind when making these decisions.

  7. Good Coverage and yes, I hope Council listens to CM Dotsch.

    It will be appalling if the Council waits for the Bailey task force to give policy direction that are needed now!! Read the Fund Balance Policy and where are the “fiscal emergency” discussions in Finance Committee? The public is interested. And to imply that our financial statements don’t tell enough? Mr Bailey gave us Redmond’s’ financials to replicate and other CMs haven’t complained.

    Our City remains in deep financial trouble the FYE GF changes Report show we overspent by $9.5m! Those December amendments will be processed and yes, they DID impact the general fund.

    The Council needs to resolve that Contingency reserves will be tapped and start facing reality! CM Chen – you know what to ask or request – so do it! The Administration with its “business as usual stance” (I.e. allowing for “Porchfest” or RFP for Landmark using the department that spent $1.6m in professional services last year with $700k being over approved budget) should not be tolerated by Council!

    Codify a citizen finance group like Jim O suggested! Put the financials and projections forward and let the Administration explain where the City is financially and what is projected going forward? And where is Open Gov software (cost $1m) and why can’t it be used: was it too transparent?

  8. Looking at that diagram for the street “improvements” at 8th. and Main I have to shout, “You cannot be serious!

    Our annual showcase City Arts Festival at FAC has already lost all it’s vendor parking for trailers and vans due to the mostly not needed Civic Field Park remodel and now you are going to eliminate even more vendor and spectator parking in the FAC immediate area to provide for a totally unnecessary bike lane and pedestrian protrusions out into the roadway at the intersection. The show vendors will have to navigate their cargo and temporary living quarter rigs around those new obstructions on their way to park by my house for almost a week while taking up parking that their very own potential show customers need. I can’t believe the people who have come up with these great ideas still have jobs here.

    Why spend around $4000 for four simple stop signs at 8th. and Main when you can spend in the hundreds of thousands for all this useless window dressing crap? The stop signs would force cars to slow down and vastly improve the safety of the hundreds of pedestrians that use that intersection’s crosswalks seven days a week. Mr. Rosen, please stop the insanity before it’s too late.

  9. Again referring to the plan for 8th. and Main, I failed to mention that people (like myself) towing trailers or larger trucks and vans used for delivery will have to pull into oncoming traffic on both Main and 8th. just to make turns, while watching for bicycles in the adjacent bike lanes that don’t even have to slow down, let alone stop. This is over planning and bad planning on steroids. What we should do is make the three way stop at 7th. and Main a one way stop on 7th. with pedestrian activated flashers on Main like we have a little further down on Main at mid block. Just make 8th. and Main a four way stop without the pedestrian bulges. If we must have that bike lane, which is absurd, at least the bikes would have to slow down as they are allowed to blow the stop signs because they are saving the planet.

  10. Bike lane money (if available, which seems like a stretch right now) should be spent on the Interurban Trail…which gets plenty of riders and walkers. How about spending some parks maintenance budget to clean off the graffiti? Yes, even though the graffiti is painted on privately owned fences and walls adjoining the trail, I am asking the City to clean it up….instead of painting more danger stripes on the arterials in the Bowl.

    1. Best idea I’ve heard so far. Good luck John… folks have been asking for many years including myself. It’ll be sooner taken care of if we arrange a work party and do it ourselves.

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