Edmonds City Council March 5 to study detached accessory dwelling units, consider change to meeting minutes

Updated with time and location change for study session, which will now be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in the Brackett Room.

Among the items on the Edmonds City Council agenda for its March 5 business meeting starting at 7 p.m. is a proposal to change how written meeting minutes are recorded. The council will hold a special study session prior to the business meeting — at 5:30 p.m. — on proposed amendments to the city’s accessory dwelling unit code.

According to the agenda memo from Council President Vivian Olson accompanying the meeting minutes proposal, the idea is to have the city’s minute taker provide “action minutes,” which are less detailed than what is currently provided. Action minutes are considered a best practice, and those are what the City of Edmonds minute taker is providing to other cities, the proposal from Olson said.

The proposal includes meeting minute guidelines from local parliamentarian Ann McFarlane, who has provided guidance to the city council on “good governance” topics in the past. McFarlane points to the difference between minutes of routine government business meetings and those of public hearings, which are governed by different rules.

“Minutes should record what is done, not what is said,” McFarlane advised. “This includes each main motion and its disposition (passed, failed, referred to committee, postponed, etc.). Minor procedural motions such as approving the agenda or calling the question do not need to be included.”

McFarlane also recommends “that boards and councils do not keep detailed minutes of discussion (‘he said, she said’). These are generally a waste of time, effort and resources.”

In the agenda memo, Olson noted that the city is “in the mode during this fiscal emergency of doing what we need, versus doing what we like best,” adding that the city expects to save “$7,000 or more annually as a result of making this change.

“We can change back when we can afford to if council and the public never warm up to this change,” she added.

Olson said that McFarlane “also suggested it can be helpful to include time stamps from the recording in the minutes, so people wishing to observe what was said during discussion of a specific item do not have to review the recording from the beginning. A council vote to change to action minutes would include the expectation that these time stamps will be provided in the written action minutes,” Olson said.

Other items to be discussed during the council’s 7 p.m. business meeting include the December 2023 quarterly financial report, the 2023 Prosecutor’s Office annual report from the Walls Law Firm and the annual presentation from the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

You can see the regular meeting agenda here and the study session agenda here 

The 7 p.m. meeting will be in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. You can also attend remotely via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261. Or by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782. The webinar ID is 957 9848 4261.

The 5:30 p.m. meeting will be in the Brackett Room, third floor of Edmonds City Hall, 121 5th Ave. N.

The meetings are also streamed live on the Council Meeting web page, Comcast channel 21 and Ziply channel 39.



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