The Rule of Law

By Maggie Fimia | Mar 29, 2013

Editor:

The Edmonds police can’t arbitrarily arrest people and the courts can’t convict someone just because they don’t like or agree with them.  They can’t make up laws to fit their viewpoints.  They can’t play favorites.  There are codes, processes, and laws.

Apparently, some on the Edmonds City Council don’t understand or are confused by adopted land use legislation, like our Comprehensive Plan and the State Growth Management Act.  Both are fundamentally laws, not just “verbiage.”

During the Edmonds City Council meetings, councilmembers Petso and Bloom stated that they do not support including residential uses in the Harbor Square Master Plan.

Councilmember Bloom relayed her strong belief that residential was incompatible with a “destination” and stressed there was nothing in the Comprehensive Plan about residential for Harbor Square.

Councilmember Fraley-Monillas expressed interest in a “destination” where there would be a variety of “boutique hotels.”

The term “destination” was used numerous times by these councilmembers to describe the intent of the current Comprehensive plan for this area.  Clearly, they have not read their own Plan, or have only read the parts they agree with.

The word “destination” appears on pages 44, 51 and 52 and is used to describe the City of Edmonds or the end of Main Street, should the Ferry terminal actually be moved.

The Comprehensive Plan does not state anywhere that this site is a “Destination.”

It does state that this site is supposed to contain mixed-use development.  Besides that, destinations and mixed use are not mutually exclusive.  Think Winslow, Mill Creek Town Center, New York City.

Mixed-use development is exactly what needs to happen at this underutilized, near transit and open space, eleven-acre parcel.

According to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington:

… mixed-use development is a useful tool for implementing Growth Management Act (GMA) direction for encouraging compact development in urban growth areas, innovative land use management, efficient multimodal transportation systems and utility provision, and other GMA goals.

When people live or work close to the essentials that they need on a day-to-day basis, they can reduce the time and travel required. Walking and cycling become practical means of travel, rather than having to drive to services in separate zones. A complementary mix of uses is of key importance - the uses must support each other…

If Councilmembers Petso, Fraley-Monillas and Bloom do not want any residential in this area or want to change the use to “boutique hotels,” then they need to go through the State mandated process of amending the existing Comprehensive Plan like the Port did.

By continuing to insist on eliminating residential, capping heights at 35’ or less and requiring 150’ buffers these councilmembers put any redevelopment and restoration of the Marsh at risk.  They run counter to the vision of growth management and the Edmonds Comprehensive plan.

Sadly, if they prevail, the outcomes will have the opposite effect of what these councilmembers say they believe in – a better environmental, economic and social quality of life for Edmonds residents.

Adopting the Plan with amendments or doing it as a “substitute amendment” meaning offering a newly written amendment, is the next step.

Environmental, seismic, traffic and other studies come next.  A more detailed actual development plan and zoning changes don’t occur until the City and Port have that information.

Reputable developers will only work with both if the process is fair and the demands reasonable.

I encourage the Council to work with the Port as a partner and not as an adversary.  It is disturbing to hear some of our Council continue to accuse the Port management and Commissioners as “arrogant.”

Work with the Port to pass balanced, reasonable and realistic amendments to this Plan. Provide enough guidance to assure the residents that any development reflects the character and commitment to community we share, but also be flexible enough that we don’t inadvertently turn away good projects because we have attached so many strings, we strangle ourselves.

Councilmembers take an oath to uphold existing laws.

The Comprehensive plan is an existing, binding document that guides our planning, policies and strategies for land use, housing, transportation, utilities, culture and capital facilities.

It’s a good plan.  If you don’t like it, get the votes to change it, but please stop making stuff up.

See below for a copy of the Plan:

http://www.edmondswa.gov/images/COE/Government/Departments/Development_Services/Planning_Division/Plans/Comp_plan.pdf.

 

Maggie Fimia

 

 

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