Critical areas ordinance must be strong, enforced | Letter

Jan 14, 2016

Editor, The Beacon:

I feel compelled to write a letter about Edmonds updated Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), which is a hot topic for some.

I have lived in Edmonds since 1981, coming to the Pacific Northwest in 1968 for graduate school.

I stayed like other transplants because I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the beautiful, green and rainy Puget Sound. I am an environmentalist dedicated to conserving our native forests for birds and wildlife.

I am now retired and have a very active life as a volunteer community activist for the environment and for people.

Last month, I attended a City Council meeting for the seemingly final action and vote on the new proposed CAO update.

I had not been very involved on this 2015 go-around because 10 years ago I spent an inordinate amount of time with the first edition.

Then, I spent next 10 years observing and gasping at what happened or didn’t happen in Edmonds.

That December night I sat through a long and hectic council session as the majority of the council saw as did I, that we needed better and stronger protection for our few remaining critical areas in Edmonds.

The council discussed and approved a number of amendments despite the continued arguments and complaints of the senior planner from the city. All amendments were proposed for clarity and to truly protect the critical areas.

I appreciate the work they did that night. I know that whole document even with the amendments is not as good as I would like to see for our city.

I fear that any ordinances will continue to be interpreted politically as they have in the past and will not protect the few remaining forest corridors, beleaguered creeks or steep and sliding hillsides from the seeming rush to develop every square inch of Edmonds.

In 2010, Edmonds was approved and certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat Community. The certification was celebrated then through the Parks Department 2010 Watershed Fun Fair. Since then, the Edmonds Wildlife Habitat Native Plant Demonstration Garden has provided free workshops to encourage Edmonds citizens to maintain and support birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife in our backyards and neighborhoods.

Many citizens from all over Edmonds have come to the Demo Garden and clearly value our critical areas and want to protect them. Some of our schools, churches and businesses also have been doing their part to try to keep Edmonds a #green# and livable city, too.

We all seem to think that having a city with many protected natural areas is important. From my experience, we can’t do this alone, voluntarily, and we must have strong clear CAOs with strict enforcement.


Susie Schaefer,


Edmonds Wildlife Habitat Native Plant Demonstration Garden


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