Edmonds 2017 year in review: Part 2

Jan 05, 2018
Photo by: Brian Soergel The Aug. 21 total eclipse reached across a sliver of the country, the closest to Edmonds a swath in Oregon. Still, many turned out in town for a glimpse of the partial eclipse, which was pretty spectacular. Pictured here are participants at the Edmonds Library plaza.


Teachers’ union to rally in support of contract

Teachers in the Edmonds School District haven’t gone on strike since 1987.

“I remember that date because that’s when my husband graduated from high school,” said Andi Nofziger-Meadows, Edmonds Education Association president.

Now the question is: Will that change after the three-year collective bargaining agreement between the district and association expires Aug. 31?

(Editor’s note: It did, as the two sides eventually agreed to a new contract.)

Bob Rinehart takes over at senior center

As new president of the Edmonds Senior Center board of directors, Bob Rinehart said he’s sensitive to criticism that the Edmonds Waterfront Center – which will replace the 55-year-old building as well as its long-established name – receives from those convinced the current building is just fine.

“Seniors are our core constituency,” he said. “Our board of directors is totally committed to that.

Fifty years ago, seniors here in Edmonds were in the forefront, following the Older Americans Act passed by (President) LBJ.”

Edmonds commits to 100 percent clean energy

The Edmonds City Council last week approved a resolution establishing a community-wide goal of transitioning to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2025.

Audacious but possible, according to Councilmember Mike Nelson.

“This is a very achievable goal because the majority of our electricity in Edmonds, 80 percent, currently comes from renewable energy sources,” he said. “Snohomish County PUD is working on some exciting renewable energy opportunities for cities that they hope to be revealing in the near future.”

Underwater Park celebrates a milestone

Although a number of divers gathered at Brackett’s Landing North on Saturday to celebrate an important anniversary for the Edmonds Underwater Park, more than a few couldn’t help but steal glances at the inviting water.

Divers have to dive.

And although divers have been splashing into the area since the 1930s, it wasn’t until 1970 that city leaders established the park as a marine preserve and sanctuary. In 1972, it sunk the 94-foot tugboat Alitak northeast of a dry dock submerged in 1935 to act as a buffer between the ferry dock and the park.

And it was 40 years ago, in 1977, that a string of fatal accidents there prompted Bruce Higgins to work with the city to make the park safer.

U.S. submarine Scorpion calling Edmonds

Sixty years ago, a chilling book explained how Boeing’s guiding missile defense helped save Edmonds from total destruction after Egypt attacked the U.S. with Russian bombs.

Edmonds’ structures remained intact, but residents succumbed to the spread of deadly nuclear fallout.

We’re all still here, of course. It was just a story: “On the Beach” by Nevil Shute, a Briton who had moved to Australia, where much of the action takes place.

The dystopian novel gathered universal acclaim from critics, sold millions of copies worldwide (it pushed “Peyton Place” off the top of bestseller lists) and was serialized in nearly 40 U.S. newspapers. Its shocking ending disturbed many, and its brief description of what happened in our city – one of the more poignant passages – put Edmonds on the map, at least temporarily.


Ferry fares to increase twice in next 14 months

You’ll soon be paying more for getting on the boat to Kingston. The Washington State Transportation Commission, which regularly raises rates, voted on ferry fare increases to be phased in over the next two years.

The commission asked for public input, and says that resulted in benefits to passengers and bicyclists. Just not those with cars.

The commission says it is required to ensure ferry fares generate $381 million in operating revenue between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2019, as required in the recently passed two-year state transportation budget for Washington State Ferry operations.

City asking judge to settle easement issue

Those who stroll along the Edmonds waterfront from Brackett’s Landing North to Marina Beach are hip to a spot where the walkway ends.

It’s the waterfront’s so-called “missing link.”

That gap is the subject of a longstanding dispute between the city and the privately owned, 20-unit Ebb Tide condominiums, whose residents enjoy envious Puget Sound views. The city wants to complete the link. Condo owners want their beachfront to remain the way it is.

The impasse may be resolved soon, as City Council members voted unanimously Monday to authorize city attorney Jeff Taraday “to initiate a declaratory judgment action in Snohomish County Superior Court to resolve the dispute over the scope of the public access easement that the city owns in front of the Ebb Tide condominiums.”

(Editor’s note: The city reports that the case is still in discovery.)

Edmonds now part of regional fire authority

Edmonds’ renewal of a five-year contract with Fire District 1, approved in December, will remain the same after voters in Lynnwood and Fire District 1 service areas approved the creation and funding of the South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue Regional Fire Authority.

The measure passed with 54 percent of the vote during the recent primary. Edmonds voters had no say in the election, as only voters within the boundaries of the fire district were eligible.

Highway 99 makeover

Edmonds hopes to match or exceed Shoreline’s renovation on Highway 99 on a 2.2-mile stretch of Highway 99, and the area around it. Parts of the corridor touch Esperance and Shoreline, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

The upgrade has been in the works for some time, but reached a no-turning-back milestone Aug. 25 as the Highway 99 Area Plan and code update took effect.

A part of the plan calls for mixed-use building, where businesses are on a prominent part of the site and residences are above the businesses or on another part of the site. Transit-oriented development, where people living or working nearby can easily use transit, is encouraged, while livability and an attractive environment are key themes.


Help wanted: Ferries face recruitment problems

Capt. Tim Koivu – currently on the Edmonds-Kingston route, one he has commanded extensively throughout his career – has been with the ferry system long enough to see a plethora of changes implemented and many challenges overcome.

Currently, WSF is facing a problem due to the vast number of captains and other workers retiring, combined with the lack of new, young employees willing to fill open positions. In the next five to 10 years, about 40 percent of the WSF’s vessel employees are eligible for retirement, along with almost 90 percent of the ferries’ captains, including Koivu.

Edmonds family awarded $35,000 in discrimination case

The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the owners and manager of three Edmonds apartment buildings to resolve a lawsuit filed earlier this year alleging that those landlords refused to rent their apartments to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Ashley and Ryan Sytsma of Edmonds were awarded $35,000 in damages.

In March 2014, the Sytsmas decided to move to Edmonds from Seattle to reduce Ashley’s commute time to her job at Rick Steves’ Europe, and because their son had recently been born.

They were taken aback when the apartment manager, defendant Debbie A. Appleby, told them the three apartments she managed were for adults only. The Sytsmas took action, sensing they were being unfairly discriminated against.

Waterfront connector design phase to begin

Edmonds is one step closer to providing access to the waterfront during emergencies after the city last week took receipt of a $700,000 state grant to support initial design, environmental work and permitting for the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector project.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new, two-year, $8.5 million transportation budget May 16 that included funding the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector.

The connector will provide an emergency, single-lane structure over the railroad tracks as an alternative to the at-grade rail crossings at Main and Dayton streets.

Mayor and council getting raises over next 2 years

There’s good news for Mayor Dave Earling and the seven councilmembers, who will get raises over the next two years based on cost of living adjustments from the Seattle Area Consumer Price Index. Earling’s salary of $118,361 will increase to $121,912 in 2018, and be adjusted further for 2019 when the index is released next summer.

Councilmembers, who meet four times a month, will see their salaries increase by $1,500 a year on Jan. 1 and another $1,500 in 2019, taking them from the current $12,000 to $15,000, an increase of 25 percent. The council president will see an additional $200 a month in both 2018 and 2019, the same rate as now. That takes the council president’s salary to $17,400 a year in 2019.

Edmonds will benefit from dispatch merger

An ongoing plan to consolidate two Snohomish County emergency dispatch centers that may be approved as early as next month will mean improved service for Edmonds residents calling 911.

“We believe we can be more efficient coming together,” said Terry Peterson, the executive director of Southwest Snohomish County Communications Agency (SNOCOM).

The proposed merger would take place between SNOCOM, which Edmonds is a member of, and Snohomish County Police Staff and Auxiliary Services Center (SNOPAC).

Brett Davern: Edmonds’ other Hollywood star

Brett Davern stars in a new original movie on the Crackle app, gained a modicum of fame on a TV show called “Awkward,” and lives in sunshiny L.A.

But he grew up in Edmonds and graduated from Edmonds-Woodway High School. So, of course, we want to know: Is he acquainted with Anna Faris, the famous E-Dub alumna who stars in “Mom” on CBS and carried a funny segment Sunday during the Emmy Awards?

“I’m not,” he said over the phone recently. “I know she’s from Edmonds, and Chris Pratt is from the area as well (Lake Stevens). I just think we’ll run into each other at an event or work together on a job or something so I can make that connection. But I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her.”

Goodbye, Columbus

Christopher Columbus may have sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but his well-versed voyage of discovery aboard the Santa Maria is now, at least for some in Edmonds, also one to forget.

A funny thing happened last week when City Council members considered a resolution to have the second Monday in October continue to be recognized as Columbus Day, but also to add the designation of Indigenous Peoples Day.

But Councilmember Mike Nelson offered an amendment: How about simply doing away with noting Columbus Day locally? He said the city could still acknowledge the federal holiday Columbus Day as recognized by the state, but Edmonds would specifically recognize just Indigenous Peoples Day.

Columbus Day, established by President Roosevelt in 1937, is not an Edmonds city holiday, anyway. Employees do not get the day off, like those in banks do.

Councilmembers voted 5-2 to support Nelson’s amendment.


‘Serial killer’ wannabe gets 18 years

An Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate who said she wanted to be a serial killer was sentenced Tuesday to 18 years in jail for attempted murder.

Amy Caroline Brown, 24, was arrested Jan. 29 after stabbing 29-year-old Nicholas Johnson of Lynnwood with a pocketknife at Rodeo Inn on Highway 99, just north of 208th Street SW in Lynnwood.

Ganache owner recovering after brain hemorrhage

Nikolai Kulakevich, who realized a dream when he opened Ganache Patisserie and Café on Main Street in Edmonds in July, remains hospitalized in Florida after suffering a brain hemorrhage while on a cruise.

“He is still sedated, and will be decreased off sedation slowly,” his niece Vicky Shestopalov told the Beacon. “He has pneumonia and blood clots in his legs. But we are praying he will fight.”

Calm after the storm

Hurricane Irma, the Category 5 monster that swept through the Caribbean before pummeling Florida last month, upended the lives of Lisa and Colin Riegels and their son Matthew, who rode out the storm from their home in Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands.

But Lisa and 10-year-old Matthew have found some solace in Edmonds after evacuating with Colin’s urging. He’s a managing partner with Harneys, a leading international offshore law firm with offices worldwide, who stayed behind to focus his energy on restoring services to residents.

Pull up a barstool and meet Edmonds’ favorite bartender

When interviewing Desmond Van Rensburg at his place of employment, here’s a tip: Make him shut the door.

A few minutes into an adventurous back-and-forth at Daphnes with Edmonds’ favorite barkeep – before opening time on a sunny day made for Main Street strollers – two women ducked inside.

“When is happy hour?” one asks with a sly smile and a hint of seduction.

Desmond meets her gaze, matching her seduction and raising her ante. “When you get here!”

Welcome to Desmond’s world, one that in seven short years has made him the toast – pun intended – of Edmonds’ cocktail-happy bar scene and Daphnes a must-stop on any alcohol-fueled pub crawl.

Edmonds’ creature feature is scaring the bejesus out of passers-by

During the five years of the Edmonds Scarecrow Festival, there have been cute-kid scarecrows, Disney scarecrows, scarecrows based on historical events and, sometimes, even scary scarecrows.

But not this creepy-scary. We dare you to stroll by 555 Main Street and take a look-see.

The nightmarish black figure balancing a crow on his arm, dubbed “Lord of the Crows,” is the creation of the Jacoby family – James, Diana, Jenae and Jeremy.

209 Caspers approved for Edmonds Historic Register

On Oct. 17 the Edmonds City Council approved the addition of 209 Caspers St. to the Edmonds Historic Register. The Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission had recommended the addition at its monthly meeting on Sept. 14.

The house was built in 1922, and is unique in that it was from a kit. One hundred years ago you could order a house out of a catalog. Sears and Montgomery Ward were the best-known kit home sellers, but they were only two of many.


Waterfront Center fundraiser nets $57K

More than 200 bigwigs – community leaders, current and former elected officials and business owners – showed up early morning Thursday, Oct. 26, for an update on the planned Edmonds Waterfront Center.

It was billed as a campaign kickoff for the $11 million center, which will replace the current Senior Center on Railroad Avenue, so of course those chowing down on free breakfast were encouraged to loosen their purse strings.

And they did. According to campaign director Daniel Johnson, the breakfast at the Edmonds Yacht Club – featuring quiche, muffins, fruit, juice and coffee – raised $57,100. As that money was eligible for a match offered by Edmonds’ Rick Steves, it meant a total of a possible $114,200 toward the center’s $1 million community goal.

FBI notified of Edmonds hate crime

Another hate crime in Edmonds.

On Oct. 26, according to police reports, two African-American construction workers at the Building 10 condos construction site on Pine Street discovered a noose tied over a beam in an area they had access to.

“We are actively working to reach the two workers and obtain statements,” Sgt. Shane Hawley said, adding that the incident was reported by phone to Edmonds police Nov. 3. The caller was not one of the two workers. “The case is currently assigned to the detective unit, and the FBI has also been notified of the incident.”

Marko Liias to command Senate floor action

Liias represents most of Edmonds in the 21st District. The 2018 Legislative session opens in Olympia Jan. 8.

As minority floor leader last session, Liias served in a more reactive capacity for the minority Democrats. But since Democrats won a special election earlier this month in the state’s 45th Legislative District, they now hold the majority in the Senate.

This gives the Democrats – and Liias – the power to determine which bills will come up for a vote.

Mimi Jung the emcee of Tree Lighting Ceremony

Live music performances and an appearance by Santa Claus will headline the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown Edmonds Saturday, Nov. 25, in an event staged each year by the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce.

The emcee of the event, co-sponsored by Beacon Publishing, is Mimi Jung of KING-5 News.

The ceremony at Centennial Plaza begins at 4 pm and ends with the lighting of the tree at 5:30. Kids can get their pictures taken with Santa after the ceremony.

Some relief for the ears at the tracks

If you live just about anywhere in Edmonds – but especially downtown – you know two sounds are a fact of life: the blasts of the ferry.

There will soon be a modicum of relief. City councilmembers last week approved plans to install a trackside warning system at the West Dayton and Main street crossings, which will reduce the footprint of the sound.

While it won’t muffle the noise near the crossings, the hope is to prevent it from dissipating.

A new Celtic tradition returns to Edmonds

On stage, the Gothard Sisters of Edmonds are a swirl of energy, exuding wholesomeness with their winsome smiles, fetching stories, inspired musicianship and choreographed Irish dancing.

The sisters – Greta, Solana and Willow – are Edmonds regulars who honed their skills at the Edmonds Summer Market and the Edmonds Arts Festival. It paid off: On Dec. 7, they perform at the Edmonds Center for the Arts for the fourth year in a row.

“Music has been a part of our life and our house for as long as I can remember,” said Greta who, like her sisters, has blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s the oldest, at 30, while Willow is 28 and Solana 22.

2018 property, EMS taxes approved in 4-3 vote

Edmonds City Council last week approved a 1 percent increase on both property taxes and EMS services for 2018.

Voting for the increase were Councilmembers Dave Teitzel, Kristiana Johnson, Tom Mesaros and Neil Tibbott. Voting against were Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Mike Nelson and Diane Buckshnis.

“I voted against increasing property taxes because our homeowners are getting hit again and again with taxes, and yet at the same time our city has enough revenue to increase our rainy-day fund to record amounts,” Nelson told the Beacon.

Election results show Gouge won only 10 of 27 districts

There were no last-minute surprises this week after the Snohomish County Canvassing Board certified results of the Nov. 7 general election.

First-time candidate Angela Harris defeated current District 1 Port of Edmonds Commissioner Fred Gouge with 53 percent of the vote. Gouge won only 10 of 27 voter precincts, including both in the Town of Woodway.

Two of the three incumbents running to retain their commissioner seats came out ahead: Bruce Faires defeated challenger Lora Petso with 52 percent of the vote, winning 18 precincts. For Position 5 – an at-large position – Steve Johnston defeated challenger Susan Paine with 53 percent of the vote. He won 19 of the 27 districts. There was one tie.

In the race for three Edmonds City Council seats, incumbent Mike Nelson ran unopposed for Position 2 and incumbent Adrienne Fraley-Monillas handily defeated Alvin Rutledge to retain her Position 3 seat.

Incumbent Kristiana Johnson also won, beating Josh Thompson.

In the race for Edmonds School Board Position 4, Deborah Kilgore beat Cathy Baylor with 60 percent of the vote. Both Lynnwood residents were running for office for the first time.



2018 budget approved, but not without rancor

The all-important city of Edmonds annual budget process is mostly, as has been reported here many times, a slog of serious sausage-making overtaken by numbers, back-and-forth discussions, give-and-take concessions and countless hours of work.

But never has it been so engaging as Tuesday night, when councilmembers approved a $92.4 million 2018 budget amid rancor, agreements, disagreements and stern warnings from Mayor Dave Earling.

Edmonds church continues its progressive path

The evening of Nov. 8, 2016, changed everything for the Rev. Cecilia Kingman and members of the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

“We had a vision that Hillary Clinton was going to be president,” Kingman recalled recently from the church’s offices on 224th Street SW. “And that’s not what happened, right?”

In late September, Kingman was installed in a new, full-time position, while also continuing her previous duties: Minister of Faith and Justice. Kingman speaks in above-the-treetops scenarios about the responsibility of “equipping our people to do the work of social justice in the world,” of “trying to raise children to be people who live in the world with open hearts, who act ethically and passionately in the world.”

Housing strategy to debut this spring

No surprise here: Although household incomes have grown along with the economy, income increases for those with middle and lower incomes have not kept pace with rent and purchase price increases.

The city of Edmonds is aware of the problem of affordable housing.

It is onboard with incentive zoning, where developers are given tax breaks for providing a percentage of “affordable” rental units along with those priced at market. This includes new apartments behind Bartell Drugs in Westgate and on those planned on Highway 99.

And it has just launched a website to let people know about a housing strategy being developed. The website is at www.edmondshousingstrategy.org/.

Lobbyist is back on the 2018 budget

As expected, the City Council voted last week to retain Washington, D.C., lobbyist Tim Lovain, reversing a decision made Dec. 7 during final deliberations on the city’s $92.8 million budget.

Nelson, Fraley-Monillas, Buckshnis and Johnson originally voted to not retain Lovain – in an budget amendment Nelson proposed – whose $72,000 salary, included in the Community Services and Economic Development portion of the general fund, is meant to be renewed or denied annually.

In addition, the council unanimously voted to establish a $200,000 allocation in the Parks and Recreation portion of the general fund for the possible purchase of open space in 2018.




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