Edmonds asking judge to settle easement issue

Ebb Tide condos fighting ‘missing link’ in public walkway
By Brian Soergel | Aug 03, 2017
Photo by: Brian Soergel Edmonds wants to complete the “missing link” of a walkway along the city’s beaches. But residents of the Ebb Tide condos are resisting. The baby and stroller in this picture are technically on private property.

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.”

The 300-foot walkway addition is part of the renovation of the waterfront at the site in front of the Edmonds Senior Center on Olympic Beach, to be torn down to make way for the Edmonds Waterfront Center. It will still house the Senior Center, but the plan is to also make it available for all age groups.

“Some of our neighbors to the south are not keen on us even being here,” Senior Center President Farrell Fleming said in a Beacon article a year ago, referring to Ebb Tide residents. “But we’re continuing to work with them.”

The walkway is indirectly mentioned in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which essentially lays out guidelines for the city’s future. A portion reads: “Improve public access to the shoreline and link waterfront features by establishing a continuous esplanade along the shoreline.

The esplanade will be constructed over time through public improvements and Shoreline Master Program requirements placed on private development.”

Carrie Hite, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, said part of the Senior Center’s rebuilding includes redevelopment of the parking lot and replacing the creosote-soaked pier, which is damaging to Puget Sound.

The walkway would replace that and connect with the walkway south of the five-story Ebb Tide, built in 1965 before height restrictions took hold in Edmonds.

“The city really wants to do this to the easement that we own,” Hite said. “We’ve done due diligence, and have wanted to engage in a conversation with Ebb Tide about their preference. Do they want to move (the walkway) closer to shore? We want to work with them on the easement; we’re trying to find a win-win here.”

But the Ebb Tide association is not budging.

“They’ve been pretty adamantly against the project,” Hite said. “They’ve opposed the easement. They say that you guys may think that the easement is intuitive and allows a structure, but we don’t think it does.”

Steve Wakefield, Ebb Tide’s attorney, did not respond to phone calls and emails for comment. Will Wilcox, president of the condo association, could not be reached.

But former association president Gene Horton said the city is “trying to strong-arm” residents.

“If you dropped it in Shoreline, the homes would go for $250,000 apiece,” said Horton, who no longer lives there but remains in Edmonds. “Especially for the first floor, you would just be wiping out all kinds of equity because they wouldn’t have views.”

The real-estate site Redfin estimates that a two-bedroom ground unit at Ebb Tide would sell for more than $800,000.

As the city moves ahead with the Edmonds Waterfront Center and its redevelopment, it does not want any surprises down the road.

“We filed the action because we are designing the center,” Hite said. “We don’t want to get to the 11th hour and have Ebb Tide file an injunction. That would cost the city a lot of money. So we want to, proactively, ask a judge to look at the easement and rule on it. Does it allow us to build a structure or not?”

Hite said many residents ask the city about the missing portion of the walkway.

“They say, When is it going to happen?” Hite said. “We need it.”



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