Elections: Council and the Port | Letters

Oct 22, 2017

Sierra Club endorses Johnson, Nelson and Fraley-Monillas

Three candidates for Edmonds City Council have received Sierra Club political endorsements for the November election: Kristiana Johnson, Mike Nelson and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. All are currently serving on City Council and running for re-election.

Sierra Club made the endorsements after a rigorous evaluation of candidate qualifications and their demonstrated commitment to environmental issues.

Johnson is a long-time environmental advocate. Her environmental work includes a focus on establishing buffers for the Edmonds Marsh consistent with Department of Ecology guidelines, and leading on adoption of a zero waste policy for the city.

Trained as a city and regional planner, she has worked in environmental land use at the city, county and state levels.

Nelson, who is running unopposed, has been a strong supporter of clean energy and has opposed oil and coal trains. Both issues are Sierra Club priorities. He led efforts to make Edmonds the first city in the state to seek 100 percent renewable energy for electricity. He has also strongly supported efforts to protect the Edmonds Marsh.

Fraley-Monillas has focused on the environment, land use, homelessness and human rights during her service on the council. She worked to pass the anti-coal and oil train resolutions for Edmonds, and her recent focus has been protecting the Edmonds Marsh.

She has also been an active member of Dow Constantine’s Safe Energy Alliance committee for the past four years.

The Washington State Sierra Club is proud to endorse these outstanding candidates for Edmonds City Council.

Marjorie Fields
Edmonds

 

When negative campaign rhetoric disserves us

My family and I love the natural beauty of the marsh and the waterfront, especially the diversity of flora and fauna above and below the waterline. We believe that preserving the complex ecosystems in those highly sensitive areas is critically important to our community.

Simultaneously, we love the small-town bustle of Edmonds with its increasingly vibrant selection of dining, hospitality and retail options available in the town center and on the waterfront. This, we also believe, is vital to our community.

As long-time residents with plans to stay, we believe that it is possible to have both, and we want to see that happen in a fiscally responsible manner that promotes health and well-being as well as fun and beauty.

As campaign rhetoric sharpens by some during the run up to election day, I am concerned that the multifaceted issues surrounding the Port’s mission and work are being polarized into saving the marsh from certain destruction vs. overdevelopment of the Port into urban blight.

This polarization is exaggerated and creates a false binary choice that doesn’t give options for people like me or my family.

It’s not one or the other, but both in balance that makes sense to us for the short, mid, and long-term futures of Edmonds.

The mission of the Port of Edmonds is to be fiscally sound and environmentally responsible, to provide quality services and to promote economic development, and to ensure the waterfront is a vibrant, active centerpiece for the Edmonds and Woodway communities.

Current Port Commissioners Bruce Faires, Fred Gouge, and Steve Johnston have deep knowledge and experience in quality marina operations, sound and forward-looking financial management and environmental stewardship of marsh and the waterfront.

This hard-earned experience is not derivative of other activities or accomplishments, but directly from the hard work of developing and operating an attractive, award-winning facility even while remediating contamination from previous owners, meeting or exceeding storm water best management practices and supporting plantings of marsh vegetation in buffer areas.

It’s “both and” and not an “either or” choice, and the expert and experienced team on the Port Commission are poised to face the challenges that lie ahead in maintaining that critical balance of environmentally and financially sound development for the health and welfare of our community.

John Kim
Edmonds

 

Environment should be weighted equally with development

I am a retired biologist who moved with my wife to Edmonds two years ago to be closer to our daughter and grandson. I was always involved with environmental issues and soon became involved with the Save Our Marsh group, as I saw a need to protect the remaining green spaces in and around the city.

Edmonds Marsh is a treasure, being one of the last remnant estuaries along Puget Sound. Its area has been much reduced from the approximate 100 acres it encompassed 150 years ago to the 22-plus acres left today.

In general, I have seen over and over again that when environmentally important areas are discussed in development plans, the environment tends to lose the argument to economic concerns.

The economic issues are of course important, but Edmonds also needs to protect its environmentally important spaces, not just for the birds and fish, but also for the health and peace of mind for the people who live here.

Many people, including myself, enjoy living here because of the pleasant environment, the great walking and bird-watching areas, and because Edmonds is advertised as a green city. It is shortsighted to ignore this.

The environment should be weighted at least equally with development, and redevelopment plans should be made following best science for the long-term benefit of both people and wildlife.

It is for this reason that I support the election of Susan Paine, Lora Petso and Angela Harris to the Port Commission. We need new thinking on the Port Commission because the threats to our environment, the one in which we live, are growing and will only get worse if we fail to deal with them, starting at a local level.

David B. Richman
Edmonds

 

Keep talent and expertise at the Port of Edmonds

As Edmonds residents since 1981, we have enjoyed the beauty and amenities of our port. We are proud to live here and take every opportunity to show off our beautiful waterfront to family and friends.

Our port is successful because of the collective experience and the passionate first-rate leadership of our five port commissioners and staff.

Bruce Faires, Steve Johnston and Fred Gouge are on the ballot for re-election. We urge port residents to cast your votes for them and keep their talent and expertise working for the Port of Edmonds.

Richard and Julie Johnson
Edmonds

 

Criticizing current Port commissioners is grossly misleading

It is with great dismay that I read the opponents of the incumbent Port commissioners are lambasting them with inaccuracies and good old-fashioned scare tactics.

Our Edmonds citizens deserve honesty and better discourse. Criticizing the current commissioners for neglecting and not caring about the marsh is grossly misleading.

The Port has spent close to $4 million in cleanup, improvements and restoration without “being forced to.” I know, I was there. As a former Port executive director, I took part in the Port’s enormous effort to improve the Marsh’s environmental condition.

Lora Petso’s signs say, “Protect our Marsh.” Voters need to ask her the following:

Since both the Tulalip Tribes and Washington State Department of Ecology agree that surface water runoff from the roads and areas around the Marsh is the biggest concern (not size of the buffers in this case), and since the City of Edmonds owns 90 percent of the marsh, what specific steps did she take as a councilmember to clean up the surface water runoff before it entered the marsh?

Fortunately, others have recognized the Port for the excellent work it has and continues to do based on its financial stability, integrity and environmental programs.

The Port received the National Marina of the Year award from a national publication, the “Best of Western Washington Award” from King 5 TV, and a five-star rating, the highest, by the County Enviro Award program.

In addition, the Port has received the Certified Leadership Clean Boat Yard and Clean Marina Awards for its environmental policies. Both are given for going above and beyond regulations.

The incumbent Port commissioners have done an excellent job in not only fulfilling their responsibilities, but have exceeded them. I urge you to cast your vote based on facts not on fear. Our incumbents, Bruce Faires, Steve Johnston and Fred Gouge, deserve another term.

Christopher W. Keuss
Former executive director
Port of Edmonds

 

Why the 2017 Edmonds local elections matter

An important issue facing Edmonds, one with long-term consequences, is the eventual redevelopment of Harbor Square. The Port’s current Harbor Square Master Plan would change the existing commercial zoning and 35-foot height limit to mixed use, with heavy residential (350-plus condos) and building heights up to 55 feet.

Although the City Council rejected this plan in 2013 and most of the public comments were negative, it is still the Port’s only proposal, and they are just waiting for a change on the council to push it through (March 1 Port meeting minutes, page 8).

Putting the tallest buildings in the Edmonds Bowl at the edge of the Marsh is not the best way to protect it. The light at night from private residences and the noise and traffic generated would destroy the tranquil atmosphere of this precious resource and further disrupt the wildlife.

Once a property is overbuilt, there’s no going back. Environmental damage is extremely costly, both aesthetically and financially.

We still have a chance to save the Edmonds waterfront and marsh from this out-of-scale development plan. It will require new voices bringing new visions to the Edmonds Port Commission, which is why I’m voting for Susan Paine, Lora Petso and Angela Harris.

If you want elected officials who will truly protect the natural beauty of our Edmonds waterfront and marsh, I urge you to vote for them, too.

Kathleen Sears
Edmonds

 

Why so much Interest in the Port Commission election?

Port commissioners have responsibilities beyond that of the marina. The interest in the Port Commission election (and the reason current Port commissioners are being challenged) is largely associated with the Harbor Square redevelopment plan, protection for the Edmonds Marsh wildlife sanctuary, and the desire for a Port that works constructively with City Council, community organizations and constituents to resolve conflicts.

Despite current Port commissioners’ election rhetoric, the five-story, residential-centric Harbor Square redevelopment plan remains their adopted objective. The plan is reaffirmed by all commissioners (per March 27 Port minutes) with Commissioner Bruce Faires stating, “The Port should not have to change its plan because someone else does not like it.”

Recognize that this plan conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan, the 2016 Department of Ecology (DOE) Wetland Guidance for Critical Area Ordinance (CAO), as well as the recently adopted Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The Commission is simply waiting for a more accommodating council to re-propose the plan (per March 1Port minutes).

The Port opposition to the marsh buffer in the SMP – spending $84,000 of public money on challenges – is because it conflicts with their current Harbor Square redevelopment plan. This, despite that the buffer is consistent with minimum requirements of the aforementioned DOE CAO guidance based on best-available science.

The marsh was down-rated from Category I to Category II by the DOE because it lacked a 100-foot vegetated buffer on three of four sides. If the Port’s actions were based on best-available science, they would be supporting a larger vegetated buffer along the marsh, not the placement of tall buildings along its edge.

Port documents show the Harbor Square cleanup was not to address environmental concerns about the marsh or its wildlife, but rather due to litigation by their lessees (Harbor Square Associates), who could not obtain financing due to the contaminated soil. Harbor Square remains listed as a hazardous site by the state, contributing to marsh contamination.

It’s no surprise carcinogenic petroleum compounds were recently detected at levels exceeding state criteria in marsh water samples from locations adjacent to Harbor Square.

This election is an opportunity to remind the Port that it’s time for a code-compliant Harbor Square redevelopment plan. It’s time for the Edmonds Marsh to be regarded as a valuable ecosystem needing protection, not as a development constraint. And it’s time for commissioners willing to work cooperatively with all stakeholders on creative solutions for the betterment of Edmonds’ waterfront properties.

Please vote for Angela Harris, Lora Petso and Susan Paine for the Edmonds Port Commission.

Richard Senderoff
Edmonds

 

 

 

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