Housing Commission, nonconforming condos, parking | Letters

May 09, 2019

Deadline is near for the new Citizens’ Housing Commission

A new Citizens’ Housing Commission has been formed, and the City is now accepting applications from residents of Edmonds, but only until May 30, so please get involved now.

Our City Council has promised that it will be just that: a true Citizens’ group. The council voted to require that those involved not include current or previous members of any boards, commissions or committees from the last two years.

In other words, councilmembers are looking for fresh voices to advise them on important housing planning and zoning issues that affect all our neighborhoods. As population growth and housing development decisions are coming to our town, you can make a difference by getting involved and helping to engage with the City to provide a resident’s perspective.

You can visit the new website for this commission at citizenshousingcommission.org/, or on the homepage of the City of Edmonds’ website to fill out the application.

Please encourage other residents who are interested in getting involved to do the same. Edmonds can truly be an example for other towns to get growth right, but only if you add your voice to the conversation.

Michelle Dotsch
Edmonds

 

Nonconforming ordinance may not be in city’s best interest

RE: “Ordinance could help ease sale of condos,” April 25.

Automatically issuing a rebuild letter to owners of nonconforming properties may not be in the best interest of the citizens of Edmonds. It is in direct conflict with the current zoning code, which states that if more than 75% of a nonconforming building is damaged or destroyed it must be rebuilt to conform to current zoning code.

Why is this in the zoning code if it is not going to be enforced?

If a condominium building is damaged more than 75%, each owner is not going to rebuild their individual unit. The site would likely be sold to a developer who would then, consistent with the “rebuild letter,” be allowed to construct a new building that does not meet current zoning.

If the right to rebuild is granted to a condominium owner, the same right would need to be given to all owners of nonconforming properties, including apartments, duplexes, commercial buildings, and single-family homes.

I sympathize with those property owners having difficulty financing their nonconforming properties. Lenders assess risk, which changes all the time. Unfortunately, they are caught in the middle of a newly identified risk

Does that mean the current zoning code should be disregarded?

Katy Hinsch
Edmonds

 

Friendly alternatives to parking meters in Edmonds

The City of Seattle treats car ownership like a moral failing, and tries to make you feel as guilty as possible for driving a car into the city.

But for many of us in the suburbs, cars are still a necessity of life. Rather than punishing people for driving cars into downtown Edmonds with parking meters, why don't we encourage friendly alternatives to parking in the downtown core?

One idea would be to invite a bike-sharing program to set up shop in Edmonds.

While major cities have generally seen failure with docked bike-sharing programs, in which the bicycle has to be checked out and returned to predestined docking stations, private companies like Lime and JUMP figured out how to make a free floating stable of bikes useful and profitable in urban cores.

Rather than sticking their debit card into a meter, people just download an app onto their phones and use the app to unlock a bike wherever they find it. Once done with their ride, they leave the bike on the sidewalk for the next rider.

For those needing a little extra boost, there are even electric-assisted bikes.

The City of Edmonds could partner with a free-floating bike sharing company, possibly even encouraging a franchising opportunity for a local entrepreneur, to set up a bike sharing stable in downtown Edmonds on a trial basis.

This would minimize the city’s exposure, allowing us to test whether such an option would be successful in getting people out of their cars, and encourage exercise outdoors, while further reducing our carbon footprint.

Another option to explore would be making the trolley a permanent feature of downtown Edmonds, rather than a holiday experience.

The quintessential coastal town of San Francisco has tourists line up for hours for the chance to ride its cable cars at $7 a pop. It’s a charming way to hit the tourist highlights without paying for a taxi ride.

A trolley or cable car that operated between Brackett’s Landing to the Edmonds fountain, went down Fifth Avenue, turned right into Dayton Street, and completed its circuit on Railroad Ave. back to Brackett’s Landing, could serve ferry foot traffic curious about exploring Edmonds.

It could also be extended to a remote parking lot out of the Bowl to aid commuters. A downtown trolley would be a boon to businesses in the Bowl, all while providing a public transportation option in the downtown core that complements Edmonds’ small-town charm.

As parking in downtown Edmonds becomes more of a headache during peak rush-hour times, another alternative that the city could explore would be to designate a remote parking lot further away from the downtown core and contract a shuttle service to the city’s center and back at strategic times of the day.

Each of these alternatives to parking meters lets the City of Edmonds ease the parking congestion in downtown without penalizing car ownership. These options would add jobs to the area and support small business while protecting the environment.

Edmonds residents could still enjoy our downtown and waterfront without paying extra to access popular hangouts. If I am elected to Edmonds City Council, I pledge to find ways to meet the challenges of growth and development without implementing new fees and restrictions that would fundamentally change our small town’s character.

Jenna Nand
Edmonds

Jenna Nand is a candidate for Edmonds City Council, Position 4.

 

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