Letters | Councilmember apology, Port election letters

Oct 27, 2017

Councilmember apologizes for email solicitation

Dear readers: I would like to apologize and assure you that I rescinded my request for the city's online email list. Like you, I was shocked by the notice that your information would be made public unless you made an appeal through the courts.

When I learned of this, I canceled the request.

I regret that the city did not keep you informed that the request was cancelled. In fact, the entire process was flawed. The city should not have collected this information without your knowledge that it was a public record.

Furthermore, the city should have given you an opt-out option with the digital newsletter. I have asked the city clerk to work with the mayor's office to make these corrections.

Kristiana Johnson
Edmonds

 

Editor’s note: Councilmember Kristiana Johnson had filed a public records request for contact information to more than 1,500 subscribers to the Update on Edmonds newsletter and city news releases. She later withdrew the request.

Mayor responds to councilmember’s letter

We have been publishing the city of Edmonds quarterly newsletter for about four years, and this is the first request for public records we have received for the newsletter mailing list with obvious intent to be used in (Kristiana Johnson's) political campaign.

To be clear, we do have an “opt-out” option at the end of our newsletter notification. In addition, we notified the entire mailing list of the action needed per RCW 42.56.540 to have their name withheld from disclosure.

Finally, I am disappointed these councilmember’s comments are attempting to deflect attention from the impact of the original public records she requested from the city.

Dave Earling
Edmonds mayor

 

Port’s goal: Economic well-being

We are on the threshold of another election cycle here in Edmonds. I’d like to focus on the Port Commissioner races.

In our opinion, the three incumbents (Steve Johnston, Bruce Faires and Fred Gouge) have done an outstanding job of managing the Port on behalf of the taxpayers and the greater Edmonds and Woodway community they serve.

They oversee and sustain the success of our beautiful five-star marina, Port waterfront, and commercial buildings and lands on Port property, generating impressive public profits, which are used to maintain and improve the Port public businesses and infrastructure.

They have kept our Port District taxes low for the past 10 years, a rare feat for a taxing district these days.

They have built a public asset that grows in value every year and supports more than 800 jobs. They have done this while protecting our waterfront and marsh, and providing us with recreational and tourist amenities, including the Port walk we all enjoy.

The Port helps bring tourists and their money to our city and waterfront.

The incumbents are being challenged by candidates that we believe do not fully appreciate the Port’s primary role of bringing economic well-being and vitality to the community. The challengers seem more concerned about making incremental improvements to the condition of the arguably very healthy marsh to the possible detriment of the Port’s primary mission – economic development.

They and their supporters are now also making the false claim that the Port is seeking to resurrect the long-dead Harbor Square redevelopment concept that was withdrawn by the Port in 2013. Reject their false claims and misdirected motives.

We need to keep our Port strong, nonpartisan, and independent. A quick look at candidate endorsements reveals that the incumbents have a broad bipartisan base of support consisting of community leaders, business leaders and residents who understand and appreciate the economic, environmental and quality of life contributions that the Port makes to Edmonds and Woodway every day.

The opponents are endorsed primarily by a few special interest and partisan groups.

Please tell all your friends, and let’s get out the vote. This is an off-year election, which makes every vote even more important.

Ron and Michelle Clyborne
Edmonds

 

The waterfront is our future – vote Petso, Paine and Harris

The Edmonds waterfront brings thoughts of ducks, seagulls and herons, of the ferry, our beach parks, pathways and boardwalk, of the newly redeveloped (code-compliant) Salish Crossing and, of course, of our priceless Edmonds Marsh.

These thoughts should bring the calm and peace that a waterfront evokes. Unfortunately, my thoughts of the Edmonds waterfront are fraught with anxiety.

The incumbent Port commissioners have a plan for Harbor Square: an urban village with over 300 condominiums, in buildings that would loom 55 feet over the waterfront. The Port’s adopted plan would privatize not only the views of the waterfront and of the Edmonds Marsh, it would privatize our public property.

At the Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds candidate forum, incumbent Steve Johnston called the plan a “placeholder.” Fred Gouge said it wouldn’t be built as long as he is a commissioner. Bruce Faires said, “There is no other plan that makes economic sense. This is the only one that’s feasible.”

The Harbor Square Master Plan was adopted in 2012 in the Port’s strategic plan. In the five years since, no effort has been made by the Port commissioners to change their plan. The incumbents are holding the community hostage to a future plan that will not protect our Marsh, will not protect our views and will not protect our publicly owned property from private ownership.

We do not have the right to degrade our habitat for a dubious economic fix. We do not have the right to abandon stewardship of the waterfront, for now and for future generations.

I am voting for Lora Petso, Susan Paine and Angela Harris for the Edmonds Port Commission. They will reopen the Harbor Square Master Plan and initiate a broad community process to discuss a new and better vision for the future of the Edmonds waterfront.

Joan Bloom
Edmonds

 

The essence of Edmonds

Twenty-eight years ago, while planning a move from the Midwest to Washington, I drove State Route 104 into Edmonds on a sunny May day and was awestruck by the vista in front of me – glistening water, snow-frosted mountains, vibrant businesses and colorful flower baskets cascading from lampposts.

It was love at first sight, and it grows stronger every year I live in our exquisite city.

Citizens of Edmonds have made it clear over the years that they do not want tall buildings in the downtown and waterfront areas. These spectacular views belong to everyone and need to be protected.

There are many other locations in Edmonds that would be suitable for high-density, taller buildings. It is disappointing that in the Port’s Harbor Square Master Plan they proposed a large condo complex with 55-foot buildings built as close as possible to our tidal wildlife sanctuary – the Edmonds Marsh.

That is not what good environmental stewardship looks like. It is even more disappointing that after the City Council did not approve the harbor plan, the Port kept it as its strategic plan and stated that it was waiting for a change in the City Council to present this plan again (you can validate this by reading the Port minutes from March 1, 2017).

Even though the Port owns only the edge of the marsh, that edge is a critically important interface of nature and commercial property; any changes to Harbor Square must be in harmony with the wildlife neighbors next door.

Do you share my fear that once an “exception” is made to allow 55-foot buildings at Harbor Square, the floodgates will open and every developer will want the same “exception” because more height equals more money for them?

Imagine yourself driving through downtown or to the waterfront in a canyon of 55-foot buildings – is this what you want for yourself and for future generations? If we make the wrong decision, it can never be undone.

We need city council and Port members who will assure that economic development enhances and protects our natural environment while also retaining the charm, character and natural beauty that make Edmonds the gem of all Puget Sound cities.

We only have one chance to get this right.

Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Kristiana Johnson, Mike Nelson, Angela Harris, Susan Paine, and Lora Petso share this vision to protect the essence of Edmonds. Please support them with your vote.

Marty Jones
Edmonds

 

Miscommunication regarding the Port

I am writing to address the public’s current unacceptable level of miscommunication and misunderstanding regarding related factors influencing our upcoming elections. By way of validation that “I know of which I speak,” I am still an active member and past chair of the Edmonds Planning Board.

Matters regarding Edmonds Marsh, the Harbor Square Master Plan, Edmonds Shoreline Master Program and downtown waterfront area have been documented, presented, discussed, reviewed, and acted upon by our board (including myself) many times over the years, but most intensely from 2010 to 2013.

Regarding the Edmonds Marsh: The city owns and is responsible for plans and implementation of programs/projects towards restoring and further improving sustainable environmental conditions in this area of our waterfront.

Publically available plans with funding targets include “Willow Creek Daylighting,” “Edmonds Marsh Channel Improvements” and “Dayton Street Pump Station” – all contained within the city’s Capital Facilities and Capital Improvement Plans (2018-2013).

The Port as led by its current commissioners has always been and remains in support of plans and measures intended to improve the marsh environment, but they are not responsible for leading these efforts. If citizens and/or candidates for public office want to help the Edmonds Marsh, they should join a relative support group, volunteer or assist in fundraising, but don’t harangue the Port of Edmonds and/or their commissioners regarding their posture or responsibilities towards the marsh.

Regarding the Port’s Harbor Square Master Plan: The Port owns the Harbor Square land and related buildings and improvements within their district. In compliance with Chapter 20.00 of the Edmonds Community Development Code, the Port prepared and submitted a detailed request that the city incorporate a Harbor Square Master Plan (April 2012) into the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

This plan was not a project-level proposal. Had it been adopted by the city, as voted by our Council, it would only have laid a foundation for a future rezone and/or development agreement for the property.

Following an extended review, the Edmonds Planning Board voted to forward this plan with 14 specific conditions to council recommending approval. During their subsequent review, council encountered several challenges including internal conflict, public feedback and attempted preparation of a council-generated (replacement) master plan.

The outgrowth of this process for whatever reasons led to the Port’s withdrawal of its 2012 proposed plan. This plan is on the shelf. The Port has no plans at this time to either revive or prepare/propose redevelopment of Harbor Square with this shelved, or alternative, plan.

Current pre-election rhetoric and/or assertions that the Port is not supporting Edmonds Marsh improvements or reviving a Harbor Square Master Plan are not factual. Existing and highly experienced Port commissioners and management structure are doing a great job, and deserve our support in the upcoming election.

Phil Lovell
Edmonds

 

Can the Edmonds Marsh be saved?

The primary threats affecting the Edmonds Marsh and its wildlife are:

• Encroachment into the marsh buffer. The Port, BNSF Railway, Chevron and WSDOT own 100 percent of the buffer area, which has huge impacts on the marsh.

• Toxic contaminates. The marsh contains cancer-causing petroleum compounds at levels that exceed state criteria. The source of contamination is stormwater and/or contaminated soil from past industrial activities. The Port of Edmonds conducted a cleanup at Harbor Square, but left oil-contaminated soil at the marsh.

• Impaired circulation and tidal exchange. Development has disrupted natural flows with pipes, culverts and ditches. The construction of the Port’s south marina moved the marsh outlet into a 1,600-foot pipe that eliminated salmon migration.

• Inadequate native vegetation. The Marsh was downgraded because it lacks 100 feet of vegetation on three sides. Much of the current vegetation is invasive species that prevent the growth and natural succession of native plants.

In order to save the Edmonds Marsh, all of these threats must be addressed by elected officials. City Council is taking the right approach to hire an unbiased scientific firm to conduct a site-specific study.

When results are available, elected officials must work together. We cannot have the Port arguing with Council about who is responsible or avoiding/denying problems. Edmonds must have elected officials who will work with citizens to protect and enhance our environment.

Joe Scordino
Edmonds

 

A clear choice at the Port

I have lived in Edmonds for 50 years. I have seen many changes – some of which I liked and others that I didn’t like.

For those of you who are wondering about the candidates for Port of Edmonds commissioner, there really are only two choices. Since there are three vacant positions, and if you vote for the three men currently in those positions, it is possible that the occupants of Harbor Square will disappear.

In their places, it is very possible that the current commissioners will have developers build buildings for condominiums with small businesses on the first floor. This is what the Port has proposed in the past.

Also, the buffer on the marsh will be reduced to a very small size so that the current land will not be available to wildlife and fish to use. Why does the Port need more money? It is already receiving money from our property taxes.

The other choice is to vote for the three women challengers: Susan Paine, Lora Petso and Angela Harris. They are all intelligent and very aware of the need to protect the environment we cherish. Also, vote for Kristiana Johnson, currently on the Edmonds City Council and running for re-election.

Kristiana was instrumentally involved in preventing the Port commissioners from being able to gain permission last time they presented their plans to develop Harbor Square and diminish the size of the marsh.

The choice is for the people of Edmonds, because the city owns a large part of the whole area. Remember that more development means more traffic, more condos, more children to support in our schools.

Carolyn Henry
Edmonds

 

 

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