Population growth, change is coming to Edmonds

By Stefan Carlson | Aug 27, 2015

Last month the City Council passed the 2015 Comprehensive Plan. The plan serves as a road map for decisions over the next six to eight years until the next plan is developed.

It highlights spending plans for new structures as well as projects that the city wants to accomplish, like transportation improvements and recreational opportunities.

The plan passed on July 28 with a 6-1 vote. Councilmember Joan Bloom, the dissenting vote, proposed an amendment to the plan to prevent the Harbor Square/Salish Crossing area from being used for residential buildings in the future.

Councilmember Kristiana Johnson also proposed an amendment to the plan. She recommended that space be reserved for Community Transit Swift bus stations on Highway 104.

The council agreed to add a placeholder for rapid transit stations on both Highway 104 and Highway 524. A draft of the plan can be found at www.edmondswa.gov.

There were three aspects of the new comp plan that particularly caught my attention.


The economic development part of the plan reveals that in 2013 the largest source of retail sales revenue in Edmonds was the auto industry.

Surprisingly, the second highest category listed in “Top Retail Sectors” (based on taxable retail sales in 2013) was “food services, caterers and bars.”

In 2013, auto sales brought in $152.2 million in sales, while restaurants, bars and caterers brought in $87 million.

The plan actually notes that eating and drinking places in Edmonds capture more in sales than the estimated demand for Edmonds residents. This means that people in Edmonds like to go out more than people in the rest of the western U.S. or that people who don’t live in Edmonds like to come here for food and drinks.


The plan also had some interesting things to say about our population demographics. The average age of Edmonds residents is increasing.

Between 2000 and 2010 the percentage of residents between the ages of 65 and 84 grew from 28 percent to 33 percent, the percentage of residents between the ages of 20 and 44 shrunk from 32 percent to 27 percent and the percentage of residents between the ages of 0 and 19 shrunk from 23 percent to 21 percent. These numbers will be updated again with the 2020 census. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.


The third aspect that piqued my attention was the availability of affordable housing, both for now and for the future. There is currently a limited amount of affordable housing for those that make less than 50 percent of the area median income, and there is no affordable housing for those that make less than 30 percent of the area median income. While there is a need for more affordable housing right now, the need is only anticipated to increase in the coming years. By 2035, Edmonds is projected to add approximately another 5,000 people to its population and will need to create about 2,790 more housing units in order to accommodate the anticipated growth. Of those 2,790 units, there will be a need for 307 units for residents who make 30-50 percent of the area median income and another 307 units for residents who make less than 30 percent of the area median income.

One question we’ll be asking is, “How will our region address the issue of housing?” Perhaps affordable options will be located where they can do the most good, close to transit and employment.

Looking forward ...

For me, the most significant take away from the Comprehensive Plan compared to the previous one, is that population growth is coming our way.

More people moving to Edmonds will create renewed pressures on housing prices and the need for options. Many of our favorite hang out spots will be more crowded, but there will also be new places to visit to fill the demand.

County Planners are working to accommodate more population growth across the county. Everett and cities east of Mill Creek will likely be impacted more than Edmonds. Watch to see which cities grow the most.

One thing the plan tells us for sure is that Edmonds is changing and will continue to change. Although change can be a little scary sometimes, I’m optimistic about the future of this beautiful city I call home.


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