The man behind the Save Edmonds Beach campaign

Important City Council vote on the agenda Tuesday
By Brian Soergel | Jun 17, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel Cam Tripp, with a portion of the Edmonds beach in the background that could be the site of emergency-access bridge.

This story was updated June 19:

At an Edmonds City Council committee meeting June 11, where the public was invited but not allowed to speak, as per rules, Public Works Director Phil Williams responded to a question from Councilmember Dave Teitzel concerning citizens opposed to the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector.

More specifically, the questions centered on a change.org group called “Save Edmonds Beach” that has collected more than 8,000 signatures – in just the past month – opposing the planned structure.

”I don’t know if there’s any way that we really can tell whether those people are from Edmonds, Shoreline, Everett, or Florida,” Williams said. “It’s a little obtuse that way, from my perspective.”

One thing, though: The creator of that group, Edmonds resident Cam Tripp, was at the meeting.

“I'm like, I’m right here,” Tripp said Friday, June 14, during an interview along the beach at Brackett’s Landing North.

City officials may not know Tripp from Adam, but the 47-year-old is a minor celebrity/agitator a week later as he almost single-handedly helped to defeat the next phase of the connector, a years-long City effort to provide emergency access to the waterfront in case of prolonged train blockage (think fire or medical emergency) of the at-grade Dayton and Main street track crossings.

Councilmembers voted to halt the project Tuesday, June 18.

“It was amazing to see several hundred people show up on behalf of the over 8,000 who signed the petition,” Tripp said after the meeting.

“ I am so proud of everyone, and the collective effort worked. Standing for our community values won the day. We will celebrate the win tonight, but we won't declare victory overall, as there are still ways this could come back to life.

“There is a button on the Change.Org petition where I can ‘declare victory’; we are not pushing that button yet. We will continue to collect signatures, 100-200 per day all throughout the summer and into the fall, so that our number swell so that it makes us even stronger to stop potential reversals or funny business down the road. Thank you to everyone. I think I'm going to sleep in tomorrow. I’m amazed and blessed by the people who love Edmonds Beach.”

“I love this town”

In the past few weeks, Tripp’s frenzied efforts have led to local television and radio coverage.

Tripp is a 47-year-old California transplant who moved with his wife and children to Edmonds in 2011 from Tiburon, a picturesque town at the terminus of a craggy peninsula extending into the San Francisco Bay.

“Edmonds reminds me a lot of where I grew up,” said Tripp, who works in leadership and organizational development. “I love this town above the waterfront. It's unique. I take the train to Seattle every day for work, and I come back here and I feel like I’ve stepped off into a different world. I decompress. I walk here in the morning and gather my thoughts and my prayers. It's a magical place.”

Although Tripp refers to his website and Facebook pages as “Save Edmonds Beach,” he is specifically referring to the stretch north of the Brackett’s Landing North jetty.

Tripp and others have made the argument against the connector that the area is designated a marine sanctuary, an issue that helped sway the vote on Tuesday.

According to Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite, Brackett’s Landing North – which is between the ferry dock and the jetty – is indeed a shoreline sanctuary, and is protected by Edmonds City code.

“The beach north of the jetty, in my understanding, does not have a name in our parks plan, or inventory list,” Hite said.

Edmonds code states that “Brackett's Landing Shoreline Sanctuary” means “that marine resource area lying between the inner harbor line and the western most boundary of the railroad right of way and between the ferry dock on Main Street and a line extending due west from the end of Caspers Street.

“The Brackett's Landing Shoreline Sanctuary is reserved solely to provide the public, scientists and students the opportunity to examine over a period of time the ecological relationships within such area.”

Because of that wording, would the City's code have to be rewritten to accommodate the connector?

“The quick answer is ‘no’," Development Services Director Patrick Doherty said.

Public Works Director Phil Williams elaborated.

"It would not need to be rewritten," he said. "A permit can be issued by the Parks director if there are public safety concerns being addressed by the project."

“Put up or shut up”

Before his current job – Tripp didn’t want to mention its name – Tripp conducted “leadership and organizational development” for a company called Fierce Conversations.

“I used to travel around the world talking about how you have authentic, robust conversation about issues in your organization.”

For him, the connector is one of them.

“So my wife is like, hey, you either better put up or shut up, because you're complaining about this all the time you come by here,” he said.

The result: the website, Facebook page, and change.org petition in an attempt to draw attention to the connector. Although the City held open houses, conducted polls and devoted hours and hours to the connector, it’s only in the past two weeks that citizen opposition has blown up, largely due to Tripp’s efforts.

A previous website, nosunsetconnector.com (which Tripp is not involved in), did not take off, largely due to its anonymous nature and because no one stepped forward from the mysterious group to promote it.

Tripp said he wanted to own his site to show credibility.

“There's a lot of people around who are so busy, they don't have time to attend meetings. They work downtown, they have a second job. They have kids, soccer practice, chores around the house. To go to a public information meeting is unrealistic for the majority of people that I know.”

Tripp doesn’t mind exaggerating to get his point across. A picture gallery on saveedmondsbeach.com shows a multi-lane freeway-type flyover lane over the beach.

Tripp calls it “augmented reality,” his form of an artist’s rendering. The City’s rendering, he said, is just that, as it’s gone through several phases and will likely change again.

“So we have no idea what it will look like,” he said. “I love photography. If the pen is mightier than the sword and a photo is worth a thousand words, I think in the social media age to have an actual photo of something that you can share is extremely powerful. And so if I have to weigh out an artist rendering versus (an) actual photo of the place, I'm going with the actual photo, even if it's augmented reality.”

Although there has been the inevitable concern from some that a connector/overpass would attract the homeless or a criminal element, Tripp said that is not his concern.

“I'm not worried about that. There are other places you can hide out down here. Police officers are great with keeping this place clean and friendly for people. I’m worried more about the aesthetics.

“It's almost like it’s spiritual for the locals who live here. Like this is almost a little beach that nobody knows about. The people who live here know this area, and they know that they can have some privacy and reconnect with who they are, with nature, and with God. The connector would completely change the whole vibe.”

"Putting myself out there”

All this exposure could be daunting for some. But Tripp said his parents were never afraid to speak out on causes they supported, including trying to block development of an open space in California. His mother was a reporter and his brother is still a reporter.

“I'm still not used to it. I was purposeful about not putting myself out there; I wanted to get the cause out there. Then people start wondering, and started asking, who is this? So I thought the cause would lose credibility unless someone claimed credit for starting it.”

Tripp admits his “unmasking” has made him vulnerable.

“I mean, you're telling the City that they're doing something wrong and you’re telling them to change it. So it's time to revisit this. I mean, if you look at the City's own funded research, the midblock option was the number one option.

“It just felt like there were other agendas at play that people weren’t talking about.”

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.