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One-time fix for Planning Board | Letter to the Editor


Last updated 4/19/2021 at 4:56pm

RE: City Council discussion on Tuesday, April 20, amending Chapter 10.40.02 of the Edmonds Municipal Code (EMC): Terminating 4 Planning Board Members' terms all at one time; Revising Planning Board Members term endings and beginnings; and Changing how the Alternate moves into a Vacated Position.

At the City Council meeting April 20th, the quorum will discuss changing EMC 10.40.02 through a code amendment, proposing four of the eight positions be vacated all at one time to restructure the schedule.

I propose an alternate course of correction that does not require a code amendment nor a policy change, but essentially corrects clerical mistakes.

Here is the backstory: In the 1980s, the Edmonds City Council launched the schedule of appointments for the Planning Board. For 40 years, the schedule has followed a staggered cycle of four-year terms. This schedule is found in the Edmonds Municipal Code (EMC) 10.40.02.

City Council discussion on Dec. 16, 1980, confirms Dec. 31 as the date for the end of terms. It also confirms that the alternate moves into any vacated board position.

At some recent point in time, the City of Edmonds Planning Department's informal roster became out of step with the code-mandated schedule of board appointments. It happens. What identified the malfunction was when four positions were announced for reappointment in late fall of 2020.

The roster was not in synch with the appointment schedule. Half of the board, being up for reappointment, should have had red flags being flung in every direction.

That did not happen. Instead, a new maneuver to change the date of term end and to change the date of term beginning was introduced.

There was some City Council member collaboration with the city attorney to propose a code revision to the EMC 10.40.02- Appointment Schedule for Planning Board members- to alter the 40- year city practice.

There is a more measured solution to the confusion surrounding the appointment schedule that does not require the draconian measure of a code revision. It is apparent that two cycles, that of Position #1 and #2, then #3, and #4, staggered-term endings are off schedule.

For a one-time correction, we can see the terms of these positions slightly altered to comply with the EMC code schedule. Thus Position #1 and #2 will terminate at the end of 2022. The following year Position #3 and #4 will terminate at the end 2023.

The correction can happen in either of two ways: The City Council can inform the Planning Department it is to administer EMC 10.40.02 – as first organized and approved.

Or City Council steps in with a legislative measure to bless this one-time fix – an approach suggested by the city attorney. Nevertheless, the appointment schedule in the code needs no revision. By Dec. 31, 2023, the Planning Board's original schedule, mandated by City Council in the 1980s, will be restored.

A formal message from the City Council and/or a legislative fix is a good outcome for this course correction. The measure is a simple, straightforward approach to correct a housekeeping irregularity.

In closing, I provide a chart which shows the Planning Department's informal roster compared to the schedule for board appointment, as put forth by City Council in the 1980s.

The discordant pattern of Positions #1, #2, #3, and #4 upsets the flow of the appointment schedule. One can readily see the continuity of how Positions #5, #6, #7, and #8 cycled their four-year terms through the past 40 years.

I find it refreshing when common sense can put to right unintentional clerical mistakes.

Carreen Nordling Rubenkonig


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