Don't let downtown change from its original intent | Guest View
Last updated 7/28/2022 at 10:46am
With the Business District 2 (BD2) street-front designation that provides commercial use at a minimum on the ground floor and the BD2 multifamily-only building design standards now being on separate tracks, I am respectfully reminding the council to take holistic control of this process once it comes back to their agenda.
This BD2 spot-rezoning and rewriting of primary uses will, in and of itself, alter the core downtown zoning from its original intent – to have that area carved out for “by appointment” businesses, often the small family-owned ones that Edmonds is very well-known for, to participate in our primary retail and commercial core, where they belong.
These businesses in the BD2 zone create the kind of jobs that are desired and pay a living wage, which we should welcome and encourage.
These primary professional office or home office uses create vital connections with their clients and staff to the adjacent BD1 core “open door”-only retail and restaurant businesses. They have supported a harmonious and economically viable commercial core in our precious downtown that has stood for over 100 years.
If this core zoning is now permanently altered in a piecemeal fashion, it will neglect your constituents’ desire for our small downtown to continue to be a core meeting, gathering, prosperous and eclectic mix of what makes our unique town of Edmonds special.
Most of you (councilmembers) ran on keeping the downtown core intact. If you say that you live or work in Edmonds to someone, or those who discover it when they come to visit, they have glowing praise about Edmonds.
It’s never, “Oh, I’m so sorry. You live in Edmonds – bummer.” No one says that!
One block from here we see the new commercial development at Sixth and Main of Edmonds Commons and before that the Graphite building four block down.
Our downtown commercial core is strong and is a desirable place to do business, from the business owners’ perspective and from the visitors and community members who live here.
Please review this process carefully when it comes back. I would ask to consider expanding the street-front designation at a minimum up the north side of Dayton Street, which currently allows for mixed commercial, residential homes, and home-based businesses.
The BD2 multifamily-only design process seems to be a bit off the rails right now, after watching the last Architectural Design Board meeting, where over half of the time was used by staff to promote allowing roof decks on these large structures.
This is even though council clearly expressed that this limited BD2-only design standard process was not the time to use for that impactful of a decision.
I support the continuance of Interim Ordinance 4262 so that there can be robust local involvement, and encourage this process continue being overseen by the City Council from beginning to end. I might add the Chamber of Commerce as a valuable resource to include in this process as well.
I also ask that the Edmonds city code be made an immediate priority to hire an outside company to review and organize it as we approach the comprehensive planning process.
Having the city code accurately rewritten by a professional person or company who only does that work will ensure that these types of irregular zoning, loopholes, and code language issues are not continually creating critical hiccups that force everything to stop and restart with piecemeal, underwhelming results.
With our planning department currently understaffed, it would seem much more prudent to have someone outside of that department who has the time and in-depth knowledge to give Edmonds an understandable and consistent code before 2024.