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EDMONDS BEACON YOUR HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER

www.edmondsbeacon.com

806 5th Street, Mukilteo, WA 98275

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IN THIS BEACON Party week for 100-year-old NAMI support groups starting Post-holiday hike offered

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Volume XXIX Number 9 Dec. 19, 2013

BOY SCOUTS

E-W SWIM WIN

Ready Christmas tree recycling fundraiser

Warriors take holiday break with 2-2 record

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Sandwich board pollution‌

Emergency needs take priority on waterfront access BY PAUL ARCHIPLEY PUBLISHER @ YOURBEACON . NET

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‌a sign of the times? BY PAUL ARCHIPLEY PUBLISHER @ YOURBEACON . NET

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fforts by a longtime Edmonds resident to put the brakes on overuse of sandwich board signs may be bearing fruit. A couple of months ago, Natalie Shippen began attending City Council meetings to express her unhappiness with the proliferation of the free-standing signs in downtown Edmonds. Allotted just three minutes each

time, Shippen steadfastly attended meetings week after week to enable her to cover the issue thoroughly. A former councilmember herself, she told the Beacon that she first became aware of America’s sign pollution in the 1950s when she and her husband visited Europe. Signage was much more limited, making business districts more attractive, she said. In Edmonds today, the sign code see

SIGNS page 16 Beacon photo by Paul Archipley

he death of a man last month when a train struck him in Edmonds, leading to a complete cutoff of the waterfront for four hours, created a sense of urgency to find a way to provide emergency access in the event of future shutdowns. On Tuesday, the City Council directed staff to make emergency access a priority as it works on an alternatives analysis for waterfront access, with an eye toward seeking state funding for a $2 million study of the issue. The study covers four interlocking components: emergency access; at grade conflicts where Main and Dayton streets intersect the railroad tracks; pedestrian/bicycle access; and options to the Edmonds Crossing Multimodal Terminal project. Some councilmembers wanted to extract the emergency access component and direct staff to put all of its effort into that issue. “I’ve heard a lot of comments from citizens over the last year and a half from folks who are concerned about emergency access,� Councilmember see

HO HO HO ly Rosary elves hit Edmonds!

A job well done

‘Elves’ hand out free gift cards to downtown customers Santa will likely be smiling about this one. On Thursday, Dec. 19, a band of merry ‘elves’ from Holy Rosary School planned to hand out free gift cards to surprised customers at several downtown Edmonds stores. The elves planned to hand out dozens of gift certificates to customers outside the doors of Nama’s Candy store, Starbucks, and Revelations Yogurt. Customers could also choose to ‘pay it forward’ and pass a gift card along to the next customer. “This will be a wonderful surprise to our downtown customers,� said Andy Cline of Cline Jewelers and president of the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association. “We expect to see a lot of surprised and happy faces around town Thursday, and we sincerely thank Holy Rosary School

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dmonds City Council President Lora Petso presents Councilmember Frank Yamamoto with a plaque Tuesday honoring him for his service to the City. Yamamoto resigned last week, citing health concerns. He had two heart surgeries in the past two years. Tuesday was his final meeting. The City hasn’t yet determined a process for filling the opening. Deadline for appointment is Monday, March 31.

for their generous act.� “We want to help spread some extra Christmas cheer around Edmonds,� said Holy Rosary School Principal Sue Venable. “We love our community, and this is a great way to both support our Edmonds merchants and thank our community for its wonderful support of Holy Rosary School throughout the year.� Venable added she would love to see this become an annual tradition, perhaps one that will inspire other ‘elves’ in the community to join the surprise holiday give-away at Edmonds stores. Holy Rosary School in Edmonds is an accredited, diverse Catholic school engaging students in pre-kindergarten to grade 8 that has been inspiring life-long learners since 1964. For more information, please visit www.hrsedmonds.org.

Beacon photo by Paul Archipley

Hear the Joy of the Holiday Season Nama’s Candy

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Garden Gear

WATERFRONT page 16

Sound Styles

Our Gift

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16 - Edmonds Beacon from

www.edmondsbeacon.com

December 19, 2013

SIGNS page 1

permits business owners to use free-standing signs, or sandwich boards, in front of their business up to 60 days a year. But with limited staff, including just one code compliance officer, the City depends on citizen complaints or the businesses to monitor themselves. And, that, Shippen contends, isn’t happening. She doesn’t think citizens should have to act as vigilantes, and she doesn’t see that businesses are policing themselves, either. “I compare it to measles,” she said. “All these spots are popping up around town.” Shippen would like to see the code strengthened, with more enforcement, and offenders facing fines when they don’t comply. Mayor Dave Earling said Shippen’s persistence prompted discussions between him and staff, and they agreed they would revisit the sign code in the New Year. For him, the first order of business will be putting a stop to directional signs that some business owners are placing on main streets to point customers to their businesses located elsewhere.

Volunteer drivers wanted

Beacon photo by Paul Archipley While the focus has been on Edmonds’ downtown district, the proliferation of sandwich boards are a citywide issue, as evidenced by this row on the southeast corner of Edmonds Way and 100th Avenue West. “They chose their location, and they shouldn’t be allowed to put a spotlight out in front of other businesses,” Earling said. Senior Planner Kernen Lien said that, because of limited staff, enforcement of the sign code has been a lower priority.

But the City is looking at options that will be examined more thoroughly in 2014. Those include an update of the sign code, which may include tightening regulations and closing loopholes, and outreach to businesses to make them aware of the code and to encourage them to police themselves. “It’s difficult for us to enforce when you have to go to one business at a time,” Lien said. David Arista, co-owner with his wife Ruth of Arista Wine Cellars at 320 5th Ave. S, said he would prefer to see business owners police themselves as well. He said the Downtown Edmonds Business Improvement District would likely look at the issue in 2014 to determine whether it merits further discussion.

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WATERFRONT page 1

Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said. “I’d would feel more comfortable if we could separate it out. We are talking about life and death.” Councilmember Joan Bloom echoed that concern, suggesting that the overall study was illdefined and could drag out the process too long. “What happens if you have an emergency, a heart attack at Anthony’s, and you can’t get there?” Bloom asked. “We have no emergency access in our comprehensive plan. “Yet we have this enormous study that is poorly defined.” But staff warned that isolating the emergency access component would decrease the odds

The Aristas follow the code, putting up a sandwich board in front of their store for short periods throughout the year to notify the public of special events, such as a wine tasting. “We just need to remind everybody about the code,” he said. “We can address it that way.” Ruth Arista said she has talked to others in the community who don’t believe sandwich boards are a major issue. “I have heard people say it’s a non-issue,” she said. Like many business owners, the Aristas and most of their employees live in Edmonds, so they are concerned about keeping the community beautiful, too. “We live here, pay the same property taxes, we’re working with our neighbors and friends,” Ruth Arista said. “We can figure out a construc-

tive way to address it.” Andy Cline, of Cline Jewelers at 105 5th Ave. S, and president of the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association, said the issue hasn’t been discussed by that body. Declining to comment on the sandwich boards issue directly, Cline did say he was open to working with the City on the sign code. “We would like a seat at the table,” he said. Shippen might very well want one, too. She said residents should have a say. “I think there’s a struggle going on between businesses that want to make money and citizens who want an attractive town,” she said. “If the reputation of Edmonds declines, the first to suffer would be the businesses.”

that the City could win state funding for its study. Councilmember Strom Peterson emphasized that point. If the City asks the state to fund a project that benefits only Edmonds, it wouldn’t likely find a sympathetic hearing in Olympia, he said. “We have to make sure this is appealing and can get broad support,” Peterson said, “that we’re looking at this more globally. “Transportation is never about one city. We can’t think they’re going to fund us just because we have a very real need.” Councilmember Frank Yamamoto agreed. “This is a business decision,” he said. “We don’t have the money. “I’m all for emergency access.

But to do that, we have to put together several items. Without us doing that, we’re not going to get anywhere.” In addition, Acting Development Services Director Rob Chave said focusing on only one component could limit options for the others. “The study itself isn’t necessarily a long time in coming,” Chave said. “My worry is you potentially lose opportunities by focusing on one narrow part.” Public Works Director Phil Williams agreed. “If you pick an emergency vehicle access-only project, it may obviate other problems,” Williams said. “It could make very difficult other projects that may solve more of the problems.” Council President Lora Petso expressed concern that including other issues, such as options to the Edmonds Crossing Multimodal Project, could open the door to the state taking over planning, to the detriment of Edmonds’ needs. But Williams said the state can assert its “statutory authority” at any time to ensure its needs – such as movement of ferry traffic – are met. He recommended the City remain engaged in all waterfront access aspects to ensure its priorities also are considered. “I would think you would want your local agency to have as much say in that process as possible,” Williams said. The best way to do that, he said, was to take the lead. “I think we’d want to hang onto that as long as we could,” he said. In the end, the council compromised, keeping all four elements of the study in play, but emphasizing that emergency access was the priority.

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