November 16, 2015
City Council Members Bloom, Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Johnson, Mesaros, Nelson and Petso
Subject: Sunset of the Citizens Economic Development Commission
The Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds (ACE) discussed the Council’s pending consideration of the future of the Citizens Economic Development Commission (CEDC). We recommend that the sunset provision included in the Edmonds Community Development Code, Chapter 10.75.010 A. be followed, allowing the Commission to sunset on December 31, 2015.
Our recommendation is based on several considerations, including:
- The CEDC was formed in 2009, and has existed for 6 years. The 2008 downturn in the economy and following national recession had created major revenue shortfalls for the City of Edmonds (along with many other governmental and private entities). The CEDC was formed to explore existing and new revenue sources as a means of recovering from those losses. Edmonds’ revenues are now back on track, as evidenced by recent budget discussions at the council and mayor/staff comments on the health of the Edmonds economy and associated revenue projections. Thus the primary reasons for creating the CEDC no longer exists.
- In the Edmonds Development Code (EDC), Chapter 10.75.030, the CEDC is “…empowered to advise and make recommendations to the mayor and city council, and as appropriate to the planning commission*, architectural design board or other boards or commissions of the city on such matters as may be specifically referred to the commission by the mayor or city council….” ACE believes there have been instances (see items 3 and 4 below) where the CEDC has set its own agenda and made recommendations independent of direction from the mayor or city council. While EDC 10.75.030 indicates recommendations may be made to other boards and commissions, we believe that use of the words “as appropriate” make it clear that control of the CEDC (as well as all other boards and commissions) is vested in the council and the mayor, and council and the mayor should refer items to and receive/consider recommendations from the CEDC to decide if another board or commission should be involved. The CEDC has in some instances effectively been operating as a “quasi-legislative” body, usurping the clear policy-making responsibilities of elected officials.
- The CEDC has in several instances (redevelopment of the Post Office property, Harbor Square, Westgate) been used by building developers and/or staff as a means of promoting projects including changes that are obviously inconsistent with existing building code (most notably significantly increased building heights) and are inconsistent with the goals of ACE which are supported by many Edmonds citizens.
- Recently the CEDC has indicated it intends to “reconsider” the Five Corners plan in light of the evolution of the final Westgate plan. This is clearly a Planning Staff and Planning Board responsibility. In one instance in 2012, the CEDC moved to have the Westgate plan as revised by the Planning Board returned first to the CEDC so it could consider the Planning Board work and develop its own position before it was forwarded to council.
- In 2012, the CEDC struggled, having only 6 meetings, with 4 cancelled for lack of a quorum, while council debated whether to extend the original sunset date of December 31, 2012. This year the average attendance at meetings has been 11-13 members, and cancelled two for lack of a quorum.
- This year, the CEDC has been described in its minutes as a powerhouse team of leadership, and the commissioners have been said to be ambassadors to the citizens. This significantly overstates the position of a board/commission in the political structure.
In closing, ACE believes that for each and all of the reasons provided above, it is time for the CEDC to sunset, and return responsibility for economic policy to the elected Council and Mayor of the City of Edmonds.
John Reed, On Behalf of
The Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds (ACE)
Cc: Mayor Dave Earling
* There is no planning commission, it is a board.