Council Agenda Item

Public Hearing on an Ordinance amending the Edmonds Community Development Code to add “Hotel” as a Permitted Use in the CW Zone


Department:Planning DivisionSponsors:
Category:Code Adoption or Amendment



The Economic Development Commission (EDC) has had an item on its work plan for two-to-three years to amend the City’s zoning code for the “CW - Commercial Waterfront” zone to allow lodging-type uses (see memo from EDC Chair Mary Monroe).


The Economic Development Commission (EDC) has been considering this issue over the past two to three years, spurred by their interest in potentially capturing more economic impact from the thousands of visitors who come to Edmonds. While day-trippers spend on average from $44 to $85 per person per day in our local economy, overnighters in Snohomish County spend up to $179 per person per night, a substantial increase in local economic impact (Dean Runyon Associates, May 2019). The EDC also believes that additional lodging opportunities in and around greater Downtown Edmonds would also serve as a welcome complement to the burgeoning arts, culture, entertainment and culinary scene.


For these reasons, and in an effort to expand the opportunities for developing potential lodging establishments in and around Downtown Edmonds, the EDC proposed consideration of adding “hotel” to the listed of “primary permitted uses” in the CW zone.


The current version of the CW zone is attached. Generally, the City’s zoning code provides for hotels and/or motels in commercial zones, and includes these definitions:


21.40.060 Hotel.

Hotel means any building containing five or more separately occupied rooms that are rented out for sleeping purposes. A central kitchen and dining room and interior accessory shops and services catering to the general public can be provided. Not included are institutions housing persons under legal restraint or requiring medical attention or care. (See also, Motel.)


21.60.040 Motel. Motel means a building containing units which are used as individual sleeping units having their own private toilet facilities and sometimes their own kitchen facilities, designed primarily for the accommodation of transient automobile travelers. Accommodations for trailers are not included. This term includes tourist court, motor lodge, auto court, cabin court, motor hotel, motor inn and similar names. (See also, Hotel.)


Hotels are an allowed use in the Downtown Business (BD) zoning districts which include most of the downtown area.  However, hotels are not a permitted use in the Commercial Waterfront (CW) zone, which encompasses properties waterward of the BNSF railroad south of Brackett’s Landing South park to the City’s southern limits.


The EDC request can be accomplished by adding hotels to the list of Permitted Primary Uses in Chapter 16.55.010 (CW zone). Staff does not recommend adding 'motel' as a permitted use since the purposes of the CW zone are focused on public access and pedestrian use in the waterfront area, and the definition of a motel is more focused on supporting vehicle use and access.


This potential amendment is consistent with the Shoreline Master Program, which allows this type of use in the Urban Mixed Use shoreline environments.


The City Council had some discussion regarding parking during its review on February 4th. Briefly, the standard for all commercial uses in the downtown area is as follows:

“All new buildings or additions in the downtown business area shall provide parking at a flat rate of one parking stall for every 500 sq. ft. of gross floor area of building. If it is a mixed use or residential building, the portions of the building used exclusively for residential uses shall only be required to provide parking at one stall per dwelling unit. For purposes of this chapter, “residential uses” shall refer to lobbies, stairwells, elevators, storage areas and other similar features.” [ECDC 17.50.010.C]


If the Council is concerned that the normal downtown commercial parking rate is insufficient for hotels, the Council could instead specify that hotels use the residential parking rate of “one stall per {dwelling} unit”. This could be accomplished by amending the proposed ordinance to permit hotels as:

“Hotels that include parking at one stall for every unit”


Exhibit 1 includes a draft ordinance that would implement the Planning Board’s recommendation to add “Hotels” to the permitted uses in the CW zone. Exhibit 2 contains the existing CW Zone language (ECDC 16.55) showing the proposed change allowing hotel uses. The minutes of the Planning Board discussion and public hearing are attached as Exhibit 3. Exhibit 4 contains the EDC Memo to the Planning Board asking that lodging be allowed in the CW Zone. Exhibit 5 is a map of the CW zone. Exhibit 6 is a summary of responses to recent questions raised.