Riverfront Boulevard is a rare example of a road getting a name not in line with city requirements. It was named at the request of a developer. (Ben Watanabe / The Herald)

Riverfront Boulevard is a rare example of a road getting a name not in line with city requirements. It was named at the request of a developer. (Ben Watanabe / The Herald)

How are streets named? It depends

Naming a road probably requires city or county council approval — a long process across the county.

Convention Way in Lynnwood is one of those locator names.

It doesn’t cut through the noise like some pavement in Snohomish County, but it identifies what it’s near and leads to what’s essentially the driveway to the Lynnwood Convention Center.

Convention Way only exists between 195th Street SW. and 196th Street SW. The turnoff was 37th Avenue W. until the Lynnwood City Council changed the name in August 2005.

That’s typical for most cities across Snohomish County; road name changes generally are the realm of city councils.

In Lynnwood, code 12.08.040 says that avenues, boulevards, circles, drives, places, roads, streets and ways keep their designation (name or number) unless the City Council changes it through ordinance or resolution.

In Everett, code 13.44.100 specifies that some get names and others get numbers. New avenues, drives, places and streets will only have number designations. But boulevards, lanes, roads and ways are only named. All are assigned a street number based on a gridline numbering system.

The city’s permitting services use a 15-point checklist to process a street name change. First is a request from residents, staff, the Everett City Council or the city’s planning commission, then a review of the code referenced above, notification of all property owners and tenants affected by the proposed change, followed by notification of the United States Postal Service postmaster, a meeting with the owners and tenants, a survey of their thoughts, and then another nine items.

Everett does not change a lot of street names. Since the ordinance was established in the 1980s, Everett Public Works staff couldn’t recall a successful request to rename a road for a person, spokesperson Kathleen Baxter said.

But there have been exceptions to Everett’s number designation requirements.

“A developer can propose a name, and the city considers it,” Baxter said.

She cited Riverfront Boulevard, which serves residents in the Riverfront area, as a recent example.

Almost a decade ago Snohomish changed its policy so only the city, not developers, could name new streets. When enacted, the city had a list of its early settlers, business owners, journalists, first mail carrier and a priest to choose from.

In 2013, Lake Stevens created an honorary street designation resolution to memorialize Sean O’Connell, a Washington State Patrol trooper who died in the line of duty in May 2013.

Snohomish County’s many and vast roads conform to a standardized series of numbers for a grid system, Snohomish County Public Works right-of-way investigator Jeanne-Marie Lane said. The county roads can ditch their numerals only by approval of the Snohomish County Council.

“The last named road in the county was Cathcart Way near Snohomish,” Lane said. “The use of ‘Way’ was allowed as the road doesn’t really follow the grid system.”

Lynnwood’s other recently renamed roads are Veterans Way (formerly 194th Street SW) near Veterans Park and Triton Way (formerly 204th Street SW), in honor of Edmonds Community College.

Sometimes a locator name is the best option.

Have a question? Email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com.

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