Bellingham City Council
Action Taken at May 4, 2020 Meeting
Bellingham Emergency Management update on Covid-19.
Of the 954 city employees, 851 are working on-site or remotely. The I.T. Department has provided instruction, resources, and support to employees so they can work safely from home. The operators at the drinking water and wastewater sewer plants are taking precautionary measures to stay safe and maintain social distancing while working. The fleet department continues to support essential functions by ensuring fire and police vehicles are maintained and repaired. The city has increased funds in contracts with the Opportunity Council and Lydia Place by approximately $400,000 to increase rental assistance. The city will receive $495,000 in a Community Development Block Grant program that comes from Housing and Urban Development as part of the CARES Act. Unified Command is working to provide support for the Light House Mission Drop-in Center, the Byron Street quarantine facility, and food distribution providers. At this time, there are no persons utilizing the facility.
Unified Command is working to line up additional medical facilities that could be used if a wave of virus infections occur. Currently, the Peace Health hospital is running at 68 – 70 percent occupancy with the ability to expand if needed. Washington State began Phase 1 of Safe Start Washington on 5/5/20 with a minimum of three weeks between each phase. Whatcom County Health Department discussed increasing capacity for testing, contact tracing, assisting businesses, non-profit organizations, and faith communities for preparing them for Phases 2-4.
Some community members have asked if Whatcom County could apply for a variance and bypass the first Phase and move into Phase 2, but Whatcom County does not meet the criteria because the population is too high. The Whatcom County Health Department has provided additional symptoms to health care providers in accordance with an announcement from the CDC last week. Testing capacity is at 2,400 individuals a day in Whatcom County. Peace Health and NW Laboratories opened up to testing for symptomatic individuals only. Testing for those who are asymptomatic is available if a person has been in close contact with a positive case and/or exposed to a cluster community. (AB22593) Non-voting issue.
The council adopted an emergency moratorium on the processing of applications for and the construction of new detached or attached single-family dwelling units at the 3/9/2020 meeting, vote #46. A public hearing is required within 60 days of passage of an emergency ordinance. The ordinance is a 12-month moratorium prohibiting the construction of any new detached or attached single-family development in multifamily zones or land divisions that create new, detached single-family homes. (AB22599) Non-voting issue.
Shall the council:
67. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,423,942 to Razz Construction of Bellingham for the Meridian Street water quality improvement project? The engineer’s estimate was $1,107,843. The project area is near W. Kellogg Road and Meridian Street. It is partially funded by a state grant of $983,792, and will improve water quality in Spring Creek, Baker Creek, Squalicum Creek and ultimately Bellingham Bay through enhanced treatment runoff generated by an approximately 10-acre tributary basin. The city received eight bids: the high bid was $1,874,101. (AB22631) Approved 7-0
68. Appropriate $3,544,053 for payroll checks issued from April 1 through April 15, 2020? (AB22632) Approved 7-0
69. Appropriate $1,442,228 for goods and services checks issued from April 18 through April 23, 2020? (AB22633) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at May 18, 2020 Meeting
Former Fire Chief Roger Christensen lost his life in an accident on Friday May 15. Current Fire Chief Bill Hewett commemorated the loss of the retired chief and gave a summary of his service to the city of Bellingham followed by a moment of silence.
For the third year in a row, the MacArthur Foundation will provide the city of Bellingham and Whatcom County another year of technical and training assistance for their work on young adult incarceration prevention. Mayor Fleetwood announced that some positions being filled on an interim basis have now been confirmed to permanent status. Fire Chief Bill Hewett, Communications Director, Janice Keller and Public Works Director Eric Johnson. The Parks and Recreation Director position is open, and the recruitment process is active. The city continues to follow the governor’s directives with hopes to commence boards and commissions meetings soon. City staff is working on a public participation plan for the climate policy approval process. (Non-voting issue)
Bellingham Emergency Management update on Covid-19. The Unified Command is focusing on managing the quarantine and isolation facility on Byron Avenue, and providing and supporting shelter for the Drop-In Center at Bellingham High School. In addition, planning with community partners for surge capacity has been a major focus recently. Social distancing in the parks continues to be an issue, especially on the weekends. The Parks Department will work with the police parking enforcement officers to help enforce Covid-19 social distancing guidelines. A mask directive has been issued to Whatcom County residents effective 5/22/2020. Though the directive is not enforceable, it is a strong recommendation. Guidance for businesses can be found at http://www.whatcomcounty.us/3404/Directive-To-Wear-Face-Coverings. The Executive Board at Unified Command have asked the Human Services branch of the Command to work to assess the needs for masks. Cost estimates will be considered. The Public Health Advisory Task Force for employer/business support will work to have guidance ready for Phase 2 that they can communicate to businesses. The Regional Economic Partnership is motivated to reopen the economy in a safe way, and is focusing on organizing and reporting on grant programs and other financial tools and resources. They are implementing the governor’s and the Health Department’s guidance of the four-phase reentry plan. Housing security, food security, social services, and childcare are areas of focus for Housing & Human Services. They have reviewed the $2.7 million from the CARES ACT, and the state of Washington will distribute the funds. (AB22593) (Non-voting issue)
Shall the council:
70. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Makenzie Graham and Scott Jones to partial terms on the Planning and Development Commission? Makenzie Graham is the former campaign manager for April Barker, has a master of public health from the University of Washington-Seattle and a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Winconsin-Madison. Scott Jones serves on the board of directors of the Bellingham Food Bank, the South Hill Neighborhood Association and is a member of the Whatcom Democrats The partial term for Makenzie Graham will expire on 3/24/2022. The partial term for Scott Jones will expire on 4/1/2021, both may be reappointed. (AB22636) Approved 7-0
71. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Staci May to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board? The board advises the City Council, mayor, director of Parks and Recreation, as well as other city departments concerning the formulations of policy and implementation, plans and programs calculated to carry out the duties of maintaining city parks and providing a program for the general welfare of the people of the city. She was initially approved to advisory board at the 4/10/2017 meeting, vote #64. A local resident for the past 22 years and the owner of Earl’s Bike Shop, she is a member of Sustainable Connections and has a BA in biology. Her final term will expire on 4/20/2023. (AB22637) Approved 7-0
72. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,760,480 to Colacurcio Brothers Construction of Blaine for 2020 watermain replacement project? The engineer’s estimate was $2,137,474. The project involves replacement of the watermain on Donovan Avenue between Connelly Creek and 36th Street, and has been deemed necessary due to multiple mainline breaks in recent years. This project will replace the existing cast iron watermain installed in 1926 with new ductile iron pipe from approximately Connelly Creek to 36th Street on the east side of Interstate 5. The pipe under I-5 is in good condition so it will not be replaced. The city received 10 bids: the high bid was $2,844,650. (AB22638) Approved 7-0
73. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,700,630 to Colacurcio Brothers Construction of Blaine to pave Bill McDonald Parkway and Britton Road? The engineer’s estimate was $1,967,431. The project includes resurfacing of Bill McDonald Parkway from 21st Street to Samish Way and Britton Road from Northshore Drive to the city limits. Improvements include ramp and sidewalk reconstruction, minor piping and structures, signal upgrades and restoration. The Bill McDonald Parkway paving will take place during the summer when traffic at WWU and Sehome High School is at a minimum. The city received five bids: the high bid was $2,121,955. (AB22639) Approved 7-0
74. Dedicate a right-of-way on 40th Street between Elwood Avenue and Dumas Avenue? The execution of the right-of-way deed will dedicate a portion of city owned property as public right-of-way and allow the construction of sidewalk connecting pedestrian facilities in 40th Street and Elwood Avenue, in keeping with implementing the city’s adopted Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans. The 2020 Transportation Benefit District project includes extension of the sidewalk along 40th Street, connecting to Elwood Avenue. Right-of-way within this portion of 40th Street is only 30-feet wide and therefore there is no room to construct bike lanes. The adjacent property is currently owned by the city of Bellingham. (AB22640) Approved 7-0
75. Extend the moratorium on development applications and permits for redevelopment of existing mobile home or manufactured home parks? (Public hearing held at June 8 meeting.) At the 6/3/2019 meeting, vote #114, the council adopted an emergency ordinance establishing a one-year moratorium on the acceptance or processing of development applications or permits relating to the redevelopment of any of the ten mobile home parks in Bellingham. These parks, and the units they contain totaling about 900 spaces, are some of the most affordable housing in the city. Therefore, it is appropriate to try to preserve all of them. Goals and policies identified in the amendment encourage the preservation of existing manufactured home parks to ensure their continued provision of affordable housing. A six-month extension of the moratorium is needed to allow staff to finalize recommendations and conduct a Type IV legislative review process. AB22025 (Emergency Ordinance 2020-05-011) Approved 7-0