Bellingham City Council
Action Taken at September 28, 2020 Meeting
Update on Covid-19 Response:
Whatcom County case rates have gone up; some are cases from a long-term care facility. The Health Department has received more funds from the CARES Act. They have about three months to spend $4.5 million. First, the Health Department staff needs to be paid and their operations supported. Other priorities are to assist school districts throughout the county and support local businesses and Chambers of Commerce, as well a mass vaccine campaign. (AB22593) Non-voting issue
Shall the council:
163. Approve the mayor’s appointments of Kate McDonald, David Stalheim and Neil Schaner to the Greenway Advisory Committee? Kate McDonald is appointed to a partial term, which will expire on 3/11/2022, at which time she may be reappointed. She has lived in Bellingham for three years. A retired high school principal, Kate serves on the boards of the Cordata Neighborhood Association and Cordata Business Park Association, is a member of the Bellingham City Club and the League of Women Voters. David Stalheim is appointed to his first term, which will expire on 9/28/2023, at which time he may be reappointed. He has lived in Bellingham for 12 plus years. David is the long-range planning manager for the city of Everett and has served on numerous boards including the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board and the State Housing Trust Fund. Neil Schaner is appointed to a partial term, which will expire on 11/18/2022, at which time he may be reappointed. He has lived in Bellingham for approximately two years. Neil is a civil engineer, his current employer is Herrera Environmental Consultants, and he has been active with Engineers Without Borders, International Living Future Institute and WTA. (AB22763) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
164. Authorize the mayor to sign a petition to vacate a portion of the Cornwall Avenue right-of-way adjacent to Parkview Elementary School? The Bellingham School District has petitioned the city to vacate a portion of the Cornwall Avenue right-of-way. The Bellingham School district owns the property to the east at Parkview Elementary School and at 3008 Cornwall Avenue. The city owns the property to the west at Cornwall Memorial Park, generally, near the park’s southern entrance. The school district is currently constructing a new elementary school and the right-of-way vacation will allow for additional area for parent drop off and circulation. The school district has requested the city to waive the payment of one half of the appraised value of the vacated right-of-way because the new elementary school is for the public good and benefit. (AB22766) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
165. Appropriate $11,277,821 for payroll checks issued from July 16, 2020 through August 31, 2020? (AB22770/22771/22772) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
166. Appropriate $3,425,345 for goods and services checks issued from September 4, 2020 through September 17, 2020? (AB22773/ 22774) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
167. Authorize the partial relinquishment of two surplus utility easements encumbering 801 17th Street? (Public hearing held.) This matter comes forward at the request of the property owner. The utility easements in question were retained by the city during previous street vacations. The Public Works Department has reviewed the request and determined that the city’s retained easements on the property are surplus to its needs and are not required for the provision of public utility services. In 1951 and 1962, the city of Bellingham vacated portions of Bennett Avenue right-of-way south of 17th Street and north of Highland Drive. All managers of the franchise utility holders have been notified and no objections to the relinquishment of the noted easements have been made. AB22758 (Resolution 2020-33) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
168. Authorize the partial relinquishment of a surplus utility easement encumbering 3708 Larrabee Avenue? (Public hearing held.) The proposed relinquishment comes to council for a decision at the request of Everett L. Madsen and adjacent owners. The Public Works Department has determined that the portion of the easement that encumbers the property is surplus to the city’s needs and is not required for the provision of public utility services. On 10/20/1953, the city of Bellingham vacated 20 feet on each side of Larrabee Avenue between Pacific Highway [Samish Way] to 40th Street, including Lot 21, Block 10, in the plat of East Fairhaven. There are no utilities in the subject portion of the retained easement, corridor abutting Lot 21. The owners of Lot 21 need to repair or improve the existing structure and steps that border the retained easement but cannot do the necessary work due to regulations regarding proximity of the structure to the remaining easement. AB22759 (Resolution 2020-34) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
169. Authorize the partial relinquishment of a surplus utility easement encumbering 619 E. Myrtle Street? (Public hearing held.) On 11/10/1958, the city of Bellingham vacated each side of Myrtle Street between Billy Frank Jr. [previously called Indian] and High streets in Block 101, in the plat of the town of New Whatcom. This was in response to a petition by Tom and Allie Bly, who were adjacent owners. There are no utilities in the subject portion of the retained easement corridor abutting Lot 9. The owners of Lot 9 need to repair or improve the existing structure that borders the retained easement, but cannot do the necessary work due to regulations regarding proximity of the structure to the remaining easement. Public Works has no plans to continue to reserve said easement rights, and, since other utilities do not cross this area and services are provided from outside areas, further city retention of this portion of the remaining utility corridor is not required. All managers of the franchise utility holders have been notified, and no objections to the partial relinquishment of the noted easement have been made. AB22760 (Resolution 2020-35) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
170. Designate the city of Bellingham as a Bee City? Bees and other pollinators have experienced population declines due to a combination of habitat loss, poor nutrition, pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides), parasites, diseases, and climate change. The Bee City USA program endorses a set of commitments for creating sustainable habitats for native pollinators, which are vital to feeding our planet. The membership fee is $400. A Bee City certification requirements include passage of a resolution that describes the actions the city will undertake to fulfill our Bee City USA membership responsibilities. These actions will enhance understanding among local government staff and the public about the vital role that pollinators play and what each of us can do to sustain them. Bee City program commitments will be undertaken by city staff from various departments and community volunteers, and will include public events and information, establishment of habitat, and further bee-friendly policy and plan developments. AB22764 (Resolution 2020-36) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
171. Adopt the 2020 Surface and Stormwater Comprehensive Plan? The Surface and Stormwater Utility was created to protect the city’s aquatic resources, provide a response to reduce flooding and erosion damages, reduce the discharge of pollutants, and improve fish habitat within the city by outlining the maintenance activities, capital projects and programs necessary to fulfill these purposes and to comply with state and federal regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act. The plan also provides options to fund the utility by charging all developed real property in the city in a fair and equitable manner and recommends shifting cost of service to properties creating the greatest impact. An independent consultant, HDR Engineering, Inc., worked with city staff to develop the draft plan. Staff held a virtual public open house on 9/9/2020. The city used the Engage Bellingham web platform to share information and materials, and seek public comment, accept questions, and/or to participate in a survey. A SEPA application was submitted and received a non-project Determination of Nonsignificance on 11/14/2020. The Surface and Stormwater Comprehensive Plan has no direct fiscal impact, but does establish the basis for decisions regarding customer rates and budget proposals. The plan is on the city website at https://www.cob.org/swplan. AB22741 (Resolution 2020-37) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
172. Amend the development agreement with Parberry, Inc.? (Public hearing held at September 14 meeting.) Parberry has decided to sell their Old Town business rather than move their facility, and are looking for a third-party buyer. The first agreement to relocate the recycling business was approved at the 9/29/2008 meeting, vote #274. At the 2/11/2019 meeting, vote #29, the council authorized the mayor to sign a development agreement with Parberry, Inc. to relocate the recycling business in response to the goals and policies of the Old Town subarea plan passed at the 3/31/2008 meeting, vote #79. The city’s financial commitments for infrastructure are estimated at $2.5 million. Potential revenue expected as a result of the sale of 600 W. Holly St. is $1,920,000 (per appraised value). The Astor parcel was sold to Parberry for the appraised value of $130,000. While there are no guarantees, the city believes Parberry remains committed to redeveloping Old Town. Parberry will cease all nonconforming uses by February 2023. AB22747 (Resolution 2020-38) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
173. Amend city code for electronic message center signs on public zoned land? (Public hearing held at September 14 meeting.) The amendments only apply in public zones. Currently, “public” zoning does not allow electronic message signs and specifies that signs can only be unlighted or indirectly lighted. Electronic message center signs will be allowed in public zones while limiting their size to 50 square feet when located within 100 feet of a residential zone boundary, enabling electronic message center signs as a communication tool in “public” zones for public information about activities, events and services of community interest. The existing provision that city-owned signs be reviewed by the Bellingham Arts Commission is retained. The subject amendments were initiated in response to a request from the Bellingham Public Schools to install electronic reader boards at all of their 22 schools as a communication tool for schools. The schools secured initial funding for electronic message signs with the community’s approval of the 2018 school bond. AB22746 (Ordinance 2020-09-022) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
Action Taken at October 12, 2020 Meeting
The mayor made two appointments to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The board provides recommendations to the City Council, mayor, Department of Parks and Recreation director, and other city departments on plans and programs designed to enable the Department of Parks and Recreation to maintain and improve city parks and provide recreation programs for the general welfare of the people of the city. The mayor reappointed John Blethen to a final term which will expire on 9/1/2023. He was appointed to a partial term at the 2/26/2018 meeting, vote #32. The mayor appointed Paul Randall-Grutter to his first term on the Parks and Recreation Board, which will expire on 9/29/2023, at which time he may be reappointed. Mr. Randall-Grutter is a civil engineer for Skagit County, member of multiple engineering association boards, and an avid golfer who has lived in Bellingham since January 2004. (AB22782) The appointments do not require council confirmation.
Shall the council:
174. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the state of Washington to help finance a new northbound on-ramp at the I-5/West Bakerview interchange? The city will contribute up to $1 million: the state is currently short $616,000. The state Department of Transportation is proceeding with bidding and subsequent construction of a new northbound on-ramp on the east side of Interstate 5. In July 2015, the state Legislature awarded $10 million in gas tax revenue for this project. The state has designed the on-ramp, has acquired the necessary right-of-way, and intends to advertise the project for construction bids in late October 2020, with construction anticipated for Spring 2021. The cost of the settlement for right-of-way acquisition caused the overall $10 million project funding set aside in the Legislative package to be exceeded. Without city funding, this project will not move forward and funds would be at risk of diversion to another project, possibly in a different part of the state. At the 2/13/2012 meeting, votes #14 and 15, the city entered into funding agreements with Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham for the West Bakerview overpass project; the estimated cost was $3,200,000. (AB22375) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
175. Authorize the mayor to award a low bid to Veca Electric of Bellingham for a three-year contract for electrical services? The low bid was $31,352, but the contract is for an unspecified amount not to exceed $350,000, using the hourly rates provided in the Veca Electric bid, and contains a provision for an optional one-year renewal. The city is seeking to consolidate electrical maintenance and repair services into a single-unit priced contract. The bid amount was based on an estimated number of billable hours and parts provided in the city bidding documents and used as a basis of comparison among the bids. The city received two bids: the high bid was $42,038. (AB22777) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
176. Appropriate $3,758,607 for payroll checks issued from September 1 through September 15, 2020? (AB22783) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
177. Appropriate $7,727,551 for goods and services checks issued from September 18, 2020 through October 1, 2020? (AB22784 /22785) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
178. Encourage Bellingham voters to renew the Transportation Fund sales tax on the 11/3/2020 general election ballot? (Public hearing held.) At the November 2010 general election, Bellingham voters approved a two-tenths of one percent (0.002) sales tax to support local transportation priorities. At the 7/6/2020 meeting, vote #116, the council directed that renewal of the Transportation Fund be placed on the November ballot. Over the last 10 years, the Transportation Fund has generated approximately $5 million in revenue each year to repave and maintain 46 miles of arterial streets, to improve and connect nine miles of sidewalks, to create 40 marked or enhanced crosswalks, ADA ramps, and other pedestrian improvements, to construct bicycle safety improvements and bike lanes on 42 miles of city streets, and to restore Sunday public bus service during the economic recession of 2008-2010, and add transit-related improvements such as bus stops and pull-out lanes, most of which would not have been possible without the support of the Bellingham Transportation Fund. AB22767 (Resolution 2020-39) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
179. Adopt the 2020-2025 water use efficiency program goals and measures? (Public hearing held at 9/28 meeting.) State law requires municipal water suppliers with over 10,000 service connections to adopt a new goal and at least nine measures every six years to ensure long-term water supply reliability, efficient operation and management of the water system, and promote good stewardship of water resources. At the 10/13/2014 meeting, vote #206, the council passed the 2014-2019 water use efficiency program. The $200,000 program reduces operational costs to the water utility through conservation measures and is funded through water rates and charges. AB22761 (Resolution 2020-40) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
180. Add an additional $1,351,650 to the general fund for economic and social recovery from Covid-19? This ordinance appropriates the latest round of CARES Act funding provided by the state. In total, the city has been awarded $4,054,950 from the CARES Act. These funds can only reimburse qualified expenses, which occur prior to 11/30/2020. To date, council has appropriated $500,000 for the new temporary drop-in shelter; $500,000 for grants to businesses in Bellingham’s commercial core; $200,000 for grants for childcare businesses; and $200,000 to address food security issues. The additional $1,351,650 has not been fully programmed, but given the short timeline for using the funds, it is necessary to appropriate the funds now. The city intends to use the unappropriated $1.3 million from the initial award as reimbursement for expenses incurred by the city from the Covid-19 pandemic response. It may also use some of this second award if eligible expenses exist. AB22691 (Ordinance 2020-10-023) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
181. Amend the secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring program? At the 2/22/2016 meeting, vote #37, the council voted to create an electronic home detention and monitoring program for qualifying, court-approved defendants. The original ordinance focused on home detention, which includes the use of GPS tracking. For several years, the program has also utilized secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring (SCRAM) technology to provide another alternative to jail and to further public safety. This ordinance amends city code to explicitly recognize the use of continuous alcohol monitoring as another alternative to incarceration and/or a condition of pretrial release as part of misdemeanant supervision services, through and under the direction of the city’s department of municipal court. In 2019, the expense to the city for Friendship Diversion Services of Port Angeles (program contractor) was $204,000. AB22769 (Ordinance 2020-10-024) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
182. Create a shelter protection area for Base Camp? At the 6/16/2020 special meeting, vote #90, the council approved a lease with the Lighthouse Mission Ministries for the operation of an emergency shelter/temporary building encampment (“Base Camp”) at 1530 Cornwall Avenue. Base Camp provides daily services and overnight shelter for up to 200 people, along with amenities including bathrooms, showers, laundry, drinking water, food, garbage and recycling containers, and human and social services. Businesses operating in the immediate vicinity have requested assistance to address adverse behaviors occurring within the public right-of-way adjacent to the shelter. The creation of a narrowly tailored shelter protection area should minimize inappropriate behaviors near Base Camp, significantly reduce the opportunity for adverse behaviors and impacts in the area, and encourage such behavior to be dispersed rather than concentrated. There are alternative places to park and congregate for the public, both housed and unsheltered in downtown. AB22665 (Ordinance 2020-10-025) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.
Action Taken at October 26, 2020 Meeting
Update on Covid-19 Response
Under the business assistance grant, over $3.5 million has been distributed to 280 local businesses. Nearly $700,000 has been granted to 26 childcare agencies countywide and $544,000 to 41 Fairhaven and city center food and beverage businesses. Since 10/16/2020, the city officially opened the playgrounds in 38 parks around the city. Guidelines were adopted largely from the city of Seattle. All children over the age of two must wear masks, and more signage has been added to remind residents of the rules. The Health Department received $4.5 million in CARES Act funding to be spent by the end of the year on programs and services related to health support. They are going to focus on behavioral health support, especially within schools and nonprofit organizations, downtown chambers, businesses and tourism boards as they create a holiday marking campaign that builds on the “Safer, Stronger, Together” campaign. Christ the King Community Church will provide 39 additional beds this season in December that will add to the city’s capacity for cold weather shelter options. (AB22593)
Shall the council:
183. Ratify the 2021 collective bargaining agreement with Bellingham Police Guild? The following general terms apply to the 2021 agreement: wages will increase by 2.5 percent in base rate of pay effective 1/1/2021. There will be an increase in employees’ premium share for dependents on all benefit plans to 10 percent. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
184. Ratify the 2021 collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police? The following general terms apply to the 2021 agreement: wages will increase by 2.5 percent in base rate of pay effective 1/1/2021, with deferred compensation contribution increased by 1 percent. There will be an increase in the city’s contribution to medical health care at 6 percent in 2021. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
185. Ratify the 2020-2021 collective bargaining agreement with the Guild of Pacific Northwest Employees, Local 1937? The following general terms apply to the 2020–2021 agreement: wages will increase the base pay rate by 2.5 percent effective 11/1/2020, by 2.0 percent on 1/1/2021, and by 1 percent on 7/1/2021, with an additional 12 furlough days in 2021. There will be an increase in the city’s contribution to medical health care at 5 percent in each of 2020 and 2021. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
186. Authorize the mayor and the Parks and Recreation director to sign a license agreement with the owners of the Happy Valley Community Garden? Located at 1116 32nd Street, it is one of three city-operated community gardens and offers 100 community garden plots. Bellingham Parks and Recreation has requested a license agreement for 10 years. The license agreement will grant exclusive public community garden use beginning on 3/1/2020: it outlines operations, maintenance and use. In addition, the licensee has requested the garden be named the “Sven Hoyt Community Garden,” in honor of one of their late siblings who originally owned the property. (AB22788) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
187. Appropriate $4,418,227 for goods and services checks issued from October 2 through October 15, 2020? (AB22790/22791) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
188. Appropriate $3,823,287 for payroll checks issued from September 16 through September 30, 2020? (AB22792) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
189. Authorize the mayor to accept a $2 million state grant for the Middle Fork Nooksack River fish passage project? This project will remove portions of the city’s diversion dam facility to allow fish passage and reconfigure the city’s municipal water intake system. At the 7/11/2015 meeting, vote #141, the council authorized the mayor to accept a $1.6 million state grant to improve fish passage. At the 5/20/2019 meeting, vote #95, the council authorized the mayor to accept a $10,560,250 state grant for the project. The total estimated cost is approximately $20.7 million. At the 10/21/2019 meeting, vote #177, a $15,265,950 contract was awarded to Walsh Construction Company of Seattle for removal of the city’s diversion dam to restore fish passage. This project is a collaborative partnership among the city of Bellingham, American Rivers, the Nooksack Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, city of Bellingham and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have all provided funding for the project. (AB22793) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
190. Renew the agreement with the South Correctional Entity (SCORE) for inmate housing? The 164,000 square foot facility cost $52 million to build, has a staff of 150 full-time positions and the capacity to house 813 inmates.The original agreement with the Des Moines’ facility was approved at the 3/21/2016 meeting, vote #45. A $35.00 booking fee had been added to the agreement. This agreement renews the city’s contractual relationship with SCORE for the purpose of booking and holding inmates when the city is not able to use the Whatcom County jail. The services begin in 1/1/2021 and terminate on 12/31/2022. The daily guaranteed general population bed cost is $128, non-guaranteed general population beds cost $184, while mental health residential beds cost $159, acute medical beds cost $217 and mental health acute beds cost $278. (AB22794) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
191. Grant a stormwater outfall easement in Cordata Park to Cordata Investments? As part of its development of a multifamily residential project located at 420 W. Stuart Road, Cordata Investments has requested that the city grant a stormwater easement over a portion of Cordata Park. Cordata Investments will construct and use a stormwater line across the park to an existing city drainage facility. The stormwater line was previously functioning and became partially blocked during the city’s construction of Cordata Park. The easement will allow Cordata to restore functionality to the drainage route. As compensation to the city for granting this easement, Cordata Investments is dedicating a four-foot wide public trail easement and constructing a trail within the easement. The trail will run north-south and connect Stuart Road to the new trail system in Cordata Park. (AB22795) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
192. Retire the Drake note debt? In 1992, the city purchased the Big Rock Garden Park property from George Drake for $445,000. A 10-year note for $220,000 was paid off in 2002 and a second 30-year $225,000 note was to be paid off in 2022. The debt obligations were paid to Mr. Drake, who recently passed away. The executor of his estate has approached the finance department about paying off remaining principal of the note. This ordinance provides the budget authority to pay off the remaining $38,000 principal to George Drake’s estate and authorizes the finance director to retire the debt. This will save the city approximately $3,000 in interest over the next two years and relieve the administrative burden of paying, tracking and reporting this debt. AB22778 (Ordinance 2020-10-026) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.
193. Appropriate an additional $550,000 in the 2019-2020 biennial budget for the radio communications fund? The radio communications fund manages the city’s radio system. To provide this service, it charges departments and funds that use the city’s radio system, receives three percent of the city’s general sales tax revenues, and charges outside agencies for services. At the 12/4/2017 meeting, vote #203, the council authorized the mayor to award a low bid to demolish the communications tower. That work exceeded the overall budget for the project and did not leave sufficient budget to remove the old tower. Public Works is now ready to remove the tower, but requires $500,000 in additional budget authority to contract out that work. In addition, the city’s outside services activity to other agencies has exceeded budget expectations. This activity is supported by revenues from other agencies and has resulted in approximately $50,000 in increased revenues and commensurate operational activities. AB22779 (Ordinance 2020-10-027) Approved 6-0, Pinky Vargas excused.