Bellingham City Council
Action Taken at December 7, 2020 Meeting
Shall the council:
223. Authorize the mayor to sign a $75,000 settlement agreement with Moriah Ginn? When the body of Bradley Ginn, Sr. was waiting at a fire station to be transported to a funeral home, 11 Bellingham Fire Department employees admitted to attempting to intubate the man in contradiction of a “do not resuscitate” order. Three family members filed claims for damages with the city: one claim was for the sum of $250,000, the second for $350,000, and the third for $15 million. At the 1/28/2019 meeting, vote #9, the council voted to settle two of the claims. Both payments were in the amount of $75,000 each. The $350,000 claim by the daughter of the deceased, Moriah Ginn, was also settled for $75,000. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0-1, Pinky Vargas abstained.
224. Terminate the nonexclusive franchise for Qwest Broadband Services, Inc. d/b/a Lumen Technologies (f/k/a CenturyLink) to operate and maintain a cable television system within the city? CenturyLink has formally requested to terminate its franchise agreement. At the 8/7/2017 meeting, vote #139, the council awarded Qwest Broadband Services, Inc. d/b/a CenturyLink a nonexclusive cable television franchise for a term for 10 years. Because it was the second entrant in the local market for cable television services, CenturyLink requested and received an option to terminate the franchise agreement in five years if it was not then providing cable television service to at least 20 percent of the total number of cable service subscribers within the franchise area. Emerging technology solutions, changing industry trends, and increased content costs has required CenturyLink to discontinue Prism TV and instead focus on high-speed internet. The facilities and network components in the right-of-way will continue to be maintained and upgraded by Qwest Corporation d/b/a CenturyLink for the continued deployment of digital services. (AB21671) Approved 7-0
225. Amend countywide planning policies to establish both the “Buildable Lands” Program and dispute resolution procedures? The Growth Management Act requires Whatcom County, in cooperation with the seven cities, to adopt countywide planning policies. The policies, originally adopted in 1993, are intended to be used as a guide when jurisdictions update their Comprehensive Plans. A 2017 change to the GMA requires amendments to the planning policies to acknowledge the addition of Whatcom County to the “Buildable Lands” requirements of the GMA. This work will be completed in 2022 and will provide important information for the next update to the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan, due in 2025. The dispute resolution procedures establish a mediation/binding arbitration process that jurisdictions can elect to use in the event of an impasse. This process is in addition to rights that jurisdictions can also elect to use, such as an appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board. (AB22602) Approved 7-0
226. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Phyllis McKee and Ali Taysi to the Planning and Development Commission for an additional one-year term? The commission consists of seven members appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. Terms of office are four years with a two-term limit. The commission conducts hearings on the city Comprehensive Plan and its implementation. It reviews and makes recommendations to the City Council on the adoption and enforcement of plans and regulations for the physical development of the city. The initial appointments were approved at the 12/10/2012 meeting, vote #243, and the reappointment approved at the 12/12/2016 meeting, vote #219. At the initial appointment, Ali Taysi was a land use development consultant and Phyllis McKee was a retired teacher who worked in income property management. The two terms will expire on 1/1/2022. (AB22831) Approved 7-0
227. Approve the mayor’s reappointed of Chris Soncarty to the Transportation Commission? The nine-member commission is expected to help shape the future of Bellingham by taking a long-range, strategic look at transportation issues and providing recommendations on policy choices and investment priorities. The Transportation Commission absorbed the advisory responsibilities of the city’s Parking Commission and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, both disbanded effective at the end of 2009. The mayor’s appointment of Chris Soncarty to his first term on the Transportation Commission was approved at the 12/11/17 meeting, vote #218. He was raised in Bellingham, moved away and then back in 2008. Mr. Soncarty is a fish biologist and regulatory specialist with a B.S. from Evergreen State College. His final term will expire on 12/11/2023. (AB22832) Approved 7-0
228. Grant a noise variance to Potelco/Puget Sound Energy? Construction work in residentially zoned areas between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. requires a noise variance. Potelco, Inc., on behalf of Puget Sound Energy, is requesting one night of variance for work in the 600 block of Carolina Street in the Sunnyland neighborhood during the evening of December 17 and the morning of December 18 to replace an existing power pole near 611 Carolina Street. (AB22835) Approved 7-0
229. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $6,592,435 to Strider Construction of Bellingham for the Orchard Drive extension? The engineer’s estimate was $8,621,330. This project will construct a multimodal arterial from the corner of Birchwood Avenue/Squalicum Parkway along the former railroad bed (north of Bug Lake), through the railroad tunnel beneath Interstate 5 to James/Orchard north of Sunset Pond Park. This new east-west arterial will enhance regional transportation circulation for all modes between rapidly growing northern Bellingham, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and central Bellingham. Construction of this arterial street will ease pressure on the Interstate 5 interchanges at Meridian and Sunset and is the last opportunity for a grade-separated arterial street crossing of Interstate 5 in Bellingham. The city received $10 million dollars in state funding. These funds were split between two separate bienniums, with $3.5 million available in the 2017-2019 state budget and the remaining $6.5 million available in the 2019-2021 state budget. This meant that the project could not be advertised until late 2019, when all the funds were available for construction. When advertising was being prepared to finish up permitting and acquiring the necessary right-of-way in 2019, the funds were suspended due to the passage of I-976. This suspension of funds was lifted in March 2020, and the city received certification for the right-of-way this past summer. The city received eight bids: the high bid was $7,692,267. (AB22836) Approved 7-0
230. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Sharon Rice as the Bellingham Hearing Examiner? When first appointed hearing examiner, she provided hearing examiner services for eight cities and three counties. The City Council approved her appointment as a temporary hearing examiner at the 6/23/2014 meeting, vote #124. The mayor decided it would save money to keep Sharon Rice as the hearing examiner rather appoint a full-time hearing examiner, so she was appointed to two-year terms at the 1/26/2015 meeting, vote #11, 12/12/2016 meeting, vote 218 and 1/7/2019 meeting, vote #1. Her term expires on 1/27/2023. (AB22841) Approved 7-0
231. Appropriate $7,475,773 for goods and services checks issued from November 13 through November 25, 2020? (AB22842/22843) Approved 7-0
232. Close the Solid Waste Fund and repurpose the Environmental Remediation Fund related to solid waste? The Environmental Remediation Fund has been deemed a more appropriate type of fund for the activities and revenues currently associated with the Solid Waste Fund. The Solid Waste Fund was organized in the city’s accounting system as an enterprise fund. Governmental accounting standards advise that enterprise funds should have activities that charge a fee for goods or services. The Solid Waste Fund does not meet that requirement because it is funded with a utility tax. The city can consolidate these activities in the Environmental Remediation Fund (classified as a special revenue fund) to meet accounting requirements without impacting operations. The council established the Solid Waste Fund at the 12/10/2012 meeting, vote #258, and amended it at the 2/23/2015 meeting, vote #41. AB22821 (Ordinance 2020-12-035) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at December 14, 2020 Meeting
Brian Heinrich, Deputy Administrator, reported that the city of Bellingham committed an unfair labor practice, and ordered that a notice be posted that the city unlawfully interfered with the employee rights and in violation of RCW 41.56.140(1) by deducting employee dues and not remitting those dues to the Guild of the Pacific Northwest Employees.
Mayor Fleetwood thanked Police Chief David Doll for his service to the city of Bellingham. Chief Doll intends to retire, effective 1/4/2021. The mayor and council expressed gratitude for his leadership.
Efforts to end the encampment at City Hall are underway. Conditions are being worked on to provide alternative shelter options. A second tiny home site is at the Frank Geri Parking Lot located at Civic Field. Twenty-five tiny homes will be constructed, and the city anticipates they will be operational this week.
The mayor reappointed Janet Ott to the Sehome Hill Arboretum Board of Governors. The arboretum site is 175.5-acres: the university owns 38 acres and the city 137.5 acres. The initial agreement between the city and Western Washington University to develop and coordinate the Sehome Hill arboretum was adopted by the City Council at the 8/7/1974 meeting. Recent updates: 12/12/2005 meeting, vote #268, and the 4/20/2015 meeting, vote #69. The board works with the city and WWU in planning the use of capital, operating and maintenance funds authorized by the city or WWU, and such endowment funds to the arboretum as may be received by either agency. Janet Ott has lived in Bellingham for 29 years, is a business coach with Ott & Associates, head of the Whatcom CISD team for the past six years and is a CERT graduate. She was initially appointed to board at the 1/22/2018 meeting, vote #12. Her second term will expire on 12/18/2023, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB22847) This position does not require council conformation.
The mayor reappointed Alexis Blue to her final term on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Alexis Blue has been working in coastal engineering design since 2001 and specializes in numerical modeling, coastal construction, computer-aided design, and dredging projects. She has overseas experience in project management and GIS analysis as well as work experience with the federal government (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), academic research in coastal engineering and disaster resilience, and private consulting firms. She was initially appointed to the board at the 12/4/2017 meeting, vote #207. Her final term will expire on 11/25/2023. (AB22848) This position does not require council confirmation.
Shall the council:
233. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Laura Weiss to a full term on the Lake Whatcom Watershed Advisory Board? The board consists of up to 11 members appointed by the mayor for three-year terms, a member may be reappointed. The Watershed Advisory Board advises the city regarding the protection, cleanup, and restoration of the Lake Whatcom Reservoir and the surrounding watershed; the city watershed land acquisition program; and the management, maintenance, and use of acquired property. The board also provides citizen advice concerning proposed specific land acquisitions except when not feasible. Laura Weiss is a retired environmental policy and sustainability business director, who has lived in Bellingham since 7/1/2018, and at her initial appointment chaired the boards at Animals As Natural Therapy and the Community Food Co-Op. She was initially appointed to a partial term at the 10/21/2019 meeting, vote #176 .Her first full term will expire on 8/7/2023, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB22850) Approved 7-0
234. Approve the donation of Lundquist Woods for use as a public park? Patricia and Robert Lundquist have lived on the .55 acre parcel, known as Lundquist Woods, for 45 years, planting the property with trees and shrubs. The property is located above Squalicum Creek in the Columbia Neighborhood and is zoned single-family. The owners wish to live there until the end of their lives, then donate the property to the city as a public park. In accordance with city code, council will need to adopt an ordinance accepting the property when the future donation is made. The property may require a team of volunteers to maintain it (similar to Friends of Big Rock Garden), and could serve as a special-use site. The property includes a 1940’s single family home, a gazebo, several water features, a vegetable garden, art, pathways and places to sit. (AB22852) Approved 7-0
235. Appropriate $4,042,003 for payroll checks issued from November 1 through November 15, 2020? (AB22855) Approved 7-0
236. Appropriate $5,240,665 for goods and services checks issued from November 25, 2020 through December 03, 2020? (AB22856) Approved 7-0
237. Authorize the mayor to sign a $71,523 agreement with Whatcom Transportation Authority for police presence at Bellingham and Cordata stations? The WTA will pay the city $5,960 per month. This modifies the agreement passed at the 11/18/2019 meeting, vote #201 — it changes the annual amount from $70,466 to $71,523 and the expiration date to 12/31/2021. The purpose is to provide routine patrols, collaborative problem-solving with WTA staff/customers and general assistance to members of our community who utilize WTA resources. Officers will make periodic patrols and be familiar with bus procedures and schedules. (AB22857) Approved 7-0
238. Authorize the mayor to sign a $180,000 agreement with Whatcom County to utilize Whatcom County jail work crews to perform cleanup and vegetation management? The work crews will be used to perform tasks that are currently not being performed by existing staff: help Public Works to maintain rights-of-way that are currently not being cleaned regularly or where vegetation is not being maintained, and the crew is totally self-sustaining. The county will be compensated at the rate of $340 per eight-hour shift or at $425 per 10-hour day, with maximum annual compensation of $89,000. This includes supervision, tools, and vehicles to perform cleanup and vegetation maintenance tasks. The program began in 2013 and has been functioning every year since. The agreement terminates on 12/31/2022. (AB22858) Approved 7-0
239. Authorize the mayor to accept a $685,810 state grant for Little Squalicum Creek water quality retrofit? A city match of $228,603 brings the total to $914,413. The Little Squalicum Creek watershed straddles the boundary between the city of Bellingham, its urban growth area, and unincorporated portions of Whatcom County. This project will install a bioretention system to treat approximately 20 acres of stormwater generated by residential development and two streets, Eldridge Avenue and Lindberg Street. The vast majority of runoff generated within the watershed is not treated for pollutants of concern that otherwise enter the creek and are discharged to Bellingham Bay. This project is the first phase of a multiyear project to provide basic and enhanced stormwater treatment, including treatment for total suspended solids, dissolved copper, and dissolved zinc, and oil control. This retrofit will also moderate surface flows to Little Squalicum Creek by increasing stormwater infiltration. (AB22859) Approved 7-0
240. Authorize the mayor to accept a $500,000 state grant for phase 1 of the Padden Creek restoration project? A city match of $166,667 brings the total to $666,667. The project between 24th and 30th streets will improve the water quality and aquatic function of Padden Creek. It will restore approximately two acres of riparian habitat through floodplain enhancement, riparian buffer enhancement, wetland restoration, large woody debris additions, and the creation of backwaters, side channels, pools, and riffles. This effort will reduce bacteria and temperature and increase dissolved oxygen in Padden Creek. (AB22860) Approved 7-0
241. Add five requests to docket amendments to the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan for review in 2020-2021? (Public hearing held.) The proposals include a rezone request in Fairhaven (REZ2020-0002), a request to rezone six city parks (REZ2020-0003), two requests to adopt by reference a new Bellingham School District Capital Facilities Plan (REZ2020-0005), a request to potentially add a new CP designation and zoning for manufactured home parks (REZ2020-0006), and the 2020 Surface and Stormwater Plan (REZ2020-0007). AB22844 (Resolution 2020-46) Approved 7-0
242. Add new policies related to food access to the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan? (Public hearing held.) In 2018 and 2019, the council held several work sessions on food deserts, food systems, and restrictive covenants in response to the closing of the Birchwood neighborhood’s only grocery store. At the 8/26/2019 meeting, vote #154, the council added this item to the 2019-2020 docket of Comprehensive Plan amendments. The Planning Commission voted on 10/1/2020 to forward a recommendation of approval to the City Council. Four amendments to the Land Use Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan: exploration of incentives and regulatory changes to encourage grocery stores, farmers markets, food carts and other mobile vendors to locate in underserved areas; encouragement to develop patterns that support healthy affordable food access; encouragement of healthy food purveyors, such as grocery stores, farmers markets and community food gardens to be located near residential areas and public transit; and limiting the use of certain restrictive covenants that preclude the use of real property for grocery store operations and sales. Exceptions can be provided when certain conditions are met. First and second reading was at the 11/9/2020 meeting. AB22798 (Ordinance 2020-11-036) Approved 7-0
243. Update the Parks, Recreation & Open Space chapter of the comprehensive plan? At the 1/27/2014 meeting, vote #10, the council adopted an updated plan and in 2016 approved minor modifications. This update to chapter 7 of the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan was launched in April of 2019. The plan provides strategic vision and guidance for park and recreation planning in Bellingham for the next 20 years, with updates every six years. The 2020 update included a complete inventory of park assets, updated trails, refined principles, goals and objectives, and updated project priorities. An amendment was added that included two additional restoration projects; Little Squalicum estuary and a neighborhood park in the Bakerview Telegraph area. Estimated costs for full plan implementation over the next 20 years is $107 million with funds sourced from the Greenway fund, park impact fees, real estate excise tax, grants, future levies and general fund. First and second reading was at the 2/24/2020 meeting. AB22564 (Ordinance 2020-12-037) Approved 7-0 .
244. Amend the Area 1 description in the York Neighborhood Plan to facilitate future developments? (Public hearing held at November 9 meeting.) The proposal, submitted on behalf of the York Neighborhood Association, clarifies the current language for Area 1, encouraging the city to possibly acquire the industrial lands as ownership changes along Whatcom Creek and/or obtain easements as redevelopment occurs. The proposal also provides some guidance for future opportunities for multi-family zoning along the northern side Meador Avenue. Area 1 is zoned Light Industrial and the land within consists of three ownerships: 1) the Bellingham School District bus storage yard with service buildings and office building, 2) an auto dealership with service shop, and 3) a commercial office building. At the 8/26/2019 meeting, vote #153, the council voted to place the proposed neighborhood plan amendment 2019-0004 on the list of Comprehensive Plan amendments. First and second reading was at the 11/23/2020 meeting. AB22799 (Ordinance 2020-12-038) Approved 7-0
245. Authorize closure of the Drake Note Fund? This ordinance closes the fund effective 12/31/2020. The Drake Note Fund was established in 1992 to purchase property that is now known as Big Rock Garden Park. At the 10/26/2020 meeting, vote #192, the council authorized the finance director to retire the debt, saving the city approximately $3,000 in interest charges. AB22778 (Ordinance 2020-12-039) Approved 7-0
246. Authorize closure of the Olympic Pipeline Incident Fund? This ordinance closes the fund effective 12/31/2020. The funds were used for restoration and maintenance of Whatcom Creek following the Olympic pipeline rupture and fire (Whatcom Watch, July 1999 and June 2009) and are expected to be fully spent by the end of 2020. Any residual cash remaining in the fund will be transferred to the stormwater fund, and any residual expenditures or revenue not paid out or received by 12/31/2020 will be paid from or deposited to the stormwater fund. Closing the Olympic Pipeline Incident Fund follows best accounting practices and is in the best interest of the city of Bellingham. Effective 12/31/2020 AB22838 (Ordinance 2020-12-040) Approved 7-0
247. Authorize an interfund loan of $100,000 from the general fund to the Medic One Fund? This vote will also amend the 2019-2020 biennial budget by a total of $3,025,000. The Medic One fund is in danger of expending all of its cash reserves and it is necessary to provide an interfund loan to ensure the Medic One Fund does not end the year in a negative cash position. Passage of this ordinance will ensure the city avoids disruptions to service and maintains compliance with authorized budget. AB22840 (Ordinance 2020-12-041) Approved 7-0
248. Adopt the 2021-2022 budget? (Public hearings held at November 9 and November 23 meetings.) The estimated budget has $241,681,317 in beginning reserves, $582,748,243 in revenues, $667,111,914 in expenditures and $157,309,646 in ending revenues. More information and details can be found at www.cob.org/gov/budget. AB22775 (Ordinance 2020-12-042) Approved 7-0
249. Authorize an interfund loan of $1,465,933 from the Greenways Maintenance Endowment Fund to the public safety dispatch fund? Dispatch will use the funds to purchase much-needed equipment for dispatch operations. The loan term will be five years and the interest rate will be tied to the interfund loan principal and interest will be paid monthly beginning in January 2021 and paid in full on or before 12/31/2025. The loan may be prepaid at any time without penalty or fee. AB22839 (Ordinance 2020-12-043) Approved 7-0