Bellingham City Council
Action Taken at August 24, 2020
The mayor recently signed a letter from Washington state leaders that urge Congress to extend the census deadline. At this time, about 70 percent of Washington state has been counted. The newest portal for gathering public feedback is called Engage Bellingham, and can be found online at https://engagebellingham.org/.
Police Chief David Doll apologized to the City Council for the misconduct of his personnel regarding a “prank” played by police officers at the expense of a mentally ill man. The misconduct occurred last year and was recently reported by local news media. There was an internal affairs investigation and sanctions were issued to the officers involved. Doll reported that the incident was in “no way a reflection of the department.”
The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program from the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office will begin in September, and will help to divert people out of the criminal justice system and into care that is appropriate for their individual situations. The Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office will no longer be prosecuting driving while licensed suspended (3rd degree) and will give stimulated orders of continuance for non-violent charges and for one year.
The Whatcom County Health Department is providing drive-up Covid-19 testing sites. The locations can be found at: https://www.testdirectly.com/patient/home and to get more information on Covid-19, please visit: http://whatcomcounty.us/3388/Covid-19-testing. Non-voting issue.
Shall the council:
133. Authorize the mayor to sign a $175,00 settlement agreement with Jai Ginn? The state of Washington paid an additional $50,000 on behalf of Marvin Wayne, M.D. Dr. Wayne is a state-appointed medical program director for Whatcom County’s EMS systems. Jai Ginn was the wife of Bradley Ginn, Sr. 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. So far, $375,00 had been paid to settle claims. A claim filed by the brother of Ginn, Sr. was denied by the city of Bellingham and it is being appealed to the Washington State Supreme Court. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 7-0
134. Authorize staff to enter into agreements whereby the city renews for a period of 20 years an access easement across city property in favor of Bloedel Timberlands Development, Inc.? Bloedel, in exchange, grants a right-of-first refusal to the city for 20 years on approximately 3,000 acres of land at the south end of Lake Whatcom. The property is located within the Lake Whatcom watershed. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 7-0
135. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $374,656 to Granite Construction Company of Everson for improvements to the Northwest/Bakerview intersection? The engineer’s estimate was $455,173. From 2009-2015, over 150 vehicle collisions were recorded at the Northwest/Bakerview intersection and nearby driveways to businesses. An extensive alternative analysis and feasibility study was conducted in 2016-2017, and both short-term and long-term safety countermeasures were identified for the intersections. This project will reconstruct all pedestrian facilities at Northwest/Bakerview to be ADA-compliant and install new high visibility crosswalks and bike lane markings to increase driver awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists trying to cross the intersection. The city received six bids: the high bid was $525,252. Four bids were under the engineer’s estimate. (AB22702) Approved 7-0
136. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $337,068 to Oceanside Construction of Bellingham for stabilization of the Harrison Street slope? The engineer’s estimate was $379,662. The project includes pond excavation and modification, slope excavation and embankment, bentonite soil treatment within the pond detention footprint, access road construction, modular block wall installation, water main installation, underdrain pipe installation, erosion control blanket installation, re-use of native topsoil, seeding, planting and planting maintenance, and other work in accordance with the plans and specifications. These measures will help to prevent a future water main break that could be caused by joints separating due to a collapse of the slope. The city received five bids: the high bid was $648,659. One bid was below the engineer’s estimate. (AB22713) Approved 7-0
137. Authorize the mayor to award the only bid of $36,432 to Industrial Furnace Company of Rochester, NY, for incinerator repair? The city is seeking to consolidate Post Point incinerator inspection, maintenance and repair services into a single-unit priced contract. Bid award was delayed with consent from the Industrial Furnace due to the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. The city is now ready to allow the contractor access to perform the work in the Post Point plant. This contract will have a three-year term and shall not exceed the amount of $500,000 using the hourly rates provided in the Industrial Furnace bid. Projects delivered through an on-call process will be included in regular approved budgets and the sewer fund. (AB22714) Approved 7-0
138. The mayor appointed William Szabo to the Housing Authority of Whatcom County board of commissioners? The Housing Authority is a corporate public body with the purpose to offer opportunities for people to thrive by ensuring access to quality, affordable homes. The combined Board of the Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authorities consists of five members: three are appointed by the mayor of Bellingham and two by the Whatcom County executive. Membership is five years with a maximum of two consecutive terms. A Whatcom County resident since 1980, Szabo is a retired nurse and mental health counselor with a master’s degree and an active LPN. This is his first term, which will expire on 7/14/2025. (AB22716) Does not require council approval.
139. The mayor appointed Jessica Sankey to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board? She will be the Bellingham School District’s representative. Her term does not have an exportation date. The board consists of 11 members appointed by the mayor — membership is three years with a maximum of two consecutive terms. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board provides recommendations 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. Advises the City Council, mayor, Department of Parks and Recreation Director, and other city departments. A major objective is to develop public interest in the Parks and Recreation Department’s activities and to solicit, to the fullest extent possible, participation of community groups, the general public, and public and private agencies. (AB22717) Does not require council approval.
140. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Rose Lathrop to the Planning and Development Commission? The commission consists of seven members appointed by the mayor. Terms of office are four years with a two-term limit. The commission conducts hearings on the city’s 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 commission also advises the council through the planning director. The program director for Sustainable Connections and local resident for 22 years, Rose Lathrop has a BA in environmental policy and planning and is a LEED certified sustainable building advisor. This is her first term which will expire on 8/24/2024, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB22718) Approved 7-0
141. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $444,637 to Razz Construction of Bellingham for the Wharf Street trestle repair project? The engineer’s estimate was $722,700. It is anticipated that this project will begin in early September 2020 and will be completed in 100 days. The improvement consists of: removal and replacement of the existing north timber approach with a new concrete approach, removal and replacement of timber pile caps with new steel pile caps, removal and replacement of timber piles with new steel piles, steel hand railing, steel work, concrete work, stabilized construction access, and temporary erosion and sediment controls. The work will occur in coordination with other private building projects on N. State Street, and will include re-routing of the South Bay Trail for some specific periods of time. The city received seven bids, the high bid was $827,207. Six bids were below the engineer’s estimate. (AB22720) Approved 7-0
142. Authorize the mayor to sign a docketing application for a rezone request? Dominion Sustainable Development Corporation is preparing a docketing application for property on 10th Street between Mill and Knox avenues. The subject application includes two parcels that are not owned or under control of the proponent; one is owned by the Port of Bellingham and the other by the city of Bellingham. In order to submit the docketing application, signatures from both entities are required. Signature by the city on the docketing application allows said application to be reviewed and considered through the legislative process, but does not constitute approval of the proposal itself. (AB22725) Approved 7-0
143. Appropriate $3,659,745 for payroll checks issued from July 1 through July 15, 2020? (AB22729) Approved 7-0
144. Appropriate $11,987,285 for goods and services checks issued from July 10, 2020 through August 13, 2020? (AB22730/22731/22732/22733) Approved 7-0
145. Appropriate $451,000 to sponsor two Washington Conservation Corps crews for natural resource projects? The two crews’ work will continue the city’s long-term commitment to improving and protecting the community’s water quality, salmon habitat, and open space. The city’s crews serve the city though an interagency agreement with the Department of Ecology. The WCC program is a partnership between the city of Bellingham, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the federal AmeriCorps program. It provides meaningful service and training opportunities to young adults (ages 18-25) and military veterans. Crews will perform riparian restoration work throughout the city of Bellingham and the Lake Whatcom watershed. (AB22734) Approved 7-0
146. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County for paramedic training? Whatcom County will reimburse the city ($642,503) for 2020 paramedic training costs. Five additional paramedics are currently being trained for deployment in early 2021. This agreement was delayed due to Covid-19 and associated operational impacts. The reimbursement funds come from the Whatcom County EMS levy. This agreement expires on 12/31/2023. (AB22735) Approved 7-0
147. Renew a modified lease agreement with Western Washington University police for the Sehome cell tower? This agreement renews and modifies a lease dating back to 2002 with the Western Washington University police for use of the city’s new radio tower recently constructed on Sehome Hill. Ongoing revenue of $3,300 is anticipated per year for five years, with an option of four more five-year extensions, with each five-year extension subject to a 15 percent increase. The new lease also accounts for a one-time up-front payment for lease rent in arrearage for the gap between 2017 and present because the university has been using the old tower while the city relocates their equipment to the new tower. (AB22736) Approved 7-0
148. Renew a modified lease agreement with Western Washington University for KUGS radio station? This agreement renews and modifies a lease dating back to 2002 KUGS radio station. Ongoing revenue of $4,800 is anticipated per year for five years, with an option of four more five-year extensions, with each five-year extension subject to a 15 percent increase. (AB22737) Approved 7-0
149. Renew a modified lease agreement with Port of Bellingham for the Sehome cell tower? This agreement renews and modifies a lease dating back to 2002 with the Port of Bellingham for use of the city’s new radio tower recently constructed on Sehome Hill. Ongoing revenue of $3,300 is anticipated per year for five years, with an option of four more five-year extensions, with each five-year extension subject to a 15 percent increase. The new lease accounts for a one-time up-front payment for lease rent in arrearage for the gap between 2017 and present because the port has been using the old tower while the city relocates their equipment to the new tower. (AB22738) Approved 7-0
150. Add the Residential Multi project to the docket? (Public hearing held.) The City Council directed staff on 8/26/19 to pursue strategies seeking solutions to the city’s housing crisis. This project necessitates changes to city code and up to 20 neighborhood plans for consistency. This project is anticipated to include the following four components: a simplified ranged zoning system for all Residential Multi zones, a density bonus, all infill housing toolkit forms (small and smaller house, cottage, duplex, triplex, shared court, garden court, and townhouse), and zones that potentially include minimum densities. AB22402 (Resolution 2020-30) Approved 7-0
151. Create a Broadband Advisory Workgroup to study and recommend options for use of the city’s fiber optic system? The city of Bellingham, in partnership with the Bellingham School District, Whatcom County and Whatcom Transit Authority owns and operates a community broadband, fiber optic network serving the communication needs of public agencies. The mayor will appoint between five and nine volunteers to the workgroup. One to three will have general backgrounds. Between one and three will have fiber network industry experience. Between one and three will have professional financial experience. A final report with recommendation to the City Council will be due in November 2021. AB22007 (Resolution 2020-31) Amended and approved 7-0.
152. Temporarily reduce fees for commercial use of park open space? The city charges $30 an hour for commercial use of park open space. This council-adopted rental rate usually applies to large scale events and races hosting hundreds of participants. The limitation on group size due to the Covid-19 health restrictions makes this rate cost prohibitive for small-scale childcare and youth programs that the city is trying to support. This fee reduction to $50 with no additional hourly charges will create more programming options to support local families this fall. The application process requires complete program applications with insurance and health and safety plans. The reduction in fees will expire on 12/31/2020. AB22721 (Resolution 2020-32) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at August 31, 2020 Meeting
The URLs for future remote City Council meetings have been updated. The new format is www.cob.org/ccMMDDYY, i.e. the registration URL for the 9/14/2020 meeting is www.cob.org/cc091420. The city has agreed to support a grant application for a Department of Commerce grant that is seeking to establish a cottage transitional housing community at 800 E. Sunset Ave. It would accommodate up to 40 people, with preference given to those over age 55. The project is headed up by a group called Road to Home. The grant application will be submitted at the end of September with a letter of support from both the City Council and the mayor. Non-voting issue.
Update on Covid-19 Response:
The mayor reported that the Whatcom Restart Grant Program, a countywide collaboration, allocated nearly $700,000 in Federal Cares Act funds to nearly two dozen licensed childcare providers. A list of grant recipients can be found on the Whatcom Restart website. The Whatcom Museum in the Lightcatcher Building, the museum store, and the Old City Hall, are all opening Saturday, 9/19/2020 with safety measures in place. The Arne Hanna Aquatic Center is reopening in a limited capacity with strict Covid-19 measures in place that include the requirement to pre-register. The center will open on Monday, 9/14/2020. Whatcom County Health Department reports that Covid-19 cases have gone down in the last few weeks. The Health Department has provided a survey to gather data about social distancing and mask wearing, receiving to date about 5,000 responses. Dr. Steven Bennett, Professor at WWU is doing research on behaviors and mask wearing in public and social settings. Once the survey closes, he will be able to provide council with their findings. The Health Department continues to partner with providers for Covid-19 testing. (AB22593) Non-voting issue.
Shall the council:
153. Work with the mayor and his administration to contact congressional representatives to find out the status of the FCC oversight regarding health investigations on small cell and 5G technology? At the 9/10/2018 meeting, vote #139, the City Council voted to regulate small cell facilities located in public right-of-way. Small cell facilities are low-powered telecommunications antennas that provide voice and data coverage to relatively small, densely populated geographic areas, supplementing the larger cellular network. The city’s regulations address aesthetics and public safety, including ensuring compliance with applicable ADA requirements and FCC radio frequency emissions standards. Small cell facilities may be configured for 4G or 5G wireless technology. Unlike 4G technology, which primarily relies on larger “macro” antennas to send and receive wireless signals at relatively low frequencies in the radio spectrum, 5G will rely on more densely sited small cell facilities to send and receive signals at higher radio frequencies. To date, the city has granted two small cell franchises by ordinance but has not yet permitted any small cell facilities within the public right-of-way. The city involvement is limited to permitting the cost of which is paid for by applicants. City staff recognize that some level of public concern exists over the adequacy of the FCC’s existing RF emissions’ standards as they pertain to small cell and 5G. (AB22351) Approved 7-0
154. Appropriate $6,746,340 for goods and services checks issued from July 24, 2020 through August 20, 2020? (AB22743/22744) Approved 7-0
155. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County for a portion of a federal grant? (Public hearing held.) The 2020 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program has allocated $33,484 in grant funding to Whatcom County: $20,652 for the city of Bellingham and $12,832 for the Whatcom County sheriff’s office. The city will use the money to purchase a portable X-Ray system for the Hazardous Device Unit. The unit responds to suspicious packages, suitcases and vehicles. (AB22745) Approved 7-0
156. Appropriate an additional $750,000 for the 2019-2020 Claims and Litigation Fund? The money will come from the fund’s reserve: at the end of the year it was projected to be $4,800,000. The fund has nearly expended its entire two-year appropriation and requires additional appropriations. Judgments and damages were budgeted for $400,000 over the biennium and have cost $740,000 to date. Outside legal services were budgeted for $185,000 and have cost $236,000 to date. Insurance renewal is due in October and expected to exceed appropriations. AB22724 (Ordinance 2020-08-021) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at September 14, 2020 Meeting
Update on Covid-19 Response:
The Arne Hannah Aquatic Center reopened today with strict precautionary measures in place. The Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher facility is reopening on 9/19/2020, also with strict measures in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. There has been a new round of funding from the CARES ACT that will distribute another $1.4 million into the community from the Department of Commerce. The deadline for spending the funds from the grant will be 12/1/2020. We have not received the funds yet, but we plan to focus them on food recovery, child care, rental assistance, response to homelessness, aid in behavioral health services, and business assistance. WWU starts up again on 9/23/2020. About 15,000 students are enrolled and almost all courses will be delivered remotely. Starting next week, they expect to have less than 2,000 students on campus during any given day. Their program encourages practices that include washing hands, wearing masks, and watching distance in social settings, and students are holding each other accountable. The university has no fraternities, sororities, and no football team. Testing is required of students five to seven days before they come to campus, when they move into on campus residences, and pool testing for students who live off campus. (AB22593) Non-voting issue
Shall the council:
157. Spend $1,805,000 to acquire 125 acres of property owned by Chris and Nancy Secrist and the Oeser Company? The purchase will be made in connection with the city’s Lake Whatcom Watershed Property Acquisition Program in order to help protect the city’s drinking water source. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 7-0
158. Amend the development agreement with Parberry, Inc.? (Public hearing held.) Parberry, Inc. has decided to sell the business rather than move their facility. They are looking for a third-party buyer to buy and hope that the same level of service will continue to the city and residents of Bellingham. 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 purpose of this amendment is to change the emphasis from “relocation” to “a phasing out” of non-conforming uses (the recycling business is a non-conforming business) and to further clarify street improvements. Parberry has selected the redevelopment of 700 W. Holly as their first major renovation project. The amendments also clarify the street improvement timing and requirements for this project. (AB22747) Approved 7-0
159. Extend sewer service to 856 Marine Drive? Sewer service outside the city limits requires City Council approval. The single-family residence was constructed in 1947, and the Whatcom County Health Department informed the owner on 6/12/2020 that their septic system has failed. The owners of the property are requesting to enter into a contract with the city of Bellingham for retail sewer service as allowed under city code, per the county’s recommendation. The property is served with water from Water District #2 and is within the city’s urban growth area. There are sewer mains abutting the property. (AB22749) Approved 7-0
160. Adopt a City Council training program to address “multicultural organization development and integrating diversity & inclusiveness into your systems”? Councilmember Hannah Stone has been working with Kimberly Harris, founder and CEO of Distinctive Voice Consulting in Bellingham, to develop a training for City Councilmembers and City Council staff. The purpose of this training is to help the council identify structural policies that create bias, and will consider: gender identity, bias, prejudice, white privilege, racism, cultural information, tools to interrupt bias/advocacy awareness, and resources for further growth and development. Cost breakdowns indicate four-hours training time for 10 people @ $75/hour/person $750.00 each, totaling $3,000 with one-hour travel time (50 percent of $200/hour rate) for a total $100, as well as two-hours training prep time @ $200/hour for $400. The estimated total is $3,500 with extra costs to be determined. (AB22753) Approved 7-0
161. Appropriate $3,401,021 for goods and services checks issued from August 21, 2020 through September 03, 2020? (AB22755/22756) Approved 7-0
162. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District for emergency water systems? The city of Bellingham and Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District (before 2005, Water District #10) have had a water agreement dating back to 5/13/1970. This new agreement will clean up some of the language in the original documents, establish that the connection is only for an emergency water supply, and that the supply may be mutually beneficial to both agencies. It also establishes that any water service outside of a declared emergency must be handled under a separate agreement. (AB22757) Approved 7-0