Action Taken at April 13, 2020 Meeting
Bellingham Emergency Management update on Covid-19. The city has been providing information about efforts to deal with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and conducted its first web-based remote-attendance meeting on 4/13, as per Washington State Proclamation 20-2028 prohibiting in-person attendance. Residents have been urged to keep moving through the parks and not linger. The city will open a quarantine and isolation facility on Byron Street for those who cannot safely isolate, has been supporting the Bellingham Food Bank and skilled nursing facilities, and is also working to identify a site that could be used as a medical surge facility if needed at a later time. To date, there have been 348 acute care in-patients, but those tested negative for the Covid-19 virus. They provided care for 36 patients who tested positive for the virus. The hospital has the capacity of 251 beds, and could increase the capacity by 50 – 60 beds. Testing results are turning around quickly due to local laboratories. The Bellingham School District has partnered with the Lighthouse Mission to utilize a portion of the Bellingham High School as a drop-in center and shelter for unsheltered residents, and are partnering with local child care providers to provide services for first responders. (AB22616) Non-voting issue.
Shall the council:
55. Send a letter to the Congressional delegation regarding federal policy? The letter asked our Congressional delegation for federal emergency assistance. It highlighted many of the issues discussed before the council and addresses the assertion that testing supplies intended for Bellingham and St. Joseph’s Hospital may have been seized by federal authorities and re-directed to another part of the country. (AB22593) Approved 7-0
56. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $364,721 to Matia Contractors of Ferndale for phase one plantings at Cordata Park? The landscape architect’s estimate for the project was $499,249. It involves landscape planting of the north recreation node, three pedestrian entrances fronting Cordata Parkway, and wetland mitigation areas located in various locations in the park. The work includes 4.24 acres of wetland mitigation site preparation for the installation of 7,710 bare root plants. Site preparation includes mowing and spraying weeds within the project limits. An additional 6,402 landscape trees, shrubs, grasses and ground covers are planned for installation in and around phase one improvements that are currently under construction. Landscape planting is scheduled for October 2020 and January 2021. The city received four bids, the high bid was $552,816. (AB22619) Approved 7-0
57. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,396,205 to RAM Construction of Bellingham for Julianna Park? The engineer’s estimate for the project was $1,610,827. At the 2/25/2019 meeting, vote #39, the park was named after Julie Guy. She served on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee from 9/13/2006 to 7/3/2013, and advocated for parks in North Bellingham. The park is located at the west end of Horton Road — it was planned by Whatcom County in 2008 and then annexed into the city limits. This project will construct utilities, a driveway, stormwater infrastructure, and pedestrian and vehicular access to the park. The project is being coordinated with the Horton Road extension project and integrates stormwater facilities and critical area mitigation for the two projects. These improvements will also provide accessible and equitable access into the park with new accessible parking and connected pathways, as well as provide access for emergency and maintenance vehicles. The city received nine bids, the high bid was $1,783,380. (AB22620) Approved 7-0
58. Authorize the utilities superintendent of the public works department to sign a joint funding agreement with the federal government for the operation and maintenance of stream gauges? The city partners with U.S. Department of Interior/U.S. Geological Survey for the operation and maintenance of seven stream gauges. The total cost of the program is $167,180: the city’s share is $128,396 and the federal government’s share is $38,748. The program monitors the stream flow discharges of Olsen Creek, Carpenter Creek, Euclid Creek, Silver Beach Creek, Brannian Creek, Anderson Creek and the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River, and turbidity of the last two. The agreement runs from 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020. (AB22622) Approved 7-0
59. Appropriate $3,663,866 for payroll checks issued from March 1 through March 15, 2020? (AB22623) Approved 7-0 60. Appropriate $10,435,258 for goods and services checks issued from March 14 through April 3, 2020? (AB22624/22625/22626) Approved 7-0 61. Call on the federal and state governments to respond to the Covid-19 emergency by enacting immediate rent and mortgage payment relief? The public health emergency has resulted in unprecedented idling of the economy and losses of income, with impacts being particularly intense for the small business sector. Although some eviction moratoria have been granted, these are short in duration, do not cover all leases, and still obligate the renter to pay the full amount. Some mortgage obligations have been postponed, but this applies only to some federal residential loans. The federal and state governments are requested to extend eviction moratoria and provide suspension of rent and mortgage payments and to create a grant-based rent relief program to provide longer-term relief, with amendments to include assistance for undocumented individuals and adult college students who are not eligible for cash or rental assistance because they are claimed as dependants on their parents’ tax returns. AB22621 (Resolution 2020-11) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at April 27, 2020 Meeting
Bellingham Emergency Management update on Covid-19. City staff stays in regular communication with our state delegation to monitor various federal and state relief that may be available to the city. The city’s Operations Group will enter its next operational period beginning May 4 and running through the end of May. This group ensures continuity of essential city services, making sure all front-line personnel have PPE, collaboration with countywide coordination in Unified Command, and provide essential communication to the community. A path forward includes coronavirus testing, PPE, contact tracing, making sure adequate capacity is in our healthcare system, and a preparation of a vaccine. Most large gatherings will likely be prohibited and telecommuting will be more the norm than the exception. Industries that are inclined to physical separation are likely to open before others. Reopening will be a phased approach, in order to protect the most vulnerable of the population. Downloadable activities for children can now be found on the museum’s website at https://www.whatcommuseum.org/, and cultural and educational programs have moved online and will be available for viewing in early May. Virtual tours of exhibits can also be viewed at the museum’s website. There is a new digital recording studio exhibit that is set to open called the Storydome, which will allow community members to record three- to five-minute stories of their experiences during this time. Parks and Recreation Department have pivoted services to create online teachings. Some of the classes include water skills for children and sports skills for teenagers. Spring work parties have been cancelled, but new videos published on the park’s social media platforms provide history on Bellingham parks. As of May 5, state parks will reopen, and fishing, hunting, and golf will reopen. The mayor previously issued an order canceling all special events in city parks and facilities, and all activities that have open space shelter and pavilion reservations will be cancelled through August 30. Pools remained closed, and team sports are disallowed. Woods Coffeehouse at Boulevard Park will remain operational. Residents are encouraged to keep moving through the parks and not linger. The shower program is planned to open at Civic Stadium. The Unified Command structure has changed and is now under the direction of a single incident commander who is working on behalf of all county agencies. The change moves from a response and reactive type organization to a long-range planning and preparation entity. The Byron Street isolation and quarantine center opened last week, and the hospital is well below capacity in their bed count. The Whatcom County Health Department has also moved from a response to a long-term planning implementation plan by increasing testing from a community-wide effort that includes contact tracing. The Health Department is hoping to gain support from the state for software that would help with case investigations. The department also tests in known outbreak areas, such as in long-term care and skilled nursing facilities. They are not testing for asymptomatic patients — only those with symptoms. Recently a task force was created for Covid-19 business support. They will work to create strategies to improve infection-control measures for businesses that are currently open, and for businesses when they reopen. Information and an application form for business owners to apply for the task force can be found at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3398/Covid-19-Business-Support-Task-Force. The Food Security Task Force meets twice a week to ensure food security for all of Whatcom County residents, particularly those with barriers to food access by providing staples and shelf-stable items. The foundation is working with local farmers and community gardens’ projects that had planned to sell to restaurants, to create market opportunities for them. Readers can find a list of businesses that are open by visiting https://www.bellingham.org/. (AB22593) Non-voting issue.
Shall the council:
62. Send a letter to our national delegation in Washington, D.C., in support of legislation addressing Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) filers and stimulus payments? The letter highlights an exclusion in the Cares Act, which denies stimulus support to individuals that use ITIN numbers when filing their taxes. The ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service to ensure that people – including unauthorized immigrants – pay taxes even if they do not have a Social Security number and regardless of their immigration status. They pay taxes but do not benefit from the stimulus funds. (No agenda bill number, discussed during old/new business) Approved 7-0
63. Authorize the city to sign a contract with Kinnon Williams of Inslee Best Doezie & Ryder P.S. of Bellevue to provide legal counsel, advice and representation in acquiring property needed for the Orchard Street extension project, up to and including condemnation? (Discussed at Executive Session) Approved 7-0
64. Appropriate $3,725,170 for payroll checks issued from March 16 through March 31, 2020? (AB22628) Approved 7-0
65. Appropriate $3,319,542 for goods and services checks issued from April 4 through April 17, 2020? (AB22629/22630)Approved 7-0
66. Appropriate an additional $500,000 for the emergency management division of the fire department for expenses related to the Covid-19 pandemic? Funds are to be used for supplies, staffing, and support of Whatcom Unified Command to aid the city and county-wide response to conditions resulting from the pandemic. The emergency management division is seeing increased costs for equipment and supplies and for staff re-assigned to emergency response from other departments. Allocations have been made as follows: $120,000 for operating supplies, $100,000 for salaries and wages, $30,000 for personnel benefits, and $250,000 for other professional services. A portion of these funds may also be used to provide financial support for the Whatcom County Unified Command. AB22617 (Ordinance 2020-04-010) Approved 7-0