Bellingham City Council

Action Taken at April 12, 2021 Meeting

Mayor’s Report
Mayor Fleetwood announced that the city has hired Elizabeth Monahan as the new human resources director. He welcomed her to the city, and thanked Deputy Administrator Brian Heinrich for his many years of service in that role. The city is in the midst of a recruitment effort for a new police chief. Interim Police Chief Flo Simon will be retiring this year. Residents of Bellingham are encouraged to share what characteristics they would like to see in a police chief by commenting at

Shall the council:
56. Authorize the mayor to sign a modified lease with the Bellingham Technical College allowing the installation of a security gate at the Perry Center parking lot? The Perry Center is located off C Street in Maritime Heritage Park: it houses the Bellingham Technical College (BTC) fisheries and aquaculture program and the Whatcom Creek Hatchery. At the 11/10/2014 meeting, vote #225, the council authorized the mayor to sign a lease for a newly constructed building, fish ponds, parking and common areas at the Perry Center. Over the past two years, the BTC has documented increasing safety concerns at and around the center. The incidents range from physical attacks, threats and aggression towards students and faculty, to overnight camping and drug use. Currently, students are required to be in pairs anytime they are working in the hatchery or walking to the parking lot. Elementary school tours of the hatchery have been discontinued, they are no longer considered safe. Despite hiring security, BTC is concerned about the escalation of threats to students, faculty and the fisheries program. BTC will cover all permitting and installation expenses. The Bellingham police department, fire department and parks and recreation department are supportive of the installation The controlled access security gate will eliminate public parking. Although vehicle access would be restricted, the public will still have pedestrian access into this area from all directions using the existing trail system. (AB20625) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

57. Grant a noise variance to the state Department of Transportation and Granite Construction for the Padden Creek fish passage project? Construction work in residentially zoned areas between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. requires a noise variance. For the state, Granite Construction of Everett is replacing culverts with fish passable bridges at Interstate 5 and SR 11 (Old Fairhaven Parkway). Work on the project will begin on 4/26/2021 and be complete by 12/31/2022. The noise variance is requested for 40 nonconsecutive nights at the intersection of Old Fairhaven Parkway and 30th Street, and for 125 nonconsecutive nights on 33rd Street adjacent to I-5, where the state will need access to construction activities in the I-5 corridor. While much of the work will be performed during the day with lane closures and one full closure of SR 11 over a yet undetermined weekend, the nonconsecutive night closures will minimize the danger to workers and the traveling public from road closures, detours and traffic delays. Residents in the Samish, South and Happy Valley neighborhoods within 500 feet of the two project sites will be notified at least 14 calendar days in advance of any proposed nighttime work. (AB22950) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

58. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,674,175 to Boss Construction of Bellingham for the Park Place water facility retrofit? The engineer’s estimate was $1,907,981. The retrofit of the Park Place sand filter will significantly increase the ability to remove phosphorus from stormwater runoff. The Park Place facility is at the north end of Lake Whatcom at the intersection of Britton Road and Northshore Drive, on roughly 105 acres of mixed development and forested area. The project will improve the phosphorus treatment by utilizing a cutting-edge technology, Phosphorus Optimized Stormwater Treatment (POST) media, currently under development by the city of Bellingham. The POST media was approved by the state Department of Ecology for pilot-project use statewide in 2018. This system will achieve large gains in the city’s phosphorus reduction efforts, required by the state as part of the Lake Whatcom Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan developed by the city and approved by the state. State grants total $1.2 million for the project. The grants cover a portion of the research that developed the POST system and a portion of the construction. The city received 10 bids: the high bid was 2,099,663. (AB22952)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

59. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Scott Jones to a full term on the Planning and Development Commission? Scott Jones was appointed to a partial term at the 5/18/2020 meeting, vote #70. 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 of Bellingham 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. 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. His term will expire on 4/1/2025, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB22959)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused. 

60. Approve the mayor’s appointments of John Baker, Holly Pai, and Australia Shanghai Crosby as primary representatives and Marciano Sanchez Lopez as an alternative representative to the Immigration Advisory Board? At the 11/4/2019 meeting, vote #197, the council established the Immigration Advisory Board. It reviews and evaluates policies regarding compliance with E2SSB 5497 and makes specific recommendations regarding policies related to immigration matters; provides for data collection regarding contact between the city of Bellingham, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection; and includes periodic updates to council. Australia Shanghai Cosby is a community organizer with a B.A. from WWU in human services and rehabilitation. She is appointed to a partial term, which will end on 6/23/2022, at which time she may be reappointed. John Baker is a retired educator formerly with Whatcom Community College. This is his first term, which will end on 4/12/2023, at which time he may be reappointed. Holly Pai is an immigration attorney with a Juris Doctorate from Seattle University School of Law (2008) This is a partial term, which will end on 6/23/2022, at which time she may be reappointed. Marciano Lopez is a Union organizer and farmworker He is appointed as an alternate: his first term will end on 4/12/2023, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB22960)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused. 

61. Appropriate $3,662,291 for payroll checks issued from March 1 through March 15, 2021? (AB22961)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

62. Appropriate $4,201,628 for goods and services checks issued from March 12 through April 1, 2021? (AB22962/22963/22964)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

63. Authorize the mayor to relinquish railroad franchise authority in certain vacated streets located in the Waterfront District? (Public hearing held.) The Port of Bellingham is seeking to redevelop port property located within the Waterfront District general binding site plan. The city’s franchise renewal right was memorialized when the city vacated portions of Maple Street, Commercial Street, East Laurel Street, East Myrtle Street, Army Street and Bay Street pursuant to Ordinances 4840 adopted on 3/26/1928 and 6420 adopted on 7/1/1946, respectively. The vacation ordinances preserved any existing city-granted railroad franchises within the vacated street segments and the city’s right to extend or renew them in the future. There are no existing railroad franchises within the vacated streets. The city has notified BNSF, the only known railroad company operating in the vicinity of the proposed relinquishment area, and received no objection from them. AB22955 (Resolution 2021-05)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused. 

64. Establish the Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Promotion Area? At the 3/8/2021 meeting, vote #39, the council passed Resolution 2021-03. Staff was unable to publish the public notice in time to meet the requirements of the Tourism Promotion Area resolution. Therefore, a public hearing was not held on 3/22/2021. For this reason, the City Council must pass the resolution again, which designates 4/26/21 as the public hearing date and clarifies that the City Council has approved entering into the agreement with Whatcom County. AB22929 (Resolution 2021-06) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

Action Taken at April 26, 2021 Meeting

Shall the council:
65. Spend $350,000 to acquire a 4.88-acre property located in the Lake Whatcom Watershed? Prior to closing, the homeowner’s association disclosed two anticipated special assessments for road repairs and replacement of a community dock. Daniel Hammill/Lisa Anderson moved to reject the purchase and sale agreement for the property. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Denied 0-6-1, Lisa Anderson, Dan Hammill, Hollie Huthman, Michael Lilliquist, Hanna Stone and Pinky Vargas opposed, Gene Knutson abstained.

66. Spend $375,000 to acquire a 4.62-acre property located in the Lake Whatcom Watershed? Prior to closing, the homeowner’s association disclosed two anticipated special assessments for road repairs and replacement of a community dock. Daniel Hammill/Lisa Anderson moved to reject the purchase and sale agreement for the property. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Denied 0-6-1, Lisa Anderson, Dan Hammill, Hollie Huthman, Michael Lilliquist, Hanna Stone and Pinky Vargas opposed, Gene Knutson abstained.

67. Authorize the mayor to sign a contract with outside legal counsel to assist the city attorney’s office in representing the city of Bellingham in the DeBruin lawsuit? (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0-1, Gene Knutson abstained.

68. Authorize the mayor to sign an updated agreement with Whatcom County for the Ground Level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) program? At the 1/28/2019 meeting, vote #13, the council authorized the mayor to sign a $140,000 per calendar-year agreement with Whatcom County to support the creation of the GRACE program. The overarching program goals are to reduce first responder calls, emergency department visits, arrests, and jail admissions while improving the health, well-being and stability of these individuals. The agreement has been updated to reflect 1) a continuation of the program and the partnership, 2) an expansion of the program to include an additional case manager to support expansion of our behavioral health response and 3) behavioral health crisis response program design and planning. In addition to the City and County councils, other service providers, including PeaceHealth Medical Center, area municipalities and tribal nations, are participating community partners in the GRACE. The City Council increased the 2021-2022 budget by $140,000 per year, which brings the total commitment to $280,000 per year. The total budget is $646,546, with the county contributing $316,546 and $90,000 contributed by other sources. (AB22189) Approved 7-0

69. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Keith Moore to the Transportation Commission? The nine members of the Transportation Commission are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The Transportation Commission will 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. Keith Moore has a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has lived in Bellingham for four and one-half years. He has an interest in multimodal transportation and linking it was economic enhancement. His first term will expire on 4/26/2024, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB22967) Approved 7-0

70. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $19,963,299 to Spee West Construction of Edmonds for a city administration building and vehicle barn? The engineer’s estimate was $23,671,377. The five-story administration building on Puget Street will provide a studio to support public meetings and allow video recordings. It will consolidate staff for parks, public works and the natural resources division. It will be built to LEED silver standards. The new vehicle barn has been designed to support all city operations and includes the secure environmentally controlled space needed for the high-end equipment that supports the operations’ functions. It will support storage of both large and small equipment, combining resources to service and maintain the equipment for both parks and public works. This space will include a wood shop, and a mezzanine with storage for all divisions. Attached at the east end of the barn will be a new wash bay allowing for vehicles to pull through the space. These buildings represent the fourth phase of eight phases over the next 5-10 year period. The city received five bids: the high bid was $21,501,674. (AB22968) Approved 7-0

71. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County for 2021 paramedic training? This agreement, in the amount of $579,153, will be funded by the Whatcom County EMS levy. The city and county have entered two similar contracts that outline allowable paramedic class expenses charged towards the Whatcom County EMS levy, including program administrative costs, equipment, supplies, salary, and benefits. This agreement updates the budget exhibit to reflect 2021 actual costs and clarifies the scope of work and obligations of the city, county, and specific program personnel. The training delivered through this apprenticeship-style program allows our medic students to study local policies, practices, and protocols in real time. This model allows trainees the advantage of graduating “response ready,” enabling the agency to integrate newly minted paramedics immediately into operational roles within the Whatcom County EMS System. (AB22969) Approved 7-0

72. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County to support, develop and fund a process for the creation of a countywide racial equity commission? Whatcom County and the city of Bellingham will contribute $45,000 each for a total of $90,000 to finance the committee. The city recognizes the many community-wide costs and impacts associated with racial inequity and disparities. The purpose of this agreement is to jointly support a public engagement process to create recommendations for a countywide racial equity commission, whose mission is expected to include identifying sources of racial inequality in Whatcom County and recommending strategies to address them. The public engagement process will be led and managed by the Chuckanut Health Foundation by contract with Whatcom County — it will inform the scope and design of the proposed racial equity commission. The resulting proposal is anticipated to be presented to the City and County councils for consideration by the end of 2021. (AB22972) Approved 7-0

73. Appropriate $5,562,652 for goods and services checks issued from April 2 through April 15, 2021? (AB22976/22977) Approved 7-0

74. Appropriate $3,924,074 for payroll checks issued from March 15 through March 31, 2021? (AB22978) Approved 7-0

75. Authorize the partial relinquishment of a surplus utility easement encumbering 622 11th Street? (Public Hearing held.) On 8/3/1953, the city of Bellingham vacated 10 feet on each side of Easton Avenue between 10th Street and the west line of the Lysle donation claim. The city retained utility easements in the vacated areas. An adjacent relinquishment at 614 and 622 11th Street was authorized at the 11/9/2020 meeting, vote #204, which is subject to a similar retained easement in the corridor of Easton Avenue. The property owner, Dalmatia LLC has submitted a site development plan and would like to improve the property but needs the added area to properly complete the design and to meet current regulations. Public Works has no need or 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. AB22965 (Resolution 2021-07) Approved 7-0

76. Authorize the partial relinquishment of a surplus utility easement encumbering Memorial Park at 2700 King Street? (Public hearing held.) On 4/20/1953, the city of Bellingham vacated a portion of King Street between E. Illinois Street and E. Maryland, and retained a utility easement. At the  4/8/2019 meeting, vote #68, the council voted to relinquish two utility easements on portions of King Street. This was in response to a petition by the adjacent owner, the Bellingham School District #501. The school district is now seeking to further develop Sunnyland Elementary School and has requested that the city relinquish the retained utility easement in the vacated east half of King Street abutting Memorial Park. The relinquishment is pursuant to a memorandum of understanding between the parties that will facilitate park and trail enhancements of various city parks, as well as a mutual exchange of property to allow equitable development of district property and city parks. AB22966 (Resolution 2021-08) Approved 6-0-1, Dan Hammill abstained.

77. Adopt the ADA Transition Plan for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way? To satisfy the requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act, Public Works staff developed a Transition Plan for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. The plan describes accessibility barriers encountered by individuals with disabilities, identifies priorities for removing barriers, and recommends actions to ensure pedestrian facilities are accessible to all community members. This includes sidewalks, curb ramps, pedestrian pushbuttons, and other pedestrian-related facilities in the public right-of-way. The Transition Plan summarizes the process of identifying barriers to accessibility and prioritizing improvements and lays out a long-term plan for removing barriers within the public right-of-way. A robust public engagement effort, which included the formation of an advisory committee, open houses, an online survey, and focus group, was instrumental in guiding plan development. It is a living document and will be updated annually. The Public Works Department is currently spending approximately $1,376,000 a year on ADA-related retrofits to existing facilities. AB22938 (Resolution 2021-09) Approved 7-0 

78. Adopt the 2021-2022 action plan of the 2018-2022 consolidated plan? The action plan designates city use of federal funds for low- and moderate-income households. The consolidated plan identifies the most immediate needs in these areas and outlines a distribution plan for the funds, and the action plan identifies expenditures the city will undertake during the coming year. The 2018–2022 consolidated plan runs from 7/1/2018 – 6/30/2023, and was approved at the 5/7/2018 meeting, vote #66. A series of four discussions was conducted previously: 1) a discussion of capital projects; 2) a discussion with partner agencies focused on housing services programs that address the needs of vulnerable families with children; 3) a report on Community Development Advisory Board recommendations; and 4) a discussion and adoption of the full annual action plan. The annual action plan typically reflects about $6 million in new allocations, in addition to prior committed allocations, with funding sourced from the housing levy ($9,793,897), HUD HOME ($2,394,564), HOME-ARP ($2,184,701), Community Development Block Grant ($2,268,588), Community Development Block Grant-CV ($843,381), real estate excise tax ($1,000,000), 1590 ($3,000,000) and the general fund ($982,008) for a grand total of $22,652,026. AB22930 (Resolution 2021-10) Approved 7-0

79. Update sections of the Bellingham Municipal Code governing utility bills? The city code lacks explicit direction on leak adjustments and errors for water, sewer, surface and stormwater billing. This creates ambiguity when interpreting the code for both customers and staff. The intent of this update is to establish clear expectations for customers when seeking utility adjustments, through the following changes to the code: (1) limits leak adjustments lookback to two billing cycles; (2) limits billing error lookback to one year for both underbilling and overbilling; (3) allows for one leak adjustment every 10 years instead of one during the lifetime of the metered service; (4) shifts determination of hard surface adjustments from the Public Works director to the finance director; and (5) other minor changes to the related sections. AB22951 (Ordinance 2021-04-014) Approved 7-0  

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