Action Taken at February 7, 2022 Meeting
The Fire Department has distributed over 8,000 Covid-19 at-home test kits in partnership with Unity Care. They are currently out of test kits, but once more become available, the city will provide this information on various media outlets, including social media. Overall, while case rates and hospitalizations remain elevated, they are starting to see declines in the case numbers.
Shall the council:
15. Authorize the city to participate in mediation of the Bornstein Seafoods v. City of Bellingham and Port of Bellingham lawsuit? The lawsuit stems from efforts to clean up environmental contamination at the I&J Waterway site. The state of Washington determined that the site is contaminated and issued potential liability letters to the Port of Bellingham and Bornstein Seafoods. Bornstein filed the lawsuit against the city on 1/7/2021. In the complaint, Bornstein alleged that the city is liable for the costs of cleanup and remedial action at the site because the city’s stormwater system and other city facilities are sources of hazardous substances that have contaminated the site. Bornstein asserted that the city is obligated to pay for all remedial action costs that Bornstein has incurred or will incur related to contamination of the site. Bornstein did not name the port in its initial complaint. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 7-0
16. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,173,446 to Tiger Construction of Everson for the Mill Avenue project? The engineer’s estimate was $1,380,720. At the 1/24/2022 meeting, vote #10, the council voted unanimously to oppose the project. Area residents were opposed to sidewalks on both sides of the street, and they convinced council members to reject it. When area residents became aware it could take up to five years before the project would be rebid, they changed their opposition to the project. The Mill Avenue project includes construction of curb, gutter, sidewalk, and ADA ramps on both sides of Mill Avenue between Samish Way and 40th Street, together with stormwater improvements and an asphalt paving. The finished roadway will be channelized through the curves and marked as a bike boulevard. (AB23238) Approved 7-0
The mayor made two appointments 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 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.
17. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Mike McAuley to serve a partial term? He has lived in Bellingham for 23 years, was a Port Commissioner for eight years (2010 – 2017), serves as president for the Washington Woodland Cooperative, and is in his final year on the Working Waterfront Coalition. His term will expire on 1/11/2025, at which time he may be reappointed. Approved 7-0
18. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Russell Whidbee to serve his first term? He as been a resident of Bellingham for 40 years, serves on the BTC Foundation Board and the Mt. Baker Kidney Foundation, and is a WWU men’s basketball mentor coach. His term will expire on 1/24/2026, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23253) Approved 7-0
19. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $73,003 to The Sign Post Inc. of Bellingham to replace the Mount Baker Theatre marquee? The engineer’s estimate was $80,000. The city of Bellingham is the owner of the theatre building. The marquee is broken and requires parts which are no longer manufactured. The bid includes removal of the existing marquee and installing a new, three-sided one with a 4G wireless cellular data plan, the manufacturer’s cloud- based software as well as a five-year warranty on all parts and labor. The city received three bids — the high bid was $96,224. (AB23254) Approved 6-0-1, Daniel Hammill abstained.
20. Grant a 10-year telecommunications franchise to Wholesail Networks LLC? Wholesail Networks LLC (a subsidiary of Northwest Fiber d.b.a. Ziply Fiber) has applied for a citywide franchise to construct, install, operate, maintain, repair, and replace fiber optic broadband network components within, upon, over, under, along, and across city rights-of-way for the provision of commercial telecommunications services to businesses and other communications providers. The purpose of the franchise is to coordinate the shared use of the right-of-way for transportation, utility and telecommunications services in an orderly manner, with a clear allocation of risk among the various users. Wholesail will not be providing residential internet service. The city is prohibited by state law from imposing a franchise fee upon telephone service providers. Although Wholesail Networks holds no other active city franchise in Washington, it is an affiliate of Ziply Fiber which holds a constitutional statewide franchise grant within its WUTC-assigned service territory. The amount of the performance bond required under city code is $50,000. (AB23255) Approved 7-0
21. Modify the City Council rules of procedure? When a City Council vacancy is to be filled, the council will use ranked-choice voting. Added to a list of behaviors that are prohibited at council meetings is profanity. (23259) Approved 7-0
22. Authorize the mayor to sign a 10-year bridge inspection agreement with the state of Washington? The city of Bellingham is required to inspect all bridges on public roadways on a defined schedule. While nearly all city bridge inspections are performed by Whatcom County Public Works, some inspections are very specialized and require special certifications and equipment to perform. Washington State Department of Transportation – Bridge Department has certified inspectors, the appropriate equipment, and the availability to perform these special bridge inspections for the city of Bellingham. Bridges to be serviced under this agreement are located on Dupont Street at Whatcom Creek, Holly Street at Whatcom Creek, Chestnut and Bay streets railroad bridge, Northwest Avenue at Squalicum Creek, and Eldridge Avenue at Squalicum Creek. (AB23261) Approved 7-0
23. Appropriate $3,798,073 for payroll checks issued from January 1 through January 15, 2022? (AB23262) Approved 7-0
24. Appropriate $1,973,573 for goods and services checks issued from January 14 to January 20, 2022? (AB23263) Approved 7-0
25. Amend public parking policies and regulations? A primary purpose of the parking management system in high-demand areas is to support commerce activities and businesses by promoting turnover. A commonly used trigger is a roughly 85 percent building occupancy rate. This 85 percent trigger helps ensure that a potential customer can reasonably expect to find a place to park when coming to an area. Time-limited parking enforcement in Fairhaven started in 2015; the area has continued to see high demand and has now reached the trigger point outlined in the Fairhaven Parking management plan leading to the implementation of paid parking. Similarly, in Downtown Bellingham, demand in areas with paid parking continues to rise resulting in the need to increase hourly pricing. This ordinance establishes a second parking management zone encompassing portions of Fairhaven, and is brought forward with a companion agenda item on proposed increases to on-street and off-street public parking rates, to be established by separate resolution. Terms of the ordinance include: hourly parking rates at $1 per hour; the civil penalty for parking infractions at $30 each, with the deadline to respond to a parking citation increased to 15 days prior to incurring the late penalty; hours of paid parking enforcement will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. At the Commercial Street Garage, there will be no charge after 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and no charge Friday after 6 p.m. through Monday at 11 a.m. and all other parking garages and lots, and; parking a vehicle in an electric vehicle charging station parking stall while the vehicle is not connected to the charging equipment is prohibited. The previous amendment to the ordinance was revoked by a motion to go back to the 15-day deadline to respond to citations for parking meters or overtime infractions, 6-0-1 Daniel Hammill abstained. Pursuant to state law and court rules, the city is precluded from extending that 15-day response deadline to 30 days. AB23137 (Ordinance 2022-02-003) Approved 6-1, Daniel Hammill opposed.
26. Amend the city code and the Washington State Building Code to implement electrification and efficiency standards for certain multi-family and commercial buildings? (Public hearing held at 12/13/2021 meeting.) City building codes were last modified at the 1/25/2021 meeting, vote #24. That vote requires electrification of space and water heating, incremental improvements in energy efficiency, and solar installation or readiness measures in certain multifamily and commercial buildings. Code updates take place every three years and ensure our built environments incorporate new technologies, improved building science, advancements in materials and methods, including approaches always ensuring advancements in the next generation of buildings. “Solar-ready, provisions-detached, one- and two-family dwellings, multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses)” is adopted, and most of the proposed changes (heat pump space heating, heat pump water heating, air barrier testing, lighting power, and more) are included in the working draft of the 2021 energy code. However, final action, which may not include all of these items, will not occur until very late in 2022, with city adoption even later in 2023. AB23193 (Ordinance 2022-02-004) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at February 28, 2022 Meeting
In light of the egregious and shocking violations made by Russia in violation of international law, Mayor Seth Fleetwood expressed unity and support with the people of Ukraine, expressing that their lives have been upended, they have suffered loss and woes and it is a tragic thing to witness. The city of Bellingham will continue its partnership with the sister city of Nakhodka, Russia. The Sister City program is a living legacy conceived and initiated by President Eisenhower in 1956 as a new approach to secure peace around the world. Hannah Stone and Michael Lilliquist echoed support for the mayor’s decision not to sever ties with the sister city of Nakhodka. Invasive Species Awareness Week takes place from February 28 through March 4, 2022. For more information, visit: https://invasivespecies.wa.gov/.
Shall the council:
27. Deny an appeal to the city’s decision to deny a claim? Claim 2021-25. (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
The mayor made two reappointments to the Greenway Advisory Committee. The Greenway Advisory committee shall identify, develop, review, and recommend selection criteria, general project priorities and specific actions relating to the expenditure and allocation of Greenway Levy Funds. The committee shall work in cooperation with the Parks and Recreation Department staff.
28. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Kate McDonald to her first full term? She was appointed to a partial term at the 9/28/2020 meeting, vote #163. Ms. McDonald is a retired high school principal and has lived in Bellingham for three years. She 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. Her term will expire on 3/11/2025 at which time she may be reappointed. Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
29. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Dina Dickerson to her first full term? She was appointed to a partial term at the 12/13/2021 meeting, vote #233. She is a retired public health informaticist, has a masters of public health and has lived in Bellingham for five years. She has extensive experience solving problems of capture, use and sharing of data in health information venues, including primary and specialty care medical practice, academic medicine, public health and social services, in Oregon from 1978 until 2015. Her term will expire on 3/11/2025 at which time she may be reappointed. (AB23265) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
30. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Jed Ballew to the Planning and Development Commission? The commission consists of seven members appointed by the mayor. It 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 commission also advises the council through the planning director. Mr. Ballew was appointed to a partial term at the 3/8/2021 meeting, vote #35. He is a four-and-a-half year resident of Bellingham and the owner of Zervas Architects with 22 years’ experience as an architect. He has been involved with the Lighthouse Mission. His first full term will expire on 3/24/2026 at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23267) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
31. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Ernest Scherb to the Lake Whatcom Watershed Advisory Board? The Watershed Advisory Board shall advise 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 shall provide citizen advice concerning proposed specific land acquisitions except when not feasible. Mr. Scherb was appointed to a partial term at the 11/18/2019 meeting, vote #198. He has lived in Bellingham for seven years, is a Silver Beach resident and a retired executive manager/entrepreneur involved in the electronics industry. His first full term will expire on 2/24/2025 at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23269) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
32. The mayor reappointed Maggi Kriger to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. She was appointed to a partial term at the 2/10/24/2016 meeting, vote #177, and a full term at the 3/11/2019 meeting, vote #48. Maggi Kriger has been a local resident for over 35 years, is a former member of the Greenway Advisory Committee (1991-1996), was a community health specialist with the Whatcom County Health Department, and is currently a private contractor for nonprofit Washington Dental Service Foundation. This is her final term: it will expire on 2/11/2025. (AB23270) Nonvoting issue.
33. Approve the Community Participation Plan? The objective of the Community Participation Plan is to establish how the city engages the public and stakeholders while updating and implementing the Consolidated Plan and Assessment of Fair Housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires entitlement communities to conduct robust community engagement to inform the Assessment of Fair Housing (due October 2022) and Consolidated Plan (due May 2023). The 2023-2027 Consolidated Plan will guide the city’s funding priorities for housing and services for Bellingham’s lowest income residents for the next five-year period, and will build upon findings from the Assessment of Fair Housing. These plans will influence how the city will spend roughly $9 million per year of local and federal funds, sourced from the city (housing levy, GF, real estate excise tax, and affordable housing sales tax) and HUD (CDBG and HOME). The city employs a range of public participation strategies to encourage and facilitate widespread community participation in the planning process. The plan is flexible and adaptive and may be refined as the process progresses. (AB23275) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
34. Appropriate $7,556,204 for goods and services checks issued from January 21, 2022 through February 10, 2022? (AB23283/23284/23285) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
35. Appropriate $3,931,374 for payroll checks issued from January 16 through January 31, 2022? (AB23286) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
36. Authorize the mayor to sign a $27,866 contract with Whatcom County to provide use of the Plantation Rifle Range to the Bellingham Police Department for training purposes? The police department will have exclusive use of the facilities on pre agreed-upon dates for both the pistol an smallbore rifle range and the high power rifle and trap range to provide firearms qualifications, practice and training for commissioned and non-commissioned personnel. Bellingham Police commissioned personnel must qualify three times per year with assigned weapons per organizational policy and WASPC accreditation. The Plantation Rifle Range is managed by Whatcom County Parks and Recreation. (AB23287) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
37. Relinquish a surplus utility easement at 1215 W. Holly Street? (Public hearing held.) The owners of property at 1215 W. Holly Street (at I Street) are in the process of selling it. The new owners have plans to improve and redevelop the site but need the added area encumbered by the city’s retained utility easement to properly complete the design and meet current regulations. On 9/8/1964, the city of Bellingham vacated a portion of the I Street right-of-way from Holly Street southwesterly 100 feet to a previously vacated portion of I Street. The city retained an easement for potential future public utility needs within the vacated street segment. The Public Works Department has reviewed the request and determined that the portion of the easement that encumbers the subject property is surplus to the city’s needs and not needed for utility service. Other franchise utilities do not exist in the retained utility easement area and their services are provided from outside the easement area. AB23264 (Resolution 2022-03) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
38. Modify the process used to docket proposed amendments to the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan? (Public hearing held at the 2/7/2022 meeting.) For a number of years, applicants, city staff, Planning Commissioners, City Council members and the public have struggled with the current process used to establish the list or “docket” of proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments. The current process, established a decade ago, is to hold two public hearings (one with the Planning Commission, and one with the City Council) prior to being placed on the docket. It is lengthy, cumbersome, staff-intensive and not well understood in the community. The proposed change would require review by the City Council only, removing the Planning Commission from the docketing process and shortening the docket review process by months. Staff would have more time to review the merits of the proposals in depth, including environmental review. Meetings by the Planning Commission and City Council would be on the actual merits of the proposal, reducing by half the number of meetings a member of the public would need to attend. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on 12/16/2021 and voted unanimously to recommend approval of the docket amendments. AB23251 (Ordinance 2022-02-005) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
39. Amend the 2021-2022 budget? The amendment will add $4,794,200 of expense, $60,000 of revenue, and 1.7 full-time equivalent positions? The city has identified several budget adjustments that were not anticipated when the biennial budget was adopted, including changes to the general fund in Planning & Community Development, library, police, parks and non-departmental, as well as the environmental remediation and Public Safety Dispatch Funds. Non-departmental spending includes additions to fund repairs to the Mt. Baker Theater and Old City Hall, a legally-required B&O Tax refund, allocations for the Downtown Ambassadors pilot program, and funding for the Millworks Family Housing Project. New appropriations of $150,000 in the mayor’s office support Whatcom County’s Child and Family Action Plan, the only ongoing appropriation in the budget ordinance. $200,000 is appropriated for the Whatcomm fire suppression replacement project. This project was budgeted in the 2019-2020 biennium, not completed, and mistakenly not identified in the 2020 reappropriation process. AB23258 (Ordinance 2022-02-006) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.
40. Grant a 10-year telecommunications franchise to Wholesail Networks, LLC? Wholesail Networks LLC (a subsidiary of Northwest Fiber d.b.a. Ziply Fiber) has applied for a citywide franchise to construct, install, operate, maintain, repair, and replace fiber optic broadband network components within, upon, over, under, along, and across city rights-of-way for the provision of commercial telecommunications services to businesses and other communications providers. The purpose of the franchise is to coordinate the shared use of the right-of-way for transportation, utility and telecommunications services in an orderly manner, with a clear allocation of risk among the various users. Wholesail will not be providing residential internet service. The city is prohibited by state law from imposing a franchise fee upon telephone service providers. Although Wholesail Networks holds no other active city franchise in Washington, it is an affiliate of Ziply Fiber which holds a constitutional statewide franchise grant within its WUTC-assigned service territory. The amount of the performance bond required under city code is $50,000. AB23255 (Ordinance 2022-02-007) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.