Bellingham City Council

Action Taken at July 6, 2020 Meeting

Update on Covid-19 Response.
The Bellingham Municipal Court is following the Whatcom County Superior Court’s orders regarding Covid-19. Even though its doors are closed to the public, the court is fully operational and continues to hold hearings by video conference and telephonic hearings. Jury trials and criminal hearings have been suspended since 4/13/2020, with the exception of in-custody matters and limited criminal hearings. Jury trials are still suspended until 7/6/2020, and are scheduled to resume on 9/15. The Municipal Court is conducting video court hearings with the Whatcom County jail in-custody calendar of cases. All other criminal hearings are being held telephonically. Misdemeanor bookings have been limited. SCRAM referrals, which are monitoring bracelets to detect alcohol use while on release, are up due to the lack of jail booking at this time, with a backlog of 350 cases waiting to be filed by the prosecutor’s office. The court is holding double telephonic calendar hearings.

Park Ambassadors installed over 50 signs in the parks that outline the rules and expectations during the pandemic, including phasing signs which explain recreation activities allowed during each phase. Occupancy limits on sports courts are posted and playgrounds are still closed. (AB22593) Non-voting issue.

Shall the council:
107. Authorize the mayor to sign a $25,640 settlement agreement for damages related to a sewer backup? Claim request: $37,379. On the morning of 2/25/2020, multiple first-floor tenants in the Laurel Court Studios at 1025 23rd Street reported brown dirty water coming up toilets and tubs, and some units had flooded floors. The previous day, the city had been working on a storm drain in the area. Five units had sewage in bathtubs and three units had damage to bathroom and kitchen cabinets and were uninhabitable. Due to the water being shut off, portable toilets were brought on the property. (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 7-0

108. Ratify the 2021 collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 106? The following general terms will apply: wages will increase by 2.5 percent on 1/1/21. The city’s contribution to medical health care will increase 6 percent in 2021. (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 7-0

109. Ratify the 2021 collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 106S? The following general terms will apply: wages will increase by 2.5 percent on 1/1/21. The city’s contribution to medical health care will increase 6 percent in 2021. (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 7-0

110. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,338,403 to Larry Brown Construction of Bellingham for 18 nonmotorized improvements? The engineer’s estimate was $1,525,466. The project includes a sidewalk addition along 40th Street, an ADA ramp at Grant/Kentucky, bike lane installations on Ellis and York from Lakeway to Cornwall, a railroad crossing at 14th Street, minor storm drainage improvements, pavement marking and restoration work. The city received six bids: the high bid was $1,650,084. (AB22688) Approved 7-0

111. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $434,583 to Imco/TKK Joint Venture of Ferndale for the Sehome Hill communications tower demolition? The engineer’s estimate was $433,170. The communications tower on Sehome Hill is used for police and fire radio communication, water meter reading, and the space is leased to private telecommunications companies. At the 12/4/2017 meeting, vote #203, the council authorized a $730,464 contract to replace the communications tower. Lessees have been moving their infrastructure to the new tower since its completion in 2018. The project will remove all remaining equipment from the old tower, demolish it, the existing building and foundation, and do landscape restoration. The city received three bids: the high bid was $531,543. (AB22689) Approved 7-0

112. Approve the Bellingham Housing Authority’s request to waive all fees, costs and compensation associated with a street vacation petition? The Bellingham Housing Authority has submitted a street vacation petition for Pasco Street abutting their redevelopment project at the former Aloha Motel site in the Samish Way Urban Village. Local governments are allowed to take actions that aid and cooperate in planning, constructing and operating housing authority projects. The housing authority intends to locate their stormwater management and treatment vault within the subject portion of Pasco Street. It is requesting that the city of Bellingham waive the fees associated with the street vacation petition and the Bellingham Hearing Examiner’s public hearing, the cost of the appraisal, and the payment of fair market value for the subject right-of-way (approximately $8,500 if calculated using “assessed” property value and approximately $32,500 if calculated using city purchase price in 2015). The City Council will consider the street vacation petition at a closed record hearing later this year. (AB22692) Approved 7-0

113. Authorize the mayor to accept a $20,000 contribution from Whatcom Transportation Authority toward the Lincoln-Lakeway multimodal transportation study? The city has hired a consultant and is undertaking a study to help advance the improvement of transportation service within the Lincoln and Lakeway area. This is a multi-agency effort involving Whatcom Transportation Authority, Washington State Department of Transportation and the Whatcom Council of Governments to document existing, proposed, and possible land uses in the study area and analyze the effect that new development may have on the local and state multimodal transportation system for people walking, biking, riding transit buses, and driving passenger, service, and freight vehicles.

The goals of this multimodal transportation study include public safety, mode shift, mobility enhancement, and multimodal integration. Ultimately, both short-term and long-term multimodal transportation system improvements will be identified and recommended, which will allow public works to program local funding as well as seek state and federal grant funding for construction in future years. (AB22693) Approved 7-0

114. Appropriate $7,518,118 for payroll checks issued from May 15, 2020 through June 15, 2020? (AB22694/22695) Approved 7-0

115. Appropriate $4,285,883 for goods and services checks issued from June 1 through June 25, 2020? (AB22696/22697) Approved 7-0

116. Submit a ballot proposition to voters at the November 2020 general election to continue the existing two-tenths of one percent sales and use tax for certain transportation improvements? The ballot proposition will extend for an additional 10-year period a sales and use tax of two-tenths of one percent (0.002) to fund projects in the city’s adopted six-year transportation improvement program. At the 7/12/2010 meeting, vote #144, the council established the Transportation Benefit District as a separate entity. It was formed to help provide dedicated funding for priority transportation needs within Bellingham. The tax was authorized for a 10-year period, expiring 3/31/2021. At the 11/2/2010 general election, 58 percent of the city voters approved the imposition of the two-tenths of one percent (0.002) sales tax, which allocated funding between the following three projects identified on the six-year transportation improvement program: street paving, nonmotorized transportation projects and public transit. At the 10/26/2015 meeting, vote #209, the city absorbed the Transportation Benefit District and assumed all of its rights, powers, functions and obligations as authorized under state law. The sales tax may be extended for a period not exceeding 10 years with an affirmative vote of the voters voting at the election. Continuation of the 0.2 percent sales tax will allow for preservation of arterial streets, further implementation of nonmotorized transportation improvements and further implement transit and climate action initiatives. AB22686 (Resolution 2020-23) Approved 7-0

117. Authorize the partial relinquishment of a surplus utility easement on G Street? (Public hearing held.) The Public Works Department has reviewed and determined that the relevant portion of the retained utility easement is surplus to the city’s needs. It is not required for the provision of public utility services. The public utility easement is located in a vacated alley adjacent to 2620 “G” Street, between Morris Street and Nicklin Street. The easement was retained by the city at the time of street vacation (1/20/1953). The Public Works Department has determined that the relevant portion of the retained utility easement is surplus to the city’s needs and is not required for the provision of public utility services. AB22685 (Resolution 2020-24) Approved 7-0

118. Amend the industrial wastewater pretreatment program? The pretreatment program is a permit-based program mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency that has been administered since 1972 by the state of Washington. The state delegated the responsibility to administer the pretreatment program to the city. At the 5/6/2019 meeting, vote #84, the council authorized the mayor to submit a draft of the program to the state. The state approved the program and it was established by ordinance at the 11/4/2019 meeting, vote #196. This ordinance corrects a number of scrivener’s errors contained in the original enactment and makes minor technical changes. AB22670 (Ordinance 2020-07-016) Approved 7-0

119. Authorize the acquisition of certain property by eminent domain to extend Orchard Drive/Birchwood Avenue? Because the city stands to lose $10 million in grants if the property is not acquired, the city is retaining the eminent domain option but hoping not to use it. The Orchard Drive/Birchwood Avenue road extension project to James Street has been on the city’s six-year transportation improvement program since 2011, and is scheduled for construction in 2020 and 2021. The project is necessary to meet the public purposes outlined in the city’s Comprehensive Plan and is necessary to accommodate planned growth and development. The city has made a fair market offer for the property, an unimproved lot under private ownership located on the eastern edge of I-5 abutting W. Orchard and James streets. So far, the city has been unable reach a resolution with the property owners. AB22675 (Ordinance 2020-07-017) Approved 7-0

Action Taken at July 20, 2020 Meeting

Presentation Update on Covid-19 Response
On 7/15/2020, Holly Street between Commercial and Bay streets was closed to vehicle traffic. The closure was designed to help businesses and open the street for dining options. A countywide partnership launched a grant program funded by the CARES Act designed to help businesses impacted with Covid-19, $2.6 million will be available to businesses and $800,000 will be available to childcare operators. The new drop-in center location on Cornwall Avenue opened on 7/20/2020. Covid-19 cases have increased, and Whatcom County is not meeting the required criteria to enter Phase 3 of the Safe Start plan.

The city is considering a social marketing campaign aimed to increase compliance with safety procedures that limit the spread of the virus. Over the past two weekends, 1,814 people were tested for Covid-19 using the drive-though facility. About 70 percent were from Bellingham, 86 percent of those people had health insurance, 64.5 percent were there as a screening tool for various reasons, including persons needing to return to work or travel but not exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Testing facilities have since been discontinued as not being cost-effective.

The Employer Support Task Force has developed a campaign called Safer & Stronger Together campaign. More information can be found at The task force heard from businesses that expressed a desire that they would like uniform, consistent Health Department information to provide to their customers and employees. Posters and decals were developed from the request. To date, the Health Department has received 1,247 requests from businesses around Whatcom County for those materials.

An executive order was issued on 4/24/2020 by the mayor that cancelled the use of city facilities and reservable park spaces through 8/30/2020. The mayor has issued limited exceptions to the original order that allow uses of certain park facilities for youth activities. The new order allows for permits and reservations only for outdoor childcare, day camp, and outdoor youth activities in Phase 2. It allows some limited use of athletic fields for all ages during Phase 3. (AB22593) Non-voting issue.

Shall the council:
120. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $766,324 to Colacurcio Brothers Construction Co. for the Samish-Maple-Ellis multimodal safety improvements project? The engineer’s estimate was $1,163,178. The work specifically includes reconstruction of existing curb ramps, channelization revisions, hardscape improvements and signal upgrades along the Samish-Maple-Ellis corridor from Lakeway Drive to the I-5 interchange. The project will remove one vehicle lane each direction from Bill MacDonald Parkway to Chestnut Street to install buffer-separated bike lanes on both sides of the corridor from Lakeway Drive south to the Samish/I-5 overpass. A new pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk will be constructed at Bill McDonald/34th Street. Bike lane improvements will be extended on Ellis Street into downtown from Lakeway Drive to Cornwall Avenue. These improvements will connect to both existing bicycle facilities and those scheduled for construction, and will result in a dramatic change to the look and use of the corridor with the elimination of travel lanes in lieu of buffered bicycle lanes and enhanced pedestrian crossings on Samish Way. The city received six bids: the high bid was $845,203. The project is eligible for 80 percent of project costs through a state reimbursement grant. (AB22701) Approved 7-0

121. Authorize the mayor to sign a contract to provide sewer service to the property at 3734 Britton Road? The single-family residence located outside the city limits was constructed in 1935 — the Whatcom County Health Department has informed the owners that the septic system has failed and is recommending connection to the city system. Connection to the city sewer outside the city limits requires City Council approval. Public Works supports allowing this property to connect to city sewer to protect public health and the environment. The property owner will pay all permit fees, connection charges and construction costs. (AB22703) Approved 7-0

122. Appropriate $7,623 to be paid to the University of Washington for consultation and technical assistance with public outreach? The city’s public engagement process for the development of the ADA transition plan for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way has been interrupted by the current coronavirus pandemic. To successfully re-engage the ADA advisory committee and public at large, the city desires to enlist the services of the University of Washington Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation to facilitate an inclusive and effective public outreach process. The goal of this to ensure the ADA transition plan incorporates the input of citizens with disabilities and their advocates. The center is charged with assisting state and local governments in complying with the ADA through consultation and technical assistance and has employed a variety of alternative public outreach measures (e.g. telephone and online meetings) in place of public meetings. (AB22709) Approved 7-0

123. Appropriate $4,350,832 for goods and services checks issued from June 26, 2020 through July 9, 2020? (AB22710/22711) Approved 7-0

124. Appropriate $3,821,686 for payroll checks issued from June 16 through June 30, 2020? (AB22712) Approved 7-0

125 Relinquish two public utility easements in the Bakerview Heights Industrial Park? The owner of Iron Gate Heights is seeking to develop an industrial park located on Irongate Road (north of Bakerview Road) known as the Bakerview Heights Industrial Park. The owner has an application pending to create lots for sale or lease through the city’s specific binding site plan process. In order to facilitate private development, the relinquishment is contingent upon the developer fulfilling certain conditions to ensure replacement easements are in place for the affected sanitary sewer main and stormwater facility:
1. An existing public utility easement will be relinquished and replaced with a new public sewer easement that more accurately describes the existing location of the sewer main; and
2. An existing utility easement for a public stormwater facility that mitigates stormwater runoff from Irongate Road will be relinquished and replaced by a stormwater easement for a new private stormwater facility that will replace the public facility and provide stormwater mitigation for the entire development and the adjacent portions of Irongate Road. In particular, the easement for the private stormwater facility will provide the city with the right to inspect the facility and ensure it is maintained to applicable standards. AB22700 (Resolution 2020-25) Approved 7-0

126. Appoint a committee to prepare a statement for the local voter’s pamphlet in favor of the transportation ballot measure? The measure was initially approved at the November 2009 general election. If approved at the November 2020 general election, the measure would continue for an additional 10-year period with an existing sales and use tax of two-tenths of one percent (0.002) to finance certain transportation improvements. City staff was unable to find and identify individuals willing to draft a statement against the measure. A statement supporting the measure will be prepared by Rodd Pemble, Trevor Smith and Karen Burke. AB22704 (Resolution 2020-26) Approved 7-0

127. Adopt the 2020-2024 Lake Whatcom Management Program work plan? The Lake Whatcom Management Program was formed in 1990 and is a joint effort of the city of Bellingham, Whatcom County and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District. The three jurisdictions collaborate to implement their shared goals of protecting both the drinking water source of 100,000 people and the environmental health of the watershed. It is comprised of a variety of different programs, projects and activities that are guided by coordinated work plans.
Every five years, the jurisdictions work together to develop the next work plan with a new round of projects and programs aimed at meeting the Lake Whatcom management goals. In the 1990s, threats from forest harvest and forest practices were a major concern. In 1998, reducing phosphorus in stormwater entering the lake became a primary focus when Lake Whatcom was placed on the state’s list of polluted water bodies due to low dissolved oxygen levels. By 2012, concern over threats from invasive mussels led to a new collaborative aquatic invasive species program.
Current management efforts are focused in 10 program areas, comprehensively addressing watershed health. Work plans are developed by management program partners. The work plan will guide actions to reduce the amount of phosphorus reaching the lake and address other watershed issues over the next five years, for a total cost of $35 million. AB22586 (Resolution 2020-27) Approved 7-0

128. Set August 26 for a public hearing before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner to consider a street vacation petition for a portion of Pasco Street between Samish Way and Abbott Street? The petitioner, Bellingham Housing Authority, has submitted the vacation petition in order to facilitate future use of undeveloped right-of-way for development of phase II of their Samish Way property, located at the terminus of Pasco Street at the juncture of Abott Street and Samish Way. On /6/2020, the City Council directed staff to waive all fees associated with the street vacation petition application, the need for an appraisal, and the requirement to provide adequate compensation to the city for the subject right-of-way. AB22707 (Resolution 2020-28) Approved 7-0

129. Set August 26 for a public hearing before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner to consider a street vacation petition for a portion of Queen Street between Lakeway and the skate park at Civic Field? The petitioner has submitted the vacation petition in order to facilitate future use of the undeveloped right-of-way for development of infill toolkit subdivision. On 5/28/2020, the petitioner submitted a complete street vacation petition to the city’s Technical Review Committee; the committee reviewed the subject petition on 6/18/2020, and recommended approval of the vacation because it was was not necessary for future public multimodal circulation needs of the city. The city of Bellingham provided notice to private utility companies on 7/15/2020. AB22708 (Resolution 2020-29) Approved 7-0

130. Expand the approved list of transportation projects that may be funded with the two-tenths of one percent (0.002) sales and use tax? (Public hearing held at June 6 meeting.) Strike sections of the transportation benefit district and insert changes corresponding with the following: approximately 40 percent to project #1: annual street pavement resurfacing program; approximately 40 percent to project #2: nonmotorized transportation improvements; and approximately 20 percent to project #3: climate action plan and Whatcom Transportation Authority transit plan improvements. AB22686 (Ordinance 2020-07-018) Approved 7-0

131. Authorize the city to refinance water and sewer revenue bonds? Municipal borrowing rates are near record lows, providing an excellent opportunity to realize significant savings on the city’s existing debt. Depending on market conditions at the time of sale, the city would refinance some or all of existing revenue bonds from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015, which have a combined outstanding principal of nearly $64,000,000. This refunding is expected to save the water and sewer funds an average of $500,000-$600,000 annually with total net present value savings of over $10,000,000. Minor revisions to the original bill, including changes to the handling of Reserve requirements and accounts, were made before passage. AB22690 (Ordinance 2020-07-019) Amended and approved 7-0

132. Appropriate an additional $900,000 for Covid-19 recovery? The state allocated $2.7 million of CARES Act funding to the city of Bellingham to support economic and social recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. This action proposes to use $500,000 on grants for businesses in Bellingham’s commercial core, $200,000 on grants for childcare providers and $200,000 to address food security issues. Together with the $500,000 the council appropriated for the drop-in shelter, this accounts for $1.4 million of the city’s CARES Act allotment. The city intends to use the remaining funds as reimbursement for expenditures related to Covid-19 response. The five-day grant application timeline for businesses has been extended. AB22691 (Ordinance 2020-07-020) Approved 7-0

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