Bellingham City Council

Action Taken at December 6, 2021 Meeting

Mayor’s Report
The mayor provided an update regarding city employees’ vaccinations. At the end of summer, the mayor signed an order requiring all city employees be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 by 12/3/2020 as a condition of employment. As of today (12/6/2021), 97 percent of city employees are fully vaccinated. The remaining nearly 3 percent are unvaccinated employees with approved accommodations, or employees on approved leaves of absence (family, medical, or military) and who have not provided proof of vaccination because they are off work, as well as those who are in the final stages of meeting the vaccination requirement. The mayor regrets that 27 employees chose to resign or be terminated. 

Shall the council:
223. Authorize the mayor to sign a contract with the Seamark Law Group of Bainbridge Island to assist the city attorney’s office in representing the city of Bellingham in the Eldard v. City of Bellingham lawsuit? The following was obtained from a Claim for Damages filed with the city of Bellingham. On March 14, 2018, at approximately 11:30 p.m., while staying in an emergency homeless shelter, Robert Raymond Eldard exhibited signs of mental health related issues. The Bellingham Police Department was called and officers arrived. He appeared to believe he was being arrested. The officer placed Mr. Eldard on the ground and restrained him. He died while in police custody due to oxygen deprivation resulting from the use of force applied by the Bellingham Police officers. After a $1 million claim for damages was denied by the city, his son, Joshua Eldard, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court against the city of Bellingham and three police officers. Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

224. Authorize the city to apply to the state of Washington for certification to use the general contractor-construction manager (GC/CM) contracting procedure for the Post Point Resource Recovery project? The city selected anaerobic digestion as the core solids stabilization technology for the replacement of the current incineration system through an extensive decision-making process. Two products from the anaerobic digestion process will be recovered for beneficial use – Class A biosolids (e.g., fertilizer and soil amendment) and biogas (injection into a natural gas pipeline for use as a renewable vehicle fuel). An approval process applies for obtaining state authorization for using a delivery method other than traditional design-bid-build. After evaluation of certain criteria and recognition of the city’s past positive experience with GC/CM on the Post Point facility improvement project in 2012, it was determined that GC/CM is the preferred delivery methodology. The cost for the Post Point Resource Recovery project is currently estimated at more than $200 million. See the September 2020 and December 2021 issues of Whatcom Watch for articles on the project. (AB23182) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused. 

225. Appropriate $5,160,739 for goods and services checks issued from November 5 through November 24, 2021? (AB23186/23187/23188) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

226. Appropriate $3,853,796 for payroll checks issued from November 1 through November 15, 2021? (AB23189) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused. 

227. Establish Juneteenth as a city holiday and set forth the revised city holiday schedule? Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. The last day those enslaved were informed they were free took place in Texas on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth (June 19) became a federal holiday and a Washington state legal holiday earlier this year. Honoring Juneteenth as an official city holiday will bring awareness and consciousness to a crucial day in history and also establishes Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city employees starting in 2022. It also designates a day not just to reflect on the harms of the past, but to actively work towards dismantling discriminatory systems and creating an antiracist future in our city and country. AB23184 (Resolution 2021-30) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused. 

228. Authorize the mayor and habitat/restoration manager to apply for state grants to fund the removal of fish barriers? Four grant applications will be submitted to the 2023 Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board. The grants will help fund fish passage improvement projects along Padden Creek at 12th Street, 14th Street and 30th Street and Squalicum Creek at Baker Creek. As part of the application process, the state requires a council resolution authorizing submittal of the application. AB23190 (Resolution 2021-31) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused. 

229. Accept the donation of the pier at Little Squalicum Park? The city recently negotiated the donation of a portion of the pier inside the state Department of Natural Resources tidelands from the Lehigh Northwest Cement Company. Redevelopment of this industrial pier will provide up to one-third of a mile of public access over the water, and is included in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Little Squalicum Master Plan, Shoreline Master Program and the Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan. Greenway levy funds in the amount of $1,500,000 are allocated for this initial phase of work with additional funding of $4,500,000 proposed from 2023 park impact fees. Other funding may come from state grants. Design is underway and construction is expected to start in 2023 or 2024. Lehigh Northwest will remove the part of the pier beyond the city portion. AB23170 (Ordinance 2021-12-050) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

230. Create a salary commission for members of the City Council? The city of Bellingham does not currently have an established public mechanism for adjusting or reviewing the salaries of city council members. The commission will consist of seven members appointed by the mayor and approved by City Council. The term for commission members will not exceed one year and their decision on either a salary increase or salary decrease is binding. Salary increases will be effective regardless of term of office and salary decreases would be effective as to incumbent councilmembers at the commencement of their next term of office. The salary commission members shall serve a 180-day term, which shall commence when all commission members have been appointed and shall serve without compensation. One year shall be the maximum term inclusive of any extensions. Members of the commission may only be removed during their terms of office for cause of incapacity, incompetence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office or for a disqualifying change of residence. Salary increase and decrease shall be subject to referendum measures. AB23174 (Ordinance 2021-12-051) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

Action Taken at December 13, 2021 Meeting

Shall the council:
231. Amend the deadline for the final report of the Broadband Advisory Workgroup? The workgroup was created at the 8/24/2020 meeting, vote #151, to study and recommend options for use of the city’s fiber optic system. The initial nine members were approved at the 1/11/2020 meeting, vote #5, and monthly meetings began on 2/2/2021. The original vote prohibited the recording of Zoom meetings; it was amended at the 2/22/2021 meeting, vote #32, to require the recording of Zoom meetings. A final report with recommendations to the City Council was due in November 2021. This amendment extends the deadline to September 2022. (AB23069) Approved 7-0

232. Approve the mayor’s reappointment of Garrett Leque to the Lake Whatcom Watershed Advisory Board? The board advises the city on the purchase, management, maintenance and use of properties within the Lake Whatcom watershed. Garrett Leque is a senior environmental geologist with GeoEngineers and has been a Bellingham resident for 30 years. He has worked with Snohomish and Pierce Counties, the cities of Bellingham and Centralia, Washington Department of Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership for environmental remediation projects.  He was initially appointed to the board at the 12/3/2018 meeting, vote #196. His second term will expire on 12/3/2024, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23195) Approved 7-0

The mayor made three appointments to the Greenway Advisory Committee? The 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 works in cooperation with the Parks and Recreation Department staff.  

233. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Dina Dickerson to a partial term? She is a retired public health informaticist, has a masters of public health and has lived in Bellingham for almost 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 first partial term expires on 3/11/2022, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB23196) Approved 7-0

234. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Aleksey Chayka to his first term? A financial analyst, he has a BA from Gonzaga, nine years of financial analytical and planning experience, six years’ experience directing community youth camps. He has lived in Bellingham for five years. His term expires on 12/13/2024, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23196) Approved 7-0

235. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Jacob Stewart to his first term? He has lived in Bellingham for the past 15 years, has a B.A. in English Literature, and serves as the chief compliance officer and anti-money laundering officer at Saturna Capital. He reportedly reads COB master plans and DNR geology reports for fun. His term expires on 12/13/2024, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23196) Approved 7-0

The mayor made three appointments to the Immigration Advisory Board? At the 11/4/2019 meeting, vote #197, the council established the board. It reviews and evaluates policies regarding compliance with state law 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.

236. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Tarnjot Brar to his first partial term? An immigrant from India and realtor with Security National Mortgage Company, he has lived in Lynden for the past 11 years, and is a member of the Chardi Kala Project, which serves as a bridge between the Sikh and other communities and helps homeless people through various Sikh temples in the area. His partial term will expire on 6/23/202, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23197) Approved 7-0

237. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Homero Israel Jose Garrido to his first partial term? An immigrant from Mexico, he is a resident of Ferndale, an activist and has been a self-employed mechanic for the past 17 years. His partial term will expire on 4/12/2023, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23197) Approved 7-0

238. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Sierra Green as an alternate while Australia Toubon is on maternity leave? Sierra Green has lived in Bellingham for two years, is a community researcher and does database entry for Community to Community Development (an immigrant rights and food sovereignty organization). She has also performed human services/social work at WWU since 2019. Her term will expire on 12/13/2023, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB23197) Approved 7-0 

239. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Katy Scherrer to the Transportation Commission? The commission is expected to 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. Katy Scherrer is a landscape architect/urban designer and returning resident with 22 years total residence She has a master’s in landscape architecture from Univerity of Washington and cofounded the COurban Design Collective. She has been researching children’s health and air quality and how it relates to transportation for the city of Copenhagen. Her first term will expire on 1/11/2015, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB23198) Approved 7-0 

The mayor made two appointments to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. The 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. 

240. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Zarah Manju to a partial term? She has a B.A. from the University of Washington and is a 20-year resident of Bellingham. She has volunteered for trail cleanups. Her partial term will expire on 8/8/2022, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB23201) Non-voting appointment.

241. Approve the mayor appointment of Lucky Blue to his first term? He has been a Bellingham resident for a little less than four years and is a recent graduate from UW with a BA in geography with a focus on public spaces and how they are related to community engagement. He has been active with community service in citizen action boards and as a direct employee of the Parks and Recreation board of Greenbelt Maryland. His term will expire on 12/6/2024, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23201) Non-voting appointment.

242. Authorize the mayor to award the only bid of $1,846,336 to Award Construction of Ferndale for the Post Point sludge system replacement? Pumps dewatered solids from the centrifuge hopper to the top of the multi-hearth incinerators at the Resource Recovery Plant. This project is to replace the failing sludge pumping system with a new pumping system and includes start-up and training on operation. The current system dates to 1992 and is very labor intensive due to the age and wear. The completed work will provide the city with a new reliable sludge pumping system that will last through the planned plant upgrade. Staff has consulted with design engineers and these sludge pumps will be compatible with the future plant upgrades. The work includes layout and design activities, furnishing of equipment, construction of ancillary improvements, integration of instrumentation and controls, and startup and testing of the new system. (AB23203) Approved 7-0

243. Authorize the mayor to sign a renewed agreement with Whatcom County for EMT-paramedic training? The agreement was initially approved at the 2/25/2019 meeting, vote #37. This agreement shall not exceed $865,478. The Bellingham Fire Department continues to partner with Whatcom County and Bellingham Technical College to provide an initial paramedic training program. This contract reflects the cost of providing the instructor for the class, the learning materials for the students and wage replacement for the fire department’s students. The 2022 class is planned to start in January of 2022 with a total of eight students, four of them from the fire department. (AB23206) Approved 7-0

244. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services? The city and the county shall pay $364,116 each to train six paramedics. The fire department has hired six certified paramedics. While these firefighters have nationally recognized paramedic certifications, they are required to achieve Washington state certification including approval of the Whatcom County medical program director. This local training process can take up to six months to achieve final approval. This contract will provide for funding for wage reimbursement and training costs to support the training of these firefighters. Funding is by Whatcom County through the countywide EMS levy. (AB23207) Approved 7-0

245. Authorize the city to submit an application to the federal government for a $136 million loan? The Post Point Resource Recovery Plant Biosolids Project is currently in the facility planning stage; preliminary design is currently underway, and detailed design is planned to finish in 2024. Construction is planned to begin in late 2023, with completion in 2027. The City Council will need to adopt a multi-year schedule of sewer rate increases in spring 2021 in order to be effective by July 2022. For the biosolids scenario, a 12 percent first rate increase is recommended to occur in July 2022 and then annually every January for at least five years. In the worst case scenario, the rate increase would be 12 percent for 11 years. The project is expected to cost more than $220 million. (AB23214) Approved 7-0

246. Appropriate $2,451,259 for goods and services checks issued from November 25, 2021 through December 2, 2021? (AB23215) Approved 7-0

247. Authorize the mayor to sign a renewal agreement with Whatcom County for use of Bellingham’s vactor waste transfer facility? The facility, located at 2140 Division Street, handles street wastes from roadway and storm drainage systems in compliance with federal, state and local environmental regulations. Currently, the city’s transfer facility is the only facility in Whatcom County that is an approved solid waste transfer facility for roadway and storm drain solid waste. Each user pays for the transfer costs as well as a proportionate share of all operation and maintenance costs for the facility. This agreement terminates on 12/31/2022; it allows five one-year renewals. (AB23216) Approved 7-0

248. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the federal government to extend the term of the Puget Coastal Storm Modeling System? At the 11/4/2019 meeting, vote #189, the council authorized the mayor to sign a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey for development of a combined storm surge and sea level rise model for the Whatcom County shoreline. The contracted deliverables have been received. However, USGS is requesting a six-month extension of the collaborative agreement in order to provide additional support to city, county and port staff in the evaluation and application of CoSMoS, including assistance with using the USGS model interface, known as Hazards Exposure and Reporting Analytics Tools, which was recently adapted for use in this area. The extension expires on 6/30/2022. (AB23217) Approved 7-0

249. Honor Councilmember Pinky Vargas with the recognion of her many accomplishments while on the City Council? She has represent the 4th Ward on the Bellingham City Council for eight years, initially elected at the 2013 general election and reelected in 2017. Served as council president in 2016 to lead the council through the city of Bellingham’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan, and as mayor pro tempore in 2020 and 2021, among other achievements. AB23191 (Resolution 2021-32) Approved 7-0

250. Honor Councilmember Gene Knutson with his many accomplishments while on the City Council? Gene Knutson is the longest-serving member in the history of the Bellingham City Council, including its predecessor cities of Fairhaven and New Whatcom, having represented Ward 2 for 28 years. He was initially elected in 1993, defeating incumbent Foster Rose. Gene has served under five mayors, Tim Douglas, Mark Asmundson, Dan Pike, Kelli Linville, and Seth Fleetwood, and with 26 council members. He has served as mayor pro tempore on numerous occasions, council president in 1995, 1999, 2006, 2010, 2015 and through an extremely challenging year of Covid and remote meetings in 2020. His wealth of institutional knowledge is unparalleled with a detailed historical memory of critical decisions, events involving the council and the city, including specific years and the names of involved decision-makers, that has proven to be an invaluable resource during his time on the council, and is a gift that will be missed in coming years. AB23192 (Resolution 2021-33) Approved 7-0

251. Declare an emergency and waive competitive bidding requirements? Since damage costs will exceed $40,000, a council resolution declaring an emergency is needed. A series of intense and significant rainfall events between November 14 and December 2, 2021, caused widespread flooding in Whatcom County and within city limits. Within the city, numerous roadways, city parks and trails were flooded. A single-lane bridge crossing Chuckanut Creek at 19th Street was damaged beyond repair, making at least four occupied homes inaccessible. City crews and contractors completed installation of a temporary bridge to provide access; however, a permanent replacement will be needed. Emergency repairs to the 19th Street bridge at may be in excess of $200,000. Permanent replacement of the bridge may exceed $2.5 million. Repair costs for damages at other locations are still being gathered. AB23205 (Resolution 2021-34) Approved 7-0

252. Adopt the 2021 Whatcom County Multi-jurisdictional Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan? Meant to plan for disasters before they happen, in order for the city to qualify for federal post-disaster funds the plan must be re-adopted every five years. The plan was first adopted at the 5/9/2005 meeting, vote #100, updated at the 9/12/2011 meeting, vote #179 and the 8/10/2015 meeting, vote #153. An update of the plan began in January of 2021 with participation from all Whatcom County cities and some special purpose districts. By June 2021, the revised city section was part of the plan submitted to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for initial review and comments. Actions that recognize the influence of climate change on the intensity and/or frequency of natural hazards have been clarified or added. AB23213 (Resolution 2021-35) Approved 7-0

253. Grant a five-year extension of the franchise agreement with Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC? (Public hearing held December 3 meeting.) The franchise agreement has been in effect since 1996. At the 10/24/2011 meeting, vote #221, the council approved the last 10-year cable television franchise agreement with Comcast, which term expires this year. Comcast officials have requested an extension of the franchise term. The city and Comcast have reached a tentative agreement to extend the franchise with the same terms and conditions as the 2011 franchise agreement for an additional five years. The final agreement includes: 5 percent franchise fee from Comcast gross revenues (maximum allowed under the Cable Act), where 1.25 percent of the fee goes towards operating BTV. Because the franchise fee is a set annual percentage, no budget adjustment is needed. The city is constrained by the Cable Act — a cable television provider may  be denied renewal of the franchise once it is already established in a community only if they’re in default of the current franchise agreement and only if their proposals are not reasonable. AB23179 (Ordinance 2021-12-052) Approved 6-1, Lisa Anderson opposed.

254. Amend land use and zoning sections of the municipal code to improve code enforcement? The majority of the current land use enforcement code in Chapter 20 is not well defined and is inconsistent between sections making enforcement challenging in some cases. In addition, it is lacking flexibility, as a violation of the land use code requires criminal misdemeanor charges if a property owner cannot or will not cooperate. This proposal will clarify specific violations, improve the enforcement process, make initial violations of the land use code an infraction, and reserve criminal charges for repeat or more willful offenses. It also provides an additional option of recording a notice of violation against the title of the property if the violation remains unresolved. A notice of violation typically needs to be resolved and removed before a property is sold. At a minimum, a new owner would understand the nature of code violation is present on the property. AB23183 (Ordinance 2021-12-053) Approved 7-0

255. Amend the 2021-2022 biennial budget for mid-biennium adjustments? (Public hearings held on Nov. 8 and Nov. 22.) This amendment is the culmination of the 2021-2022 mid-biennium budget adjustment process that began in early October, adding new citywide revenues of $64,900,000, including $12,600,000 in the general fund, and citywide expenditures of $66 million, including $8,900,000 in the general fund. It also adds, removes and changes budgeted positions throughout the city for a net increase of 49.5 full-time equivalents. AB23145 (Ordinance 2021-12-054) Approved 7-0  

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