Bellingham City Council

The city of Bellingham sent the following information to Whatcom Watch after the April issue was sent to the printer.

Action Taken at February 28, 2022 Meeting

Shall the council:
26. Deny an appeal to the city’s decision to deny a claim for damages? The following information was obtained from Claim for Damages filed with the city of Bellingham. Claim amount requested: $10 million. Sybil Sanchez has a protection order and no-contact order against Carol Torres Jr. On 8/5/2021, Carol Torres Jr was in violation of the court order. Sybil Sanchez reported the violation and it took the Bellingham Police department six hours to respond to the 911 phone call. State law requires the violator to be arrested. Carol Torres Jr was arrested via summons; he was not contacted. By not fully investigating and enforcing a previous violation in April 2018 and the one in August 2021, the Bellingham Police Department deprived Sybil Sanchez of the federal constitutional right to equal protection.  (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

Action Taken at March 14, 2022 Meeting

Shall the council:
41. Approve the collective bargaining agreement with the Guild of Pacific Northwest Employees, Local 1937, with the following major terms? Effective 1/1/2022 – A 7 percent increase in base rate of pay consisting of a 3 percent COLA, 2 percent retention and 2 percent market increase. Effective 1/1/2023 – A 4.25 percent increase in base rate of pay consisting of a 2.5 percent COLA and 1.75 percent market increase. A 1 percent new service quality step increase for employees with 15 years of service. Medical insurance: Increase city’s contribution to medical health care by 5 percent in each of 2022 and 2023. The contract runs from 1/1/2022 through 12/31/2023.  (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.  

42. Authorize the mayor to award the bid of $366,373 to R.C. Zeigler Company of Carnation for the central library freight elevator upgrades? The engineer’s estimate was $348,160. Elevator Consulting Services of Seattle designed the elevator specifications. The upgrades include new safety and equipment improvements to the existing elevator’s fire alarming devices, electrical circuits and paneling, and new paint in the hoistway. Two bids were received. The other bid from was from Cascades Elevators of Arlington for $246,829 was rejected as non-responsive. The packet did not list why it was non-responsive. (AB23290) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused. 

Authorize the mayor to accept a $1,549,338 state grant for electric vehicle charging stations? The city of Bellingham plans to increase electric vehicle charging infrastructure citywide as part of its commitment to addressing climate change. Each charger serves two parking stalls for 90 plugs provided by this project, 70 will be publicly accessible and 20 will be reserved for fleet or employee commuters. The proposal includes: five fast charging stations near on- and off-ramps to Interstate 5, 32 dual-head level 2 charging stations at established parking locations, and eight solar chargers (some with grid backup) at areas with higher use during summer months. The grant requires $387,334 in local matching funds that will come from the voter-approved Transportation Fund. (AB23291) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

44. Appropriate $4,045,650 for goods and services checks issued from February 11 through February 24, 2022? (AB23295/23296) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused. 

45. Appropriate $3,830,370 for payroll checks issued from February 1 through February 15, 2022? (AB23297) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

46. Shall persons responsible for animals be required to keep them under control in city parks? Under this amendment, animals will be required to be under control by means of a leash that restrains the animal to the responsible person’s immediate proximity, preventing the animal from coming into physical contact with another animal or person, trespassing upon property or provoking or chasing other persons, wildlife, animals, or vehicles of any sort. An animal is presumed not to have been under control if injury, harassment, trespass, or damage has occurred. While in areas of park property designated for off-leash dog exercise and training, nonaggressive, healthy dogs may be off-leash but must be within the responsible person’s view and under voice control by means of an audible command or signal. The responsible person must always have a leash in hand and properly dispose of all dog waste. AB23241 (Ordinance 2022-03-008) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

47. Establish a Sanitation and Solid Waste Division in the Public Works Department? This ordinance will amend the 2021-2022 biennial budget, increase expenditures by $430,000 and add three full-time positions. The Sanitation and Solid Waste Division will be comprised of six positions. It will address growing concerns raised by the community regarding litter and consolidates the city’s sanitation and solid waste management efforts within one department. It reassigns the neighborhood code compliance officer from the police department to the new division. The division will be responsible for the following types of activities: cleanups (illegal camps and illegal dumping); litter control; graffiti removal; support for downtown and other business-centered areas related to solid waste; collection, storage, and recovery of property in accordance with city policy; abandoned vehicle removal and disposal; coordination with WWU and neighborhood associations for student education; response to and management of cleanup of hoarding properties; managing solid waste/garbage and recycling collection receptacles on city streets (downtown/Fairhaven), education and outreach efforts related to solid waste and recycling, among others. The current budget has $300,000 for a cleanup contractor; this amendment will add additional $200,000. AB23279 (Ordinance 2022-03-009) Approved 6-0, Hannah Stone excused.

Action Taken at March 28, 2022 Meeting

Shall the council:
48. Spend $768,000 to acquire 1.43-acre of property located at 20 Shorewood Drive in Bellingham? At the 11/22/2021 meeting, vote #219, the council spent $312,500 to purchase 0.29-acre at 8 Shorewood Drive, property adjacent to 20 Shorewood Drive. The purchases will protect the great blue heron rookery, located above the Post Point sewer treatment plant. When Heron Estates was constructed in 1999 on Chuckanut Bay, the herons relocated to Post Point. At the 5/10/2004 meeting, vote #88, the council passed Resolution 2004-10, supporting the heron rookery. While approximately 42 nesting pairs are located on city land, the surrounding property could have be subdivided into eight lots. The property has been under threat of development since “The Point at Shorewood” was proposed in 2000. The total number of nests have increased from six in 2000 to 45 in 2021. The Whatcom Land Trust is donating $100,000 towards the purchase price. (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

49. Spend $25,000 to acquire a 0.3-acre of property located in the Silver Beach area? It has one potential development unit, and is located off East Oregon Street in the Lake Whatcom Watershed. (Discussed in Executive Session)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

The mayor made two appointments to the Greenway Advisory Committee. The committee identifies, develops, reviews, and recommends 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.

50. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Scott Foreman-Murray to his first term? Mr. Foreman-Murray is a regulatory attorney and has lived in Bellingham for less than three years. He has a JD from Tulane University. His first term will expire on 3/28/2025, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23301)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

51. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Caleb Savage to a partial term? Caleb Savage has taught environmental education for the past 10 years and has lived in Bellingham less than two years. He is a program coordinator at Recreation Northwest and has a BS in parks, recreation and tourism from University of Maine. His partial term will expire on 10/28/2022, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23301)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

52. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $174,734 to BOSS Construction of Bellingham for the Fire Station #5 hose tower demolition and renovation? The engineer’s estimate was $250,000. Fire Station #5 is located at 3314 Northwest Avenue; the tower requires masonry and roof demolition, hazardous materials abatement, wall construction, drywall, painting, and electrical renovation of the existing brick, which is cracking and is at its “end-of-life” condition. The city received three bids; the high bid was $228,779. (AB23304)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

53. Appropriate $7,473,542 for goods and services checks issued from February 25, 2022 through March 17, 2022? (AB23309/23310/23311) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused. 

54. Appropriate $3,669,930 for payroll checks issued from February 16 through February 28, 2022? (AB23312)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

55. Authorize the parks and recreation director to apply for a $500,000 state grant for the Squalicum Creek trail? This grant will help the city fund a high priority north-south trail connection between Sunset Drive and the Squalicum Creek corridor/Bay-to-Baker Trail. The project will also include completing a trail around Sunset Pond. Due to the flood plain and creek crossing, this project is estimated to cost approximately $2 million. Matching funds will be added to the 2023-2024 budget. AB23306 (Resolution 2022-04)  Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

56. Authorize the project engineer to apply for a $500,000 state grant for Boulevard Park shoreline improvements? The grant will help fix the shoreline erosion along Boulevard Park from Woods Coffee to the Pattle Point Trestle. At the 5/13/2013 meeting, vote #83, the council awarded a low bid of $422,079 to replace concrete rubble along the shoreline with a sand and gravel beach. The terms of the state grant require the city to provide $500,000 in matching Greenway funds for a total of $1,000,000 to complete the necessary repairs to the shoreline. AB23307 (Resolution 2022-05) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.

57. Add $1 million to the 2021-2022 biennial budget to support the childcare industry? Since the onset of the pandemic, the net number of childcare providers in Whatcom County has decreased by 10 percent, and the net number of licensed family childcare programs has decreased by 21 percent. In mid-2020, utilizing CARES Act funds, the city and county supported grants to help stabilize the industry. However, providers continue to lose income due to frequent quarantine closures, fluctuating enrollment, and the skyrocketing cost of supplies and other expenses. Out of the $21 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation to the city of Bellingham, $6 million has been set aside for economic recovery, with an emphasis on the tourism and childcare industries. This money will be used to stabilize the childcare sector from the sustained impacts caused by Covid-19, support the costs of compulsory professional development, and aid families struggling to keep their childcare. AB23294 (Ordinance 2022-03-010) Approved 6-0, Dan Hammill excused.  


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