Bellingham City Council

Action Taken at May 9, 2022 Meeting

Mayor’s Report
The mayor appointed Jed Holmes to a partial term on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The advisory board provides recommendations on plans and programs designed to enable the parks department to maintain and improve city parks and provide recreation programs for the general welfare of the people of the city. The board advises the City Council, mayor, parks director, and other city departments. Jed Holmes is a student at WWU and has been a city resident for the past 3½ years. His partial term will expire on 11/25/2023, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB23335) Nonvoting issue.

Shall the council:
72. Excuse councilmember Hollie Huthman from City Council meetings for a period of 12 weeks? On May 9, Hollie Huffman gave birth to her first child. The boy named Slade was a month early. She is expected to return on 8/1/2022. See vote #75 for an amendment clarifing a councilmember’s excused absence. Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

73. Authorize the mayor to award the lowest responsible bid of $3,474,179 to Glacier Environmental Services of Mukilteo for the Little Squalicum Estuary Project? The engineer’s estimate was $3,208,706. The difference between the low bid and engineer’s estimate is less than 10 percent and is attributable to the volatile pricing environment, tight labor market, supply chain constraints and other inflationary pressures. The Port of Bellingham is responsible for the beach area. At the 8/9/2021 meeting, vote #102, the port received a $1,500,000 state grant to improve filled tidelands and degraded shorelines. Elements of the estuary project include removing 50 linear feet of shoreline barrier, installing 1.2 acres of salt marsh and riparian plantings, enhancing 1.16 acres of forage fish spawning habitat, and improving water quality by removing and disposing of contaminated material. To facilitate estuary construction, all existing trails will be shifted west to accommodate the estuary footprint, and a new trail network will be installed along with the new pedestrian bridge at the estuary mouth. The city received four bids: the apparent low bid of $3,412,306 from Quilceda Excavation of Stanwood was determined to be nonresponsive. The project has a total budget of $4,152,217 for both design and construction, and it is funded through city funds (30 percent – $1,227,217) and grants (70 percent – $2,925,000). (AB23336) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.  

74. Appropriate $85,000 for a new music-related event? The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee issued a request for proposals seeking a new music-related event. The committee received seven proposals and selected Bellingham Exit as the winner. The inaugural event in April 2023 will be held in over 15 venues with over 80 performances. The anchors of the event will be national and international musical  headliners. To create interest and additional buzz prior to the event, they will host a band competition and will be selecting one band as one of those headliners. There will be a lineup of comedy performances sprinkled throughout the event. The goal of this signature event is to boost tourism during the off season and provide economic support to our local businesses and artists. (AB23340) Approved 5-0-1, Hollie Huthman excused and Daniel Hammill recused. 

75. Modify the City Council rules of procedure (amendment #5) to clarify rules for determining whether a councilmember’s absence is “excused”? The City Council adopted rules of procedure at the 6/23/2014 meeting, vote #128; amended them at the 8/10 2015 meeting, vote #159, the 4/24/2017 meeting, vote #76 and the 2/7/2022 meeting, vote #21. The Charter states that “[a] Council Member shall forfeit the office for failure to attend 3 consecutive regular meetings of the Council without being excused by the Council.” Neither the City Charter nor the previous City Council rules of procedure provided guidance on the procedure and criteria for determining whether a councilmember’s absence is “excused.” The new rules state that members of the City Council may be excused from a meeting for: (a) the death of a family member, (b) family or personal illness, (c) inclement weather, (d) accident, (e) scheduled vacation, (f) family or personal emergency, (g) city-related business, or (h) unusual or unforeseen circumstances, by notifying the council president prior to the meeting and providing the reason for the inability to attend. Councilmembers who want to miss more than two consecutive meetings for: (a) a serious health or physical condition, (b) birth, adoption, or foster placement of a new child, or (c), some unusual and unforeseen circumstances that warrant approval of the leave, should request a leave of absence from the full City Council. If a councilmember’s excused leave of absence will exceed 90 days in duration, the City Council may vote to select a pro-tem councilmember to fill in. (AB23343) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

76. Authorize the police chief to sign an agreement establishing a behavioral health support and suicide prevention program for law enforcement officers? A two-year grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs for $20,200 (2022 – $3,000 and 2023 – $17,200) will provide service wellness training to all staff and create and provide fliers for families on available resources. For the year 2022, $2,760 will be devoted to overtime to cover officer program attendance and needed backfill and $240 for an instruction by a mental health professional, and $17,000 for in-service speakers and $200 for other costs in the year 2023. (AB23344) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused. 

77. Appropriate $3,901,657 for payroll checks issued from April 1 through April 15, 2022? (AB23345) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

78. Appropriate $5,322,597 for goods and services checks issued from April 15 through April 28, 2022? (AB23346/23347) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

79. Appropriate $100,000 for an application fee? The Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program offers low-interest, long-duration, flexible financing for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.The city has been invited to apply for a $136 million WIFIA loan, which, if obtained, will lower the percentage amount of sewer utility rate increases. As currently scoped, the Post Point Resource Recovery Project is estimated to cost in excess of $220 million. It will replace the solids handling system at Post Point. The existing incinerators are beyond their useful life and in need of replacement to mitigate against the risk of failure. The project will replace all elements of the solids system, including the buildings, odor control, incinerators, solids conditioning equipment and other elements. The core elements will replace the failing incinerators with a thermophilic anaerobic digester process to manage the organic biosolids produced at Post Point. A combination of rate increases and outside financing such as bonds, loans and/or other outside sources will be required to pay for the project. At the 4/25/2022 meeting, vote #68, the council directed city staff to proceed with the digestion project. The council has been briefed on the project at committee meetings on 07/24/2017, 01/28/2019, 09/09/2019, 7/27/2020, 3/08/2021, 7/26/2021, 12/0620/21, 4/11/2022 and 4/25/2022. AB23182 (Resolution 2022-09) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused. 

80. Adopt the 2022–23 action plan of the 2018–2022 consolidated plan? (A public hearing was held at the 3/10/2022 meeting.) The 2018–2022 consolidated plan runs from 7/1/2018 – 6/30/2023, and was approved at the 5/7/2018 meeting, vote #66. These plans will influence how the city will spend roughly $10.4 million per year of local and federal funds. 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. As a condition of receiving this federal financial assistance, the federal government requires the city to prepare every five years a “consolidated plan” as well as to prepare an annual action plan to be submitted to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. AB23341 (Resolution 2022-10) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

81. Grant a final extension for the moratorium on development applications and permits for redevelopment of existing mobile home or manufactured home parks? At the 6/3/2019 meeting, vote #114, the council adopted an emergency ordinance establishing a one-year moratorium on the acceptance or processing of development applications or permits relating to the redevelopment of any of the 10 mobile home parks in Bellingham. Previous extensions: 5/18/2020 meeting, vote #75; 11/9/2020 meeting, vote #202; 5/10/2021 meeting, vote #87; and 11/8/21 meeting, vote #218. These parks, and the units they contain totaling about 900 spaces, are some of the most affordable housing in the city. Therefore, it is appropriate to try to preserve all of them. Goals and policies identified in the amendment encourage the preservation of existing manufactured home parks to ensure their continued provision of affordable housing. An additional six-month extension of the moratorium is necessary to allow completion of a review of potential preservation options. AB23326 (Ordinance 2022-05-011) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

82. Add $4,097,000 in expenditures, $394,000 in revenue and one part-time position to the 2021-2022 biennial budget? This includes changes to the general fund in Planning and Community Development, fire, parks and nondepartmental, as well as the Greenway and Medic One funds. The budget changes will finance the property purchase to protect the Post Point heron colony (see 3/20/2022 meeting, vote #48), support the purchase of Evergreen Ridge Apartments to ensure affordable housing, and expand childcare options at the new YMCA childcare location and assistance for the purchase of Kid’s World on Yew Street, account for existing contractual obligations related to Medic One, reorganize staffing in the Parks and Recreation Department to ease hiring challenges, and add a part-time finance position in Public Works. AB23327 (Ordinance 2022-05-012) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

Action Taken at May 23, 2022 Meeting

Shall the council:
83. Authorize the mayor to sign a $76,966 settlement agreement related to a Thanksgiving morning sewer backup? Claim request: $77,000. On 11/25/2021, at the Crestwood Manor apartments on W. Maplewood Avenue, the city sewer line backed up flooding nine apartment units with sewerage. Tenants were evacuated to hotel rooms and storage units rented for personal items. The residents of four units moved back on 12/19/2021, three on 1/9/2022 and two never returned. Damage costs: Carpet replacement was $19,472, cleaning was $29,616, lodging was $19,266, labor to move items was $3,426, and rent lost because units were uninhabitable was $5,218. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

84. Spend $615,000 to purchase property at 2710 Donovan Avenue? The approximately 13,000 square foot lot has a boarded-up house and detached garage. The house will be demolished so the Happy Valley Park can be expanded. Greenway levy funds will be used to purchase the property. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

85. Continue to hold Bellingham City Council meetings virtually? That in-person meetings cannot be held with reasonable safety is based on the following findings: the Proclamation of Local Emergency for Covid-19 issued on 3/12/2020 is still in effect for the city of Bellingham; the Proclamation of State Emergency for Covid-19 issued on 2-29-2020 is still in effect for the state of Washington; the seven-day rates of cases and hospitalizations for Covid-19 in Washington state have increased from 178.3 cases and 4.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 population during the time period 4/24/22 through 4/30/22 to 245.3 cases and 6.1 hospitalizations for the time period 5/8/22 through 5/14/22; and the seven-day rates of cases and hospitalizations for Covid-19 in Whatcom County have increased from 210.1 cases and 5.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 population during the time period 4/24/22 through 4/30/22 to 225.9 cases and 7.0 hospitalizations for the time period 5/8/22 through 5/14/22. The City Council shall re-evaluate its decision to hold meetings virtually when Covid-19 conditions in Whatcom County substantially change. (AB23277) Approved 5-1, Michael Lilliquist opposed, Hollie Huthman excused. 

86. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the Whatcom Conservation District for a watershed wildfire risk reduction program? The city of Bellingham owns and manages over 2,500 acres of land in the Lake Whatcom watershed including forests, fields, and other natural features; several city properties are adjacent to residential development, identified as the wildland urban interface, or intermix zone. With the continued acquisition of property to prevent development within the watershed, the city must manage the risk associated with wildfires. The risk of wildfires is not limited geographically to city-owned properties. The proposed Whatcom Conservation District agreement includes wildfire risk assessments for private property owners adjacent to city-owned properties and two community presentations on wildfire preparedness. (AB23352) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.  

87. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $254,858 to Matia Contractors of Ferndale for Padden Creek improvements? The engineer’s estimate was $268,212. In 1892, between 17th Street  and 22nd Street, Padden Creek was buried in a brick tunnel. The Padden Creek Alliance began meeting in 1997 to restore the creek to a natural stream channel. Daylighting began in June 2015 and was completed in January 2016. At the 8/10/2015 meeting, vote #152, the council awarded a $1,197,145 contract for stormwater treatment at the Padden Creek estuary. This current project is between 24th to 30th,and it will restore approximately two acres of riparian habitat through floodplain enhancement, riparian buffer enhancement, wetland restoration, large woody debris additions, and the creation of backwaters, side channels, pools, and riffles. The effort will reduce bacteria and temperature and increase dissolved oxygen in Padden Creek. The city received seven bids: the high bid was $439,012. At the 12/14/2020 meeting, vote #240, the city was awarded a $500,000 state grant for this project with a required local match of $166,000. (AB23353) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.  

88. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County to implement an Alternative Response Team program? Financial assistance shall not exceed $167,917 in 2022 and $259,210 in 2023. The city of Bellingham and Whatcom County, and through the Department of Health, will deploy a pilot Alternative Response Team. The program is a collaborative approach between law enforcement, emergency medical response, human services, and other community agencies to respond to low-level noncriminal and/or nonmedical calls for service. The response team is not intended to provide police or medical services. A crisis triage specialist will be housed at WhatCOMM to assist dispatchers. It will be comprised of teams of two-person units, a mental health specialist and a registered nurse for 10 hours a day and seven days a week. (AB23355) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused. 

89. During councilmember Huthman’s extended absence (see vote #72), committee assignments were changed? See page 16 for the new committee assignments. (AB23356) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

90. Appropriate $3,895,024 for payroll checks issued from April 16 through April 30, 2022? (AB23357) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

91. Appropriate $5,182,977 for goods and services checks issued from April 29, 2022 through May 12, 2022? (AB23358/23359) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.

92. Authorize the mayor to sign a cost share agreement with the state of Washington for terrain data? The total cost to the city of Bellingham shall not exceed $28,895. Bellingham’s last LiDAR flight was completed in 2013, and the resulting data products have been of enormous value to many projects in the Public Works, Planning, and Parks departments. The mapping services will cover approximately 78 square miles, the city, urban growth areas and adjacent portion of the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Led and managed by the state, this contract was initiated in 2021 with a competitive bid process and awarded to Quantum Spatial (dba NV5 Geospatial) of Corvallis Oregon. Planned flight time for Bellingham and other lowland areas is November 2022 to capture leaf-off conditions with data delivery by Summer 2023. Total project cost is about $1 million, covering over 3,000 square miles of the North Cascades and adjacent foothills. (AB23360) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.  

93. Amend the stormwater management section of the municipal code? The amendments are required by the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Phase II Municipal Stormwater permit, issued by the Washington Department of Ecology in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act. All but one of the proposed updates are minor technical changes to match state language used in the 2019 Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. The city will visit and review the stormwater practices of certain businesses listed by the state as potential pollution-generating sources. The visits will help businesses identify pollution sources and connect with information and resources to eliminate stormwater pollution. AB23305 (Ordinance 2022-05-013) Approved 6-0, Hollie Huthman excused.  

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