Bellingham City Council

Action Taken at February 12, 2024 Meeting

Mayor’s Report:

The mayor appointed Scott Pratschner to a partial term on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board . The board consists of 11 members appointed by the mayor; membership is three years with a maximum of two consecutive terms. With a B.A. from WWU in engineering geology, Scott Pratschner has been an air quality specialist for 13 years and was a park ranger for three years. He has lived in Fairhaven for 18 years. His term will expire on 8/30/2024, at which time he may be reappointed. (AB24008) Non-voting issue.

The mayor reappointed Joan Drinkwin to a third term on the Sehome Hill Arboretum Board of Governors . The arboretum site is 175.5 acres, the university owns 38 acres and the city 137.5 acres. The initial agreement between the city and Western Washington University to develop and coordinate the Sehome Hill arboretum was approved by the City Council at the 8/7/1974 meeting. Joan Drinkwin is a 19-year resident of Bellingham, and has served in a number of positions related to fish and wildlife habitat, ecology and restoration, with emphasis on nearshore and freshwater habitats. She was initially appointed to the board at the 1/22/2018 meeting and reappointed at the 3/8/2021 meeting. Her third term will expire on 2/9/2027, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB24009) Non-voting issue.


Shall the council:

19. Spend $184,000 to purchase 4.1 acres located at 860 Iowa Hights Road with one potential development unit from property owner Burton Jay Marital Trust Property? The property is located at the south end of Lake Whatcom and the purpose of purchase is the protection of the city’s drinking water. (Discussed in Executive Session) Motion carried 7-0

20. File a nuisance abatement action against the property located as 298 E. Stuart Road, and place a lien on the property for the city’s cost to abate the nuisance, and foreclose upon the lien, if necessary? The 20-acre undeveloped lot is located at the corner of E. Stuart and Deemer Road. The encampment is located near Bellingham’s Walmart and property records list the owner as living in Taiwan. Previous efforts to persuade the owner to clean up the property have been unsuccessful. (Discussed in Executive Session) Motion carried 7-0

21. Appropriate $10,781,544 for goods and services checks issued from January 19 through February 1, 2024? (AB24012/24013) Approved 7-0

22. Appropriate $4,890,935 for payroll checks issued from January 1 to January 15, 2024? (AB24014) Approved 7-0

23. Modify the agreement with Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham for joint consultation and government affairs services with McBride Public Affairs of Olympia? The original agreement to hire McBride Public Affairs was approved at the 1/14/2013 meeting, vote #8, and was updated it at the 3/13/2023 meeting, vote #51. This modification removes the names of the project managers and titles that were added at the 3/13/2023 meeting. The amount payable to McBride Public Affairs is split in thirds; the city’s portion is $48,000. (AB24015) Approved 7-0

24. Authorize the police chief to accept a $65,000 state grant for increased traffic safety emphasis patrols? This High Visibility Emphasis grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission/Traffic Safety Task Force provides funding for law enforcement agencies in Region 11 to reduce traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. These are some of the traffic campaigns, dates are tentative: “Holiday DUI” from 12/13/2023 – 1/1/2024, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” from 4/1 – 4/14/2024, “Click It or Ticket” from 5/13 – 6/2/2024, “It’s a Fine Line” from 7/5 – 7/21/2024, and “DUI Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” from 8/12 – 9/4/2024. (AB24016) Approved 7-0

25. Authorize the police chief to accept a $27,000 state grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs? The grant will be used for the one-time cost of body-worn-camera redaction services to clear the backlog of pending public disclosure requests. Funding is provided through the state Criminal Justice Training Commission. (AB24017) Approved 7-0

26. Amend the city code to clarify when development is exempt from the payment of park impact fees? (Public hearing held held at January 29 meeting.) Existing code was clear that replacement of dwelling units destroyed by actions other than the owner’s are exempt from payment of a park impact fee but lacked clarity when the action is voluntary. The city’s legal department provided an interpretation in 2012 that the exemption should also apply to deliberate and intentional actions. This amendment incorporates this interpretation and a text amendment that the codified one-year time limitation should apply to the rebuilding or replacement of dwelling units that are destroyed or damaged by any cause. AB24004 (Ordinance 2024-02-001) Approved 7-0

27. Amend multiple sections of city code relating to land-use development? (Public hearing held at January 29 meeting.) The amendments generally include consistency on setbacks for multifamily developments, consistency of parking landscaping requirements, allowing financial sureties for landscaping survival, correcting old neighborhood subarea references, creating usable space for residents in commercial mixed-use buildings, clarifying street standards in a portion of the Fairhaven Urban Village and neighborhood, revising setbacks for certain heat pumps, and requiring street trees for all residential development. AB24005 (Ordinance 2024-02-002) Amended and approved 7-0

28. Amend multiple sections of city code to improve implementation of land-use and development code? (Public hearing held at January 29 meeting.) These amendments correct code inconsistencies, and provide code clarity. Many projects require multiple permits, which may have different review process types (I, II, III, etc.) and expiration periods. Having different expiration periods often complicates construction timing where one permit for a project may expire while another is still valid. These amendments rectify this situation by establishing one expiration date for a project rather than establishing different expiration dates for each permit. AB24006 (Ordinance 2024-02-003) Approved 7-0

29. Amend multiple sections of the land division code? (Public hearing held at January 29 meeting.) The proposed amendments generally include acceptance of alternative recording formats allowed by the Whatcom County auditor’s office, allow the use of the rounding provisions in cluster land divisions, clarifying lot line adjustment and short subdivision provisions, clarifying lot design standards concerning access and abutment on public infrastructure for newly created lots with administrative authority for minor departures, revising the lot transition provision for cluster land divisions, requiring street trees for all land divisions and clarifying the process for vacating easements associated with a final plat. AB24007 (Ordinance 2024-02-004) Approved 7-0

30. Amend the 2023-2024 biennial budget (amendment #10)? Change a development specialist 2 position from part-time to full-time? The current employee is resigning later this year and staff believe a full-time position will add much needed capacity and improve the competitiveness of the recruitment. The Planning and Community Development Department will pay approximately $40,000 for the 2024 expense associated with this increase out of existing budget authority; accordingly, this ordinance adds no funds to the budget. AB23993 (Ordinance 2024-02-005) Approved 7-0

31. Temporarily suspend all future meetings of the Immigration Advisory Board and its subcommittees? The City Council established the board at the 11/4/2019 meeting, vote #197, and approved 10 initial appointments to the board at the 2/24/2020 meeting, vote #29. The council approved a revision to the board (county members were allow to join and co-facilitators to preside over meetings) at the 3/8/2021 meeting, vote #43. The board has apparently been a problematic agency since it began operating in 2020. Members who establish the meeting agendas have resisted allowing some city presentations to come forward without proper translation services, the agency has been acting outside its jurisdiction, and the level of conflict at meetings has been high. As such, the board has required more resources and staff time than anticipated, necessitating a pause in meetings to evaluate the city’s purpose, goals, and objectives for maintaining this advisory board. AB23971 (Ordinance 2024-02-006) Amended and approved 6-1, Jace Cotton opposed.


Action Taken at February 26, 2024 Meeting

Shall the council:

32. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,233,851 to Western Refinery Services of Ferndale for asphalt repair services? The engineer’s estimate was $1,386,421. This three-year (with a one-year renewal option) indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract is for emergency repairs, ADA-required upgrades, departmental patching related to utility repair and response to public requests. It also includes patching and trench repair in conjunction with the concrete repair contract. Work will be performed on an as-needed basis, not to exceed $5,000,000. The city received five bids — the high bid was $4,545,501. (AB24021) Approved 7-0

33. Authorize the mayor to sign the Galbraith Mountain recreational- use easement (amendment #1) to allow electric-assisted bicycles and increase the number of trail miles? At the 7/23/2018 meeting, vote #104, the City Council authorized the city to spend $2,750,000 (in Greenway funds) to access approximately 2,182 acres on Galbraith Mountain for recreational use/conservation/multiple use. The Whatcom Land Trust added $250,000 for a total cost of $3 million. The transaction was not a property (located in Whatcom County) purchase; the Galbraith Tree Farm LLC is the property owner. At the request of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, this amendment will allow electric-assisted bicycles with two or three wheels and increase trail access from 65 to 85 miles. (AB2024) Approved 7-0

34. Authorize the mayor to sign (amendment #1) to the Galbraith Mountain working forest conservation easement? The conservation easement prohibits residential, industrial and commercial development and allows commercial forestry on the property. At the request of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, this amendment will allow electric-assisted bicycles with two or three wheels (the motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and will not provide assistance when going over 20 miles per hour). (AB2024-025) Approved 7-0

35. Appropriate $4,166,776 for goods and services checks issued from February 2 through February 15, 2024? (AB24028/24029) Approved 7-0

36. Appropriate $5,078,084 for payroll checks issued from January 16 to January 31, 2024? (AB24030) Approved 7-0

37. Grant a telecommunications franchise to Ziply Pacific Fiber of Delaware? The company is applying for a nonexclusive franchise to install and operate fiber optic network facilities in city rights-of-way for the provision of voice and data communication services to Bellingham businesses and residents. State law precludes the city from charging a franchise fee for telecommunications franchises, the purpose of the grant is to coordinate the franchisee’s use of the right-of-way with other approved uses and to allocate risk among the various users. Ziply is an affiliate of Wholesail Networks, which possesses a telecommunications franchise to operate in the city. Both companies are wholly owned subsidiaries of Northwest Fiber dba Ziply Fiber. AB24011 (Ordinance #2024-02-007) Approved 7-0

38. Amend the Rental Registration and Safety Inspection Program? The express purpose of the registration/inspection program is protecting the public health, safety, and welfare of tenants by requiring the proper maintenance of residential rental housing. The rental registration and safety program was adopted at the 3/9/2015 meeting, vote #52, and rental inspection fees were established at the 3/21/2016 meeting, vote #51. At the 11/6/2023 meeting, vote #223, the registration fees were increased from $10 to $20 per unit for properties up to 20 units and increased from $8 to $16 per unit for properties with 21 or more units. This amendment eliminates declarations of compliance, and, instead, requires that all rental units in the program be inspected by a city or private inspector as a condition of registration. It also requires private inspectors to provide detailed information about failed inspections to the planning department, granting the planning director the authority to require up to 100 percent of any property owner’s rental units to be inspected if one of the owner’s rental units fails an inspection. AB23995 (Ordinance #2024-02-008) Approved 7-0

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