RECORD OF PROCEEDING OF CITY COUNCIL
CITY OF BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON
COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL
Monday, January 23, 2012, 07:00 PM
Book: 66, Page: 1
Called To Order The meeting was called to order by Council President Terry Bornemann, who then led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Jack Weiss, Council Member, First Ward
Gene Knutson, Council Member, Second Ward
Cathy Lehman, Council Member, Third Ward
Stan Snapp, Council Member, Fourth Ward
Terry Bornemann, Council Member, Fifth Ward
Michael Lilliquist, Council Member, Sixth Ward
Seth Fleetwood, Council Member, At Large
Bellingham City Council meets all requirements of the State of Washington Open Meetings Act.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
SNAPP / KNUTSON moved approval of the January 9, 2012 minutes of the regular City Council meeting as corrected. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
15 - MINUTE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
Stoney Bird invited the community to the launch of Coal Free Bellingham, a citizen’s initiative; January 26, 2012, 4:00 p.m. at Squalicum Boathouse.
Tee King shared what she had learned while participating in the Occupy Bellingham movement.
Shane Roth addressed AB19443 regarding the Interlocal Agreement with Western Washington University and Bellingham Police Department SWAT Team. He requested that this be referred to the Public Works/Public Safety Committee or at least postponed to allow for a public hearing. He has concerns about the actions of the police on December 28, 2011 in Maritime Heritage Park [eviction of Occupy Bellingham].
Bruce Deile spoke in opposition to marijuana dispensaries. He does not feel that the regulating, legalizing and taxation of marijuana will work, citing that even the alcohol/drunk driving laws are not strict enough to put an end to the carnage.
Wendy Harris addressed the Interlocal Agreement (ILA) with Whatcom County regarding the Urban Growth Area (UGA) [AB19376]. She pointed out the provision that allows for offsite wetland mitigation and said, the ILA provides that development can occur in the city and there will be mitigation offsite in the county, which is problematic procedurally and substantively. Ms. Harris hopes this paragraph will be removed for the following reasons:
- Council Members Jack Weiss, Cathy Lehman, Stan Snapp, Michael Lilliquist and Seth Fleetwood will be attending the Association of Washington Cities Legislative Action Conference in Olympia January 24 - 26.
· Wetland mitigation has a horrendous success rate and goes down the further out the mitigation is moved from the site of development. It’s important to have mitigation occur in the same sub-basin of the same watershed so that the same type of lost habitat and functions can be replicated.
Aileen Cleary spoke to the fee imposed on homeowners or neighbors who want to appeal the results of a Home Occupation Permit. Currently, if a permit is approved and an adjacent homeowner wants to appeal the decision they have to pay over $1,000 to cover the cost of the appeal. Recently a permit was given for a hair and facial salon at 2900 Cornwall. The homeowner built a parking lot on their property adjacent to West Illinois and Cornwall and customers will enter the parking lot at the crosswalk and light. This stop light and crosswalk are used by the children and parents at nearby Parkview Elementary School. At the bottom of the Notice of Decision, the city has stated that any property owner, who believes they are affected by this decision, may request change in valuation for property tax purposes through the assessor’s office. Why should one property owner have the ability to create something in her home that devalues adjacent property? If the property is devalued as a result of a new business, the neighbor would certainly not have over $1,000 to spend on an appeal. Even if they won the appeal the $1,000 is not reimbursed. The bottom line is the inability of the average citizen to appeal the decision made by the city because of the cost. She asked that the Council look at the process of approving home occupation projects and the cost involved in appealing.
Johnny Grames shared his views on what is not democracy: raising water rates; boats off initiative lost; advisory vote on the red lights [traffic cameras} and the eviction of the Occupy Bellingham participants.
Larry Williams took issue with the expense of the eviction of the tent camp from the Occupy Bellingham movement. He said the reported expense was $55,000. He had hauled in wood chips to make a usable walkway through the camp. He had talked to members of the Parks Department and told them the participants would pick up the chips but because of the way the camp was evicted they did not get a chance to do so. He feels that the cleanup was not a reasonable expenditure.
Bonnie Barker shared an experience she had during the Occupy Bellingham movement. She has concerns that the police were so focused on the peaceful protest that they wouldn’t be able to see a citizen in need. She explained that when a man blocked her way on the crosswalk she reported it to a motorcycle policeman who pointed and said his focus was ‘over there’.
AB19235 1. Ordinance to increase the watershed surcharge for Lake Whatcom Reservoir Watershed Property Acquisition and Stormwater Program
“AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BELLINGHAM AMENDING BELLINGHAM MUNICIPAL CODE CHAPTER 15.08.250 RELATING TO WATER USE RATES AND INCREASING THE RATE TO FUND PROPERTY ACQUISITION, OTHER LAND PRESERVATION MEASURES, AND STORMWATER POLLUTION CONTROL PROJECTS IN THE LAKE WHATCOM WATERSHED.”
Ted Carlson, Public Works Director, briefly reviewed the staff report and noted the following [pps. 2-3, agenda packet].
· It’s problematic to have mitigation where the county has jurisdiction and then have development where the city has jurisdiction. The provision is not clear. Essentially it allows the county to preempt city authority regarding mitigation even though the city is approving the development.
· How will the city determine an appropriate mitigation site and monitor the results, when it is unfamiliar with land outside its’ jurisdiction?
· There will be increased administrative costs having to deal with two different jurisdictions. Who’s going to pay for the increased costs; the applicant or city residents?
· The provision is very bare bones. Given the complexity of wetland mitigation she would like to ensure that if this goes forward it will, at least, have the same level of protection that currently exists in the city’s Critical Area Ordinance.
· She specifically would like to make sure that there’s no temporal gap between a development and mitigation; and said, the county is proceeding with a proposal for offsite mitigation in Birch Bay, where there is a three year gap. A lot of harm will happen to species if they have no habitat for three years.
Mayor Linville is in agreement with the staff report and the idea of looking at this in the full context of protecting Lake Whatcom and the city's water utilities.
Mr. Carlson and council members discussed and clarified details relating to the rate study, which will begin as soon as the city can enter into a scope of work. The rate study for both the water utility and stormwater utility is expected to be completed in May or June, 2012.
The current rates were informed by the rate study done in 2006-2007:
- Staff is supportive of the property acquisition program.
- The increase from $5.00 to $12.00 for a flat rate customer would provide an additional $2.8 million/year for a total of approximately $4.8 million per year.
- A minimum of 30% of the total revenue would go to stormwater related projects in the watershed, which may include property acquisition for stormwater projects.
- Staff recommends postponing action on this proposal until a rate study is completed (late spring) in time to inform the 2013 budget process.
- Since the last rate study in 2007, several things have come to light both on the capital side in terms of infrastructure needs, the aquatic invasive species issue and the concept of a low income provision.
- Flat rate customers would increase from $5 to $12 and there would be a corresponding volume increase for metered customers. Staff would like to look closer at how volume rates are determined so there is equity between flat rate, metered and multi-family customers.
- Staff is supportive of a portion of the money being set aside for capital projects in the watershed.
Council President Bornemann opened the public hearing.
Marian Beddill spoke in favor of increasing the surcharge to $12.00 based on the 1992 adopted Goal #2 regarding Watershed Ownership. Additionally she emphasized the need for source control.
Larry Mansfield, member, Watershed Advisory Board, spoke in favor of increasing the surcharge to $12.00. Taking land out of the potential for development is clearly the best way to keep property in its natural state, which is exactly what the TMDL asks for. The Board sent a letter to the city asking that it be clarified that the 30% rule is to be applied to the additional $7.00, not the total of $12.00. He explained that “if you apply 30% of the full $12.00 to the non-property acquisition…, that means of the $7.00 additional, which we asked for to procure land, we'll get less than half”.
Mike Johnson, member, Watershed Advisory Board pointed out that the acquisition program has acquired about 1,390 acres to date, at an average cost of about $16,600 an acre. The program is economical in terms of the costs expended and effective as the mature natural forest environment is more effective at handling phosphorous than any other strategy. The current revenue funding source is pretty much exhausted until 2018 and the rate increase is needed now. He agreed that the distribution of funds should be 30% of the new revenue for capital projects and 60% land acquisition.
Susan Taylor requested that council approve this ordinance and move ahead with all due speed. Preservation of forested land through evapotranspiration, infiltration and moderated volume and velocity of the stormwater provides the best long term strategy for preservation of the drinking water. In the 2007 utility fee increase a line item was included that those fee increases would pay for $2 million worth of bonding for land acquisition. About a year after the passage of that ordinance those funds were redirected to pay for other activities and the bond that had been taken out for land acquisition was then repaid by the existing $5.00 fee, which is why there's no money in the fund and will not be for another 7 years. As a taxpayer she would like transparency and knowing that the $12.00 is going to be used for preservation and restoration of [the city’s] drinking water source.
Wendy Harris said scientific data underscores the urgency of preventing excess phosphorous run-off from new development and reducing excess phosphorous run-off from existing development. The proposed ordinance addresses both problems and is an important step towards TMDL compliance and the city’s responsibilities under the clean water act. She does not understand the need for delay as any water rate study would prioritize protection and restoration of the lake. Funding has always been the weakest link; there needs to be a dedicated funding source. Funding the acquisition fund is an integral part of TMDL compliance and will be beneficial and a cost savings in the long run. No stormwater plans, land use regulations or capital facilities will protect water quality as effectively as simply not developing land and is one of the most cost effective actions per pound of phosphorous removed. Property acquisition provides other important benefits that satisfy requirements under the Growth Management Act and Shoreline Management Act. The benefits of this proposal far outweigh its cost.
Alfred Arkley advised the council to act now and not throw this back to a committee. He said it is clear that land acquisition should be enacted now while properties are at [price] levels that may never be seen again.
Mark Buehrer, Chair, Watershed Advisory Board, said that this needs to be looked at as a totally integrated system and come up with a solution that makes sense. Time is critical and if we don't get the phosphorous problem under control then it will cost more money.
Christina Maginnis, member, Watershed Advisory Board. She said the Board recommended over a year ago to increase fees and it is past time to look at an increase. She read a letter from the Chair on why they feel this increase is so desperately needed right now. The Board recommends changes in the current language: make sure it is specific that 30% of new revenue is dedicated to address pollution from stormwater run-off and 60% of the new revenue is dedicated to acquisition of undeveloped properties for long term watershed protection. The original $5.00 should remain committed to paying off the debt service and bond repayment, B&O taxes, etc. The Board also recommends that city staff submit proposed phosphorus reducing projects for the Board’s review and set new criteria for priority ranking of stormwater and other phosphorous reducing projects.
Bill Henshaw said it would be prudent, when talking about the $12.00 to understand what that would really mean. Without completing the study, it’s unreasonable to go forward at this time as in the long term, land acquisition is not going to cut it. Estimating $16,000 per acre for the 5,500 acres that are available is about $91 million. He thinks the problem is more with the existing residential buildup. Almost 15 years ago, the Real Estate and Building Industry Associations proposed a plan for retrofitting all of the houses that existed at that point in time within the city limits. On a shared basis, between the homeowner and the city, they would create rain gardens and so forth that could handle a lot of the run-off, which would have done the job nicely. He feels that is where the focus should be, not on acquiring a lot of land around the lake.
Charles Law feels the city should do it all: rain gardens, acquisition and source enforcement. There should be a way to address stormwater footprint and look for revenue through source enforcement.
Jim Hanson supports land acquisition, stormwater projects, and better regulation, all of which are important, he said. He is concerned about a funding source being a surcharge on the water bill. He suggested: forming a flood control zone district or creating a stormwater utility that has a taxing authority, which he feels would be less regressive. He said it would be a much more integrated approach if the city had a funding authority to meet these needs and the city and county could prioritize these projects with the County running half of them and the city running half of them.
Cal Leenstra, owns apartments near Western Washington University and rents to university students who are generally low income. Would these students qualify for the low income discount? Currently, he pays $.27 cu. ft. for volume meter charge. He has read that the suggested increase is to $.64, which would be about a 250% increase. If a meter is $12.00; how will this affect property owners that are in the apartment business?
Ted Carlson, Public Works Director replied that, generally speaking, the multi-family surcharge is a lower amount but is dependent upon the number of units. It is specific to the property with a base fee and volume rate.
Mr. Leenstra also questioned, [relating to Lake Whatcom]; if phosphorus is the main problem, and if best management practices including full infiltration, full dispersion and engineered systems can take care of that problem, why do we need to allocate more money to property acquisition?
Bruce [last name unintelligible] shared that during the 1950’s Bellingham was considered to have the best water in the country. He said it seems the homeowners are the biggest source of the problem and people should pay for what they use. He contributes very little to the watershed problems; shouldn't the homeowners be more responsible? Could a percentage be added to their property taxes to compensate for their pollution of the lake?
The public hearing will remain open for written testimony.
LILLIQUIST / WEISS moved to direct staff to schedule this item for the Committee of the Whole on February 13, 2012. MOTION CARRIED 6-1, SNAPP OPPOSED.
Through discussions with staff and the council, the following points were made:
- Sewer rates have one more scheduled increase in January, 2013.
- Water rates are scheduled through December, 2012.
· Monies have been used for acquisition or debt service.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
Council Standing Committee Meetings:
Public Works / Public Safety
Stan Snapp, Chair
Seth Fleetwood; Gene Knutson
AB19443 1. Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with Western Washington University and the Bellingham Police Department SWAT Team
SNAPP / KNUTSON moved to authorize the Mayor to enter into an Interlocal Agreement with Western Washington University and the Bellingham Police Department SWAT Team. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
AB19418 2. Interlocal Agreement with Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) for monitoring of On-site Septic System (OSS) in the Lake Whatcom Reservoir watershed
SNAPP / KNUTSON moved to return the item to staff. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
Planning & Community Development
Jack Weiss, Chair
Michael Lilliquist; Cathy Lehman; Seth Fleetwood
AB19444 1. Northwest Youth Services Shelter Grant
WEISS / SNAPP moved to authorize the grant agreement with Northwest Youth Services for a Youth Shelter. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
AB19376 2. Consideration of a new City/County Interlocal Agreement concerning planning annexation and development review in Bellingham’s Urban Growth Area
Jeff Thomas, Director, Planning & Community Development reviewed the proposed language based on amendments suggested by committee.
KNUTSON / LEHMAN moved to recommend approval of the draft agreement as amended during committee and directed staff to present the draft agreement to the Whatcom County Council for their consideration.
There was further discussion between staff and council to clarifying items and finalize the draft. After the Interlocal is transmitted to the county for negotiations the Interlocal agreement will be returned to the City Council for additional deliberation.
MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
Committee Of The Whole
Terry Bornemann, Chair
· Staff will research the legal implications of establishing a tier rate within a customer class based on impacts.
· Monthly billing would require software changes and additional staff, as it would double the number of billings.
· Council would like staff to come forward with recommendations on low income discounts and the impacts on the staff.
None submitted at evening meeting.
Council Member Lilliquist noted that council members will be asking the Legislature to continue the fees supporting affordable housing efforts.
Council Member Knutson has requested that staff bring the Bellingham Railway Museum lease agreement back to council for further consideration.
Council Member Weiss has requested that Mark Gardner work with the council and Marty Mulholland on the next efforts for PEG TV.
Council President Bornemann announced that the council retreat will be held February 6, in the Fireplace Room at the Municipal Court building.
Executive Session – Report and action only.
1. Approval of City Council Committee and/or Special Meeting minutes
1. Labor Relations: Staff provided an update on labor negotiations. Direction given. No action taken.
2. Potential Property Acquisition: Staff provided information on a potential property acquisition. Direction given. No action taken.
3. Potential Litigation: Staff provided an update on a potential litigation matter. Direction given. No action taken.
4. Litigation: Futurewise, et al v. Whatcom County [Growth Board Appeal of County’s Rural Element Update]: Staff provided an update on a litigation matter. Information only. No action taken.
5. Litigation - Squalicum Ridge Road Appeals: Staff provided an update on a litigation matter. Direction given. No action taken.
6. Litigation: City of Bellingham v. Whatcom County and Caitac USA Corporation: Staff provided an update on a litigation matter. Information only. No action taken.
AB19445 2. Mayor’s appointment of Steve Crooks and Jono Manion to the Greenway Advisory Committee
LILLIQUIST / WEISS moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment of Steve Crooks and Jono Manion to the Greenway Advisory Committee, terms ending January 23, 2015. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
All matters listed on the Consent Agenda are considered routine and/or non-controversial items and may be approved in a single motion. A member of the Council may ask that an item be removed from the Consent Agenda and considered separately.
AB19446 1. Ordinance relating to the 2012 General Fund Budget for the receipt and expenditure of a $10,000 grant from the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
“AN ORDINANCE RELATING TO THE 2012 BUDGET RECOGNIZING AWARD OF A $10,000.00 STATE CERTIFIED LOCAL GOVERNMENT GRANT TO THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIVISION OF THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE FOR AN HISTORIC RESOURCE INVENTORY OF DOWNTOWN BUILDINGS, AND APPROPRIATING RELATED EXPENDITURES IN THE GENERAL FUND.”
AB19447 2. Authorization of check issue for accounts payable from December 22, 2011 to January 5, 2012
AB19448 3. Authorization of check issue for accounts payable from January 7, 2012 to January 12, 2012
AB19449 4. Authorization of check issue for payroll from December 22, 2011 to January 10, 2012
KNUTSON / SNAPP moved to approve the Consent Agenda in its’ entirety. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.
FINAL CONSIDERATION OF ORDINANCES
AB19435 1. AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON AMENDING BELLINGHAM MUNICIPAL CODE SECTIONS 15.08.200 AND 15.12.165 REGARDING THE CITY'S POLICIES FOR ABANDONED WATER AND SEWER SERVICE OUTSIDE THE CITY'S CORPORATE LIMITS BUT WITHIN THE CITY'S URBAN GROWTH AREA
WEISS / KNUTSON moved approval for third and final reading. Upon motion, said bill was placed on final passage and approved by the following roll call vote:
AYES: BORNEMANN, FLEETWOOD, KNUTSON, LEHMAN, LILLIQUIST, SNAPP, WEISS
MOTION CARRIED 7-0 and was thereafter named Ordinance #2012-01-002
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:13 p.m.
Terry Bornemann, Council President
ATTEST: Linda D. Anderson City Clerk Representative
1. Standing time for briefings, updates and reports to Council by the Mayor, if needed. Information only.
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