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Past Issues


Whatcom Watch Online
Bellingham City Council


February 2015

Watching Government

Bellingham City Council

Compiled by Boris Schleinkofer

Action Taken at December 8, 2014 Meeting

Shall the council

244. Authorize the mayor to settle a damage claim of $26,908? Claim payments in excess of $15,000 requires City Council approval. On 2/13/2014, a city water main on Garden Street broke releasing 300,000 gallons of water and flooding the basement of a house at 1513 Sycamore Street. The main floor of the house was going to be insulated so all the furniture and other items had been moved to the basement. Water separated the front porch from the house and a retaining wall required structural repairs; repairs were estimated at $21,308. Several pieces of antique furniture were damaged and required repair. (Discussed in Executive Session) Approved 6-0, Cathy Lehman excused.

234. Appropriate $2,637,682 for payroll checks issued from November 11 through November 25, 2014? (AB20676) Approved 6-0, Cathy Lehman excused.

246. Dissolve the Bellingham Public Development Authority? (Public hearing held ) At the 5/5/2008 meeting, vote #136, the City Council created the development authority to manage property redevelopment in the waterfront, central business district, Old Town neighborhood and other redevelopment projects as directed by the City Council. A board of directors governed the affairs of the authority. The City Council decided not to fund the development authority in the 2015 budget. AB20663 (Resolution 2014-41) Approved 4-2, Michael Lilliquist and Jack Weiss opposed, Cathy Lehman excused.

247. Set the time and dates for 2015 regular council meetings? Twenty-four meetings are scheduled for 2015, one less than was scheduled for 2014. Meeting time will be 7:00 p.m. Roberts Rules of Order are to be used unless otherwise provided by Charter. AB20646 (Resolution 2014-042) Approved 6-0, Cathy Lehman excused.

248. Vacate an alley west of 15th Street? The Bellingham School District has petitioned the city of Bellingham to vacate an alley west of 15th Street centered between Taylor and Douglas Avenues near Lowell Elementary. No compensation will be required for the street vacation because of the public benefit of the proposed improvements to the Lowell Elementary School. The request is based on the district’s proposal to construct an addition to the existing school to provide a new cafeteria, gymnasium, an elevator, and additional classrooms; the addition would cross over the unopened alley. AB20642 (Ordinance 2014-11-064) Approved 6-0, Cathy Lehman excused.

249. Amend the 2014 budget for the purchase of ambulances? This fall, the fire department contracted with Braun Northwest of Chehalis for the construction of six basic life support aid cars. The city applied for a $1 million state loan to acquire six ambulances.This amendment makes an interest-only payment of $14,820 on the state ten-year loan used for the purchase. (AB20656) (Ordinance 2014-11-065) Approved 6-0, Cathy Lehman excused.

Action Taken at December 15, 2014 Meeting

Shall the council:

250. Authorize the city to lease space in the Federal Building to Northwest Youth Services? The Bellingham Public Development Authority recently vacated space in the Federal Building and Northwest Youth Services is in need of temporary office space. The space is approximately 515 square feet and the lease is for 24 months. In recognition of the substantial public benefits provided by youth services, the lease will not require them to pay any rent or security deposit, but does require they provide their own custodial service. The annual cost to the city of maintenance and utilities for the space is estimated at $3,960. (AB20678) Approved 7-0

251. Modify the agreement with the Whatcom Transportation Authority? The city of Bellingham and the Whatcom Transportation Authority previously entered into an interlocal agreement to provide police services to the Whatcom Transportation Authority. The WTA will pay the city $60,930 annually for the police services. All other terms remain unchanged. The agreement expires on 12/31/2015. (AB20685) Approved 7-0

252. Appropriate $1,740,621 for goods and services issued from November 21 through December 4, 2014? (AB20686) Approved 7-0

253. Honor council member Cathy Lehman for her service to the citizens of Bellingham? Cathy Lehman was elected to the Bellingham City Council at the November 8, 2001 general election defeating the incumbent Barry Buchanan with 68 percent of the vote. She served as president of the council in 2014 and resigned to take jobs as voter education and outreach director with the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. AB20688 (Resolution 2014-43) Approved 7-0

254. Approve the establishment of railroad “Quiet Zones” within the city limits? The establishment of a quiet zone requires improvements to at-grade crossings and will allow trains to decrease the use of their horn while traveling through the city. The 2007 quiet zone study identified two separate zones, Fairhaven and the Waterfront. AB20680 (Resolution 2014-44) Approved 7-0

255. Initiate the annexation petition for the 163-acre Dewey Valley planning area? The annexation area is bordered by the city on three sides and county properties along the vacated E. Bakerview Road right-of- way, near Mt Baker Highway. The annexation area has a total assessed valuation of approximately $24,383,216 and the petition submitted represents 23.8 percent of the total taxable value of $24,160,531. The proposed annexation area includes approximately 138 acres of residential land zoned Urban Residential Mixed Use (6-12 dwelling units/acre), and 25 acres of industrial land zoned Light Impact Industrial. The area is estimated to have the capacity for an additional 187 to 387 new housing units accommodating approximately 460 to 950 residents. AB20681 (Resolution 2014-45) Approved 7-0

256. Grant final plat approval for Phase 3 of the Birch Street plat? An area generally south of Birch Falls Drive on Creek-wood Lane, Phase 3 consists of 11 single-family, detached lots served by the extension of Creekwood Lane and two public open space tracts. All applicable conditions of the preliminary plat necessary to support Phase 3 have either been completed or financial sureties accepted. Approval of final plat will result in additional permit fees and tax revenues, but also require additional city services, such as police and fire. AB20684 (Resolution 2014-46) Approved 7-0

257. Extend the emergency interim zoning ordinance for the cultivation of medical marijuana for personal use and in collective gardens? A moratorium was first passed at the 7/1/2013 meeting, vote #133, an interim zoning ordinance was passed at the 8/12/2013 meeting, vote #176 and renewed at the 8/4/2014 meeting, vote #161. Due to conflicting regulations between medical and recreational marijuana, the possibility of near future legislative action, as well as a recent decision on medical marijuana from the Court of Appeals, the extension will allow the city to preserve the status quo while these conflicts are resolved and to develop regulations related to medical marijuana. AB20679 (Emergency Ordinance 2014-12-066) Approved 7-0

258. Adopt transportation impact fees for 2015? Fees are charged to new development proposals seeking building permits in order for the city to recover the costs of new transportation infrastructure, (i.e. streets, lighting, signage, maintenance, etc). The base rate is charged per p.m. peak hour vehicle trip, and is calculated by combining the city’s actual expenditures of local transportation funding over the last six years with the anticipated funding needs for transportation during the next six years, and dividing the resulting total by the amount of traffic projected for new development and by the number of p.m. peak hour vehicle trips projected for the entire 12 years. The 2015 base rate of $1,869 is below the base rate of $1,907 in 2014, 1,925 in 2013 and $1,912 in 2012. AB20664 (Ordinance 2014-12-067) Approved 7-0

259. Authorize up to $52,000 be taken from the cemetery cash endowed care fund to offset declining revenues? Revenue from grave and monument sales has been in decline for several years; the funds will offset this shortfall and will be used for care and operation of the cemetery or for capital improvements or embellishments within the cemetery. The vote leaves a balance of $166,371 in the reserve. AB20666 (Ordinance 2014-12-068) Approved 6-1, Jack Weiss opposed.

260. Close the Bellingham Public Development Authority Fund? At the 5/5/2008 meeting, vote #136, the City Council created the development authority to manage property redevelopment in the waterfront, central business district, the Old Town neighborhood and other redevelopment projects as directed by the City Council. Closing this fund follows best accounting practices and is in the best interest of the city. AB20667 (Ordinance 2014-12-069) Approved 7-0

261. Adopt the city of Bellingham’s 2015-2016 budget? (Public hearings held on October 27 and November 24.) The preliminary 2015-2016 budget has beginning reserves of $$123,061,372, proposes estimated revenue of $482,434,097, expenditures of $495,759,661 and ending reserves of $109,735,808. AB20668 (Ordinance 2014-12-070) Approved 7-0

262. Create the Public Works Administration and Engineering Services Fund? The fund will be used to provide administration, management, engineering, and technical services citywide and to outside governmental agencies and private parties. These services will be tracked and accounted for in this new internal services fund. AB20674 (Ordinance 2014-12-071) Approved 7-0

Action Taken at December 17, 2014 Special Meeting

Shall the council:

Appoint a 3rd Ward representative? Five residents of the 3rd Ward applied for the vacancy created by the resignation of Cathy Lehman: Scot Barg, Daniel Hammill, Michelle Magee, Iris Maute-Gibson and Andrew Reding. The first four presented their qualifications; Andrew Reding was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. Council adjourned to executive session to discuss qualifications of the candidates. When council returned to the open meeting one applicant was nominated to fill the vacancy. Gene Knutson nominated Daniel Hammill and he received the unanimous vote of the council. Mr. Hammill will fill the vacancy until the November 3, 2015, general election is certified. (AB20687)


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