10 Feb Commission Meeting Minutes 1-25-2021
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Via Zoom) January 25, 2021
Angela Harris, President
David Preston, Vice President
Steve Johnston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Marketing
Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
President Harris called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
COMMISSIONER FAIRES MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF JANUARY 11, 2021 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,191,280.64
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
There were no public comments.
CONTINUATION OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-03 DECLARING LOCAL EMERGENCY AND DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
Mr. McChesney reported that no actions have been taken under the Emergency Delegation of Authority.
LIST OF SMALL WORKS ROSTER CONTRACTS AWARDED
Mr. McChesney advised that Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 39.05.200 requires the Port to list the Small Works Contracts. He referred to the list that was attached to the Staff Report.
MARINA OPERATIONS 4TH QUARTER 2020 REPORT
Mr. Baker presented the 4th Quarter Report, specifically noting the following:
• The Port’s pandemic policies remain in place, with no changes or revisions during the 4th Quarter.
• The new Puget Sound Express ramp was installed by the Travelift lane, and it is operating well.
• A by-product of the new ramp was limited work space for the Operations Team, and the Operations and Maintenance staff installed secondary railing in the Travelift area to address this situation.
• Most of the winter maintenance hours were devoted to pressure washing the docks and cleaning the gutters. Both of the projects have now been completed. Because staff was unable to clean all of the gutters last year, the ones in the north marina were in worse condition. However, overall, they were in good condition.
• The point-of-sales software at the fuel dock was updated.
• Some in-house and professional radio testing was done, and some purchases were made so that the team can properly communicate.
• The Moorage Team has been implementing some on-line forms. Most notably, the forms can be used for the submission of insurance and vessel registration, and this has helped streamline the process and improve compliance rates.
• During the 4th quarter there were 59 terminations and 38 leases signed in wet moorage. There were 48 new waitlist applications, and most of the demand was in the 34-foot and larger slip sizes. Currently, there are 225 applications compared to 160 at the end of 2019. There were 25 turndowns for moorage during the 4th quarter 2020 compared to 5 in the same time period in 2019. At the request of Commissioner Faires, Mr. Baker agreed to provide information on the number of new applicants who turned down moorage when it was offered.
• The number of boats in Guest Moorage increased by 70% over the same time period in 2019, and the number of nights increased by 37%. The reservation system increased by 135%. This year, people boated longer into the season. Commissioner Harris asked if the increase includes dry storage tenants who stayed in guest moorage overnight, and Mr. Baker answered no. The numbers are broken out so they get a true representation of guests versus dry storage tenants. He noted that the number does include the 13 boats that participated in the Holiday on the Docks Program.
• Insurance documentation is at 90% and vessel registration is at 71% (Dry Storage and Wet Moorage combined). Commissioner Johnston asked if the high insurance compliance is a result of more diligence on the part of staff. Mr. Baker said it is a combination of staff diligence and the new online option that speeds up the turn-around time. He felt the drop that occurred earlier in the year could be attributed to the pandemic.
• The occupancy rate in Dry Storage during the 4th quarter was 88.6% compared to 81% during the same time period in 2019. Forty-six of the 51 trailer spaces are leased,
• There was a 14% increase in launch activity. Pre-call increased by almost 41% from implementation of the reservation system. Travelift roundtrips decreased by 11% or five fewer than in 2019. Sling time with pressure wash decreased by 41%, and sling time without pressure wash increased by 6%. Stall usage at the Workyard decreased by 3% or 13 days. There were fewer pressure wash treatments, as well. Gasoline sales increased by 2% during the 4th quarter, but diesel sales decreased by 29%. The reduction in diesel sales can be attributed to Puget Sound Express not running at full capacity, and boats with diesel engines are taking more localized trips due to closed borders. The fuel survey indicates that the Port’s fuel was very competitively priced during the 4th quarter.
• Round trips at the public launch were up 25%, and one-ways were just two fewer than in 2019.
• The Port did not sponsor any events in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Foul Weather Bluff event took place, but was mostly fogged out. The Holiday on the Docks had a revised schedule, with no big promotions or events. However, the plaza and the docks looked very nice. The Port Food Drive received great results.
Next, Mr. Baker briefly reviewed the 2020 Annual Report, specifically highlighting the following:
• Public launches were down just over 100 total moves. One-way trips increased, but roundtrips were slightly down. It is important to remember that the marina was shut down for a period in 2020. A reservation system was implemented when the launch was reopened, and this slowed the throughput.
• During 2020, gasoline sales set a 5-year high point and diesel sales set a 5-year low point. This was due to the pandemic. Total gallons sold was down due to the significant decrease in diesel. Commissioner Orvis observed that gasoline boats have been active even though there were very few fishing opportunities. Mr. Baker commented that squidding has become very popular.
• Travelift and Workyard activity has remained quite flat over the 5-year period. Stall usage was down 2% in 2020 compared to 2019, roundtrips down 3%, and sling time down 13%. This is likely a product of the pandemic shut down and modified schedules.
• Guest Moorage in 2020 outperformed the 5-year trend both in number of boats visiting the Port and the total number of nights. When the stay-at-home order was relaxed in the summer, boating offered a great way to get outside and still social distance. Commissioner Preston asked if staff kept a record of the approximate number of people who visited guest moorage, and Mr. Baker said the Port doesn’t track that number.
• The trends are similar for both Water Moorage and Dry Storage. The turnover ratio and the total number of terminations decreased in 2020 compared to the other years.
Commissioner Faires summarized that the Port did amazingly well in 2020 given the pandemic. Although the 2nd quarter was down, the rest of the year was nearly as usual. However, the motivation for boating was somewhat different. Mr. Baker commended Port staff for keeping everything going during the pandemic. They handled everything very professionally and well. Commissioner Faires agreed that kudos are applicable to all Port staff. They all worked hard and there were no major problems.
HARBOR SQUARE 4TH QUARTER 2020 REPORT
Ms. Williams presented the Harbor Square 4th Quarter Report, noting the following:
• Gross projected revenue was down 5.75% or roughly $30,000 over the same period in 2019.
• The end of Quarter 4 found Harbor Square with an occupancy rate of 89.48%, which was down 9.07% from the peak occupancy rate of 98.55% in 2019. Commissioner Faires asked how the 9% decrease in occupancy rate corresponds to the rest of Edmonds. Ms. Williams said she doesn’t have specific information, but she has talked to other property managers who indicate there has been a trend of smaller businesses not renewing leases so they can work from home instead. The Port’s numbers aren’t bad considering the pandemic, and she believes they will remain about the same for the next year or two. Commissioner Orvis asked if the large space in Building 1 has been filled, and Ms. Williams answered that this 3,000-square-foot space is still empty, and there is another large one in Building 4. These two spaces make up the majority of the decrease in occupancy. Commissioner Johnston suggested that, as the economy rebounds, it may be easier to lease out the large spaces as opposed to smaller offices. Ms. Williams said she has received calls recently from people who are interested in spaces that are 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. The interest in warehouse space continues, as well.
• Two leases ended in Quarter 4, and both were businesses that shifted their work to home.
• There were no new leases in Quarter 4, but there were 5 leases extensions. One was a tenant in Building 2 that extended for 5 years for a value of roughly $282,000.
• Major projects in Quarter 4 included gutter cleaning and preparing roofs for the rainy season. Extinguisher inspection and replacement was done in all of the tenant suites and common areas, as well as confidence testing of the Building 2 fire alarm system.
• On October 26th a person entered a handful of tenant suites and tried to take random items from the lobby. The police were called in to handle the situation. Nothing of value was taken, and Port staff communicated with the tenants throughout the event. None of them needed to file a loss.
• On December 30th the Building 2 mailboxes were broken into. However, the mailbox was mostly vacant and none of the tenants had mail stolen. The box will need to be replaced.
Commissioner Orvis asked if the society around Harbor Square is changing, resulting in an increase in incidents. Ms. Williams said there has been an increase of this type of activity over the past year, in general, and specifically this last quarter. They regularly deal with graffiti on buildings, and it has increased in recent months. It appears to be a mixture of youth and homeless individuals who have set up encampments nearby. She noted that Building 2 has open restrooms, but the doors are locked at about 6 p.m. each night. Commissioner Johnston asked if the Port has security cameras at Harbor Square, and Ms. Williams answered no. Commissioner Johnston referred to a news report that property crimes throughout the country are increasing substantially, and it is anticipated to continue for at least another year or two. He suggested the Port consider installing security cameras in high-traffic areas if the trend continues.
Commissioner Faires asked if the increase in incidents has reached the point that the Port needs to have a discussion with the Police Department, which has the responsibility to patrol the area. Perhaps they should ask for more patrols. Ms. Williams said she communicates with the Police Department whenever there is an incident, and they have been very responsive. They know of everything that has happened and police reports have been filed for some of the events.
Commissioner Preston requested an update on the rent-deferral program. Ms. Drennan reviewed the table that was provided on Page 3 of the Staff Report, which provides the information requested. She summarized that the estimated total deferral equates to about $770,000 to be paid back in 2021, 2022, or 2023, depending on the tenant. When asked by Commissioner Faires, Ms. Drennan advised that none of the rent deferral has been written off.
2020 MARKETING REVIEW
Ms. Williams presented the 2020 Marketing Report, highlighting the following events and communication pieces, as well as the results from various marina programs and promotions:
• Port Marketing Approach. The Port’s mission is economic and public benefit, tourism, environmental stewardship. Revenue streams include marina operations and property management. The Port accomplishes its mission through customer service, community events, partnerships, special projects and programs, promotions, communications and infrastructure and asset management. All are tied in different ways to marketing.
• Pandemic Impacts. Much of spring and summer was spent developing new office protocols for Marina Operations, the Administration Office, and Harbor Square property management office. New signage was created and the Port provided continuous communication to the tenants and public through various formats: website, email, social media. New social distancing and pandemic-related protocols were developed. The spring public mailer, which was to focus on public access, was postponed, and Family Day at the Marina, Sea Jazz, cleanup dives and Christmas Ship Night were all cancelled. A lot of the planned advertising for those events and other advertising that had to do with tourism was cancelled. The Port had received another grant from the Port of Seattle to do tourism advertising at SeaTac Airport, but they decided not to participate at this time. She was able to divert the time she would have spent on events and tourism to the Harbor Square Building 3 oversight and management of the Rent Deferral Program. She also helped to establish and communicate new pandemic protocols.
• Promotions. Because the Port remained an open and operating marina, promotions took place in the spring. The Boat Show Special resulted in 56 sign ups, and 36 of the tenants remained at the end of 2020 (6 in Dry Storage and 30 in Water Moorage). The Foul Weather Bluff participants were offered a promotion of 50% off a sling and wash, but only two took advantage. However, 41 tenants took advantage of the March on In Promotion (50% off), and they spent 152 days in the workyard. In addition, 56 people took advantage of the Progressive Discounts promotion.
• Communications and Social Media. Communications and social media efforts are not just to communicate and connect with current supporters, tenants and customers. Because the Port is a public marina, it has a desire and obligation to connect with the public as a whole to create awareness. The holiday mailer was sent out to everyone in the 98020 and 98026 zip codes (over 26,000), and it was a good way to promote the Port’s food drive. Press releases (primarily to My Edmonds News and The Edmonds Beacon) were done as needed throughout the year to communicate information about operations and provide information of interest to the community. Press releases that are Port related are also sent to the Washington Public Port Association, and press releases intended for a wider audience are sent to The Everett Herald. In addition, the Port’s newsletter is circulated to over 1,200 email addresses.
The Port was able to claim ownership of its LinkedIn Page, so the Port can now add pictures and information. This is a networking site that can also be used for job postings. The Google listing shows that there were 27 additional reviews and the rating increased to 4.5
The Port has 819 followers on Facebook, which is an increase of 529 over 2019. The top post reached 2,300 people and the engagement rate was 11%, which means that people are interacting with the posts. The numbers for post reach were lower in 2020 than in previous years because the Port didn’t have any major events to promote. The one post that received a lot of posts was related to the Port’s altered procedures due to the pandemic. She shared demographic information on the Port’s Facebook followers, noting that most are between 34 and 65 years of age. The top 5 cities represented are Edmonds, Seattle, Lynnwood, Everett and Mill Creek. In 2020, the Port was able to use its Facebook page to promote the Youth Maritime Collaborative, Anacortes Boat and Yacht Show, Washington State Parks Boating Safety, ECA Blood Drive, Chamber events, and a variety of other events at the request of tenants. The Port also partnered with Give Them Space, a collaborative group that came up with the pledge for boaters to give whales space, to create a landing page on the Port’s website that was linked to the Port’s Facebook page. In addition, the Port supported Support Sound Salmon Solutions, Washington Sea Grant, and Be Whale Wise.
• Events. The Port staff participated in The Seattle Boat Show in early 2020. There were between 30 and 40 slips available going into the show, and all were filled within a few weeks after the boat show. They added an element to promote Edmonds as the perfect place to visit, and 159 people signed up for a giveaway that was sponsored by Puget Sound Express and Anthony’s. Although the Port wasn’t able to do its own community events in 2020, they were able to host or take part in the Foul Weather Bluff, Edmonds and Everett Coho Derbies, Puget Sound Birdfest (online), Edmonds Scarecrow Festival, and Edmonds Yacht Club Safety Seminars. In conjunction with Holiday on the Docks, the Port sponsored a food drive for the Edmonds Food Bank and collected over 1,800 pounds of food.
• Advertising, Partnerships and Tourism. Advertising was a little different in 2020, as they pulled back on the ads that are typically done for events. Money was set aside for the Seattle Boat Show, but it was determined that no further promotion was needed. The Port uses a mixture of digital and traditional advertising services, some paid and some non-paid. She also represents the Port in the following groups:
o Edmonds Creative District. In 2019, the City of Edmonds was awarded the first Creative District in the state, and the group’s goal is to figure out what that means, what it looks like, and how it will help promote tourism and economic development. They created a logo in 2020, and they are currently working to figure out what businesses are a part of it and how they will bring people in. Some of the projects include signage to direct people from the highway and turning the 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor into an arts boulevard. She will provide periodic updates.
o Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. This board hasn’t been active in the County’s tourism campaign since the Snohomish County Tourism Project was awarded to another group. However, it still supports the Sports Commission that is in charge of bringing sporting events to the County. The Board only meets a few times a year to oversee the Sport’s Commission.
o Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has done an incredible job supporting businesses. They have helped to make sure businesses are aware of grant opportunities and funding from the State and County, and they have promoted the businesses that are open. The Edmonds Chamber Foundation’s WISH (When Inconvenient Stuff Happen) Fund offers grants to businesses who experience something unexpected. For example, when the Chef Dane Here and There Food Truck and Catering Company was broken into, the Chamber Foundation gave the owner a check to cover their insurance deductible. Another big Chamber priority is making sure that businesses and restaurants along the Highway 99 Corridor are represented and taken care of in the same way as the businesses in the bowl.
• Plans for 2021. The Port began signups and promoting the 2021-2022 Destination Port of Edmonds Program at the end of 2020. However, the program has shifted somewhat because it is such a strange time to ask businesses to sign up for an ad they would have for a few years when they don’t even know what services they will be offering. They will still give people who visit Guest Moorage the gift bag, but they believe the best way to help the local businesses at this time is to provide visitors a handout of the current offerings for takeout services and shopping. The printout can be changed as needed and can help direct visitors to services they can utilize right now. As things stabilize, they will reconsider the option of creating a new booklet.
Seattle Boat Show Connected will be January 28th through January 31st and will be online this year. Commissioners can register to participate but they need to inform Ms. Ebel as to the ticket level they would like. Along with the information the Port provides as part of the event, they will also offer the Boat Show Special. Information regarding the event is posted on the Port’s website.
The plan is to do a spring and holiday mailer in 2021. The spring will be more information heavy, with Port information, as well as insight into the Public Access Plan.
Most of the groups she is involved in are not planning for any large events the first half of the year, and most likely for the majority of summer. Many are planning events for the very end of summer or fall. With that being said, staff is recommending that Family Day at the Port be cancelled. They are also planning to change the music program a bit. Instead of Sea Jazz, which is just student musicians, they plan to offer different types of musicians an opportunity to play music in the plaza. Commissioner Faires said his preference would be to wait as long as possible before cancelling Family Day at the Port and even consider having the event in September. Ms. Williams agreed that might be possible, but she pointed out that groups that rely on events for income will likely want to shift their events towards the end of summer or early fall.
The Port will continue sponsoring the Edmonds Yacht Club’s Safety Seminars, and they also plan to do another cleanup dive with Annie Crawley either in April for Earth Day or at the beginning of June in conjunction with World Oceans Day. They are also planning to do the Christmas Ship Night at the Marina at the end of 2021.
A big focus for the year will be moving forward with the North Portwalk and Seawall Reconstruction Project, which will take up a lot of the marketing time that is allotted for 2021. Staff will also be creating a new website for the Port. The internal Website Committee met recently and will be consulting with the Communications Committee about some ideas in the coming months.
Ms. Williams concluded her report by observing that 2020 was a wild year, requiring the Port Commission and staff to adapt and change plans. She thanked the Commissioners and Mr. McChesney for their support throughout the year.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reported that the Port has been experiencing some data transmission problems over the past few months that have seriously slowed down transaction processing. The problem is intermittent, mysterious and chronic and seems to happen on the weekends. Despite staff’s best efforts to troubleshoot the issues, they had to sign a contract with CTS Cabling last week for $11,106 for assistance to resolve networking failures inside the office from old aging cabling and non-recommended extension switches and to increase the bandwidth speed and reliability between offices. Basically, there isn’t enough bandwidth, and some of the fiber optic cable is obsolete. The project is well in hand and he thanked staff for hanging in there while they troubleshoot and upgrade the systems.
Mr. McChesney announced that the Port received the 2020 report card from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and he is happy to report there were no work-related injuries. He commended staff for paying attention and the Safety Committee for taking care of the issues that come up from time to time.
Mr. McChesney advised that the Port is in the final stages of completing the feasibility study for the proposed new building on the east side of Admiral Way. It should be finished at the end of the week after staff meets with the City Planning Department. Staff is very encouraged that they will be able to dust off the previous Shoreline Permit and salvage most of the documentation supporting it. As soon as the feasibility study is done, they will need to work out some redesign issues before presenting the project to the Architectural Design Board. A lot of work remains, but he is encouraged that the project is on the right path.
Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Commission approved all of the contracts for the North Portwalk and Seawall Project at their last meeting. All have been signed and the project is underway. He is looking forward to having a successful project.
Mr. McChesney recalled that, at the last meeting, the Commission and staff has a brief discussion about stormwater and the status of the Port’s pilot study. Mr. Baker said he didn’t have anything in depth to discuss at this meeting, but he would provide a formal one-page summary from the consultant at the next meeting. They are currently sharing ideas for how to best implement the program into the Port’s long-term environmental strategy.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Johnston said he participated in the Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPAs) legislative roundtable on January 12th. The coming session will be abbreviated and very different, but the key issues will be transportation related. With regard to the WPPA and port benefits, the intent is to seek full funding of MTCA and other financing mechanisms to take both large and small ports ahead.
Commissioner Johnston said he also participated in the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) meeting on clean energy on January 19th. There was a similar presentation to one provided by the WPPA regarding the prospects for clean energy in the state. A lot of work needs to be done, and it will be gradual.
Commissioner Faires reported that he attended the Edmonds Economic Development Commission’s (EEDCs) meeting on January 20th where they reviewed the priorities that came out of a series of meetings and a long meeting that was facilitated by Neil Tibbott. There was discussion about a hotel on the waterfront, which has been discussed many times. Preliminary discussion was that it was a great idea, but there probably isn’t room and the height limit could be limiting. They also discussed how to best support and promote the Waterfront Center, which was recently opened. A committee was formed to work on ideas. He said he reported on the Port’s efforts towards improving community amenities and provided an update on the Port’s progress on the North Portwalk and Seawall Project design. He emphasized that the schedule of the project would be primarily dictated by governmental agencies, as permits will be required. He said he believes the project will receive a lot of community support.
Commissioner Preston thanked the Edmonds Yacht Club for the last Safety Seminar. He announced that he would attend the EASC’s Post-Election Update on January 26th and the State of Everett event on January 28th. He said he would love to be able to attend a live WPPA meeting at some point this year.
Commissioner Orvis announced that he would attend the EASC’s Coffee Chat on January 26th, as well as the State of Everett event on January 28th. He reported that the EASC has named Gary Clark from Fremont, Nebraska as its new Executive Director.
Commissioner Harris said she would also attend the EASC and WPPA events mentioned earlier by other Commissioners. She reported that she recently met with Annie Crawley to get an update on what is going on with her dive team. She mentioned that she has talked with Ms. Williams about a potential dive at the Port. Ms. Crawley requested an opportunity to provide an update to the Commission, sharing highlights of the dive team’s work, and she agreed to work with Mr. McChesney to schedule a time on a future agenda.
Commissioner Harris said she was notified that the Edmonds City Council will be adopting a resolution honoring Mary Lou Block. Once she receives a copy of the resolution, she will share it with the other Commissioners. Mr. McChesney said that, before the pandemic, it had been the Port’s intention to honor former Commissioner Block’s memory and service by dedicating the remodeled public plaza in her name. That is still very much the intent, but it has been delayed.
Commissioner Preston asked if someone from the Port would be invited to help the City of Edmonds write the resolution. Commissioner Harris said that the City reached out to Port staff to gather information, but she hasn’t seen the write up and she doesn’t know if staff has been involved in drafting the actual resolution. She agreed to follow up. Commissioner Faires observed that, while the City is very aware of Ms. Block’s contribution to the City, they may need some help regarding her contribution to the Port. Commissioner Orvis added that she was well-respected and contributed significantly at the County level, as well. Commissioner Harris agreed to pass this additional insight along.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:23 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary