16 Feb Commission Meeting Minutes 1-30-23
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Via Zoom, Hybrid Meeting) January 30, 2023
Steve Johnston, President
Jim Orvis, Vice President
Jay Grant, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Economic Development
Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council
John Brock, Woodway Council Position 2
CALL TO ORDER
President Johnston called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
COMMISSIONER GRANT MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF JANUARY 9, 2023 MEETING MINUTES, AS AMENDED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,440,468.96
D. APPROVAL OF TRAVELIFT ONE-WAY RATE ADJUSTMENT
COMMISSIONER HARRIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Mr. McChesney read the following email comment from Gary Ostlund into the record:
“Let me thank you for your service to the boaters and to the community over the years. As a tenant of the Port since the 1970’s, I tell my friends, the Port of Edmonds is as good as there is in Puget Sound and maybe beyond. My concern as a tenant is the method of rate increases used over the years. The CPI has been used lately as the basis, so if the CPI is 9.5% and the Port adds 1% to calculate the new rate increase, they have a rate increase of over 10%. If this is the reasoning for rate increases, many of us tenants would like to see the same logic used for a rate decrease. So, if the CPI next year is 6%, do we get a rate decrease of 4%? Please let us tenants know how else we could get a rate decrease or no increase for a year or two. Thanks for listening, and we all hope for some commonsense in these times of abnormal events everywhere.”
Commissioner Orvis responded that if the CPI next year is 6%, the rate increase would actually be 7% (CPI + 1%). He said they must remember there was one year where the increase was only 1%, and over the last several years, when CPI was increasing very little, rates were increasing at 1%, 2% and 3% instead of 5%, 6% or 7%. He acknowledged this year’s rate increase was high, but there have been a lot of years when the Port could have justified raising rates even higher than CPI +1%, but it did not. Mr. McChesney noted that the average rate increase over the past 10 to 15 years is somewhere between 2.5% and 3%. This year is an anomaly, and things are starting to turn around.
Commissioner Grant commented that just because the CPI is lower in a future year doesn’t mean the Port’s costs will have gone down, as well. Secondly, he stressed that the Port isn’t only paying for today, it is paying for things that have to be done 5 to 20 years from now. If they could actually demonstrate that costs have decreased by 20%, the Commission could talk about a rate decrease, but that isn’t usually the case. Commissioner Johnston added that repair and construction costs are increasing even faster than inflation.
Ms. Drennan explained that CPI is a calculation of a basket of goods from one period of time to another. The Port uses June because that is the one that is most immediately available before the budget process starts. The only way the rate increase would be negative is if CPI was a negative number.
Edmonds City Councilmember Teitzel announced that he was recently assigned as the Council’s liaison to the Port. He said he is pleased to take on that role, as he has worked with the Commission before and has always admired the work they do.
There were no other public comments.
NORTH PORTWALK AND SEAWALL RECONSTRUCTION DESIGN UPDATES
Ms. Williams explained that the purpose of this meeting is for the Commission to make some final design decisions so the designs can be finalized in preparation for the Substantial Shoreline Development submittal and Architectural Design Review Board submittal. The final design decisions are related to color choices for the light posts, benches, railings and gates. She introduced Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, who was present to provide a brief update on the project timeline and the permit status. She also introduced Dylan Yamashita, Makers Architecture, who was present to review the latest renderings and color choices. She noted this is the last step for the 90% design.
Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, reviewed the permit schedule, highlighting the following:
• The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process has been completed and approved.
• The Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) was submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers in November of 2021. There was a bit of a slowdown in the application review due to the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) having coordination issues with the conservation calculator. Landau is tracking this application, and there have been no comments thus far.
• Applications for the Substantial Shoreline Development Permit and design review will be submitted to the City in mid-February. The Commission will need to make some final color choices to enable the design team to prepare the submittals.
• The application for Hydraulic Project Approval will be submitted in June 2023, followed by the Building Permit application. Both of these have two year expirations, so they will hold off on the submittals until closer to construction.
At the request of Mr. McChesney, Mr. Titus shared more on the status of the JARPA, which was submitted a little over a year ago. The next step in the process is to submit the Section 404 Water Quality Certification, which will occur once the civil plans have been completed later this week. Mr. McChesney asked if he anticipates that JARPA review will be completed by November of 2023, and Mr. Titus said that is Landau Associates’ current prediction. Mr. McChesney emphasized that there are some inherent uncertainties because the Port doesn’t have control over the process and there are a number of agencies involved.
Commissioner Grant asked if the Building Permit could be extended for an additional two years, and Mr. Titus answered that a 2-year extension is an option once the project is under construction. Commissioner Orvis added that SEPA has no expiration.
Dylan Yamashita, Makers Architecture, briefly reviewed the latest renderings, noting the design decisions that have been made so far. He advised that, at this time, the design team is seeking input from the Commission relative to the gates, railings, benches and light poles.
Commissioner Orvis noted that the green benches the City installed are starting to rust. He asked what the proposed benches along the Portwalk would be made of, and Mr. Yamashita answered steel, with a powder-coat finish. Commissioner Orvis voiced concern that the new benches would eventually rust, as well. Mr. McChesney agreed that the finish can wear off over time, resulting in rust. Mr. Yamashita pointed out that a bench with a much longer lifespan would cost substantially more.
Commissioner Grant observed that the Port of Everett uses LED lights that are very attractive and a lot more interesting than the simple light posts that are currently proposed for the Port’s project. Ms. Williams reminded the Commission that the design choices have already been made, and the focus of this discussion is on colors. Given the length of time between now and actual construction, Mr. McChesney said it would be helpful if some minor modifications could be made after design review. However, once the project receives Architectural Design Board approval, the design will be locked in.
Commissioner Grant asked if the gates could be located on the side so they don’t open into the Portwalk, and Mr. Yamashita answered that they had trouble with the gates opening into the gangways without taking up room on the Portwalk. Ms. Williams explained that Mr. Menard and the internal project team are recommending the current plan for the gates due to space constraints. Changing the gates now would require a new design. Mr. Menard was concerned about the type of equipment needed for sliding gates, but they received good feedback from Everett that the automatic sliding gates were holding up nicely and they didn’t have as many issues as originally thought. However, the Port of Everett is located in a more protected harbor, and the Port of Edmonds gets a lot more salt air. She recalled that the Commission has expressed interest in a keyless entry system, which would require minimal power. On the other hand, the power that would be needed for sliding gates would require a completely new breaker system that would need to be protected from the weather. His recommendation is to stick with the current design, which would result in an updated look, work within the Port’s space constraints, and accommodate a keyless entry upgrade. The handles would be changed to make the gates easier to open but still stay within the space constraints.
Commissioner Orvis said he prefers the sliding gates, but he noted that the Port has a lot more gates than the Port of Everett. This makes a difference when it comes to maintenance, since the current gate design would also be extended to the south marina at some point in the future. He voiced concern that the existing staff would not have the capability to handle this additional responsibility. It was noted that electronic elements required for the sliding gates at the Port of Everett are protected by an overhanging shed, and that wouldn’t be the case at the Port of Edmonds. They also have a lot more space, and their marina is protected from the saltwater of the Sound.
Commissioner Preston asked about the gate material, and Ms. Williams answered that it would be anodized aluminum. Commissioner Preston asked if the benches could be anodized aluminum, as well. Mr. McChesney expressed concern that they wouldn’t be as durable.
Commissioner Grant asked if the planter boxes would be cement, and Ms. Williams answered that making the Portwalk wider required inground planters rather than above-ground planters. Because the planters would be at grade, Mr. Yamashita pointed out that very little maintenance would be required.
Mr. Yamashita shared a dark color option that would create a corridor feel, and said staff has voiced concern it might create too dark of a space. Commissioner Preston asked if the top of the railing would be flat or at an angle, and Mr. Yamashita answered that it would be angled.
Commissioner Grant noted that the light poles at the Port of Everett served both the walking path and parking areas. Mr. Yamashita pointed out that new lighting is proposed for the parking lot, as well. Commissioner Grant asked if the proposed lighting would serve both the pedestrians and the people sitting on the benches. Mr. Yamashita answered that the lighting contractor recommended spacing the light standards about 40 feet apart, so they should give light 20 feet on each side. There shouldn’t be any dark areas. Ms. Williams cautioned that it is also important not to create too much light, especially with the glass-block base.
Commissioner Grant said four people from Point Edwards have contacted him, voicing concern about the amount of light the fixtures would put out. Commissioner Johnston responded that all of the lights would be downlit and very unobtrusive.
Commissioner Preston voiced concern that a dark railing would be hot on a summer day. Ms. Williams shared a rendering of a silver railing, noting that it brightens things up a bit. However, there is concern that the roofs and beams are already silver. Commissioner Grant questioned if the dark color would show more dirt. Ms. Williams said it probably wouldn’t show dirt so much as it would bird poop.
Next, Ms. Williams shared a combination color. With so much metal on the railing and gates, they felt the dark could possibly be overwhelming. One option would be to keep the railings more silver, and then use the dark color for the light posts and benches. She, Mr. Baker and Mr. Yamashita did a fieldtrip to view the boardwalk along the piers at the Port of Seattle, which also has a glass-block base, and they actually liked the appearance of some dark elements.
Ms. Williams said she would recommend a combination of light and dark colors, but she would like to play around with which elements are light and which are dark. Commissioner Preston asked how they came up with the dark color, which is quite striking. Ms. Williams said they chose the color based on site visits. She reminded them that the project would also include signage, public art, landscaping, etc. to add color. Commissioner Orvis noted that the Portwalk is heavily used. While the darker railings are more dramatic during the daylight, they might be too dark for rainy, winter nights. Mr. Yamashita clarified that the railings would have downlights.
Ms. Williams shared that, in design, dark colors are used to draw the eye. In general, you want people to see beyond the railings to the boats so the dark color might be more distracting. On the other hand, it might be nice to use the dark color on the benches to make them stand out amongst the greenery.
Ms. Williams advised that the new colors were chosen to get away from the current blue/brown color scheme. The intent is to introduce the new colors, along with nice wood elements, signage, etc., throughout the Port. Commissioner Preston asked if all of these design choices would eventually be carried over to the south marina, and Ms. Williams answered affirmatively.
COMMISSIONER GRANT MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION ACCEPT THE COMBINATION DARK/LIGHT COLOR SCHEME. COMMISSIONER ORVIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Commissioner Grant pointed out that the Port of Everett’s restroom building included three places for small retail shops. Mr. McChesney responded that the building is quite large, which would be a challenge for the Port’s current project. It was quite costly, too. He said the restrooms included in the current design would essentially be the same as the CXT buildings that were installed in the south marina. While they have received comments that they are too utilitarian, they were cost effective to install. Commissioner Grant commented that a lot of ports consider facilities that support tourism to be an important factor. Commissioner Johnston observed that the Ports of Nanaimo and Sydney are considered premier ports. He asked what elements make them wonderful waterfront experiences. Mr. McChesney said the focus was more on the engineering and public access elements of the project, and there was never any thought to add retail space.
Commissioner Preston asked if the electrical equipment currently located on the Administration Building would be covered by a building of some type when the building is demolished. Mr. McChesney explained that the electrical switch gear is currently mounted on the south side of the current Administration Building. This equipment may have to be relocated in order to demolish the building, and this would require the entire system to be upgraded. It is likely the current Administration Building would stay until construction of the North Portwalk and Seawall project begins.
As they seek justification and grant funding for the project, Commissioner Orvis stressed the importance of emphasizing that the project is a seawall restoration. The only reason they are replacing the Portwalk is because it has to be removed in order to replace the seawall before it collapses. Commissioner Grant concurred and advised that, as they pursue grant opportunities, it will be important to stress that the project is a seawall restoration rather than a beautification project. Mr. McChesney agreed that the project could be rebranded to emphasizes the seawall restoration, but he noted that it also depends on the type of grant the Port is pursuing.
Commissioner Preston requested clarification about the bump outs. Mr. Yamashita reminded the Commission that the bump out area cannot be expanded. However, the existing bump outs were consolidated into a larger bump out in the plaza area. Commissioner Preston asked if a railing and/or bench could be added in the bump out area for people to sit. Mr. Yamashita answered that it might be difficult with the glass-block pavers. However, they could add space for people to stand.
New Administration/Maintenance Building
Mr. McChesney advised that, upon visiting the site after the deck was put down on the new building, it became readily apparent that the floor plan needed to be changed to create a better Commission Meeting Room. He explained that the primary design guideline the Port gave to the architect, Jackson Main, was that the Port didn’t need any more space than what they already have, and the building was designed with that in mind. There was to be a corner of surplus area that could be used as rental space, and staff is now proposing it be used as part of the new Commission Room.
Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, shared the original design that was permitted, pointing out the Commission Meeting Room in the middle with no windows. He also pointed out the extra leasable space, commenting that the idea was to lease this space to recoup some of the construction costs. However, as construction progressed, it became apparent that the floor plan needed to be reworked. The proposed new design would relocate the Commission Meeting Room to the bottom right corner. However, because the larger room would be considered an assembly room, additional restrooms would be required and the swing of the doors must be changed. As proposed, the additional restrooms would be accessed directly from the Commission room, which would allow the Port to secure the rest of the building during public meetings.
Commissioner Harris asked if the storage room would be the same size, and Mr. Titus answered that it would be 15 square feet smaller.
Commissioner Grant said he likes the new floor plan and suggested that it would provide more opportunities for the public to use the space, too. Commissioner Orvis recalled that, from the very beginning, the Commission wanted a room that could be used by the people who own the building (the public).
Mr. McChesney advised that the new floor plan would result in some change orders, but they don’t have specific information to share at this time. The purpose of this presentation is to advise the Commission on what the design team feels is the best solution to the problem and solicit their approval.
Commissioner Grant said he has attended meetings of the Woodway Town Council, and their space has moveable furniture that can be moved out to accommodate receptions and other events of that type.
COMMISSIONER GRANT MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION ACCEPT THE NEW FLOOR PLAN FOR THE ADMINISTRATION/MAINTENANCE BUILDING AS PRESENTED. COMMISSIONER ORVIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF FEDERAL LOBBYING AND GRANT SERVICES CONTRACT
Mr. McChesney advised that the Port is currently working to perfect its financing strategy for the North Seawall and Portwalk Project, and a major component of that strategy will be grant funding. With the help of Commission Grant, Port staff has been putting together a strategy for pursuing grants. They have concluded that, to improve the Port’s chances of success, they need to hire a professional consultant/lobbyist. He reviewed that at their January 9th meeting, the Commission directed staff to proceed with a contract for federal lobbying and grant services as soon as possible while following personal services bid and contract laws, policies and procedures. A Request for Proposals was sent to select lobbying firms on January 25th and advertised in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce and the Everett Herald. Requests for Clarifications/Questions are due on February 2nd, and proposals are due on February 8th. Interviews, if required, will take place the week of February 13th, and proposals will be evaluated and ranked by the Port Evaluation Committee based on the Evaluation Criteria. The intent is to award a contract by February 15th.
Mr. McChesney further advised that they are currently working on a submittal for the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) Grant from the United States Department of Transportation, and the deadline is February 28th. With this current schedule, it is highly unlikely they will meet that deadline. As time is of the essence and the Port may not be ready to proceed with awarding a contract in conjunction with a Commission meeting, staff is recommending the Commission approve a contract amount of $125,000 now. Staff would update the Commission with the selected firm at the Commission meeting immediately following the selection.
Commissioner Grant expressed his belief that $125,000 is not enough. He said his best guess would be $10,000 to $15,000 per month, and the contract amount could be as high as $185,000. Mr. McChesney said there is a certain amount of guesswork involved, and staff felt that $125,000 would be the most realistic number. The thought was that this amount would cover $10,000 per month for the length of the contract (10.5 months). Commissioner Orvis summarized that it is important to approve enough money plus a pad, and it would be better to have a pad too much than a pad too little. Commissioner Harris disagreed and pointed out that, because this is a public meeting, it would be inadvisable to go on record as being willing to pay a much higher amount. Ms. Drennan shared her concern. Commissioner Orvis responded that, from past experience, he doesn’t believe consultants would bid based on what the maximum would be if they want the job.
Questions were raised about why the Commission is being asked to authorize the Executive Director to enter into a contract before proposals have been submitted and reviewed. Ms. Drennan explained that, if they follow the process, the Commission wouldn’t be able to approve a contract until February 27th. The proposed motion would allow the Executive Director to enter into a contract as soon as possible, and the Commission could always approve additional funds at a later time.
The Commissioners discussed what the appropriate amount might be for the authorization, and most agreed that $200,000 would be a more appropriate number.
COMMISSIONER ORVIS MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION AUTHORIZE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR FEDERAL LOBBYING AND GRANT SERVICES FOR THE PERIOD OF FEBRUARY 2023 THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2023 WITH THE FIRM SELECTED BY THE PORT’S EVALUATION COMMITTEE IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $200,000. COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED 4-1, WITH COMMISSIONER HARRIS VOTING IN OPPOSITION.
Commissioner Grant said he could work with staff to prepare a submittal for the RAISE Grant, and then have the contracted lobbyist follow it through. The value of the grant is up to $25 million. Mr. McChesney agreed to look at the RAISE grant application, but cautioned that staff has only limited capacity.
Commissioner Harris said she agrees with the approach, but she felt the amount of the approval might be overthought.
SMALL PUBLIC WORKS CONTRACTS AWARDED FOR 2022
Mr. McChesney referred the Commissioners to the list of 2022 Small Public Works Roster Contracts Awarded, which was attached to the Staff Report. He advised that the list was provided for the Commission’s information, as required by State Law.
MARINA OPERATIONS 4TH QUARTER REPORT AND ANNUAL REVIEW 2022
Mr. Baker presented the 4th Quarter 2022 Marina Operations Report, specifically noting the following:
• Moorage. During 4th Quarter there were 27 terminations and 22 spaces were assigned. The turnover ratio was 4.08%, the same as in 2021. The waitlist ended the 4th Quarter with 344 applications on file compared to 320 at the end of 2021.
Commissioner Johnston asked if the 27 terminations and 22 assignments is a timing issue, and Mr. Baker answered affirmatively. There was a three-week period where there were open slips available to someone walking in. Those availabilities were all 28ft or less.
• Guest Moorage. The total number of boats in Guest Moorage decreased by 18%, but the number of nights increased by 9%. Last year there were 610 nights, compared to 662 nights this year. Guest Moorage was occupied primarily by the Edmonds Yacht Club in December for their Holiday on the Docks event. There were 11 boats, which accounted for 344 total nights of moorage.
• Document Compliance. Insurance compliance was at 91% at the end of 4th Quarter, and registration compliance was at 76%. He explained that insurance compliance typically increases during 1st quarter because it is required before a new parking pass can be issued, and registration compliance will drop in the 3rd quarter because state registrations renew on June 30th.
Commissioner Grant asked if the Port has any liability for either insurance or registration compliance. Ms. Drennan answered yes, due to the derelict vessel law. If you don’t have your documentation up to date, you can’t get reimbursed for the removal of derelict vessels. Commissioner Grant asked if the Port would be liable if a boat catches fire and it spreads to the Port facilities and the owner doesn’t have insurance. Mr. McChesney answered affirmatively and said that is why the Port insists that tenants provide their insurance certificates every year, naming the Port as an additional insured. Parking passes are withheld until compliance. Commissioner Johnston asked if the Port could institute a fine program for non-compliance. Mr. Baker said tenants who do not provide the two documents are out of compliance with the moorage agreement, which gives the Port a 30-day-out clause. He said tenants generally renew their insurance policies each year, and it is more about collecting the documents. Commissioner Orvis described the difficulty associated with collecting insurance documentation because insurance companies do not often provide notification to the Port. While marinas strictly enforce insurance requirements due to liability concerns, they have fought having to enforce registration requirements.
• Dry Storage. The occupancy rate in Dry Storage was 84%, which is up from 77% in 2021. There are currently 60 trailers stored at the facility compared to 51 in 2021.
• Boat Move Activity. There were 1,455 total moves by the forklift during Quarter 4, and that is 20% greater than in 4th quarter 2021. Launch activity increased by 17% from the 4th quarter of 2021, and wash-down area use increased by 18%. The call-ahead service increased by 32% from 2021. The Port has implemented that all boat moves are by reservation only. People have gotten used to the requirement and are seeing the benefits. It allows Port staff to organize and be on time.
• Boatyard and Travelift. Travelift roundtrips decreased slightly (5%), and sling time with pressure wash increased by 25%. Sling time without wash increased by 133%. Stall usage increased by 236 more days during 4th Quarter, and there were 39 pressure wash treatments.
• Fuel Dock. The total number of gallons pumped increased by 16% or 7,348 more gallons than in 2021. Gasoline increased by 22% and diesel by 11%. Pay-at-the-Pump decreased by 6%, accounting for 63% of the total gallons sold. The Port’s fuel prices were very competitive with the area average, slightly under for both diesel and unleaded.
Mr. Baker noted that the Port adjusts its fuel prices more frequently than many other marinas. Mr. McChesney said the Port discovered that when they didn’t adjust the prices every week, they were out of sequence with the market rate and it was difficult to catch up. Several years ago, the Port decided to reset the price every Tuesday based on the current rack price plus the markup. This has been a very workable model.
• Public Launch. The number of roundtrip launches increased by 97%, and one-way launches were down 1%.
Mr. Baker presented the 2022 Annual Port Operations Review, noting the following:
• Moorage. The high demand for moorage space continued in 2022, and the waitlist expanded throughout the year. The number of lease terminations and turnover ratio were at 5-year lows. This supports the theory that boating is strong and demand is there.
• Dry Storage. Dry Storage also had a 5-year low for terminations and turnover ratio. Staff has done an excellent job keeping boaters engaged and managing leases effectively.
• Public Launch. The numbers matched the 5-year highs, and they continue with steady business year-round.
• Guest Moorage. With an open Canadian border, people are able to cruise further, and there was full recreation and travel available in 2022. While the numbers dipped slightly, guest moorage was still very busy.
• Fuel Dock. High fuel prices continued in 2022, but strong boat usage continued. Sales were second highest for the 5-year span. Puget Sound Express and the Freedom Boat Club continue to be very successful in their business models, which equates to more trips and more fuel.
Commissioner Johnston asked when Puget Sound Express would start its 2023 operations, and Mr. McChesney answered they would resume operations in March.
• Boatyard. Boatyard usage was strong throughout the year.
Mr. Baker commended the Port Operations staff, and Port staff as a whole, for helping put together a great year. He gave a special shout out to Security Staff for doing a great job. They recently provided evidence that led to the restroom vandals being apprehended. He commented that more 911 calls is not of concern, because it’s a result of the Port staff being proactive. The staffing schedule has been changed, resulting in more eyes on the marina. In addition, their relationship with the Edmonds Police Department has grown. They are at the Port every night, and they know all of the Port’s security staff by name.
HARBOR SQUARE 4TH QUARTER 2022 REPORT
Ms. Williams presented the Harbor Square 4th Quarter Report, specifically noting the following:
• Gross projected revenue was up 9.88% or roughly $50,000 compared to the same time period in 2021. This was due to consistent occupancy rates, as well as a high CPI rate, which is the basis for the annual adjustments for most of the leases.
• The occupancy rate at the end of Quarter 4 was 91.92%, up approximately 3% from the rate of 89.06% in 2021.
• No leases ended or began in Quarter 4, but there were 7 lease extensions.
• A pair of new common area restroom toilets were installed Buildings 1 and 2. A new mailbox was installed in Building 5, completing new mailboxes for all five buildings. Backflow, standpipe and confidence testing at Building 2 was completed. The confidence testing is done every year, but the backflow and standpipe inspections every 5 years. Lastly, fire extinguisher testing and replacement was completed in all five buildings.
• There were no incidences to report.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Councilmember Teitzel said he looks forward to working with the Port Commission and staff again. He is also looking forward to watching the Portwalk project proceed. He reviewed that there was a significant snow event in December, followed by a lot of rain and extraordinarily high tide, which caused some flooding issues at SR-104 and Dayton Street and into the Harbor Square property. This was disappointing because several years back, the City Council approved the installation of a new pump facility on Dayton Avenue, assuming it would take care of the issue. This was the first major flooding event since the new pump was installed, and it appears that the events during that period overwhelmed the pump capacity. The City is working to sort out the problems.
Councilmember Teitzel reported that the City is starting the Comprehensive Plan update, which will involve a review of the Waterfront Plan. He recalled that the proposed overpass on Sunset Avenue was halted, but the safety problem still exists and more people than ever are using the waterfront. He suggested the Port and City need to work together to come up with a solution. This could include creating emergency facilities on the west side of the train tracks in the event of an emergency.
Commissioner Orvis commented that the City Council recently allocated $50,000 to restudy the waterfront bridge project. He suggested that, before this work begins, they should review the information that is already on file from the previous studies. Councilmember Teitzel agreed. He reminded them that Burlington Northern Santa Fe is planning to add another track through Edmonds at some point in the future. When that happens, some type of overpass facility will need to be built to get people over the tracks to the other side. With the double tracks, there will be more and longer trains, and this will increase the potential for blockage.
Regarding the flooding issues at SR-104 and Dayton Street, Commissioner Grant referred to a recent article in The Edmonds Beacon that mentioned a six- or eight-year study. He said it would be interesting to review that study to see what all was considered. Mr. McChesney commented that the new pump never worked as designed. Two months after it was installed, he worked with a City employee during a similar flood event. City staff will be at the Commission’s February 13th meeting to explain the engineering parameters and help the Port Commission and staff understand the issues. Councilmember Teitzel announced that he is the Chair of the City Council’s Public Works/Parks Committee in 2023, and they will continue to focus on the issue to figure out what can be done.
Commissioner Grant said he has had discussions with Councilmembers regarding the Waterfront Plan Update, and it sounds like the City Council might start addressing some of the issues before talking with stakeholders. He asked about the timing for this work. Councilmember Teitzel said he hasn’t been directly involved in this work, but he plans to get more engaged. He agreed that before a plan is committed to paper, the City will need to work with the stakeholders.
TOWN OF WOODWAY REPORT
Commissioner Preston requested an update on Point Wells. John Brock, Woodway Council Position 2 responded that the appeal for the High Tower Project failed, and the Town of Woodway Council is expecting to hear from the applicant (BSRE) shortly. The Town Council is interested in working with the applicant to come up with something that will work. Out of the 66 acre parcel, only about 12 acres are developable due to the railroad tracks and slope. The road capacity of Richmond Beach Road in Shoreline will control the size of the development.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reported that he attended an event with Congressman Rick Larsen on January 18th. He was very gracious and understands what the Port’s North Seawall and Portwalk Project is all about. They will be depending on him and others to get them over the finish line.
Mr. McChesney reported that he participated in a fieldtrip last week to the Port of Everett. Having worked there for a number of years, it was amazing to see the transformation that has occurred. It was all industrial when he was there. All of the industry is gone, and they have cleaned it up and redeveloped it. He noted their overpass from Grand Avenue down to the waterfront, which took 35 years to plan and construct.
Mr. McChesney announced that the Seattle Boat Show will start on February 3rd and run through February 11th. Ms. Williams invited Commissioners to contact her for tickets if they want to attend the show. Mr. McChesney said the Port elected not to have a booth at the show this year, but some staff will attend.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Preston announced that he would attend the Chamber Connect Edmonds Event on January 31st at the Cascade Art Museum. He would also attend the Chamber Luncheon on February 2nd. Ms. Williams said the Connect Events are new, and she has heard great things about them.
Commissioner Grant said he has been following the City of Edmonds’ work on zoning issues.
Commissioner Orvis announced that Port Day in Olympia is February 2nd, and Commissioners Harris and Grant will attend. Commissioner Harris said she has an appointment with Senator Liias. Senator Peterson was busy, but she will get on his calendar for a Zoom meeting in a few weeks. Commissioner Preston suggested that she stop by and talk to his legislative aid while she is at Port Day.
Commissioner Orvis shared the following highlights from the Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPAs) legislative report:
• A big deal right now is whether the State will push municipalities and others to upzone to create additional density. To him, it seems the problem is they voted in a Growth Management Act (GMA) that limits the amount of land available for housing, and now that more housing is needed, the only thing to do is increase density.
• Senate Bill 6465 would promote tourism, with perhaps funding, as well. Nearly 15 years ago, the State of Washington sliced off funding for tourism while surrounding states were investing in tourism. There have been many attempts to improve tourism at the local level, and now the State will try to step back in.
• Clean energy is a big deal right now. There are senate and house bills in support of a measure that would result in significant changes in energy policy, but no one is exactly sure what will happen.
• On January 25th, the committee heard about Senate Bill 5129 related to planning for advanced nuclear reactor technology. The bill would add advanced nuclear technology as a guiding principle for the development of the State’s energy strategy.
• There is a bill in the Energy Committee on creating a State financial insurance program for petroleum underground storage tanks. No action has been taken yet.
• More plastic legislation will be passed, including legislation related to plastic encased foam for overwater structures, which would be good for ports.
• The WPPA is working with the legislature on removal of derelict aquatic structures such as creosote pilings. The Port will be looking at mitigation soon, and perhaps they can do mitigation to enhance the waterfront in other parts of the City. This may also allow the Port to do mitigation at the marsh.
• The Department of Natural Resources is talking to the WPPA now, which is good.
• There is proposed legislation having to do with challenging election. It would allow people to challenge an election in a jurisdiction that they don’t live in.
• The legislature is working on the Paid Family Medical Leave Plan, and they anticipate a bill being brought up for a vote very early in the session. Ms. Drennan commented that the plan is currently underfunded.
• The legislature is adding climate elements to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and Growth Management Act (GMA), and it has already passed committee by a partisan vote. As far as ports are concerned, it will primarily impact freight, but it will also impact communities.
• The Finance Committee unanimously voted to advance a substitute version of the Ways and Means Small Works Contracting that would increase the threshold to $350,000. It would also extend apprenticeship requirements to contractors pursuing port districts. A substitute variation was voted out without including any of the changes recommended by the WPPA and others.
• The prevailing wage bill, as written, would require that prevailing wages be paid at the current prevailing wage level rather than the level at the time of letting the contract. That means contractors won’t know how much salaries will be when bidding on contracts.
• The report on the tax structure talks about a state margins tax that would potentially take the place of the Business and Occupation (B&O) Tax.
Commissioner Harris said she would attend Port Day in Olympia on February 2nd. She also clarified that she does appreciate and support the federal lobbying and grant services approach. She has concerns about raising the amount to $200,000, not because she doesn’t trust staff, but because of what it puts out there.
Commissioner Johnston said he has been busy, along with staff, Port Attorney Stephens and Commissioner Orvis, putting together the solicitation package for the Port’s new Executive Director, and it will go out on February 1st. The plan is to onboard the new Executive Director in time for the retreat and for that person to be completely on board by May 1st.
Commissioner Johnston advised that he would attend a Planning Committee meeting on January 31st.
Commissioner Harris stated her intent to apply for the Executive Director position. She said she has spoken with Port Legal Counsel regarding her intent. She has not contributed any feedback to the job description or announcement or been part of any hiring discussions. Port Legal Counsel will advise her on future discussions, such as those in executive session or general session where she should recuse herself from the meeting altogether or from a topic that is applicable so there is no conflict of interest. Whatever the outcome, she knows it will be a fair and due process, and she will very much respect the Commission’s ultimate decision.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 9:04 p.m.
Jay Grant, Port Commission Secretary