30 Jun Special Commission Meeting Minutes 6-8-20
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING
(Via Zoom) June 8, 2020
Jim Orvis, President
Angela Harris, Vice President
David Preston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Marla Kempf, Deputy Director
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Karin Michaud, Office Manager
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Marketing
Renae Ebel, Administrative Assistant
Matt Padilla, Maintenance Utility Worker
Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
President Orvis called the meeting to order at 3:00 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 MAY 26, 2020 MEETING MINUTES
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $326,334.41
COMMISSIONER HARRIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Ms. Kempf reported that two written public comments were received via email from two different people who own the same boat. One was from Andrew Sullivan and the other from William Wynn, the tenant of record. Ms. Williams read Andrew Sullivan’s comments into the record as follows:
“Hello commissioners, I am writing to you today to make some suggestions to make your recent additional fee for use of the port’s dry storage more competitive. I have reviewed the minutes from 2019 and 2020 regarding the new policy of 21 moves per month, with all moves over 21 coming in at $25 a piece. I asked the guys at the dry storage office to pull our boat’s 2019 numbers, we moved 34 times last July and 27 in August, 30 in September. We also spent several nights at the end of B dock to prevent frivolous moves by Gary, Toradj and the other guys who work the dock. If we use our boat the same amount this year our fees will go up $700+ for moves and likely hundreds more in overnight fees. In turn our level of customer experience will go down dramatically as we will have to weigh the benefits of keeping our boat maintained, as well as fishing or crabbing during off peak times, versus paying the fee to have it moved. Commissioners, you have heard the voices of many long time dry storage tenants since as far back as October 2019 who have voiced their concerns to this commission and thanked them for their participation. Commissioner Preston you thanked the large group of customers voicing concerns back in February, but seemingly little has been done to mitigate those customer concerns. If it is truly the Port’s mission to achieve customer satisfaction with every customer served, this dry storage fee needs to be changed. Period.
Firstly, I suggest in 2020 the port should offer an additional 21 move credits to represent the security deposit and allow unused monthly moves to rollover. Seasonal customers pay this deposit knowing it will be lost, if you offer additional moves in return customers will be more satisfied and this will allow people to ease into this new system. Come 2021 the numbers can be looked at and analyzed to see how it worked. It is unclear based on the wording of the dry storage rate schedule and the port’s dry storage contract if unused moves rollover into a new month, I would suggest that the commission makes a motion to allow rollover of any unused moves into the following months.
My main suggestion is to cap the new fee at half of the peak season monthly rate per boat size class, IE $134 max for 22’ and under $175 for 22’-28’ and $200 for 28-32’. This will allow for customers to budget easily and not have to fret too much about moves. This cap would also stick with the ports philosophy of cost following usage and add more equity to the system than in previous years. The people who use Dry Storage in a limited way would no longer subsidize the high users as high users would pay significantly more with a capped fee. Commissioner Preston, you expressed concern that many customers rates would go up by hundreds of dollars with this new fee so here is a simple way to deal with some of those concerns, this would blend your idea of an “unlimited moves” rate with the new $25 for over 21 fee, everyone would win while the new system plays out. With no cap in place someone wishing to use their boat and move it from water-washdown-rack 21 days in a month would pay over $1000 in move charges alone, which is far far out of line with any competitors pricing. This doesn’t make economic or business sense, this will result in lost customers.
Ms. Kempf herself admits that the reasons for making this change are financially dubious. In the September 9th meeting where this new policy was approved Ms. Kempf stated: ‘It is hard to identify the fiscal impact of the proposed change. However, the estimated change to revenue ranges from an additional $2,000 per year to a reduction in occupancy if some tenants move out of Dry Storage and into the water or to another facility. There will be no additional cost associated with implementation. If the number of annual moves is reduced, the Port may experience some indefinable savings.’
Dry storage has been profitable since 2014, so why rock the boat? We are in a shaky economy and rocking the boat is bad business. There will be little if any noticeable improvement to the customer experience with this new fee. With these new punitive policies 2020 is going to be a mess for the guys working the dock with fewer people able to stay on the dock overnight causing more of a rush for morning launches and customers asking how many moves they have left, etc. The new charge makes for a more complex system for boaters to navigate and encourages boaters to use their boats less or leave. During a peak season where we customers are already asked to pay a higher rate than we were in 2019 this new onerous fee system being fully implemented during an economic downturn is not a good idea for anyone.
If the port is trying to operate like a business perhaps they should look at their competitors’ rates and service. Bayside marine has a seasonal rate of $415 for a 17 ft boat, but they have an indoor heated facility and unlimited moves with access to your boat 24 hours a day, we talked to them this week about moving our boat up there for peak season and they said they have fielded several calls from current customers of the Edmonds dry storage facility who have moved or are considering it because of this new fee structure. The new fee structure, with no cap, is bad for business, period. If the fee structure was capped at 50% of the peak season rate our effective monthly rate would be $460 or so (279.25 total peak season rate, $47 for deposit divide by 5 months, and $134 for new usage fee.) With no cap our fees would be closer to $550 a month on average, or more than double our 2020 peak season base rate and significantly more than double last year’s rate, and significantly more than the competition and for this price increase we would receive only worse service. Commissioners, I ask you to motion that a cap be put in place on the $25 over 21 move fee. You can make these changes today, to improve customer experience and slow walk this grand experiment to see how it plays out then readdress the issue next year after getting new data and feedback from customers as well as dry storage staff.
I would like to also suggest that, like in 2018, we get a 5 am opening of the dry storage facility during chinook season, which would be reimplemented to allow for more early morning launch time to mitigate the fact that fewer people will keep their boats in the water overnight and more boats will be launching in the AM.
Finally I’d like to say that I hope I don’t have to go to Everett to spend my money. I like spending it at businesses in Edmonds, buying gas at the marina and storing our boat on the rack, but if this new fee is in place with no cap I may have no choice but to leave. We pay thousands to the port and surrounding businesses and would like to continue to do so, but we need this limitless fee that has the potential to triple the price of dry storage to be addressed, so commissioners I again encourage you today to motion that a cap of 50% of the 2020 peak season rate be put on the $25 over 21 fee.
Ms. Kempf read William Wynn’s comments into the record as follows:
“I am writing in protest of the new Dry Storage charges and policies put in place this year. The new policies I’m referring to are the new limit of 21 moves in a month, potentially shortened morning hours during the fishing season and now charging a night of moorage to prelaunch and to return after hours. All of these new restrictive policies were introduced without any mitigation for those they impact most. This could have included a smaller fee for pay-per-move for monthly tenants (e.g. not the same full price as pay-per-move customers), ability to roll over moves, a bigger monthly charge for short term tenants without a pay-per-move, or offering more complimentary nights in the water.
My analysis shows that for anyone that wants to fish regularly (75% of open days) through the summer months the additional cost to a dry storage tenant between July 15-August 31 would be approximately $750-$2000 depending on how often prelaunch was used, number of nights utilized in guest moorage, and number of trips without using washdown (forcing the tenant to choose between using moves and sacrificing their boat’s maintenance).
If the Port’s plan is to get short-term tenants to use the lifts less while also retaining them as paying customers, I believe these actions make that scenario difficult to achieve. I believe most of these customers will migrate elsewhere due to the burdensome costs associated with the new policy in addition to the additional mental burden required to plan a reasonable usage pattern to minimize these outrageous costs. Someone wishing to use their boat and move it from water-washdown-rack 21 days in a month would pay over $1000 in move charges alone (21 days * 3 moves – 21 moves=42 excess moves at $25 each). This additional cost did not exist in previous years and is not in line with market prices at competitors (whom are well over 50% less).
The net effect is it is no longer economically feasible for most seasonal users to use dry storage. That may very well be the intention and as a Port employee told me, it’s called “dry storage” not “dry moorage”. However, this is exactly the public service the Port has been providing for 30 years and the sudden shift is pushing once loyal customers out without an assurance that there are long-term low-use customers waiting to fill these vacancies and maintain profitability.
I have had my boat at Dry Storage between May-October for the last 3 years. During that cumulative time, I have spent thousands in moorage (including lost deposits), thousands in gasoline, and thousands in the wider Edmonds community before and after trips (as well as the money my guests onboard spend in the community). I would hope that this is something the Port and Edmonds appreciates and wants to retain.
As I wasn’t a tenant during these rule changes, I was only notified by an email announcing changes for June. If it had been clearly communicated by Port staff when I signed up this year I would have gone elsewhere. I will next year if these policies remain.”
Mr. McChesney clarified that the two comments came from partners in a single boat. He suggested there are some distortions embedded in both of the complaints, but the nature of the complaints is well understood. He pointed out that, according to Ms. Drennan’s research, a pay-per-move fee structure was initially implemented at Dry Storage, and he isn’t sure how the rate structure transitioned into just the monthly rate. From a business, customer and fairness point of view, he felt the best approach is to charge all tenants a flat storage rate, with an additional fee per move. This would bring revenues in sync with operating costs.
Commissioner Faires recalled that the Commission agreed to review the rates at the end of 2020. He asked if either of the letters change the Port’s basic concept and/or policy this year relative to Dry Storage. Ms. Kempf reviewed that staff met with a number of Dry Storage customers regarding the new rate structure, and the resulting decision was to stay on course until the 1st quarter of 2021, when the Port Commission would reevaluate the situation at Dry Storage. Being a seasonal customer, Mr. Wynn might not be aware that, as a result of closures and service reductions caused by the pandemic, the Port offered a lower rate for April, and the peak season rates did not go into effect until June 1st. Due to limited hours when the Port started its modified summer operations on June 1st, it added the benefit of one additional night in the water every week free of charge. That means Dry Storage customers are getting guest moorage in the water twice a week free of charge. She said staff still supports continuing with the current rate structure for the remainder of the year, and reevaluating the situation during 1st quarter 2021. One potential option might be a flat rate in each of the categories, depending on the demand.
Commissioner Faires said he was satisfied with the present policy for the time being. He appreciates the letters from both Mr. Wynn and Mr. Sullivan. However, it is important to note that Mr. Sullivan is not listed as a tenant and is not a resident of the Port District. Ms. Kempf explained that Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Wynn share the boat, and Mr. Wynn is the tenant of record. Mr. McChesney advised that both Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Wynn were informed of the new policy when they signed up again this spring.
William Wynn, Tenant, clarified that neither he nor Mr. Sullivan were notified of the new rate structure and policy changes, nor was it clear in the new contract. He learned of the changes from an email that was sent out after he had signed up.
Given the financial impacts associated with the current pandemic, Commissioner Harris questioned if it is appropriate to wait until early next year to reevaluate the Dry Storage policy. She suggested that perhaps the Commission should consider placing a cap on the per-move charges for 2020. Mr. McChesney recommended that they stay on plan for the time being. He didn’t think the staff and Commission have vetted the concerns thoroughly enough at this point to make any changes.
Commissioner Preston asked if the Port is planning to offer a 5 a.m. launch during the Chinook season as suggested by Mr. Wynn. Ms. Kempf said that, currently, the Port is operating on a modified summer schedule, and we are taking it a week at a time. It would be difficult for the Port to run two shifts without a full complement of seasonal staff. Commissioner Preston asked about launch activity in 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Ms. Kempf said these numbers would be presented during her report later in the meeting.
Commissioner Preston asked if staff has received feedback from other Dry Storage tenants. Ms. Kempf said the feedback from staff’s meeting with Dry Storage tenants has been posted on the Port’s website, and staff provided an overview at a recent Commission meeting, as well. Commissioner Preston asked if staff has received any recent feedback from Dry Storage tenants. Ms. Kempf said they have received feedback from many customers, including water moorage customers, over the past three weeks. It’s been a very unusual time for everyone. Commissioner Preston asked if Ms. Kempf would be providing a summary of the comments received as part of her report, and Ms. Kempf said she wasn’t planning on it. However, she will discuss recent activity and the impact the pandemic has had on the Port.
Commissioner Preston said it would be helpful for staff to share some of the feedback so they have a better idea of what is going on. Mr. McChesney said staff receives a lot of feedback, and it wouldn’t be practical to document every comment, complaint or compliment received. However, they can share selective, relevant anecdotes to provide some illustration to the Commission. Ms. Kempf said Dry Storage is, historically, a very high service facility, and staff has done an incredible job of doing close to 13,000 moves each year. This year has been different for everyone because of the limitations that resulted from the pandemic. For the past several weeks, the facility has been operating on a by-appointment-only basis, and tenants have had to make some adjustments. A handful of tenants have complained about the appointment system, but the Port has tried to make it easier by offering a free night of moorage in the water. She felt it would be difficult to reach the maximum 21 moves allowed each month given the limited hours dry storage operation is open. The Port’s goal has been to implement safe policies for the staff, customers and public, and it has required a balance.
Commissioner Preston asked if staff believes the Dry Storage tenants understand that the Port is looking at a fundamental change from four to three touches each time they move their boats to the water and back again because the Port no longer counts the move to the washdown prior to launching as a move. Ms. Kempf said she believes the tenants understand that each move (i.e. rack to water, water to washdown, and washdown to water) constitutes a move, and they also understand that they won’t be charged to have their boats in the center washdown area for a brief period so they can remove or secure the plugs.
Commissioner Faires asked if the comments received in recent weeks from tenants are primarily related to the reservation requirement. Ms. Kempf answered that the comments made anecdotally by tenants have been primarily related to the reservation system. Tenants are having to get used to making appointments to have their boats moved. Commissioner Faires asked if staff has received comments from other Dry Storage tenants regarding the issues raised in the two comment letters read into the record earlier in the meeting, and Ms. Kempf said none that she is aware of.
Commissioner Johnston encouraged discussion between a few Commissioners and staff to sort out the complaints and how the Port can respond. He doesn’t think they should wait a year to address things that are easy. For the long term, the Port should consider a reasonable cap, as well as some of the other suggestions that have been made. But only after a very clear discussion with the stakeholders. They are in COVID-19 conditions, and they need to be able to glean out what is attributable to the pandemic and what is attributable to Port practices. This can be done via conversations between staff and a few Commissioners.
Commissioner Orvis requested clarification about the “lost deposit” that was referred to by Mr. Wynn. His understanding was that deposits were required to make sure monthly payments are made and that the deposit could be applied to a tenant’s last month rent. Do seasonal tenants lose their deposit? Ms. Kempf answered that tenants who do not stay for 12 months (seasonal) lose their security deposit. Tenants who stay for at least 12 months can apply their security deposit towards their last months rent or whatever other charges are on file upon termination. It has always been that way.
Commissioner Orvis asked if the Port still offers Dry Storage tenants an opportunity to prelaunch. Ms. Kempf said the Port is currently launching boats by appointment only until 3 p.m. Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. they try to move as many boats as possible. They try to get boats that are returning in the afternoon out of the water as quickly as possible.
Commissioner Faires asked if a lot of tenants have requested to launch their boats after 3 p.m. so they are ready to go out the next morning. Ms. Kempf said not at this time, but it will likely occur more during fish openings. She explained that in the past the Port has tried keeping late hours (until 9 p.m.), as well as opening early. She understands that the fishing crowd loves the Port to open at 5 a.m., and the Port would love to do that if they had the personnel to accommodate it. Anyone who moves more than 28 times a month probably should consider going to water moorage because they are utilizing the launcher every single day, and the Port can’t provide that level of service and still cover its costs.
Mr. Wynn said his understanding is that a pre-launch would result in a night of moorage, and coming in after hours would also count against the free night of moorage. Even with an additional night, the current policy is a significant change from past years when tenants were allowed to pre-launch for free the night before. Now they are being charged guest moorage for that service.
Mr. McChesney thanked Mr. Wynn and Mr. Sullivan for their input. Staff will take their comments under advisement and discuss the issues with the Commission and consider possible ways to address them. Commissioners Preston and Harris agreed to meet with staff to discuss the issue further and consider potential options to mitigate the concerns.
AWARD OF CONRACT NO. 020-343, GANGWAY REPLACEMENT
Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Commission has been briefed on maintenance issues with the ramp adjacent to the Travelift, which now serves as the primary entry point for passengers to the Puget Sound Express (PSE) tour boats in addition to heavy use for all Travelift activity. The existing ramp poses some safety concerns and is due for replacement, and a contract with CG Engineering was awarded to evaluate the replacement and develop specifications. Staff put the project out to bid to Municipal Resource Service Center (MSRC) Roster members on May 21st, and a pre-bid walkthrough was held with 5 attendees on May 28th. Bids were received and opened on June 4th with bidders responding. The low bidder was Neptune Marine, LLC for $47,000 plus tax. Neptune Marine has successfully performed work for the Port on past projects. The budgeted amount was $150,000, which includes engineering. Staff will work with the contractor to minimize disruption during the installation.
Mr. McChesney said the fundamental problem with the existing ramp is that the pitch is very steep at low tide, causing difficulty for Port staff. It can also be quite precarious for PSE customers who are getting on and off the boat. He recommended the Commission authorize him to enter into a contract with Neptune Marine, LLC, in the amount of $47,000 plus sales tax for the base bid for the Gangway Replacement Contract #2020-343. He referred to the bid tabulation that was attached to the Staff Report, noting that the high bid was $89,500.
Commissioner Johnston pointed out that the contract amount is a tremendous savings over what was budgeted for the project, and Neptune Marine, LLC, is a well-known company. He was pleased that all of the bids were well under the budgeted amount of $150,000.
Commissioner Faires asked about the engineering costs for the project, and Mr. McChesney answered approximately $10,000. Commissioner Faires summarized that the total cost of the project would be about $60,000 compared to a budgeted amount of $150,000, which is very good.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION AUTHORIZE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT WITH NEPTUNE MARINE LLC IN THE AMOUNT OF $47,000 PLUS SALES TAX FOR THE BASE BID FOR THE GANGWAY REPLACEMENT CONTRACT #2020-343. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
CONTINUATION OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-03 DECLARING LOCAL EMERGENCY AND DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
Mr. McChesney reviewed that, at their last meeting, the Commission asked that Resolution No. 20-03 be brought up at each and every Commission meeting for review. He reported that there has been no action taken by the Executive Director under the special emergency authority to date.
HARBOR SQUARE BUILDING 3 UPDATE
Mr. McChesney recalled that, at the May 26th meeting the Commission approved Change Orders 6 and 7. At that time, Commissioner Faires asked if the change orders included sales tax, and he answered that they did not. However, upon further review with the contract administrator, he learned that the change order amounts did include sales tax. No further action is required, but he wanted to make the correction for the record.
Mr. McChesney reported that 2 beams have been replaced and 5 more are scheduled for completion by mid-June. However, staff recently learned that 2 additional beams will need to be replaced. The majority of the windows have been installed. However, because the existing window framing was not compatible with the windows that were specified and installed, some interior trim will need to be done before the project is finished. He anticipates two more change orders. One to address the additional beams and another to repair the interior of the office spaces where the windows were installed. Staff is discouraged by how the change orders have come about, but they are pleased with the production and quality of work. He said he is 100% confident the project will be high quality and last for a long time as a revenue-generating asset. Currently, the project cost is over $1 million, and he anticipates that change orders will raise the cost an additional $100,000.
Commissioner Preston asked about the anticipated completion date for the project, and Mr. McChesney answered that the project is still slated for completion on August 1st.
Commissioner Orvis asked if there are any beams that still haven’t been exposed, and Mr. McChesney answered that he doesn’t think so. Commissioner Faires commented that he is surprised at the price of the project, but there was really no other alternative.
Ms. Williams said her report would focus primarily on Harbor Square, and more specifically, the effect the pandemic has had on Harbor Square. She reminded the Commission of the deferral program, which offered all eligible tenants rent deferral, starting in either April or May. The program allowed them to defer rent for up to 3 months, and the pay-back period goes until June 30, 2021 or the end of their lease, whichever comes first. She reported that 12 Harbor Square tenants originally signed up for the program, and 11 actually participated. Two of the tenants have paid back a majority or large portion of their owed rent, and 9 of them still carry a balance. For one tenant, the Port is looking at possibly extending the deferral period because their business can’t reopen until Phase 3.
Ms. Williams reported that tenants at Harbor Square are starting to come back and occupy their spaces. Before April and May, only about 10% of businesses operated out of their site, and she estimates that number is closer to 50% now. A lot of businesses have a few people on site, with the rest of their staff working from home. She announced that Blue Collar Dog opened today, but American Brewing doesn’t anticipate opening until July at the earliest because they are considered Phase 3. Channel Marker opened with restrictions on June 5th and the dental office opened in mid-May with some restrictions. About 25% of Maverick’s staff is working on site at this time.
Ms. Williams referred to the overview that was prepared by Ms. Drennan, which predicts how the pandemic effected the Port from a financial standpoint. She initially estimated a loss of leases for Harbor Square at around 5%, and that number still appears to be accurate. This equates to a loss of between 2 and 3 leases. Currently, she anticipates that one month-to-month lease will terminate, and two more leases may terminate, as well.
Ms. Williams observed that, with less people at Harbor Square over the past few months, the Port has had an opportunity to focus on some projects. In addition to Building 3, the Port has taken advantage of less cars in the parking lot to do some restriping and repainting speed bumps, stop signs, etc. They were also able to more easily work on irrigation repairs for the spring and summer.
Ms. Williams reported that, in an effort to increase safety and help prevent the spreading of germs, the Port is making all Harbor Square public restrooms hands-free by adding hands-free door knobs and removing the latches from the door knobs. The new door knobs were designed and installed by Aaron Panagos, Property & Building Maintenance Worker.
INTERIM OPERATIONS REPORT
Ms. Kempf reviewed that, over the past 90 days, the Port has been through a series of operational evolutions. At the end of January, the Port had just come off of the boat show promotions and signing up 53 new customers before March 1st. By contrast, 28 days later, the Port was in full closure of operations and had to reinvent every aspect of its services from a pandemic perspective. April is typically a critical month for the Port, as it is the time for interviewing and making job offers to 8 to 10 seasonal team members to get ready for peak season. The interviews were scheduled and conducted via telephone, and new work rules and procedures were established. The Port also implemented various phases of re-opening services, and on June 1st, 64 days later, the Port implemented a modified summer operations plan with signage, masks and other protective measures in place. She provided a status report of the following areas:
• Water Moorage. Since March 1st there have been 36 terminations in water moorage, and 13 were specifically related to the pandemic. There have been 44 assignments in water moorage, and there are currently 16 vacant slips and 16 people waiting to sign up for them. The only slips available in water moorage are for boats 14 feet and under.
• Dry Storage. There have been 13 terminations in Dry Storage and 5 assignments since March 1st. As of today, there are 29 vacant spots, all in the 21’11” and under category, and 5 pending sign ups.
• Operations. Comparing April and May of 2019 to the same time period in 2020, there were 751 moves on the public launch in 2019, and only 239 in 2020. About 49,000 gallons of fuel were sold in 2019, and only 18,000 in 2020. There were 660 lay days in the Boatyard in 2019 and 156 in 2020. The number of boats in Guest Moorage was 376 in 2019 and 175 in 2020. The number of nights was 604 in 2019 and 276 in 2020.
• Waiting list. There were 133 names on the waiting list at the end of second quarter 2019, and this year there are 217. One trend is that people anticipate tenants will terminate moorage because of the pandemic and they think their name might come up on the wait list faster. There are four people on the 26’ waiting list right now, which is uncommon.
• Anthony’s Home Port Restaurant. The restaurant’s café will be opening on June 10th at 50% occupancy. They have been doing a pretty active take-out business throughout the pandemic.
Mr. McChesney said that Anthony’s has requested permission to expand their outside dining area into the plaza area during the period in which they can only operate at 50% capacity. Staff has offered approval, as long as they maintain proper distancing, sanitization, etc. In addition to helping Anthony’s business, it will also help the marina look alive with activity that is safe. The Commissioners indicated their support, as well. Commissioner Orvis asked if there would be problems associated with the restaurant’s liquor license, and Ms. Kempf answered that liquor cannot be served in the public plaza. Their normal area of outdoor seating will be chained off, and liquor can be sold in this area only. The tables in the plaza area would be for takeout only. The Port also asked Anthony’s for regular bussing of the tables and a plan for handling garbage. The Port’s garbage has been much higher during the pandemic because people are bringing takeout to the waterfront to eat. The tables in the Public Plaza would be for takeout only.
Mr. McChesney reported that the Sea Jazz Program will not happen in 2020. Family Day at the Port was also cancelled for 2020. The Holiday on the Docks and the Port’s Christmas event will depend on the pandemic situation.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney announced that Brandon Baker was hired to be the new Marina Manager, and he will start on June 22nd. He is currently the Marina Manager at the Elliott Bay Marina. Commissioner Orvis observed that, from the comments he has received from tenants at Elliott Bay Marina, Mr. Baker is extremely popular and the boaters have a great deal of respect for him.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Harris reported that she met with Commissioner Marshal from the Port of Camas-Washougal on June 5th to discuss the Port’s environmental policy. She was very complimentary about the Port’s website, and she is interested in talking through how the Port has implemented its current environmental policies and programs. They discussed the Port’s efforts to implement integrated pest management, as well as address climate change. They talked about a solar project that the Port of Camas-Washougal is trying to put together, and she put her in contact with the Interfaith Climate Action Committee for additional information. Currently, the Interfaith Climate Action Committee is scheduled to meet June 10th.
Commissioner Harris said the meeting with Commissioner Marshal made her think about the Port’s environmental policies, guidelines and practices. In an effort to identify the “gold standard,” she reached out to the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) for more information. She is particularly interested in whether there are templates that ports can use when creating policies and guidelines rather than starting from scratch. She will meet with a representative from the WPPA on June 12th. If templates and information are not available, she plans to ask if she can be involved in their Environmental Committee to help push it forward. The WPPA did reach out for her regarding integrated pest management, and she has received one response back so far. She summarized that she is trying to reach out and leverage what other ports are doing.
Commissioner Harris expressed her belief, that with the changes and financial impacts associated with the pandemic, it would be appropriate for the Commission to re-examine the Port’s Dry Storage policies.
Commissioner Harris expressed her appreciation to the Port’s leadership team and all staff as they have tried to balance the needs of the staff, tenants and public during this unprecedented time. It has not been easy. She also expressed her hope that the current uprising demanding equality and justice continues. She supports Black Lives Matter and recognizes her own complacency because inaction is action in itself. Inaction maintains the status quo, which needs to be changed. For her, saying nothing is saying something. She would like the Port to review its internal policies, not because she doesn’t think they do a great job, but it’s a time when they should all “evaluate their own house” and identify potential areas of improvement. She would like the Port to make a public statement of support, as well.
Commissioner Johnston provided a brief summary of the Environmental Committee Meeting on June 2nd, where Commissioner Harris provided some resources for the committee to consider relative to the Integrated Pest Control Plan that is currently under consideration for inclusion in the Ports’ Environmental Policy. He recognized that the Port already does a lot of good things, and it was confirmed that the Port doesn’t use Round Up anywhere on Port property. The Port does, however, use other herbicides that are not harmful to the environment. They are recommending the Port experiment with the Scythe/Avenger combination, which the City currently uses in a widespread manner. This is a premix of two herbicides, which has had good impacts with minimal impacts to the environment. The committee concluded that the Port is doing the right things, but it needs to fill in a few blanks and formalize their practices into the Environmental Policy.
Commissioner Johnston commended Mr. McChesney and Ms. Kempf for preparing a tremendous summary of what the Port does from an environmental standpoint, what it thinks about, and what environmental permits it currently has. He appreciates Ms. Kempf leaving them with her legacy of knowledge on environmental practices at the Port. The summary can serve as a road map going forward and will be added to the front of the Port’s Environmental Policy document. As the Port has reviewed its environmental practices over the past few years, they seem to be doing most of the right things, and they are constantly improving, which is a critical element of the Port’s environmental approach. A new General Boatyard Permit will come on line soon, and it could have an impact on the Port’s boatyard practices. However, the Port is a frontrunner now, and he expects that will continue to be the case. He summarized that, all in all, the Port is doing an excellent job of environmental compliance and a very good job of environmental consciousness, and he looks forward to working with others on the committee to continue that.
Commissioner Johnston reported that he attended the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASC) annual meeting, which was held virtually on June 3rd. A lot of good information came from the meeting. As expected, economic conditions in Snohomish County reflect those in Washington and in the United States overall, but they are improving. Boeing looks for a gradual bounce back over the next year, with manufacturing ramping back up in 2020 and 2021. Significant countywide manufacturing capabilities shifted to creating and shipping personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, and various local and federal programs to assist businesses and employees have been stood up at the local, regional and national level, with more to come. There were presentations by program heads, and Congress Woman Susan DelBene made a very positive presentation regarding the bipartisan efforts to provide more stimulus money.
Commissioner Preston said he also attended the EASC’s annual meeting, where there was some gloom on the Boeing and airline travel outlook. Boeing has started both voluntary and non-voluntary layoffs.
Commissioner Preston noted that today, June 8th, is World Ocean Day.
Commissioner Preston asked when staff would provide a timeline for potential boardwalk improvements. Mr. McChesney recalled that they discussed the boardwalk at the last meeting when reviewing the engineering condition survey, and there was a general consensus that they need to move forward with a longer-range plan for replacing the portion of the boardwalk between the Administration Building and Arnies Restaurant. They acknowledged that permitting will be time-consuming and costly. However, before they can start the process, they need to decide exactly what they want to do. He recommended continuing the Public Access Committee in anticipation of moving forward with preliminary engineering and design within the next year. Depending on how much of the boardwalk will be replaced, the project may qualify for a Nationwide Permit from the Corps of Engineers. However, this cannot be determined until designs have been developed.
Commissioner Preston asked how long the shrimp season will remain open. Ms. Kempf answered that the shrimp opening in Marine Area 9 is from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 11th. Based on whether or not the quotas are met, they will determine if there will be another opening. The shrimp opening is usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but June 11th is a Thursday. In Marina Area 10 to the south, the opening will be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. In Marine Area 10 outside of Elliott Bay, the opening will be from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Commissioner Preston reported that he attended the Maritime Career Exploration Webinar, which was fantastic. The opportunities in maritime are off the charts, and income is about 20% higher than the average income in the Seattle Metro area in the maritime trades. There are a lot of people aging out of the industry, and they need support from the younger generations. He provided Ms. Williams with a link to a program called www.youthmaritimecollaborative.org. The webinar was recorded and would be great for others to view. It was noted that Skagit Valley College offers certification programs so people can start working right away in the marine trades, and no degree is necessary. It was emphasized that there is a need for teachable people, and those who want to grow and continue certifications can move up the chain of command and significantly increase their income. Several industry leaders spoke, and it was good to hear something encouraging about the future.
Commissioner Orvis expressed his belief that the Port should start the process of replacing the boardwalk as soon as possible. He proposed they put together a committee of people who have both knowledge and local attachments to seriously look at the options for the boardwalk. He suggested that Commissioners Johnston and Harris could represent the Commission on the committee, and other committee members could include Mr. Menard, Mr. McChesney and City representatives. The committee could begin meeting this summer.
Mr. McChesney asked Port Attorney Cattle to comment on the Port’s policy for conducting virtual meetings going forward. Mr. Cattle said he and Mr. McChesney talked about how the Port would handle meetings going forward after the Governor’s proclamation is totally lifted. As of June 1st, the requirement that the Commissioners only conduct necessary and routine matters has been lifted. However, they must still meet remotely. As discussed at the last meeting, he has determined that it would be possible for the Commission to adopt a procedure where Commissioners join meetings remotely in the future. However, they would have to modify the procedural resolution that is currently in place. It would also require the presiding official to attend the Commission meeting in person so the public has a place to attend, as well. Up to four Commissioners could attend the meeting remotely, if their schedules and/or commitments require it. He agreed to work with staff to prepare a policy that allows virtual meetings to continue beyond the Governor’s proclamation.
Commissioner Orvis expressed his belief that virtual meetings are the wave of the future, and he supports the change as described by Mr. Cattle. Commissioner Harris pointed out that it would provide needed flexibility and allow Commissioners to better participate in the discussions over just listening telephonically. The remainder of the Commissioners concurred.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 4:32 p.m.
David Preston, Port Commission Secretary