Notes from Shoreline council meeting Oct 17: Metro transit changes and sales tax monies

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Shoreline City Hall and Council Chamber
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
Shoreline City Council Meeting
October 14, 2019
Notes by Pam Cross

Mayor Hall called the meeting to order at 7:00pm
All councilmembers were present.

Report of the City Manager Debbie Tarry

Art Opening for Experiments in Glass Kiln Casting and Folding will be Thursday, October 17, from 7 to 9pm at Shoreline City Hall.

As part of the three-day REFRACT glass festival, join the City for the opening of an exhibition of glass kiln casting. Artwork will be on display until mid-January 2020 Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm in the City Hall lobby.

The annual Hamlin Halloween Haunt will be Friday, October 18th from 6:00 to 8:30pm at Hamlin Park, 16006 15th Ave NE. Join us for the not-too-spooky songs and tales told around a campfire, hayrides, games and more. Dress warmly and bring a flashlight. Free! More information available online

Are you still not sure what goes where? Attend the Recology Store Recycling Workshop on Saturday October 19th, from 9:00 to 10:00am at 15235 Aurora Ave N, Suite 102. This workshop will discuss what goes into your blue recycling bin.

Park volunteer work parties will be held weekends through December. This weekend work parties will be held at Hamlin, Twin Ponds, and Richmond Beach Saltwater parks. For locations and meeting times, check the City’s web calendar.

Public Reminders

The Planning Commission will meet on Thursday, October 17th at 7:00pm in the Council Chamber. There will be a Public Hearing on the 2019 Comprehensive Plan Amendments. This Hearing will also be continued to November 21st.

The City Manager then introduced Jesus Aguirre who, on behalf of the Commission for the Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), presented to the City Council the Accreditation of the Shoreline Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) department.This certifies that our Shoreline Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department is one of just 3 accredited agencies in the state of Washington, and one of 178 of the 4,000 nationwide. Mr. Aguirre is Superintendent of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation for the City of Seattle, and on the board of directors of the National Recreational and Parks Association.

Accreditation demonstrates that PRCS are operating at a high industry standards and recognizes the community as a great place to live. CAPRA provides the only national accreditation for parks and recreation agencies.

Accreditation is based on an agency’s compliance with 151 practice standards. An agency must comply with all 37 Fundamental Standards, and 103 of the 114 Non-Fundamental Standards.

Shoreline’s process for accreditation took about three years. It involved a formal application, self-assessments, a site visit by a team of trained visitors that results in a written report, and a hearing with the CAPRA Commission to grant accreditation. Once accredited, the agency must uphold the standards by submitting an annual report and is reviewed again in five years.

Council Reports

Mayor Hall, the City Manager and Jim Hammond (Intergovernmental Relations Director) met with the senior leadership of Department of Social and Health Serves (DSHS ) to talk about Fircrest and to get a better understanding of their interest in the Fircrest Campus. DSHS was very receptive in listening to our interests and priorities. The next follow up action we agreed on is another meeting with DSHS, the City, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that owns part of that land, and the Washington State Office of Financial Management. We are trying to find a way to work together to meet the needs of DSHS to protect their residents while meeting the City’s and the community’s interest in open space, and legislative interest in affordable housing. All parties are aware of the moratorium adopted by the City.

Public Comment

Rosetta Kastama, Shoreline, talked about her use of the various activities of the Shoreline/LFP Senior Center for the last several years, and thanked the Council for their support of it.

Stephanie Henry, Shoreline, noted that the City had not said anything about today as Indigenous Peoples Day and provided Council with a proposed resolution she had prepared. She would like Council to take action before next year.

The agenda was approved unanimously.
The Consent Calendar was adopted, without discussion, unanimously.

Study Items:

8(a)Discussing the King County Metro North Link Connections Mobility Project

Staff report by Randy Witt, Public Works Director with two guests from King County:
  • Dave VanderZee, Project Manager, North Link Connections Mobility Project and
  • Maha Jahshan, Senior Communications and Public Engagement Planner

The King County Council adopted its long-range plan for transit service, entitled Metro Connects, on January 23, 2017. Metro Connects plans for a significant increase of bus service in the City of Shoreline when the light rail station opens at Northgate. There will be a lot of changes to accommodate the new light rail services.
Note: The North Link Connections Mobility Project includes Seattle’s Northgate, Roosevelt and U-District Stations opening in 2021. Impact on Shoreline begins in earnest with the Northgate Station, so that is what I’ve highlighted. Shoreline’s stations will begin opening in 2024. (PCross)

The goal is to deliver integrated services responding to expansion and customer needs, in order to improve mobility for historically underserved populations centering on people of color. This will be accomplished by equitable informing, engaging and empowering current and potential customers traveling in the project area.

Community engagement begins with identifying needs and priorities.This is the plan overview:
  • Build authentic and lasting relationships with historically un(der)served populations in project study area
  • Design final changes in partnership with historically un(der)served communities in order to build a strong transit network that increases access and mobility, especially for those who are disproportionately affected by transit inequities
  • Communicate the service proposal goals and Metro’s goals related to equitable outcomes to the broader-affected communities, demonstrating how the service proposal helps Metro advance equitable outcomes in the study area.

The first thing they did was create a Mobility Board. Metro reached out to the broad community in order to create a board providing equity for people who live, work or travel in this area and represent the various under served populations, all income levels including those who have experienced homelessness, regular transit users and those new to public transportation. Three of the board members are connected to the Shoreline community. We meet with them across each phase and they help us check in with what the community needs.

There is also a Partner Review Board that is made up of jurisdictional partners, institutional partners, and our inter-agencies. The City of Shoreline and Hopelink are both represented on this board. We meet with them to make sure that the concepts that we develop with the Mobility Board are in line with what all of these folks are doing.

They also meet with various stakeholders. There will be at various events to meet with the general public and they have a web portal as well.

Any questions?

Q: What is the best way to send in feedback?

Through the web portal. Their names and phone numbers are shown there so they can also be contacted directly. Unfortunately the web address is not included in the presentation so they will provide it to Council separately.

Q: People have complained that they couldn’t find the link. How much feedback did you actually get from Shoreline residents? You haven’t connected with the School District or Shoreline CC yet. There are students and Shoreline residents that don’t fit Metro’s target because they don’t all go downtown. Need to look at the lower level service that moves within Shoreline.

Thanks for the input, we’re not there yet. We will be going back to identify things that have been overlooked or that need to be studied more deeply.

Q: Will it improve time to downtown or be about the same?

They are studying this. Generally they’re looking at how travel times will improve. They need to learn what trade offs will work. Are residents willing to use another form of transportation if the travel time is only marginally improved,?

Q: People are concerned about changes to the bus service, especially the #41 that goes downtown on Aurora parallel to light rail. This is a group of people that will go back to driving their cars. You might want to contact large employers.

They do have a team member that reaches out to large employers, and they are aware of the #41 issue and are looking at some potential changes around that.

Q: An underserved population may be geographic (no service available) or a historically underserved demographic community. How often do these overlap?

They are looking at this from a county-wide perspective. As such, they see more of that in South King County. They are still identifying these areas.

Q: Talk about the service changes will either be in March or September 2021?

We were trying to align with Metro’s twice yearly service adjustments. We have decided the service changes will be in September 2021.

Comment: Many Shoreline routes run every 30 minutes which doesn’t work well for trying to move around during the day. If you miss a bus, you’re going to be waiting a long time for the next one. It’s particularly difficult if you need to make a connection - you’re more likely to drive instead. We may not see time improvements, especially peak hours, because of the transfer to local buses within Shoreline routes. Also we have a number of routes to downtown and we have the I-5 Express Lanes.

Q: Do we really want to change routes in 2021 and be faced with another big change in 2024 when Shoreline stations open?

We have been keeping this in mind - what routes can we change now that won’t be changed again in 2024. What changes would be better made in 2024?

Q: No removal or addition of new service hours, correct?

Correct at this time. A large part of the this study is in the Seattle area. Seattle administers its own Seattle Transit Benefit District that is a ballot measure that will expire in 2020 before this project change in 2021. We have to wait and see what Seattle does.

Q: Our north/south service has always been good. Need better east/west changes to better feed the stations.

They are hearing this a lot and there is an opportunity there.

Q: If the e-line stops at our 185th station and doesn’t go all the way to 200th, that will be problematic because a lot of people use it to get to Home Depot and Costco. If it stops at 185th, the distance from 185th to the county line will be totally ignored.

Mayor Hall briefly summarized: east/west service has always been an issue. Other considerations include trade offs for reliability and speed, and all day vs peak hour service. If you take a peak hour bus into downtown, the return trip won’t be running for several hours. Light rail will run all day. By 2024 we will have significant improvements to the 145th and 185th corridors


8(b) Discussing Resolution No. 448 and Ordinance No. 869 – Declaring the City’s Intent and Authorizing the Sales Tax Credit for Affordable and Supportive Housing as Authorized by SHB 1406

Staff presentation by Colleen Kelly, Community Services Manager

Washington State Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1406, which was adopted during this past legislative session, authorizes local jurisdictions to impose a local sales tax, credited against the state sales tax. Funds may be used only to support affordable housing.The Sales Tax Credit will be based on 2019 state fiscal year collections.

There are two rate options:
  • 0.0146% available to cities with a Qualifying Local Tax
  • 0.0073% available to cities without a Qualifying Local Tax (King County will collect the other 0.0073%.)

Qualifying Local Tax Options are:
  1. Affordable housing levy
  2. Sales and use tax for affordable housing
  3. Levy lid lift restricted to affordable housing
All require voter approval and would need to be passed no later than July 27, 2020.
Shoreline does not have a qualifying local tax at this time.

Sales tax dollars fluctuate. Note this chart shows the Maximum Amount the City will be able to get in any given year for the next 20 years. The amount could, of course, be lower.

Allowed uses for cities the size of Shoreline (under 100k)
  • Acquiring, rehabilitating, or constructing affordable housing
  • Operations and maintenance costs of new units of affordable housing
  • Rental assistance
All uses must serve those at or below 60% AMI (Area Median Income)

The legislation has the following timing requirements:

Opting in requires two Council actions taken in the proper sequence
  1. Resolution of Intent adopted no later than January 27, 2020
  2. Authorizing Ordinance adopted no later than July 27, 2020.
Collections begin the first of the month following a 30-day notice period

For the Council discussion: What should we do?
  1. Consider imposing a Qualifying Local Tax
  2. Take the required actions to impose the local tax credit and collect about $81,700/year to allot as allowed,
  3. Take no action and King County will collect the full 0.0146% of the sales tax credit for Shoreline.
The primary impact of declining to accept the local tax credit is loss of control over how dollars are allocated.

Discussion

Councilmember Robertson pointed out that the staff report states: “It does not increase the sales tax for the consumer.” That wasn’t made clear in tonight’s presentation. How does this actually work? We are increasing money through taxes, but it’s not going to cost our residents any more, correct?

Answer: Not exactly. It’s not a tax increase so these are sales tax dollars that the state is already collecting but they have basically carved out a “set aside” of those sales tax dollars that they’re allowing cities to access and utilize in this way.

The terminology is “impose the tax” so it’s a little confusing because it sounds like you’re doing something new but it’s really just declaring your desire to accept this opportunity from the State to take local control over the portion of the taxes that is allowed for the purposes allowed by this tax. There is no sales tax increase anywhere in the state; It is coming out of existing collections.This is tax they already collect, and they are letting the city use the tax by taking local control.

Councilmember Chang asked for further clarification about the Qualifying Local Tax.

Answer: They are really two separate things. The Qualifying Local tax would be a new tax so you get more money. To get the higher rate, Shoreline would have to impose a new tax. Staff thinks this was a way to reward jurisdictions that had already imposed these Qualifying Local Taxes that support affordable housing.

If we don’t impose a Qualifying Local Tax, the money will go to King County? Answer: Correct.

We don’t support another new tax. But we do want our half of the money so we can control its use.

There is no way to get the full amount without an additional tax in Shoreline? Answer: Correct.

We can get .0073% without a tax. How do we do that? As previously stated, Council must take two steps in the proper sequence

1. Resolution of Intent adopted no later than January 27, 2020
2. Authorizing Ordinance adopted no later than July 27, 2020.

Staff recommends Council take the required actions to impose the local tax credit of .0073% and not consider a Qualifying Local Tax.
Councilmembers had individually agreed with the staff recommendation throughout the discussion. No one is in favor of a new tax. But every member agreed it would be wrong to give up “free money” that the City can control within the guidelines of (SHB) 1406 legislation.

Mayor Hall commented that the technical terms being used in order to be precise can be confusing to the public as well as to Council. These discussions are helpful because of the ability to use “plain talk” so we all understand what is before us. It will be important to decide where that money should go.

If we take no action and the money goes to King County, it is possible it won’t be spent in Shoreline but in another area of King County. We would prefer to use Shoreline taxes in Shoreline, to help people stay in their homes in Shoreline. Frequently there are short term needs that can’t be met: not enough money for this month’s rent, for example, until their paycheck comes. $80,000 can help a lot of families in instances like that.

There was some discussion about the Resolution coming back on Consent, but the Ordinance would be an Action item.

It was agreed that it would be better to do them both as Action items so people can be sure there is no tax increase. It will be more transparent and less confusing.

The Council recessed into an Executive Session: Potential Litigation - RCW42.30.110(1)1I)
The Council may hold Executive Sessions from which the public may be excluded for those purposes set forth in RCW 42.30.110 and RCW 42.30.140. Before convening an Executive Session the presiding officer shall announce the purpose of the Session and the anticipated time when the Session will be concluded. Should the Session require more time a public announcement shall be made that the Session is being extended.
No action is expected.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:48pm



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