Notes from Shoreline City Council meeting January 27, 2020

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Shoreline City Hall and Council Chamber
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
Shoreline City Council Meeting 
January 27, 2020
Notes by Pam Cross

Mayor Hall called the meeting to order at 7:00pm.
Councilmembers McConnell and Roberts were out on City business.

PROCLAMATION

Mayor Hall proclaimed the month of February 2020 as Black History Month in the City of Shoreline. Fraol Debele from Shorewood High School’s Black Student Union accepted the proclamation.

Report of the City Manager Debbie Tarry

Join neighbors and other community volunteers to restore and improve Shoreline Parks. Volunteer work parties will be Saturdays and Sundays in February at Brugger’s Bog, Twin Ponds and Hamlin Parks. Check the City’s web calendar for additional details.

Black Voices: A Community Opportunity - Inaugural Event
In recognition of Black History Month, everyone is invited to join Shoreline Public Schools and the City of Shoreline at a series of events Feb 3 - 7 that seek to center Black voices, and celebrate and affirm Black students and their families. Some events require pre-registration. Please visit shorelinewa.gov for RSVP links and additional information.

The Rise of Black Lives Matter: Arts Showcase and Documentary Screening.

On Feb 8 from 1:00 to 4:00pm join Black Lives Matter-Shoreline for an arts showcase and free screening and discussion of the documentary film “The Rise of Black Lives Matter.” This event will be held at Shoreline Community College. The event is free and open to all ages. Please note that the film does include sensitive subject matter and strong language.

Tween Night at the Richmond Highlands Rec center Feb 8 from 6:30 to 10:30PM. This is a free fun evening for 5th and 6th graders. Parents must sign kids in and out at the door.

Public Reminders

Members of the City Council will attend the Association of Washington Cities’ “City Action Days” Conference in Olympia on Jan 28 and 29.

The Feb 3 Council meeting has been cancelled. The next Council meeting will be Monday Feb 10.

The Planning Commission will meet on Feb 6 at 7:00pm in the Council Chamber.

Council Reports

Councilmember Chang attended the King County Regional Transit Meeting and was elected Vice Chair of the Sound Cities Association group for the regional transit committee.

There is a survey online about how bus service might change when the Northgate Station opens. There are significant changes to Shoreline routes. This is still in the planning stages so please give your input now. Type in your search engine “North Link Connections Mobility Project Survey.”

Public Comment

The following people spoke in favor of Save Shoreline Trees to retain the 130 trees scheduled for destruction for the WSDOT building remodel on Dayton Ave N. Recent alternatives still require the destruction of a great number of this old growth timber.
  • Don Keusal, Seattle
  • Jan Buchanan, Shoreline
  • Janet Way, Shoreline, Shoreline Preservation Society
  • Kathleen Russell, Shoreline
  • Kristi Magee, Shoreline
  • John Ramsdell, Shoreline
Westminster Triangle neighborhood has an opportunity for a neighborhood park. An 18,000 square foot property is available. The owner has been resisting developers but needs to sell the property and he would like the City to consider purchasing it for the neighborhood.

Mark Stevens, Shoreline
After referring to the comments made by Fraol Debele from Shorewood High School’s Black Student Union, spoke about growing up in the segregated South.

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

STUDY ITEMS

(a) Discussing the 145th and I-5 Interchange Project Delivery Strategy

Nytasha Walters, Transportation Services Manager provided the staff report

This is a very difficult interchange with a lot of congestion and a history of accidents. Now we are faced with the upcoming light rail station, increased supporting transit, and increased density in this rezone area.

The City is moving forward with the design of two roundabouts with a wide multi-use pathway on the north side of the 145th Street / I-5 overpass bridge deck, which WSDOT supports because it best meets the criteria of performance, safety, cost effectiveness, and risk that it can be fully funded and completed on time for light rail.

This project requires coordination with multiple entities including WSDOT, the cities of Seattle and Shoreline, King County, Sound Transit and others. It also requires completion of the Interchange before the opening of the light rail station (2024) in order to avoid impeding traffic to the station by having to travel through a construction zone.

The City is currently working on a funding strategy to ensure that the funds required to construct the Project are obtained within the desired time frame and financial risks to the City are minimized. In the near term, there are key funding issues as the Project transitions from 10% design to 30% design and ultimately past the 30% design milestone to final design and the construction phase.

Project Delivery Option 1 is to stop where we are at 10% but this makes it unlikely that the project will be constructed.

Staff recommends pursuing Project Delivery Option 2 which includes confirming formal WSDOT approval for this approach and entering into an agreement with Sound Transit to provide $1 million to support the Project to 30% design. This will allow the City and our partners to continue to seek funding for the construction phase of the Project. This will also keep the Project on track for completion before the light rail station is built. Staff will provide Council with a project funding update and seek additional guidance in the last quarter of 2020. Refer to staff report for details of funding needs and sources.

Discussion

Q: This looks like a great design that has addressed our earlier concerns. What if we run out of money - will we have to work with a less desirable option?
A: No, this is the acceptable design.

Q: Are there cheaper designs that offer the same advantages?
A: No.

Q: Why is Shoreline responsible for the funding? Why isn’t this a WSDOT project?
A: Celeste Gilman - Deputy Director, Regional Transit Coordination Division - WSDOT. We have little control over how funds are spent throughout the State - and we get significant direction from the legislature. There are a lot of projects going on such as the fish passage barrier removal injunction. This Project wasn’t meeting the WSDOT threshold to get the funding in time.

Q: We are responsible for design and funding, then hand off the Project to WSDOT. Why do we have to do that?
A: WSDOT has the skills to complete this project so the handoff makes sense.
A: Shoreline does not want to completely hand over future design of this Project. Great time and effort has been put in to meet the needs of Shoreline and we want to make sure that the final design still works for us.

Q: Given WSDOT metered roads, could a meter backup traffic into the roundabout? And if it does, what happens then?
A: Having the second lane allows traffic to continue to move if one lane is backed up behind traffic at a meter.
A: Council would like staff to consider this. It might be possible both lanes would get backed up.

Q: The pedestrian bridge spans the entire I-5 roadway. Wouldn’t a center pier save money?
A: It cannot have a center pier because of restricted use of fixed objects from Mountlake Terrace to downtown Seattle. There is not enough room. Existing center piers will not be replaced but on new bridges they are not adding new center piers.

Direction to staff. If this project does not get built, the interchange will fail and traffic will push out to the surrounding streets as well as the residential neighborhoods, discouraging and/or prohibiting people from getting to light rail. Let’s move forward with design as staff proposed.

(b) Discussing Ordinance No 876 - Amending Chapter 3.70 of the Shoreline Municipal Code to Modify the System Improvements Eligible for Park Impact Fees

Eric Friedli, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services presented the staff report.

The proposed amendment is necessary to provide more opportunities for addressing the shortage of parks and open space within the Westminster Triangle neighborhood and to implement the Shoreline Place Development Agreement approved in September 2019 via Resolution No. 441.

The proposed amendment would expand the geographic area for acquisition and development to include the Westminster Triangle neighborhood making projects in that area eligible for Park Impact Fees and would expand the geographic boundaries of these projects west to Dayton Avenue and south to 145th Street for the Shoreline Place development.

Discussion
Q: Is there available park property identified within this immediate area?
A: Yes, the 18,000 sf lot with single family residence (mentioned by a speaker tonight). The house is in poor shape and the City is currently obtaining an appraisal for the property. But there is no guarantee that this property will be purchased.

This neighborhood does need a park - there isn’t one within 1 mile walking distance.

Added to Consent for Feb 10.

(c) Discussing Ordinance 879 - Amending SMC 3.27 for Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Conditions within the Shoreline Place Community Renewal Area

Nate Daum, Economic Development Manager, presented the staff report.

The PTE (Property Tax Exemption) program provides a 12-year property tax exemption on new housing construction and improvements in exchange for at least 20% of the units qualifying as affordable housing.

PTE is an efficient tool for the creation of affordable housing (not low-income housing) as it combines exemptions from all taxing jurisdictions. The result is that for every property tax dollar the City elects to forgo over the 12-year tax exemption duration, the investor experiences a savings of approximately eight dollars on its property taxes. This provides the trade-off necessary to allow for 20% of the units to be rented at below market rates. While programs vary from city to city, property tax exemption is now so commonplace that some multifamily homebuilders do not consider investments in areas where it is not available.

SMC 3.27.040(D) provides a specific requirement that within the Shoreline Place Community Renewal Area there is 500 total unit cap that can qualify for the property tax exemption program. This is the only residential target area in Shoreline and in King County to have such a limit.

Although the valuation of the project may not be fully on the City’s tax rolls for twelve years, therefore lowering the amount of new property tax, there are other revenue streams that will be generated by the project and the occupants of the units to offset the costs of providing services to the new residents. These include:
  • Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) when the property is sold, park and transportation impact fees, sales and use tax on construction, sales & use tax as new residents occupy the units, utility taxes and taxes on products purchased in Shoreline by the new tenants. Even with the property tax exemption, Shoreline can receive as much as four times the amount of taxes if the project is built than if they didn’t build the project.
Staff recommends removing the cap.

Discussion 

Should we remove the cap or increase the total units cap?

We don’t want Shoreline Place to be 100% multi-family housing, and we had to work really hard to get them to put in any commercial. We envisioned Shoreline Place as a city center where people could gather.

We shouldn’t treat one development different from the others. And we need to look at this citywide - look at the big picture. By limiting the property tax exemption by utilizing a cap, we may not get more retail but instead get housing without affordable housing. Or we may get no development at all.

The demand is for housing in today’s market. The housing sector is where we can attract redevelopment dollars. With the property tax exemption we can get affordable housing in addition to the housing we’re going to get anyway. Developers are building housing requiring the walkability and vibrant urban development people are looking for. The high quality is creating the environment we want developed with plazas and parks and tree-lined streets.

Retail space can be hard to fill. Anchor tenants are difficult to find. Retail is changing and small retail spaces seem difficult to occupy. We can always push for more retail in addition to the affordable housing.

Can we extend past 12 years? This is the amount of time the developer has to offer those units as affordable (and as a result the tax exemption applies). There could be an extension of this program.

Staff plans to review our existing policies, including property tax exemption, and provide options for potential changes in the scope of the upcoming Housing Action Strategy project between now and early 2021.

Since there are two Councilmembers away on City business, and we still have some questions, we will schedule this for Action on Feb 10th with the understanding we will have this ordinance in front of us and an amendment to replace the cap with a higher cap if we decide not to eliminate it.

Meeting adjourned



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