Notes from Shoreline City Council June 22, 2020

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
June 22, 2020
Notes by Pam Cross

The meeting was held online using the Zoom platform.

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

Proclamation
Mayor Hall, on behalf of the Shoreline City Council, proclaimed the month of July 2020 as PARKS, RECREATION AND CULTURAL SERVICES MONTH.

Report of the City Manager.
John Norris, Assistant City Manager,  provided the report.

Fireworks
Reminder: Fireworks are illegal in Shoreline. Signs are currently being posted. Please report to 911 in case of fire or the police non-emergency line 206-296-3311 for fireworks infraction. The specific address is helpful.

Juneteenth
Visit a virtual exhibition of Shoreline voices discussing how families celebrate the holiday as well as what it means and why it is important. These short videos have been created in partnership with Black Lives Matter Shoreline.  More information : shorelinewa.gov/art

Shoreline Climate Challenge
This fun and easy event is now through October 31, 2020. Learn about and implement actions to protect our environment. There are activities for youth and for renters. You can create your household profile and view your footprint, create or join a team with friends and neighbors, or choose from a list of actions and earn points.There is special recognition for the team with the most points.
Visit ShorelineClimateChallenge.org for information.

Shoreline Farmers Market
The market will be open on Saturdays through October 3rd at 155th and Westminster Way near the prior location. New health and safety guidelines limit the number of shoppers at one time, mandate face coverings, prohibit pets except service animals, and encourage pre-orders.
For additional information: shorelinefarmersmarket.org

COVID-19 Update
King County is now in Phase 2.0 of the Safe Start Plan.

This allows gatherings of 5 people from outside the household; outdoor recreation with up to 5 people from outside the household; in-store retail, personal and professional services, and pet grooming at limited capacity; construction and manufacturing with PPE. Changes since Stage 1.5: restaurants at 50% capacity for indoor as well as outdoor dining, and gyms and fitness facilities at limited capacity.  Details at shorelinewa.gov/covid

Please continue hand washing, practice physical distancing, and wear a face mask when physical distancing is not possible.

City Hall remains closed to the public although most operations have resumed. City staff are working hard to provide City services while keeping the community safe and healthy. Contact shorelinewa.gov/remoteservices

Public Reminders
  • This is the last Council meeting before recess. The next Council meeting will be Monday, July 13th.
  • The PRCS/Tree Board will hold a remote meeting Thursday June 25th at 7:00pm
  • The Planning Commission will hold a remote meeting Thursday July 2nd at 7:00pm

Council Reports

Councilmember McGlashan attended the joint meeting of the three transportation forums where guest speaker Congressman Adam Smith spoke about the Invest in America Act. It would enable the completion of critical projects through long-term, sustainable funding by authorizing $494 billion over five years, but it sounded unlikely to pass by the end of the year. Sound Transit and Metro provided updates on COVID-19 recovery.

Councilmember Chang attended a joint meeting of the Regional Transit Committee and Mobility and Environment Committee. They are still continuing suspended fares. Ridership is beginning to stabilize so some routes are being restored. However, they are looking at service cuts instead of expanding due to reduced revenue.

Mayor Hall advised that Councilmember Robertson will be the City’s representative on the North King County Shelter Task Force.

Mayor Hall, on behalf of the Council, thanked the outgoing youth members Erik Ertsgaard and Ivan Brown for their input and service as members of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services/Tree Board.

Public Comment 

John Hoey, chair of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services/Tree Board expressed his thanks to the outgoing youth members Erik Ertsgaard and Ivan Brown, and congratulated the new members David Lin and Haley Berkman.

Approval of the Agenda adopted by unanimous consent.
The Consent Calendar adopted unanimously by roll call vote.

Study Item 8(a) Discussing the King County Metro North Link Connections Mobility Project
Nytasha Walters, Transportation Services Manager introduced
  • Rob Gannon, King County Transit General Manager
  • David VanderZee, King County Transit Planner
Rob Gannon

In response to the pandemic, ridership quickly dropped from 400,000 by 70-75% resulting in still sizable 100,000 daily trips. This has remained consistent for the past three months. Their response to COVID-19 focuses on safety for riders and employees. It involves more daily cleaning of buses, masks for operators, PPE for all frontline workers, temporarily suspended fares, rear door boarding only, reduced service network but additional trips on high demand routes to minimize crowding. Passengers are required to wear masks. Fares may return on July 1st,  but that is a target, not a firm date.

Some service has returned over the weekend in response to ridership needs and to assist in restoring some service as industries reopen. At the same time they want to continue to minimize crowding. Through the summer, they want to continue Saturday service on a weekday schedule and focus on all-day instead of peak service. They don’t expect to add changes until September when they plan to restore about 50 routes.

The level of the system we had prior to COVID-19 could be years away due to both reduced ridership and limited resources.

Existing service guidelines are the means by which they will address how they reduce the system.

Mobility framework helped determine where needs are greatest, including historically underserved communities. They are faced with a dueling set of priorities to reduce the system while increasing service where it is needed most.

Dave VanderZee

This presentation focused on the Northlink Connections Mobility Project which covers Northgate, Roosevelt and the U-District Stations. The project goals are to respond to changing mobility needs, equitably inform and engage those customers, and deliver integrated service with light rail.

They are near the middle of the project. They continue to listen to feedback, and will come back to the public before finalizing the concept in spring 2021. Communication has been a problem since they were unable to offer in-person meetings and open houses.

East-West Service connecting to Northgate Station will involve replacing routes, renumbering, revising, and adding multiple routes. North-South service changes include re-orienting routes 301 and 304 to Northgate Station and revised peak routes within Shoreline neighborhoods. These are early plans and they continue to work ensuring consistent travel times and limiting the number of required transfers.

DISCUSSION

Community Transit is focusing on the Aurora Transit Center. What will happen with the 192nd P/R? Reply: there will be some service including the Rapid Ride but we’re not focused there yet because that’s 2024.

How are you evaluating the time? Have you looked at the total time for the trip? If it’s longer, people will not take it.
Reply: Plan is to make sure travel times are either maintained or improved with the transfer. Proposing increased frequency to minimize variability in overall time including transfer. Still looking at this for next phase of engagement.
Our main concern is 195th and 185th stations. If it is too hard to get on Link, people will drive. We are hoping for local routes that are direct shots to the station. If you have to make a change before getting to link, no one will want that extra change.

It didn’t seem that people who ride the bus were really getting the status of changes except through the notices on the buses.
Reply: we are working on engagement. Transit alerts are available, there is a project website, major employers are being contacted. We would love to hear ideas once they get to this phase.

How does the budget affect this?
Reply: A number of routes are being reduced. We are still looking at this. A year ago, we were conservative in our approach but we don’t know how budget shortfalls (such as lack of funding from Seattle Transit Authority) will affect this. Doing the best we can with available resources.
We are years away from our normal transportation.

People aren’t returning to their bad habits of driving, it’s just that people are moving around less. Correct?
Reply: it’s anybody’s guess. Ridership behavior will change in the future. There will be telework, continued fear of virus, maybe more single occupant vehicles too. Need to bring back ridership the best we can over the next 2.5 years with a major budgetary shortfall.

What about the battery powered buses?
Reply: Battery program for buses is off the table. Disappointing that we can’t do it. The county’s plan was to transform King County Metro into a zero-emissions fleet by 2040.

When will this be looked at again?
Reply: when money becomes available. It means major expenditures for buses and charging infrastructure. Don’t know what kind of buses they will invest in as we go.

Study Item 8(b) Discussion and Update of the 2019-2024 Capital Improvement Plan

Review of the status of the four capital funds (General, Facilities Major Maintenance, Surface Water and Roads) including any significant changes to projects that were approved in the 2019-2024 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

Tricia Juhnke, City Engineer
Randy Witt available for questions

Some of the projects we’ve completed in the past two years are the North Maintenance Facility, new playground equipment for Shoreview and Twin Ponds parks, school zone flashers, and some sidewalks.

Completed projects, fund summaries, updated project expenditures, projections for REET (real estate and excise tax) and other details are available in the staff report. .

These projections will be updated later this summer but right now we are looking at about a $850M shortfall or reduction.

General capital fund
The general capital fund that supports facilities and parks has limited funding available for new projects/programs. Debt service on city hall also comes out of this. Current projects include the City Maintenance Facility Phase 1 (design), playground replacement, PROS Plan acquisition for purchase of the storage court as well as some other properties. The community aquatics center design and projections for construction have been removed. However some money has been set aside for future planning and assessment for a future facility.

Upcoming needs:
  • Demolition or decommissioning of Shoreline Pool, estimated at $1M
  • Twin Ponds Turf Replacement in 2026
  • Grant matches for Kruckeberg Environmental Building and Boeing Creek and Shoreview Park Trails.

Facilities Major Maintenance fund
Pool maintenance has been removed since we have ceased operations.
Richmond Highlands Rec Center needs a new roof and fire suppression system. We have funding for design and a grant for roof replacement, but are still working on funding for the fire suppression system.

Surface Water Utility fund addresses operating and capital expenditures. 2018 master plan is still the guide. It established rate structure, developed projects and priorities, and bond issuance.

Project updates
  • Hidden Lake Dam removal moving forward with design, probably 2022 construction
  • Pump Station 26 assessed and we will need to fully rebuild higher than expected
  • 25th Ave NE flood reduction project now in design 
  • (new) Westminster stormwater pipe replacement part of our agreement with developer Merlone Geier 
Roads capital fund was impacted by I-976 eliminating the $20 VLF (vehicle license fee) and the reduced REET. The negative fund balance limits the ability to add new projects and programs.
In the past we have set aside a portion of REET ($100,000 TO 250,000/year) to be used as a grant match. We may be unable to set aside this amount in the future.

Current project updates
  • There are two projects in design as part of our new priority sidewalk program.
  • Sidewalk rehabilitation is basically eliminated due to loss of VLF.
Annual road surface maintenance
Historically, this program was funded by the ongoing revenue source from the original Transportation Benefit District’s $20 per vehicle VLF. The program will be maintained in 2021-2022 with existing unallocated Roads Capital reserves. In 2023, the program will be reduced to $530,000 per year consistent with the program funding excluding VLF, unless another revenue source is identified to increase the funding levels.

The City is working on several projects all over the City. They are in different stages of funding, and in different phases of development. More details available in the staff report.

DISCUSSION

The adoption of the CIP comes in October or November, so there is time to let staff know if we want to add projects, right?
Reply: Now would be a great time to bring those items up. Some projects will be agenda items on their own. The sooner you bring up an idea, the easier it is for staff to develop it, cost it, schedule it for review and to amend the CIP.

Timing and sequencing of flood reduction project and surface water management. Can the sequencing be changed?
Reply: it would be a challenge but we can take a look.

6 years seems like a long time to look at a flood control project.
Reply: there are a couple of other pieces to that project. We also need to work with LFP on a culvert that is a critical piece.

In the General capital fund section, we should be cautious about spending more money on Maintenance Facility right now if there is still a funding shortfall.
Reply: North Maintenance Facility Phase 1 money is already available and set aside.

$1M to decommission the pool? Plywood and padlocks is a better more cost effective idea. Or we could defer the cost of tearing down. If SD wants to use it, we could gift it to them. But SD will have same operating costs. If no one wants to operate it, we can board it up for a while, but eventually it will have to come down. Either way, we will save $850,000/year operating costs and we only have to pay for the demolition or decommissioning once.
Reply: Still looking at options for the pool. Demolition at $1M is the most expensive option. Decommission can be less - just remove water and board up. We will discuss these options as we move forward. City manager Debbie Tarry: remember the pool is on School District property so they have interest in the decision.

When we did the last part of Aurora, didn’t we suspend the 1% for arts? It may be reasonable to take this same action (suspend) to give us more funds. It would provide $600-700k. Don’t know if want to suspend full 1% of arts but the 1% will cost the taxpayers $656,000 more to do the projects. Adding cost when we are reducing everything else? This is a bad time to add cost to projects, and with the bond measure failing last fall, we should look for ways to reduce cost to taxpayers. These are strange unpredicted times. On the other hand, art is still valuable. Don’t want to defund arts. We need art to keep Shoreline an enjoyable, thriving and creative place to live while getting through these difficult times. Circumstances change all of the time. Parks and sidewalks are critical. So are water systems. A budget shortfall is not a reason to reopen this discussion .

Reply: the number shown in the staff report is illustrative - not comprehensive across all the projects or all of the funds. It’s hard to break out what’s old and carried forward, and what is new. These construction projects won’t be done for years.  For the Aurora Project, the 1% was suspended for the third mile, and then reevaluated at the end of the project based upon funding available. There was funding available so the 1% for the arts was able to be contributed.

We may want to revisit suspending the 1% for arts. Because the circumstances have changed so dramatically, and are so severe, it might be prudent to look at this. But let’s get more data first. We would like to fund everything, but it’s the taxpayers’ money

Study Item 8(c)  Discussion of Resolution No. 462 – Updating the Employee Handbook

Don Moritz, Human Resources Director, provided the staff report

Organization agility is an essential element for employee policies. COVID-19 has highlighted this need.

We want rules that have minimal impact to operations as well as employees while making sure we remain compliant with the law.

Policy changes to the layoff policy strengthen management’s right to implement a reduction in force. These proposed changes affirm and clarify due process rights for employees who are impacted by a layoff. They add employee rights to meet with the decision maker prior to implementing layoffs, offer the city manager alternatives (transfers or voluntary demotion) to mitigate layoffs, and modify the severance package from a single to a graduated scale based on years of service.

Our current policy does refer to furlough as an option to layoff, however it does not provide a description, explain how It would be administered, or how it would impact the employee’s wages, hours or working conditions, benefits or employee’s rights. Adding this section will add clarity in the event there is a furlough.

DISCUSSION

Is meeting with individuals for layoffs, rather than when termination for cause, a legal requirement? Reply: there is a court case pending where the employee was not provided the opportunity to provide mitigating information for consideration. City attorney King agrees with reply made. The 9th Circuit tends to interpret things broadly.
Even if not the law, it is a great policy. It provides the employee with an opportunity to be heard. With a furlough, the focus is on eliminating the position and not the person.
Everybody knows there’s a chance of layoff or furlough. The options are clearly laid out in the changes. Hope we never use furlough. It plays havoc with morale.

Severance pay is not a reward like a raise or a promotion. We can’t keep you but here’s something to make the transition easier. Severance pay should be fair. The amount is tied to salary and the term of payment should not be tied to years of service. Receiving from 2-12 weeks pay depending on years of service is less fair.
Reply: it’s a judgement call. It’s a different perspective. It is often harder for more senior people to find employment so in that sense they need more time. Appreciate feedback and direction from Council.

How do we decide who gets laid off? Are we supposed to decide who gets laid off based on tenure? Reply: One consideration is retention of skills plus seniority. Operational business needs should be primary.
Fairness is important. Treating everybody the same seems more fair. And we also need the appearance of fairness. We can’t change policy to benefit certain individuals. Doing it now raises a flag whether it’s a fair basis.
The City is self-insured for unemployment so when the financial crisis is so severe, this is the worst time to have to pay extra severance.

We should learn more about what other cities offer.
Reply: They surveyed 15 cities and he will provide the information.
We should make sure that the cities that responded to the survey are representative. We need to identify if there’s a bias in the surveys.

On a different topic, while we are amending the Employee Handbook we should consider adding Juneteenth as holiday or partial holiday (where you can choose what holiday you want to take). But we may want to discuss at a future time.
It would better discussed as separate agenda item. It does not match the title of this agenda item. And would like to have more staff time on it.

Request staff prepare amendment to remove change in severance as an option. And also look forward to information from other cities. Finally, a middle ground alternative to the generous severance is requested.

Announcement
Next meeting in 2 weeks. During these two weeks, Deputy Mayor Scully will be Acting Mayor.

Meeting adjourned. 9:30pm 


Correction: New youth members are David Lin and Haley Berkman. Their names were misspelled in the original article.

1 comments:

Anonymous,  June 24, 2020 at 10:20 AM  

"People aren’t returning to their bad habits of driving...."
Since when did driving become a bad habit? Some of us have jobs to go to, schedules to manage, kids and elderly parents to take to appointments. I'm not going to apologize for driving in order to hold down a job and pay my taxes.

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