Notes from Shoreline council meeting July 20, 2020

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Pam Cross, reporter

Shoreline City Council Meeting
July 20, 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.

John Norris, Assistant City Manager, provided the report of the City Manager’s office

COVID-19 Update

We remain in Phase 2 of Washington State’s Start Safe Plan. Because of the continuing increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in King County as well as the rest of the State, Governor Inslee provided the following directives:
  • Wear a face covering when you are in public places, including outdoors when you may be unable to maintain six feet of distance.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Get tested at the first sign of illness.
  • And remember, it’s still safest to stay at home.

City Hall and recreation facilities remain closed to the public. Most City services are available online or by phone. Drop off and pick up of packages, including permits, is available. Contact https://www.shorelinewa.gov/services/online-city-services for additional information.

Playgrounds remain closed until Phase 3. The City would like to reopen playgrounds, but is unable to keep them sanitized. We ask all members of the public not to remove the caution tape or signs, and not allow their children to use the playgrounds until it is safe to do so.

In parks, basketball courts are open for individual play but should not be used for scrimmages or games. Please maintain 6’ of physical distancing at all times, and wear a mask when it is not possible to do so.

Details at shorelinewa.gov/covid

Our first Virtual Lunchtime Concert featuring Eric Ode streamed live on YouTube July 21st.

More information on summer activities available at shorelinewa.gov/summer2020

Shoreline Climate Challenge

Now through October 31st, learn about and implement actions to protect our environment and save money. There are activities included 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. Current health and safety guidelines limit the number of shoppers at one time, mandate face coverings, prohibit pets except service animals, and encourage pre-orders. Additional information: shorelinefarmersmarket.org

Public Reminders

PRCS/Tree Board will hold a remote meeting on Thursday July 23 at 7:00pm.

Council Reports

Deputy Mayor Scully attended a meeting of All Home Coordinating Committee. This year, in the entire north part of King County, there were a total of 56 unsheltered persons. This is a number we can do something about. Other numbers show the racial disparity in the homeless population with the majority of the homeless in King County non-white. This is something we need to address.

Mayor Hall stated the Governor and his top health officials held a webinar on local government coordination on COVID. The data shows it is so important to stay home. More infected people than ever are spreading COVID. In the spring there was a lot of talk about risk to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Now people in their 20’s have created a rapid spread that has moved into all the other age groups. We need to get the curve down to get the economy going and our schools open.

Public Comment

Kathleen Russell, Shoreline, Save Shoreline Trees, and
Janet Way, Shoreline, Save Shoreline Trees
spoke relative to agenda item 8(a) emphasizing the importance of trees in our parks and environment.

Approval of the Agenda adopted by unanimous consent.

The Consent Calendar adopted unanimously by roll call vote.


STUDY ITEMS

8(a) Annual Discussion with the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services/Tree Board

Council was joined by the PRCS/Tree Board to discuss priority interests and objectives. While Council has made the decision not to put a parks improvement and acquisition bond measure before voters this year, there is a possibility that the Council will consider this for public vote in 2021.

Tree Board Members introduced themselves by name, years on the board, and neighborhood:
  • John Hoey, Chair, served since 2013, Richmond Beach
  • Bill Franklin, Vice Chair, 2nd term
  • Bruce Amundson, 1 year, Innis Arden
  • Jeff Potter, 1 year, North City
  • Sara Raab McInerny, 1 year, Innis Arden
  • Christine Southwick, 8 years, Briarcrest
  • Elizabeth White was absent
  • Haley Berkman, youth member, was present
  • David Lin, youth member, was absent
Three Strategic Priorities were identified:
  1. Equity and inclusion.
    1. They have recognized that their board does not reflect the diversity in Shoreline. An equity inclusion training was held for staff to direct them as they strive for equity and inclusion in all of their work.
  2. Cultural services and public art.
    1. This is one of the top interests of the board this year, which is a change from the past. The public art coordinator should be made full time and changed to a superintendent position like parks and recreation have in order to reflect its equal importance. A superintendent is more involved in planning and discussion so their input is recognized and incorporated in future plans.
  3. Parks.
    1. There is a 3 person subcommittee that visited all the Shoreline parks and had a follow up Zoom meeting with staff. They want to continue to recognize the amount of work put together by the Parks Funding Advisory Committee. The volunteer time over 6 months culminated in a report including recommendations that the subcommittee would like to dovetail with the equity goal by addressing equal level of service across the City.

DISCUSSION

How are emerging trends addressed? Who knows how parks will be used in 20 years? Should there be flexible spaces, or designs for specific items that exist now?

Reply: They have been looking into emerging trends and received a report from Eric Friedli and staff on that issue. One specific idea the board discussed was a bicycle pump track (A pump track is a circuit of rollers, banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by riders "pumping"instead of pedaling or pushing... (is) relatively simple to use and cheap to construct, and caters to a wide variety of rider skill levels). COVID 19 has given new value to open space and the need to know how to provide safe, walkable and accessible open space for future use. This can be a difficult balance to create and maintain in parks throughout the neighborhoods.


8(b) Discussion of Ordinance No. 893 – Adopting Interim Regulations to Allow for Additional Extensions of Application Deadlines Beyond Those Provided for in Shoreline Municipal Code Due to COVID-19 Impacts

Rachael Markle, Director, Planning and Community Development gave the presentation.

In order to prevent permits from expiring due to unforeseen circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Manager enacted Temporary Emergency Order No. 6, which stopped the permit expiration clock on March 4th. This is called “tolling.”

Proposed Ordinance No. 893 would rescind/terminate this Temporary Emergency Order and replace it with additional extensions of application and permit deadlines due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. While current rules allow a single extension of deadlines, staff would like to add a second extension.

To move from tolling to interim extensions, there is a plan to allow enough time between the end of tolling and the beginning of the interim ordinance to determine when the applicant’s new deadline expires. The applicant will be advised of the new deadline and their options to extend the deadline moving forward.

Interim regulations are preferred by staff because there is no requirement for a Public Hearing so it can be implemented more quickly. A Public Hearing is required after the change is made. The term can be extended by Council in 6 month increments by authority granted by State Law.

Staff has provided three alternatives to the interim extension:
  1. end tolling and provide no additional relief from deadlines;
  2. continue tolling under the current Emergency Order;
  3. adjust the number of extensions or length of extension periods.

DISCUSSION

Does the additional extension require a written request or is it a matter of “right.” Reply: You do have to make a request in writing, but the extension will be granted due to COVID or other allowable justification.

Propose we just make it a matter of right the first time, and not have to apply when they are COVID related.

Can we have automatic extensions as long as COVID related so it does not have to return to Council every 6 months?

Reply: it is a requirement of the Growth Management Act that interim regulations be reviewed by Council. The alternative is to refer it to the planning commission for the process of developing permanent regulations. That would be even more cumbersome than looking at this every 6 months.

The staff report says interim regulations can only last 6 months. Plus there are 30 days before it goes into effect. How does this work with the extensions?

Reply: Council can extend the ordinance for another 6 months. The 6 month regulation allows time for anyone who needs an extension to request one. At any time within the 6 month regulation period, you can request and receive an 180 day extension from the date requested, as long as you make the request before your expiration date. City Attorney Margaret King confirmed that the right of the extension does not expire with the expiration of the ordinance.

We have previously talked about permits issued but not picked up. Why don’t applicants pick them up?

Reply: People often wait until they have their contractor lined up, materials ordered, and/or money for final fees that are due when they pick up the permit. They could conceivably wait 6 months, and then request an extension.

Is requesting an extension expensive or burdensome on the permit applicant? Or is it something quick?

Reply: It is easy, just requiring an email. And there is no cost. You just have to keep track of when your permit will expire. By code, the City cannot grant an extension if you apply even a day late. We are also proposing we send the applicant notification of the new deadline date.

The ordinance will come back on Consent July 27th.

8(c) Discussion of Interim Regulations for Temporary Outdoor Dining

Andrew Bauer, Senior Planner gave the presentation

Eating and drinking establishments have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase 2 of the Safe Start Washington Plan allows these businesses to resume table service, but with seating and capacity restrictions. One way to allow expanded seating while still adhering to the Safe Start Plan’s limits is to allow for outdoor dining as part of a potential interim ordinance which would adopt interim regulations.

Many cities are relaxing regulations, allowing use of parking lots or the public right-of-way for outdoor seating. Some cities have reduced or waived application fees, and streamlined permitting for outdoor seating. Some permitting has been reduced to completion of an application and demonstration that they will comply with certain conditions and standards.

Shoreline’s existing regulations allow for either a temporary use permit for on-site seating, or a right-of-way site permit for use of the public sidewalk.

Both of these processes have cost barriers and the need to demonstrate they still provide adequate parking.

Staff recommends continuing to use the two permit types, but waive the application fees. The permit would be valid for the duration of Phases 2 and 3 of the State Safe Start Plan. There is a provision to provide adequate notice to tell the restaurant to wrap up the outdoor seating area when Phase 4 begins. Parking requirements would be waived. In order to take advantage of the nice weather in this area, it will be necessary to simplify and streamline the permit process.

Process streamlining recognizes outdoor seating as “allowed by right,” requires no discretionary review by the City, registration is done by the business, and life-safety, fire, ADA and other codes must be adhered to. This is similar to a home occupation temporary use permit where a relatively straightforward review takes place.

Right-of-way considerations require that it be adjacent to the property, there is a traffic control plan if necessary, and continued priority for all users of the right of way (pedestrians, wheelchairs, bicycles, vehicles).

Allowing outdoor seating and service would provide some certainty for the restaurant business. However, outdoor seating areas could impact nearby businesses by added noise or just more outdoor activity. There is also the effect on available of offsite parking for other nearby businesses since areas of the parking lot will be used for tables and chairs. The impact of reduced parking could increase in Phase 3 when social distancing requirements are lessened and more indoor and outdoor dining is allowed.

DISCUSSION

How can we give adequate Phase 4 notice when we hear from the Governor just a day or two ahead of time?

Reply: We hope to have as much notice as possible but we will have to be reasonable in dealing with the restaurants.

How would restaurants be notified of the availability of this change? They will need to know as soon as possible to take advantage of the weather.

Reply: We would work with the business community to use all options available to get word out.

If we add this information now, it will effectively give restaurants 1 week’s notice. Restaurant owners can see that it’s up for consent next week.

Property landlords still have their rights, for example owners of a strip mall. And what about use of private parking lots - will it offend neighboring businesses whose customers also use it?

Reply: the owner of the property or parking lot has to provide permission to the restaurant. This is a private agreement between two companies and it is not the City’s business to interfere.

Would we allow coverings for the seating area to protect customers from the weather?

Reply: fire and building permits would still apply to coverings like a tent or other temporary structure. Staff has been talking to the fire department to coordinate this review.

Temporary use permits for parking lots will require applicants to provide size, hours of operation and other details in the upfront process. We are asking the business to think it through and determine how they can meet the rules before they apply. Since we can’t discuss permits over a desk like we used to, we will rely on the information provided in the application. The applicant is self-certifying. Then the restaurant will be required to register the use. Other codes take care of everything else for temporary use. We would not be waiving any codes, just saying you can use this space for feeding people outside. For example, a fast-food restaurant could add a couple of tables in their parking lot.

All the laws and regulations take care of the big stuff. All we’re saying is, ok put up your tables and chairs during the COVID Emergency Declaration.

Use of the right of way should be monitored because it’s the City’s responsibility to look out for public areas. Obviously you can’t use a standard 7’ sidewalk.

Sooner than later is desired. Wish we could do this tonight. Is there a way for Council to place an emergency ordinance on this so it goes into effect immediately?

Reply by Attorney Margaret King: making a declaration of emergency by including the emergency clause you will save 5-7 days.

The Parklet program in Seattle is a really nice addition to their city. We should consider expanding into something like that.

Parklet

Can a business apply for both permits?

Reply: yes, but they would be allowed only one.

What part of the code will this fall under?

Reply: it will be an interim ordinance that needs to be renewed every 6 months rather than part of the development code.


Councilmembers expressed general agreement to the following:
  • The emergency declaration should take effect immediately.
  • All fees should be waived.
  • This is an interim ordinance that would need to be reviewed by Council every 6 months.
  • Private property applications will quickly be reviewed, the permit will be issued and the applicant can proceed to put out tables and chairs. Or, the restaurant can self-certify (process streamlining mentioned above). Either way, the applicant will need to register this use.
  • Use of the right-of-way will need some additional review by staff to protect the City’s responsibility to the public.
  • Applicants must still be compliant with fire, building, ADA and other applicable codes.
  • Applicants also need to follow the statewide guidance for restaurants. We don’t need to repeat the detailed guidelines here, but we are not waiving these requirements.

It is important to note that by considering this ordinance in support of our businesses, Councilmembers are not encouraging people to go out to restaurants.

Strong guidance by the Governor and State Health Officer is to stay home. And if you want restaurant food, the very strong guidance is to get take-out food or delivery. COVID-19 is spreading today in restaurants and bars and at birthday parties and other gatherings. This virus cannot spread itself. The only way someone can get COVID-19 is if a person spreads it to them. Often this person is asymptomatic.

Staff will draft changes based on Council’s discussion and bring back next week.


8(d) Discussion of Ordinance No. 891 - Accepting a Corrected Survey and Plat for Short Plat No. SHSP-98055 as Provided in RCW 58.10.030

Nathan Daum, Economic Development Manager presented the staff report

In 2017, Council declared the former site of the Shoreline Police Station (1206 N 185th Street) as surplus and authorized the sale of the property. In the course of due diligence, the buyer’s surveyor found a discrepancy on the recorded plat immediately to the north which erroneously placed that plat’s southern property line one foot into the City’s property. For the sale of this property to proceed, this surveying error must be corrected.

This is a minor housekeeping matter clarifying an error and can be brought back for consent.

As required, the majority of owners agreed to the correction and the new owner of the survey company will correct the records at no cost to the City. Shoreline will build a fence at a $5,000 cost on the owners’ side of the correct property line.

DISCUSSION

None

Moved forward for consent.


8(e) Discussion of the Shoreline Supplemental Paid Family Leave and the Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave Programs

Don Moritz, Human Resources Director

In 2017, Council adopted a new Supplemental Paid Family Leave policy via Council Resolution No. 402. This discussion is in response to Council’s request that staff return and report on the City’s experience and employee utilization of this leave benefit following the first two years of the benefit usage.

The City’s plan allows up to 12 weeks of paid time off for family leave. It was something of a trailblazer in 2017. The State plan was not in effect and only a handful of other jurisdictions offered anything similar. The City’s plan requires 1 year of employment and at least 1,250 hours worked. Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible. Both consecutive and intermittent leave are allowed. It provides continued benefit coverage, provides job protection and runs concurrent with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The City plan supplements the FMLA, so you must be taking the FML to qualify.

There were 20 requests for leave since 2017. Intermittent (separate blocks of time) versus consecutive (two or more days without interruption) were about equally split. As employees become aware of the benefit, there has been some increase in usage.

Intermittent leave is most often used for unpredictable or unplanned disorders or conditions such as depression, sleep disorders, mental health disorders, or providing physical therapy for a family member. Consecutive leave is used for more serious health conditions where an employee is having surgery and requires recovery time and/or the birth of a child.

Washington State’s PFML became available January 1, 2020 and provides up to 18 weeks (depending on the reason) of paid leave and provides similar benefits to the City’s plan. Recognizing this overlap, now is a good time to review our plan for any potential changes.


The State program is funded through premiums shared by employees and their employers. The premium assessment is 0.4 percent of employee’s gross wages, with the contribution divided between the employee (63.333%) and the employer (36.667%). Employers are required to pay these premiums regardless of whether employees use the State’s plan.

Most often when employees are on leave, their duties are spread among other employees or not done, so the best measure of cost of the City’s plan is the expense incurred i.e., equivalent number of hours that were contributed to an employee’s pay when they are running low on leave accruals and are now using the plan to fill the gap to maintain their full paycheck.



Staff recommends Council consider modifications to the City’s plan to make it supplemental to and complement the State’s plan. The estimated cost savings is $49,442. This represents the difference in payout to employees between the City’s current plan ($59,436) and the estimated payout as a supplement to the State’s plan ($9,994). These figures are based on current payouts since 2017.

As previously stated, employers are required to pay State premiums regardless of whether employees use the Plan or not so it does affect the cost comparison.

In addition to cost savings, these proposed changes of the City’s plan being supplemental to the State plan would have several positive results including: the City’s Supplement plan still provides a financial safety net, expands the definition of family member, allows both parents employed by the City to take full leave for child bonding instead of sharing the benefit, since the City plan is not mandatory the employee could take the State plan and reserve the City plan leave accruals, and anticipates reduction in intermittent leaves which can be difficult to plan around. The proposed changes would still provide benefits under the State’s plan where the eligibility begins after 820 hours (compared to the City’s 1,250).

The potential negative aspects of the proposed changes include requiring the employee to acquire 8 hours of consecutive leave, the employee would be required to exhaust all leave accruals before accessing the City’s Supplemental leave if the condition is for their own serious health condition, and the City supplement would be available only if used in conjunction with State leave.

DISCUSSION

What is the expanded definition of family member?

Reply: the City’s definition is broader than the FMLA (Federal plan)

One week of unpaid leave isn’t mentioned as a negative. This seems like a pretty important issue.

Reply: recommend employee use their leave accrual to pay for this first week to get full paycheck, even if they don’t qualify for Supplemental coverage. The only problem is they have to use their accrued sick leave.

State requires accrual of consecutive 8 hours absent. How does this work?

Reply: if you are part time working a 4-hour shift, you would have to miss 4 hours the first day and 4 hours the next day to be eligible. This does not appear to be a major problem. Some employees may miss 1 or 2 hours for treatments and would not be able to collect under the State plan but can under the City plan.

At the end of the day, the changes will reduce our costs and benefit the employees.

Meeting adjourned.



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