Notes from Shoreline council meeting December 7, 2020

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
December 7, 2020

Notes by Pam Cross

The meeting was held remotely using the Zoom platform.

Mayor Hall called the meeting to order at 7:00pm. 

All Councilmembers were present.

Report of the City Manager, Debbie Tarry

COVID-19 Update

A reminder that the statewide restrictions remain in effect through Dec 14. (This date has now been extended to Jan 4)

The King County average over the past 14 days was 422 new cases per 100,000 residents. Remember that the target is 25 per 100,000. The target before reopening schools is 75. Hospitalizations continue to increase and hospitals are at 85% of capacity.

In Shoreline, we have had 207 new cases in the past two weeks, 10 hospitalizations and 6 people have died.
  • Protect our community by taking prevention measures:
  • Wear a face covering, especially indoors in public settings regardless of the distance between people.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly.
  • Maintain six (6) feet of distance, indoors and outdoors.
  • Gather ONLY outdoors with a limit of five (5) people.
  • Get tested at the first sign of illness. And then stay home! Do not go to work or to stores if you’re not feeling well.
  • Additional information shorelinewa.gov/covid
The Shoreline City Council and City Staff Wish everyone Happy Holidays as we begin celebrations this week.

Public Reminders
None

Council Reports (all meetings were attended virtually)

Mayor Hall spoke with Rep. Valdez from the 46th District about the 148th St Bridge and light rail to help build support for State funding. Rep. Valdez is on the Transportation Committee.

Public Comment

Jackie Kurle, Shoreline asked for Council’s attention to public safety around the enhanced shelter

Mary Ellen Stone, Shoreline, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, thanked Council for increased funding for human services at a time when we are all so stretched financially

Kathleen Russell, Shoreline, Save Shoreline Trees, spoke regarding agenda item 8(a) amendment 18 pertaining to hazardous tree removal. The section referring to hazardous trees should be clarified.

Approval of the Agenda: Agenda adopted by unanimous consent.

Approval of the Consent Calendar: Consent Calendar approved unanimously by roll call vote.

Action Item

8(a) Adopting Ordinance No. 907 - Amending Development Code Sections 20.20, 20.30, 20.40, 20.50, and 20.80

Steven Szafran, AICP, Senior Planner

The Council had the opportunity to study the Administrative and Clarifying Amendments on November 9 and the Policy Amendments on November 23. There was a large batch of amendments.

Clarifying Amendments
  • #2 was a duplicate amendment so it should be withdrawn.
  • #9 private streets. Concerns included access for service, fire and safety vehicles, parking and sidewalks. Staff suggests it be withdrawn for further study.
  • #8 fee in lieu. The amendment refers to the development of a fee in lieu formula. Since there already is a formula, the wording needs to be modified to refer to it.

  • #21 Parking reduction criteria modified to allowing combined parking reductions


Policy Amendments
  • #1 emergency temporary shelters, to clarify that use is not limited to severe cold weather

  • #16 adding bonus density exception. Staff suggests withdrawing for further study through the Housing Action Plan and Housing Toolkit
  • #17 adding thresholds for the application of building design standards to encourage multifamily in commercial zones

  • #21 would exempt existing previously permitted stabilization methods
  • Staff recommends staff not pursue letter E, as there is no available science behind it


Staff recommends council adopt 907 with those changes

DISCUSSION

Motion and second to adopt Ord. 907 with changes recommended by staff.

Motion and second to adopt clarifying amendment 21 allowing combined parking reductions for affordable housing.

We should be able to combine parking incentives if developers are doing the work. There are some that are combinable and others aren’t. But this is for affordable housing so it’s important to have it combined because it’s the cost of parking that drives up the cost of a project. This makes it a great incentive for affordable housing.

VOTE Passes unanimously

Motion and second to withdraw administrative amendment #2 as a duplicate.



VOTE Passes unanimously

Motion and second to approve the remaining as a batch:

Clarifying amendments
  • #9 withdraw for further study
  • #8 fee in lieu formula
Policy amendments
  • #1 emergency temporary shelter use to include non-weather emergencies
  • #16 withdraw for further study
  • #17 adding thresholds for the application of building design standards
  • #21 allow combined parking reductions for low-income housing
VOTE: Passes unanimously

Referring to our November discussion about Amendment #18 Exception 20.50.360 - Tree replacement and site restoration,

To the extent feasible, all replacement trees shall be replaced on-site. When an applicant demonstrates that the project site cannot feasibly accommodate all of the required replacement trees, the Director may allow a reduction in the minimum replacement trees required or the payment of a fee in lieu of replacement at the rate set forth in SMC 3.01 Fee Schedule for replacement trees or a combination of reduction in the minimum number of replacement trees required and payment of the fee in lieu of replacement at the rate set forth in SMC 3.01 Fee Schedule if all of the following criteria are satisfied

“The Director may allow a reduction in the minimum replacement trees required or the payment of a fee in lieu of replacement” Does this mean “either/or” - or - “and/or”?

Reply: it’s up to interpretation. It can be any combination of the two. It will depend on the site and the arborist’s decision.

Motion and second to remove “may allow a reduction in the minimum replacement trees required or” from this sentence in order to eliminate the possible reduction in the number of replacement trees without requiring payment of a fee in lieu.

You’re given the number of trees you have to replace, figure out how many will fit on your property, and you have to pay a fee for the rest.

Allowing the Director to reduce the minimum number of replacement trees in one case, and not in another, would not be equitable.

Reply: this should be adequate to get it done.

Reply: Rachael Markle. A possible scenario where trees are reduced and payment doesn’t make sense is the owner of a single family home that has to remove a large tree from their yard, and they already have a lot of trees, but may not be able to afford the fees in lieu. (About $2,500 per tree).

We don’t allow people to waive the fire codes when it’s more expensive to follow them. We’ve decided trees have value and selected a proper payment for it. If you can’t afford to pay for the trees, then you can’t afford to build the house. The affordability should not be determined by the Director.

Reply Markle: it punishes people who have a lot of trees on their lot.

Some areas have a lot of trees, where other areas were clear cut years ago. Are we penalizing people whose property hasn’t been developed yet?

No punishment here - they are compensating all of us for loss of a tree that we think is important to Shoreline. Allowing this discretion could possibly result in a landowner clear cutting the lot and then selling it to a developer.

We will probably be looking at this over the coming years. And at the work session in February.

VOTE on motion to remove “reduction in the minimum replacement trees required or.”

Passes unanimously

VOTE to adopt 907 as amended

Passes unanimously


Study Items

9(a) Discussing Park Improvements and Property Acquisition Priorities and Funding

Christina Arcidy, Management Analyst, gave the presentation

This was last discussed at the November 2, 2020 meeting.



Staff is looking for direction on the following:

1. Should the City move forward with the ballot measure for the April 2021 Special Election?

Considerations include COVID-19 economic impacts that remain unknown, approval and validation requirements, and election costs. A bond measure requires 60% yes votes, and the validation requirement resulting from the voter turnout in November is 14,102 minimum votes.



Including the cost of the election, voters’ pamphlet cost, and ballot measure mailer, it will cost somewhere between $94,890 and $128,240 to put this on the spring ballot. Staff recommends moving forward for the April 2021 special election.

2. What is the overall bond measure cost?


Net figure is the difference between the expiring parks bond and this one.

3. What park improvements and park land acquisitions should be included in a bond measure?

Included in the bond measure would be priority park improvements, park amenities, land acquisition, and improvement to acquired property. Details of improvements, four options, and costs are outlined in the staff report.

DISCUSSION

While admitting that no option is 100% what each councilmember would pick, as a whole they agree with the staff recommendation that is the broadest option at a cost of $38.5M. In order to get the cost down to the current bond, too many things have to be eliminated at a time we are growing in population and there are so many needs in our parks. We’re still not doing everything we’ve been talking about. And since this is a 20-year bond, it’s going to be difficult to go back to voters for anything else in that time period.

Not everyone agrees with an April ballot. There is a high validation requirement. When we don’t have another big item on the ballot, there is nothing to boost turnout. We don’t have a lot of people coming to the Council today pushing for park improvements. There were a couple of written comments. There isn’t a committee dedicated to getting out the vote. But there is a Facebook page ready to go from previous supporters. It is a risk without a big groundswell of support for it. It would probably pass but may not validate due to participation. Safer to wait until November when we have a better chance for validation.

Our community may be eager to have money invested in our parks. 54% voted for it last time and this is a much smaller package (without the pool and rec center). There’s no good time. The public is very involved in participating in voting right now. We can bring it back in November if it passes but fails to validate.

Participation in the November elections from 2016-2020 got over 14,000 voters. In non-November elections, we reached that number only twice. So November is the only sure time to get the validation. Implementation will be in 2022 regardless of which ballot.

Some councilmembers may not be able to express support if they appear on the same ballot.

Reply Debbie Tarry: traditionally we try not to put ballot measure on same time as council elections.

There is consensus around the package, and whether we go in April or November, the work will be the same. Staff will move forward with the package.

9(b) Discussion of Mandatory Fire Sprinklers for New Single Family/Duplex Residential Construction

Ray Allshouse, Building Official, introduced the Fire Marshal, Derek LaFontaine, who made the presentation

Introduction by Ray Allshouse

Building fire codes focus on life safety. The objective is to maintain minimum structural integrity and associated means of egress for an adequate period of time to provide successful escape.

They recommend residential sprinklers for residences. Residential structure fires are the biggest risk in Shoreline, destroying property, injuring residents and firefighters, displacing families, and using thousands of gallons of water.

79% of residential fires are in homes under 3,000 sf. This is the size that generally doesn’t have sprinkler systems. Larger residences do install them.

The current residential sprinkler ordinance requires installation of a residential fire sprinkler system in new single-family and duplex home based on any of these factors
  • Size - Residences in excess of 4,800 square feet;
  • Low Fire Flow - Residences over 3,600 square feet require 1,750 gallons per minute (gpm) in flow and residences under 3,600 sf require 1,000 gpm; or
  • Distance to the Fire Hydrant – Residences over 500 feet away from the hydrant.

The issue with this current regulation is that fire does not care how big or small your residential structure is; fires happen in homes both big and small.

The Master Builders Association argues that cost is a problem, and that the construction type is the main influencer of how fires start or progress. As a fire investigator for 8 years, he has found it is the fuel load that dramatically increases the progress of the fire. The cost is about $2 - 2.50/sf installed.

DISCUSSION

This debate has been going on for a decade at the state and national level. It ends up being too costly. This is for new construction right? Retrofitting would be extremely expensive. Modern construction with current building codes plus smoke detectors, is that enough? Or is modern construction more flammable?

Reply: It’s the contents that burn. But fire travels down hallways catching other flammables on fire. Toxic fumes are given off. The question regarding current construction is widely debated.

Do insurance companies have an opinion on residential sprinklers?

Reply: Anecdotally, most give credit for sprinklers but others are concerned about water damage from false activation of the system. Will get more information.

Do we have areas in Shoreline without enough water pressure?

Reply: We have pretty good water pressure here. There are some areas that don’t but we have low flow systems so an extra tank is not required.

Describe where you would put a sprinkler in a single family home.

Reply: We use the NFPA residential sprinkler code. Every heated compartment: garage, pretty much every room. Bathroom under 55sf not required.

Master Builders mentioned some costs and also brought up permit fees. Why would a sprinkler system be a separate fee? $612 in Shoreline. They are talking about reducing it. These fees are charged by the Fire Dept to cover the cost of inspecting it. City collects it for FD.

Homeowner savings are potentially an insurance credit, and less risk of fire spreading so decreased damage and safety of occupants.

Saves city resources. A house fire can result in multiple stations being called - even from nearby cities in order to prevent the fire from spreading.

The Master Builders (MBA) report (available in the staff report) gives the other side. There are definitely two sides to it. Water damage is horrible and costs more than a small kitchen fire! Speaking from personal experience.

Reply: Residential systems respond to the intensity of the heat in any given area. So a fire in one room isn’t going to set off all of the sprinkler heads throughout the structure.

There are not a lot of ordinances mandating this. Low market demand except where ordinances are mandated.

Reply: Since the MBA report, Redmond, Kenmore and Mercer Island have added it.

Affordability. Especially for a smaller home the cost makes a much larger percentage increase.

Reply: the cost of permits is being addressed. Plastic piping can be used for these systems. More and more plumbers are getting certified to install these. Annual maintenance checks are no longer required. Not enough cities are moving to that mandate. Why? Why aren’t ordinances like this commonplace? Why isn’t this huge nationally?

Reply: I wish it were

We already require sprinklers in apartments and other multifamily, should also have in high end housing. Single family homes now being built in Shoreline are high-end.

What about backyard cottages? Would it apply to them?

Reply: yes if it is a separate structure. If part of the existing building, it would not.

This will come back to us January as part of the building code package. General agreement that this requirement should be included.

Meeting adjourned.



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