Notes from Shoreline council meeting December 6, 2021

Friday, December 10, 2021

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
December 6, 2021

Notes by Pam Cross

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

All Councilmembers were present. (CM Roberts is on his way so counted as present.)

Approval of the Agenda
Agenda approved by unanimous consent.

Report of the City Manager, Debbie Tarry


King County’s transmission rate is trending upward - which is the wrong direction! This is close to the High category (we are currently in the Substantial category). Shoreline’s rate is also trending up.



No display is too small! Participation is free.

Register by Dec 13 to enter the contest and by Dec 19 to be placed on the map.

Council Reports

CM McGlashan attended the SeaShore Transportation meeting where climate change was discussed. There were updates from King County and KingCo Metro about electrification of their fleets. As they order and get in more electric buses, the biggest challenge facing them is charging the buses. They need facilities where buses can pull in and be charged which could take some time. They also need refreshing chargers throughout the County so Shoreline may end up with a charging station. There was also a presentation by Peter Heffernan from PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council) on the evaluation process overview for funding that’s coming out of the Federal funds to the State. It will be a competitive process where projects will be put in by different cities and each area is allowed a certain amount of projects. These funds should be coming out in 2024 or 2025.

CM McConnell also attended the meeting and said they had to say goodbye to CM McGlashan and he will be missed (CM McGlashan did not run for re-election to Council this year).

Public Comment

The following people spoke in support of Ordinance 948 (Amended Energy Code) Action Item 8(a)

Lily Fredericks, Mountlake Terrace, Climate Justice Club at Shorecrest HS
Deepa Sivarajan, Seattle, Climate Solutions
Melinda McBride, Shoreline
Dennis Heller, Shoreline
Lee Keim, Shoreline

Kathleen Russell, Shoreline, Save Shoreline Trees
Save Shoreline Trees submitted a proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan under the element of land use. Housing development and preservation of trees can exist together with the goal of maintaining and increasing Shoreline’s urban tree canopy. We request Council support this proposed amendment.

Jackie Kurle, Shoreline
I want to encourage maximum transparency for the operations of the advanced shelter (The Oaks). It would be good to receive an update on shelter operations, success stories or challenges, and number of occupants.

[Ed. see article Volunteer opportunities at The Oaks]

Tom McCormick, Shoreline
I strongly support Prop 1 (parks). I support all access to open space. Council supported in 2005, 2011, 2017 acquiring additional beach access. Where is the access other than Salt Water Park? Nowhere. Need to secure beach access at the three possible access points.

Approval of the Consent Calendar
Consent Calendar approved unanimously (6-0 CM Roberts not yet present)

Action Item 8(a) Action on Ordinance No. 948 – Amending Chapter 15.05, Construction and Building Codes, of the Shoreline Municipal Code, to Provide Amendments to the Washington State Energy Code - Commercial, as Adopted by the State of Washington

Presentation by Ray Allshouse, Shoreline Planning and Community Development department

Council discussed this topic on August 16 and November 15 of 2021, and indicated general support for an ordinance to limit the use of fossil fuels for commercial construction and multi-family projects over three stories in height. Washington State prohibits local governments from passing electrification ordinances for new residential construction.

Ordinance No. 948 bans of the use of fossil fuels in new commercial and large multi-family construction projects for space heating and most water heating as well as numerous other increases in energy efficiency requirements.

Shoreline may be one of the first to limit the use of fossil fuels, but other cities and the State will follow.


Motion and second to approve Ordinance No 948.

We have had robust discussions of this in the past.

I support this but have some clarifying questions about existing buildings. If there is a big change to a building with a planned replacement, then you have to change to follow the new energy code and switch to electric. But there’s an exception that if one out of two boilers fail, you can replace it with the same kind rather than change to electric. What about the in-betweens? What if owner can’t afford to make the change? If the building is not repaired and is therefore not habitable, will we be making the occupants homeless?
  • Reply: If the building is legally constructed, the intent is that it can remain in operation. So there would have to be a *compelling* reason to stop that. In general they would have to do something that would endanger the life safety of the occupants. This is a policy to require a more efficient structure. The intent of code is not to put buildings out of commission. That is why we have an exception as well as an appellate process.
I understand Seattle allows some flexibility to do something else.
  • Reply: Seattle’s experience has been broadly applied. That is, If an owner has major difficulties, Seattle has determined they will not put a perfectly good building out of commission by forcing the owner to follow current code changes they can’t afford to make. They also allow - the term they use is “energy tradeoffs.” A trade off is: we can’t afford to do that, so how about if we do this instead? This can make that can make energy updates more palatable and still achieve the intent of the code.
We all have to work at mitigating the effects of climate change. I thank there are other things besides electrification. Are we attacking the correct issue for Shoreline? Regionally, yes it makes sense. But these multi-unit buildings will come with a like number of vehicles. Cars put out more emissions I believe. It seems hypocritical to do this. I will be supporting the ordinance but wonder: Are we really looking at the big issue for Shoreline or just looking for a plaque on the wall?

There were some costs to up-zoning. We lost trees and we lost porous surfaces that help the environment. But we did it because of light rail. That is the area where we are putting multifamily housing. We are trying to get people out of their cars. Growth is going to come so let’s have it happen here in Shoreline, right next to light rail stations, rather than a vehicle-dependent area in east KingCo. So step #1 is getting people here, and I see this as step #2, let’s reduce the impact on the environment as much as we can. There are a lot of steps to go.

I agree. The 2020 Sustainability Report showed the impact on climate change of housing and transportation choices and concluded that new construction with the built-green mandate in the station areas has 1/10th of the carbon footprint of a new single family home without built-green construction or access to light rail. Even though we are seeing the loss of some tree canopy and additional impervious surfaces, remember our building code is not what changes the population of this region. The choice we have is do we want people cutting down more forests in east KingCo and building homes and driving cars where they have ten times the carbon footprint of what they would have if they lived in a new construction unit here near light rail. I think that’s huge. But this is just one step.

Someone stated electric heat is more expensive than gas and I guess if you have old baseboard heaters, that’s the case. But we’re talking about a different electric heat, right?
  • Reply: That is correct. What goes along with this is parsimonious use of electric resistance heat, and heat pumps are inherently more efficient. We are moving away from electric resistant and moving to heat pumps. Like anything else, prices will come down as heat pumps become more popular.
I just want add that if we adopt this, at the next cycle for the energy code at the state level, having more municipalities support this will help. So our actions tonight could have a bigger effect.

Passes unanimously 6-0 (CM Roberts not yet present)

Action Item 8(b) Action on Ordinance No. 950 - Amending Shoreline Municipal Code Chapter 10.20 Speed Limits

Presentation by Kendra Dedinsky, City Traffic Engineer

As discussed on Jan 4, 2021 and again on Nov 22, speed is a key factor in fatal and serious injury collisions. Industry update to speed limit setting methods recognizes that reducing speed limits is an important tool for creating safer streets.

Council discussed a speed limit reduction of five mph, from 35 mph to 30 mph, for:
  • N/NE 175th Street from Aurora Avenue N to 15th Avenue NE,
  • Meridian Avenue N from N 145th Street to NE 205th Street,
  • 15th Avenue NE from NE 145th Street to NE 175th Street,
  • Greenwood Avenue N from N 145th Street to NW Innis Arden Way, and
  • N/NW Richmond Beach Road from 8th Avenue NW to Fremont Avenue N.


Motion and second to approve Ordinance No 950.

In studies of these corridors, the data support reduction in the speed limit to improve outcomes from accidents and collisions, and to prevent pedestrian injuries.

Motion and second to amend Ordinance No 950 to include 15th Ave NE from NE 180th St to NE 196th St.

I think this is needed because I drove 15th tonight when it was dark, foggy and drizzly. And this stretch butts up against 30mph on same street.

Do we have the data to run 15th using the new tool used on the five corridors in the ordinance?
  • Reply: Yes, the tool recommended 35 mph because of the higher operating speeds (the speed most people are actually driving). Other areas are looking at target speeds rather than the current traveled speed. We think a lower speed limit might have some small impact. Although the tool did not recommend reducing the speed, Council can decide either way.
The City of Lake Forest Park requested this speed reduction on 15th. LFP is reviewing all of its speed limits in 2022 and stated, in part, “We believe that it is critical to be consistent with speed limits at the approaches to our city and ‘set the tone’ for speed limits feeding downhill from 15th St NE.” (Full letter available in Documents on the City of Shoreline website). I don’t want LFP to become a speed trap. I think we should reduce it to be consistent with LFP.

I think it will be safer and I think it will feel very slow. I wonder if future design opportunities will help with this feeling?

I don’t support the amendment because it is not supported by the data.

VOTE ON AMENDMENT (adding 15th)
Passes 5-2.

Mayor Hall and CM Chang dissenting.

What we’re doing is setting the speed limit down to a speed where we know that half of the people on the road are already speeding. I think the concern about enforcement is important from not only a racial and equity perspective, but also is it reasonable to pass a law when we know that the moment it goes into effect 50% of the people here will be violating it everyday? Even though over time we can make engineering changes to the roads to slow them down, we’ve been advised in the past by our traffic staff that traditional traffic calming measures (chicanes, speed humps, traffic circles) are not appropriate on these arterials. I don’t like making a decision where we will either have to enforce it (so half the people who live here will be getting tickets), or adopt a law that we know that we will not enforce. I can’t support this ordinance.

Passes 7-1.

Mayor Hall dissenting

Study Item 9(a) Discussion of Utility Undergrounding for the 175th Street (Stone to I- 5) Project

Tricia Juhnke, City Engineer introduced Leif Johansen, Engineer II Capital Projects, who did the presentation

It’s been almost a year ago when we started the conversation about utility undergrounding on this corridor.

We are at the 30% design point. The work we are doing here will meet the requirement for utility undergrounding in SMC 13.20.050 because we are impacting utilities, doing major trenching, and it is a large scope project.

If we didn’t underground and remove the utility poles, we would have to relocate them either into the amenities zones or behind the shared-use path. With the constraint we have on right-of-way, I believe it would be pretty tough to get them behind the shared-use path but those are the two options.

In addition to increased project costs of $1.87M, the undergrounding of electrical system would result in an increase to rate payers of approximately $1.00 per billing period (once every two months) for 25 years.

Next steps:
  1. Proceed with design (is undergrounding in or out?);
  2. Proceed with targeted right-of-way;
  3. Pursue Funding.

I support undergrounding. We’re going to be doing the trenching anyway, so it’s either move the poles or underground. There are costs with both options but one is more aesthetically pleasing. And it won’t be susceptible to power outages when we have windstorms. I’m curious, is this an area with power outages due to weather issues?
  • Reply: I don’t know about weather issues there. But as for relocation of the poles, Seattle City Light would have to relocate the poles so we took a “credit” for that when determining the cost to the taxpayer.
What is the cost to relocate the poles?
  • Reply: $4.1M is the credit we took.
I want to make sure I understood the numbers. The staff report said the $1.87M was the difference between undergrounding and not undergrounding, right?
  • Reply: That is accurate. That is for the three non SCL (Seattle City Light) utilities.
Putting trees and poles in that narrow amenities zone between the road and the sidewalk would create a sight distance problem. We see this in other areas of the city. You can’t see to get out of driveways.

I’m concerned about the185th St corridor. In order to transform it, we really need to underground. I worry about stacking up charges too much and I was concerned that undergrounding here might undercut doing it on 185th. But it seems that Council is fine with both of these projects - and of course we have new Councilmembers joining us. I hope they feel the same way.

Undergrounding in general is good and I note that a few years ago we had to repeal a resolution from the “distant past” that promised to have the entire city underground by 2010 (laughter). Underground is better and I am supportive of this.

I support it as well. The plan to underground the entire city would have meant undergrounding even if no construction was going on. We realized that’s not a very efficient way to do things. When you are already spending $50M+ to rebuild a road, it makes sense to underground. This is the right time. 185th is more important but 175th is also a very visible, very important gateway to our city - for people who choose to drive instead of taking light rail.

I also agree. The aesthetics of undergrounding like you see on Aurora - wow - people love it and it looks better and feels better. Poles being gone improves safety and visibility. This is a great opportunity to get it done.

Can this project be eligible for rate assistance through current utility programs?
  • Reply: don’t know
Are Shoreline residents eligible for Seattle City Light (SCL) rate assistance?
  • Reply by Debbie Tarry: Yes, if they meet the low income requirements.
Are these fees eligible for the SCL discount?
  • Reply by Debbie Tarry: I don’t know for sure. We can find out for you.
Also this fee goes to everybody - not as a percentage of electricity use.

I’m concerned about moving forward with undergrounding. I think it’s very unfair that SCL charges Shoreline residents for undergrounding in Seattle, but Shoreline residents have to pay for their own. It is fundamentally unfair. This needs to be vigorously pursued when their contract comes up. Even if we have to go through the Legislature.

I agree regarding SCL. It is a problem and needs to be addressed through legislative or even legal strategies. It is unfair that they can charge us, but we can’t charge them. We need to keep working on this.

There is general consensus to go ahead with undergrounding on 145th with some dissent.



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