Notes from Shoreline Council meeting February 28, 2022

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
February 28, 2022

Notes by Pam Cross

The remote meeting was called to order at 7:00pm by Mayor Scully.

All Councilmembers were present.

Approval of the Agenda

Are there any changes to the Agenda?

Motion to remove item 7(d) from the Consent calendar and added as Action item 8(a).

Motion and second to postpone the above 8(a) and move to a future meeting.

We need time to discuss and staff will need additional time to prepare. Tonight we already have a busy agenda.

Debbie Tarry: I don’t know how long the bids are good for. Delay will impact the schedule.

Mayor Scully: I would like to delay a week.

Randy Witt (City Engineer): A week delay won’t critically impact the project. Staff can work it in. We just need to watch for the contract's 45 day limit.

Vote: Motion passes 6-1 with CM McConnell opposing delay.

The proposed 8(a) is off calendar for rescheduling.

Amended agenda adopted by unanimous consent.

Report of the City Manager, Debbie Tarry

COVID-19 Update (as of this meeting Feb 28, 2022)

The trend of new COVID-19 infections continues to go in the downward direction. We finally moved from the “high” transmittal rate into the lower “substantial” rate.

While the County and State have lifted restrictions as shown above, businesses can have their own requirements and we ask that people comply with those requirements.

Community Climate Conversations

We would like feedback from the community to help us design climate action strategies. You can attend any or all three zoom meetings.

Public Reminders

City Council will hold Planning Commission candidate finalist interviews on March 1.

The Planning Commission meeting for March 3 has been canceled.

Council Reports

DM Robertson attended the Regional Transit Committee. The return to full transit services planned for Mar 1st was delayed due to COVID. I hope it will be rescheduled soon now that COVID cases continue to decrease. They are reworking the Orca Card program but you don’t need a new card if you already have one. Details will follow.

Mayor Scully attended the Lake Ballinger Forum which is a group of the communities in the Lake Ballinger Watershed. Shoreline staff has identified an opportunity to pursue Army Corps of Engineers funding to improve some habitat in the adjacent watershed, which is on the Shoreline side. Possible grant for $250k would go into our existing stormwater infrastructure improvements and improve habitat next to Brugger's Bog Park.


The City Manager and I attended the Echo Lake Neighborhood Assn. They were interested in how the City has responded to the COVID crisis and its financial impacts. It’s always fun to get out into the community and see how informed and engaged our residents are.

Public Comment
Motion to extend time in order to let everyone speak for 2 minutes. Passed unanimously

Jacke Kurle, Shoreline
Thanks for the recent report on The Oaks Shelter in Currents. It appears that things are going well. I look forward to regular updates.

The following spoke in support of the proposed tree codes in Item 9(b)

Melody Fosmore, Shoreline
Wally Fosmore, Shoreline
Bill Turner, Shoreline
Kean Engie, Shoreline
Martha Diesner, Shoreline
Jean Hilde, Shoreline, Member of PRCS/TREE Board but speaking on her own behalf
Rebecca Jones, Seattle but former longtime Shoreline resident with family still here
Janet Way, Shoreline, Shoreline Preservation Society
Susanne Tsoming, Shoreline, member of the Tree Preservation Code Team
Kara Pomeroy, Shoreline
Kathleen Russell, Shoreline
Jonna Reeder, Shoreline
Nancy Morris, Shoreline
Barbara Johnstone, Shoreline

Speaking in opposition to some of the tree codes

Peter Eglick, Attorney for Innis Arden Club and speaking on its behalf.

Innis Arden has planted hundreds of trees in their forested reserve tracts. But they are concerned that some of the proposals are over the top regulations.

Speakers in favor of 9(a) interim use of above-ground three-phase power.

Jake McKinstry, Seattle, Spectrum Development Solutions
Chris Kelly and Rosalie Merks, AAA Management
Robert Gregg, Clinton, Construction Manager on two projects in 145th station area
Jack Malek, Shoreline, Realtor with Windermere

The Amended Consent Calendar was approved unanimously 7-0.

Action Item 8(a)

*This is a quasi-judicial action for which the Council does not take public comment.

Action on Preliminary Formal Unit Lot Subdivision No. PLN20-0139, Dividing Eleven (11) Existing Parcels into Seventy (70) Unit Lots at 2105, 2117, and 2123 N 148th Street; 2116, 2122, 2132, 2142, and 2150 N 147th Street; 14704, 14710 and 14718 Meridian Avenue N (East side of Meridian Avenue N, between N 147th and 148th Streets)
No disclosures.

Presentation by Cate Lee, Senior Planner

The public hearing for this subdivision was held on Jan 18, 2022 by the Hearing Examiner, which created the record for the basis of a recommendation from the Hearing Examiner to the City Council.

The Applicant has proposed 70 unit lots. Each proposed lot is rectangular in shape, containing the necessary footprint for an attached single-family home and a portion of landscaping, walkways and driveways into private garages. There are two tracts proposed, Tract A is an access tract for vehicular circulation, and Tract B is common outdoor space.

The Subdivision makes appropriate provisions for the public health, safety and general welfare, drainage, access, and other facilities and services. The Subdivision will also serve the public use and interest, creating additional opportunities for owner-occupied housing developed in a manner that is consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan policies.

The Hearing Examiner recommends that the City Council approve the application subject to conditions listed in the staff report.


Motion and second to approve the application.

I’m concerned about access to the subdivision.
  • Reply: There is no access off of Meridian, but multiple access points both on north and south sides.
Does the City have any restrictions or code requirements about access?
  • Reply: It is a private access tract - it’s not a public right of way. The City will not have an easement for public use. This would be a homeowners development with joint use and maintenance of common garage, parking, vehicle access, landscaping, utilities and so forth.
How many square feet of open space is on this tract?
  • Reply: I can look it up - don’t know off-hand. But this is the area where the trees are being retained. Fairly big part of the property.
Will there be any amenities there? Like playgrounds or picnic tables where the community can congregate? As density increases, we need access to open space. I do note it is two blocks from Twin Ponds.
  • Reply: No playgrounds, but walking paths and so forth.
There was feedback from the public regarding density and saving trees. How did you address this feedback?
  • Reply: We reduced the number of units to provide better tree retention.
We are limited in what we can consider here because this is a quasi-judicial decision. We need to apply the code, and I believe this meets the code requirements.

Broader issues: it is an environmental benefit by getting 72 residences in a fairly small area. This is also a way to make housing affordable for first time homebuyers.


Motion passes unanimously 7-0.

Study Item 9(a)

Discussion of Required Undergrounding in the South Shoreline/148th Street Light Rail Station Area and the Impact on the Sound Transit Project

Presentation by John Norris, Assistant City Manager

In SMC 13.20 Electrical and Communications Facilities, the City Code puts a high value on undergrounding utilities because of better system reliability, increased safety, and less visual clutter or aesthetics for our community. But there is a high cost to that when it comes to electrical facilities.

Given the power loads (higher voltages) required to run light rail, 3-phase power with thicker wires is needed, rather than the less robust single-phase power or the existing direct buried 3-phase power in 5th Ave NE. Many projects, including multi-family projects or commercial projects, as well as light rail, need the more robust higher voltage.

Seattle City Light (SCL) currently has three-phase (3-phase) underground power running down 5th Avenue NE, in front of the future Shoreline South/148th Light Rail Station. This underground power is what is called “direct bury” power, in that the powerlines are not installed in any conduit (typically plastic piping), but rather are buried directly in the ground as was the typical practice in past years. The issue with direct bury lines is that they degrade over time due to exposure to the elements and the difficulty in replacing the lines as the lines must be dug up rather than being “pulled” like those in conduit. All current underground electrical lines are constructed in conduit for these reasons.

Constructing new connections to this existing direct buried line is not viable for most development, including the Lynnwood Link Extension (LLE) Light Rail Project, due to its age and the inability to replace or upgrade the cables without digging it up. Given that the 5th Ave NE 3-phase line has reached the end of its useful life and is in danger of failing, SCL has planned for its replacement with new 3-phase power in a duct bank project (multiple conduits put together) within 5th Ave.

However, in early 2021, SCL informed Sound Transit and the City that it does not have the capital funding to complete the Duct Bank Project in coordination with the LLE Project timeline. Seattle City Light is looking at 2027 to complete the duct bank project, well past the 2023 target.

Prior to, and independent of the delay of the Duct Bank Project, Sound Transit still needed to start construction of their Shoreline South / 148th elevated station and garage to keep the LLE Project on schedule. Therefore, in April 2020, the City permitted Sound Transit and SCL to construct a temporary overhead, 3-phase powerline along NE 148th St, pulling the 3-phase power from the existing overhead powerlines that run north/south along 8th Ave NE, and included six new poles within City right-of-way installed in June 2020. Code requires removal of temporary overhead powerlines, once a project is complete.

Traction Power Sub- Stations (TPSS) allow light rail to move by supplying power to the trains.

For new developments that were relying on the duct bank project, they would need temporary construction power and interim operational power until the duct bank is completed. This would require a code amendment to allow it as an exception to undergrounding regulations. There is also a proposal for some overhead interim power to be constructed and remain in place until the duct bank is completed.

Question for Council:
  1. Is Council supportive of an amendment to allow for temporary construction power?
  2. Is Council also supportive of some level of interim overhead power until Seattle City Light planned facilities are installed?

Do you have any concerns that SCL will not follow through with building the duct bank? Or further delay past 2027?
  • Reply: SCL says they are planning to construct the duct bank. We continue to work with them to get a further commitment so we can learn when it will be constructed. SCL staff do understand the importance of the project for Sound Transit and for private development. So, at least at the staff level, there is a strong commitment to get the project constructed.
Can we include language in these proposals to encourage the completion?
  • Reply: I’m not sure our code language would do it. This is really SCL’s infrastructure - it is their capital project and they are the electrical provider for Shoreline.
For the temporary power for new developments, what kind of timeframe is “temporary”?
  • Reply (Trish Juhnke): “Temporary” would just be for construction. It would have to be removed prior to the building being occupied. And it would be conditioned as such. Building construction has a somewhat finite time frame of a couple of years.
So what if SCL isn’t ready? Can they not use their building until SCL can complete their duct bank?
  • Reply (Trish Juhnke): There needs to be a focus on both temporary power and also interim power as mentioned in the second part of the question for Council.
  • Reply (John Norris): Temporary construction power would be available throughout the City where there isn’t this specific geographical issue in the 145th light rail area. For operational use, they would have to connect to underground power.
There don’t appear to be many options.

Is there a way to limit this ordinance to something other than citywide? I’d rather have it narrowly tailored to the station area or MUR 70 zones. But I need more information.
  • Reply: Yes, we could bring back some options for Council.
Temporary occupancy - how would that work for Sound Transit (ST)? There is temporary project power there already.
  • Reply (Juniper Nammi, Project Mgr Light Rail Project): Do you mean if the interim power isn’t allowed?
Until we know what the lever is with Sound Transit, it might affect what options we have available in the future. If we only adopt option one would that preclude ST from operating because they wouldn’t be able to occupy the building?
  • Reply: That is correct. They would need the interim power as well as the temporary. Or, ST would have to build the powerline at much greater expense. Or they would have to delay opening until they had power.
What is the expectation that Shoreline has, or other similar cities have, in expecting developers to provide underground power to their property? Is the general expectation that the developer will have to bring power from the nearest available source?
  • Reply (Tricia Juhnke): We haven’t looked at cities other than Seattle. We can get back to you with the information if you’d like.
But with ST, there was the expectation that the cost was too high to bring it and/or too far.
  • Reply: We looked at 5th Ave as the primary source of power and it’s a fairly short distance to underground so we hadn’t considered 8th Ave or other locations. If that project would have gone as planned, ST would have pulled power from there either to their station or their TPSS site.
  • Reply (John Norris): In 2016 when we were looking at this with ST, the assumption was that the duct bank project would be in place by 2023 to support the station, the garage, and the TPSS. We did some preliminary work leading up to it. Now this hold up is delaying a critical project.
The permits that the City issued ST were based on the idea that the duct bank project would be completed and that would provide the power to ST?
  • Reply (John Norris): Correct.
Then that didn’t happen. Is it normal for any city to issue a permit based on the completion of the public works project of another entity? If we think about other utilities such as sewer, we wouldn’t grant an exemption for a developer to not have the required lines for the permitted occupancy. So I’m trying to decide how we said to ST, your permit is OK - when it was based on SCL which was not party to the permit. Does that make sense?
  • Reply (Trisha Juhnke): Yes. Let me see if I can compare this to another project. Other projects often have to do a lot of utility work to bring all the necessary utilities (water lines to provide fire flow or to upgrade service from a small waterline). That is the developer’s responsibility. They would have to work with Seattle’s Public Utility or North City Water District to make provisions for that. We really don’t get heavily involved during our permitting process - it is the developer’s responsibility and therefore the developer’s risk. If they have a problem, we leave that to the developer to resolve.
So we’re in this situation because promises were made to ST and to the developers that the duct project would be complete and now it’s not. So shouldn’t ST really be working with SCL to get that done? And other future developers would work with the line that ST did, and theoretically reimburse ST for the work.
  • Reply: We do have options for latecomers on some utilities, but it’s my understanding that latecomers cannot apply to electrical companies.
Thank you. I think it’s a shame that we’re in this position but I think we need to move ahead with option 2.

It’s concerning that SCL has put us in this predicament. Didn’t they see this coming? We have light rail stations we’re trying to open up and large developments - this is big for both the City and the developers. A 4 year delay is not acceptable. ST cannot have it.

I wish there were people here from SCL to answer these questions. These are not questions for our staff - they are questions for Seattle City Light. I don’t feel that we can trust their word because they are not going forward on a commitment that they made to this community and the much larger community that is relying on the link light rail station.

In 2016 the buried line on 5th was considered to be at the end of its useful life and was in danger of failing. In 2016! Why has this project been put off by SCL? Why has it not been considered a priority? They are a public utility. Can we ask them for their budget and try to determine what other projects SCL has deemed of a higher priority? Where are they channeling their funds? Has something catastrophic happened to their budget in the last 3-4 years? This is so frustrating. And when this project finally happens, whenever that is, it is going to be a massively disruptive project for people trying to access the light rail station. It doesn’t feel good to not have a choice.

This is not our first challenge with Seattle City Light. There have been several items including customer service, dramatic over-billing of residents, and the ongoing inequity between Shoreline ratepayers who have to pay to underground and Seattle ratepayers who do not. Unfortunately the contract with them is valid for several more years. This is a big deal. This isn’t a supply-chain issue or something, it’s just a policy decision that they have made. Shoreline needs the same respect and not be expected to wait “maybe four years” for something as crucial as this. As I understand it, the answer has to come from the Seattle City Council who has to say this has to change.

Developers need certainty and a lot of those projects are funded. You can’t go to a bank and say I think we’ll have the power we need? We can construct it but we might or might not be able to hook it up to power? We need a solution in place. We started thinking that our City requirements were making it too difficult for these projects to move forward. And if we throw yet another thing at them, we could have people pulling out and Shoreline could become a place where no one is willing to invest.

Study Item 9(b)

Discussion of Ordinance No. 955 – 2021 Batch Development Code Amendments Group C - Related to Tree Regulations, Amending Shoreline Municipal Code Sections 20.20 and 20.50

The Development Code Batch Amendments consist of three distinct groups of amendments that have been grouped by topic:

  • Group A: Miscellaneous amendments proposed by City of Shoreline staff.
  • Group B: Amendments to the procedure and administration of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The proposed amendments to SEPA procedures are largely clarifying amendments that make the administration of SEPA less cumbersome and clarify that SEPA is not a permit type but a decision that is tied to a proposed permit or action.
  • Group C: Amendments to tree regulations.
This discussion will focus on Group C.

There are 31 slides in the presentation and it’s 9:05pm. Councilmembers have read the staff report. Mayor Scully has asked staff to move quickly through the slide presentation only to orient us to the discussion.

Presentation by Cate Lee, Senior Planner

Slides concerning Code regulations for trees on private property. The brief overview covered when a permit is required, number of trees that need to be retained, some exceptions available, replacement trees, requirements for developments.

Presentation by Steve Szafran, Senior Planner

The 10 proposed tree amendments are mostly proposed by individual members of the Tree Preservation Code Team, which is a group of residents committed to protecting and preserving trees in Shoreline. One amendment in the Group was proposed by staff.

There are several clarifications of definitions regarding different trees.

Because of the brevity of the presentation, the staff report should be reviewed.


Thank you to the members of the community (members of Save Shoreline Trees and the Tree Code Team) who put together this list of recommendations. It had to take a tremendous amount of work. I look forward to further conversations.

There is room for potential discussion only when it comes to the denials. I believe the staff did a really nice job of justifying and explaining the reasons for denial. The only one that I would like to continue to talk about and question is C6 - Exemptions from permit. I am not an expert. But for me, it was the justification itself that I didn’t agree with. It was the idea that all properties be treated equally. A property that is densely forested should not be treated the same as an unforested property. I feel there should be a way for us to give extra attention and extra value to forested properties and try to steer development towards the ample other lots that are available in Shoreline.

I agree with that comment. As a general statement, how often is the tree canopy measured? Some people asked about incentives and enforcement and I do not believe these things are adequately addressed. As regards C10, the tree protection standards, I’m not clear what the timeframe is. What is the duration of the permit that the additional irrigation water would be required? A couple years during construction?
  • Reply: Typically we require a 3 year period where we would inspect it after the 3 years to make sure that what was replaced is living.
What happens if it’s not living?
  • Reply: then we have the bond in place to replace it and try again,
Is that a sufficient incentive for developers to want to keep things living? Is the amount of money sufficient?
  • Reply: In my experience, it has been.
When this comes back to us, I would like to change the diameter measurements of significant trees. I appreciate the work of the planning commission and would just like to see that one item come back.

Item L was not presented in the Council presentation that related to penalties. Can Mr. Szafran speak to that?
  • Reply: The Planning Commission did not recommend this so it was not included as part of their recommendation.
Does that mean these fines are still in place?
  • Reply: No, they would not be approved and would have to be added back into the amendment language.
Why were the fees taken out?
  • Reply: There are other avenues that the City has to enforce or impose penalties on someone who doesn’t follow the permits and staff felt there would be a conflict with the new language and the processes we already have.
Are the other enforcement tools you mention monetary?
  • Reply: yes, monetary.
I would like to know more about what they are.

We are in a climate crisis. We know that the most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint is to increase density and transportation corridors. Some of these items may create barriers to accessing public transportation. Does staff have an opinion of whether these amendments may hamper some of those proposed developments like the pedestrian bridge? Would changing tree codes create a barrier for projects like that?
  • Reply: We are strengthening what we already have. It’s nothing that would be detrimental to development under our two light rail areas. We are strengthening what we have now.
We need an opportunity to talk to our residents about urban forestry, about stormwater, and about other sustainability issues.

Which sections of which zoning designations do these amendments apply to?
  • Reply: Unless they’re specifically called out zones, they apply citywide.
The tree code doesn’t apply to MUR70, right?
  • Reply: Commercial zones, MUR70 are specifically exempt.
Can you walk us through the amendment that would allow the director to reduce the tree retention percentage?
  • Reply: Yes, apparently the director can reduce the tree retention. There have been circumstances where a property with a single family home has one significant tree and that tree has caused foundation and utility issues. The property owner wants to remove the tree and the director doesn’t have the authority to approve that - even though it’s causing property damage. That’s where the amendment came from. For the director to actually approve that, there are criteria that a property owner would have to meet. There has to be good justification to do that. But there’s also, in that same section, it does say that if the exemption is granted, they are still subject to the tree replacement requirement.
I generally support the staff recommendations except for this last one and the one that follows. It’s not limited to trees that are impacting the foundation. It’s a broad brush that lets the director get rid of the entirety. This needs to be narrowly constrained.



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