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September 17, 2019 | 3:42pm
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City Administrator details the City Council agenda for Monday’s meeting

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The following letter to members of the Ferndale City Council is provided courtesy of Ferndale City Administrator Jori Burnett. It is regarding the Ferndale City Council meeting agenda for the regular meeting scheduled for 6pm, Monday, July 15th. The public is welcome to attend.

As noted, a special City Council workshop is schedule at 5pm before the regular meeting. This is to discuss items to be included in the 2020 city budget.

Councilmembers –

Your agenda for Monday night is as follows:

5pm Budget Study Session (one hour): Following two financial workshops, the first budget study session of 2019 is scheduled for 5pm on Monday. The study session is intended to gather input and proposals from the City Council for potential incorporation into the 2020 budget. Given that the study session is only scheduled for one hour, it will be important to make sure that all councilmembers have the opportunity to share their ideas.

We expect that the most interaction will be between councilmembers, rather than between councilmembers and Staff. Staff will be focused primarily on taking notes, with the expectation that subsequent conversations between individual councilmembers and the potentially-affected departments would occur by the end of July.

Staff requests that councilmembers make direct contact with the individual departments after the study session in order to explore how or if the budget proposals can fit with planned 2020 work programs. For example, significant budget expenditures, particularly those related to capital projects, must be reflected in the City’s adopted 6-Year Plans. Adding new capital projects that are separate from these plans would create dueling plans, with the 6-Year plans necessarily given regulatory priority.

Beyond a strictly monetary or regulatory framework, discussions between councilmembers and department heads will also enable a better understanding of how a proposal may fit within the “workforce budget” as well: in some cases there may be budget items that have a small or manageable impact on the budget, but may have a dramatic impact on workforce that might not always be obvious. Conversely, it is important for Staff to understand the relative priorities of Council, and to determine whether staff resources can be re-arranged to match these priorities.

In any case, the budget study session is intended to provide Council with the opportunity to share budget concepts with one another, and for Staff to identify ways in which these ideas (as presented or amended) could be incorporated into the 2020 budget or in subsequent budgets.

Item A: Public Comment

Item B: Consent Agenda, including authorization of June 17th Council Meeting Minutes, July 5, payroll, and approval of June 2019 claims.

The Public Works Committee acknowledged that the City’s Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit will be reissued for a new five-year cycle effective August 1, 2019. The item has been placed on the consent agenda. The City is required to meet the new stormwater permit regulations, and to implement permit requirements within the City to improve water quality. As part of the City’s continued compliance with the permit, the City will expand its long-term stormwater planning, develop a Stormwater Management Action Plan to identify potential water quality benefits, and develop pollution prevention measures for existing development.

The City is obligated to implement the requirements of the permit to demonstrate compliance with state and federal regulations to discharge stormwater. The new permit does increase the City’s obligations and responsibilities, and current staff is capable of meeting these responsibilities, at this time, with expenditures for studies and comprehensive planning anticipated.

Item C: Proclamation – 2019 Paddle to Lummi Tribal Canoe Journey – From July 24-28th, the Lummi Nation will be hosting a celebration of the unique cultural heritage of the Coast Salish people, as over 100 canoes from around the Northwest travel along traditional marine highways to the Stommish Grounds.

Item D: Capital Projects Update – Project Manager Katy Radder will deliver a monthly update on the City’s capital projects.

Item E: Public Hearing, Floodway Repeal Ordinance – The City Council is asked to approve a Zoning Text Amendment removing the City’s Floodway Zone from the Ferndale Municipal Code. The modification has no effect on the FEMA-defined Floodway. Instead, the proposal would remove a City zoning designation (already removed from the City’s maps) that had, for several decades, maintained a separate, sometimes-contradictory designation with the same name. These dueling floodways often resulted in confusion.

Item F: Discussion, First & Main Street Intersection Improvement Project – The City Council is asked to discuss a bid award to Sail Electric in the amount of $104,000 including contract ($94,072.40) and contingency ($9,927.60) for the reconfiguration of pedestrian crossings at the intersection of First Avenue and Main Street. The reconfiguration will include the removal of existing signal arms, cabinets and related facilities, concrete flatwork, HMA paving, permanent signage, and pavement striping. The bid was higher than the engineer’s estimate of $75,385.

The Public Works Committee did not make a recommendation to approve the contract. The Committee requested additional information from City Staff concerning the background of the project. As the Council will recall, in 2017 the City removed signal lights and this intersection after it was determined that those traffic lights did not meet warrants for such an installation. Staff believes that it is important to clarify the meaning of the term “traffic signal warrants.” According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a warrant is a “threshold condition based upon average or normal conditions that, if found to be satisfied as part of an engineering study, shall result in analysis of other traffic conditions or factors to determine whether a traffic control device or other improvement is justified.”

The MUTCD guidelines are not intended to promote the use of traffic signals for the purpose of improving or maintaining business, for defining the character of a space, or for perpetuating existing conditions. They are focused on the analysis of the intersection, speed limits, and volumes. And the previous signal did not meet the warrants for maintaining the signal in that location.

The removal of the signal resulted in relatively small but measurable improvements in the corridor travel time. Working with the City’s transportation consultant, the Transpo Group, Staff has determined that while a signal at this location does not meet warrants, a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) on the west side of the intersection is appropriate in order to facilitate pedestrian crossings at that location. The draft contract will enable the City to subsequently install such a beacon.

The City Council does not have the authority to install traffic control devices that are not warranted, and the continued operation of the previous signal increased the City’s liability. An RRFB is a recommended option from the City’s transportation consultants; a signal is not. Should traffic conditions, volumes, or the alignment of the intersection change in the future as a result of growth or specific developments, it is possible that different options may meet warrants and may need to be installed. This is a true statement (the RRFB may not be a permanent solution), and the City Council does have the right to delay or cancel consideration of the RRFB until such time as development impacting the intersection is known.

However, Staff must point out that the continued growth of Ferndale will continue to place new and evolving demands on the entire transportation network – there will not be a time in the foreseeable future when the City reaches a point of unchanging equilibrium. Waiting to make an improvement until growth is “completed” will be a very, very long wait.

Item G: Mayor’s Affordable Housing Report – Mayor Mutchler and Community Development Director Haylie Miller will present a summary of suggestions related to affordable housing made by a number of individuals in the housing and development industry. The City received a range of responses, many of which are currently being employed by the City, some of which are in the process of being reviewed. There were a number of new suggestions, as well, focusing on methods to reduce processing time, increase consistency, and more.

Staff and the mayor believe that the City does have an obligation to identify ways to make housing more affordable. There is a true housing crisis in the Pacific Northwest, and local jurisdictions play a vital role in helping to identify solutions. So do development applicants, the real estate and lending industries, and existing residents who may prefer that no growth occur. The simple fact, ultimately, is that growth will occur, and costs will continue to increase until sufficient housing stock is added that will moderate the demand. How we address – manage – this growth, will be the defining legacy of this City moving forward.

Item H-K: Mayor, Council, and Department Reports; Committee Minutes

See you Monday – Jori

The public is encouraged to attend City Council meetings. They are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month at 6pm in Council Chambers at the City Hall Annex at 5694 2nd Avenue.

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