During Richland City Council workshops which are held monthly, councilmembers receive information about issues before the city. The Council does not vote or take citizen comments at workshops. Sometimes the matters discussed come before the council later for a vote and then residents can comment publicly. Until then, residents can email the councilmembers their opinions.
Electric Rental Scooters
Michael Novakovic, President and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities has been motoring along the idea of electric rental scooters since 2019. He attended the Tuesday meeting to encourage Richland to take the lead in the process of approving a rental scooter company because they were only interested in a contract that included all the Tri Cities.
Councilmember Michael Alvarez asked if Novakovic had approached other cities’ councilmembers about rental scooters and he said that he had not. Alvarez said, “I don’t want to take the lead.
Director Joe Schiessl responded, “We’re further along.”
Councilmembers expressed concerns about where people would ride the scooters, who had liability for injuries, who would be responsible for scooters littering the sidewalks and streets and how the city would deal with any scooters thrown in the river.
In all cases, Novakovic pointed to the scooter companies although Councilmember Phil Lemley pointed out that accident victims usually went after the “deepest pockets.”
Novakovic batted away concerns and outlined a process for considering the scooters – community open houses in September, bids accepted in December, contracts awarded in January for a trial program.
Revenue would go to Visit Tri-Cities that would administer the program.
Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicles
Both Kennewick and West Richland allow wheeled all-terrain vehicle (WATV) on city streets so you can bet that they will be in Richland soon.
Mayor Ryan Lukson said, “I’m in favor of opening up opportunities. I don’t care how people drive around.”
Sandra Kent said that although all-terrain vehicles are “loud like a nice motorcycle,” she approved of them on city streets if people follow the rules.
According to Richland City Attorney Heather Kintzley, by state law the vehicles must have windshields, be licensed, and insured, and the occupants must wear Department of Transportation approved helmets. The vehicles are only allowed on streets with 35 mph or lower speed limits.
Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky suggested prohibiting the WATVs on three streets with 35 mph limits – George Washington Way, Stevens Drive (north of Jadwin) and Jadwin Avenue.
Rogalsky explained, “The character of their use and the frequent operating speeds may be higher than 35 mph.” In plain English that means that drivers exceed the speed limits and we let them.
Kintzley emphasized that staff was not promoting the use of the WATV but only presenting the information to council so that members could decide whether to consider approving them.
Lukson, who lives in the Meadow Springs Country Club neighborhood, has promoted the idea of allowing golf carts on neighborhood streets. Rogalsky pointed out that golf carts do not fall under the definition of wheeled all-terrain vehicles.
In other business the council discussed the schedule for the next budget’s consideration. Cathleen Koch, Administrative Services Director said that the city had received $7,361,385 from the American Rescue Plan. The money has to be obligated by 2024 and the projects completed by 2026.