At the Tuesday Richland City Council meeting councilmembers met with their newly hired consultant to discuss how to evaluate their interim city manager. The council also decided to plan a workshop on how to select proclamations since some people weren’t happy about their April 20 choice, National Infertility Awareness Week.
The agenda that the city posted on April 30 did not include the manager discussion, item 13. It was added later. Washington open meeting laws are notoriously lax and last minutes changes are allowed. According to RCW 42.30.077, “Nothing in this section prohibits subsequent modifications to agendas nor invalidates any otherwise legal action taken at a meeting where the agenda was not posted in accordance with this section.”
Consultant Marsha Fraser will be paid up to $20,800 to help the council evaluate the new interim city manager’s performance. Her contract goes to December 31, 2021, but after spending some time with the council she noted that it could take longer, maybe until January or February.
Councilmember Terry Christensen said that the council had to finish by December 31 because they had promised the interim city manager.
Fraser displayed two lists of competencies that the council committee of Councilmembers Michael Alvarez and Sandra Kent and Mayor Ryan Lukson had put together.
Councilmember Terry Christensen said, “Communication from the second list jumped right out at me.”
He added, “What we had before really, really was not good.” He continued, “Lots didn’t get before the city council.”
He indicated that the previous city manager had filtered information and communicated with some councilmembers more than others.
Councilmember Bob Thompson said that the council felt like the staff was making policy.
The consultant mentioned that there would be input from the interim city manager and staff. Some councilmembers frequently appear to have not read their packet material or have knowledge of the items on the agenda.
May 3 update: Richland City Clerk Jennifer Rogers emailed me this morning and said that she would correct her error in reporting my April 20 comment.
Page number below correspond to the pages in the Council’s packet. Direction on how to sign up to comment are at the top of the first page. Residents are allowed three minutes to comment on the three public hearings but only two minutes for the public comment period.
If you’re confused about zoning, go to Pg. 51-61 for an explanation.
1.Debrief of Yakima Delta Fire by Fire Chief Tom Huntington
2. Change zoning regulations to allow for compact car spaces. Up to 25% of of parking places could be designated for compact cars. In commercial spaces the compact slots could be 9’ x 15’ and in residential development they could be 7 ½’ x 15’. John Deskins, Richland traffic engineer, expressed concerns about the change (pg. 33). Pg. 4-35 and Pg. 178-228.
3. Accepting the proposed annexation of 3.63 Acres along Allenwhite Drive. This “donut hole” in the middle of the city has been the subject of discussion for at least a year. There are only five homes here. The zoning will be R-1-12 to match surrounding development which would allow as many as 14 homes in the same area. Pg. 36-69 and Pg. 239-236. The 12 in R-1-12 refers to 12,000 sq. ft. minimum lots or up to 5 houses per acre.
4. The owners of the Badger Mountain Wineries property at 1106 N. Jurupa Road want to have their 76.54 acres annexed. At least 43 pages of local residents oppose that. The property will be zoned R-1-12 which could accommodate as many as 382 homes. Pg. 70-167 and Pg. 237-244
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
5. Approval of the worthless minutes. Richland City Clerk Jennifer Rogers contacted me that she would correct her error in reporting my April 20 comment. Go to City View and watch the tapes if you really want to know what happened on April 20 and 27. The Observer also has a recap for April 20 and April 27 Pg. 168-177
6. The city will allow compact car parking spaces. See Item 2. The city council’s public hearings are also listed on the consent calendar. Those items receive no discussion and one vote on all of the items. Does that give you any confidence that they actually consider your comments???
7. Five homes on 3.63 acres along Allenwhite Drive will be annexed. See Item 3
8. The 76.54 acres of land located at 1106 N. Jurupa Road will be annexed. See Item 4
9. Pavement Preservation The city will pay Intermountain Slurry Seal, a Reno, NV company, $1,435,000 to resurface portions of Keene, Goethal, Swift, Knight and a couple of other streets. The Port of Benton will pay $150,000 of that total to have its street resurfaced at the same time. Pg. 245-250.
10. The city will be upgrading the wastewater treatment plant digester. RH2 Engineering will be paid $80,000 to manage construction. Pg.251-261.
11. Sixteen organizations will receive 2021 funding from the Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax Fund. Pg. 261-263
ITEMS OF BUSINESS
Cruise ship owners have complained that they can’t conveniently haul their cruise passengers out of Richland because their buses can’t get to their ships. Those darn residents keep parking their cars down there. So, from April to October parking on Lee Blvd. at the dock will be restricted. American Cruise Lines paid $45,000 a year for priority rights to use the million-dollar dock for 15 years. Pg. 264-265.
Correction: The city attorney is Heather Kintzley.
Delinquent Utility Bills
Administrative Services DirectorCathleen Koch reported to the Richland City Council Tuesday that the city had finished 2020 with expenses under budget. However, it wasn’t all good news.
Despite receiving $500,000 in Covid relief to help customers with utility bills, about 4000 have unpaid bills and a little more than $2 million is owed. That’s 10 times the $200,000 that was delinquent in 2019.
Koch said that the amount seems to have stabilized and the $2 million was not growing;
Councilman Terry Christiansen asked Finance Director Brandon Allen, “How does the city plan to handle the shortage.”
Allen replied that without the ability to shut off the utilities because of Covid restrictions, it was difficult to know who might be taking advantage of the situation. He added that shutoff wasn’t an option until at least July or August. He explained that the department was notifying people by mail and also making phone calls to explain to them their options .
Residents who are still struggling are directed to the county’s relief program.
Washington vs. Blake
Richland City Council continues to struggle with the Washington Supreme Court decision, Washington vs. Blake. The court’s decision that a person couldn’t be charged with possession of an illegal drug that they had unknowingly effectively gutted the state’s drug laws.
The Washington State Legislature’s fix, SB 5476, that recently passed, re-criminalizes the possession of illegal drugs as a gross misdemeanor instead of a felony. The bill requires that police divert people to treatment for their first two arrests. Only on their third or later arrests for possession can they actually be referred to the prosecutor for charges.
City Attorney Heather Kintzley pointed out that even State Representative Brad Klippert voted yes on SB 5476. She said that Klippert explained, “It is better than the supreme court gave us.”
According to Kintzley, the city never had an ordinance criminalizing drug use because the crime was a felony and the city had no jurisdiction over felony crime. For that reason, she said, the city had two options – do nothing and leave enforcement to the county or write a local ordinance that adopts the state’s new law. She pointed out that the new law expires July 1, 2023.
Councilmembers decided to wait and see what other local jurisdictions do before picking an option.
With that decision Mayor Ryan Lukson said, “We probably ended this discussion 30 minutes earlier because Bob [Councilmember Bob Thompson] is in Seattle.”
Changes to zoning
Councilmembers reviewed five proposed changes to zoning. Two of them would change commercial zoning to residential zoning.
Councilmembers expressed the most concern with changing the zoning from commercial to residential at the intersection of Meadow Drive South and Center Parkway. That change would mean that there was no commercial development at the busy intersection.
Residents will have an opportunity to comment on the changes listed before there is a final decision.
Automated External Defibrillators
Richland Fire Chief Thomas Huntington and Captain Michael Van Beek described to councilmembers how the department continues to improve its cardiac survival program.
Soon the fire department will be able to provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to some new construction, some large gatherings and city properties like parks. Van Beek assured the council that the AEDs themselves would instruct users on how to use the device.
A program that alerts off-duty firefighters with AEDs to a cardiac emergency near them is also being developed. Van Beek showed a table (below) that gives the statistics on how likely a heart attack victim will survive an attack at home and in a public location.
In conclusion, if you have a heart attack, try to have it at a restaurant and not your own home.
Correction: Two developers have asked to change their commercial zoning to residential zoning. Two others have applied to increase the number of residential units on their parcels.
At this workshop meeting the Richland City Council will discuss law, financing, development and safety. The packet of information that accompanies the agenda only has 30 pages so maybe the councilmembers will actually read it.
The first item of business will see Councilmembers, along with city attorney Heather Kintzley, moaning and groaning about the new Washington State Supreme Court decision, Washington vs. Blake. At the last meeting Kintzley described the differences in drug laws nationally as “anarchy.”
Blake, as it is known, declared the state laws on the simple possession of illegal drugs unconstitutional. It all goes back to a woman wearing someone else’s pants. People cannot be prosecuted if they “unknowingly” possess drugs.
The city must amend their drug laws to reflect the Blake decision.
The second discussion will be led by Development Services Director Kerwin Jensen who will present the 2021 Review of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. It is a draft until approved by state auditors.
The Richland City Council will consider changing the zoning on two parcels from commercial to residential, one from low density residential to high density residential, one from public use to high density residential. Usually, developers clamor to change their residential zoning to commercial zoning but the demand for housing in the Tri-Cities has changed the equation.
C&M Nursery, the owner of a fifth parcel on Van Geisen, wants the zoning for the agricultural back part of their property changed to match the commercial front part.
The proposed changes won’t have a vote until later, after it has gone through the planning committee process. Residents will have an opportunity to comment.
Fire Chief Tom Huntington will wrap up this meeting with an update on the HeartSafe Richland Community AED (Automated External Defibrillator) Program. He gave council a review of the program last September.
Richland city councilmembers proved Tuesday night what many residents have known for a long time – they do not read the packet of information given to them before the meetings.
In response to citizen questions that came up about a mini-storage development planned on Wellsian Way, Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky read the information to the councilmembers that he had included in their pre-meeting packet.
Councilmembers laughably gushed over Rogalsky’s presentation of material that they received last week but obviously never looked at.
Councilmember Terry Christensen praised Rogalsky for answering all of his questions.
After Rogalsky finished his reading, Councilmember Bob Thompson asked, “What is the project?”
The first sentence of the one-page project summary on page 32 of the packet clearly says, “ABC Wellsian Way, LLC intends to construct a commercial mini-storage development at 302 Wellsian Way…..”
The city will give the Spokane mini-storage developer an easement that was intended as an extension of Davenport Street to Wellsian Way, because, according to Rogalsky, it is the policy of the city to create taxable use for property that is not economically productive. Rogalsky said that the developer will make road improvements elsewhere that will make the easement donation worthwhile.
School children currently use the easement as a path to walk to Carmichael Middle School and Richland High School.
According to Rogalsky, a 30-foot-wide section will remain as an undeveloped pathway because a water pipe lies under it.
Rogalsky used a sharpie to show where a stormwater pipe that drains the Davenport and Comstock Streets area runs though the developer’s property. Since the city doesn’t have an easement for the pipe that has been there for about 60 years, it must be moved.
Rogalsky claimed the pipe was of little use but plans to give the developer $20,000 to relocate it. Apparently, his sharpie ran out of ink before he could mark the relocation site.
After the packet reading, the council voted to approve the item.
Jon is out over the weekend, through today, and asked me to get you some information in response to your questions about the surplus process. I spoke with Pete Rogalsky on this and we have put together the following information for you:
How does a citizen know that a city property is considered “surplus?”
Property is declared surplus by Council action as an agenda item in a regular business meeting.
I notice that ABC Wellsian Way LLC somehow knew that the right-of-way for Davenport was “no longer needed”. How was that determined?
ABC Wellsian Way, LLC did not know before they proposed development on their property adjacent to that right of way that the City considered the Davenport right-of-way excess to its needs. Public Works engineering staff are the stewards of public street rights-of-way dedicated in the City, and that same group is responsible, at a staff level, to conduct analysis and planning for the street system. The Davenport and Comstock rights-of-way between Goethals Drive and Wellsian Way were dedicated in the original plat of Richland, but never developed or improved; this is a very unusual circumstance and was brought to staff’s attention through ABC Wellsian Way’s development proposal. The engineering staff in Public Works evaluated the connectivity needs for the area and came to the conclusion that one more connection between Wellsian Way and Goethals Drive was desirable, but two was more than needed.
An additional consideration for this project is the proportionality standard for development impact mitigation required by RMC 12.10. The storage project proposed for the site is not a large traffic or pedestrian generator, so obtaining improvements to two street rights-of-way from that development would not be justified. Staff’s analysis is that the solution proposed in the agreement before Council is in the City’s best interest. The staff analysis has been prepared and recommended to Council, however the final decisions have not been made. There will be multiple opportunities for Council to weigh in on this recommendation, first with the consideration of this agreement and later when they are presented with the ordinance to vacate the Davenport right-of-way.
The packet information indicates that it was a staff decision. Who is going to make sure that the stormwater conveyance that is built by the developer meets regulation requirements??
Staff only recommends an action for vacation of right-of-way; the decision and action to do so rests solely with the City Council. Public Works regulates construction of stormwater systems for compliance with applicable regulations. Public Works also accepts ‘donated’ stormwater infrastructure for operations and maintenance and thus has a direct and vested interest in receiving good infrastructure. As an existing conveyance facility, the City’s recommended approach to this pipeline is a simple replacement. Compliance with current stormwater regulations will apply to the development independently of this pipeline relocation. The City will retain responsibility for the compliance implications of this pipeline, which are very minor.
Have a wonderful day!
Tom HuntingtonFire Chief625 Swift Blvd., MS-16 | Richland, WA 99352(509) 942-7703
Residents in the Comstock, Benham and Davenport Streets neighborhood need to pay particular attention to Item 7. The city is bending over backwards to help a Spokane developer build storage units on Wellsian Way next to Goethal Park. Actions on that site could affect storm water drainage in your neighborhood. The city has washed its hands of any responsibility for flooding.
Page numbers beside the items correspond with the page numbers in the agendaPacket.
1.Proclamation Declaring April 18-24, 2021 to be National Infertility Awareness Week. Pg. 3-4
No public hearings are scheduled.
Next up is public comment. Go to the agenda (link above) and read the rules at the top.
All of the following is on the consent calendar where it receives no discussion and one vote.
2. Approving April 6, 2021 minutes. If you really want to know what’s going on, skip the minutes which describe a long discussion in a few words. Go to City View and watch the tape. Pg. 5-11
3. The cyberstalking law must be amended to eliminate “embarrassing” due to constitutional issues. Pg. 12-14
4. The city must amend its ordinances to reflect a new court decision, Washington vs. Blake, that prohibits prosecution of anyone unless they “knowingly” have possession of illegal drugs. This ruling invalidated current drug laws. Pg. 15-18
5. Money will be moved around in the budget for concrete crushing, for a leaky roof at Fire Station 71, for police forensics and hardware preventing crimes against children, and for hiring seasonal park rangers. Pg. 19-22
6. This contract will enable reimbursement from the Washington State Department of Health to the city fire department for assistance provided at the fairground vaccination site. Pg. 23-31
Stormwater conveyance in the Comstock and Davenport Streets area will be altered by new development on Wellsian Way
7. THIS ITEM DOES NOT BELONG ON THE CONSENT AGENDA. IT NEEDS DISCUSSION. The city is bending over backwards to accommodate a Spokane developer’s plan to build a storage unit facility on his two acres on Wellsian Way. The city will GIVE the developer its street right-of-way for extending Davenport Road to Wellsian. The city will PAY the developer $20,000 to re-route a stormwater pipe that serves the area around Davenport and Comstock Streets and goes through the middle of the developer’s property. AND, the city is washing its hands of any responsibility for flooding that might occur from the stormwater re-routing (Pg 41, Section D, Mutual Indemnification). No drawings and building plans are provided in the agenda packet for any of this. The property where the storage units will be built abuts Goethal Park and includes a low area that might require fill, further complicating the storm water issue.
Brown area will become a storage unit facility. Land at the top intended for the extension of Davenport Road to Wellsian Way will be given to the developer.
8. The City Council tried to find a consultant to evaluate former City Manager Cindy Reents but ended up firing her instead. Bob Thompson said, “Cindy forgot who her friends were.” So now they plan to pay consultant Marsha Fraser, who has unknown qualifications, $200 an hour for 66-104 hours not to exceed $20,800 to evaluate the new interim city manager’s performance. Performance goals have no definition. Her expenses will be paid if she comes over from Edmund, Washington where she is located. The contract could be amended to pay her for more work. The Observer reached out to Fraser and asked for her resume. There has been no response. Pg. 52-65.
Early Monday morning Richland Police Department (RPD) posted some suggestions for biking safely. When a couple of commenters posted that they had passed a Sunday night bicycle-truck collision at the intersection of Keene and Queensgate Roads, several people wondered why they had not read anything about it.
Sgt. Shawn Swanson, a RPD spokesperson, explained to The Observer, “The incident wasn’t newsworthy.” Similar collisions have been reported in the past. A recent car-truck crash was also reported.
According to Facebook commenter Ryan Dudley, the crash occurred at about 6:30 p.m.
Lisa Nelson wrote The Observer, “We came through around 8:30 p.m. There were about five cop cars blocking Keene, heading towards West Richland. The bicycle was still laying in the middle of the intersection.” Nelson said that they had to detour around Target.
According to Swanson, the bicyclist ran into the side of a truck and was taken to a local hospital. Swanson said that the bicycle safety post that appeared at 6:24 a.m. on Monday morning had been preplanned the week before. “It was just coincidental that it appeared after the incident,” he noted.
Swanson said Wednesday that a full report on the collision would be available this week.
If you’ve driven around Richland lately, you may have noticed that some homeowners have become more adventurous with front door colors. Using a variety of methods to choose a color, Richlanders have gone from drab to fab with a gallon of paint.
I’ve called these Richlanders by their first names like I do with all of my neighbors.
Wife picked cranberry
Crediting his wife for picking the cranberry color for their front door, Mark said, “She has a knack for color.” He added that they both thought their home’s neutral siding needed to be jazzed up.
Green is a favorite color
Molly had the same concern about her white house. She decided the look was a little boring. She explained how she chose the door color, “My two favorite colors are blue and green. Since my shutters are blue, I decided on a green door.” To decide on the shade of green she pored over paint chips at Home Depot before selecting one.
Left-over paint and a door that needed it inspired Heather to paint her door a blue-green color. She said, “The door really needed painting and I had already had paint.”
She loves previous owner’s choice
Leslie, a real estate agent, first noticed the new, energy-efficient door when she purchased her home. She noted that she would have never picked the color on her door herself, but she loves it so much that she is painting her back door to match it. She added, “Real estate studies show that an appealing outside can add as much as $20,000 to the value of a house.”
For homeowners who can’t choose from the thousands of color options for their front doors, never fear, internet decorators can help. Dozens of front door pictures with paint brands and names included can assist selection or overwhelm.
Meeting Highlights: You can only be charged for violating certain drug possession laws if you did it “knowingly.” Five groups will have the funding they have raised for recreation projects matched by the city. Your recycle pick up charge may change. The wastewater treatment plant will be improved.
You have three minutes to comment on public hearings and two minutes to comment on anything during the public comment period. Go to the agenda and read the rules at the top.
Page numbers below correspond to the pages in the packet. Most of the items on the agenda are listed under the “Consent Calendar” and receive little discussion and one vote.
1.Ms. Celeste Blair will be honored as the first female youth in the Tri-Cities to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Pg. 4-5
2. City funds will be switched around in order to fund concrete crushing services at the landfill, to fix the leaking roof at Fire Station 71, to hire seasonal park rangers and to replace failing forensic workstations at the police department. Pg. 20-23
3. Council will vote to approve its worthless minutes from the March 16 and March 23 meetings. If you really want to know what happened at these meetings go to the videos. Pg. 7-16
4. The city code on cyberstalking will be amended to eliminate “embarrass.” The Washington State Court of Appeals ruled in State v. Mireles that it was necessary to strike the term “embarrass” from RCW 9.61.260 in order to preserve the constitutionality of the statute. Pg.17-19
5. The city funding switcheroo (see the public hearing above) will be voted on along with everything else on the consent calendar. Pg. 20-23
6. The methane gas created at the Horn Rapids Landfill will be collected and sold by a contractor that will pay the city $6000 a month. If any other gas is processed by the system at the landfill, the city will receive no less than 2 percent and no more than 10 percent of the gross. Pg. 24-30
7. Richland will provide traffic signal technical services to the City of West Richland. West Richland will reimburse Richland by paying for the salary and benefits for the hours provided by the city employee. Pg. 31-37
8. This outlines the city’s responsibility for funding shortfalls for Metro, a cooperative agreement with area jurisdictions that seeks to control substance trafficking within the Tri-Cities Community. Metro is currently comprised of the cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and West Richland, and the counties of Benton and Franklin. The City of Kennewick is currently the administrative jurisdiction for Metro. The City of Richland expects to use the Public Safety Sales Tax revenue to pay their share. Pg. 38-42
9. As a condition of project permits, the City is required to employ a third-party, cultural resources monitoring company to observe the work on the Columbia Park Trail improvement project. The contractors will be paid about $146,000 to look for any important archeological properties or human remains. Pg. 44-49
10. The city will cooperate with the Port of Benton to resurface roads. Doolittle Construction of Belleview, Washington submitted the lowest bid. City costs are estimated to be $435,020 which includes construction, contingency, and construction inspection. The Port of Benton will pay $150,000. Pg. 50-57
11. The city will hire Culbert Construction Inc. $1,438,905.94 for the construction of .33 miles of 1st Street west of Kingsgate Way. Pg. 58-68
12. Monson Development Washington, LLC has applied for final plat approval for Phase 2 of its Goose Ridge subdivision. Located along the north boundary of the Badger Mountain South Master Planned Community, the final plat of Goose Ridge Estates – Phase 2 proposes to divide 8.18 acres into 22 residential lots and five (5) tracts. This brings the total residential lots in Goose Ridge Estates to 106. Pg. 69-96.
13. Five city organizations will receive matching grants for improvements to recreational facilities: Back Country Horsemen of Washington will receive $5,000 for parking and horse trail improvements. Pg. 97-122; Crested Hills Homeowners’ Association will receive $2,287.15 for trees for Crested Hill Park. Pg. 123-138; Friends of Badger Mountain will receive $5,000 to develop a north face trail. Pg.139-152; Horn Rapids Motor Sports Complex will receive $5,000 to make their facility safer by building a fence around their track. Pg. 153-170; Sundance Ridge HOA-Richland will use $2,000 to add plants to Heritage Hills Park. Pg. 171-179.
14. This is the first of two improvements on the agenda for the Wastewater Treatment plant. This one is to upgrade the electrical supply and control for the plant digester. The project will cost $1,549,796. Vincent Brothers LLP submitted the winning bid. Pg. 180-183
15. Wastewater plants are required to have a backup generator. The city’s backup which was installed in 1985 failed and couldn’t be fixed. Prater Electric Inc. will replace the $10,000 a month rental backup with a new backup generator for $551,098. Pg. 184-188
ITEMS OF BUSINESS (There could be discussion for these.)
16. The city will amend its ordinances to reflect a state court decision that you can only be charged for violating certain drug possession laws if you did it “knowingly.” Pg. 188-191
17. The city’s Utility Advisory Committee reviewed a consultant’s report regarding the charges for sold waste disposal. Most of the recommended changes involved specific waste streams received and processed at the City’s landfill. The only collection service rate included in the recommended package of changes was for curbside recycling. Pg. 192
REPORTS AND COMMENTS
Blah, blah, blah
To discuss current and potential litigation with the city attorney.
Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to include a list of the city’s ten infrastructure priorities that Interim City Manager Jon Amundson provided.
Here’s a quick summary of expected and surprise items discussed at the March 23 Richland City Council Workshop. You can watch a video of the meeting at Richland CityView.
Richland police chief supports body and dashboard cameras for officers
Richland Police Chief John Bruce supports body and dashboard cameras for his officers.“They improve behavior of officers and citizens,” he said. He added that the cameras worked well for the department in Texas that he previously headed. According to Bruce, it could take a year to put the program in place in Richland. He estimated that for five years the program would cost $1,303,951.26.
Most of the city councilmembers agreed with Bruce except Councilmember Michael Alvarez who favored a public vote in November, a suggestion that was ridiculed by Councilmember Terry Christensen.
Guess who’s paying for American Cruise Line’s new dock
Surprise!! Mexico isn’t paying for the wall and American Cruise Line (ACL) isn’t paying for their new dock at Columbia Point. Your tax dollars will. Richland Parks and Public Facilities Director Joe Schiessl said that either the city or the Corps of Engineers would build the dock and lease it to ACL. I wonder which one it will be (-:
Council doubts promises made by developer of the Columbia River tract (promises, promises ^^^)
Councilmembers wonder whether Pacific Partners out of Eagle, Idaho will compete the project they promised on the D, E and Q tracts near the Columbia Point Golf Course or will they just build apartments and skip out of town without building the offices and retail promised for Phase 2. Remember, ACL promised to build a new dock.
Councilmembers ponder whether the city should make a little extra from water rights assistance to Battelle and West Richland.
The state has a pot of money for trails
The city’s sudden interest in the Island View to Vista Field bicycle and pedestrian trail stems from the Washington state’s special funding pot for such projects. The trail also branches to Meadow Springs. A preliminary package will be submitted in cooperation with Kennewick for $16 million which will include the bridge over Highway 240.
Ten “secret” priority projects
Surprise!! The city has submitted 10 “secret” priority projects to Senator Patty Murray for potential federal funding. I say “secret” because Councilmember Bob Thompson said he didn’t know what they were and added, “They might not be my priorities.” After the meeting Interim City Manager Jon Amundson provided the list below:
R240 / Aaron Drive Interchange Modifications – This project will resolve a regionally significant traffic congestion issue and enable both the City’s downtown redevelopment vision and the regional industrial economic expansion. The total cost is $30,000,000
Fire Station 76 in Badger Mountain South – The project will enable achieving the City’s standard for response time in this rapidly growing area of the City. The total estimated cost is $6.5 million for facility and equipment.
Downtown Connectivity Improvements – This project will modify the main streets in downtown Richland to one-way streets so that improved bicycle, pedestrian, and parking options can be provided. This is the critical infrastructure investment the City plans to make to jump-start the remaking of central Richland into a vibrant downtown that leverages the nearby Columbia River shoreline and park system. The total cost is $16,600,000, with the possibility of implementing it in phases. The first phase is estimated to cost $5,000,000.
Island View to Vista Field Trail Bridge – This project will provide pedestrian and bicycle connectivity across SR240 near Columbia Center Boulevard between the Columbia River waterfront and residential and commercial development south of SR240. The lack of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity in this area has been identified as the highest priority obstacle in the Tri-Cities to overcome to enable non-motorized travel. The total cost is approximately $16,000,000.
1,341 Acre Transmission Line – This is a new pair of 115kV transmission lines connecting BPA’s regional transmission system to the newly annexed north Richland properties. The lines, three miles in length, are needed to support heavy industrial development in this area. The total cost estimate for this project is $3,000,000.
1,341 Acre Sewer Pipeline – The City and Port of Benton are developing this land transferred from the U.S. Department of Energy to local control several years ago. The development objective is to recruit large site industrial companies to locate in the Tri-Cities on this unique property. The sewer pipeline will provide City sewer service to the property, thus enabling it to be near shovel ready for the right industrial development client. The total cost is estimated at $4,000,000.
Wastewater Treatment Plant Aeration System Upgrade – The City’s 35-year-old wastewater treatment plant requires an upgrade to its aeration treatment process. The needed upgrade will position the City to continue to support residential, commercial, and industrial development for years to come. The total cost is estimated at $8,400,000.
Dallas Road Substation – This project will construct a new 25MVA substation on City-owned land in the Badger South area. The substation is needed to support the rapid growth of this area. The total estimated cost is $5,000,000
Water System Resiliency Improvements – Pursuant to the federal America’s Water Infrastructure Act, the City recently completed is required system assessment. The assessment identified facility improvements for site security and electrical energy supply resiliency that are recommended. The total cost of these improvements is estimated at $3,200,000.
Street Light Retrofit to LED technology – This project will retrofit approximately 5,400 existing old technology street lights to the most current energy-efficient LED technology. The total estimated cost is $3,000,000.
Rejected – developer Greg Markel’s plan for the old city hall site
Surprise!! Developer Greg Markel submitted an “urgent” offer and proposed plan to the Richland City Council for development on the old city hall site. Nobody knew why the offer was deemed urgent, but it was quickly panned and rejected. Thompson said it looked like a strip shopping center. Lukson pointed out that the so-called, mixed-use development had a total of 11 apartments. Parking seemed to be the focus, possibly to accommodate Markel’s failed Dupus Boomer’s restaurant building on the corner of Swift and George Washington Way.
Councilmembers pay a lobbyist to do their job
Surprise!! Since at least 2009, Richland has been paying lobbyist Dave Arbaugh a retainer of first $2700 a month and now $3000 a month to lobby Olympia. Why aren’t city councilmembers, state legislators and state senators doing their job? And, if they are, why are we paying Arbaugh?? This issue merits its own article….coming soon.
Police body and dashboard cameras top the agenda. The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. Go to the agenda to link to Zoom. Interim City Manager Jon Amundson confirms that the meeting can also be seen on Spectrum 192. When it is shown there, a tape usually becomes available the next day on Richland City View.
1.Discussion regarding Operational and Budgetary Impacts of Body Worn and Vehicle Cameras – John Bruce, Chief of Police. We can assume that the value to public safety of the body and dashboard cameras is undisputed because the only discussion here seems to be “operational and budgetary.” Pasco Police have used the cameras for a couple of years, and they haven’t broken the bank there.
On February 1, 2021, Richland Police Officer Christian Jabri shoot a man on a pedestrian path along the Highway 240 bypass. The Special Investigative Unit has not submitted their report to Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller and Bruce. Without cameras it will be difficult to tell what actually happened there. The police did not file any charges against the man who was shot.
Recently Miller came out in favor of body cameras and dashboard cameras. “For reviewing cases involving deadly force by police officers, the use of body cameras would be beneficial not only for the integrity of the investigation but also for the decedent’s family and involved police officers,” Miller wrote in an Aug. 20 letter.
A recent Herald article reported figures obtained from the local police departments on “use of force.” The Richland Police Department used forced three times more often than Pasco. Does that have something to do with Pasco’s cameras?
The Observer asked Interim City Manager Jon Amundson and Police Chief John Bruce to confirm the Herald’s numbers since Councilmember Bob Thompson questioned them. So far there have been no responses.
2. Update on the Proposed Development Agreement on Tracts D & E, 22 Acres of City-Owned Property located on Bradley Boulevard – Kerwin Jensen, Development Services Director.
The city has a grandiose plan for this area that includes a million-dollar dock built by American Cruise Lines (ACL). In case you have forgotten, the city gave ACL priority right to use the Lee Street Dock for 15 years for $45,000 the first year. The contract does not require ACL to build a new dock. The city will maintain the Lee Street dock for 15 years and the total cost to ACL will be less than the cost of permitting and constructing a new dock and maintaining it. With that deal would you build a dock?
3. Horn Rapids Water Rights Status, West Richland Wholesale Service Expansion Request, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Irrigation Service Request – Pete Rogalsky, Public Works Director
Water, water, water…. When will the Columbia River be sucked dry? Not a meeting goes by without a discussion about more spending on Horn Rapids.
4. 2021 Legislative Transportation Advocacy Update – Additional Project Suggestion – Pete Rogalsky, Public Works Director
The state and the federal government are planning infrastructure improvement programs. We need to get our wish list in now. When former President Trump asked each state to submit their project priorities, SeaTac was at the top of the list along with improvements to Interstate 5. Broadband expansion was the top project on the east side.
Bike and Pedestrian Trail lovers check out Item 8. A consultant will receive $114,270 of a $125,000 federal grant to study extending trails from the Columbia River to Meadow Springs. This includes a bike/pedestrian bridge over Highway 240.
Additional information has been added about board appointments – the number of people who applied for each board. Councilmembers have claimed that they needed to eliminate term limits due to a dearth of applicants. Several of these boards did have very few.
However, 13 people applied to be on the Parks and Recreation Commission and Maria Gutierrez was reappointed for what will be 18 years at the end of this term. With Councilmember Marianne Boring’s promotion to city council, Gutierrez becomes the longest serving member of a board or commission. Boring had close to 20 years on both the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment.
The item numbers match those on the agenda and the page numbers match the pages in the packet. For information on how to make a public comment go to the agenda.
Proclamation of Appreciation for serving on the Parks and Recreation Board goes to retiring Nancy Doran and Barry Richards. Doran helped start the immensely popular, parks department neighborhood walks that she continues to lead. No member of the city council has ever been on one of her walks. Shame on them!! Pg. 4-6
Visit Tri-Cities annual report and request for $345,250 from the lodging tax fund. Pg. 7-34
3. Hanford Communities Executive Director David Reeploeg will give an update on the work of that organization. He gave this presentation to Pasco City Council at their last meeting so he’s making the rounds. Pg. 35
4. Joe Schiessl, Parks and Public Facilities Director will describe 2021 goals. Pg. 36
5. Approval of the March 2 meeting minutes. Pg. 37-44
6. Sheds less than 200 square feet need no permits unless they are for a business. The city code will be amended to conform with state requirements. Pg. 44-50
7. The city is selling 1.49 acres in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park at Kingsgate and Battelle Drive to R&R Property Enterprises, Bonnie J. Watson, registered agent, for $81,205. Pg. 51-67.
8. Bikers, hikers, walkers, will love this. A consultant, KPFF, Inc. will study extending the trail system and even a bike/pedestrian bridge over Highway 240. The consultant will receive $114,270 of a federal grant of $125,000. Pg. 68-123.
9. The city will surplus 840 Northgate so that it can be sold. The Department of Energy gave the .68 acres with a 26,805 sq. ft. building to Richland in 2000 but stipulated that it must used for public, non-commercial use. The city used it as a city hall annex until everyone moved to the new city hall. Columbia Basin College has expressed interest in buying the property. Pg.124-127.
10. The city will give $6000 from the business license fund to SCORE a non-profit business counseling group. SCORE will create webinars to help local businesses with marketing. The fund will still have $16,690. Pg.128-136
11. The Academy of Children’s Theatre (ACT) will receive $15,070 for improvements to the outside of their building and their sign from the Commercial Façade Improvement Program that is funded by business license revenue. ACT will provide $25,311. The façade program will provide $20,000 to 610 The Parkway for building façade and sign improvements. That group’s contribution will be $40,000. The business license fund will still have $81,531. Pg. 137-144.
12.Here’s where the council approves the $345,250 for Visit Tri-Cities. See item 2. Pg.145-149.
13. The city received 4 applications and appointed three people to the Arts Commission: Jet Richardson, Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity Tri-County Partners; Eboni “Raleigh” Lovell, an on-air radio personality for Mix 105.3; Emilie Cooper a student at Hanford High School. Pg. 150-151
14. Michael Simpson replaced Marianne Boring on the Board of Adjustment when she was appointed to the city council. This gives him a full term. He will also serve on the Personnel Committee until his term ends Sept.30,2022. Pg.152-153
15.The Code Enforcement Board had two applicants. Albert Edmondson and Ragan Faylor, a real estate appraiser will join the board. Pg. 154-155
16. The Parks and Recreation Committee had 13 applicants. Maria Guitierrez, a high school English teacher in Pasco, was reappointed for another term. At the end of it, she will have served 18 years on that committee. Meghan Brooks a HAPO Community Credit Union employee; Isaac Arnquist, who works at PNNL; and student representatives William Henry and Annabella Aldous were also chosen. Pg. 156-157
Expenditures: Checks written in February came to $26 million. Pg. 158-235
Blah, Blah, Blah, interim city manager and councilmembers give reports and comments.
Pasco City Councilmembers donned their facemasks and began having live city council meetings on Feb, 22. Anti-mask protestors have already disrupted one. Kennewick and Richland councils have stuck with Zoom.
Governor Jay Inslee moved Benton and Franklin Counties into Phase 2 on Feb. 14. That allowed live meetings with 25 percent occupancy in the council chamber, mandatory masks for everyone, and six-foot distancing.
Like everything else with Covid restrictions, Phase 2 has not been without controversy. At the March 1 Pasco City Council meeting, two men in the public section of the council chamber refused to wear a mask.
According to Pasco Mayor Saul Martinez, “A couple of men wanted to express their opinions and they were very respectful. ”After a fifteen-minute recess, the two agreed to leave.
City Attorney Heather Kintzley explained the guidelines to the Richland council on March 2. That was enough to make councilmembers decide that they weren’t interested in live meetings.
Councilmember Bob Thompson who has cursed Inslee’s restrictions said, “We might be a little premature. We could be reinforcing bad policy decisions made by others.”
Councilmember Terry Christensen, whose comments during council meetings have often been hard to hear, agreed with Thompson, “We would have to speak through masks,” he said.
“Rarely do I agree with Bob and Terry, but it is too early to have live meetings,” Councilmember Phil Lemley responded..
As she often does, Councilmember Sandra Kent wanted to “go with the flow.”
Mayor Ryan Lukson, Councilmembers Marianne Boring and Michael Alvarez also supported the status quo. Zoom meetings will continue.
Like Richland, Kennewick City Council currently meets via Zoom. Councilmember Steve Lee said that next week he expected the council to consider making Zoom attendance a permanent option for council members.
Once again Richland City Council ignores the city’s charter. The new contract for the interim city manager (Item 12) allows for three months severance when the charter specifies two. Several provisions including the ethics committee have fallen by the wayside. The charter requires that city managers live in the city but it was never clear where former City Manager Cindy Reents lived. Sometimes councilmembers take the oath of office as required after they’re elected, sometimes they don’t.
The council regularly amends ordinances to “conform to current practice” but changes to the charter require a vote of the people. That’s why the council ignores the charter rather than amending it.
The following item numbers correspond to the agenda. The page numbers will take you to the page in the packet that describes the item. Both the agenda and the packet appear here. The agenda also includes the rules for public comments. There are no public hearings scheduled for this meeting.
2020 Fire and Emergency Services Annual report from Fire and Emergency Services Director Tom Huntington. You can get a head start on this report by reading this. Pg. 4
2. Bob Thompson emailed that he had food poisoning that’s why he never showed his face or said a word during the Zoom meeting Feb. 23. He was counted as “in attendance.” Also, up for approval are the minutes for the February 16, 2021 meeting. Pg. 6-15.
3. The municipal code will be updated to match the state requirements for permitting. No permits are required for residential accessory structures (think sheds) that are 200 sq. ft. or less but business accessory structures must be less than 120 sq. ft. to avoid having to file for a permit. Pg. 16-21
4. Rezoning 3.1 acres in Clearwater Creek at the intersection of Steptoe and Center Pkwy from agricultural to commercial. Pg. 22-35
5. This amends parking rules to allow for bike lanes on certain streets. Check the list if you didn’t after it appeared on the Feb. 16 agenda. Pg. 36-47
6. The rules for sign permits are outlined. As noted in the Feb.16 Rundown, Council wants the hearing examiner to hear appeals instead of the city council. Pg. 48-53
7. Firehouse Subs doesn’t want to lose customers to heart attacks so their foundation will give a grant for automated external defibrillators. Pg. 54-56
8. The homeowners at 1061, 1063, 1065, 1043 and 1049 Allenwhite Drive have applied for membership in the exclusive City of Richland Country Club. They are willing to pay the yearly fees. The date for a hearing on their membership application will be held on May 4, 2021. (This is also known as an annexation request). Pg. 56-59
9. Setting the date for the Tiegs annexation. Look at this as a corporate application for membership in the City of Richland Country Club. Badger Mt. Vineyard has 76.54 acres at 1106 N. Jurupa Road. They will meet with the membership committee on the same day that the Allenwhite folks have their meeting, May 4, 2021. Pg. 60-65
10. The city will pay Parametrix, Inc. $96.701 for monitoring ground water and landfill gases at the Horn Rapids landfill. Pg. 66-85
11. A single bid from Vincent Bros LLP for the wastewater treatment plant digester improvements and replacement generator project came in at $500,000 over the estimate. The bid has been rejected and the city is back to the drawing board revising its bid solicitation. Pg. 86-89
12. Rest in Peace Richland City Charter. According to Section 4.02 of the charter, if the city manager is terminated, they “shall be paid any balance of his salary then due or accrued and an additional amount equal to two months’ salary.” Former City Manager Cindy Reents had six-months’ severance pay in her contract; Interim City Manager Jon Amundson has three-months’ severance in the contract described here. The council negotiates around the charter in the contracts with this clause (Pg. 95): “If City elects to terminate Amundson’s employment for any reason other than for “cause” as defined below, Amundson shall receive a lump sum payment equal to three (3) months salary as severance, rather than the two months provided for in the Richland City Charter.” Pg. 90-97
13. Approving a site-specific rezone on 2.9 acres located at 1769 Leslie Road from C-LB to C-3. Bless her heart, Marianne Boring is probably the only person on the council who reads the packet. Plus, after almost 20 years serving on the Planning Commission and 20 years on the Board of Adjustment, she knows her zoning. She had this item pulled from the Feb.16 consent calendar so that it could be amended to prohibit new development that wasn’t neighborhood friendly. You will not be attending a drive-in movie here. There’s a long list of approved and unapproved uses listed. Pg. 98-120
Blah, blah, blah from the city manager and the city councilmembers
Then there will be a Secret Meeting with the interim city manager to discuss labor negotiations.