Commission Meeting Minutes 2-8-21

Commission Meeting Minutes 2-8-21

(Via Zoom)      February 8, 2021

Angela Harris, President
David Preston, Vice President
Steve Johnston, Secretary
Bruce Faires
Jim Orvis
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Marketing

Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney


President Harris called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.


Commissioner Harris announced that the Commission would hold an executive session following the regular meeting.





There were no public comments.


Mr. McChesney reported that no actions have been taken under the Emergency Delegation of Authority.


Mr. Baker introduced, Joe Kalmar, Landau Associates, Inc., the consultant who assisted the Port to conduct pilot testing of a stormwater treatment device designed by the Port’s Maintenance Manager.

Joe Kalmar, Landau Associates, Inc., explained that, from an experiment in the Boatyard, it was determined that crushed oyster shells were very cost effective for removing copper and zinc from stormwater. The oyster shells were placed in low-cost retrievable cartridges that were installed in the catch basins.

Commissioner Faires said he would be interested in knowing whether or not the treatment device has been shared and/or implemented at other ports in the State of Washington. Mr. Kalmar answered that, many years ago, the Port of Seattle discovered the use of oyster shells for stormwater treatment. However, instead of using oyster shells in catch basins, they used the shells in a swale area where stormwater flowed through. Beyond this initial study, they have looked at different ways to deploy the oyster shell in a more unique manner. In addition to Seattle, a number of ports have incorporated crushed oyster shell into bioswales and retrofitted catch basins, but he hasn’t heard of anyone using the deployable cartridge that was developed by Mr. Menard.

Mr. Kalmar reviewed that a standard oil/water separator in the Boatyard was converted successfully to use crushed oyster shell to remove copper and zinc, which are the two main parameters in the General Boatyard Permit for stormwater discharge. However, this option required vactor truck servicing. To simplify the concept and enable its use in a lot of other locations, Mr. Menard designed a retrievable cartridge that could be filled with crushed oyster shells and deployed in storm drain catch basins throughout the Port. The cartridges are easy to retrieve to replace the oyster shells and no vactor service is needed. He shared photographs and described how the cartridges work.

Mr. Kalmar advised that the purpose of the study was to analyze the effectiveness of the cartridges at three different catch basins. Samples of water flowing into the catch basins were compared to samples of water flowing out of the catch basins.

Commissioner Faires said it appears that stormwater is more or less passively accumulated and may or may not flow through the oyster shell canisters as opposed to being pressure flowed through the canister. Mr. Kalmar agreed that is the case. He explained that, at the boatyard, stormwater comes into the larger chamber and fills up behind a baffle, and then the head pressure pushes the water through the baffle and outlet pipes. Unless there is overflow, all of the stormwater flows through the oyster shell. That is not the case with the canisters. The study was designed to determine if there would be enough contact for the oyster shells in the canisters to be effective at metal removal.

Commissioner Johnston referred to the photographs and asked if the cannisters had just been placed into the catch basins or if he had been there for a while. Mr. Kalmar said that the oyster shell canisters had been in place for a while, and the covers were pulled off for inspection. Commissioner Johnston observed that they look relatively clean, which means that the sludge doesn’t appear to be impacting the cannister conditions too much, which is good news.

Mr. Kalmar explained that initial tests found high metal reduction numbers for the stormwater that flows into the catch basins versus stormwater measured at the outfall. However, the water going into the catch basins was pretty high in metals and turbidity. The thought was that some suspended solids dropped out in the catch basins and the oyster shells were good at taking up dissolved metals. However, there were questions about whether a large amount of pollutant reduction was a result of the catch basin settling out solids. In the more recent test, the Port implemented more aggressive best management practices (BMPs) for source removal before doing the testing so they could better assess exactly how effective the oyster shell cartridges were at taking out metals. This latest source-controlled samples were taken on June 12, 2020 and found that, with new oyster shells in the cartridges, copper was reduced by 68%, zinc by 72%, and turbidity by 81%. Tests on the cartridges with oyster shells used over one year but cleaned by pressure wash found that copper was reduced by 26%, zinc by 51% and turbidity by 95%. From the study, he concluded that the cartridges were highly effective when the oyster shells were replaced regularly, and decent removal occurred even after a year of use.

Mr. Kalmar summarized that, even with improved BMPs, the results are still higher than the benchmarks for both the Industrial Stormwater and Boatyard General Permits. He commented that, beyond the cartridges being effective in helping reduce metals, there is still more to be gained from aggressive BMPs to remove pollutants before they get into the stormwater. These BMPs could include more frequent sweeping and inspections, identifying sources of erosion and metals, etc. Moving forward, he recommended that the Port:

• Continue to implement improvements in pollutant source control BMPs at the paved areas that the Port manages that have moderate to high vehicle traffic.
• Install oyster shell cartridges in catch basins at those moderate to high vehicle traffic areas, removing the cartridges to pressure wash the shell once (following half the annual rainfall, 15-20 inches), and fully replacing the shell with new crushed oyster shell after one year of use.

Commissioner Faires challenged Port staff to come up with a new prototype that would, under most conditions, actually force the water through the canisters as opposed to letting the water passively soak in the oyster shells. The mechanism could also allow water to be treated passively when overflow occurs. Mr. Kalmar noted that the Port of Seattle figured out how to retrofit a catch basin where most of the water would be forced through the shell cartridge, but more capital cost and effort would be needed to permanently retrofit the catch basins and vactor service would be required. One advantage of the canisters is that they can be easily removed so the oyster shells can be replaced or cleaned.

Mr. McChesney summarized that the cannisters are effective on the margin if BMPs and source control are followed. However, they appear to have limited application for a citywide catch basin management program. Mr. Kalmar agreed that the concept very likely goes beyond what municipalities would be willing to commit resources to on a citywide basis. While the cannisters have been pilot tested, they could potentially contribute to safety hazards, such as road flooding, if used in critical catch basins. Municipalities might be hesitant to apply the concept citywide as it could add to the burden of flood response.

Commissioner Orvis observed that the Port has a unique situation, as they only have to deal with stormwater runoff from parking lots. The City has catch basins that accumulate large amounts of silt and runoff from yards, construction sites, etc. Adding the cartridges to City catch basins could end up clogging them almost immediately in some situations. While the cartridges might be a very useful tool for the Port, it may not be an option for the heavily-debris-laden water the City must deal with.

Commissioner Preston asked if the oyster shells filter out the oil that drips from cars. He also asked if quarterly sweeping would be sufficient. Mr. Kalmar answered that quarterly vacuum sweeping would be consistent with the Industrial General Permit. He said he works with a number of facilities who voluntarily implement a monthly vacuum sweeping program because they generate a lot of dust and debris. He hasn’t routinely inspected at the Port of Edmonds enough to recommend an appropriate frequency, but quarterly vacuum sweeping is a standard BMP. Mr. Kalmar said he believes the oyster shells are effective at removing small amounts of oil. The calcium carbonate in oyster shell is well-suited to pick up the dissolved metals, but biochar would be better suited to absorb a lot of oil.

Mr. Kalmar referred to a recent study that found that toxins from vehicle tires in the surface waters in the state is causing Coho salmon die-off. While metals have been found to be toxic to aquatic species, more research needs to be done on how to remove this particular tire compound that is impacting Coho salmon mortality in fresh water. Commissioner Faires asked if oyster shells would be a potential option for removing toxins found in tires, and Mr. Kalmar answered that it is not likely, but it hasn’t been studied, either. Commissioner Johnston asked if the Port could anticipate having to respond to regulations to address these toxins at some point in the future. Mr. Kalmar said there are discussions with tire manufacturers about removing this particular compound that breaks down with exposure to ozone over time and gets into the stormwater runoff. They are looking at ways to improve highway runoff and expand filtration until the chemical additive is removed from tires. He doesn’t believe this will directly affect the Port.

Council Member Olson announced that the City’s new sewer system that is currently under design will create biochar, which is something the Port could start thinking about using as a resource. Rather than selling the biochar outside of the City, it could be utilized by the Port. Mr. Kalmar commented that biochar is a good product for use in stormwater treatment. However, because it is smaller granules, it would be difficult to make a filter that would hold it in a cartridge.

Commissioner Faires commented that replacement of the oyster shell compound would be more difficult in a bioswale environment, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. He would welcome the City to take advantage of any learning curve the Port has in this regard, but the implementation of oyster shells to absorb contaminants would be different than bioswales because of the replacement difficulty and costs.

Commissioner Orvis asked if they should continue and potentially expand the oyster shell cartridge program within the Port’s property. Commissioner Harris summarized that the cartridges reduced both copper and zinc by a good amount, but the numbers are still over the permit benchmarks. More needs to be done via BMPs to further reduce the numbers. That being the case, the numbers are better than they would have been without the cartridges in place. Mr. Kalmar agreed that the oyster shells remove a high amount of zinc and copper, but greater source control is needed to reduce the amount of influent contamination. He felt it would be worthwhile to expand the program to other catch basins on Port property.

Given the man hours required to remove and wash the oyster shells after six months, Commissioner Orvis suggested it might be more cost effective to replace the shells every six months. Mr. Kalmar agreed that might be a more cost-effective option since the oyster shells are not expensive. However, they should also keep in mind that more frequent replacement would generate additional waste material. Commissioner Johnston asked if the spent oyster shells are discarded as standard solid waste, and Mr. Kalmar answered affirmatively. Testing found that the discarded shells do not meet the criteria for dangerous or hazardous waste.

Mr. McChesney recommended that the Environmental Committee meet to discuss potentially expanding the program. The canisters seem quite useful for Port facility application. If the program pencils out from a cost-effective standpoint, he would recommend expanding it to other catch basins on Port property. However, they need to discuss the methodology for replacing or washing the shells on a routine basis. They also need to consider opportunities for source control and good housekeeping in and around the catch basins.


Mr. McChesney advised that Jackson/Main Architects (JMA) has completed a feasibility study to review the previous design and permitting documentation intended for a commercial marina services building in the vacant lot on the east side of Admiral Way. That concept didn’t materialize and the project went fallow in 2019. The Shoreline Permit has now expired. In the meantime, constructability became a serious issue as the North Portwalk and Seawall Replacement Project started to move forward, and it is anticipated the majority of the work will need to happen from the shoreside. That means the existing Administration/Maintenance Building will be in the way. The building is an obsolete, concrete block structure, and staff has reached the conclusion that there is no cost-effective way to rehabilitate it. The study was intended to test the idea of adopting the previous commercial marina services building design and using the prior Shoreline Permit to construct essentially the same exterior design, but changing the interior to accommodate administration, maintenance, and some commercial tenant space. If this can be done, the Port could proceed to move administration and maintenance into a new building and demolish the existing block structure, making construction of the North Portwalk and Seawall Project much easier and likely save some cost.

Mr. McChesney explained that, over the past month, Port staff has met with JMA and the City’s Planning Department, and it has been determined that the previous Shoreline Permit can be unexpired for this purpose, as long as the Port doesn’t change the building size or footprint too much. The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process and Determination of Non-Significance can also be reused. However, the new building will still be subject to Architectural Design Board review before making application for a building permit. Another pre-application meeting with City departments will be needed to review project elements. However, this is a standard process and should be mostly perfunctory without any major changes or conditions.

Mr. McChesney announced that a pre-application meeting has been scheduled for February 25th. After determining final engineering or design requirements from the City, JMA will submit a scope of work and budget proposal for the final design necessary to obtain building permits, including contract specifications ready to bid. Further, it is anticipated there will be additional documentation for City building officials before permit issuance, such as a geotechnical study and traffic report. He emphasized that the building would not exceed the height restrictions, and the Port would like to pursue a Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified design.

Mr. McChesney explained that since SEPA has already been completed and the project is not within the City’s Critical Area designation vis a vis the Marsh, there should not be any environmental mitigation requirements. He summarized that they have made good progress in a short amount of time. Because the design, engineering and permitting for the North Portwalk and Seawall Project is expected to take 18 months or more, staff believes it would be feasible to move forward with the new Administration Building while that is going on. He recommended they continue through the design process. If it all goes well and the Commission approves, it is very likely that construction can begin by Fall 2021.

Commissioner Faires said he supports demolishing the present Administration Building and moving it across the street. He recalled that a previous study of the existing building determined that it was structurally unsafe in earthquake conditions and straps were put around the building. While this improved the safety of the building somewhat, it is still unsafe in an earthquake condition. He also pointed out that demolishing the existing building would result in available land on the waterfront. Before making a final decision, they need to study the financial results of the proposed new configuration. In particular, they will need to study the use of the land where the present building is, as well as the conditions under which the new building would be used. He said he supports the effort to make safe the conditions in which staff is required to function and he is quite sure that the financial decisions relative to the existing and new site can be worked out so that the Port will not be impacted financially in the future. Mr. McChesney said that, at this time, he doesn’t have even a rough order of estimate of what the new building might cost.

Commissioner Harris asked if solar power might be an option for the new building. Mr. McChesney replied that it might be a wonderful opportunity to consider solar on the new building, as it would have a lot of sun exposure. He agreed they should definitely consider the option as work moves forward. Again, he said the goal is to design a LEED-certified building. Commissioner Orvis said he supports pursuing LEED certification, making the building an example of what can be done.

Mr. McChesney said he anticipates receiving a scope of work and budget from JMA to go forward with the actual design work soon, and he very much hopes the Commission can have an in-person retreat in the spring to discuss the large projects in greater detail.


Ms. Williams said that because the project is so cumbersome and lengthy, staff felt it would be good to provide periodic updates to the Commission. She reviewed that the Commission approved contracts for the following project consultants and engineers: CG Engineering, Landau Associates, Makers Architectural and Urban Design, The Harris Group, and Harbor Engineers. She announced that all of the contracts have been finalized, and bi-monthly coordination meetings between the Port staff and CG Engineer started on February 1st. Different consultants and staff members will be pulled into the bi-monthly meetings as needed.

Ms. Williams reported that at the February 1st Coordination Meeting they discussed the unique constructability of the project, how access from the waterside will be limited, and how construction will need to take place from the land. CG Engineering talked a bit about the new seawall location, and it is still undetermined if it will be in front or behind the current seawall. They are taking it under advisement now, and when it is time to present ideas, they will discuss the pros and cons of each location.

Ms. Williams said one of the first steps is a topographic survey; using DHS Surveyors, one of CG Engineering’s subcontractors. She explained that most of the consultants will rely on the topographic survey in order to do their 30% drawing sets. DHS Surveyors had APS out doing the utility locations on February 5th and 8th, and DHS started work today and will likely work through the week surveying the Portwalk and parking lot from both the land and a boat. The turnaround time for their report is four to six weeks.

Ms. Williams advised that CG Engineering and Makers are in the process of applying for a pre-application meeting with the City of Edmonds to learn more about the environmental mitigation requirements, fire department requirements, architectural design requirements and specific permitting processes, fees and entitlements for the project. At this time, they assume the entitlements will include a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, Architectural Design Board review, and potentially a Conditional Use Permit. Permitting is expected to include building and civil construction permits, as well.

Ms. Williams recalled that an overview of the full schedule was shared at the last meeting. She noted that the current focus is on the design and permitting phase. The consultants will have received the survey and a design kick-off meeting will be held on March 11th. The consultants will have a few months to work on the 30% design drawings and meet again on May 13th to coordinate. Staff will attend both of these meetings. Shortly after that, the designs will be submitted to the Port for review and comment. Staff will continue the bi-monthly meetings with CG Engineering throughout the process.

Ms. Williams provided a brief recap of the public access projects the Port has been and will be working on in 2021:

• The plaza cover is almost complete and it looks great. There is a nice slant that creates a good drainage system, and lighting will be provided, as well.
• Work will begin on the north garbage enclosures soon.
• The plaza seating will be refurbished.
• New planter boxes will be installed in the south marina. The location and general dimension of the planters has been determined, and they will discuss implementing the plan at the February staff meeting.

Mr. McChesney added that the garbage enclosures will be attractive, but not fancy. It is important to understand that they will be demolished and redesigned when construction on the North Portwalk and Seawall Project starts. The goal is to get them off the existing promenade and into a suitable enclosure. He noted that staff plans to install some interpretative signs, as well.

Commissioner Faires asked how many parking spaces would be eliminated when the north garbage enclosures are relocated. Mr. McChesney said it will likely require the elimination of four to six stalls.

Given that the north garbage enclosures will be temporary, Commissioner Faires asked what the permanent structures will look like. Mr. McChesney answered that the design has yet to be determined and will be addressed as part of Makers’ work.


Mr. McChesney reported that he had a nice chat with the owners of Puget Sound Express (PSE), and they are getting excited about the new season and are already accepting bookings. Just last week, they asked the Port to do some leg work for them in Olympia on Senate Bill 5330, which has to do with the rules for whale watching excursions. He isn’t sure how the hearing turned out, but the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) attended the hearing. He said Port staff is looking forward to working with PSE again this year.


Commissioner Johnston explained that there were some unintended consequences of the Orca Task Force’s request for larger setbacks on the Southern Resident Killer Whales. The setbacks were extrapolated and applied to all marine mammals, but that was not the task force’s intention. All of the whale watching businesses were lumped into the same pot, and Senate Bill 5330 seeks to differentiate between whale watching organizations that look at the Southern Resident Killer Whales versus those that do not. The WPPA realized this was a big deal and they attended the hearings. They reported the hearing was extremely well attended, with a lot of back and forth. It was one of the hot button issues of the week, and it will be interesting to see where it ends up.

Commissioner Johnston said he attended the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee Chat conducted by Moss Adams on new tax regulations for individuals, corporations, etc. It was noted that taxes across a wide spectrum will likely go up in the coming year.

Commissioner Faires asked if Commissioner Johnston would report to the Commission when final discussions and negotiations on Senate Bill 5330 are complete and it is ready to go to the floor. Commissioner Johnston responded that both he and the WPPA will track the issue and he will report back.

Commissioner Faires said he would attend the Edmonds Economic Development Commission meeting on February 17th, but the agenda has not been published yet. He assumes it will be a continuation of reports on the priority issues that were brought forward at the last meeting. He said he would provide a report at the next Commission meeting.

Commissioner Preston reported that he attended the Downtown Edmonds Merchant Association (DEMA) meeting last week, and they are constantly trying new things. For example, some of the merchants have cupid stickers to recognize Valentine’s Day. They are also sponsoring a Localvore Passport Program where merchants offer product packages for certain dollar amounts. They are talking about doing a virtual month-long Art Walk Program that would feature local artists.

Commissioner Preston announced he would attend the next Edmonds Yacht Club sponsored Boater Safety Seminar on February 10th. The focus will be “weather.”

Commissioner Preston advised that the City Council will discuss allowing hotels in the Waterfront Zone on February 9th. He expressed his belief that the action will be irrelevant because it is not likely that the use would pencil out. At their last meeting, Council Member Kristiana Johnston made some points about constructing a large building where there is soil liquefaction. However, approval of the amendment would also allow small boutique hotels.

Although liquefaction is always raised as a concern with any development on the waterfront, Commissioner Orvis pointed out that the Edmonds Yacht Club and the Waterfront Center have been successfully constructed and liquefaction hasn’t been a problem. He observed that everything below the ferry holding lanes is fill and will liquify because it was all a marsh at one time.

Commissioner Orvis referred to the WPPA Legislative report and noted the following:

• The legislature has finally realized the biggest fight against broadband retail expansion has been big telecom companies, each of which has pledged to expand broadband into rural and underserved areas. They have never done it because it wasn’t profitable enough. It looks like ports will eventually be allowed to sell broadband, filling in the gaps in the rural parts of the state. The state’s capability was overwhelmed when over 1,400 people signed up to participate in the hearing.
• The WPPA is working to get ports included in House Bill 1253, which increases the Small Works Contract Authorization to $500,000. This would be a significant change.
• The legislature is looking at carbon reduction in three ways: clean fuel standards, a carbon tax, and a fuel tax increase. One of the big arguments is that only the fuel tax would dedicate the money to transportation, and the other two would increase gas prices with no limit on where the money would go. Fuel taxes are, by law, required to go to transportation.
• There are four or five very strong transportation packages, but because of the pandemic and other projects, such as salmon culverts, there isn’t money to do much in the way of transportation. In fact, the governor originally halted projects that were already in construction, but he has since restarted all but a few of them.
• The Shoreline Armory Bill is geared towards preventing more residential armoring of the shoreline. There is some concern the bill would also apply to ports, and WPPA lobbyists are fighting it.
• There is now concern in the legislature that alternative energy producers may not want to locate their facilities in Washington because of regulatory uncertainty, which is not a surprise. People are concerned about the future of the industry and the ability to attract those industries to the state because of uncertain environmental regulations.

Council Member Olson announced that the City Council is currently working on a Tree Code. The current scope is narrow and focused on development of new properties. Since the Port Commission always seems to have an eye towards the environment, she invited them to provide feedback regarding the issue. While the City wants to encourage development of affordable housing, they want developers to also be conscious of the importance of protecting trees.

Commissioner Faires referred to Commissioner Orvis’ earlier comment about development and liquefaction of soils. He recalled that this was an issue with Harbor Square, too. However, the Port found that two or three-story buildings can be built on pads large enough to avoid piers. Development greater than three stories is possible, but will require piers. Commissioner Johnston said most of the industrial area in Seattle, as well as the Port of Seattle property are illustrative examples of buildings that are constructed on liquefaction. Billions of dollars of investment and high-rise buildings have been built upon those conditions.

Commissioner Harris announced that the topic of the next EASC Coffee Chat will be “Mental Health Self Care.”


Commissioner Harris announced that the Commission would recess into an Executive Session that would conclude by 8:40 p.m. The purpose of the Executive Session was to discuss the Port’s Professional Services Agreement for Legal Services. At the conclusion of the Executive Session, there will not be action taken by the Commission and there will not be any announcements made. The regular meeting will be adjourned at the conclusion of the Executive Session.


The regular Commission meeting reconvened and subsequently adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Steve Johnston,    Port Commission Secretary