Commission Meeting Minutes 3-13-23

Commission Meeting Minutes 3-13-23


(Via Zoom, Hybrid Meeting)     March 13, 2023

Steve Johnston, President
Jim Orvis, Vice President
Jay Grant, Secretary
Angela Harris
David Preston


Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting

Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council


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


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






Mr. McChesney read the following written comment from Charles Malmgren into the record:

“A few weeks ago, after reading a few of the Port’s quarterly and annual reports I started thinking about carbon footprints. With annual sales of 400,000 gallons at the Fuel Dock, the Port has some responsibility in the creation of 8 million pounds of CO2 annually. Certainly, the Port profits from its creation. Carbon footprint is a big thing for us. Within our means, we do our best to refrain from unnecessary driving and maintain a reasonable temperature in the house. We upgraded our windows and furnace. We upgraded the boat motors to save a little more there.

What I am hoping to do is encourage the Port to make an effort to cut its carbon footprint. LEED Platinum for the new Administration/Maintenance Building would be a good start. Other things that can be done are converting to electric vehicles and adding charging stations. Ford has trucks and Wiggins has lifts. By installing Class II charging stations, the Port can encourage tenants and employees to convert to and use EVs.

Every boat taken off of a trailer is another fuel savings, as anyone who has ever towed will attest. With the limits that have been placed on tenant activity, an additional row or two could easily be serviced at Dry Storage. The proposed construction of a new Portwalk will have impacts from one end of the marina to the other and preparing for EV conversion can start now. I recently read an appropriate quote: “To meet critical climate goals, failing to plan would be planning to fail.”

Commissioner Orvis pointed out that the Administration/Maintenance Building was designed to the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Engineering Development (LEED) the Port could reasonably achieve. Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Port attempted LEED Gold but couldn’t meet the threshold for a variety of reasons. Commissioner Orvis commented that the project will include charging stations, and the Port is working to convert its fleet to electric. Mr. McChesney summarized that what the Port is doing is consistent with the spirit of Mr. Malmgren’s comments.

There were no other public comments.


Mr. Baker said the purpose of the update is to ensure that staff, Commissioners and the public have the same information and understanding regarding the Weather Center. He reviewed that in 2006, the Edmonds Rotary Club donated $5,000 for the initial Weather Center Project in dedication to former Commissioner Bucklin. A trellis was constructed in the central plaza, and monitors were placed under it to display weather data. A wireless unit that communicated the weather information down to the monitors was mounted atop the public launch. In 2015, the Port disposed of the failing trellis and repurposed the structure from Salish Landing to house a new television display. An updated weather unit was installed on the Anthony’s Building and hardwired for data transmittal. No outside funding or donations were received. At a staff meeting in April 2022, staff decided to discontinue the weather service and repurpose the structure into an information kiosk. Factors that led to this decision included:

• Many professional weather applications are available that provide more advanced and reliable information to individual phones. That wasn’t the case in 2006.
• Based on website analytics, viewership of the online data was low. A few outside websites pulled the data for use on their own websites, but visitation to the Port’s page was low.
• The equipment was aging, and staff was spending a lot of time and effort troubleshooting.
• There was no tech support for the equipment, and staff didn’t have the expertise.
• There were no software updates or patches available, which meant they couldn’t address vulnerabilities.
• The outdated system posed a security concern for the Port’s network.

Mr. Baker advised that, as a result of the staff meeting, the following actions were taken:

• The television screen was in disrepair, and a new screen was purchased and mounted.
• Ms. Williams assumed responsibility for managing the content that was displayed, emphasizing the environment, Port projects, and general information about the Puget Sound, Woodway and Edmonds areas.
• The weather data computer was taken out of commission, cutting the website uploads and display at the kiosk, and no more data was collected.

Mr. Baker pointed out that the Port maintains and uses a weather unit in the Marina Operations Office to monitor wind conditions pertaining to equipment safety, and this unit was recently replaced. Per policy, the Port limits operations once the wind gusts exceed 25 miles per hour (mph). The current device displays the data in the office only via the live-view monitor. The data is not currently stored or shared.

Mr. Baker acknowledged there is no other source of weather data at this specific location. However, staff is currently busy with a number of other significant projects, and they don’t have the time to fully devote to get the Weather Center back online. The Port could add some additional resources to its website to direct people where to find weather information. Staff is very concerned about network and security issues, as well as the time it would take to maintain the Weather Station if it were put back online. At this time, staff recommends upholding the 2022 decision, while urging the public and boaters to find alternative sources for weather information.

Mr. McChesney reviewed that the original Weather Center has morphed into more of an interpretive center. Staff believes this information is of higher value to the public.

Commissioner Preston suggested that links to weather information apps for smart phones could be displayed on the front page of the Port’s website. Mr. Baker agreed, but pointed out that there is an absence of weather data for 336 Admiral Way. However, in terms of safety and trip planning, it is more important to know what the weather is doing out in Puget Sound and at their destination. This information is readily available.

Commissioner Preston said he would like the Port to update the existing camera so that clearer live streaming could be available via the Port’s website. Mr. Baker said that, as the new Administration/Maintenance Building Project moves forward, there will be an opportunity to consider this request as they work to segregate networks and look at security.

Commissioner Preston said he recently visited the kiosk, noting that the back of the reader board is very rusty. There is also a lot of moss. He asked that staff spruce it up once the weather warms up. Mr. Baker said the reader board has been decommissioned, as well, and it will be removed soon. The structure is repainted every year.


Councilmember Teitzel referred to current legislation related to housing. He explained that the statewide goal is to have 1 million new homes created by 2044, with the majority in the Puget Sound Region. To reach that goal, the rate of building will need to triple. Of the 1 million new homes, the target is for 50% to be affordable by people earning less than 50% of the area median income. The City Council’s position is that cities should have the ability to decide the best way to meet the growth targets. The legislature doesn’t believe cities are working fast enough, and the proposed legislation would preempt local efforts.

Councilmember Teitzel explained that the multiple bills all work in tandem, resulting in a compounding affect. For example, House Bill (HB) 1245 would require that all single-family lots be split into two lots. There is a senate hearing on this bill on March 14th. HB1110 would apply to all cities over 75,000 residents, including Edmonds. It would eliminate single-family zoning and require that duplexes be allowed on all lots that are more than ½ mile from major transit. Lots within ½ mile of transit would be allowed up to four units per lot. If all lots are split into two (HB1245) and then duplexes or fourplexes are allowed on each one (HB110), the density would be magnified significantly. On top of that, HB5235 would mandate that up to two additional attached or detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) be allowed. However, the bill wouldn’t allow the ADUs to be counted against a city’s density targets.

Councilmember Teitzel said the City Council has articulated their concerns to the City’s lobbyist, and she will be carrying them forward. He said it has been hard to keep track of the issue because amendments are coming forward almost every week. March 29th will be the last day to read the bills into committee reports for the opposite house. By April 4th, the bills have to be passed out of committee and read into the record, and April 12th is the drop-dead date to either pass or fail the legislation. If the bills all pass, the City’s character will be significantly impacted.

Commissioner Orvis pointed out that the proposed legislation would only apply to cities and counties within the urban growth areas (UGAs). He agreed with the City Council’s position. If the legislature doesn’t believe cities are working fast enough, they should increase the target numbers they are required to meet. As proposed, they are basically throwing a sledge hammer at the whole works, and they will likely get a number of lawsuits. Councilmember Teitzel explained that the City has met the Growth Management Act (GMA) targets for decades and will continue to meet them. He acknowledged that the City could do better, but cities who are doing a good job are frustrated by the proposed legislation.

Commissioner Preston pointed out that affordable housing is being built around the perimeter of Edmonds (Mountlake Terrace, south Everett, and Lynnwood), but the market makes it impossible to create affordable housing in the Edmonds Bowl. He argued that they may not need 1 million new homes in the state by 2024 because people might not continue to move to Washington. Councilmember Teitzel said the forecast is based on a prediction, and they could end up with an excess of housing.

Commissioner Orvis pointed out that the parking requirements have been significantly relaxed. The idea is that if they make it too difficult to get around by car, people will start to use mass transit. However, the environment is not conducive to this great shift.

Councilmember Teitzel advised that the City is currently working to update its Comprehensive Plan, which is due at the end of 2024. A significant piece of that plan is the Land Use Element, which relates to zoning and how land is used. If the legislation passes, it would leapfrog what the City is trying to do with the Comprehensive Plan.

Commissioner Orvis pointed out that groups opposing the bill so vociferously need to remember that the public elected the current legislators. If they are really serious, they need to vote for candidates who support local control.

Councilmember Teitzel announced that Representatives Peterson and Ortiz-Self and Senator Liias are hosting a town hall meeting at the Waterfront Center on Saturday, March 18th at 10:00 a.m. He anticipates a very lively conversation, and he encouraged interested Commissioners to attend.

Councilmember Teitzel reported that the Council has set aside $300,000 in 2023 to make major progress on the Code Rewrite Project. The current code is significantly out of date and has a lot of problems. The Planning and Development Department hired a full-time contractor to work solely on this project, and the goal is to make measurable strides forward this year.

Councilmember Teitzel advised that he shared a copy of the City’s draft Climate Action Plan with the Port. While it is a good document, there are a few concerns. For example, the plan should recognize the Port’s efforts over the years related to the environment. He asked that the Commissioners and Port staff review the plan and provide additional feedback. He said he is particularly interested in things the Port has accomplished and what it is currently working on that has climate sensitivity. The focus of the plan is how to meet the Paris Climate Accord Goals, which are meant to eliminate global warming.

Mr. McChesney summarized that the Port has done some commendable things from an environmental standpoint. For example, the new building will meet LEED Silver Certification and will include a solar installation and EV charging stations. Councilmember Teitzel added that the Port has been a significant partner in the marsh cleanup, as well. Commissioner Johnston suggested the Environmental Committee could meet soon to prepare input for the City’s use. Mr. McChesney and Commissioner Harris agreed that would be an excellent idea.


Andor Boeck, Edmonds Yacht Club EYC), thanked the Port for its efforts promoting the EYC’s safety course. They had a great turnout, capping out at the limit for each event. The Coast Guard did a great job, and the kids had a lot of fun, too. Commissioner Preston asked if the EYC would consider doing a safety course for older kids/young teens. Mr. Boeck agreed that would be a good idea. He said he hopes the safety courses will be ongoing, as they offer a good way for the club to engage with current and potential boaters.


Mr. McChesney reported that the lobbyist, Elevate, is now under contract. Staff has had some preliminary exchanges, and they are looking forward to the initial kick-off meeting on March 28th.

Mr. McChesney also reported that he hosted Dr. Amit Singh, CEO of Edmonds College. After the tour, they talked about ways they could partner and collaborate. The college is very interested in workforce development and internships, and the hope is they can eventually perfect a good program.


Commissioner Grant reported that he attended a meeting of the Regional Emergency Management Planning Committee, which focuses primarily on King and Snohomish Counties. The Washington State Office of Emergency Management notified him of a bill that would require authorities to implement cyber security measures. He forwarded the notification to Eric Ffitch, Executive Director of the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA), asking him to follow up. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Commissioner Grant said he continues to follow the City of Edmonds progress on the Comprehensive Plan and Code updates. The Department of Community Development sent out an email asking people to respond (yes or no) to a proposed mission statement for the Comprehensive Plan. Some citizens who didn’t like the proposed language forwarded it to him with their comments.

Commissioner Preston reported on his attendance at the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association (DEMA)/Edmonds Downtown Alliance (ED) meeting last week. They provided a recap on the Lunar New Year Event, which went well. They are looking at doing some new branding. They are also working with downtown banks to lease bank parking after 6:00 p.m. and on the weekends. The hope is that more banks will participate going forward. He questioned why the City, and not DEMA, was paying to lease the spaces. He noted that this parking would primarily benefit the restaurants, as most of the retailers are closed by 6:00 p.m. The next Connect Edmonds will be held at Brigid’s Bottleshop on April 21st, and David Voetmann from The Facility Makerspace will be presenting. Registration to participate in the 4th of July Parade is now open, but there won’t be any fireworks this year. The Taste of Edmonds will be moved back to its original location, and the Chamber is planning some comedy shows. The first will be on April 29th at the old Edmonds Opera House, also known as the Masonic Lodge, which is across from Salish Brewery.

Commissioner Orvis reported that the legislature’s deadline to pass bills out of the house of origin was March 8th. However, they can still consider bills that are required for the budget and they can make amendments to bills that did pass out. Of the 2,144 original bills, 611 bills passed out of the house of origin. The revenue forecast is due on March 20th, and it shows the state is likely to collect more money than previously anticipated. Policy makers may be more inclined to fund additional programs. On the other hand, there are rumors that it may not be as robust as they hoped. March 29th is the last day to read in a committee report from the opposite house, except for Fiscal, Ways and Means and Transportation Committees. April 12th is the last day to consider passed opposite house bills, except initiatives and alternatives to initiatives. April 26th is the last day of the legislative session. Legislation of interest to the Port includes:

• The Derelict Structures Bill passed both the house and senate. This is request by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to streamline derelict structure removal, create near shore credits and facilitate the process passed in the senate. The City is also interested in this legislation.
• The Derelict Vessel Bill passed out of the house and is currently in the senate. It would streamline derelict vessel removal by allowing email notification to vessel owners.
• Senate Bill (SB) 5192, which is scheduled for a hearing, authorizes administrative law judges to supplement the three members of the Pollution Control Hearings Board to expedite the appeal process for derelict vessels.
• The Tourism Bill survived the cutoff. The house version received a unanimous vote.
• The Department of Energy and the Department of Ecology held the first Cap-and-Invest Carbon Allowance Auction. It produced $300 million, which is $100 million more than anticipated. A total of four auctions will be held, and the goal is to come up with $400 million more than anticipated. The money is intended to be spent on activities that reduce carbon.
• There is bill to expand tax incentives for hydrogen fuel sales.
• A public hearing has been held by the Environment, Energy and Technology Committee on a bill that would add advanced nuclear technology as a guiding principle for development of the state’s energy strategy as a clean energy source. The bill has been amended to remove natural gas as a guiding principle and replace it with renewable natural gas and hydrogen. He suspects that renewable natural gas comes from composting and biodegradable materials. Puget Sound Energy is supporting the bill to ease out retail natural gas business. It calls for eventually discontinuing service to current natural gas customers and to stop connecting new gas customers after June 30, 2023. If the bill continues to advance, it must be modified as there is a lot of development taking place right now where the gas is due to be hooked up after that deadline.
• Governor Inslee’s request for legislation to streamline permitting and siting of clean energy facilities has passed the house bipartisan, and the bill is scheduled for public hearings. Some amendments adopted during the debate address issues raised by the WPPA.
• A bill that would grant the DNR the authority to enter trust lands into the ecosystem contracts was cut back from the initial 120 years. This bill affects the forests that have provided money for schools and, in some cases, port districts and others. The agreements would cut this money off. The bill was a source of great intrigue as both sides of the issue worked it hard.
• The Unified Tax Levy from Chelan/Douglas is passing and would allow the two ports to unite for one levy.
• A current bill would allow ports to increase the amount of surplus property that can be written off without port commission authority from $10,000 to $22,000.
• A bill that links the prevailing-wage requirement to when the work is performed was passed unanimously by the senate. Because the prevailing wage is adjusted every six months, the salaries a contractor pays for each craft will also have to be adjusted every six months. This will result in change orders and/or high bids for projects. Or there will need to be a separate contract that covers labor.
• Another bill would require any contract over $1 million to achieve 15% use of apprenticeships. This will be particularly hard for small businesses as a $1 million contract is not that big anymore. There is concern that the legislation will become a burden for small businesses and limit the number of bidders.
• A bill would raise the public works threshold from $300,000 to $350,000.
• There is discussion about a road usage charge. One option is to turn in an odometer reading, and another would track vehicles. They are looking at a $.025 per mile charge, and it would be mandatory by 2030.
• Governor Inslee wants $4 billion for housing, in addition to the other housing laws that are passing. The City of Seattle and Port of Seattle are both pushing back because they are trying to develop industrial uses in the southwestern part of the City. The new housing rules could very easily eliminate industrial uses in sections of the City. It could also impact historical buildings.
• Environmental measures are included in most legislation. The environmentalists were a little more conciliatory, but not much. A lot of money is going towards environmental measures.
• There are three union lobbyists for every other lobbyist in Olympia.
• The Tax Incremental Financing Bill is dead.
• There is a lot of pressure towards a bill that would require ports to electrify so that ships can plug in. The legislature is considering a significant expenditure, but the ports are pointing out that a ship must be designed to plug in rather than running on a generator. While more ships with this feature are coming, the legislature is way ahead.
• Governor Inslee is asking for $5 million for an electrical generation study and additional money for studies of river navigation and land transportation. It has been pointed out that the airport study got a lot of pushback because it was underfunded and not done appropriately.
• Commissioner Orvis said there is talk about another potential McLeary decision based upon the fact that rural and smaller school districts can’t pass levies large enough to build new facilities. The last decision was a disaster, and if approved, it would require additional funding from the state.

Commissioner Johnston reported that he attended the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County (EASC) legislation update, which was presented by Senators Salomon and Lovick and the EASC Attorney Lobbyist. There were a lot of platitudes, with people saying that legislators are working together well and the issues are largely bipartisan. Senator Salomon provided good detail in the areas of housing and land-use issues.

Commissioner Johnston reviewed that the Port received 42 applications for the Executive Director position. Since the application period closed on March 21st, the Selection Committee has been busy reviewing a short list and preparing questions for candidate interviews. The Selection Committee has created a shortlist of six applicants, all with substantial and impressive credentials and qualifications. The Commissioners not on the committee, who have not otherwise been recused as a candidate, have also reviewed the qualifications of the short list candidates. Currently, the committee is preparing to notify the candidates on the short list and schedule interviews for March 22nd and 23rd, with a possible flex date of March 24th. All of the interviews will occur in open public meetings. Members of staff will have an opportunity to meet with the short list candidates the next week, and final selection will occur in early April to allow time for the selected candidate to transition before Executive Director McChesney’s last day in the office the last week of May.


The Commission meeting was adjourned at 7:54 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Grant
Port Commission Secretary