Commission Meeting Minutes 3-27-23

Commission Meeting Minutes 3-27-23


(Via Zoom, Hybrid Meeting)
March 27, 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
Brian Menard, Director of Facilities and Maintenance
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Economic Development
Renae Ebel, Administrative Assistant

Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council


President Johnston called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.


Commissioner Johnston announced that the Commission would move into an Executive Session pursuant to Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.30.110(1)(g) to evaluate the qualifications of an applicant for public employment and the Executive Session would last for 1 hour30 minutes. Commissioner Harris was excused from the Executive Session, as she was one of the applicants. The Executive Session started at 5:31 p.m. and lasted for 1 hour 20 minutes. The Executive Session concluded at 6:51 p.m. Commissioner Johnston announced that the regular meeting would start at 7:00 p.m. with action expected.


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.






There were no public comments.


Mr. McChesney reviewed that, as discussed with the Commission over the past several months, there are some concerns with the mid-marina breakwater. Commissioners were invited to participate in visual inspections, and staff has been working with a consultant to analyze what it will take to rehabilitate and extend the breakwater’s life. He advised that Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, was present to review the Structural Observation Report.

Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, provided pictures to illustrate the existing conditions of the mid-marina breakwater and shared the following:

• Steel Vertical and Steel H Batter Piles with Horizontal Timber Slats. There is significant rust at the inner-tidal elevation where the water rises and then recedes due to the tides. This is the same area where the wood timber piles tie into the vertical piles. A lot of the protective coating has worn away, and about 25% have significant damage and need to be repaired.

• Steel Channel Cap. An existing steel channel is located on top of the steel H-piles across the center of the breakwater. This channel cap is the main conduit for the cathodic protection. When the cap is damaged, cathodic protection is lost. The cap has rusted through in several locations and the protective coating has worn away. There was an earlier attempt to splice the cap back together in the middle of the breakwater with a steel strap, but the strap has already split. A wire is currently acting as the conduit for the cathodic protection across the joint. In addition to cathodic protection, the cap adds rigidity and strength to the top of the breakwater. Damage to the cap reduces the rigidity of the top of the breakwater, allowing the piles to move independently instead of as a group when resisting wave action and exacerbating the damage to the top of the cap. As the cap fails, the piles become more damaged.

• Treated Timber Lagging. Timber lagging is used between the steel H-piles to create the center breakwater section. While the upper portion of the lagging appears to be in good condition, the lower four feet is significantly damaged over most of the length of the breakwater. Wave action has been observed through the breakwater in the damaged areas of lagging, and replacement is needed to protect the marina.

• Sheet Piles. Steel sheet piles with battered steel H-piles are used for the north and south portions of the breakwater. Many of the sheet piles were showing signs of rust at the inner-tidal elevation, and several layers of the coating can be seen peeling away from the steel, starting at the joints of the piles.

• Coating. When the breakwater was installed, the coating protected the steel as much as possible. As water got behind the coating, it started to fail more and more, leaving the steel without protection. Although the steel in some areas hasn’t been damaged yet, there is potential for significant damage in the short term because the protective coating has been lost.

• Creosote Timber Piles. The creosote timber piles that were used to extend the rock breakwater also need to be replaced. While he would prefer using rock instead of timber, it might not be allowed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Mr. McChesney recalled that Port staff has dealt with coating issues in the past and has reached the determination that repainting the piles would be impractical, wouldn’t solve anything, and would not be cost effective. Mr. Titus agreed there isn’t a way to repaint the breakwater in a way that would protect it. Because it is in the inner-tidal zone, it won’t be possible to properly prepare the piles or for the coating to dry. Mr. McChesney recalled the breakwater was painted twice about 15 years ago in an attempt to extend its life and make it more visually appealing, However, the paint ended up pealing off in sheets because it wasn’t possible to prepare the pilings properly to get the necessary adhesion. This illustrates the futility of trying to paint over rust.

Mr. Titus shared the following options for addressing the problems:

• Option 1 (No Repairs). Without any remedial repairs, it is estimated that the bottom four feet of lagging has 0-2 years of operational life before major portions are removed by wave action, and the Maintenance Manager has already started to replace the lagging. The steel piles have another 5-8 years of operational life.

• Option 2 (Replace the Lower Damaged Lagging). Port staff can replace the lower four feet of lagging with new treated lagging, which would extend the life of the breakwater for 5-8 years.

• Option 3 (Replace the Damaged Lagging and Minor Steel Repairs). This option would involve replacing timbers as mentioned in Option 2, but a steel strongback channel would be added near the top of the vertical piles to replace the existing cap. The channel would serve as cathodic protection and tie the piles together. The sheet piles would be repaired with welded-steel plates as necessary to reinforce the areas that are significantly rusted. The life expectancy of this option is 8-15 years, but it would require contractor bids and a Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA). Mitigation would likely be required, as well.

Mr. McChesney pointed out that it is most likely that Option 3 would be covered under a nationwide permit by the Army Corps of Engineers, and they have asked Landau Associates to research the requirements further. Mr. Titus agreed, but pointed out that mitigation would be required.

• Option 4 (Replace the Entire Breakwater). Much like Option 3, this option would require contractor bids and a JARPA Permit. It would also require involvement from a variety of disciplines.

Mr. McChesney asked if Mr. Titus is suggesting there is no engineering way to rehabilitate the breakwater. He also asked if replacing the breakwater would require a contractor to pull up all of the sheet and batter piles and peal back all of the riprap rock so the project could start from a new bottom. Mr. Titus expressed his belief that there is no way to repair the steel enough to significantly increase the breakwater’s operational life, and he would recommend removing the entire breakwater and constructing the new one in the same place.

Commissioner Grant commented that, when they reach the point of replacement of the breakwater, they need to consider the current climate challenges. Mr. Titus recommended that a sediment analysis and wave action analysis would need to be done to determine the most appropriate location for the new breakwater. Mr. McChesney pointed out that the permitting process would probably take about five years, and Mr. Titus agreed.

Commissioner Grant raised the issue of funding, and Mr. McChesney responded that it is important for the Port to do everything that is cost effective to extend the life of the breakwater while other significant projects are completed. Commissioner Grant asked about the cost of each of the options. Mr. Menard estimated it would cost about $60,000 for the labor and materials needed to accomplish Option 2, and Mr. Titus said full replacement would cost several million dollars. Commissioner Grant pointed out that there is significant funding available via the Federal Government’s Infrastructure Bill. In addition to seeking grant funding for the Portwalk, he recommended they also consider grant funding opportunities for the breakwater.

Except for the North Seawall and Portwalk Project, Commissioner Grant asked if any other large capital projects are anticipated over the next 15 years. Mr. Menard said they must also address the deterioration at C Dock where they are losing all of the protective coating on the steel. Mr. McChesney said they haven’t agreed upon a recommended solution yet, but he believes it will be possible to cut out the damaged pieces and weld new ones on. Commissioner Grant stressed the need for planning, including some round figures for costs, so that the Port can look for grant opportunities.

Mr. McChesney expressed his belief that the Port’s goal should be to rehabilitate the breakwater enough to get 15 years of life. Unless directed otherwise by the Commission, staff will work with the consultant to come up with a scope of work to execute Option 3. This can likely be accomplished within the next three months. Mr. Titus agreed and noted that Landau Associates will need to be involved to address the permit requirements. Even with a nationwide permit, Landau Associates is still predicting it will take a year to get through the permitting process. Mr. McChesney said he anticipates that Option 3 will cost between $500,000 and $1 million to execute, and he is optimistic they can bring a proposal back to the Commission by September.


Mr. McChesney recapped that the Commission has determined that Option 3 is the preferred option. To get started, the Commission is authorizing staff to work with CG Engineering on the engineering aspect. Mr. Menard would work with his staff to start replacing the lagging, and the initial budget would be $60,000.



Commissioner Harris raised the question of whether or not she needed to recuse herself from this discussion. Upon the advice of Port Attorney Stephens, she decided to remain in the room but would not participate in the discussion or decision.

Commissioner Johnston reported that the Commission met in an Executive Session prior to the regular meeting to discuss the qualifications of candidates for the Executive Director position. They started with six finalists, but one dropped out, leaving them with five highly-qualified candidates. No decision was made during the Executive Session, and the Commission’s intent is to have a discussion at this open meeting and come to a consensus and a selection of an Executive Director.

Commissioner Orvis said Angela Harris would be his first choice because of her passion for the Port, spectacular resume of achievement over her lifetime of work, and the fact that she currently works in a pressure cooker and has done outstanding work. She is empathetic with people and she listens. When she came to the Port, she dug right in to become conversant with Port matters and contributed significantly to Commission discussions, particularly those related to the environment. As a current Commissioner, she knows the Port, she knows the finances and how they budget, etc., and this will give her a big head start. He also felt she would work very well with the staff.

Commissioner Grant commented that all five individuals were very qualified, and they all had excellent backgrounds. He, too, believes that Angela Harris is the right person at this time. He appreciates her vision and her resume stands out in how she branded herself and articulated the challenges the Port must meet. She understands the need to work with leaders in both the Town of Woodway and City of Edmonds.

Commissioner Preston said it was exciting to review the resumes and interview each of the candidates. Each one had unique experiences and qualifications. He said he also supports the selection of Angela Harris. Her unique world experiences, both corporate and international, and her diverse work history has given her a heads up. He believes her prior customer-facing experiences will be a great benefit for many of the things the Port is doing. She has worked with some very large budgets and has been a prior business owner.

Commissioner Johnston agreed it was a difficult decision, given there were five outstanding candidates with variable qualifications. He said he has worked with Angela Harris on a number of committees over the last several years and has come to know her as a person who always seeks consensus. She is well thought out and well prepared, and it has been a pleasure to work with her. One of the most compelling factors for his decision is that staff felt very strongly that she was the right candidate. He said he would go along with the other Commissioners to make a consensus selection of Angela Harris as the next Executive Director.


Commissioner Johnston thanked all of the candidates. It was a difficult decision, as all of the candidates were highly-qualified.


Councilmember Teitzel congratulated Commissioner Harris for her new position as Executive Director of the Port. He announced that the Council’s March 28th agenda includes a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposed between the City and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for purchase of the old Unocal property. The MOU would be non-binding, but would put the City in the right of first refusal position for the property once the cleanup is complete. The Department of Ecology (DOE) must sign off on the cleanup being effective before the transition between Unocal and WSDOT can happen. They are confident that can occur before the end of 2023, and then the City can enter into active negotiations with WSDOT to purchase the property at fair-market value per State law.

Councilmember Teitzel reported that the housing bills are still alive at the legislature. House Bill (HB) 1110 and Senate Bill (SB) 5190 are companion bills that revolve around affordable housing. They were forwarded to the Ways and Means Committee for discussion on March 24th, and they have been moved forward for a vote. The last day to pass bills is April 12th, and the session ends April 23rd. The City Council is quite sure the bills will pass in some form, and that will mean the end of single-family zoning in all cities with populations above 25,000.

Councilmember Teitzel further reported that HB 1245 and companion SB 5364 involve splitting residential lots into two to make smaller lots. The intent is to increase the density of housing in all cities with populations above 25,000. He anticipates big changes coming their way. The City has provided feedback, as have other cities, about preemption of a State control of zoning issues, but there is bipartisan support for the bills to pass.

Councilmember Teitzel advised that the City Council approved a Climate Action Plan on March 21st, which he forwarded to the Commissioners the week before. The plan focuses mainly on controlling greenhouse gas and limiting global warming. As Commissioner Preston has previously pointed out, Edmonds standing on its own can’t do much about either issue, but if thousands of cities across the country and other countries do the same type of action, the impact can be meaningful. The plan is a living document that can be updated and modified. There is nothing in the plan about the Port’s role as a leader on environmental issues. The Port should be recognized in the plan, and he looks to the Commission and Port staff to identify things the Port has done that should be celebrated.

Commissioner Harris asked about the timeline for updating the Climate Action Plan to include Port activities. Councilmember Teitzel said that, because it is a living document, it can be updated at any time. The intent is for the plan to be included as an element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being updated. He asked that the Port provide their response within the next two or three weeks.

Commissioner Preston referred to a comment in MY EDMONDS NEWS from Joe Scordino that the capital budget currently under consideration by the State legislature will give Edmonds a first right of refusal on purchase of the Unocal property. If that is the case, why was the MOU needed? Councilmember Teitzel said that is something he plans to bring up at the Council’s March 28th meeting. He felt the City already had first right of refusal.


Mr. McChesney said he previously informed the Commission that there was some question as to whether or not the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) was going to approve using the precast concrete panels with embedded glass blocks. At the time, DFW was putting their foot down and saying they didn’t want glass blocks because they break and are difficult to maintain. This feedback put the Port in a dither because the project was quite far along in the design process. Just recently, he learned that DFW would support the use of glass blocks. By the end of this week, the Shoreline Permit and Design Review Applications will be submitted to the City of Edmonds. At this time, he is projecting that all the permits will be done by the end of the first quarter of 2024. The project can then move forward to final design, which will take about six months to complete. Construction can start any time after permit approval, but the Port will need some time to perfect the funding plan and obtain grant support.


Commissioner Preston noted that Annie Crawley and her dive team are scheduled to do another cleanup dive on April 16th, but it still needs to be added to the calendar on the Port’s website.

Commissioner Preston announced that the Port Curmudgeon, Jack Bevin, turns 100 on April 2nd. He suggested the Port Commission should send him a card. He has attended a lot of Port Commission meetings over the years and has asked some great financial questions. Mr. McChesney agreed to send out a card on behalf of the Port.

Commissioner Grant announced that he and Commissioner Harris are still working on the Port’s Mission Statement. Hopefully, it can be refined enough to present to the Commission prior to the planning retreat. He would be meeting with Government Affairs Representative on March 28th to discuss grant opportunities and the best path forward for the Port to pursue funding for its projects.

Commissioner Orvis provided the following legislative report:

• The recent Revenue Forecast, which ends in June, is down over $1 billion for next year. There is a projected decrease of $194 million for 2023, a $483 million decrease from 2023 to 2025, and a $541 million decrease for 2025 to 2027. This equates to about $1.24 billion down over the coming four years, which is not what they expected.
• The Senate released its budget for 2023 to 2025, and the proposal is to spend $69.2 billion over two years and leave $3.8 billion in reserves. It includes $2.5 million for industrial site readiness, which has to do with obtaining grants without having to start actual construction; $10 million for clean-energy permitting; funding for Small Works Roster reform; and $6 million for the Northwest Sea Alliance, which relates to the Tacoma/Seattle Zero Emissions Truck Pilot Program that focuses on hydrogen cell technology. Many would like to see more funding for tourism, innovation cluster acceleration, and the international market program.
• March 29th is the last day to read in committee reports from the opposite house and April 26th will end the regular session.
• $115 million has been earmarked for remedial action grants under the Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA).
• The governor’s list will be fully funded, featuring strong funding for several ports. It includes $40 million for port electrification, which is a point of contention because it is directly aimed at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. It was noted that they will need to require or at least encourage merchant ships to put in capabilities for shore power before they can be plugged in. Right now, they are looking at port electrification contracts for something that won’t be utilized.
• $50 million has been earmarked for broadband and infrastructure.
• The House capital budget streamlines derelict structures permitting, which would allow them to be disposed of quicker and easier.
• A similar bill related to derelict vessels will move to executive session. Water and natural resources and parks like the bill, as it would streamline derelict vessel removal by allowing email notification instead of having to go through the registered mail route. The bill would also allow administrative law judges to supplement three members of the Pollution Control Hearings Board to expedite the process of removing derelict vessels.
• A tourism promotion bill continues to advance, but the original proposal of $26 million, which the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) and its members supported, is likely to be reduced to only $8 million.
• A bill instructs the Department of Commerce to recruit and retain grant writers designed to help Associate Development Organizations (ADOs) and other government entities secure funding opportunities for economically distressed areas.
• Going along with the Seaport Alliance Energy Bills, there are two tax incentives to help expand research and development into hydrogen fuel cells. Tacoma is already working with these fuel cells, and Seattle is picking up on it, too.
• There is a bill, which is likely to pass, that would increase the distance that must be maintained around Orca whales from 300 yards to 1,000 yards. This would only apply to Southern Resident Orcas, and his understanding is that Puget Sound Express tries to stay away from these sightings.
• A bill to help with insurance for underground storage tanks, which affects the Port, is doing well so far.
• SB 5104 directs the DFW to survey habitat along Puget Sound to create and maintain a baseline of habitat. This might have an impact to the Port.
• A bill to enhance voting rights in Washington State is moving through. It would allow someone outside of your district to sue for voting rights violations. Whether they win or lose, the district would be liable for all legal fees.
• SB 5487 would modify the process for filling vacancies on government bodies of special purpose districts, including port commissions. It would require posting the opening in public, including the port’s website and also accepting nominations from the public. He doesn’t believe this would adversely affect the Port of Edmonds.
• An apprenticeship bill is moving forward. As proposed, public works projects over $1 million would be required to achieve 15% apprenticeships. They are considering raising the project limit to $2 million, but ports would like it to be raised to $12 million. There is concern that small businesses would not be able to bid on port contracts because $1 million is not a significant project.
• The prevailing wage legislation is scheduled for public hearings on March 28th. The bill would ensure that prevailing wages paid to workers is linked to when the work is performed. However, the version that passed out of the senate would require ports to amend contracts each time the prevailing wage is adjusted. This would likely require two contracts: one for materials and equipment and another for salaries. Mr. McChesney noted that a contractor could also issue a change order if the prevailing wage changes dramatically.

Port Attorney Stephens referred to the legislation related to derelict vessels and asked if the Department of Licensing would be responsible for collecting email addresses. Commissioner Orvis said this isn’t addressed in the legislation. The bill would simply allow the use of email to notify the owners of derelict vessels. Ms. Drennan commented that, most of the time, the Port doesn’t have email addresses of for derelict boat owners. They are lucky to even have their names and addresses.

Commissioner Harris said she is very excited to serve as the Port’s Executive Director. She thanked the Commissioners for their consideration. They had a lot of fantastic applicants, and the decision was not easy.

Commissioner Harris said she would be meeting with Commissioner Grant to review the Port’s Mission Statement and prepare a draft for the Commission’s consideration. This will allow the Commission and staff to spend their time at the planning retreat laying out all of the projects and validating them against the newly adopted Mission Statement.

Commissioner Johnston agreed with Councilmember Teitzel that the Port should revisit input to the City’s Climate Action Plan. The Port does have a story to tell, and it is important to expand the Port’s relationship with the City in that regard. Commissioner Harris agreed. She said she would review the plan and prepare thoughts to share with either the Environmental Committee or the entire Commission.

Commissioner Orvis suggested the Commission discuss the Executive Director transition at their next meeting. He noted that they will need to appoint a new Commissioner to fill Commissioner Harris’ vacated position until the general election in November. They must also file for the upcoming general election.



The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jay Grant
Port Commission Secretary