Commission Meeting Minutes 6-12-23

Commission Meeting Minutes 6-12-23

(Via Zoom, Hybrid Meeting)   June 12, 2023

Steve Johnston, President
Jim Orvis, Vice President
Jay Grant, Secretary
Janelle Cass (Via Zoom)
David Preston

Angela Harris, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting

Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council
Frank Chmelik, Attorney
Mike Quinn, Mayor of Woodway


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.


Commissioner Johnston welcomed new Commissioner Janelle Cass, who was sworn in on June 5th.




Commissioner Grant asked to pull the May 31, 2023 Minutes (Item A) on the Consent Agenda. As a point of order, Port Attorney Stephens advised that the best time to pull an item from the Consent Agenda is when the Commission is approving the meeting agenda.

On Page 2, Question 3, 4th line, Commissioner Grant asked that the word “he” be changed to “Commissioner Grant” to add clarity.




Commissioner Cass indicated she would abstain from voting on the minutes since she was not at the May 31st meeting. Port Attorney Stephens explained that a commissioner can vote on approving the minutes even if they weren’t in attendance at the meeting. However, they also have the option to abstain from voting.

Port Attorney Stephens suggested that Commissioners can notify staff of scrivener errors in the minutes prior to the meeting so that staff can make the changes and submit revised minutes. If it doesn’t work out time-wise to do that, they can incorporate the requested change in the initial motion.



Executive Director Harris read the following comment from Darrol Haug into the record as follows:

“At your May 31 meeting, Commissioner Orvis made interesting remarks about housing. I would like to make a few comments about his remarks and offer additional comments and ideas. His remarks were realistic, and a key takeaway was it may be more cost effective to build housing than to use our various institutions for housing. When I spoke to you last, I offered some ideas of how the Port could provide added help to the community and to our city government. There are some seeds in these comments that if planted and cared for could help further engage the role of Port not only in the Port District but in the community as a whole.

Our education system needs to better prepare our kids for today’s economy. Jobs and income to be successful in the housing market. Performances below grade level for reading and math together with graduation rates in the mid 80 percent do not prepare our kids for quality work. As part of the current facilities team, we have recommended to the School Board two things. Both recommendations are proven ways to improve outcomes including graduation rates.

• Moving 6th grade students to middle school with 7th and 8th grade students would put ESD on par with most other Puget Sound districts. Data shows this will improve graduation rates.
• More importantly, the facilities team has recommended moving to universal preschool (Ages 3-4). Data clearly shows preschool improves reading and math scores AND graduation rates. ESD has 3,000 kids in the age group and only 400 go to district-provided preschool. Yes, parents with resources do send their kids to preschool, but many kids are left behind this vital education step. The new capital gain tax on upper income folks will generate $500 million for early learning. ESD’s share, if equally divided, will be $10 million or more than $3,000/kid. Local resources will be needed to fully fund universal preschool.

Further reform is needed to provide a path for each kid to secure gainful employment upon graduation and that will be key for providing grads with the income necessary to secure housing. The Port has no direct role in either of these items, but individually, your support could be helpful.

Commissioner Orvis’ point is we need to find ways to increase the housing supply. Traditional market-based strategies do not adequately increase the housing supply. As a community, we need to sort out how we can increase the supply and variety of housing. To increase housing supply, we may need to think about various forms of subsidy. First, we need to understand the cost elements that go into our current housing. Here are some of the major cost elements:

1. Building materials: Often expressed as cost/square foot and varies based on finished quality.
2. Land. In the Port District (generally the bowl) land represents 60-75% of assessed value. Other parts of Edmonds outside of the Port District land represents 35-40% of assessed value.
3. Permits: Measured in $1,000’s.
4. Mitigation fees: To contribute to parks and infrastructure. Measured in $1,000’s.

For multi-family or mixed-use, additional studies may be needed. Traffic studies for example. The Port has some incredibly good data for the 345 homes that were planned for the Harbor Square Development. That data could be updated to further help with this sort of analysis. Finding free or heavily-subsidized land and eliminating fees would reduce the finish price of a housing unit by more than 50%! The current Multi-Family Tax Exemption plan does little to create affordable housing. It only reduces a few units to a rate below market rate. More leverage or creativity is needed to produce affordable housing and more variety of housing. Accessory Dwelling Units, while interesting, do little to truly increase variety and supply.

We may have parcels of land that are currently underutilized. Although not in the Port District, Five Corners and Firdale Village would be examples. The Wade James Theater is a very good example of underutilized land. That site is 2.2 acres, and the theater takes only a small portion of the land. As part of some work for the Economic Development Commission, I asked a developer to outline a proposal to save and upgrade the theater, create “affordable” units, provide units for 55+ folks and provide other units, as well. They came up with a concept of totally renovating the theater, adding 5,000 square feet to the space, building a 5-story complex, with no views at stake. Their proposal included 150 units, 32 truly affordable, 8 units for 55+ and the rest at market rates. They would buy the current complex at the current market value, a little under $2 million.

Elephant in the room is the new state law dealing with single-family homes and other strategies to increase density. But the Grownup in the room may be the Port! You can help change the discussion to not only the numbers of housing units needed but the type and cost. Updating your Harbor Square data and creating some current data associated with the cost elements 1 through 4 above would do a great job of community service. The interactive work the Port did with the public input for Harbor Square could be done again, but not targeted for a revised Harbor Square development, but for creating some model developments for the future. The Port could play a role in facilitating the development of such data and modeling. You should carefully discuss how you may be of assistance to the community.”

There were no other public comments.


Executive Director Harris said the purpose of this discussion is to review current Port projects. At the recommendation of Attorney Frank Chmelik, who will be presenting at the Commission/staff training meeting on June 20th, she will add in the elements of Commissioner engagement for each of the projects.

• North Portwalk and Seawall Reconstruction. Executive Director Harris reported that this project includes both the seawall reconstruction and the new Portwalk surface, with updated railing, improved lighting, new dock safety gates, public art, updated landscaping, and new and updated public plazas. The Commission provided input into the project design starting in 2018 through 2022, and 30% design was completed on May 27, 2021 and 60% design on August 20, 2021. The project was submitted to the City of Edmonds for design review in April. The City provided some minor comments and clarifications that they are in the process of responding to, and they are hoping to complete design review within the next six to eight weeks. The original target was to have the project at 90% design by October, and she would double check with the contractor to see if that is still the plan.

Executive Director Harris emphasized that, at this time, any minor aesthetic changes would require them to resubmit to the City for design review. This could put the project back several months, and new permit fees would be required. Any major changes would require restarting the Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA). Commissioner Preston asked if even very minor aesthetic changes would require additional design review. Commissioner Johnston answered that very small tweaks might be allowed, but anything else would require additional design review.

Executive Director Harris reported that they are still waiting to hear back on the JARPA application, which was submitted over 18 months ago. They have completed the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirement and are currently waiting for design review. The Shoreline Permit application was submitted in April, and they are currently in the comment phase. They are waiting to submit applications for Building Permits and Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) until the project is closer to construction, as both permits are only valid for two years.

Commissioner Johnston asked if the Port has received any feedback from the consultant as to progress on approval of the JARPA Permit. Executive Director Harris answered that she hasn’t heard any update, but she would check at the next meeting with the consultants. Commissioner Grant suggested they should have some expectation as to the timeline for the JARPA Permit. If the time drags beyond that point, they could start having someone like the Chair of the Commerce Committee write a letter.

Executive Director Harris advised that, as the project gets closer to construction, the team will identify milestones. Pending funding, permitting, etc., they are hoping to submit a Building Permit application in October, go out to bid in 2024, and start construction in early 2025.

• Administration/Maintenance Building. Executive Director Harris reported that this project is moving along well. They are currently waiting for a permit, and she is hoping to get an update later this week. They are still looking at completion in late August for an early September move in. They will start internal discussions soon about an open house in the fall.

Commissioner Grant asked what type of equipment and furniture has been ordered for the new Commission Meeting Room. Executive Director Harris answered that the furniture would be very close to the example sent in by Commissioner Grant, allowing it to be moved around and reconfigured. Manager Drennan said the furniture has been ordered and received. They are on wheels and have a desktop and privacy screen. She got the idea from the Port of Seattle’s meeting space. They will only be able to do two tables across, so some reconfiguration might be needed. Executive Director Harris summarized the AV equipment plan, noting that staff will start purchasing soon.

• Rebranding. The purpose of the Port rebrand is to update the Port logo, slogan and color scheme while refining the overall brand identity. The scope for this phase of the project includes development of brand architecture, new logos for the Port, Marina and Harbor Square, new slogan/tagline for the Port and Marina, brand kit, collateral templates, and fully designed and developed website. Future phases will include signage, etc.

Commissioner Orvis asked if the new logo would be available before a sign is placed on the new Administration/Maintenance Building. Executive Director Harris answered that a sign won’t be placed on the building until the new logo design is ready. Commissioner Johnston encouraged Commissioners to respond to the survey they received today, and Executive Director Harris announced that the project would kick-off with a workshop session at the next Commission meeting that will be facilitated by the consultant. Following the workshop, she can begin to develop some milestones for the project.

• Mid-Marina Breakwater. CG Engineering was on site in March looking at the Mid-Marina Breakwater, and they produced a structural observation report. The Commission selected a path forward using Option 3. Phase 1 involves replacing the lower four feet of timber lagging with new treated lagging. This work is currently being done with internal labor and is expected to be completed sometime in October. Commissioner Grant asked if a dollar amount was approved for the project. Manager Drennan answered that the original approval was $150,000, which was recommended to cover staff labor for Phase 1, as well as having a consultant design Phase 2. Executive Director Harris added that Phase 2 involves adding a steel strongback channel near the top of the vertical piles, and staff is currently preparing a bid packet to go out later in the week. Commissioner Grant asked staff to provide a summary of the anticipated project costs for the Commission’s review. Commissioner Johnston noted that Phase 2 will require additional permitting since they will be beefing up the breakwater instead of just making repairs.

• Atrium Windows at Harbor Square. Atrium windows are located at Buildings 1, 3 and 4 at Harbor Square, and they need to be changed out due to extensive leaking. CG Engineering is working to finalize the design. The original thought was to phase the project over a two-to-three-year period, starting with the west side of Building 3. Once the design work is done, they will submit for permits and prepare a general estimate for construction.

Commissioner Grant asked if the Port has condition reports for the buildings at Harbor Square. During a recent walkaround at Harbor Square, he noted there is water penetration on at least one building. He voiced concern that they should never let buildings get to that point. Some of the buildings at Harbor Square look rather rough in certain areas, and a condition report would help them know what needs to be done. Manager Drennan advised that a condition report was completed a few years ago, but they haven’t finished making all of the repairs identified. She agreed to locate the report and forward it to the Commissioners. Executive Director Harris said she would like to have a view of all of the needed projects and repairs for the Commission and staff to discuss at the upcoming Strategic Planning Retreat.

Manager Drennan explained that the water damage at Building 3 was not visible because it was sealed off behind the walls. Commissioner Grant said he knows of a company that uses a rather inexpensive device to see water penetration behind walls. At airports and seaports he worked at previously, this inspection was done every five years. Commissioner Orvis recalled that when the Port took over Harbor Square in 2007, the roof on Building 5 sagged. They had to lift that entire corner of the building. They also had to jack up one end of Building 4 to so the crack in the back wall could be repaired. Manager Drennan added that major repairs were needed on two of the buildings when the Port took over. With Building 4, the crack was so large that a slender person could walk through it. Commissioner Johnston pointed out that there are compressible fills under the buildings, so subsidence will continue to stress the structures.

Commissioner Grant asked which building at Harbor Square the reserve fund for potential contamination would apply to. Commissioner Johnston answered that the potential contamination would be primarily under Building 4 but could extend to Building 5. Commissioner Orvis added that it could also include a small area under the northeast side of the parking lot at Building 2. He noted that the parking lots around Building 4 have already been redone. Commissioner Johnston said the good news is that the parking lots and buildings are providing an effective cap for the time being.

Commissioner Preston asked if the atrium windows could be replaced quicker. He felt that two to three years seems too long. Manager Drennan said the phasing was based on the Port’s available funding. It will cost more than $300,000 to replace all of them.

• Grant Funding for the North Portwalk and Seawall Reconstruction Project. Executive Director Harris explained that the Port is currently pursuing four different grants for this project. Staff is currently pulling together overview information for each of the grants and working with the lobbyist, Elevate, to secure a grant writer. They are reviewing the grant requirements and laying out a communication plan with local stakeholders, elected officials, etc. At the next meeting, she will present requests for specific Commission support. The lobbyist is looking at a timeframe for a trip to Washington D.C., and it would be great if multiple Commissioners would be willing to travel for that.

Commissioner Grant recalled last year, he sent former Executive Director McChesney information regarding the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant Program, which outlined who was awarded grant funding and why. One of the Port’s biggest challenges with the RAISE Grant Program is that it is usually given to supply chain ports and the focus is on transportation systems. This means they will have to pull in support and look at the Port of Edmonds as a transportation area. A short time ago, Representative Rick Larsen called him to discuss a number of items in relation to grant funding. He asked him about potential earmarks, and Representative Larsen pointed out some of the things they did with Lake Ballinger with funding from the Army Corps of Engineers and other sources. Commissioner Grant expressed his belief that the Port cannot expect to get all of the needed funds from the RAISE Grant Program. In addition to potential funding from the four federal grants, the Port will have to look at funding opportunities from Washington State and its various agencies.

Commissioner Grant announced that the RAISE grant awards will be announced soon, and he heard a rumor that there may be supplemental funding for this year. The current funding level for grants is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the Port needs to carefully figure out how to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Executive Director Harris agreed and said they have been discussing how to tailor each of the grant applications to gain attention and call out the specific impacts of the projects.

• Executive Director Harris advised that, at the next meeting, she would present preliminary timelines for Commissioner engagement. The timelines can be refined at the Strategic Planning Retreat. In addition to the large projects they are currently working on, they can also talk about the other projects that are coming down the road. Commissioner Orvis said they also need to talk about the amount of work that staff is doing in-house. They may need to add staff to accomplish all of the projects going forward. Executive Director Harris agreed. She said staffing was lean to start with, and managing all of the projects has stretched the staff. However, they have done a great job.


Councilmember Teitzel reported that the City Council held a budget retreat in April, and one of the priorities discussed was the need to solicit citizen input earlier in the budget process. With that in mind, the City Council will conduct a series of workshops, the first being tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Public Works Building. The purpose is to sit down with citizens and outline what the budget is, how it works, what the numbers look like, and how the citizens want the money to be spent.

Councilmember Teitzel announced that a public hearing on the budget is on the City Council’s June 20th meeting agenda. On June 22nd, he will host a budget workshop at the Meadowdale Clubhouse starting at 5:00 p.m. The goal is to hold the workshops in various locations throughout the City. On June 27th at 5:00 p.m., the City Council will have a special meeting on the budget, and the public will be invited to provide comments. In July, the administration will start working on the decision packets for the budget, so public input will be timely. An online survey on the budget is available on the City’s website and 15 responses have been received thus far. He agreed to forward the Commissioners a link to the survey.

Commissioner Grant asked if the discussions will include moving towards a biennium budget approach. Councilmember Teitzel answered that the City Council approved moving forward with a biennium budget approach at its May 23rd meeting. He announced that the City will be implementing new budgeting software, as well.

Councilmember Teitzel announced that the City will move forward in 2024 with a project to install 14 new stormwater collection vaults along SR-104 at the marsh. The intent is to collect the stormwater and pretreat it before it is discharged into the marsh. This is all part of the marsh restoration and water-quality improvement effort for fish and wildlife. Currently, water flows off SR-104 directly into the marsh. Commissioner Grant asked if the new vaults would be located on Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) land. Councilmember Teitzel answered that the vaults would be installed by the City on WSDOT property. He explained that the City Council has appropriated $458,000 so far for the project, part coming from a 2023 grant and part from a 2024 budget appropriation. A consultant has been hired to design the project, and the designs are expected to be done in late 2023. Construction should begin in early 2024. While the project won’t fix everything, it is a step forward in terms of water quality.

Councilmember Teitzel reported that a group of Edmonds citizens and scientists called the Marshians who are passionate about marsh restoration have put together an application for a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Resiliency Organization. The grant is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which is under the auspices of NOAA. The request is for funding to do a study about water quality and hydraulics through the marsh. He recalled that a study was done some years back about how Willow Creek could be realigned and daylighted, and three options were put forward. One option that was not explored was excavating some or most of the fill at the lower yard at the Unocal site. This would enlarge the aquatics of the marsh and also address flooding. This option will be considered in the new study. The City Council’s Parks and Public Works Committee, which he chairs, will discuss this further at their June 13th meeting. The application was prepared by the Marshians and will be filed by the City’s Public Works Director, Oscar Antillon. They are asking for about $175,000 in grant funding to do the study. A consultant has not been identified. One concern is that there are a lot of hydrocarbons in the area that would be excavated.

Commissioner Orvis asked if they have talked to the Department of Ecology (DOE), and Councilmember Teitzel answered that they plan to. He said the project could move forward whether the City or the State retains ownership of the property. Commissioner Orvis recalled that the Port did a similar project between Harbor Square and the marsh, including a neoprene liner down below the waterline. The DOE wouldn’t even let the Port take a sample to see if it was contaminated on the other side of the levy. Councilmember Teitzel said the grant request is for funding to do a study to assess the hydrology and potential pollutant issues, and the information would be shared with the DOE and others. He noted that City Council approval is not needed for the grant application; the administration can file the grant application under the mayor’s authority. They are hoping the Port will offer its support for the grant request, as well. Executive Director Harris said she would be preparing a letter of support for the study. Councilmember Teitzel pointed out that if the submerged portion of the marsh was enlarged, the flooding situation might improve, which would impact the Port at Harbor Square.

Commissioner Preston asked if the City and the Marshian group have researched what data already exists. Commissioner Johnston recalled that the consultant completed a hydraulic study of the three options identified in the study related to daylighting Willow Creek. Councilmember Teitzel voiced concern that the grant application is not well coordinated and may be rushed. He requested that the City’s Public Works Director, Oscar Antillon, meet with the Marshian group and a representative from the Port to make sure the priorities are in order before the application is finalized. Commissioner Orvis suggested they review what has already been done. Councilmember Teitzel noted that an assessment of the option of excavating the fill has not been done.

Commissioner Orvis said a recent article in Myedmondsnews talked about the marsh and showed an inaccurate picture of the asphalt plant being located where the fuel transfer station should have been. This is an indication of various people doing things without a central authority to verify that information is correct. The asphalt plant is an entirely different site of contamination. Commissioner Johnston pointed out that the Port has a very detailed Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) for Harbor Square that outlines all of the activities that were there and how they might impact the marsh and adjacent properties.

Commissioner Orvis suggested that they need to form a group of stakeholders who can research the studies that have already been done and verify that all of the information is correct. Executive Director Harris reported that she met with Todd Tatum, City of Edmonds Director of Community Services and Economic Development, to discuss the need for closer discussion and coordination. There are several areas where the Port and the City can collaborate. There are a number of smart people working on issues related to the marsh, and they need to make sure they are all at the table.

Commissioner Johnston pointed out that the agencies typically frown on re-disturbing contaminated sites unless you can demonstrate you can greatly reduce the risk. Commissioner Orvis cautioned that they could also spend a whole lot of money to accomplish nothing if they aren’t careful. Councilmember Teitzel said he expressed to Mr. Antillon, the City’s Public Works Director, the need to be careful about asking agencies for money for studies when they don’t have a big picture in mind of what they want to do.

Councilmember Teitzel reported that the Council’s Parks/Public Works Committee will meet on June 13th to discuss a draft letter to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that will notify them of Council’s intent to send a letter to the Governor requesting a meeting to explore whether the state would prefer to retain ownership of the Unocal property after the Department of Ecology (DOE) approves the cleanup of the site and the title is then transferred to WSDOT. As he reported at the last Port Commission meeting, the Council temporarily tabled the letter to the Governor on May 23rd, in part due to a concern that WSDOT should first be apprised of the City’s intent. If the WSDOT letter is approved by the committee, it will be forwarded to full Council for discussion and a vote. If approved, the letter will be sent to WSDOT and the Council will then take the letter to the Governor off the table and finalize it. He pointed out that the purchase of the property is all about salmon recovery, wildlife, preservation, etc., which are all top state priorities. For that reason, the State may want to consider retaining control of the property. Commissioner Orvis added that the State has the money and expertise to accomplish restoration of the property. He observed that there aren’t many estuaries left in the State, and this one is the largest. Councilmember Teitzel added that there will be a lot of opportunity once they get the site restored and the creek daylighted. He reminded them that, when running for president, Governor Inslee characterized himself as the environmental candidate. He still believes this is important, so it would be beneficial for the City and State to work together.


Mayor Mike Quinn reported that the Town Council was supposed to have a vote in June regarding the Point Wells site, but they requested another 90-day extension to continue to work some issues out with the City of Shoreline and the developer. They now have until the second week of September to take action. There continues to be litigation on the property between the two parties. As these issues work their way through the legal system, the Town Council is keeping an ear to what they may want to do going forward. The Town hired a consulting firm to do an analysis of a few options for the site, and the report is available on the City’s website. Three of the options center around large, medium and small housing units. Projects of 24 units or less do not require a secondary access road. For each of the three options, the analysis looked at what the revenues would be for the Town. The fourth option brought forward by the developer was to rezone the property back to Industrial and use it for industrial uses. With this option, the developer would do some level of cleanup, but it would be low impact. The Town will continue to work with the developer. They are also continuing with the annexation request, and there will be public comment opportunities throughout the summer. The hope is to move towards a vote in the August timeframe. He briefly reviewed the annexation process, explaining that if the Town Council votes to annex, the matter would then go before the Boundary Review Board, which involves a lengthy process. The Town Council can decide not to proceed with annexation up until the Boundary Review Board issues its decision.

Mayor Quinn advised that the Town’s staff prepared a PowerPoint presentation for the Town Council, outlining some of the implications of the recent housing legislation. It is available for public view on the Town’s website. They plan to continue to review the legislation to identify how it might impact the different areas of the Town. For example, the state’s new laws do not trump what a homeowner association (HOA) allows under current zoning and building. There are also issues related to slopes and other critical areas. They plan to hire a consultant to look at the entire plat of the Town to determine which areas will and will not be impacted by the legislation.

Mayor Quinn announced that the 2023 Annual Woodway Town Fair will be on August 19th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. He also reported that the Town is once again working with the City of Edmonds to sponsor the Beat the Brackett Run on July 4th.


Executive Director Harris announced that the Sea Note Program will start on June 23rd and run through September 2nd. The full calendar will be released on the Port’s website later this week. Performances will occur most Wednesdays through Sundays.

Executive Director Harris reported that staff opted to rebuild the hydraulic cylinder on the North Dry Storage launcher, and the project is in motion. They anticipate the launcher will be down for about two more weeks.

Executive Director Harris reminded the Commissioners that the July 10th meeting would be cancelled, and the July 31st meeting would be a Strategic Planning Retreat.

Manager Drennan advised that the Department of Revenue (DOR) has proposed some changes to the leasehold tax on concession arrangements for retail sales, basically a percentage rent agreement. They are saying “if the rent is based in whole or in part on a percentage of sales and includes payment for leasehold interest as well as a concession or other right granted by the lessor, there is a rebuttable presumption that the contract rent consists of the first 8% of sales plus any prepaid rent or minimum rent required under the lease. The department will consider any portion of the contract rent that exceeds that figure as payment for the concession or other right granted by the lessor. If either party to a lease agreement believe the fair market value differs from the presumed amount, they may submit documentation to the department demonstration the fair market rental value for comparable property with similar use. The department will consider this documentation when determining the value of leasehold interest.” For ports, this can apply to some rental arrangements, but she cautioned that talking about specific tenants should be done in executive session. The Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) has hired State and Local Tax Attorney, Garry Fujita, from Eisenhower Carlson PLLC. The cost of the attorney is not included in the normal dues, and ports that want to participate will be asked to pay up to $1,000. After speaking with Executive Director Harris, staff decided to notify the WPPA of the Port’s intent to participate.

Manager Drennan continued that the DOR held a hearing on June 6th, and comments were originally due by June 9th. Attorney Frank Chmelik requested a 90-day extension and a 30-day extension was granted. At the hearing, the ports were represented by Attorneys Chmelik and Fujita, who both argued that the change would have a negative impact on port operations and revenue. The way leases are set up, ports moderate risk by increasing the monthly fixed revenue and reducing the percentage of sales rent component. If the DOR mandates 8% in all transactions, the minimum monthly rent will necessarily decrease to the Port, and the risks will increase. The state will get more money and the Port will get less. It would also make negotiating for leases a little more difficult because ports want to get fair market value as well as minimize risk, and the new rule would artificially limit one of the primary variables, limiting a port’s ability to negotiate leases. Ports must compete with private businesses, as well as each other, and ports will have a harder time if contract rent is constrained to a combination of fixed and percentage rent. Those without the artificial 8% restraint will be at a competitive advantage. Ports are in the business of economic development and job creation, and the new requirement would make this more difficult.

Attorney Frank Chmelik provided an explanation on how the DOR’s new requirement might impact ports, and this was followed by a discussion about how it might specifically impact the Port of Edmonds and its tenants and taxpayers. Attorney Chmelik cautioned that, regardless of what rule is adopted, ports will need to be very careful to show their homework of why they set on a particular rent in order to demonstrate their thinking to auditors.

Executive Director Harris reminded the Commissioners to complete the rebranding survey.


Commissioner Orvis reported on his participation in the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee Chat on June 7th, where cybersecurity was the topic of discussion. From the discussion, he learned that most people are very far behind, and many businesses are vulnerable. The Port is far ahead of most others and has a good opportunity to help out. They talked about using interns from Edmonds Community College, and perhaps the Port would be a good place for them since our IT Staff knows more about cybersecurity than most people.

Commissioner Grant reported that he attended the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) Finance Committee Meeting and learned a lot of good things. Manager Drennan did a good job bringing up some good points. Cybersecurity was tagged on to just about every presentation at the meeting. One of the presenters turned a good presentation into a Jeopardy format. He asked to get the slide decks because a lot of good information was shared.

Commissioner Grant said he met with Eric Ffitch, WPPA Executive Director, to discuss cyber security. He is running the cyber workgroup and has met with some of the Commissioners who will participate to discuss initial aspects. Both the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Coast Guard have cyber teams that will evaluate ports and do actual penetration. They will be focusing on vulnerabilities and providing recommendations for outside consultants, since many small ports don’t really know what to ask or do. There are lists of reputable vendors that the governments have vetted. He met with Tacoma, Seattle and a few others and found that a lot of the small ports get great notifications from the Washington Fusion Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, or the New York Police Department, but they aren’t really talking to a trained technician. While they know what is there, they don’t have any idea how to implement it. Seattle and Tacoma have a chief security officer who is separate from the IT division, and all they are worried about is penetration. He sits on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMAs) Law Enforcement Task Force, and there are a few big vulnerabilities to big and small ports. Cyber and denial of service is probably the biggest, and another is where they give you a fake website and you end up transferring money or something of that nature. A third is critical infrastructure invasion. The goal is to voluntarily work together with every port that wants to be part of the cyber effort. The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), the U.S. Coast Guard and CISA have all agreed to help put a program together.

Commissioner Preston said he also participated in the EASCs Coffee Chat regarding cybersecurity. There was a lot of discussion about academia and not a lot about what businesses should do to prevent and protect and insure against vulnerability. They estimate they are lacking several hundred thousand cybersecurity jobs. The demand is huge right now.

Commissioner Preston advised that the Edmonds Yacht Club has expressed a desire to coordinate with the Port to do a Santa event during the Holiday on the Docks event. He asked if there are any plans to celebrate the Port’s 75th Anniversary this year. Executive Director Harris suggested they consider opportunities to celebrate the Port’s anniversary as part of the open house for the new Administration/Maintenance Building or Holiday on the Docks. She questioned whether there is sufficient bandwidth for staff to do both. Staff agreed to consider options, and Director Baker agreed to coordinate directly with the yacht club.

Commissioner Cass said she is happy to be part of the Commission. She would love to receive copies of the historic environmental assessments so she can start reviewing them.


At 8:46 p.m., Commissioner Johnston announced that the Commission would recess into Executive Session pursuant to Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.30.110(1)(i) to discuss with legal counsel representing the agency matters relating to litigation or legal risks of a proposed action or current practice that the agency has identified, as public discussion of the litigation or legal risks is likely to result in an adverse legal or financial consequence to the agency. The Executive Session would start at 8:50 p.m. and last for 20 minutes. The Executive Session would conclude at 9:10 p.m.

At 9:10 p.m. Commissioner Johnston announced that the Executive Session would be extended 10 minutes until 9:20 p.m. The Executive Session concluded at 9:20 p.m. and the Commission reconvened the regular meeting.


The Commission meeting was adjourned at 9:21 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jay Grant
Port Commission Secretary