Monday, April 6, 2020 City Council Meeting Information

The regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday, April 6, 2020 will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams, with staff and Councilmembers accessing the meeting from individual locations. This complies with Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay at Home Order, which states, in part, that people should refrain from all public gatherings, including civic activities.

This is still an open public meeting as defined by the Open Public Meetings Act. The City will be using Microsoft Teams to livestream the council meeting. Members of the public do not need to download anything to view the proceedings. The meeting can be viewed by clicking this link :Join live event at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 6.  

The public comment session at the opening of the meeting has been cancelled until further notice. Members of the public are encouraged to submit written comments to City Clerk Susan Duncan by emailing susanduncan@cityofferndale.org. Comments received prior to 5:00 p.m. Monday, April 6 will be included in the meeting record.

Most Construction Activities Required to Stop

Most Construction Activities Required to Stop

Governor’s proclamation deems nearly all construction as nonessential

The City of Ferndale announced today clarifications to Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” statewide stay-at-home order as it pertains to construction, identifying nearly all construction as nonessential. This means most construction activities are required to stop during the order.

All construction activities allowed to continue under exemptions must comply with social distancing including appropriate health and worker protection measures before proceeding. 

“We know this is hard,” said Mayor Greg Hansen, “But these necessary steps can literally save lives.”

According to the memo issued by the governor’s office, the exceptions are construction related to essential activities like health care, transportation, energy, defense and critical manufacturing; construction “to further a public purpose related to a public entity,” including publicly financed low-income housing; and emergency repairs.  

The City will defer to the governor’s order as to the list of essential businesses and subsequent letters from the governor’s office identifying specific businesses or construction projects as essential.

City inspectors shall have the authority to determine what is allowable to prevent spoliation. In their discretion the installation of a roof, roofing materials, doors, windows, or structural elements necessary to prevent the degradation or failure of building elements.

Projects that have determined that they qualify as essential infrastructure and businesses as described below may request inspections:

  • Healthcare and Public Health facilities.
  • Emergency Service facilities.
  • Food and Agriculture facilities which manufacture or distribute and currently under construction.
  • Utility facilities related to transportation, communication, electric, water, wastewater. 
  • Critical manufacturing facilities including hazardous or chemical materials.
  • Financial facilities.
  • Residential construction projects that are currently under construction can continue to a point to prevent spoliation, damage or unsafe conditions. Projects shall be brought to a point of securing the structure to prevent personal and environmental damage of exterior and/or interior building elements and to negate unsafe conditions. This will be construed narrowly.
  • Residential construction related to emergency repairs and projects that ensure structural integrity or the health and safety of occupants.

“The City continues to review, and process permit applications.  Recognizing that construction is vital to our community, our goal is to keep all permits in various review stages, moving full speed ahead so that construction can commence as soon as the emergency order ends. We thank our local applicants, builders and contractors for the collaborative effort during this time.” Haylie Miller, Community Development Director.

If projects are continuing construction that is not deemed “essential by the Governor’s Order” , the City will cease inspections and may proceed with enforcement (as necessary) to gain compliance.

For more information, contact Community Development Director Haylie Miller by phone (360) 685-2367 or email at HaylieMiller@cityofferndale.org.

Save Pipes, Don’t Flush Wipes

With the uptick in cleaning and sanitation, many of you are flushing wipes down into our sewer system. Please stop. There is no such thing as a flushable wipe, these materials do not break down and will clog our pump stations, causing serious damage to our utilities.

For more information or questions, please contact Ferndale Public Works at 360-384-4006.

City of Ferndale Response to COVID-19 with Mayor Hansen

Mayor Greg Hansen shares some of the City’s actions to protect our community from COVID-19 and offers three ways you can help. For more information and resources available during this difficult time check out cityofferndale.org/covid19 or the Whatcom County page at whatcomcovid.com.

Spanish language version available below with Councilmember Herb Porter.

Complete text:

Hello Neighbors,

My name is Greg Hansen, and I’m the Mayor of Ferndale. Today, I am going to share with you some of the things we are working on as a City to keep all of us safe during this pandemic and what you can do to help.

Like many other communities around the world, we have closed public spaces to help slow the spread of this disease. This includes closing City Hall, the Police Station, our municipal court and our playgrounds. For the safety of our staff and others, we’ve empowered city employees to work remotely whenever possible. Despite the crisis, the work of the City continues and we are reachable by phone, email or through our website.

As you know, the state and county have enacted measures to close schools, bars, restaurants, libraries and other public places, and yesterday, the Governor issued an order to shelter in place.We know this is hard but these necessary steps that could save literally thousands of lives.

For those of you worried about your utility bills, rest assured, we are not doing shutoffs or charging late fees for the Feb. 28th bill. The next utility bill does not go out until April 30th and we are working to see what solutions are available then. We understand that people are struggling, and this is what we are able to do right now to help.

For families and businesses needing economic support, there is an ever-growing list of resources available. We have linked it in the description of this video.

For those of you worried about your building permit deadlines, please contact our community development staff who are ready to provide you the flexibility needed during this time.

The City is working closely with our neighboring communities. The County has established a Unified Command at the County Emergency Operations Center so that all first responders, medical professionals and public information officers in our area can work together seamlessly. We are proud to be part of this dedicated team working around the clock to protect our community.

Ferndale has always met challenges head on.  When there’s a big crisis, we always rise to meet it because that is what we do. We are Ferndale, and we look out for each other. That’s why we need your help. Here are the three things we need everyone in Ferndale to do.

First, stop the spread. That means staying home if you are sick, avoiding gathering in groups, limit trips to the grocery store and wash your hands with hot water and soap. This will help stop the spread of the disease.

But we also need to stop the spreading of misinformation.  In a crisis, bad information can make a challenging situation even worse. Please be prudent about what you share. Whatcom County has established a single website for all COVID related information, it is whatcomcovid.com. For Ferndale-specific details, please go to www.cityofferndale.org/covid19.

Second, support your Ferndale businesses. Whenever possible, shop Ferndale. We’ve assembled a list of restaurants providing takeout in our city at www.cityofferndale.org/takeout. Pick up some food and tip well, it really does help.  A number of other local businesses are modifying their operation to facilitate convenient pick up and deserve our support.  

Finally, look after each other. Call your elderly relatives, keep active as best you can and make sure that your neighbors have the help they need. I know that when we work together and take care of each other, we are stronger than any virus.

As always, we are here to help. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to call or email.  Thank you.

Mayor Greg Hansen Declares State of Emergency in Response to COVID-19

Mayor Greg Hansen Declares State of Emergency in Response to COVID-19

Mayor Greg Hansen issued a proclamation effective immediately declaring a state of emergency related to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.  This proclamation allows the City of Ferndale to modify policies and procedures so that the City can move quickly and efficiently to address the issues arising from this virus outbreak.  

“We have been operating under a state of emergency at various levels for over two weeks.  Issuing this proclamation now is really an administrative step to allow the City to be more responsive and effective at meeting this crisis,” said Hansen. “This declaration will allow the City to expedite the purchase of needed supplies, change rules related to the use of sick leave, utilize online options for public meetings, change hours of operation at City Hall, or institute flexible work schedules for employees who need it.”

This action matches the recent declarations of emergency at the County, State and Federal level. “Our priority is to maintain the City operations and services throughout this situation. Ferndale is a fierce community and we will meet this head on,” said Hansen.

“While declaring a state of emergency is alarming to many, we are in unprecedented times,” said Hansen.  “This is not just a public health crisis but a community-wide challenge. These will be difficult times for everybody in Ferndale, but I am especially concerned for our small businesses who are taking-on a particularly significant burden as they help our community combat this health emergency.”

To read the full proclamation, click here.

The Mayor urges the public to take the following steps to help support each other during this outbreak.

  • Check on your neighbors in a safe and responsible way. Are they getting the resources, childcare and support they need? Utilizing video chat is also a great option for connecting with friends and family
  • Donate blood. Blood supplies have hit emergency levels due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • Enjoy a meal and support your Ferndale restaurants by grabbing take-out or delivery outside in the sunshine. The city is working on a directory of Ferndale restaurants that will be available at www.cityofferndale.org/takeout
  • Buy a gift certificate from a Ferndale business. With less foot traffic, Ferndale businesses could use the support.
  • Be active. Enjoy the parks and trails throughout Ferndale. Activity is essential to your mental and physical health.
  • Make the most of the time. Learn a new skill or pick up a hobby, maintain a routine, do art or reconnect with your loved ones.

Poverty Task Force to Deliver Final Report to City Council Monday, March 2nd

Poverty Task Force to Deliver Final Report to City Council Monday

After a year of studying poverty and income inequality, the North Whatcom Poverty Task Force will deliver their recommendations to the Ferndale City Council at their next council meeting, Monday, March 2nd at 6pm in the City Annex (5964 Second Avenue).

The North Whatcom Poverty Task Force was created by the Ferndale City Council in February of last year to examine the impacts of poverty and income inequality. Over the last year, the group met with representatives from social services, businesses, law enforcement, real estate, employment specialists and those who had experienced poverty firsthand.

“I’m really proud of the work the Poverty Task Force has done over the last year,” said Councilmember Kate Bishop who spearheaded the creation of the task force. “Ferndale is becoming a leader when it comes to tackling the complex problems facing our most vulnerable residents. This is about smart planning and making sure those who call Ferndale home have access to the resources they need to remain a part of our community.”

The final report details over forty different recommendations that the City of Ferndale can enact in the short- and long-term covering topics such as housing, transportation, hunger, youth in crisis and homelessness. The central recommendation of the report is an affordable housing levy to be placed on the ballot for November 2020. This recommendation will be discussed at the following council meeting on March 16th.

The complete report is available online at https://www.cityofferndale.org/your-government/boards-and-commissions/north-whatcom-poverty-task-force/

Graffiti at Star Park, Cedar Creek

Over the weekend, Star Park and Cedar Creek Park were both tagged with graffiti. The Ferndale Police Department is investigating and if you have any information about this incident, please reach out to Officer Steven Gamage at 360-384-3390 x5864 or sgamage@ferndalepd.org.

Thankfully, our Public Works crew was able to remove the damage however we do need your help making sure Star Park stays clean.

Star Park is an incredible facility. Over 2,000 volunteers and 300 organizations donated thousands of dollars and hours to bring it to life. It was designed by Ferndale children and built by this community.

We are small town and it is likely that whomever did this is local. Please talk to your children, neighbors and friends about how important Star Park is to our city – you never know whose mind you might change.

The City is planning a Star Park Renewal day in Spring of 2020 where we will conduct minor repairs, repaint the park and add some additional art to the equipment. If you are interested in volunteering for this, please email Recreation Coordinator Riley Sweeney at rileysweeney@cityofferndale.org.

Video and Pictures from Nov. 19th Citywide Community Meeting

From left to right, Councilmembers Elect Herb Porter, Ramon Llamos, Ryan O’Larey, Erin Gunter and Ali Hawkinson, Mayor Elect Greg Hansen

Over 160 residents joined us for our Citywide Community Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19th to get an inside scoop on what is happening in Ferndale in 2020 and to meet their newly elected officials. You can find the video of the program below and pictures of the event on the City’s facebook page.

Council Meeting Summary for Nov. 18th, 2019

Council agenda materials can be found here

                                                                                      City Council Agenda Follow-Up November 18, 2019  
5:00 p.m. Budget Workshop INFO ONLY
APPROVAL OF AGENDA Councilmember Bersch moved, and Councilmember Hansen seconded, to approve the agenda as presented. MOTION CARRIED 7-0. APPROVED
PUBLIC COMMENT INFO ONLY
CONSENT AGENDA Councilmember Jensen moved, and Councilmember Hansen seconded, to approve the consent agenda. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.    APPROVED
PRESENTATION: North Whatcom Poverty Task Force The North Whatcom Poverty Task Force was formed in February 2019 in order to address impacts of rising housing prices, income inequality, homelessness and food insecurity in Ferndale. The focus of the task force is to conduct a needs analysis for the community, examining the full scope of impacts on social services, the business community, health care access, food and transportation system. Recommendations for both short-term and long-term strategies for addressing the issue will be presented to the City Council prior to December 31, 2020, after which the task force will be disbanded. Owen Cool and Jim Carr presented an update on the work of the North Whatcom Poverty Task Force, the progress they have made, and the next steps for the group.         INFO ONLY  
CAPITAL PROJECTS UPDATE Public Works Project Manager Katy Radder presented updates on the following capital projects: Ferndale Terrace – 30% design will be complete in the next few weeksNordic to Scout Water Line – 90% plan review is complete; BNSF permit anticipated soonPump Station #19 Decommissioning – 90% plan review underway; anticipate going out to bid in early 2020First Avenue Pedestrian Improvements – Poles for the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) will be delivered to Puget Sound Energy in February 2020, and installation is expected to begin in March 2020Complete Streets – ADA ramps on Alder Street, RRFBs on Vista and Thornton; design contracts for all are expected in early 2020Thornton – Vista to Malloy – Statements of Qualifications have been submitted and are under review; a design contract is anticipated in early 2020Thornton Overpass – The project is out to bid now, and the bid opening is scheduled for November 21, 2019. The bid award is expected to come to Council for approval on December 2, 2019.                 INFO ONLY
ORDINANCE: Property Tax Levy In 2016, the City reduced its share of property tax due to the annexation into Whatcom County Fire District #7. This amount has been reserved by the Whatcom County Assessor as the City’s banked capacity. The available amount the City is eligible to claim is $1,420,313. Council can decide to take all or part of the banked capacity. The use of the full banked capacity would allow the City to sustainably address community needs that have remained unmet, such as providing adequate personnel funding for the Police Department, providing resources for new City facilities, providing resources for deferred maintenance of City infrastructure, and to allow adequate reserve funding in the event of economic downturn. The required public hearing was held on November 4, 2019.   Councilmember Bersch moved, and  Councilmember Taylor seconded, to approve the agenda bill with the following amendment: Reduce the amount of banked capacity to be taken from 100% down to 33%. Councilmember Xczar moved, and Councilmember Jensen seconded, to amend the motion to increase the amount of banked capacity to be taken from 33% up to 50%. ON THE AMENDMENT: Motion failed 3 – 4, Councilmembers Xczar, Jensen and Bishop in favor. Councilmember Olson moved, and Councilmember Bersch seconded, to amend the ordinance to include language specifying that the first priority for the banked capacity is for Police Department needs. ON THE AMENDMENT: Motion failed 2 – 5, Councilmembers Olson and Bersch in favor. Councilmember Hansen moved, and Councilmember Bersch seconded, to amend the ordinance to include language specifying that $300,000 of the banked capacity be designated to Police Department needs and balance be designated to funding for new City facilities. ON THE AMENDMENT: Motion failed 2 – 5, Councilmembers Hansen and Bersch in favor. ON THE MAIN MOTION: MOTION CARRIED 5 – 2, Councilmembers Jensen and Olson opposed.                                   APPROVED AS AMENDED
PUBLIC HEARING: 2020 Budget State law requires that two public hearings be held prior to the adoption of the budget. The second public hearing will be held on December 2, 2019, and Council will be asked to adopt the 2020 budget at that time.   The public hearing was opened at 7:08 p.m.   No members of the public spoke.   The public hearing was closed at 7:09 p.m.         PUBLIC HEARING
CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING CONTRACT: Thornton Overpass When the City advertised for design engineering work for the Thornton Overpass project in 2017, it included the option to add future phases of work, including construction engineering, construction management,  inspection, and materials testing. Staff has been working with Reichhardt and Ebe to put together a multi-discipline team of highly qualified and experienced professionals needed to administer the project This includes utilization of several subconsultant firms with the expertise and skills needed to oversee and facilitate construction activities to ensure the project moves forward within available budget and on schedule, while also adhering to the standards of quality for a long-lasting product. This contract is designed to complement the efforts of the City’s existing capital project staff members by providing the manpower and technical knowledge needed to administer a contract of this nature. In addition to the civil engineering, inspection and contract administration assistance to be provided by Reichhardt and Ebe as the prime consultant, this contract includes structural engineering oversight by KPFF, bridge inspection and construction engineering services from KBA, geotechnical engineering oversight by PanGeo, materials testing services by Geo Test, as well as ancillary survey work by Compass Point. Councilmember Jensen moved, and Councilmember Taylor seconded, to approve the agenda bill. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.               APPROVED
INTERLOCAL AGREEMENT: Wayfinding Program The interlocal agreement with Whatcom County and the other Whatcom County cities will facilitate a coordinated rollout of a comprehensive regional wayfinding signage system. As per the terms of the interlocal agreement Whatcom County would compensate the City for half the cost of the vehicular signage within the City, with the County’s share estimated to be approximately $93,000. The City has included $100,000 in the 2020 budget to represent the City’s share.  Finance & Administration Committee members discussed the issue at length during the November 13, 2019 meeting; and specifically wondered if the City would be obligated to initiate the project or to complete the full scope of work described in the interlocal if City funding was not available. Whatcom County personnel have confirmed that the interlocal provides pro-rata funding only for the actual vehicular sign costs. This means that if the City does not put up a sign, it is not obligated to do so. The County also confirmed that, although it is not specified in the interlocal, it has been generally agreed upon that the County would consider a low or no-interest loan to assist jurisdictions that are unable to complete the full scope of work. Councilmember Taylor moved, and Councilmember Bersch seconded, to approve the agenda bill. MOTION CARRIED 5-2, Councilmembers Olson and Bersch opposed.  
MAYOR REPORTS/COMMENTS Information only. COUNCIL REPORTS/COMMENTS Information only. DEPARTMENT REPORTS Information only.       INFO ONLY
ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at 7:31 p.m.  
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