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Town Center Parking Analysis, City Budget: City Council Live Blog

Keep up with the latest City Council developments on Mercer Island Patch.

6 pm

There's a technical delay (video system is having technical difficulty) holding up the beginning of the meeting.

6:05 pm

Still no video. Councilmember Tana Senn arrives & City Manager Rich Conrad asks if her power is back on. Apparently her home was one of several affected by this afternoon's power outage.

6:11 pm

Mayor Bruce Bassett get the OK to begin now that the video is operating. City Manager Conrad introduces City Engineer Patrick Yamashida, who begins offering the background for AB 4784 Town Center Parking Analysis.

6:14 pm

In 2009, Mercer Island made several changes to parking in the Town Center business district. Some of those changes include angled parking along SE 30th and 2-hour time limits.

"That was intended to provide more on-street parking for patrons of those businesses," Yamashida said.

6:17 pm

While several parking areas along SE 27th Street and near the newer developments are seeing a high-rate of utilization, SE 29th Street is still seeing a reduced level of use — only about 50 percent.

Yamashida highlights 77th Avenue as a street to consider angle parking. But there are several trade-offs, including the loss of the street's bike lane and a center turn lane. He also highlights issues with visibility as vehicles try to exit from various driveways.

6:24 pm

Mayor Bassett solicits comments from the council. Councilmember Debbie Bertlin asks how much turnover occurs in the spaces that are open to all-day permit parking. Yamashida says the restrictions were put in place to repond to concerns from businesses on the north end of the Town Center area.

Conrad said that employees of local doctor's offices are also parking in those spaces.

6:31 pm

Conrad said that local property owners and tenants said they have enough parking for their employee needs but said they would tow cars that weren't allowed to be there.

"I did not get a sense that they had a parking supply problem for their employees on their parking lots," Conrad said.

6:34 pm

Councilmember Mike Cero advocates for reducing SE 78th St. down to a one-way street to create angle parking there and to eliminate the center lane from SE 77th Street.

Yamashida said he's noticing that the previous regulations have worked insofar as incentivizing parking for business patrons.

"I don't believe there is a parking shortage in the north end there," Yamashida said.

6:38 pm

Councilmember Jane Meyer Brahm says she's been interested in how Portland, OR has dealt with parking issues and encourages seom improvements to wayfinding signs that would let Town Center visitors know where to find a space.

"There's a real perceived problem out there for parking," said Brahm.

6:44 pm

Councilmember Mike Grady asks about the federal grant that created the 77th Ave. SE pedestrian/bike/vehicle corridor. Conrad responds that the bike lanes were put there 20 years ago to get the dollar-for-dollar match.

6:48 pm

Senn says she knows that a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) may be sited in the Town Center in the next 5 or 6 years, but there aren't a lot of options for residents now.

"I'm not sure there's a parking supply problem as there is an accesibility problem."

Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz notes that most of the council supports improved wayfinding signs for parking, and that the council has already voted twice to tie parking to loosened restrictions on zoning.

6:54 pm

Brahm responds to Mayor Bassett's concern about parking at Tabit Square and the Boyd Building (where the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce is located), and said they were probably the most "vibrant" areas of Town Center.

7:05 pm

Council meeting resumes for its regular meeting. City Manager Rich Conrad introduces Assistant City Engineer Anne Tonelle-Howe and Street Engineer Clint Morris for a public thank you by the City Council for completing the Island Crest Way reconfiguration, restriping and resurfacing.

Morris said additional reflectors were put on Island Crest Way and the mailbox was re-installed at the traffic island near SE 53rd Place.

"The post office maintenance man even painted it for us," Morris said.

7:11 pm

Mayor Bassett opens public appearances. Carv Zwengle addresses the council. Zwengle says the increase is due to a general fund shortfall, and asks for a sense of the vision from the council.

"I'm sure your intent is not to create a community of residents in their prime earning years," he said. "These incremental tax increases may not mean a lot to you, but they do to us," he said.

7:15 pm

Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz asks for an agenda addition to discuss concerns for existing tenants in the potential development at the intersection of SE 27th Street and 76th Ave. SE, following the council's walk through the Town Center area.

Councilman Cero says he's unprepared to discuss the matter. Bertlin asks for clarification that it's only a discussion. Senn also doesn't see the sense of urgency. The motion fails, 5-2.

7:20 pm

Cero moves to amend the minutes to reflect WSDOT Tolling Director Craig Stone's explanation at the Nov. 5 study session that "tolling could begin as early as 2015" on I-90 between I-405 and I-5 (on Mercer Island).

The motion passes unanimously and the minutes are amended and approved unanimously. The consent calendar is also approved unanimously. Deputy Mayor Grausz compliments the staff on coming in under budget on the traffic light project.

7:22 pm

City Finance Director Chip Corder and Assistant Finance Director Francie Lake introduces the 2013-2014 general fund budget focused mainly on revenues.

Since July, three properties have sold for over $5 million and the city is forcasting $1,980,000 in revenue based on 400 home sales and other properties. As of October, 349 homes have been sold, and the city estimates $900,000 for the average price in 2012 of a home sold. City Manager Rich Conrad points out that the city is projecting that the average sales price estimated at $1.11 million in 2015.

"What we're showing you is the housing market will take about 8 years to recover," said Conrad.

7:33 pm

Deputy City Manager Noel Treat reviews changes to the city's CIP budget. Notably, the cost to rebuilding Fire Station 92 will increase just over $100,000 due to increases in temporary relocation costs for firefighters and bond services costs.

7:42 pm

Corder returns to review partially funded and unfunded projects. The Island Crest Park ballfield lighting project will be delayed until 2015, the Luther Burbank playground equipment is scheduled for replacement next year, in 2013, with a partial grant from the Mercer Island Preschool Association ($25,000).

Calkins Point at the north end of Luther Burbank Park is also partially funded and still needs $189,000 in funding to restore the beach, which is badly eroded.

Parks Superintendent Jason Kintner said the Parks Department will continue to search for grant money or to establish a mitigation fund from shoreline owners making changes to their properties.

Kintner also updates the council that they expect to receive the $307,000 needed to restore and improve Calkins Landing from King County as a stormwater project and will receive confirmation in December.

7:51 pm

Fire apparatus replacement fund is projected to go negative in 2016. Corder says the solution is to stretch out the replacement cycle of fire trucks to 6 years instead of five (meaning they will expect their trucks to last about 18 years) and contribute an additional $50,000 a year starting in 2014.

7:56 pm

Corder assures the council that the construction bidding climate remains favorable and the prices relatively low.

8:04 pm

Councilmember Senn asks about funding for expanding the Mercer Island Thrift Shop. Mayor Bassett is asking for support for conducting a larger study on helping determine how to best use not just the Thrift Shop, but Mercerdale Park as a whole.

Deputy Mayor Grausz said he doesn't envision much public funding available in the next five years for imporving the old Mercer Island recycling center and Bicentennial Park.

Conrad said he could do an "update" of the park system, but wasn't sure the council understood what it would get short of a "full master plan process".

8:21 pm

Mayor Bassett asks for an allocation of money that now won't be needed for maintaining Fire Station 92 for the next biennium, amounting to $113,000 to help fund the Mercer Island Thrift Shop expansion and pay for a study, but a majority of the council balks at that idea.

Corder reminds the council that the city is projecting increased revenues from the shop based on an expectation that the shop will be expanded.

8:37 pm

Utility rates will increase in the median homeowner's bi-monthly bill 5.9 percent increase, a $14.22 increase in 2013 and another $7.10 in 2014.

The total amount of the property tax levy collected by the city in 2013 is $11.7 million.

8:46 pm

The city council begins passing a series of motions to approve various fees and tax increases. Here are the 12 ordinances and resolutions and the votes:

1. Ordinance No. 12C-09 (YFS Fund) passes unanimously;
2. Resolution No. 1457 (2013 NORCOM budget) passes unanimously;
3. Resolution No. 1458 (DSG technology fee) passes unanimously
4. Ordinance No. 12C-08 (BLS ambulance transport fees) passes 5-2 (Cero and Grady opposed);
5. Resolution No. 1459 (2013 water utility rates & service charges) passes 6-1 (Cero opposed);
6. Resolution No. 1460 (2013 sewer utility rates & connection
charges) passes 6-1 (Cero opposed);
7. Resolution No. 1461 (2013 storm water utility rates) passes 6-1 (Cero opposed);
8. Resolution No. 1462 (2013 EMS utility rates) passes unanimously;
9. Ordinance No. 12-10 (2013 property tax levy amount) passes 6-1 (Cero opposed);
10. Ordinance No. 12-11 (2013 property tax levy increase) passes 5-2 (Cero and Grady opposed);
11. Ordinance No. 12C-12 (utility tax on sewer & storm water
utilities) passes 6-1 (Cero opposed); and
12. Resolution No. 1463 (2013 utility tax rate) passes 6-1 (Cero opposed).

8:53 pm

Deputy City Manager Noel Treat reviews the project timeline for construction of Fire Station 92. A design process is expected to begin in Jan. or Feb. 2013 when the city council will be expected to approve a design contract. It will be complete and permits obtained by Jan. 2014. Construction is anticipated to begin in March or April 2014 and the station will be "up and ready to go" by early 2015.

8:57 pm

The city will need to re-zone the property as a "Public Insitution" to allow taller building heights. The fire station will relocate in Feb. or March 2014. An interim location, yet to be announced, will be chosen in "the next few weeks".

9 pm

Corder says the council is 1.51 percent for the bond, which he said is tempting him to outright purchase rather than lease the truck. The council agrees.

9:03 pm

Senn asks what other recognition the city could achieve to reflect the city's sustainability goals without having to pay for the certification, such as LEED.

9:05 pm

Councilmember Senn and Mayor Bassett thank the public for supporting the Fire Station and Truck Levy.

9:09 pm

Mayor Bassett moves the council into the planning calendar and other business. An I-90 tolling meeting is scheduled for Jan. 7. The Shoreline Master Plan meeting, which occurred earlier this month, was lightly attended. 

Councilman Cero asks for another 30 days for the public to offer input to the State Department of Ecology.

9:14 pm

Councilmember Brahm reports back on the Eastside Transportation Partnership, the final Farmers Market and the Conservancy Trust's letterboxing awards.

Councilmember Bertlin asks the public to re-engage with the school facility process and what the public can do to get involved.

Bertlin also asks the city for help is communicating what the Growth Management Act is and how the City Council can affect changes. She also said she appreciated the reminder on keeping taxes and fee increases low in the future and said she will "carry it forward".

Mayor Bassett invites the council to attend a holiday party to his home on Dec. 7, and compliments the involvement of former councilmembers on their Town Center walkthrough on Sat., Nov. 17 and asks the council to adopt a more "visionary element" at the city council's upcoming planning session on Jan. 11-13.

9:22 pm

"Where do we want to be as community five years from now?" asks City Manager Rich Conrad.

Jim Stanton November 20, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Thanks for publishing clear and accessible minutes of the meeting.
Kendall Watson December 28, 2012 at 09:05 PM
You're welcome, Jim. Sorry I missed your kind words while I was away during Thanksgiving.

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