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Monday, April 02, 2001

Call To Order

Mayor Alan Merkle called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, WA.

Roll Call

City Councilmembers Susan Blake, Bryan Cairns, Judy Clibborn, Sven Goldmanis, Dan Grausz, El Jahncke, and Mayor Alan Merkle were present.

Myra Lupton, 3443 72nd Place SE, commended the Council for holding its annual retreat on the Island. Mrs. Lupton also submitted a letter to the council stating that as a citizen she would be very concerned if councilmembers ceased to question and call upon one another during council meetings, suggesting that their attempts to sway each others opinions are entirely appropriate given that they constitute an elected body. Mayor Merkle responded by saying that he and the Council appreciate all of the citizens who make an effort to observe the council both at regular meetings and at events such as the retreat.

Bob Geri, 7345 86th Avenue SE, introduced the members of Boy Scout Troop 66 who were observing the Council Meeting as a part of the requirements for earning their citizenship badges. Each of the boys in attendance introduced themselves and told the Council which local school they attended. Mayor Merkle responded that youth participation and observation is always welcome, and shared with the boys that he remembers earning his own citizenship badge while working to become an Eagle Scout.

Larry Lunden, 8620 SE 47th, addressed his concerns to the Council about persistent speeding on the Island, particularly on Island Crest Way. Mayor Merkle responded by affirming the council’s position that speed limits on the island should be enforced, and commented on the city’s use of saturation patrols as a means of deterring speeders in specific locations. The Mayor suggested that it might be time for another such patrol on Island Crest, and commented that it might also be time for the city to explore new means of controlling speeders on the Island.

Consent Calendar

Payables: $ 461,876.04  
Payrolls: $ 393,176.22

It was moved by Councilmember Blake; seconded by Councilmember Cairns to:

Approve the Consent Calendar and the recommendations contained therein.

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Passed 7-0.

Regular Business

AB 3570 Public Hearing: Transportation Improvement Plan Update
On behalf of Transportation Planner Nancy Fairchild, Assistant City Manager Deb Symmonds introduced the 6-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) Update, explaining that the purpose of the presentation was to outline the current plan and collect public comment regarding the same. Deb also explained that the final 6-year TIP would reappear before the Council at the second City Council meeting of May for adoption. As a part of the presentation, Ms. Symmonds summarized the proposed arterial projects for the next six years as well as the proposed pedestrian and bicycle facilities projects.

Following the presentation, time was set aside for Council to ask any TIP-related questions of staff before the floor was opened for the public hearing.

Councilmember Grausz asked whether or not the TIP provided for the replacement of some damaged buttons along East Mercer Way. Ms. Symmonds responded that the replacement of the buttons, which were knocked off during some grating associated with the February snowstorm, is included in the “Pavement Markings” portion of the TIP.

Councilmember Jahncke asked staff to clarify public opinion regarding the possibility of making a portion of SE 46th a one-way street, referencing a public opinion study conducted by the city in 1999 which suggested that the neighborhood was generally opposed to the change. Nancy Fairchild explained that while the city had not yet done a second survey of the neighborhood, public opinion regarding the possibility seemed to be changing due to the increased traffic volume along that portion of the roadway.

Councilmember Goldmanis asked for a clarification of the city’s standards for determining when a street should be made one-way. Nancy responded that the city presently has no such set of standards, explaining that it had been approximately twelve years since the issue had last surfaced. City Manager Rich Conrad followed-up on Nancy’s comments, reminding the Council that the situation on SE 46th was unique in a number of ways including the fact that the neighbors were approaching the city about making the change, not the other way around. He also stated that the city’s handling of this particular roadway might not be indicative of how the city would handle another potential one-way street situation.

The Mayor opened the public hearing at 8:15 pm.

Bob Seda, 5912 East Mercer Way, endorced the inclusion of the trail located in the 6100 block of East Mercer Way in the Transportation Improvement Plan. Mr. Seda commented that as a runner he is a frequent user of the trail, particularly due to the limited access to Island Crest Way from 53rd to 71st. He recommended that the city attempt to secure permanent access to this trail.

Deb Wahl, 6150 East Mercer Way, also endorsed the potential inclusion of the trail in the TIP, calling the trail a “lifeline” for the families with small children who live in the area and use the trail to avoid walking or biking along the busy roadway.

Don Sandstrom, 6130 East Mercer Way, stated that he lives 100 feet south of the trail and uses it frequently to access Metro. He told the Council that without the trail he would have to travel twice as far in order to access public transportation. Mr. Sandstrom suggested that the city should attempt to procure an easement or right-of-way so that the public could continue to make use of the trail.

Kenneth MacDonald, 4611 Forest Avenue, told the Council that his street has been destroyed by the heavy construction associated with the building of several large “trophy houses” in the area. Mr. MacDonald also stated that drainage in the area of Forest Avenue has been affected by the construction, and that he was dismayed to learn that his street was not slated for improvements under the present TIP until 2004. The Mayor asked City Engineer Patrick Yamashita if there was a reason that Forest Avenue was not scheduled for improvements until 2004, and Patrick responded that the city wanted to wait on Forest Avenue until after all of the utility and other related work in the area had been finished (primarily to avoid having to do the roadwork twice).

Stanley Piha, 8360 SE 46th, appeared before the council to ask that the one-block section of SE 46th that runs in front of his home be made into a one-way road. Mr. Piha explained that this particular section of roadway is so narrow that when two cars meet head to head one is forced to back up so that the other can pass, and that the landscaping on his property is routinely destroyed by vehicles leaving the narrow roadway under similar circumstances. Mr. Piha told the Council that he would be willing to give up the ability to travel both ways on SE 46th in order to enhance roadway safety.

Larry Lunden, 8620 SE 47th, addressed the Council for a second time to commend his neighbor’s willingness to forgo the convenience of being able to travel both ways on SE 46th in favor of public safety. Mr. Lunden informed the council that he also lives in this neighborhood and would support having this section of roadway made into a one-way street.

Garth MacDonald, a resident of California who spends a portion of the year at his parents’ home on Forest Avenue, asked the council to help preserve the “rural darkness” in Island neighborhoods by limiting where streetlights can be located.

The Mayor closed the public hearing at 8:35 pm.

After Council discussion regarding staff time and resources, direction given to staff was to:

Investigate the feasibility of adding the trail in the 6100 block of East Mercer Way to the TIP. In regard to 46th Avenue, staff was asked to further study the implications for the neighborhood of changing this one-block portion into a one-way roadway and to derive a better understanding of what set of standards they would be using to decide this and other potential one-way situations. Additionally, staff was directed to look into an earlier sequencing of improvements for Forest Avenue, and to determine what an earlier sequence would cost, how the utility and street funds would be impacted, and whether or not the project could be undertaken by staff at this time or whether a consultant would need to be brought in. Results of these inquiries are to be added to the TIP prior to the May 21 City Council Meeting where the TIP is scheduled to be adopted.

AB 3556 Watershed Planning Interlocal Agreement
Development Services Director Richard Hart introduced the WRIA-8 agenda item. Director Hart opened the discussion by reminding the Council that under the current provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) watershed planning and salmon-based conservation planning are now mandatory. Director Hart also reminded the Council that the ESA allowed local governments to pursue this type of planning on their own or in a cooperative forum with other local governments located within the same watersheds.

Director Hart then gave a basic review of the agenda item, which would authorize Mercer Island to participate in the WRIA-8 planning body. His discussion included a description of the interlocal group’s proposed structure and management processes. Director Hart reviewed the $10,698 cost to Mercer Island to participate, and reminded the Council that most of the other jurisdictions eligible to participate in this WRIA had already ratified the agreement. Director Hart concluded his discussion by calling the interlocal agreement “a key piece of our regional reaction to the recent changes in the ESA.”

Councilmember Clibborn, the Council’s WRIA representative, provided the Council with additional information about WRIA decision-making and voting procedures.

It was moved by Councilmember Cairns; seconded by Councilmember Blake to:

Authorize the City of Mercer Island to participate in the Lake Washington/Cedar Sammamish Watershed (WIRA 8) Interlocal Agreement for Watershed Planning.

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Passed 7-0.

Other Business

Councilmember Absences: Councilmember Jahncke to be absent for the May 2 Joint City Council/School Board Meeting, and for the May 5 Regular Council Meeting.

Planning Schedule: Council discussed the possibility of canceling the Regular Meeting of April 16.

Board Appointments: The Council deferred 2001 board and commission appointments until the next regular meeting. Mayor Merkle asked that all current appointees continue to serve on their boards or commissions until new appointments are made.

Councilmember Reports: Council commented on the overall success of the previous weekend’s retreat.

Adjournment: 9:50 pm

[Important Note: The proceedings of the City Council meeting were recorded on tape and are filed in the City Clerk's Office. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also filed in the City Clerk's office.]


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