City Council approves 90 day emergency order extension

by Richard Uhlhorn

EXTENSION OF MAYOR’S EMERGENCY ORDER:

City Attorney Quentin Batjer explained to the Council that Mayor Goedde had decided to extent his Emergency Order for another 90 days. “We are right on the border of moving back to Phase 2,” said Batjer. “We will remain in Phase 3 for another three weeks before the Governor takes another look as the County. We want to extend the emergency order for another 90 days unless the Council wishes otherwise.”

McCardle brought up outdoor seating and Gildroy told her that the City needs to update the Code and bring it back to Council. McCardle asked when restaurants can put up their outdoor seating areas. Gildroy said he would get back to her. “I will see if there is another solution for restaurants to have their railings up.”

McCardle stated that there currently is no state of emergency and the City wants to extend it so restaurants can have the outdoor seating. Batjer replied that the Emergency Order covers a lot more than just the restaurant situation.

Peter Jamtgaard stated that he was in favor of the extension because numbers are going back up and that Mayor Goedde hasn’t abused the order. “It leaves the City with all the capabilities to act quickly if it needs to,” said Jamtgaard.

Gildroy added that with the current code change the restaurants can operate as long as the civil emergency order is in place. “Once we terminate that order, they can’t operate.” McCardle urged Gildroy to fix the Code as soon as possible because it is “totally unacceptable,” in its current iteration.

Chris Baker asked what the other pieces to the emergency order are. Finance Director Steve Thornton replied that it also has to do with the suspension of water and sewer utility bills.

Ty Witt added that the County and City are not out of the woods yet with regards to the virus. He mentioned the three counties that were put back to Phase 2 by the Governor. “That could be us next week.”

Witt’s concern is the rental moratorium that is killing landlords. “There is no real relief in sight,” said Witt. “Landlords and property owners need some relief too.” He added that at the end of the pandemic, there is going to be a big crisis.

Batjer added that the emergency order also includes deferrred utility bills; emergency funding; cancellation fees at the RV Park; wage and benefits to employees; and telecommuting during the pandemic.

Gildroy acknowledged that the City needs to change the Code and bring it back to the next Council meeting to make outdoor seating a year round thing.

Batjer also noted that the Emergency Order can be amended or eliminated at any time. “It doesn’t have to be in place for 90 days.”

PUBLIC MEETINGS:

Chelan City Council held several public meetings at its Tuesday, April 13th meeting. The first was staff’s request that the Council approve the Chelan Housing Action Plan and instruct them to prepare the adopting resolution.

Lisa Berk of Berk Consulting told the Council that 125 people had responded to a survey on housing. “The consensus was a need for affordable housing,” she said.

The ongoing study included:
• Quantify existing and projected housing needs for all income levels and household characteristics, and cost-burdened households
• Develop strategies to increase the supply of housing, and variety of housing types
• Analyze population and employment trends and projections
• Consider strategies to minimize displacement of low-income residents
• Review and evaluate the current housing element
• Provide for participation / input from community members, local builders and realtors, nonprofit housing advocates, and local religious groups
• Include a schedule of programs and actions to implement the recommendations of the housing action plan A

Information and Findings found the following:

• Home ownership is unaffordable for many households.

• Rental housing costs are rising, and options are limited for low – and moderate -income households.

• There is lack of diversity in the housing options available to local households and a misalignment between the size of housing units and the size of households.

• Opportunities for senior housing will become increasingly important.

• There is a lack of housing for seasonal workers and farm workers.

“This is more like a working plan as you implement your development plan,” said Berk. There were no public comments on this issue and the Council moved to approve the Plan and instructed the staff to prepare an adopting resolution for the next Council meeting.

The second public hearing also had no comments. The request from Public Works Director Jake Youngren was for Council to approve the vacation of the Bighorn Horn Road at Porcupine at the Lookout. 

Youngren told the Council that from a staff standpoint the vacation of this portion of the Lookout’s Bighorn Road would reduce the Public Works maintenance issues at the Lookout. “Overall we don’t have an issue of what’s being vacated,” said Youngren.

Erin McCardle asked about potential fire issues? Youngren replied that nothing changes with regards to emergency access. The Council unanimously approved Ordinance No. 2021-1586 to vacate that portion of the road.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AGREEMENT FOR PARKS:

The other big issue affecting the residents is the City’s decision to rehire Phoenix Protective Corporation to manage entrance to the Chelan Park System during the busy weekends, i.e. Memorial Day and July 4. Also on weekends of a major influx of people.

Parks Director Paul Horne told the Council that the company’s efforts last year were successful. “We anticipate another crowded year. People want to get out.” Mayor Goedde added that 79% of the State’s residents have stated they are staying and traveling within the state this coming tourist season.

The City spent $50,000 on this service last year, but was reimbursed through the CARES funding. Witt asked why it wasn’t in the budget? Thornton said it was absorbed last year and there is no reason to think that the City won’t receive more federal money to help with these issues.

MAYOR/COUNCIL COMMENTS:

Ty Witt suggested that the City move towards a hybrid meeting where Council members can sit together and conduct its meetings in Council Chambers. “Other agencies are moving ahead with this.” City Clerk Peri Gallucci replied that she is in the process of getting that worked out. “We are working towards that.”

John Olson said he has been hearing two themes from his constituents. “Many are concerned and wondering if we will have a heavy fire season this year.” He mentioned a PBS program entitled, “The West is Burning” and the fact that Chelan has a number of residential areas that are in the urban/interface with wildlands.

Olson added that residents are also asking what the City is doing about increasing access to the lake. Youngren added that there is a legislative move to force private owners to allow public access to the lake.

Erin McCardle mentioned that the City is receiving $920,000 in American Rescue Plan money. “I would love to see the community have a little more say in how we use those funds,” said McCardle. She also stated that the downtown revitalization is looking at being funded.

Mayor Goedde reported that at the recent Tricom meeting with the County, PUD and Cities, that the PUD passed a resolution to shut down power to residents in case of a major wildfire so the County doesn’t suffer a Paradise situation. “If a major fire got started at 25 Mile Creek with a down lake wind, we could kiss the South Shore of Lake Chelan goodbye.”

Jake Youngren said he has changed job descriptions at Public Works and that the staff will be monitoring the garbage issue at the parks and downtown this year.

City Administrator Wade Ferris asked the Council to bring proposals for the use of the money received. “Do we use if for infrastruction… business help.” said Ferris.

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Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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