Monday, December 3, 2007

Silver Beach Ordinance Redux: 3rd Meeting Citizens Task Force

WARNING: The following information is LONG, boring to many, incomprehensible to others, and history that repeats itself!

The Silver Beach Neighborhood recently debated adopting a list of policy measures to address the issue of protecting the Lake Whatcom Reservoir.
Many of the items on the list were recognizable as elements of earlier discussions during the deliberations on the City's 'Silver Beach Ordinance', designed in response to the Dept of Ecology's 303 (d) listing of the lake for fecal cliform and dissolved oxygen levels.
Some were adopted and incorporated into the Ordinance, while others were not for various reasons.

It may be useful to revisit those earlier discussions again as a reminder of what was considered during those initial eight public meetings, which resulted in a list of unanimous, or near-unanimous, recommendations that were adopted.
The adopted recommendations -from meeting No. 9- were the subject of my 8/8/07 blog.

This general subject was also discussed or rferenced in blogs from October 9, 12 & 13 and Dec 3
Here is a Summary of the June 13. 2000 meeting:

1. All present except K. Barron & D. Cantrell.
2. A special guest, WWU graduate student, Mark Saunders, briefly discussed the study he performed on Park Place Drain effectiveness in controlling runoff, as contractor to City.
A strong apparent correlation was noted between building rates and observed Total Suspended Solids (TSS) measurements.

3. Handouts:
• List of 134 Ideas for Incentives & Trade-Offs
[4-page Excel Spreadsheet]
• Lawn Reference Information
• Summary of Vacant Lots in Silver Beach Neighborhood

4. Review of purpose of meeting and CTF’s objective:
• Main focus of this meeting is to review the List of Ideas and determine those specifically applicable to the SBO, which can add flexibility and options without changing its intent, and can be accomplished before the 8/15/00 deadline for the Task Force recommendations.

• Ideas considered not directly applicable to SBO by the above criteria, will be saved for referral to other programs and efforts, such as The Lake Whatcom Reservoir Management Plan 2000, the upcoming Stormwater Ordinance upgrade, the Land Acquisition Citizen’s Task Force and the like.

5. Comments by participants:
• List of 134 ideas needs sorting by category; outline format might be suitable: e.g. Topic “Landscape”; Sub-topic “lawn area”; Rating “educational or regulatory”; Priority “10 most critical elements”. This would help people using SBO to understand what tools are available, flexibility in design parameters, etc. A flow chart of permitting process, showing additional watershed requirements, which Depts are responsible, and listed regulatory steps.

• 11 SBO-specific items suggested in following categories: Purchasing & Preserving Land (20, 24, 27, 29); Education (72, 73, 74); Funding & Financing (94, 95, 97, 104). These were listed on a flip chart.

• Photo album (Barkley Blvd.) presented, showing poor landscaping practices which leave practically no pervious surface.

• A City street-sweeper crew was observed last week, in SB, discharging buckets of sweepings into stormwater drain. Is this OK?

• Additional SBO-specific items offered as follows: 2, 19, 21, 25, 26, 27, 59, 29, 36, 37, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 111, 56, 57, 58, 63, 65, 66, 69, 72, 73, 76, 83, 88, 90, 93, 97, 100, 104, 113, 115, 123, 124, 126.

• This exercise seems overwhelming. All ideas are good, but how will over-complicating SBO actually help? How much time is city willing to devote to administering SBO? Main problem is simply limiting development. Limiting impervious area, increasing open space, eliminating use of pesticides & fertilizers are good practices, but might promote overuse of variance process.

• Reason for this procedure is that the CTF requested a consolidated list to allow focusing on items directly applicable to SBO’s 4 areas.

• One way of categorizing List is to determine which program area(s) seem to fit specific ideas. Suggested categories could be SBO, Stormwater Ordinance, Land Acquisition Programs, City-wide Practices & Lake Whatcom Mgmt Program (watershed-wide).

• Additional SBO-specific items were offered in following categories:
Buffers (1, 119, 131, 134); Maximize Pervious/Natural Cover (2, 3, 11, 17, 26, 28, 32, 63); Land Conservation/Acquisition (7, 19, 24, 47, 95, 96, 99, 104, 107, 117); Construction BMPs 31, 34, 35, 68, 69)

• Suggestion for group to prioritize SBO-specific items listed on flip chart.

• Discussion on use of pesticides & fertilizers, how to educate, enforce? Even if strictly “unenforceable”, a strong education & reminder system of behavioral BMPs is essential. Analogy to speed limit signs = constant reminder. Similar to Burn Ban, which was advertised widely 5 years before it went into effect, an expectation of compliance is systematically instilled to public, reinforced by neighbors. Could publish guidelines for proper fertilization & timing.

• Discussion of City’s priorities (drinking water 1st other uses important but subordinate). Looking for simplest ideas that significantly impact water quality at least cost. SBO is enforceable now, as it stands. CTF job is to recommend how to condition it to add flexibility.

• SBO impacts only 500 lots, plus future remodels. But, water quality problems have been caused by existing homes & development. Landscaping practices need to be established by permit, up-front. A watershed-wide land acquisition program could be very effective. Education of the public is extremely important to this process. Despite current efforts, like voluntary Pledge Program, word is simply not getting out widely enough.

• Refocus on flip chart; agree on SBO-specific ideas, then apply to SBO. Not much disagreement on these ideas, why limit to just SBO? SBO is time and scope limited, although many SBO-specific ideas have broader applicability. These will also be referred to LW Mgmt Program, others. BIG priorities are those with multiple “hits”, but SBO-specific is our goal now. Recognize this is a more modest goal than many would like. Note that many ideas on list came from comments made at public meetings, not just SBO-CTF.

• Fairness and uniformity of watershed practices are large concerns. SBO are expected to influence Urban Growth Area (UGA) practices in Geneva & Brownsville- Hillsdale areas.

• After discussion, the group agreed that the 37 ideas, as shown in the Table below, were SBO-specific in nature.

• In addition to the Table, several items remain of interest to group members for discussion or study, including No’s 36, 48, 57, 58, 95, 99.

Wrap-up & Assignments for next meeting:
• Develop, consolidate & categorize SBO-specific Table of ideas for further discussion. Ideas related to public information & education programs will be identified as a category.
No. Ideas for Incentives & Trade-Offs Choices: A B C D

KEY: A= Impervious Area Limits
B= Buffers
C= Land Acquisition/Trading
D= Education & Monitoring
*= Policy Decision

2 Install & use appropriate natural vegetation based BMPs A, B
11 Consolidate multiple lots to cluster home(s) A, B

35 Minimize land disturbance & retain native vegetation A, B
37 Consider soil composition in determining suitability for clearing, lawns, BMPs A, B
131 Allow a maximum of 20% impervious cover within 200' of lake A, B
29 "Banking" system for Equivalent Pervious Area Units, similar to TDR's A, C
3 Install pervious paving system(s) A

17 Removal of existing impervious surfaces earns a home footprint bonus A
26 Use more pervious structures/surfaces whenever possible A
32 Set absolute maximum impervious footprint attainable for each lot A
63 Increase impervious surface allocation (2500, 3000, 3500, 4000) A
65 Differentiate categories of impervious surfaces; roof, grade, etc A
66 Impervious surface credit for drainfield, infiltration devices A
119 Ban subdivisions in watershed; require larger lots; reward with SBO relief x
1 Maximize undisturbed distance from shoreline or stream bank for buffer B
31 Use proximity to water, lot topography to determine BMPs B
34 Utilize, or exceed, BMPs use during construction to extend season B
69 Allow flexibility in wet season construction in return for additional BMPs B
134 Provide 30' minimum buffer to streams & lake [high water level] B
44 Retrofit individual catch basins* B

7 Provide appropriate conservation easement(s) in perpetuity C
19 Donate/dedicate to City, Land Trust, land over 15% as Open Space C
20 Finance quantifiable offsite mitigation elsewhere in the watershed* C
24 Sell to City or Land Trust, TDRs for appropriate watershed property C
47 Create land acquisition program for City to purchase priority properties C
104 Use Greenways/Conservation Futures $ for purchase of watershed land C
27 Checklist of lake-friendly practices to complete for building permit D
28 Use innovative BMPs, allow documentation and inspections D
45 Grant stormwater fee credit for those impacted by SBO*
49 Determine more equitable method of spreading cost of SBO to all beneficiaries*
56 Update City's capability to monitor impervious surface coverage D
59 Find ways to encourage lake-friendly gardening & landscaping D
68 Allow emergency reconstruction during rainy season*
72 Mandatory classes, permit for builders, excavators, landscapers, services D
73 Enforce existing regulations consistently D

88 How can SBO's effectiveness be measured & demonstrated? D
123 Need ongoing Stakeholders Group to continue study & oversight of programs D

KEY: A= Impervious Area Limits
B= Buffers
C= Land Acquisition/Trading
D= Education & Monitoring
*= Policy Decision
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, June 27, 7-9pm in Mayor’s Board Conference Room

Meeting Dates:
Tuesday, June 27
Tuesday, July 11 (Board Room not available)
Tuesday, July 25
Tuesday, August 8
Tuesday, August 15 (final recommendations deadline)