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 27, 2000 meeting:
1. All present except K. Barron, B. Bliss, T. Bornemann, T. Farris & J. Kenoyer.
• Silver Beach Impervious Area Analysis – June, 2000, by Mark Saunders
• Booklet: Urbanization & Water Quality – A Guide to Protecting the Urban Environment
3. Comments by participants:
• SBO basically limits 3 items; impervious surfaces, uses and timing of construction. Science seems good on all three, so expects minimal changes are likely. What it lacks is an EDUCATION component applicable to all who live, work or play in Silver Beach.
• Agrees education is very important. Ready to work on SBO now, possibly expand scope later. Foresees relatively minor changes; some allowable increase in impervious surface, leeway thru trade-offs, reconsider ADU if existing home is small. OK with seasonal limits.
• Even simpler view. If lake is already polluted, we need regulations on existing homes, plus enforcement of the rules. Just as progress in education is marked by grades, compliance must have a yardstick.
• Reviewed extensive materials and came to independent conclusion that SBO is necessary. Looking at vacant lot summary and Salmon in City paper, feels current regulations & practices are clearly not working. Education, improvements in technology & know-how will help, but need tough regulations with incentives now. Temptation is great to let this assignment get too complex and far-reaching. Need to use SBO as pilot program to set example/standard for rest of watershed.
• Took weeks to understand scope of this Task Force, now understands we aren’t being asked to solve all problems in watershed, just our part. Understands that impact threshold occurs at 10 to 20% impervious surface, and selection of 15% as an average for the SB portion of watershed is reasonable. Perhaps up to a maximum of 20% could be earned in return for installation/use of additional BMPs. Doesn’t expect remaining SB lots will have a big impact. Concerned that 4 month building season might be too short for certain projects, particularly those extending into Fall. What BMPs would apply to this?
• One missing item from SBO is a LANDSCAPE ELEMENT. This might be a good method by which to earn additional impervious surface by embracing lake-friendly practices.
• Another missing element from SBO is a LAND ACQUISITION PROGRAM. This could certainly help with reducing density, perhaps by consolidating sub-standard lots or similar mechanisms.
• Agrees that education element would be nice, but unenforceable. Perhaps, this could be approached by requiring those working in SB to be LICENSED & TRAINED in BMPs.
• There are multiple watershed projects the City currently has underway. It is tempting to look at big picture to see where these fit, and if similar components could be merged to provide major changes later. It is obvious that prevention is much more effective and less costly than remediation or mitigation. The self education process in progress is good and more is needed.
• What is the City Council’s role in the many programs going on in the Lake Whatcom watershed? Basically the CC sets policy, goals and priorities; ratifies programs and funding; tries to be aware of the multiplicity of regulatory requirements. The City staff actually administers & coordinates these activities and provides information to CC. Additionally, the City tries to make timely and accurate access to this information available to the public via multiple media, including meetings and forums, PEG-TV, newsletters, website, articles in Herald and other publications. Admittedly, there are more activities in progress than most people want to follow. A Citizens Task Force like this one is a good way of interacting with the public most impacted by issues like SBO. So far, CTF has come up with a good list of ideas, some of which are new and unique, to help add flexibility to SBO.
• Tonight’s agenda is as follows:
SILVERBEACH COMMITTEE JUNE 27TH AGENDA
OPPORTUNITY TO ADD IDEAS AND AFTERTHOUGHTS FROM LAST MEETING
REVIEW MINUTES FOR COMPLETENESS/HELPFULNESS FOR THE TASK
ANY CHANGES NEEDED?
SELECT ONE OF THE FOUR FUNCTIONAL AREAS AND BEGIN WORK ON RECOMMENDATIONS
BEGIN RECOMMENDATIONS WITH FOCUS ON INCENTIVE BASED OPTIONS
(BE PREPARED TO DESCRIBE HOW YOUR SUGGESTION WILL PROTECT THE WATERSHED, IN ADDITION TO BENEFITTING THE LAND OWNER)
CAN THE BENEFIT BE QUANTIFIED?
CAN THE OUTCOME BE MONITORED OR INSPECTED?
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE IDEA TO ADMINISTER?
IS THE PROPOSAL AVAILABLE TO ALL LAND OWNERS?
DO COSTS PRECLUDE FEASIBILITY? WHO PAYS?
REMEMBER COUNCIL ESTABLISHED PRIORITIES:
EMPHASIZE PREVENTION OVER TREATMENT
LIMIT DEVELOPMENT IMPACTS
REDUCE DENSITY, REDUCE IMPERVIOUS AREAS
IDENTIFY APPROPRIATE PARCELS FOR PUBLIC ACQUISITION
IMPLEMENT AN EFFECTIVE TDR PROGRAM
CONSOLIDATE RECOMMENDATIONS WHERE POSSIBLE, PICK 5 OR 6 TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STAFF PROCESSING
DISTRIBUTE SILVERBEACH IMPERVIOUS AREA REPORT TO MEMBERS FOR REVIEW
SCOPE AGENDA FOR NEXT MEETING
• Our goal is to determine what incentives are likely to protect the watershed AND benefit the landowner? There is wide interest in this type of WIN-WIN solution. Some typical questions are:
1) What constitutes “PERVIOUS SURFACE? Interlocking pavers? Gravel? Shadow under overhangs, 2nd story breezeways? slatted decks?
2) If an existing home has 3000 SF of impervious surface, can tearing up (or building on) part of the driveway be exchanged for adding a REC Room?
3) Can changes exceed stated limits, and if so, under what conditions?
• A stated goal is to reduce density in the watershed. Is there an opportunity in SBO to accomplish this? Could the concept of IMPERVIOUS SURFACE TRANSFER from one lot to another in return for a restrictive covenant be used? Such a mechanism could also reassign buildable footprint to a more appropriate, or accessible, site WITHIN SB.
• A reduction in COB’s impervious road surface requirements in SB would be a very cost effective approach for everyone.
• Existing homes constitute a big problem. A much broader appeal is needed to attract their active involvement in SBO goals. All ideas must first pass the “laugh or cry” test. Currently, mostly positive feedback is being heard on SBO and not major complaints. This is very encouraging.
• Regarding large home construction requiring 6-9 months, SBO describes NEW earthwork only. Possible to adapt building methods by early backfill or BMPs, then complete job later. Current stormwater ordinance states that bare earth shall be covered within 7 days in dry season & 3 days in wet season, although ‘enforcement’ varies.
• Who determines or writes BMPs? There are many existing BMPs and combinations thereof, using industry standards, but interpretation and application of these usually requires good expertise and judgement. Usually, the Departments with responsibility write the “how-to’s”. Three levels of direction: Policy, Regulatory Code, Implementation procedures. The Comprehensive Plan requires appropriate use of BMPs, but in practice this doesn’t always happen. Stream buffers are a good example of this.
• SBO is an interim ordinance expiring 7/24/00. Are we cramming for a last minute final exam? Much work is going on, but a broad spectrum of science indicates the underlying problem is simply development itself, and that observable deterioration has already happened and is continuing to happen. The strongest action we could take would be a “time-out” moratorium on new building until answers on TMDLs can be determined. The 303(d) listing demonstrates that past & current practices aren’t working nearly well enough.
• If existing development caused this problem, we need to impose additional restrictions on that, and not allow any more development until we figure out what’s needed to protect the water. Examples are bans on 2-cycle boats, pesticide use, car washing, etc. Our job is to safeguard the lake by preventing further deterioration, yet the word “moratorium” doesn’t appear on our list. What about hydrocarbons in the lake; even at low levels, we drink it at our potential risk.
• Regarding TMDLs, a $100k DOE grant has been received to look at improved street sweeping as a means of determining baseline data for a number of pollutants related to traffic. This CTF is now on the leading edge in determining fair and effective impervious surface restrictions, including severity of imperviousness. Olympia has a similar program to protect its groundwater. Snohomish County is now looking at low impact development strategies to help their ESA problem.
• The “zero net impact” idea is good in theory, but in reality a misnomer and failure in practice. Difficult to control or enforce what is not clear, proven and well defined. Hearing Examiner has simply ignored this requirement despite Planning Dept recommendations. There is much debate over the actual effectiveness of detention ponds for example. Some say great, some say worthless by themselves.
• Why not a moratorium? Likely to have more negative results than positive, especially if limited to just SB. COB history on moratoria includes one restricting the filling of wetlands, except by variance to CC. This allowed necessary work to be done to develop a suitable ordinance. Another example is the moratorium on 4-BR duplexes, now in its 5th or 6th extension. In the case of SBO, personal residences are involved along with emotional connections. Also, much of this homework has already been done. SB residents want equality, spread responsibility around fairly. Recognize we’ve got to start this effort somewhere, and SB is it!
4. Review of purpose of meeting and CTF’s objective:
• Having gone through an initial learning process, the Group now seems focused on its charter, which is to determine those ideas 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 this Task Force’s 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 Program 2000, the City’s Surface & Stormwater Utility Ordinance upgrade now underway, the LWRM Program Land Acquisition Citizen’s Task Force, and the like. All meeting summaries are now posted on the City’s website at: http://www.cob.org/council.htm. (click on Silver Beach Ordinance)
• The Impervious Area Analysis report handout shows SBO is already working to reduce Total Suspended Solids in runoff. Recommended reading.
• The Urbanization & Water Quality booklet handout, likewise a ‘must’ reading, is a very good summary of the things we can do to protect the lake. Many of ideas discussed can be found here.
• Today’s paper headlines show the city’s Surface & Storm Water Utility Ordinance is now under active discussion. An Ordinance authorizing utility fees is likely to be enacted by yearend on all residents to pay for mandated regulations. Fees will be based on impervious surface area. Public Works will present its proposal to CC on 8/21/00.
• The Lake Whatcom Reservoir Management Program Team will give its quarterly report to County & City Councils and WD#10 tomorrow night, 7-9 pm at Cooperative Extension Bldg. Those interested in hearing the various watershed-wide programs currently underway, are encouraged to attend.
5. Discussion of Ideas for Application to SBO:
• Idea for incentive: Stormwater fee adjustment in return for compliance, or exceeding compliance with SBO? Determine impervious surface area for individual properties using aerial photos, site inspection.
• Discussion of SBO itself, and 4 main topics: USES, DENSITY, SEASONAL LIMITS, IMPERVIOUS SURFACE LIMITS. Pick USES to focus on first, note permitted and conditional uses listed. List applicable ideas on flip chart, shown below.
• No LANDSCAPING requirements exist now in single family zones. Perhaps new standards can be considered. County example: limits on livestock (animal units/acre). Horses are not expressly prohibited on residential property in City. Oddly, there are landscape standards for Residential-Multi, including % Open Space, Trees, etc.
• Native plants have multiple advantages: less intensive care & watering needed, unnecessary to disturb soil, more disease resistant/no pesticides, little or no fertilizer needed, better habitat, better uptake of nutrients & contaminants, transpiration aids cooling, etc. A pallet or list of preferred species of plants can be provided for reference, substitutions allowed. Co-op Extension is excellent education resource for this! Also Bloedel-Donovan as Demonstration Park.
• Discussion of USES (see below table).
• Discussion of possible PROHIBITIONS, including Clearing & Grading Code changes (see below table).
• Discussion of possible INCENTIVES & TRADE-OFFS, including VOLUNTARY ACTIONS, etc (see below table).
• Discussion of ADU Trade-offs (see below table).
• Need to set quantifiable, not subjective, standards to preserve SBO intent into future. Land supply is constantly shrinking, increasing pressure on more intense development.
• Flip Chart Summary – SBO/Uses-Specific Items
Idea No. Comment
I. Need Landscape Standards 2,35,37 Rating system?
• Soil character/site preparation BMPs
• Vegetative Cover Inventory & Map (Native preferred) 7 ‘as-builts’
• Topography & Slope 31 Buffers/slopes
• Proximity to Streams, Lake 131,134 buffers
• Proximity to other Natural Areas habitat
• BMP List – Lawns & Gardens checklist
- Fertilizer (type, amount, timing) 34,59,69 Ban/reduce
- Pesticides (type, amount, timing) Ban/reduce
- Irrigation Practices minimize
- Tilling (SF area & season) BMPs
- Composting & Mulching BMPs
• Impervious Placement on Lot Buffers/slopes
• Preservation of Neighborhood Character 27
• Prohibit Disposal of Fill in Watershed, except in 4 month season? (eg Britton Road/Hillsdale) Restrict permits for all contamination generating activities? Grading Code Changes needed
• Agricultural Nurseries; Day Treatment Center (Conditional Uses)
• Livestock (per Animal Unit Equivalent)
May be better choice than alternative of subdivision, but too many animals compact soil, destroy vegetation, trash streams, produce fecals, all of which worsen pollution problems. Larger tracts
(1AU/.5 acre) USDA measuring units)
• Wireless Communications Towers
POSSIBLE INCENTIVES & TRADE-OFFS
I. Voluntary Actions
• Install/Use/Maintain Extra BMPs (infiltration, treatment systems, retrofits)
What rewards are possible? Is it workable to keep track of trade-offs?
SW Fee Credit?
Trades between categories?
• Discontinue Existing Non-conforming Use
example: former Haines Tree Spraying Service – moved away
• Homes without setbacks or buffers
• Discourage ‘Business as usual’ practices with SBO-exempt facilities (schools, churches, parks, roads, re-development of existing facilities, piers & docks)
Some of these facilities are necessary to preserve neighborhood.
SBO only applies to Residential uses. Special COB roads & BMP standards in watershed?
II. Establish 3 Grades of Pervious Surfaces:
• Impervious 15%
• Partially Pervious ?
encourage unusual, effective demonstration projects maximum
III. Provide Demonstration Site to monitor, encourage others
IV. Stormwater Utility Rates Credit
Retrofit BMPs; swales, ditches vs impervious
V. Tax Relief (must be acceptable as permanent Open Space?)
Open Space for Public benefit
VI. Consolidate property to lower impervious surface & density
VII. Change Development Standards; Road Standards
Huge potential impact!
USES – ADUs
• Consider as conditional use, if in lieu of outright subdivision (requires restrictive covenant, enforceable by COB)
Less impervious surface possible; must be attached, certified. Provide option of being non-reversible? Opportunity, not a guarantee. Consider watershed protection benefits
SEASONAL LIMITS ON SOIL DISTURBANCE Discuss 7/11/00
IMPERVIOUS SURFACE AREA LIMITS Discuss 7/11/00
6. Wrap-up & Assignments for next meeting:
• Think about what can be done to encourage existing development to participate meaningfully to assist SBO goals. Develop options & rules for users to determine what is possible. How to value & credit these options; using what (and whose) currency? SBO is a PROACTIVE, preventative measure, not a reactive, mitigation method. Non-structural BMPs -like SBO- beat structural BMPs -like detention ponds- every time; in both effectiveness and costs to implement & maintain them! SBO was only necessary because of past deferred action on the causes of water quality impacts. Read the Handouts listed in 2, above.
• Prepare to focus on SEASONAL LIMITS ON SOIL DISTURBANCE and IMPERVIOUS SURFACE AREA LIMITS to produce a Table like that above.
• Agendas, Watershed Science Checklists will be distributed before the next meeting.
• NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, July 11, 7-9pm in Planning Conference Room
Future Meeting Dates:
Tuesday, July 25 (Mayor’s Board Room)
Tuesday, August 8 (Mayor’s Board Room)
Tuesday, August 15 (Mayor’s Board Room) (final recommendations deadline)
o. Ideas for Incentives & Trade-Offs Choices: A B C D
KEY: A= Impervious Area Limits
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
C= Land Acquisition/Trading
D= Education & Monitoring
*= Policy Decision