Category Archives: City of Port Orchard

City’s classification of B&Bs could impact other home-based businesses

You can visit kitsapsun.com later this evening to see how and why the Port Orchard City Council voted Tuesday to increase stormwater rates.

The lead up to this we’ve covered extensively, and last night’s vote was a long time coming.

Due to space constraints, I was not able to elaborate on an issue that arose out of the utility committee’s discussion in June of how bed and breakfasts should be assessed in the stormwater utility.

Here’s a little background you’ll need:
Stormwater charges are based on impervious surface units, with one ISU defined as 3,000 square feet of impervious surface, such as roofs or pavement. Residential accounts, all deemed to comprise one ISU, are charged a flat monthly rate, as specified in the city’s code.

Commercial businesses and multifamily dwellings are assessed the monthly rate times the actual number of impervious surface units on their property divided by 3,000 square feet.

And here’s the long version of the second half of the story that explains how, in one attorney’s opinion, the reclassification of B&Bs as commercial could have far-reaching impacts on all of the city’s homebased businesses.

“Gil and Kathy Michael, owners of Cedar Cove Inn B&B, seconded a suggestion that ratepayers be credited for putting rain gardens, pervious pavement and other stormwater treatment systems on their properties.

The Michaels were required to mitigate stormwater runoff during an earlier expansion of the historic home above Bay Street from which they do business.
And the couple had another problem with the proposal, given that the Cedar Cove Inn has been reclassified as a commercial property.

At the June utility committee meeting, members discussed how B&Bs are assessed in the stormwater utility. The committee considered a suggestion from staff that they should be classified as commercial for accounting purposes.

“The way we handle the code and the way the account is set up is if you have a business license, even if it is a home-based business, you are technically commercial,” said Andrea Archer Parsons, assistant city engineer.

Of the city’s three B&Bs, only Cedar Cove would be significantly impacted, the committee realized. They asked staff to see how other cities classify B&Bs for stormwater assessments, and the report was presented Aug. 19 to the full council but no action was taken.

On June 10, the Michaels got a notice saying their B&B would be assessed as a commercial property “due the fact that they are required to have a business license.” On Oct. 15, they got a notice saying they would be charged for four ISUs.

Their attorney Gary Chrey on Tuesday argued that by extension the “commercial property” rule could apply to all of the city’s home-based businesses, and that could have unintended consequences beyond higher utility rates. He listed higher real estate taxes and more onerous building code requirements among a litany of results.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said he didn’t know where that wording came from and that it needed to be looked at.

Chrey also took issue with wording in the city’s code that defines commercial property as “all property zoned or used for commercial, retail, industrial or community purposes.” The key words here are “or used,” which technically broadens the definition of commercial. Chrey asked that the code be reworded so the classification is based on zoning only.

“I think we still need to do some work, based on what I’ve heard here tonight. We have issues that are related to the increase,” Councilman John Clauson said.

But the council didn’t want to delay the increase entirely and put the city at risk of falling out of compliance with escalating federal water quality standards.

Councilman Rob Putaansuu proposed a one-year graduated increase from the current $7 per month to $9.70 per month on Jan. 1 and $14 per month on June 1 as a way to buy some time to sort out the complicating issues. The increase to $14 is needed, Putaansuu and others say, to fund capital projects that would control flooding and improve water quality.

Putaansuu, John Clauson, Jeff Cartwright and Jerry Childs voted for the ordinance. Fred Chang, Bek Ashby and Cindy Lucarelli voted against it.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

Visualize Asbestos Abatement

If you’ve driven through downtown Port Orchard lately, you will have seen the old Los Cabos building wrapped in white plastic.
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The city of Port Orchard bought the eyesore in August with the idea of demolishing it to improve the ambiance of the downtown core. The sale price of $148,000 included demolition by Turnaround Inc., the company that held receivership on the building. The demolition will be ongoing for the next two to three weeks, hence the wrapped building. More on that in a minute

The former site of Los Cabos restaurant was gutted by fire in July 2013. There were boarding rooms upstairs that were occupied at the time of the fire. Three people escaped by climbing out a bathroom window onto a roof and jumping onto the bed of a truck at street level.

The building sat abandoned ever since, growing a fine crop of mold in what was the dining room.
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But the mold is not the worst problem. The two-story, 6,000-plus-square-foot building was constructed in 1910, accord to the Kitsap County Assessor, and has asbestos within from various additions and remodels.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is a remarkable material, fireproof, strong, a good insulator, but it has been linked to cancers including mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, asbestos can be found in insulation of houses built (or remodeled) between 1930 and 1950, in textured paint and patching compounds whose use was banned in 1977, some vinyl flooring tiles, some roofing and siding shingles, older hot water pipes and furnaces.

According to Bobby Pelkey, of Rhine Demolition of Tacoma, the company handling the building demo, asbestos isn’t a big problem if it’s contained in materials like tile or widow putty, but if it’s part of insulation or “popcorn” ceiling tile, tearing it our could release the asbestos fibers that can cause cancer on exposure.

To protect themselves, workers wear fully enclosed suits and respirators. They tear out the hazardous material and seal it before removal. Inside the building itself, they construct a three-segment decontamination chamber, which includes a shower for removing any particles. The suits are bundled and sealed after they are taken off, as with the rest of the contaminated material.

The job is hazardous, no doubt, but says Pelkey, “As long as you take the proper steps to protect yourself, there’s nothing to worry about.”

According to crew supervisor David Schultz — who has been in the demolition business and working with asbestos for 21 years now — one of the biggest dangers of older buildings is unstable floor and ceilings. Before demolition begins, the building is tested for asbestos, and a walk through reveals potential hazards, such as a ceiling likely to collapse.
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It’s a living, and decent one at that, Schultz said. “I make a comfortable living.”

And about that plastic wrap, it seals any asbestos fibers inside the building. So when the building comes down, the asbestos will have been removed. Voila a blank slate.

Once the demolition is complete, gone will be the entire building, including this well-established collection of pigeon poop.
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What would you like to see on the property?

Signs of life at the Lighthouse

Back from the ashes … again, the Lighthouse restaurant will reopen next week under new ownership, former general manager Brookes Konig said Friday.

And the new owner would be Konig himself, who is leasing from property owners Tim Tweten and Gordon Rush, doing business as 429 Bay Street LLC.

By now, everyone in Port Orchard knows the back story: how the grand landmark building sat unoccupied during the recession, how earlier this year Eric A. Smith of Bothell, a Seattle cop took a stab at the restaurant business, hiring Konig as general manager, how Smith called the place Robert Earl Lighthouse, after his dad, how the community was happy to see the place reopened in May.

Konig, former regional manager of Famous Dave’s, had no personal connection to Smith. A friend of Konig’s in the local hospitality industry hooked them up. So Konig was just as shocked as the rest of South Kitsap when Smith was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light. Employees were laid off, and in mid-July, the Lighthouse closed.

Word was, Konig was looking for a backer to reopen the place. On Friday, he signed the final papers on the lease, and he has purchased the business from Smith.
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On Saturday (that’s today) Rotary members will be at the restaurant, now called the Port Orchard Lighthouse, helping get the place back in shape for reopening some time next week. There’s a free barbecue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and anyone is welcome.

Konig is eager to regain the good will of the community and hopes to distance the Lighthouse from the tarnish of allegations against Smith. “The recovery is what’s so important to this restaurant,” he said.

Konig has rehired 23 former staff members and is still hiring.

The Pink-a-Nator petitions to park at the courthouse

Surely you’ve seen the Pink-a-Nator. It’s hard to miss the Pepto-Bismol pink utility truck with the slogan “Servin’ it up curb side.”
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The food truck dishing out specialty burgers, po’boys and other hearty comestibles has had a regular spot at the Annapolis Sunday Market and in a lot near the Fred Meyer shopping center (although not so much lately, since owner Michelle Roberts-Wash has been busy with catering).

Now, Roberts-Wash has her sights set on the Kitsap County Courthouse campus.

She attended last week’s Port Orchard City Council meeting to pitch her plan. The truck would occupy more than one space. The council’s public property committee has discussed the idea, said Councilman Jeff Cartwright, a committee member. The committee suggested a 90-day trial pending feedback from the county.

Meantime, the Kitsap County administrator expressed concerns about loss of parking spots that are already at a premium, according to Port Orchard City Clerk Brandy Rinearson.

Roberts-Wash had scoped out parking spaces on Austin Avenue between the county administration building and public works building. Councilman Rob Putaansuu noted that, at the previous meeting Aug. 12, a city resident had complained that she couldn’t find a place to drop off her ballot.

Other spaces Roberts-Wash had looked at were in front of the courthouse or the Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Jerry Childs asked if this would set a precedent. What if others came along looking for space to sell their wares?

The public property committee talked about that, Cartwright said. In fact the Pink-a-Nator sparked a wide ranging discussion about food trucks, including Portland’s approach of designating whole blocks to meals on wheels. “Should the city have its own designated food truck zone?” the committee pondered.

“We talked very heavily about the parking versus the convenience of having a food service there,” Cartwright said. “We also talk about would that food service impact other businesses that also serve food.”

A hot dog vendor has a permit to sell in front of the administration building. Inside, Coffee Oasis has an espresso stand that sells food items.

Several council members commented — in the spirit of free enterprise — that competition with other businesses shouldn’t drive their decision.

Putaansuu also suggested the Pink-a-Nator might work in “underutilized” areas including Cline Avenue (the flat part not the mountain climb) and the gravel lot off Taylor Avenue.

Mayor Tim Matthes said South Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido “would appreciate more notice and more information than she’s received so far.”

The council agreed to honor Garrido’s request, and Roberts-Wash said she’s fine with that.

So what do you think? If Port Orchard were to designate a food truck zone, where should it be?

And, if you’re a restaurant or cafe owner with a brick-and-mortar location, what are your thoughts on a food truck zone?

Lighthouse restaurant closed, seeking new backer

The Robert Earl Lighthouse, open in late May, closed Monday, disabled by criminal charges against owner Eric A. Smith of Bothell. General manager Brookes Konig is looking for new financial backing, according to bar supervisor Linda Martens of Port Orchard, who came out of retirement to work with Konig.

Smith, a Seattle Police officer, was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light, said Martens, who was at the empty restaurant Wednesday, awaiting delivery of final paychecks for the remaining employees. Initially, after Smith’s legal troubles were reported, 20 of the roughly 55 Lighthouse employees were laid off. Smith struggled valiantly to keep the restaurant afloat, Martens said, and the hope is that a deal in the works might still be brokered.
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Martens had high praise for Konig, who has a long career in the food and beverage industry. “He’s such a wonderful man,” she said. “He cares about his employees like they’re his family.”

Konig preferred to be call “coach” by employees, Martens said. “He doesn’t want to be the boss, because he feels like his strength is coaching.” She added that Konig “moved heaven and earth” to make sure the final paychecks were cut.

Martens also praised the team Konig assembled to re-open the landmark restaurant, which had sat shuttered for a number of years. “I’ve never seen a group of people so dedicated to one person, and that was Brookes,” Martens said.

Smith, doing business as Robert Earl Enterprises LLC, had leased the Lighthouse from property owner Tim Tweten, whose parents opened the original Tweten’s Lighthouse in 1984. Tweten’s was a destination, special occasion kind of place. Konig wanted the new Lighthouse to be more of an every day, gathering place for the community, Martens said.

Martens hopes the Lighthouse, named for Smith’s father, can outshine the tarnish of the accusations against Smith, who was placed on administrative leave from Seattle PD. “It’s up to this town if it does come back to step up,” she said.

Where the sidewalk ends: the sequel

Last week, I wrote about public works mowing mishaps that resulted in damage to private property. And our theme of the intersection of public and private land continues.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Port Orchard City Council discussed a disconnect between its own code, which calls on private property owners to maintain and repair sidewalks, and the city’s practice of making repairs on its own dime.

At the same meeting, the council considered the question of sidewalk bistro tables. Bay Street Bistro, earlier this year got permission from the city to place tables on the sidewalk, European cafe-style. The request was screened by the public property committee and later approved by the council.

In the past, the city has regulated things like sandwich boards, tables of merchandise and other temporary sidewalk accoutrements as an accessibility issue overseen by the code enforcement officer. ADA rules require at least four feet of passage on sidewalks. Bistro tables must adhere to that regulation, as well.

With the Bay Street Bistro’s request, and a later request from Cafe Gabrielle, the council discussed a more formal process of permitting and oversight.
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They initially suggested charging a fee of $10 per month for business owners whose applications for sidewalk tables or benches are approved. But Public Works Director Mark Dorsey reminded the council that the sidewalk right-of-way is actually under the state Department of Transportation, which owns Highway 166 (Bay Street).

Dorsey at an earlier meeting with the council opined that the city shouldn’t be the one charging a fee, since the ROW belongs to the state. The ROW runs from the center line of the road to the edge of the building.

Dorsey thought (mistakenly he later found) that the issue of jurisdictional authority could be resolved if the city simply didn’t charge a fee with its sidewalk table permit. He called the DOT and spoke to an official who said not only should the city not charge a fee, they had no authority to grant the sidewalk table permit in the first place. That ball is in the DOT’s court, Dorsey was told.

The state would charge about $90 a month for granting permission to place bistro tables in the right-of-way, he found.

“They take it very seriously that someone is using that right-of-way and making money off it,” Dorsey said.

The council stepped out as middleman Tuesday by approving a revised city permit (that would still give the city oversight over ADA issues) with a notice/disclaimer that the applicant also needs to apply to the state for use of the right-of-way.

“Whether they do or not is between them and WSDOT,” said City Attorney Greg Jacoby.

Voila, problem solved. The issue of whether business owners can afford the $90 fee becomes “an economic decison on the part of the vendor,” Jacoby said. “That’s really a private business decision.”

Roadside vegetation: Where the Sidewalk Ends

The reference in the title of this blog post is to the book of children’s poetry by the late Shel Silverstein. Our topic of the day is neither children nor poetry but rather the intersection of public and private property and the maintenance thereof.
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Act I: Earlier this week on kitsapsun.com, Ed Friedrich reported on a series of unfortunate events that started with a city of Port Orchard road crew and an overambitious blackberry bush. Workers mowing a Bethel Avenue ditch June 4 sliced a utility pole guy-wire hidden in the brush. What happened next was like a Rube Goldberg machine gone wrong.

The high-tension cable sprang up and smacked a power line, sending a surge to a home on Piperberry Way. The surge blew up the meter box and traveled to the breaker box in a bedroom, starting a fire. No one was injured. The city’s insurance will pay to repair the homes and another nearby that shared the same power source.

Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s news. Sometimes it’s not.

Act II: The story of Jack Jones and his six lost lavender plants may not be front page material or even fit for the inside Code 911 section. But it pertains to Kitsap County’s roadside vegetation maintenance program, a topic I’m guessing will engage property owners far and wide.

In the interest of full disclosure, I know Jack. He’s my Tai Chi instructor. I made a couple of calls to Kitsap County on his behalf, when he couldn’t seem to get a response about six mature lavender plants by his mailbox that had been whacked to the ground on May 28. A couple of plants close to the mailbox were left standing, giving the appearance that the mower operator stopped when he recognized they were ornamentals.
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Jack had already taken the first step and called Kitsap 1, the county’s central operator system, where staff give basic information and direct traffic on questions and complaints (360-337-5777). When he didn’t hear back within the three business days allotted by the county for a response, I agreed to poke around. I’d do the same for a stranger.

But before you start calling me about your problems with Kitsap 1, here’s who you really want to talk to. Public Communication Manager Doug Bear, dbear@co.kitsap.wa.us, is in charge. I’m not saying Kitsap 1 is rife with problems, just here’s what to do if you have one. After all, there are human beings on those phone lines. Stuff happens.

Doug connected me with Jaques Dean, road superintendent for the county’s public works department, who gave me a link to the county’s detailed policy manual on roadside vegetation maintenance. The purpose is to maintain sight distances within the county’s right-of-way, promote drainage off the road, remove vegetation growth that can degrade pavement and remove unsafe overhanging branches. Methods include mowing, use of herbicides and fertilizers, and promotion of native plants over invasive species and noxious weeds.

The document goes into great detail about steps taken to protect the environment and people. You can sign up to be notified when spraying of chemicals is to occur, and you can opt out altogether. You can also opt out of roadside mowing under an “owner will maintain” agreement.

“Our maintenance crews are very cognizant of the sensitivity of this issue,” Jaques wrote in an email to me on June 3. “When we encounter private plantings that need to be cut back for roadway safety reasons, every attempt is made to contact the owner before the work is completed.”

That didn’t happen in Jack’s case.

“In this particular occurrence, the operator simply did not recognize that these were ornamental plants,” Jaques said. “They were planted within the right-of-way immediately adjacent to the asphalt pavement, they were not permitted, the owner had not requested to maintain, and to add to it, the owner was not maintaining the area and surrounding weeds. The plants blended into the high grass, blackberries, maple branches and appeared to be immature Scotch Broom.”
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The operator, who was new to the area, had stopped before the mailbox since it was close to quitting time, intending to return the next day to trim up the rest with smaller tools, Jaques said in a follow up call to me on June 11.

A county road log shows that Chico Beach Drive, where Jack lives, was mowed in August 2009, September 2010 and October 2012. Previous operators left the lavender intact along with plantings of several of his neighbors, Jack said, contributing to confusion over how the county’s policies are implemented.

Jaques explained to me that operators typically work the same area of road in a given part of the county and become familiar with neighborhoods, working around plantings whenever possible even when there is no “owner will maintain” agreement. A few daffodils by the ditch are no problem, he said, but the county can’t guarantee they’ll be left standing. Kitsap County is responsible for 900 miles of roadway, double that considering there are two sides to every road.

“Those people need to be aware the county needs to maintain the roadway and they need to do it efficiently,” Jaques said.

If you’ve got big plans for a rock wall, a fence or a large hedge, the county needs to hear from you before the installation to make sure you don’t obstruct the ROW, he added. These are the types of plantings for which owner-will-maintain are most appropriate.

On June 11, Jack finally heard from road crew superintendent Ron Coppinger, who had not had the correct phone number and who came out to Jack’s house to discuss the plantings. Ron offered to replace the lavender, but Jack’s neighbors had already brought him new plants. Jack and Ron settled on a load of beauty bark as compensation. But more important to Jack was the personal contact from Coppinger from which he took a sense that the road crew is indeed “very cognizant of the sensitivity of this issue” after all.

If anyone has questions about navigating the lines of communication with Kitsap County or other local government entities (including schools), you can email me, chenry@kitsapsun.com.

How much of Port Orchard does Samadpour own?

On Wednesday the languishing Myhre’s building was purchased by Abadan Holdings LLC of Lake Forest Park, the company owned by Mansour Samadpour.
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Over the past decade Samadpour, a real estate investor and world renowned microbiologist, has accumulated ownership in a significant percentage of Bay Street real estate. Here’s a summary of what he owns (the buildings, not the businesses that lease from him, all on Bay Street): Dance Gallery (702), Port Orchard Pavillion (701), Cafe Gabrielle (707), Port Orchard Public Market (715), Old Central Antique Mall (801), Coffee Oasis (807) and the space next to coffee oasis, vacant (809) and now Myhre’s (2 parcels 737 and 739).

Samdpour is notably media shy. I couldn’t get any comment from him on his plans for Myhre’s, but Bryan Petro of Windermere Real Estate, who negotiated the sale, said it’s likely it will be leased as some sort of restaurant or pub.

Seller Dick Rylander, whose family has had an interest in Myhre’s since 1930, said he felt a little “wistful” about the sale. My story includes a thumbnail history of the place from Rylander’s perspective.

People who complain about “all those vacancies” on Bay Street are running out of argumentative ammo, what with the reoccupation of the bakery and the opening of the public market. Myhre’s and the Los Cabos building are the most conspicuous vacant buildings on Bay Street. Farther west on Bay, Robert Earl Lighthouse opened this week in “the Lighthouse building.”

So hold your head up Port Orchard. And oh by the way, we have hanging flower baskets, too. Just like Bremerton.

What would you like to see at the Myhre’s building?

Event Sunday in Port Orchard calls attention to rare brittle bone syndrome

What if you were a kid, and even the slightest movement could cause your bones to break?

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That’s what life has been like since birth for RyAnn Lutz, 8, of South Kitsap. RyAnn suffers from Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) a genetic condition that cause bones to break easily. OI is also known as “brittle bones”. A person is born with OI and will have OI throughout their lifetime, according to Wishbone Day International, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the rare disease.

It’s not about the money,” said Wishbone members, including RyAnn’s aunt Geneva Flolo. It’s about public education.

The disease is so poorly understood, that when RyAnn was a baby, DSHS Child Protective Services investigated the family on more than one occasion, questioning the baby’s injuries. A family doctor went to bat for them, according to Flolo, defending Stephanie Lutz’s parenting of RyAnn and two older siblings.

“When RyAnn was born nobody was even Aware of OI,” Flolo said.

RyAnn has had 85 fractures and many surgeries. Specialists are so rare, the family must travel to Omaha, Neb., for the surgeries.

The disease has done nothing the break RyAnn spirit, her aunt says. “She’s a feisty little, sassy little fart and she’s just a doll.”

The family has organized a Wishbone Day event in Port Orchard from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Port Orchard Marina Park. They expect more than 200 people, including children with OI and their families from all around the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The South Kitsap High School cheer squad will be there to cheer RyAnn and her buddies on in their journey.

Within the past couple of months the Make-a-Wish Foundation paid to have the Lutz garage transformed into a soft playground, where RyAnn can swing and have fun (almost) like a regular kid.

But Sunday’s event, as mentioned above, is not a fundraiser. Everyone and anyone is welcome. Wear yellow if you can, and look for the yellow balloons. Oh, and it’s a potluck.

PO Mayor apologizes for public meetings violation

We got a press release today (May 2) saying that five or more members of the Port Orchard City Council may attend the annual Housing Luncheon of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County.
There’s nothing unusual in that. The city sends out notice of any meeting or event where there may be a quorum of the seven-member council. That’s required by state law to prevent the possibility of back-room deals being struck.
Recently, however, there was a misunderstanding about how many Port Orchard council members planned to attend an ad hoc committee meeting on a sewer plant contract. And Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes began the April 22 city council meeting with an apology.
“The (ad hoc) committee met (April 17), and a fourth council member attended unexpectedly,” Matthes said. “The city recognizes that proper notice was not given when a quorum of four council members met, resulting in a violation of the open public meetings act. The city will take measures to assure that does not happen again.”
The mayor required members of the committee to recap what was discussed, and he invited members of the audience to request a recording of the April 17 meeting. He also allowed the public to comment on the committee’s recommendation before the council voted on the contract. (The council overrode the committee’s recommendation in a 4-3 split vote.)
Matthes said the city’s risk managers recommended taking these steps to mitigate the error. He announced he would schedule a “mandatory elected officials and supervisory staff training” on requirements of the open public meetings act.
“We want to be very clear and make sure the public understands we take the open public meetings act very seriously,” said City Attorney Greg Jacoby.
Council members Jerry Childs and Cindy Lucarelli disagreed an error had been made, saying the four council members had individually notified City Clerk Brandy Rinearson that they intended to attend, and they believed she had given notice of the meeting.
John Clauson, however, said he had mistakenly understood that only three (himself, Lucarelli and Fred Chang) would attend. Clauson said he sent an email to Rinearson indicating there wouldn’t be a quorum.
Committees of the council include three members of the seven-person council, and meetings are listed on council agendas and the city’s website. If an additional member is to attend, the city must give notice of the “special” meeting at least 24 hours in advance, including emails to the press and others on the city’s mailing list and a notice on the front door of city hall.
Rinearson, in an email to the press on April 21, advised that the city did not give proper special meeting notice.
Childs at the April 22 meeting noted that at some committee meetings a fourth council member will sometimes show up, sometimes to observe. Childs wondered why the quorum issue hadn’t been previously raised.
That question is sure to get some scrutiny at the upcoming training Matthes mentioned. The issue of committee meeting transparency in general has been discussed periodically over the past couple of months. City resident Elissa Whittleton has asked that committee meetings, often held early in the morning at MoonDogs or another local restaurant, be held in council chambers where they can be videotaped.