County Comprehensive Plan Update – Comments
Comments on Chapter 6 Transportation being heard by County Council Special Committee of the Whole
April 19, 2016 following the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m., 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham
The Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) has submitted its recommendations for changes to the Transportation chapter of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan regarding the ferry. PLIC provided considerable help with the draft wording of the recommendations over the past 3 months and supports LIFAC’s recommendation.
The Whatcom County Council and other County departments have spent many months updating the Plan as required by the State of Washington under the Growth Management Act (GMA). Three areas of concern were identified by PLIC and LIFAC in the draft Transportation chapter:
- Appropriate inclusion of the ferry system in the Plan
- Concurrency and LOS standard
- Policy to begin the planning process for a future replacement ferry
Recommendations have been sent to the County Council’s Public Works, Health and Safety Committee chair Barbara Brenner, and will be discussed by a Special Committee of the Whole following their meeting on Tuesday, April 19. The Public Works, Health and Safety Committee meeting time is usually 1:30 PM in the County Council Chambers (311 Grand Ave., Bellingham). Besides Councilmember Brenner, the committee members are Councilmembers Rud Browne and Ken Mann. Other Council members often attend as well. Public Works Department and Planning & Development Services will be giving their feedback on LIFAC’s proposed changes as well and are expected to support them. PLIC members will be in attendance to support these changes to the transportation chapter regarding the ferry. PLIC members are encouraged to attend.
Update on PLIC Annual Meeting Held January 19, 2016
On January 19, 2016, PLIC held its Annual Meeting at the Lummi Island Grange Hall. Keynote Speaker County Councilmember Carl Weimer spoke to 35 attendees about the charter amendments that passed in last November’s election and how they affect upcoming ferry projects and long range planning issues. Councilmember Barbara Brenner also attended to lend her expertise. In addition to reviewing PLIC’s 2015 accomplishments, the 2016 Board of Directors was elected. Rhayma Blake, outgoing PLIC president, and Dave Wing were recognized for their dedication and service to PLIC over the years. For more details about the meeting, read the minutes found on the link below.
LIFAC submits Level of Service Plan
On January 15th, the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee submitted Part 1 of the ferry’s level of service project requested by Whatcom County Public Works. An overview of the document will be provided at the PLIC Annual Meeting, with the entire document available here.
Carl Weimer will speak at the PLIC Annual Meeting
County Councilman Carl Weimer will be the featured speaker at the PLIC Annual Meeting on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Grange Hall. His years as one of our 3rd district representatives provide him with key insights as to what district only voting in 5 districts could mean for Lummi Island, and in particular, upcoming ferry projects. We will also have updates on LIFAC’s level of service project, Skagit County’s plans for a zero-emissions replacement ferry, and we will be electing new members to the PLIC Board of Directors. All islanders are encouraged to attend.
Skagit County exploring an electric replacement ferry
On December 8, 2015, PLIC attended the presentation made by Joe Payne of EESImarine to the Skagit County Board of Commissioners recommending they pursue an electric zero emissions 28-30 car replacement ferry. His presentation built the case that although $600,000 more expensive than a new diesel-driven ferry, operating costs would be lower with a 4.7 year payback. He estimates the design would also eliminate 580 tons of greenhouse gases annually. Projected cost of the new ferry is estimated at $10.5 million and assumes use of a $1.4 million Vanadium Redox Flow battery with a 20-year life. He described this battery as newly-improved …safer, bigger, heavier, simpler, with no cell degradation. A 6-hour charge will handle the Guemes 26 round trips per day plus reserve. Annual operating costs of the battery are $125,000, $115,00 of this for power. Captain Rachel Rowe, Skagit Ferry Operations Manager, will be seeking clean-energy grants to help fund the project in January 2016.
Assuming funding can be secured, their replacement ferry could be finished as early as December 2017. There is Washington state clean energy funding available and this should be an attractive project since the manufacturing and parts are all fully Washington-based. At least six months would be required to Beta test the design before other ferries would be safe in using the technology. Skagit would retain their current ferry for back-up during testing. With its more frequent 39 runs per day, a Lummi Island ferry would require a more expensive $4.3 million Lithium Ion: Nickel Manganese Cobalt battery. It also has a 20-year life with operating costs estimated at $232,000 per year.
For a video of the presentation, go to http://skagit.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=8&clip_id=2099&meta_id=110678.
Click here for the PowerPoint presentation.
LIFAC welcomes New Senior Master Richie Hudson
At the LIFAC meeting on December 1, 2015, Public Works Director of Special Projects Rob Ney introduced Richie Hudson as the ferry’s new Senior Master. Over 20 individuals were involved in the extensive selection process with three of the five candidates scoring within 7 points of each other out of 300 points overall. With Hudson now in place, Ney expects more field input than in the past as new policies are established. Team spirit, safety, and training will be the emphasis in the upcoming year. Ney also announced that Lummi Nation was not awarded the TIGER grant that might have included funding for ferry facilities.
At the same meeting, LIFAC discussed the draft of the information available about ferry Level of Service statewide. Lummi Island’s current standard is 513 annual trips per capita, a legal standard based on population, but not one we know how to use and not one that takes seasonal fluctuations in to account. LIFAC will study the resources gathered and provide their recommendation to Public Works by June 2016. PLIC thanked LIFAC for sharing its work, allowing an opportunity for islanders to comment.
What do we want in a new ferry?
Over a hundred comments were delivered by PLIC to the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee at its meeting on September 1, 2015. When asked what features of the ferry are most important and what new features should be incorporated into a replacement ferry in the future, comments indicated a general satisfaction with the way things are with these suggestions:
- Wider lanes on the ferry for increased safety and accessibility.
- Restrooms, mentioned for both onboard and at Gooseberry Point.
- As for capacity, a little larger, but not too large.
- Keeping the same style and character of the ferry. But keep it simple. Keep it fuel efficient. Keep it frequent. Maybe start it earlier.
- Comments from walk-ons included restrooms, comfortable waiting areas, and safe places for bikes and motorcycles on board.
Click PLIC Ferry Comments August 2015 for details. And the recipient of the 10-ride vehicle/driver ferry pass donated by PLIC board members is Nancy Wong. Congratulations Nancy, and thanks for your comments! LIFAC members are reviewing past studies and commented that these suggestions are not too different from a similar process undertaken fifteen years ago on the island.
Other highlights of the September LIFAC meeting were the gratitude expressed by attendees for how efficient and friendly the ferry crew has been throughout the summer busy season and recent power outage. Also, Public Works reports it is still in conversation with Skagit County on possibly sharing relief and emergency boat options. And several more households were able to qualify for needs-based ferry fares during the Opportunity Council’s recent island visit, helping to maintain diversity on the island.
Win a 10-Ride Vehicle/Driver Ferry Pass (Value $102)
Just stop by the PLIC booth at the Saturday Market on August 15 or August 22 and provide your comments on what a new ferry replacement should look like.
Did you know that Whatcom County Public Works is working on a plan to replace the Whatcom Chief? Chime in now. What features of the 53-year old Whatcom Chief are most important to you and what other features do you think should be part of a new ferry?
Your comments will count and your name will be entered in a drawing for the punchcard on August 30, 2015.
Can’t be at the Saturday Market? Fill out a form at the Islander and drop it in “the box marked PLIC” or you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Ferry Fares Approved
New ferry fares were approved by the Whatcom County Council on August 4, 2015, 6-0, with Ken Mann absent. The new fares should go into effect by October 4th and will benefit many multi-ride ticket purchasers. Twenty-five-ride Passenger/Pedestrian cards will be $88 (down from $115) and twenty-five ride Vehicle/Driver fares will be reduced from $235 to $210. Full-time student, needs-based, and motorcycle/driver fares will also see a reduction, while most trucks and trailers will see an increase in fares.
Multi-ride cards purchased at the current rates will be valid for 6 months after the effective date of the ordinance. One punch equals one round trip with no credits or refunds allowed. This collaborative effort can be read in its entirety at http://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/11766.
The next LIFAC meeting will be next Tuesday, August 11th at 6:30 pm at the Island Library. Thanks to all who helped make this a reality.
Ferry Fare Proposal
The proposal to modify the ferry fare structure is now available. This modification addresses inequities created by the across-the-board $3 fare surcharge that went into effect on January 23, 2011. Note that Chapter 10.34.020.M specifies that multi-ride cards purchased at the current rates will be valid for 6 months after the effective date of the ordinance One punch equals one round trip with no credits or refunds allowed.
This proposal scheduled for introduction on July 21st, has been long in the making. On November 23, 2010, the Whatcom County Council voted to implement a $3 surcharge per trip on all ferry fares, effective January 23, 2011, in order to rebuild the ferry fund. At PLIC’s insistence at that same November meeting, the council also established a Citizen’s Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry. Although the initial impetus to form the Task Force came from questions about equitable fares, the Task Force members took on a larger task of identifying ways to also reduce rising operating costs.
Many of the recommendations made by the Task Force in their August 1, 2011 report have been adopted, among them, the establishment of the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC). We applaud LIFAC in their efforts to work with Whatcom County Public Works to develop this proposal and encourage countywide support of it at the public hearing scheduled for 7:00 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2015, at the Whatcom County Council meeting at 311 Grand, Bellingham.
Long-Range Ferry Planning Meeting
The Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) and Whatcom Public Works will hold a public meeting Tuesday, July 7 at 10 a.m. – Noon in the Civic Garden Level Conference Room of Public Works, 322 N. Commercial St, Bellingham to discuss the county’s long-range planning goals for the Whatcom Island/Lummi Island Ferry, and how LIFAC can best support those goals. A quorum of LIFAC members will participate.
Ferry Fare Proposal Set for Public Hearing August 4th
A reduction in ferry fares may well be in our future. The latest proposal, a collaborative effort between Whatcom County Public Works and the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) was approved by the Whatcom Public Works, Health and Safety Committee on June 23, 2015. It is currently scheduled for introduction to the Whatcom County Council on July 21st with a public hearing on August 4th.
The PLIC Board of Directors endorses this fare proposal and encourages island support of the measure. If adopted, it would become the first significant modification to the ferry fare structure since the across-the-board $3 fare surcharge went into effect on January 23, 2011.
Multi-ride fares for all passenger/pedestrians are lowered 24% in the proposal. Vehicles with driver multi-ride fares decrease 11%, with needs-based decreasing 21%. Needs-based multi-ride tickets are for 10 rides, eliminating 25-ride fares, a step first recommended by PLIC in April 2013. Increases in truck, trailer, and special trips fares are part of the proposal.
Ferry Fare Presentation
At its meeting on June 2, 2015, LIFAC committee members endorsed the ferry fare proposal presented at the meeting by Whatcom County Public Works Financial Services Manager Randy Rydel and Special Programs Manager Rob Ney. If adopted by Whatcom County Council, the proposal would be the first significant modification to the ferry fare structure since the across-the-board $3 fare surcharge went into effect on January 23, 2011.
Overall, multi-ride fares for all passenger/pedestrians are lowered 24% in the proposal. Vehicles with driver multi-ride fares decrease 11%, with needs-based decreasing 21%. Needs-based multi-ride tickets are for 10 rides, eliminating 25-ride fares, a step first recommended by PLIC in April, 2013. Increases in truck, trailer, and special trips fares are part of the proposal. Details of the proposal can be reviewed here Ferry Fare Proposal 6-2-15.
Long-range Views for the Ferry
Whatcom County Public Works Manager Rob Ney reported to the Public Works Health and Safety Committee at its meeting on May 26, 2015, that it is not in the county’s best interest to bid on the state ferry M/V Hiyu. All 7 county council members were present. Reasons behind Ney’s recommendation were a cost estimated to be between $7.4 and $11.3 million to “beef up” the docks to handle the much larger ferry, an estimate of over $600,000 in personnel costs to man it if it could not be reclassified from H Class to T Class, its deeper draft that might preclude it from docking on the island side several times a year, and the increased cost of dry dock, mooring, and maintenance of multiple vessels.
Public Works Director Jon Hutchings introduced Rob’s report by saying Public Works is committed to providing both a high degree of certainty for islanders in meeting their transportation needs and continuing the present level of service. The purchase of a second ferry would be an increase in the level of service. Executive Louws shared with council members much of what islanders heard from him on May 19th, that he is working with Lummi Nation on a TIGER grant that would include building and rebuilding docks as well as a new ferry, saying that purchase of the M/V Hiyu is a “step sideways rather than a step forward”. He added, however, that the 16-vehicle ferry TREK may be an opportunity for the county and he has encouraged Public Works to pursue its use on a mid-term basis. Ney indicated that the TREK, built in the 70’s, would require $60,000 in modifications to its bow, and is priced between $350,000 and $600,000. He also stated that he is working on a replacement for the Whatcom Chief and will engage LIFAC in that long-term planning process.
At the presentation co-hosted by the Lummi Island Community Association (LICA) and the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) at the Beach School on May 19, 2015, Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws shared his views on the Lummi Island ferry in greater detail with over 100 attendees. In his statement, he outlined three overriding commitments regarding the ferry:
- Continue the current levels of service while honoring the county’s lease agreement with Lummi Nation.
- Keep the Whatcom Chief in good condition until a new replacement ferry can be procured.
- Provide reliable contingency planning for both dry dock and emergency outages.
Louws stated that he is in regular communication with Lummi Nation Tribal Chairman Tim Ballew II as they pursue the development of their marina. Current plans call for relocating the Gooseberry Point ferry dock to the north (just south of the first house) to allow the Lummi fishing fleet easier access to an expanded fish processing facility. Discussions include the possibility of Lummi Nation and Whatcom County applying for a federal TIGER grant that would help fund a new ferry terminal at Gooseberry Point, a rebuild of the Lummi Island ferry dock, and a new ferry.
Louws said that Public Works has spent $8,000 with ferry consultants. Their findings lead him to believe that the current cost/benefit analysis does not support the further consideration of a possible second ferry, in particular the Washington State’s M/V Hiyu. He estimated the changes necessary to accommodate the M/V Hiyu at a minimum of $7 million. He has asked his staff to explore other ferry options with other counties as part of their contingency planning.
There were also comments regarding LIFAC’s request for a ferry fare reduction made in December 2014. He stated that the current goal is to maintain the Ferry Fund at 90% of the previous year’s operating expenses in order to adequately fund any ferry emergencies. He understands LIFAC’s desire to provide fare relief for islanders, but supports a stable multi-year fare revision over the “quick fix” plan requested.
A full account of Executive Louw’s presentation and the Question and Answer period that followed can be found at the Lummi Island Ferry Forum.
House Bill 1318 could limit Ferry Fare Restructuring
At the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) meeting on March 10, 2015, Rob Ney of Public Works discussed the passage of SB5307 in the state Senate and pending HB1318 in the Legislature. Passage of this bill may bring extra state revenues to the ferry budget, but the current wording would negatively affect work to date on restructuring ferry fares.
Chairman of the Whatcom County Public Works committee Barbara Brenner supports efforts to change the bill by adding a two word amendment in Section 1.2, which would then read “ …tolls in place on January 1, 2015, excluding surcharges”.
On March 12th, State Representative Luanne Van Werven was made aware of the request for this amendment to HB1318. She has indicated that she will be talking to the chairman of the transportation committee to see if this is possible.
PLIC Board asks for Public Works Review of Findings
Based on the interest in the Lummi Island Ferry Replacement and Options Report and the results of the survey recently conducted in conjunction with the PLIC Annual Meeting, the PLIC Board of Directors has sent a letter complete with the survey results PLIC Letter to LIFAC 2015-02-02 recommending that LIFAC forward the report to Whatcom County Public Works for their review.
PLIC Annual Meeting
Minutes of the PLIC Annual Meeting are now available PLIC Annual Meeting Minutes January 27, 2015 FINAL.
PLIC Annual Meeting this Tuesday
On Tuesday, January 27th, 2015, all islanders are invited to attend the PLIC Annual Meeting at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Grange Hall. We will have a quick review of 2014 accomplishments, set direction and elect board members for 2015. Pat Dunn will speak on processes concerning the ferry fund. And the LIFAC Ferry Replacement Subcommittee will present their latest information.
LIFAC will decide at their meeting on February 3rd whether the subcommittee’s report should be sent to Whatcom Public Works for a more detailed analysis. In an effort to compile islanders’ thoughts on the issue, PLIC has developed a 13-question survey.
Paper copies of the survey will be available at the meeting Tuesday night. They are also available at the post office and The Islander (on the left as you walk in). For those with internet access, you can also access the survey in the link above.
Paper surveys can be mailed to PLIC at P.O. Box 266, Lummi Island, WA 98262 or left in the box at The Islander. Questionnaires must be received by January 31st. Respondents must be 18 or older. One survey per person/computer. The PLIC Board will review all surveys, but only those with name and address will be forwarded to LIFAC. The PLIC Board of Directors looks forward to your participation in this process.
Ferry Fare Proposal Update
At its meeting on December 9th, Public Works committee members asked Rob Ney of Public Works to review the fare proposal using 4th quarter ferry ridership numbers, available in mid-January. The fare proposal will probably be discussed again at the committee’s meeting on February 10th. Council members Brenner, Buchanan, Kremen, Mann, and Weimer were present and asked LIFAC to send a digital copy of the worksheet used.
PLIC Annual Meeting
The PLIC 2015 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Grange Hall.
Ferry Fare Proposal being sent to County Council
At its meeting on December 2, 2014, LIFAC president Mike McKenzie announced that LIFAC was forwarding its latest LIFAC Fare Modifications Proposal to County Council. The request is designed to affect the most islanders possible with lowered fares for multi-ride tickets. Mike added that it will be presented at the Public Works Committee meeting at 1:30 pm on December 9th with the intention of introducing it at the County Council meeting that evening. If accepted, the public hearing would be on January 13th. Chuck Antholt provided the fare worksheet used to establish that fare request.
Rob Ney, Public Works Ferry Manager, announced that free passage for an adult to supervise young Beach School students from the mainland would be implemented by January 1, 2015. Also approved as part of the Unified Fee Schedule is a program that allows Personal Care Attendants free passage when visiting islanders. This would be in keeping with WTA and Washington State Ferry policies. The next LIFAC meeting is currently scheduled for January 6th.
Whatcom Ferry Emergency Outage Information
Rob Ney announced at the November 4th LIFAC meeting that Whatcom County Public Works had established a Twitter account @WhatcomFerry to provide islanders with instant notifications about ferry status during emergencies. Islanders are encouraged to sign up for either text or email notifications on Twitter.
Ferry Fare Proposal Reviewed with Modifications Requested
The PLIC general meeting on October 29, 2014 included an update on school children supervision on the ferry with free passage for an adult requested. Attendees were invited to be part of an email panel in the long-range ferry planning process. An update was given on the Hiyu, the smallest state ferry which may soon be declared surplus.
While attendees at the PLIC meeting backed the effort to reduce fares, only two of the 33 attendees agreed that the proposal should move forward in its current form. Details are available in the PLIC General Meeting Minutes 10-29-14 As a result, the PLIC Board of Directors sent a Letter 11-2-14 to LIFAC requesting more information, more time for feedback, and more attention to needs-based fares. The next LIFAC meeting is scheduled for November 4th at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Fire Hall.
PLIC Meeting this Wednesday, Oct. 29th at 6:30 pm
At its meeting on October 7th, LIFAC passed a draft of a PROPOSAL for FARE MODIFICATIONS to COUNTY COUNCIL that would reduce ferry fares by 25%-30% in three categories:
25-ride Pedestrian from $115 to $81 at $3.24 per RT.
25-ride Vehicle from $235 to $163 or $6.52 per RT.
10-ride Vehicle from $102 to $78 or $7.80 per RT.
Please join us at the upcoming PLIC meeting to learn more and share your thoughts.
We will also be discussing how best to support the school’s request for adult supervision of the children on the ferry, both very young riders and any under the age of 12.
All islanders are welcome!
Public Hearing on the 2015-2020 Six-Year Transportation Plan
The Whatcom County County Council has announced a public hearing on the 2015-2020 Six-Year Transportation Plan at their meeting September 30, 2014 at 7 pm. Please note that the last nine pages of the document includes the Fourteen Year Ferry Capital Program and an updated list of ferry improvements. Ferry Capital Program 2015-2028ab2014-294
Dry Dock on our Minds
At the PLIC Board of Directors meeting on September 4, 2014, board members discussed that moving more quickly towards an evaluation of and recommendation concerning the use of the small car ferry TREK vs. the current passenger-only boat in time for the 2015 dry dock could benefit both islanders and the ferry budget. The minutes of the meeting are available here.
LIFAC Forms Two New Sub-committees
This summer, the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee has agreed to form two new sub-committees. The first is a committee to Ferry Technical Issues sub-committee organized by LIFAC committee members Greg Brown and Stu Clark which had its first meeting on July 31 to appoint members and review a possible scope of work.
The second sub-committee will be charged with Long-Range Planning for the ferry. Its first meeting will be Tuesday, August 19th at 6:30 pm in the Hanson Community Room at the Lummi Island Library. This is an open meeting to make recommendations on long-range planning issues. LIFAC members Chuck Antholt and Byron Moye will be adding additional community members to the sub-committee. If interested, be prepared to make a brief oral or written statement about yourself, after which additional members will be selected and seated and a Chair chosen. Additional business will be to adopt a scope of work and add new business to the agenda. Meetings will be held monthly.
The next LIFAC meeting is currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Fire Hall.
Dolphin Replacement Project
At its meeting on May 8, 2014, the PLIC Board of Directors reviewed the funding request for the Gooseberry Point Dolphin Replacement Project introduced at the May 6, 2014 County Council meeting as part of ab2014-178 . The ordinance asks the County Council to approve $850,000 from the road fund at its May 20, 2014 meeting.
Based on concerns that the design being recommended would not accommodate larger ferries that might be called upon in an emergency situation (per Recommendation #29 in the 2011 Task Force Report) or modifications of the existing ferry for ADA compliance, the PLIC board sent a request on May 12th asking the county to either wait or consider a redesign of the project. County Executive Jack Louws replied that he supported moving forward with the project as is. County Council approved funding of the project at its meeting on May 20th. County Council approved the contract outlined in ab2014-212 with Orion Marine Contractors, Inc. for $698,631.50 at its meeting on June 3, 2014.
LIFAC Meeting Recap
On April 29, 2014, Interim Ferry Public Works Manager James Lee announced that Whatcom County Public Works is eliminating the position of Assistant Director and adding a new position of Ferry Program/Special Projects to primarily oversee ferry operations. LIFAC also decided to not send forward a resolution requesting more study of the state ferry HIYU as a possible replacement for the Whatcom Chief at this time after learning that the county has filed with the state as an interested party once the HIYU becomes available in June 2015. Read more…
New appointment to LIFAC
At its April 22, 2014 meeting, the Whatcom County Council appointed Byron Moye to fulfill the term recently vacated by Josh Zender on the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee.
Skagit County recommends replacement of their ferry
PLIC attended the March 26th public forum concerning the Guemes Island Ferry Operations Plan. As part of that meeting Elliott Bay Design Group presented their recommendation to immediately replace the Guemes ferry, built in 1979, in order to minimize the overall cost of ferry ownership in that county. PLIC continues to follow Skagit county and their clear communications, detailed reporting, and long-range planning initiatives as possible models for Whatcom county long-range ferry planning. Skagit documents that we are currently reviewing can be found on their website.
PLIC Recommendation to support Beach School
PLIC board members met with Ferndale School Superintendent Linda Quinn on March 11, 2014 and received assurances on two issues: 1) the school district would both develop a safe-ferry-riding educational plan for students attending Beach School from Gooseberry Point and 2) the district would administer usage of free pedestrian passage for an adult to accompany young ferry riders twice each school day. Based on these assurances, the PLIC board of directors sent this letter to LIFAC on March 27, 2014 in support of a change in fare schedules that would allow free passage of a adult two times each school day. The PLIC Board of Directors supports the Beach School efforts to recruit students from off island to attend the school on its new IB curriculum and wants to ensure student ferry-riding safety.
The Whatcom County Council adopted ordinance AB2014-091 as part of the public hearing at its meeting March 11, 2014. The public hearing had been postponed from February 25th due to the ferry outage that day. There was discussion that a separate schedule for all fares purchased with a credit/debit card would be more appropriate. The ordinance that was adopted does not charge convenience fees on single-ride fares. Those convenience fees will be absorbed by the ferry fund. Public Works manager James Lee said he planned to track and analyze ticket sales data before making further recommendations. There was also the hope that the equipment currently being used to process credit card sales on board would be able to quickly calculate the appropriate convenience fee in the future.
LIFAC Meeting Recap
The LIFAC meeting on February 19, 2014 was an opportunity to meet Whatcom County Public Works’ new ferry manager James Lee. His background includes 13 years with Whatcom County Flood Control, working with the county’s Flood Zone District Advisory Committee. Most recently, he served as Bridge and Hydraulic Manager overseeing the county’s 162 bridges. One of his projects included updating the ferry wing walls at Gooseberry Point. He announced that replacing timber dolphins with steel at Gooseberry Point will happen either this summer or the next. He also informed LIFAC that he will be assessing the TREK as a possible replacement for the Whatcom Chief during dry dock, an idea recently brought forward by islander Jim Dickinson.
Coming up at this Tuesday, February 25th County Council meeting is a public hearing on Convenience Fee ab2014-091, an ordinance that waives convenience fees on single-ride credit/debit card ferry fare transactions, but continues to apply a convenience fee rate of 2.35% on multi-ride punchcards purchased with a credit/debit card on the ferry. It is estimated that $7,000 in convenience fees on single-ride tickets will be absorbed by the Ferry Fund on an annual basis. The bank card device being used on board is currently not capable of automatically calculating the convenience fees, making it a challenge for the purser to collect all fees in a timely manner. The word “temporary” is used multiple times throughout the ordinance, indicating that once the hardware/software is improved, convenience fees will be charged on all fares.
LIFAC president Mike McKenzie said it was clarified that LIFAC communicates with Public Works through the county executive’s office. He also provided an overview of the LIFAC priorities he presented to the Whatcom County Committee for Public Works, Health and Safety on January 28th:
- A “Plan B” back-up plan to the Whatcom Chief-to-Gooseberry service in case service goes down.
- A mid-to-long-term plan for the next ferry when the Whatcom Chief is retired.
- Equitable ferry rates and service schedules. Diane Harper shared the 2011 Task Force model that now has updated ridership numbers.
Chuck Antholt commented that a ferry replacement that currently costs $13 million would incur an additional $1.8 million in interest payments over the life of a bond if interest rates rise 1% higher.
And Terri Cook from Beach School again asked LIFAC for a change in the ferry fare ordinance that would allow a designated aide to ride the ferry with elementary students in the morning and afternoon at no charge.
Children’s safety issues
Hold harmless agreements have been signed by the families of transfer students, yet there are still concerns about students’ safety traveling from school to the dock and riding on the ferry. PLIC sent a letter to the school district on February 9, 2014, asking for help in addressing safety. And islanders are already rallying to organize supervision between the school and Boys & Girls Club and the ferry dock. Contact Lis Marshall at 758-7173 to be part of that effort.
Chance to meet the new ferry operations manager
The next LIFAC meeting will be 6:30 pm, Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at the Lummi Island Library. It should be a chance to meet Whatcom Public Works newly-appointed ferry operations manager James Lee. There will also be a summary of LIFAC’s recent presentation to the Council’s Committee on Public Works.
PLIC Accomplishments Reviewed and Priorities Set for 2014
PLIC highlighted the four issues that the organization impacted during 2013 including:
- Maintaining low-income needs-based ferry fares
- Providing islanders an overview of the possible purchase of the Plattsburgh ferry
- Promoting the acceptance of credit cards on the ferry and stopping the implementation of a $30 penalty fee for non-payment
- Evaluating availability of disabled parking during dry dock
At the Annual Meeting on January 21, 2014, several issues were raised that will be addressed in the upcoming year:
- Children riding the ferry without supervision
- Improving queuing at the ferry dock on Gooseberry POint
- Addressing any inequities in ferry rates
- Developing long-range plans for ferry replacement
- Increasing visibility of ferry issues and promoting discussions of options
On the last point, Nextdoor Lummi Island and the Ferry Forum were both thought to be appropriate sites for posting and discussions. Current board members were reelected. Read 2014 PLIC Annual Meeting Minutes for more details.
Disabled Parking currently maximized during Dry Dock
PLIC studied the availability of disabled parking during dry dock and found that there are no other slots currently available. Both PLIC’s Report and a map of parking at Gooseberry Point were submitted to LIFAC on January 25, 2014.
PLIC Annual Meeting scheduled for January 21st
The PLIC Annual Meeting will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at the Lummi Island Grange Hall. There will be a quick review of 2013 highlights and discussion of priorities for the upcoming year. As with all our general meetings, we invite all those interested in issues regarding the Lummi Island ferry.
Towing regulation being enforced January 7th
NOTICE OF TOWING FROM COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS
Vehicles illegally parked at the public parking lot, across from the ferry landing (next door to the library) will be towed Tuesday, January 7, 2014. If tires on your vehicle parked in the public parking lot across the street from the ferry landing area on Lummi Island bear a yellow marker, Whatcom County Public Works will tow the vehicle on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. The County received several complaints about vehicles left unattended for long periods of time, and now will enforce the County ordinance that limits parking in the Lummi Island public parking lot to five days maximum. The County also forewarned about enforcing the ordinance limiting parking at the ferry landing area to 24 hours maximum.
Credit cards accepted for payment on board
Public Works announced the acceptance of credit cards on board the Whatcom Chief for fare payment. Passengers can purchase single-ride and multi-ride fares with a credit or debit card beginning January 1, 2014. The county will charge a 2.35% fee for multi-ride tickets to cover bank service charges. Passengers will also continue to be able to pay on board with U.S. currency or check.
Whatcom County started accepting credit card payments for tickets this summer, but only online or at the Public Works Administration office, 322 N. Commercial St., Suite 210, Bellingham.
LIFAC Meeting now scheduled for November 19th
The Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee plans to discuss a possible replacement ferry, electronic ticketing, and a 2014 ferry fare recommendation at its next meeting at 6:30 pm, November 19th. Several county council members indicate they would be open to a fare schedule that more fairly addresses ferry usage. LIFAC Agenda 11-19-13
Penalty Fee not the first step
After the October 8, 2013 public hearing, the Whatcom County Council voted down 7-0 an amendment to the ferry fee ordinance that would have imposed a $30 penalty for non-payment of fares. In a discussion leading up to the vote, most council members indicated they are waiting for the solution that will make acceptance of credit cards on deck a reality with Brenner indicating that a penalty ordinance should be the last step, not the first. Kershner suggested that manual credit card readers be considered, and Weimer asked whether payment envelopes to be mailed back in could be available when appropriate, an idea supported by Kremen. Crawford wondered whether there aren’t more technologically advanced solutions such as chip readers and license plate scanners as are used in the Seattle area. Both Mann and Kremen agreed that a flat fee that was designed as a penalty for insufficient-fund checks written typically for much larger amounts seemed an unfair penalty for non-payment of most ferry fares. Kremen commented that other solutions to meet the state auditor’s concerns could probably be in place before the next audit begins mid-summer.
PLIC Meeting Recap
Here’s what happened at the General Meeting held on October 3, 2013 at the Lummi Island Grange Hall:
Needs-Based Fares – Whatcom County Public works had issued an update on the Needs based Fare Applications 10-1-2013 outlining specifics of the changes in the application process. At the meeting, concerns were raised whether the $50 fee charged to the ferry fund would be per application or per interaction. After the meeting it was clarified that the Opportunity Council will do a thorough pre-screening of applicants by telephone that will provide detailed instruction to applicants about the specific documentation that will be required when they come to apply.
County Council Public Hearing on October 8th on the Non-Payment Penalty Fee – The PLIC Board of Directors met on September 24th to review the issue. Until onboard electronic ticketing is in place, issues of Canadian monies and ubiquitous reliance of credit cards makes it premature. A letter from Wynne Lee suggesting proportional fines was discussed and rejected. The LIFAC recommendation on Ferry Fines – 10-3-13 email sent earlier in the day to the County Council was also reviewed and endorsed. Comments included the fact that unlike other transportation services with non-payment penalty fees, the ferry is an essential service to the island. PLIC sent its own letter to the Whatcom County Council members for their consideration on October 4th.
LIFAC Issues – A demo of WTA’s ParaTransit data collection system was made at the October 1st LIFAC meeting. Also at that meeting, an islander complained of a shortage of disabled parking at Gooseberry Point during dry dock. PLIC will request that Public Works make more parking available next year. The November LIFAC meeting will readdress the availability of the Plattsburgh.
PLIC General Meeting announced for Thursday, Oct. 3rd
PLIC will meet at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Grange Hall on Thursday, October 3rd to review issues being addressed by the county-appointed LIFAC Board. We will also discuss the upcoming public hearing scheduled for 7 pm, October 8th to impose a $30 non-payment penalty fee on the ferry. See ab2013-289 for more details of the proposed ordinance.
Upcoming LIFAC meeting agenda
The county-appointed Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) meets this Tuesday, September 3rd at 6:30 pm at the Fire Hall. Tentative agenda items include:
- Review of the Plattsburgh as a possible ferry replacement.
- Discussion on the proposed $30 Ferry Non-Payment Fee
- 45/55 Recommendation
The next PLIC General Meeting will be on Thursday, October 3rd at 6:30 pm at The Grange Hall.
And on Tuesday, October 8th, the Whatcom County Council will hold a public hearing on the Ferry Non-Payment Fee.
45/55 Ordinance fails and Penalty Fee Ordinance introduced
At the August 6th Whatcom County Council meeting, the ordinance proposing changes to the method of calculating the 45% Road Fund subsidy of the ferry operations expense failed with Brenner, Kershner, and Knutzen opposing. Kershner referred the issue back to the Public Works committee for further review, including whether the 45/55 goals are appropriate.
At the same meeting, an ordinance calling for a $30 penalty for ferry fee non-payment (AB2013-289) was introduced and passed (Brenner opposed). The ordinance will be discussed at the Public Works committee meeting on October 8th with the public hearing scheduled for 7 pm at the county council meeting that same day.
Also, please note that the LIFAC meeting previously scheduled for August 13th has been cancelled. The next LIFAC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3rd at 6:30 pm at the Fire Hall.
Needs-based fare changes adopted by County Council
On July 23, 2013, the Whatcom County Council adopted the ordinance amending Whatcom County Code Chapter 10.34 Ferry Rates (AB2013‐253) Adopted 7‐0, Ordinance 2013‐042
Multi-Ride Ferry Passes now available Online
Another Ferry Task Force recommendation is becoming a reality, the ability to purchase a multi-ride punchcard online. A 2.35% convenience charge is added to the price of the ticket which is mailed to the purchaser. See the ferry website for details.
Public Works announces details on Dry Dock 2013
Whatcom County Public Works issued a press release on July 12th confirming that there will again be no additional parking at Gooseberry Point during dry dock. A passenger-only ferry will be provided September 4th through September 25th, and they will again be providing on-island van shuttle service.
Public Works introduces Needs-Based Fare changes to the County Council
Public Works introduced an ordinance to amend ferry rates at the July 9, 2013 County Council meeting. The ordinance proposes changes to Whatcom County Code 10.34 paragraphs K and L concerning the Needs-Based ferry fare ticket program. It amends the income limits from a set amount to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Very Low Income Levels which are modified each year. It also changes the Needs-based ticket sales location from the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office to the Whatcom County Public Works Administration Building.
The Opportunity Council has been selected to review applications at $50 per application whether approved or not. The amount of applications processed each year will be dependent on constraints within the ferry operations budget each year. The budget for the program is currently $2051 for the year 2013 and $2038 for 2014. The ordinance can be read in its entirety here. Whatcom County ab2013-253
The Public Hearing for this ordinance amendment is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm in the County Council Chambers at 311 Grand Ave, Bellingham, WA. Public comments are typically limited to three minutes each.
PLIC requests that LIFAC continue Needs-based Ferry Fares
The PLIC Board of Directors formally requested that LIFAC continue Needs-based fares in any restructuring of ferry fares. The request was sent to LIFAC on June 30, 2013 and PLIC representatives will be available for questions on the subject at the upcoming LIFAC meeting at 6:30 pm, Tuesday, July 2nd at the Lummi Island Fire Hall. The letter can be read in its entirety here: Needs-based Request to LIFAC with the Needs based resolution 3-25-13 included.
Handling of funds still unsettled
It was all about the ferry at the county’s June 4, 2013 Public Works, Health and Safety Committee Meeting. The 55/45 split was described as arbitrary and the changes in how state funds attributable to the county ferry are handled remain a point of discussion. An RFP that might lead to web-based ferry ticket purchasing has been issued with vendor selection coming shortly. And Needs-based ferry fares were discussed with LIFAC being asked for a recommendation. LIFAC’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 pm on Tuesday, July 2nd at the Fire Hall. Although designated as a work session, topics may include next steps on the Plattsburgh, electronic ticketing, PLIC’s resolution on needs-based fares, and the 45/55 fare box split. You can read a more detailed summary of the committee meeting here: Public Works Committee Mtg June 4
PLIC Meeting attendees like what they see about the Plattsburgh
It was a good meeting last Tuesday, May 28th. The highlight was a presentation by LIFAC committee member Greg Brown of what is known to date about the Plattsburgh and its suitability as a possible replacement for the Whatcom Chief. Neither the presentation nor the Plattsburgh FAQ distributed at the meeting have been approved by LIFAC. The purpose of the presentation was to share what is known to date and provide LIFAC with island feedback and questions from the public at large. Most attendees encouraged LIFAC to continue to study the opportunity.
President Rhayma Blake reported that the PLIC Board of Directors had approved the Needs based resolution at its April 29th meeting and shared copies of that resolution with attendees. Attendees endorsed the resolution with the caveat that measures need to be in place to combat any fraudulent use, perhaps annual re-qualification for all.
Mike McKenzie, LIFAC president, thanked attendees for their feedback on the Plattsburgh and also reported that:
- Dry dock will begin September 4, 2013.
- Gooseberry Point wing wall construction is scheduled for August.
- LIFAC will recommend the 10-punch pedestrian Needs-based fare punch card recommended in the Needs-based resolution.
- LIFAC will also continue to pursue electronic ticketing.
- The possibility of a new ferry manager position has been rumored.
A full set of meeting minutes are available here:
Next PLIC General Meeting
The next PLIC general meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at 6:30 pm at the Lummi Island Grange Hall.
Join us for an update on Needs-based fares, fare restructuring, and updates on ferry issues.
Also, Greg Brown, committee member of LIFAC, will present an overview of what is known about the Plattsburgh, a fresh-water ferry that has been suggested to be a viable replacement for the Whatcom Chief. As always, PLIC general meetings are open to the public so all islanders are encouraged to learn more about this opportunity. There will be an opportunity for questions and comments. And yes, there will be cake and ice cream as well!
Needs-based Fare Update
On April 29, 2013, the PLIC Board of Directors reviewed and adopted a Needs based fare resolution, developed by a subcommittee formed at the PLIC Annual Meeting in January, 2013. The resolution articulates a desire to maintain diversity on the island and recommends that the current discount structure be retained, with processing of low-income applications to be handled by the Opportunity Council should the county no longer be in a position to process them. Comments can either be sent to email@example.com or shared at the next PLIC general meeting on May 28th at 6:30 pm.
“State of the Ferry Budget” Presentation on Tuesday, March 26 at 1:30 pm
Public Works Director Frank Abart will be making a Presentation of the Public Works Operation Report to the Whatcom County Public Works, Health and Safety Committee this Tuesday, March 26, 2013. The meeting begins at 1:30 pm in the Council Chambers at 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham, WA and is listed as the second item on the agenda. A copy of his report can be accessed here 2013 Abart Presentation. In it, he notes that ferry ridership decreased 4.7% in 2011 (the year the $3 surcharge was instituted) and another .7% in 2012.
PLIC Annual Meeting Recap
– The Gooseberry Point Wing Wall construction is near the bidding phase with summertime construction anticipated.
– Electronic ticketing and on-line purchase of tickets should become available this year.
– The discounted fares were discussed with a small work group being formed to bring a recommendation back to PLIC for its consideration. Click here for the handout. (Updated with 2012 ticket sales)
– It was decided to continue PLIC as an organization in order to “Keep out in front of issues instead of just reacting to situations” and to “Create more attention at the county level by sending island comments through an organization rather than just through individuals.”
– PLIC thanked Mike McKenzie and Stu Clark for their service as they resigned from the PLIC Board of Directors to assure no conflict of interest in their roles with LIFAC.
– New board members Janet Lutz-Smith, Jansen Pierce, and Tess Winds-Johnson were elected by acclamation. Rhayma Blake will serve as president, Mike Kmiecik-treasurer, Mary Ross-secretary, and Dave Wing will continue on the board.
See details PLIC Annual Meeting Minutes January 22 2013 .
Upcoming 2013 PLIC Annual Meeting
PLIC continues to serve as an issues-based organization and messenger of island opinion on ferry-related issues. If you care about needs-based fares and possible reductions in ferry service, get involved. Get on board. In fact, get on the board of directors. Our annual meeting where we set the agenda for the upcoming year is 6:30 pm, Tuesday, January 22nd at The Grange. More PLIC Overview 2013.
Security at Gooseberry Point gone; island survey results
Security at the ferry dock at Gooseberry Point expired November 15. Two months beforehand, Islanders were asked to weigh in on the importance of security, and 69 islanders responded with the following results:
- Nearly half considered security until morning during dry dock very important.
- Almost half considered year-round security during darkness hours until the last ferry run each night very important.
- About one in five considered year-round security not at all important.
The full report … Security Survey Report.
The LIFAC has recommended that the County resume security at night.
UPDATE: On February 11, 2013, it was reported to LIFAC that both the Whatcom County Sherrif’s office and the Lummi Nation Chief of Police indicated little activity of concern at Gooseberry Point thus far. Therefore, additional security is not being requested at this point.
County Council’s Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) recommendations
The LIFAC passed a recommendation and sent it to the County Council Committee on Public Works, Health, and Safety regarding security at Gooseberry Point. The recommendation was for the County to provide personal safety security at Gooseberry Point daily whenever the ferry is operating during darkness. The recommendation considered the fact that the County (a.) has no obligation to provide either parking or security, and (b.) does not have liability for property damage, i.e., automobile damage, at Gooseberry Point.
West Shore Hospitality (Willows Group) Parking and Security
The investment group that operates The Willows Inn on Lummi Island and the Beach Store Cafe secured and paid for a private lease agreement with a seafood processing company at Gooseberry Point for the fenced lot across the street from the ferry landing. The good will agreement, involving neither the County nor Lummi Nation governments, was paid in advance for September 2012 through February 2013 and then the West Shore group rented about half of the spaces to Lummi Island residents.
The lot was, and remains, available only to paid customers. All others will be towed (several have been) at the owner’s expense. Some of those spots are available for renting at a reduced fee until February. The advantages are (a.) shorter walking distance to the ferry; (b.) fenced, private parking; and (c.) a 24-hour security camera recording all movement in and out of the lot.
A spokesperson for the Willows management group said that a negotiation will be considered for renewal of the agreement in February, depending on what the Lummi Nation decides to do in development of that area in its growth management plan.
The PLIC Board was pleased to survey islanders to determine the importance of pursuing personal safety concerns and security at Gooseberry Point, especially during dry dock but also year-round, following a discussion at the last PLIC general meeting on August 20, 2012. The variety of views and concerns makes an island-wide poll critical to deciding whether islanders want to accept this or propose another alternative through the the newly appointed Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIAC).
We are grateful to volunteers and to the Islander Store for managing distribution and collection of the surveys (results above). All islanders regardless of age and full-time or part-time residency were invited to participate.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org should you have questions.
Is security an issue important to islanders?
In a time of tight budgets, security at Gooseberry Point has been cut, with none budgeted after November 15, 2012. Both the Ferry Task Force and PLIC have supported cuts in security, but not its elimination. Read PLIC’s February 25, 2012 statement on security here PLIC Position on Gooseberry Point Parking. A conversation with Public Works Director Frank Abart on August 13 confirmed that there are no dollars budgeted for security in either the 2013 or 2014 Public Works budgets.
Mr. Abart explained that security is a contract strictly between the county and the security firm. There is no Lummi Nation involvement except that they would likely be first responders to any incident. He also outlined the steps that need to be taken for any level of security to be reinstated:
1. Define and measure the level of the concern among islanders.
2. Take these findings to the newly formed Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) for their consideration.
3. If LIFAC considers a change appropriate, take that recommendation to the Whatcom County Council.
In an announcement released on Friday, July 27, 2012, Public Works stated its intention to eliminate security at the Gooseberry Point ferry dock November 15, 2012. As one point of clarification, the Ferry Task Force’s recommendation was to: “Substitute current parking security service with surveillance camera system and emergency call button(s) tied to Lummi Police.” Also, the announcement does not address the PLIC Board of Directors statement issued February 25, 2012 which supports security measures that insure ferry riders’ personal safety after dark during ferry operational hours.
Greetings from Whatcom County Public Works:
This is an update to let everyone know what is happening with the
security services at Gooseberry Point. As a reminder, removing security
services was part of the recommendations from the Whatcom County
Citizens’ Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry. This will provide a
yearly budget reduction of approximately $79,000.
The current contract with Puget Sound Security expires on July 31,
2012. We have executed a contract extension with Puget Sound Security
that will extend the security services at Gooseberry Point from August
1, 2012 through November 15, 2012. After November 15, 2012 the security
services will permanently end.
There are a few other changes to the contract terms for the contract
extension. Beginning on August 1, 2012, the security services will be
reduced from ten hours a day to eight hours a day. The security guard
will be present at Gooseberry Point from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. seven
days a week.
We also removed the contract requirement that stated the contractor
must provide a vehicle for the security guard. The intention is for the
security guard to patrol the parking area by walking instead of sitting
in the security guard’s vehicle.
The Ferry Department
Dry dock parking concerns islanders
Islanders met to discuss updates on the ferry budget, the new Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Board, sort out the roles of PLIC and that committee, and fully understand the implications of dry dock parking this September. It is estimated that about 100 to 110 parking spots will be available at Gooseberry Point this year, approximately half of those available last year and one-third of those available the year before. Dave Wing has offered to act as a liaison in formulating an island response to this news. To help, contact Dave at 758-2077, 255-3233, or email@example.com. For more information, read all of the PLIC General Meeting Minutes 5-29-12.
Next PLIC General Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 29th at 6:30 pm at The Grange Hall
Discussions will include
- Dry Dock Parking
- Possible 2013 Public Works Operations Budget Reductions
- Report on Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee’s first meeting tentatively scheduled for May 21st.
County Council selects Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Members
The County Council, at its regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday night May 8th, nominated and appointed 7 members to the LIFAC — three from Bellingham, and four from the island. The appointees:
(Island) Chuck Antholt, Bob Busch, Stu Clark, Mike McKenzie
(Off-island) Greg Brown, Crispin Colburn, Joshua Zender
You can read their applications and background information at Lummi Island Ferry Forum.
On the County Council agenda April 10:
1. Approval of $40k for September wingwall design (consent agenda item No. 6)
2. Public hearing and vote on free under-19 passenger/pedestrian usage (public hearing No. 1)
1. One of the seven items on the consent agenda is approval of payment of $40,000 to PND Engineers, Inc. for design of the Gooseberry Point Ferry Terminal Wingwall Replacement Project, scheduled for September 2012 dry dock period. This project will cost between $400,000 and $600,000 from capital funds, and was placed on the 2012 budget last year.
Sources at Public Works told the PLIC Board that this work has been needed for about two years, but was delayed until a lease was finalized. PW Director Frank Abart pointed out that it would not make sense to spend that much money for the wingwalls until the County knew that the ferry would continue running to Gooseberry Point. An engineer on the project said that safety issues make the new wingwalls necessary.
The County will determine by the end of May what arrangements will be made to accommodate passenger ferry service and parking during the September dry dock shutdown of the Whatcom Chief for its annual inspection and maintenance.
2. Anyone can address the Council during the public hearing on a change to the ferry fare rate schedule, with only the one item changing — allowing passengers 18-and-under to ride free year-round when either riding in vehicle or walking on. Section H of that fare rate states, “No special child discount is available for drivers of vehicles.” The 10-page agenda bill about the fare rate change
THE PUBLIC WORKS WEBSITE PAGE ALSO CONTAINS IMPORTANT LINKS TO OTHER DOCUMENTS SUCH AS:
- Internal Public Works ferry review committee letter to the director about Task Force recommendations;
- PW director’s letter to the County Executive about actions on Task Force recommendations;
- A ferry outage April 17-18 for dock maintenance and repairs.
- A tide report for 2012 with restrictions for large trucks.
- The lease agreements (3) for the ferry usage at Gooseberry Point — intergovernmental, tidelands, and uplands.
- Public Works responses and planned actions on the Ferry Task Force recommendations.
Ferry Advisory Committee appointment delayed by County Council
During February, Whatcom County Council approved the formation of a 7-member ferry advisory committee. The appointment of the committee members by Council members was on the agenda March 27, but removed the day of the Council meeting. A primary reason, according to Council Chair Kathy Kershner, was lack of an application by a resident of one of the County’s unincorporated areas from which taxes contribute 45 percent of the cost of ferry operations. The Council has not indicated when the committee will be selected.
The deadline for applications that will be included in the Council’s advance packet for review is Monday, March 19, by 5 p.m. The final deadline for application is 4 p.m. on Marcy 27. The Application Form
At least 4 and no more than 5 members of the committee must be island residents.
Gooseberry Point parking lot lease expires April 16; public parking available now
The lease for the fenced parking area on Gooseberry Point expires April 16 at midnight. Whatcom County Public Works announced recently that permanent public parking is now available along Haxton Way (the space normally used during dry dock; see purple sections on the map). Public Works estimates that more than 55 spaces are available. The County’s plan for security remains undetermined.
The PLIC Board reviewed the new arrangements and the findings of the Ferry Task Force and formulated a position paper supporting non-renewal of the leased lot, as suggested by the Task Force. (The point became moot when Lummi Nation informed Whatcom County that it would not renew the lease.) This position was based on the availability of ample public parking (excepting dry dock, which is still under review by the County), plus the commitment to reduce expenses in an effort to reduce fares.
At the same time, the board supports security measures that ensure ferry riders’ personal safety after dark during ferry operational hours. The full statement can be read in full here.
March 1, 2012 PLIC General Meeting
The general meeting included an update on activities at The Willows Inn from new general manager John Gibb. PLIC General Meeting Minutes, March 1, 2012
January 31, 2012 PLIC Annual Meeting
Members gathered to thank retiring PLIC board members Stuart Rich and Mark Sexton for their careful stewardship of issues affecting the Lummi Island ferry over the past two years. New board members Mary Ross, Michael Kmiecik, and Stu Clark were elected by acclamation. Read more here PLIC Annual Meeting Minutes January 31, 2012
PLIC Annual Meeting – Originally Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 6:30 pm at The Grange Hall…NOW POSTPONED to January 31st due to weather.
It’ll be a night for updates on Ferry Task Force recommendations that are in the works for the first quarter of 2012, status of a recommended Ferry Advisory Committee that probably will be introduced at County Council soon, elect new board members, and to toast two stalwart officers of the last two years who have rotated off the board — outgoing president Stuart Rich and vice-president Mark Sexton.
Ferry Advisory Committee Resolution DRAFT
Twelve islanders gathered earlier this week to work on a draft of a resolution asking the Whatcom County Council to approve the formation of an ongoing ferry advisory committee, one of the Ferry Task Force’s recommendations. Attached is the draft of the resolution coming out of that meeting. Islanders can review and send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 13th. Weimer and Brenner are backing this, but are asking that it represent the consensus of the island. Now is the time to speak up! Advisory Committee-1-7-12
PLIC All-Community Meeting – November 30, 2011, 6:30 pm, at the Grange Hall
The meeting originally scheduled for November 16th has been postponed to November 30th in order to discuss Public Works Director Frank Abart’s report being made on November 22nd.
Public Works Report on the Ferry Task Force Recommendations – Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 1:30 pm in the County Council Chambers, 311 Grand, Bellingham
Public Works Director Frank Abart will present his report on the recommendations made to the County Council by the Ferry Task Force on August 9th. Committee members include Barbara Brenner, Tony Larson, and Ken Mann although other county council members may attend. Islanders are encouraged to hear Abart’s report first hand and discuss their reactions at the November 30th PLIC meeting.
Ferry Lease signed – November 16, 2011
Dan Gibson, Assistant Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney, announced on November 16, 2011, that the final signatures on the 35-year lease had been obtained the previous afternoon. The completed lease will be made available on http://www.whatcomcounty.us/publicworks/ferry/index.jsp.
Next PLIC General Meeting, Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm at The Grange
We will recap Council member Carl Weimer and Barbara Brenner’s comments from the LICA meeting the night before and build consensus about an island response to their questions about how best to develop a Ferry Advisory Committee. If you have thoughts on any of these questions, don’t miss this meeting. 10-27-11 PLIC Discussion Outline
Celebrate with us, Thursday, September 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at The Grange
Join us this Thursday, September 22nd to celebrate this moment of certainty. PLIC is providing glazed ham, rolls, dessert, and drinks. Just bring a side dish and enjoy the moment we have been working towards for two very anxiety-filled years!
Islanders came together last Tuesday night, September 13, 2011 at the Whatcom County Council public hearing where the County Council voted 5-2 for passage of the 35-year lease with Lummi Nation. This solidifies the continuation of the ferry being able to dock at Gooseberry Point on the mainland, a .75 mile trip vs. other much longer options.
All islanders are invited to come celebrate this moment, signifying the end of two years filled with uncertainty about our access to the mainland. In all, 16 people spoke at the public hearing. It is estimated that 100 islanders attended. 43 took the PLIC-sponsored bus to view the proceedings. Everybody’s efforts are very much appreciated.
Council might vote Tuesday night…PLIC providing transportation
For no-cost bus or car pool transportation, available for any Islander (PLIC membership not required): PLIC Bus and Car pool 9-13-11
We have reached the end game. You are needed. Tuesday night, Sept. 13—just 3 days out— Whatcom County Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed lease agreement with Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) for ferry service at Gooseberry Point. The Council might vote to approve or reject the proposal that night. And their vote is hanging in the balance.
Two calls to action are extremely urgent:
1. Write now. Right now. Write a short, to-the-point email or letter to County Council asking for their ‘yes’ vote to approve the lease. Councilman Ken Mann has requested this in writing, so the Council will know that it is the consensus position of Lummi Island stakeholders. There is no other viable option. Send your email to: email@example.com (it will be distributed to each Council member).
2. Attend the County Council meeting Tuesday night. PLIC Board of Directors is organizing car pools and renting a bus. PLIC Board also is preparing speakers for the public hearing, to stress that this lease agreement is the ONLY and best assurance for reliable access to the mainland and to prevent further major delays, disruptions, and costs.
Approval of this lease agreement is best for Whatcom County as a whole, for many reasons tied to costs and economic impact, and obviously it is best for its Lummi Island constituents for safety, stability and certainty.
For excellent insight into why, read the editorial on Ferry Forum by its founder Colleen McCrory, a long-time resident and real estate professional.
Here is the PLIC Plain Talk letter with more details on the rationale behind accepting this agreement, what’s going on within Council, and a summary of legal discovery and advice.
Dry Dock Passenger Ferry Schedule
Dry Dock Lummi Island Van Schedule and Map … County website for all dry dock info
TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS TO WHATCOM COUNTY
The Citizens Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry, created in January 2011 by Whatcom County Council resolution at the request of PLIC Board and membership, completed its assigned tasks and officially disbanded August 1, 2011. The group submitted its findings and recommendations to the County Council in a comprehensive report that day, and made a condensed power-point presentation to the Council’s Meeting of the Whole on August 9.
Meanwhile, Task Force co-chair Diane Harper gave an overview of the report at the PLIC open all-community meeting, attended by approximately 25 persons on August 4.
Harper commented, “Every Task Force member agreed to support the recommendations as a whole – even though we did not all agree on every one of them. And we ask the same of the island community – we really would appreciate solid support of the whole body of recommendations, even though there will be things that individuals find objectionable.”
A print copy of the report and recommendations is available in the Island Library. You can read it here: Task Force recommendations July 18
COUNCIL INTRODUCES FERRY LEASE PROPOSAL
On Tuesday, August 9 at its last regular meeting until September the County Council formally introduced the proposed lease agreement for Lummi Island ferry service to and from Gooseberry Point. A public hearing will be set for discussion of the proposal in September before Council votes to accept or reject the 35-year agreement that includes payments of $200,000 a year (and specified adjusted inflation rates), plus $6 million in $2 million increments during designated years.
The lease as introduced contained adjusted language to permit free passage on the ferry to members of Lummi Nation only for passenger service and for vehicles on official government business.
* * *
Revision of some sections and death of Lummi leader pushed County agenda back
The introduction of the County’s new ferry lease agreement with Lummi Nation was postponed July 12 for 2 weeks while some further language concerns were undergoing discussion and revision. Lummi Nation Business Council (LIBC) did not meet as scheduled July 12 because of the death of Clayton Finkbonner, a former Council member.
Introduction of “…Intergovernmental framework agreement, lease for Uplands, and Tidelands lease agreement for Lummi Island Ferry usage at Gooseberry Point….” now is scheduled Tuesday, July 26, at the regular County Council meeting. A public hearing then will be scheduled, probably August 9.
Read more in the entire Lummi Island Ferry Lease Agreement
Some components of the proposed new ferry lease:
$200,000 a year, plus a consumer price index (CPI) adjustment annually; $6 million in spaced increments over 35 years; immediate specific road and traffic safety measures on Haxton Way near the ferry dock. Ferry lease details
URGENT!! ‘Agreement in Concept’ announced jointly for 35-year lease
Bellingham Herald report 5/17
Here is a news release from the PLIC Board of Directors at 6 p.m. Monday (5/17):
Unless either side hits major snags in ironing out final language of the contract, it appears that Whatcom County and Lummi Nation Business Council (LIBC) have struck a lease agreement for the next 35 years. They made a joint announcement this afternoon.
The process now, which could stretch over 2-3 weeks, calls for each side to carefully pore over the details of the agreement and settle on final language of what was termed this afternoon “an agreement in concept.” This followed a closed executive session this morning of the County Council, and then a presentation by Lummi Nation’s legal counsel to LIBC.
The specific terms, according to County officials, will be released as the language is finalized. Before the County Council votes on the lease officially, the Council will hold a public hearing.
From past public comments from various County officials, we know that the annual payment that each side had agreed to was $200,000, and in addition the LIBC was requesting “several million” over the length of the contract for road and traffic safety projects. All of these comments appear on this website.
* * *
Meanwhile, the Citizens Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry made presentations Monday night (5/16) on optional taxing solutions for creating ferry operations and/or capital revenues, and none of the six looked viable according to the group’s research of legalities and potential revenue. The most that one could produce was $200,000, but would be applicable only to a passenger ferry and would require an annual public vote.
The Task Force presented and discussed options regarding special-needs fare discounts, and opened it to comments from the 20 persons who attended the meeting. This will come up again at next the June 6 meeting when the entire fare structure is the subject.
Lummi Island Community Assn (LICA) Board voted to endorse a sub-committee of island volunteers who will conduct a study of how special financial needs assistance for ferry use would look like if it became implemented and managed on the island. This is a research-only project (not a recommendation, poll, or survey) that will show pluses and minuses of island-administered assistance, stemming from the County government publicly stating that it would prefer not to have a special-needs fare discount and not to administer it.
If you would like to serve on this project, or know somebody who might, please contact Task Force member Chandler Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message at 360.393.6037.
We welcome your comments and ideas at any time by email, email@example.com
Also, please request to join and check out the Lummi Island Friends Group on Facebook for updates on ferry matters, and other events and news of island interest.
Lummi Island Ferry Forum continues to offer a medium for posting comments, and all Task Force documents can be found under the link on our site, or on http://lummiislanders.com/ferrydocs/. PLIC posts its own observations and summary of the Task Force meetings in more detail than the official minutes.
* * *
Monday (5/13) negotiating session produced deadline suspension, modified proposals
- The good news: the ferry will continue to run on its normal schedule indefinitely.
- The no-news: today’s negotiating session did not produce a lease agreement.
- The bad news: none, because no news is good news. The talks didn’t fail, and Whatcom County Council has new information to consider next week. Here’s where we are as of 4 p.m. Friday the 13th:
Shortly after today’s negotiating session between Whatcom County officials and Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) officials, John Stark of the Bellingham Herald spoke to County Attorney Dan Gibson, and PLIC spoke to County Executive Pete Kremen. Here is a summary of what those County officials reported to Stark and confirmed with PLIC:
1. LIBC suspended the Sunday (May 15) deadline for obtaining a lease agreement to continue operating Lummi Island ferry service to Gooseberry Point, and did not impose another deadline date. This is good news even though Kremen, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo and others stated publicly that the ferry would continue to run to Gooseberry Point after the 15th.
2. Stark, set to publish expanded reports on the Herald’s web site and in the May 14 print edition, quoted Gibson saying that today’s session consisted of “intense discussion.” County’s negotiating team of six took a Council-supported counter-proposal into today’s session, and it did not fly. But with modifications, more possibilities were formulated by the two sides. This is good news, because the negotiations didn’t blow up; rather, both sides appear intent on reaching a resolution.
3. County Council will hold an executive session (closed to public) Tuesday, May 17, at a time yet to be announced. Gibson will present Council with proposals that came out of today’s bargaining session, and Council will consider the alternatives to the counter-proposal it approved for presentation today. This is good news, because the door is still open to a deal.
Kremen said he had nothing more to add immediately to Gibson’s characterization of today’s session. Kremen indicated he needed to attend to some business that required attention before the day and the week ended, and said he would talk later about today’s session.
* * *
Negotiations Monday (5/9) produced a possibility, Council rejected it
A three-hour session Monday (5/9) between ferry lease negotiating teams produced a proposal for each side to take to respective whole bodies of governing councils. The County Council held an executive session (closed to public) Tuesday (5/10) to consider it. Afterward, both Kremen and Council Chair Sam Crawford said that the Council rejected it, but drafted a counter-proposal for the next bargaining session later in the week.
County Executive Pete Kremen called PLIC late Monday night and recapped the day’s events, summarizing that it “…wasn’t bad news, it’s still alive….and it wasn’t overly good news.”
FERRY FARE STRUCTURE AMONG TOPICS at TASK FORCE OPEN HOUSE
Three presentations highlighted Monday evening’s Open House (5/2) of the Citizens Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry: one on ferry accounting (originally presented April 4), and a two-parter built around all the nuances of fare structures (originally presented April 18). Those documents are viewable in the Citizens Task Force link on the left side of our site.
Here is a link to the fare structure power-point in its entirety.
Task Force Chair Barbara Ryan also directed several issues at the audience of 43 persons for comments and input, such as an April dry dock rather than September; whether to keep Gooseberry Point parking (a $90,000 cost); cutting service 2 hrs in mid-day or late night; special needs fares; researching a ferry taxing district to collect up to $200,000 from island property owners, and other topics. If you want to weigh in, please email KathyBerg@comcast.net.
No deal! Another session set for May 9 (deadline for lease agreement May 15)
The negotiation session April 21 ended without resolution. The negotiating teams set a May 9 date for another round, just six days before LIBC deadline for getting a deal done. From recent public remarks and this report in the Bellingham Herald, the hang-up appears to be LIBC’s request for financial support of a planned marina development at Gooseberry Point. The tribal head of planning, Richard Jefferson, revealed those plans at a dinner for Lummi Islanders hosted by Lummi Nation last month.
At that dinner March 28, numerous representatives of the LIBC said they were satisfied with County’s offer for solutions to traffic and safety concerns, both short-term and long-term. Next, they said, the parties must find common ground on helping fund a new marina at Gooseberry Point (if permits can be obtained). A summary appears in the second segment of this PLIC report: Kremen on running the ferry; LIBC on marina plans 4-1-11
At that dinner, Jefferson commented that the County would have to recognize and commit its financial responsibility toward any impact the ferry operating at Gooseberry would have on a marina complex there. He detailed several places that Lummi Nation has explored its vision for a marina, with Gooseberry as first choice, but acknowledged that it would have to meet permit requirements. In negotiations, there would be no guarantee for the County that a marina would be located where the ferry operates and, therefore, impact the marina.
This appeared on the Ferry Forum in a summary of the dinner: “Jefferson responded to a request for more information about the marina in relationship to the ferry by saying it was a long-term goal of his and most tribal members to have a marina at Gooseberry Pt for fishermen and maybe sports fisherman or other boats, with or without the ferry. He described various designs his Planning Department has explored, including ones that could incorporate a county ferry landing.”
County officials have not chimed in on this topic. Their discussions about the negotiations and lease offers have been discussed only in executive sessions (closed to the public).
CITIZENS TASK FORCE DATES:
Monday, April 25 – Citizens Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry, 6 p.m., Ferndale WECU, w/ guest Geoff Beaumont, former BC Ferries Tsawwassen Terminal Manager.
Monday, May 2 – OPEN HOUSE, 6 p.m., The Grange for public input on the task force findings and possible recommendations.
[Go to Citizens Task Force link in Categories for a detailed power-point presentation on the County’s accounting breakdown for ferry operations, operations efficiencies, and all other Task Force public meeting observations.]
Sunday, May 15 – LIBC deadline for reaching a lease agreement
LIBC lifts April 10 deadline, negotiations continue w/ May 15 deadline
Lummi Nation Business Council issued this news release Wednesday (4/6), following a long negotiating session that left both parties feeling positive and “very close” to a lease agreement. They set a third session for 4/20.
After the negotiations PLIC had a phone conversation with County Executive Pete Kremen, who was on vacation in Mexico and set to return 4/19. PLIC Email Blast of Kremen Interview 4-6-2011
Bellingham Herald report on negotiating session 4/6/11
4/1/11 No foolin’: Kremen and others on running the ferry 4-1-11
Cont’d negotiations April 6 following some agreements
[Letter HERE from Kremen to LIBC Chair gives details of County offers for traffic and road safety improvements.]
After another 5 1/2 hours at the table on March 28, Whatcom County’s negotiating team and LIBC reps did not arrive at a lease settlement for Lummi Island Ferry service at Gooseberry Point, but agreed to go back for Round 3 of talks.
LUMMI NATION DINNER SUMMARY: At a dinner March 28 for Lummi Island community hosted by Lummi Nation, LIBC representatives said they were satisfied with County’s offer for solutions to traffic and safety concerns, both short-term and long-term. The short-term traffic safety initiatives include mini-roundabouts, sidewalks, speed-measuring devices, flashing lights and crosswalk, retaining walls, and revision of 35 mph zones — all on Haxton Way. Previously: Ferry Negotiations 3-24-2011
BIA Letter to Whatcom County exec rec’d March 21
The BIA explained that it had determined since 2005 it would not sign the consent decree for extension of the lease another 25 years, for reasons stated by Lummi Nation.
VIDEO: Congressman Rick Larsen answers question about ferry at City Club
COUNTY SPEAKING OUT!
County Exec Pete Kremen, Atty Dan Gibson, and Council Chair Sam Crawford in sequence of interviews & documents:
Whatcom County Atty Dan Gibson and Executive Pete Kremen issued counterpoints to an LIBC chronology of ferry developments that was distributed widely to Congressional delegates and media. The County’s viewpoint differs on several items. Pay special attention to 1962, ’74, ’88, ’98, and negotiation report of May 2010: LIBC Ferry Chronology & County Commentary
Other sequential developments:
2. Kremen and Crawford in Bellingham Herald 3-14-2001
3. Kremen invites LIBC to negotiating table: Letter to LIBC Chair Cultee
March 2 Letter to Fed establishes County’s position
County Attorney Gibson wrote to the Dept. of Interior on March 2 and outlined the Consent Decree for a 25-year extension of the ferry lease. Dept of Interior Letter
Other articles & TV video:
KING5 News 2-16-2011
Seattle Times article 3-8-2011
Bellingham Herald article 3-10-11
Public Works Expenditures ($7.5m) on Lummi Nation Transportation (Herald blog, w/ link to Spread Sheet)
* * *
County Exec Kremen (meeting with board members of PLIC on 2/15):
“Whatcom County intends to continue to operate the ferry to Lummi Island from Gooseberry Point, and we have informed Lummi Nation of our intent….” [He repeated this intent in a visit to Lummi Island, and again during and after a trip to D.C. ]
At a meeting of Lummi Island Community Association in February, County Executive Pete Kremen reads his letter to Congress and the POTUSA regarding the ferry impasse and the order to cease operations no later than April 10, 2011.
Congressional delegates contact BIA
In a joint communication, signed March 2 by Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and U.S. Representative Rick Larsen, they asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to respond to Whatcom County’s letter to them (from County Executive Pete Kremen, below). The Congressional delegation instructed the BIA to “…provide guidance and clarification of (its) role as it relates to the lease of the tidelands held in trust….” congressional-letter-3-2-11
LIBC LETTER: End ferry service in 60 days (April 10).
Response from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (Dem-WA) [in a blog in Bellingham Herald 2/17]:
“Whoever told the Lummi Nation that cutting off the lifeline of the 900 residents of Lummi Island is a good idea, is giving them terrible advice. I hope that the County and the Tribe will return to the table to negotiate a productive solution to this issue that addresses the needs of the local community.”
PLIC Board meets with Kremen, Gibson
Three members of the PLIC Board of Directors sat in a 1 1/2 hour meeting with Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen and attorney Dan Gibson on Feb. 15, during which time the news hit local media (KGMI Radio, Bellingham Herald on-line Political Blog) of the 3rd shutdown deadline within the last year and one day.
LIBC Chair Cliff Cutlee sent a letter Feb. 10 to Whatcom County Council Chair Sam Crawford (marked received 2/11) that stated Lummi Nation was returning the check for February payment ($16,277 based on interim agreement) with expectation that the Whatcom Chief runs from Gooseberry Point would cease within 60 days (April 11).
[Read the PLIC Blog, linked in the left panel, for a consensus of PLIC Board of Directors written by president Stuart Rich and submitted to local media and the County Council and Executive branch.]
* * *
TASK FORCE UPDATES:
Task Force Observations 4-11 examining topics of operations efficiencies: cutting service, dry dock analysis, future boat planning, Gooseberry parking lot, and electronic ticketing.
Task Force Observations 3-21 examining potential and current revenue sources.
The People’s Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry, appointed by County Council, met Monday, 2/21 with ferry captain Mark Richardson and ferry crew member John Mulhern as guests. They offered insights about operations and revenues and responded to questions from the task force and audience. Among many points made: they favor no discounted fares except for multi-ride usage (punch cards); they favor an electronic fare-collection system; they feel that operations, because of set scheduling and duties, is by-and-large efficient; 10 full-time crew and 5 retired crew receive free passage along with spouses and dependent children (when applicable), by labor contract, but not other family members.
One item directly relating to the task force’s exploration of costs and revenues: upward to $18,000 a year occurs in uncollectible fares (loosely referred to as IOUs) such as riders who present a credit card, a Washington state ferry pass, or do not have cash or a punch card. Most common occurrences are with service vehicles and non-resident visitors to the island who don’t know the system. Mulhern said he would venture a guess that IOUs could amount to $50 a day, on average.
The Task Force also had an extra meeting 2/16 on Lummi Island and staged a comprehensive proposed outline of its Scope of Work. Nearly 30 island residents observed, and participated with comments and questions both before and after the task force’s internal workings. The Scope of Work assignments were completed 2/21 after the ferry crew input.
* * *
Steve Oliver, County Treasurer, and Frank Abart, Director of Public Works, gave detailed information to and answered questions for the Citizens Task Force on the Lummi Island Ferry and attendees at a meeting Monday night, 2/7/11, in Bellingham. Reports on the meeting:
PLIC Board summary of NEEDS-BASED FARES REPORT
Meetings are scheduled the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Monday each month through August 1. Locations for meetings after 2/21 have yet to be determined.
BRIEF SUMMARY of Meeting 2/7 in Bellingham:
Frank Abart and Steve Oliver, representing Public Works and Whatcom County Finance Dept., addressed the full 7-person Task Force. As many as 15 other persons attended, and a dog. Kathy Kershner and Barbara Brenner were present from County Council (and Barbara’s “Rott-Lite,” Rosie), and a news reporter.
Mr. Abart provided a thick packet of information and walked everyone through many detailed facets of ferry operations. Here is a thorough recount from a PLIC Board member’s notes of the presentation and give-and-take with Mr. Abart and both the Task Force and some persons in the audience: FERRY TASK FORCE – Abart Report
* * *
PLIC Community Meeting of 2/22
A turnout of nearly 100, standing room only, engaged on an update of the status of Lummi Island ferry operations, legal positions, and community action highlighted by a mass, unified initiative by Lummi Island residents to engage our Congressional delegation to intervene for resolution on a lease agreement.
Letters to Senators Murray and Cantwell were available for signing and placing in stamped, addressed envelopes. Flyers were distributed for individuals to give to friends and family off-island asking them to write Congress. PLIC Board outlined plans for a press conference March 8 and planned rally, and for a mass media campaign.
ALSO ON TUESDAY, 2/22: Whatcom County Council, 7 p.m. PLIC Board and other island speakers urged Council to engage Congressional delegates, and to affirm the Council’s participation in the hard-line stance on offering no more for ferry service than the now-expired $166,667/mo. that’s been paid the last 12 months and now has been terminated by Lummi Indian Business Council.
* * *
Councilman Crawford issues negotiations update
Councilwoman Barbara Brenner sent forward an email from County Council Chair Sam Crawford updating the status of dealings with Lummi Nation on the ferry dock lease. Crawford summarized that Lummi Nation withdrew its offer, that monthly payments ($16,677) will continue into a 2nd year, and that County Executive Pete Kremen is actively pursuing the issue. Ferry Negotiations Update 2-4-2011
Previous Task Force Activity & Meeting Minutes
The initial, organizational meeting of the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force took place Tuesday, 1/18, and the group met again to discuss communications procedures Monday, 1/24. Both sessions, open to the public, took place at The Willows Inn.
Meeting Minutes Task Force 1-18-2011
Meeting Minutes Task Force 1-24-2011
On Friday, 1/28, some Task Force members attended a Guermes Island Ferry open house, hosted by Skagit County. It was open to the public and attended by several islanders.
NEW DIRECTORS ELECTED TO PLIC BOARD 1/18/2011
Membership elected by acclamation two new members to the Board of Directors — Joan Moye and David Wing. Here is a detailed summary of the 2011 PLIC Annual Meeting.
TASK FORCE SELECTIONS
In its 1st meeting of 2011 (Tue. 1/11), Whatcom County Council voted for 5 island residents and two non-residents to serve on the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force. The selections (alphabetically):
Kathy Berg, Blaine; Jim Dickinson, L.I.; Patricia Dunn, L.I.; Diane Harper, L.I.; John Chandler Johnson, L.I.; Barbara Ryan, Bellingham, and Riley Starks, L.I.
Link to the Lummi Island Ferry Forum to read their applications/credentials.
* * *
PETITION DRIVES GATHER STEAM, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Petition to WA Congressional Delegation Please print the petition now circulating widely that asks our state Congressional delegates for specific action on the ferry issues. Basically, it asks that they urge the Bureau of Indian Affairs to sign the previously-agreed-upon lease agreement between Whatcom County and Lummi Indian Business Council, and to follow its instructions.
More volunteers are needed to bolster the few who have gathered about 1,800 signatures so far, working off-island locations and the ferry docks. Join this volunteer group by contacting petition organizer Jeff Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or PLIC board member Dave Wing at email@example.com). Carry a printed copy with you everywhere you go to collect signatures.
As an alternative, please sign and pass along an on-line petition LINKED HERE that likewise is directed to Congress. You can then post the on-line petition to Facebook, Twitter, or emails of your choosing. When you sign the on-line petition, you can check a box that is an “opt out” to prevent receiving newsletter info about other petitions.
Read the PLIC BLOG (link at left) for an important way you can help.
* * *
Public Works reveals FARE INCREASE 1-23
PLIC encourages community support for Ferry Task Force
A letter to the Lummi Island community (click below, or on PLIC Blog) outlines the opportunity of the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force and the importance of supporting seven persons selected by Whatcom County Council.
* * *
Letter from Tony Larson, County Council
The newest elected member of the County Council, Tony Larson, who voted against the $3 surcharge ordinance on 11/13, sent an email to PLIC with his thoughts about the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force that the Council will select in January. COUNCILMAN LARSON on FERRY TASK FORCE
Mediation Monday (11/29): ‘work in progress’
Councilman Ken Mann, serving on the County’s negotiating team, posted on Facebook that no settlement came out of the 1st mediation session with Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC). His post: “No agreement. 11 hours of negotiation. It is a work in progress. The existing arrangement will remain in effect.”
County Council passes ordinance & resolution:
$3 surcharge and Ferry Task Forcey, Nov. 13, ’10, Whatcom County Council amended the ordinance it had introduced to raise ferry fares, and then passed the ordinance adjusted to a surcharge of $3 a ride. Read an account in the Bellingham Herald HERE.
County Executive Pete Kremen approved and signed the ordinance (AB2010-354A) on Thursday, Dec. 2.
Councilman Ken Mann moved to amend the proposed rate schedule to reflect the surcharge, based on calculations presented by Public Works Director Frank Abart. Chairman Sam Crawford asked Mr. Abart to assess the effects of the surcharge, and Mr. Abart commented that it would still fall somewhat short, but would be adequate for the time being based on similar calculations and assumptions used in 10 previous options he presented.
Crawford, Bill Knutzen, and Kathy Kershner then joined Mann in voting for the amended ordinance. Barbara Brenner, Carl Weimer, and newly-sworn in Tony Larson voted against it.
The Council held a long discussion after a lengthy public hearing, during which 11 Lummi Islanders addressed concerns, made recommendations (among them, to oppose the ordinance as introduced and instead vote for a $2 surcharge alternative).
The $2 surcharge (Option 1, endorsed by PLIC) was considered at two previous Committee of the Whole meetings, and rejected, and was voted down again at this meeting. Also considered previously were options designed by Councilmen Mann and Weimer (below), and two other options submitted by Public Works.
The fare increase will go into effect in approximately 60 days (on or about Jan. 22, 2011).
After the hearing closed, Councilwoman Kershner moved to accept a resolution she had prepared to form a citizens task force for a thorough review of the Lummi Island ferry operations. PLIC proposed the task force in private conversations with the entire Council during the previous week, as a means of examining all facets of ferry operations, including finances, accounting and fund appropriations, actual costs, and revenue needs.
The amendment read: 14. PLEASE ADD TO COUNCIL, INTRODUCTION — Resolution establishing a citizens’ task force for the Lummi Island ferry (AB2010-405) (document attached). The motion passed 7-0. Here is the full Resolution to Create a Ferry Task Force
Council voted to introduce the ordinance for an extreme hike in ferry fares at its meeting 11/9, attended by dozens of Lummi Islanders.
PLIC recommended alternative solutions to (a.) ease the deficit until actual costs can be determined by (b.) getting a mediated lease agreement [1st mediation session: Nov. 29], and (c.) undertaking a full, detailed review of all ferry operations finances. The suggestions in the interim appear in PLIC’s PLAIN TALK on Ferry Fares, Task Force
Whatcom County, represented by 5 persons, was scheduled for a mediation session with Lummi Indian Business Council all day Monday, 11/29, at Silver Reef Casino. County’s negotiating team comprises Executive Pete Kremen, attorney Dan Gibson, Council chair Sam Crawford, and Councilmen Bill Knutzen and Ken Mann. Mediation could involve multiple sessions, and what takes place in mediation remains confidential to the parties involved, until one or both reveals an outcome.
* * *
COUNCILMAN CARL WEIMER WEIGHS IN
After a long telephone conversation with PLIC Tuesday night (11/16), Councilman Weimer sent a long email message and an attached spreadsheet to outline his thoughts and proposal about ferry rate increases. Basically, his plan would up rates 50% ($15 drive-on, $240 multi-ride drive-on, $6 walk-on), except an 87.5% hike for multi-ride passenger-pedestrian ($75).
He also made other tweaks to a plan similar to original Ferry Rates Option 7 in the Public Works plans. His plan addresses assumptions and “inflated” administration costs.
Councilman Ken Mann also configured an alternative option, based on what he referred to as actual costs, but it was not considered in the 1st Committee of the Whole.
* * *
Numerous PLIC members and other islanders addressed Council with concerns and requests during open-comments period of the 11/9 Council meeting.
* * *
Whatcom County Public Works revised operating revenue and expenditures
County Council moves ferry rate increase forward with Option 6:
$2 surcharge, and 10% multi-ride discounts
The Whatcom County Council’s Committee of the Whole passed a motion today (11/2) to have Public Works draft an ordinance reflecting its Option 6 from among 12 options submitted to raise ferry fares.
Bellingham Herald report on 11/2 meeting
You can view Option 6 here on the Public Works site by scrolling down to the last page of the long document. There is a mistake: current fares for needs-based pedestrian ($17) and school children ($23) for 25 trips are reversed.
Calculating from the current basic fares, this option would add a $2 surcharge across the board on every round trip, and allow for just a 10% discount on multi-ride fares. Examples: the fares for driving on ($12) and walking on ($6) would reflect a $2 surcharge, and on multi-ride cards that surcharge applies to every round trip ($2×25=an additional $50). [See the detailed formulas for fare calculations in the PLIC Blog.]
The ordinance was submitted (and passed) for introduction at the Nov. 9 regular biweekly meeting of County Council. The ordinance was placed on the agenda for a public hearing at their next meeting, Nov. 23. That night it could be voted for, against, or postponed for further discussion and/or revision and additional public hearing.
A sampling of the fare increases: regular walk-on fare rises from $4 to $6, and a multi-ride card from $40 to $140 ($5.60 round trip).
Vehicle/Driver would go from $10 to $12, and multi-ride from $160 to $275 ($11/rt).
Needs-based fares would reflect $70 for vehicle/driver for 10/rt (up from $36); $75 pedestrian for 25 r/t (up from $17); and $75 school children post-HS/summer for 25 r/t (up from $23).
Bicycles w/rider would go up from $4 to $6, and motorcycles w/rider from $5 to $7 single trip and $80 to $173 for 25-ride card.
For fare calculation formulas and more info, go the PLIC Blog link on the left side of the page.
11-1-2010 PLIC letter to County: temporary surcharge until lease settled
In a position statement to the County government, PLIC seeks a delay in structuring fares by using an interim surcharge, to allow for completion of a mediated lease agreement based on fair-market value. The letter also requests a complete review of ferry operations and accounting, citing specific guidelines, and targets a lease of 50-or more years.
PLIC POSITION LETTER to COUNTY (see the PLIC BLOG for detailed highlights)
Here’s a look at projected 2010 Revenue and Expenditures for the Lummi Island ferry service.
Council advances on huge ferry rate increases
Whatcom County Council Committee of the Whole met Tuesday (11/2) about this first draft of an ordinance put together by Public Works. PLIC generated two email blasts on 10-28 to outline the process.
Four PLIC board members and several other islanders attended Whatcom County Council’s Committee of the Whole on 10/26 for the discussion of options to increase fares for Lummi Island ferry service. Rhayma Blake and Rob Rich compiled a detailed account from combined notes: County Council discussion on fare increases
[Rob Rich and Lisa Wochos also addressed COMMENTS TO WHATCOM COUNTY COUNCIL in open session Tuesday night (10/26). ]
[Read the Bellingham Herald report.]
Motions for other options, including a flat-rate surcharge across the board on all fares, failed on 3-3 votes. (Bill Knutzen was not present.) The Option 11 proposal reflects a rise of 25% in the basic pedestrian fare to $5, and 40% in the basic car/driver fare to $14.
Multi-ride discounts would be about 15%, an increase of nearly 300% for walk-ons to $115 (currently $40) and 79% for car/driver to $287 (currently $160). Those frequent-user rides would rise from $1.60 to $4.60 for walk-ons, and from $6.40 to $11.48 for car/driver. Basically, all other fares would increase 35% for single-trip rates, and have a 15% discount for multi-ride cards.
Fred Kinney, representing the PLIC board of directors, asked the Coundil in public session Tuesday night to reconsider Option 1 — a flat-rate surcharge ($2 proposed by Public Works; not approved by Council in a 4-3 vote recently and again defeated 3-3 Tuesday) — as an interim stop-gap until a new lease is negotiated.
ANALYSIS OF RATE PROPOSALS:
For insight into the impact of the County’s 12 proposals for raising the cost of Lummi Island ferry service, read this analysis of Ferry Fares & Ridership researched by Fred Kinney from the PLIC board of directors.
Mediator: Seattle attorney Dick Manning
In a message on Lummi Island Ferry Forum, County Executive Pete Kremen revealed mediation/arbitration lawyer Dick Manning in Seattle as mediator of upcoming negotiations for Lummi Island ferry service.
J. Richard Manning’s law office Web page says he is a past-president of the Washington State Bar Association who has mediated more than 2,000 cases, and 65% of his practice deals with alternative dispute resolution.
Because of illness in his family, Mr. Manning has sent word that the first arbitration session is likely to take place in early November.
Mr. Kremen also revealed in his message that County Council will hear PLIC legal findings from its attorney at GTH in executive session Oct. 26. He said he will be joined on the County’s negotiating team by Council chair Sam Crawford and attorney Dan Gibson (they have participated previously), along with newcomers to the table, Council representatives Ken Mann and Bill Knutzen.
Read more details in our NEWS section.
Lummi Nation notifies County that monthly agreement ends in December
Sam Crawford emailed Lummi Island residents (10/19) and attached a letter written a week earlier from his counterpart on the Lummi Nation Business Council, Henry Cagey. Chairman Cagey said he expects a mediated negotiation session by the end of October, and that a deadline of the end of December 2010 is in effect for ending the interim service arrangement in place since last February.
Read the Letter from LIBC Chair Henry Cagey to Whatcom County Council.
Ferry Docs: rate discussions, cost analysis, and fare options
On 10/12, Whatcom County Council held a discussion about raising Lummi Island ferry fares, based on information and a request submitted 9/29 by Public Works Director Frank Abart.
- Abart’s memo requested “direction for new rates and effective dates,” citing a necessary 60-day lead time for implementation. The memo listed a dozen options directed at two basic goals for recovery of ferry operating costs. Options 1-6 appear at the bottom of Abart’s 9/29 MEMO. Options 7-12 are LISTED HERE. Public Works published ADMINISTRATION COSTS HERE.
- Bellingham Herald Tuesday editions 12/12reported on Abart’s memo.
- Bellingham Herald Wednesday editions 12/13 reported on the County Council discussion and votes on a request for a proposed across-the-board percentage increase in fares rather than a surcharge that was voted down.
- Ferry Rate Economic Analysis In comments below the 10/12 article in The Herald, Richard Frye — a career economist and Lummi Island resident — published this letter he had written previously to County Council.
PLIC Research: Ferry_Cost_History
* * *
LIBC Chair postpones deadline for ferry shutdown
Announcement arrived in an E-Mail from County Council Chair
PLIC sends letter THANKING CHAIRMAN CAGEY
Public Works plans to Continue Whatcom Chief operating schedule
Earlier on 10/8, the County published notice of continuation on Lummi Island ferry’s regular schedule to Gooseberry Point until changes are warranted and only with advance notice. Meanwhile, Lummi Islanders eagerly await the vetting of a mediator and a County Council meeting with PLIC’s attorney from GTH.
PLIC, which emailed Chairman Cagey on Oct. 1 requesting he lift the deadline, appreciates the Lummi Nation’s gesture to move the deadline out of the way of the resumed mediated talks.
Recent PLIC Blog: BIA has responsibility to intervene
As October dawned PLIC drafted two important letters calling for action regarding Lummi Island ferry service:
- To Stanley Speaks, NW regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, requesting an explanation for “unconscionable” posturing and urging imposition of the BIA’s previously-granted right-of-way and public highway over the tidelands at Gooseberry Point that the U.S. Government holds in trust. PLIC BLOG summarizes BIA’s role and responsibility in the ferry dispute, and a link to the letter.
- To Henry Cagey, chair of the Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC), requesting a goodwill gesture of publicly withdrawing the Oct. 15 deadline for shutting down the ferry. PLIC Letter to LIBC
KVOS-12 “Experience Northwest” features Lummi Island (see PLIC Blog)
Bellingham Herald “Whatcom View” article by PLIC
Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen reaches out to BIA reg’l director
8-12-2010 County Council response to Lummi Indian Business Council w/ counter-offer
Read the entire content of the County Council letter HERE.
8-6-2010 PLIC Board position: impartial 3rd party needed
Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC) Board of Directors is concerned with the lack of progress on the outstanding issues regarding long-term ferry service to Lummi Island. We recognize that both Lummi Nation and Whatcom County have important financial interests at stake in these negotiations, as do the residents of Lummi Island. The PLIC Board asks that both parties recognize the limitations on available financial resources. We urge Lummi Nation and Whatcom County to work cooperatively and select a qualified, independent mediator to assist the parties in reaching a fair and equitable resolution of the issues in a timely manner.
7-30-2010 Lummi Nation ultimatum: Pay up, or ferry service ends mid-October
ALL DETAILS for LUMMI ISLAND FERRY SERVICE.
Please send any comments, questions, or other feedback to Info@plicferry.org. We welcome hearing from you.
PLIC distributes a ferry newsletter update. If you would like to receive this, please send your email address to Info@PLICferry.org. We’re happy to keep everyone informed about Lummi Island ferry developments.
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WE ENCOURAGE YOU to visit the independent Lummi Island Ferry Forum where comments and articles are welcome about PLIC and other ferry-related activities.
If you want to offer feedback, volunteer, or ask questions directly to the PLIC board of directors, please write Info@PLICferry.org.