By Mellow DeTray

Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held on Thursday night, July 13, 2023:

The Hat Stays On

To begin the meeting, Mayor Matt Mahoney requested that Councilmember JC Harris remove his hat, in accordance with the council’s new protocol. According to Harris, this is what he said in response to the mayor asking him to take his hat off:

“No sir. I have already submitted a form, in private, to the City’s HR Dept. for a medical accommodation. So, I would ask the Council’s forbearance until she has a chance to work through the paperwork.”

Mahoney thanked him and moved on with the meeting, allowing Councilmember Harris to continue wearing his hat.

Drone Show & Illegal Fireworks

While the community feedback to the fireworks replacement drones on July 4th has not been overwhelmingly positive, the preference for drones over fireworks was brought up several times at this meeting. One community member expressed during public comments that there were too few drones involved to really put on a good show, and she hopes that the technology will have improved in future years enough to make more drones less expensive. She did say she was proud that her city had chosen to use drones instead of fireworks.

Mayor Mahoney stated that many people’s pets were less stressed than during the noisy fireworks shows of previous years. Others mentioned that the water of Puget Sound as well as the air quality were left in better condition than after a typical fireworks show.

Unfortunately, many in the city still had access to fireworks of their own, and were lighting them illegally. According to the police report on the topic, it is difficult to bust people for the infraction of lighting fireworks, since they must actually be caught in the act to be fined.

Later in the meeting, City Attorney Tim George mentioned that he will be looking into a way to hold property owners liable for use of illegal fireworks, which will be easier to effectively enforce.

According to the presentation by Fire Captain Brad Chaney, the fire district responded to 27 different fires caused by fireworks during the week of the 4th.

Water Issues

Councilmember Vic Pennington reported that he had a successful meeting with the Water District manager, who is very open to conducting a post-incident analysis after e-coli turned up in a routine test recently.

The city received 23 applications from local businesses for grants to assuage the lost revenue from the period when the water of downtown businesses was considered unsafe. Those applications are being processed.

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Redondo Speed Cameras Update

The long awaited speed cameras will soon be installed and operational in Redondo. As a preliminary step, official park zone perimeters are being mapped and marked, in order to preempt any possible future arguments about the legality of the cameras. Signs alerting drivers of the cameras will be installed first, and then finally the cameras themselves.

South King Fire & Rescue Report

South King Fire & Rescue Community Affairs Officer Brad Chaney gave a report on the services and capabilities of his organization. They employ 157 fire fighters, 36 staff, 7 active fire stations, 1 logistics center, and 1 training center. According to Officer Chaney, they received nearly 25,000 emergency calls in 2022, in a service area covering 41 square miles and 160,000 people.

The vast majority of calls are for emergency medical services for things like cardiac arrest, covid-19, as well as scenes of violence. There were 136 building fires in this region in 2022, which made up just 3% of deployment of the firefighters. They also get called in for vehicular extractions following bad auto accidents.

In addition to being trained paramedics, the firefighters have a marine team for water vessel fires, a hazardous materials team including biochemical radiation, and they have the ability to monitor the air for safety after accidents that might have hazardous leaks. They also have a rapid entry rescue swim team, trained in aquatic search & rescue.

As noted above, they responded to 27 fireworks-caused fires recently, and Chaney explained that our dry summer has increased the prevalence of brush fires.

Farmers Market, Parkrun, and National Night Out

Councilmember Traci Buxton mentioned that the Saturday Farmers Market at the marina is now bigger and better than ever, with one more row of booths than in previous years.

Also, she will be volunteering this week at the Des Moines Creek Parkrun, a free community 5K which starts at 9 a.m. every Saturday and is open to anyone, though they do ask that you register before your first time joining in. Participants are encouraged to walk, jog, or run, and kids and dogs are welcome. Registration and more information is available here.

Mayor Mahoney also mentioned that National Night Out is coming up on August 1st. This is an annual community-building event where issues can be taken on as a neighborhood, and friends can be made. Find out more here.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.