By Mellow DeTray

Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held Thursday night, May 11, 2023:

SR3 – Sealife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research 

Executive Director of SR3 Casey McLean gave a presentation on what her organization has been working on for the past two years. SR3, located at the marina near Anthony’s, provides a state of the art facility for rehab of sick or injured sealife, as well as conducting research on the health of the animals and Puget Sound in general. Marine mammals are apex predators, and provide an important barometer for the ecosystem at large. Sea animals can get entangled, sickened by toxins, or catch parasites brought to the area by warming oceans. Finding out what is harming the sea life is important for conservation research for the entire region. 

The facility includes a full surgical area for things like wound repair. The surgery room has a viewing area and provides a learning opportunity for veterinary students, interns, and volunteers. SR3 has had over 9500 volunteer hours since opening two years ago, and provides several internship positions each summer. Since all animals brought to the facility are intended for release into the wild, contact with humans is kept to an absolute minimum during their rehab, and animals are only brought in if they would die without intervention. 

There is a talk of possibly expanding the facility in the future.

Downtown Storefront Restoration Project Passes

Following a recent act of extensive vandalism, in which over 12 businesses had their windows broken by an individual in the early hours of April 13, council has moved quickly to create a grant program to address the financial need of impacted business owners. The grant, consisting of $25,000 of ARPA funds, will be allotted in $1,000 payouts to licensed business owners or residential property owners located in the downtown core who have experienced loss through vandalism anytime during 2023. This money can be used directly for repairs, or to cover insurance deductibles. The repairs must be made within 60 days of receiving funds.

There was discussion of a proposed amendment to extend this program to any business within city limits, rather than only the downtown core, but it did not have support at this time. The general feeling on council was to get this money as soon as possible to those who were recently impacted, and then possibly extend the program out to the rest of the city in a second phase, at which time more funding would be necessary. Applications will be available on the city website starting May 25.

Legislative Update

According to this update, many bills were passed during the state’s recent legislative session, and several of them take power, and funds, from individual cities. Throughout the state, single family zoning is coming to an end. Zoning restrictions were formerly left up to local municipalities, but the state passed this measure to increase the stock of housing. This bill was passed with an overwhelming majority. Additionally, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) will now be permitted statewide. The concern expressed by council regarding this change is that the mandate does not include funding for the impacts increased occupancy will have on utilities that serve communities, such as sewer and water.

Other bills that passed include police pursuit reform, which will now allow police to pursue drivers based on a reasonable suspicion standard for certain dangerous crimes. Additionally, cars involved in street racing can now be seized by police. A Sustainable Aircraft Fuel (SAF) bill passed, putting Washington on par with California for production of aircraft fuel that will reduce ultrafine particulates and pollutants in our area.

Local budgets did not receive the hoped for funding, but Des Moines was awarded $3.5 million for completion of the Barnes Creek Trail project, $1 million for rebuilding the Redondo pier, and another $1 million for the Marina Steps project.

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.