The Mountlake Terrace City Council heard multiple presentations from various city departments at its Thursday, Aug. 17, work/study session.
Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Pete Caw came before the council with Commander Scott King to give a report on the department’s 2023 second quarter. The most significant change, Caw said, was that a policy that was put in place in 2021 had been changed in a positive way.
Two years ago, officers were instructed not to pursue vehicles unless they had probable cause, rather than reasonable suspicion. When officers have reasonable suspicion, it appears that a crime may have been committed. The situation escalates to probable cause when it becomes obvious that a crime was likely committed. While almost the same, Caw said there was enough of a difference to make the situation frustrating for officers.
He used the example of a bank robbery. If a call came in that a man in a blue hoodie driving a green truck had just robbed a bank, and a responding officer saw a man in a blue hoodie and green truck speeding away from a scene, the officer could pursue the man but he could not continue a pursuit should the man refuse to stop. Even though a bank robbery is considered a violent crime, Caw said that simply seeing someone who matched the description of a perpetrator did not give officers enough probable cause.
This law caused many violent crimes to go unsolved. However, Caw said that the Washington State Legislature recently changed the law in officers’ favor, now allowing them to pursue a vehicle – in some cases – for only reasonable suspicion.
“We’ve reformed that standard and we’re back to a situation that is more sensible,” he said.
In his report, King compared this year’s second-quarter crime rates to last year’s. Unfortunately, he said, most crime categories are seeing increases in 2023. General arrests have increased from 128 to 144 and DUI arrests have gone up from 14 to 22.
“DUI arrests are up,” he said. “That has to do with our traffic safety efforts.”
Vehicle thefts have skyrocketed over the past year, with 12 reported last year and 34 this year; vehicle prowls have also significantly increased, from 19 to 35. In addition, burglary calls are on the rise, increasing from 17 to 22. Domestic violence calls have remained almost the same, King said, with the department only receiving one more call in second quarter 2023 than in 2022.
Despite the increase in crime, King said the department is still strongly committed to its 2023 goals: To provide a safe community for everyone, recruit and retain quality personnel and be regional leaders and set the example for modern policing as it relates to community expectations.
In other business, the council received a presentation from Senior Planner Jonathan Morales regarding the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Group. Morales said the group is expected to meet once a month beginning in September and will finish its meetings in August 2024.
“The Comprehensive Plan Advisory Group will be instrumental in helping city staff develop and/or confirm the vision, goals, policies and actions of the Comprehensive Plan as well as other related content,” he said.
Morales said that 10 people have expressed interest in being part of the Comprehensive Plan process, and many of them hold specific expertise in certain city planning areas. There is also one teenage member. Two positions – liaisons from the planning commission and city council – are still to be determined.
“We’re excited to have a youth participant as part of this process,” Morales said. “Kyo Pedersen is a high school student and is a member of the gender-sexuality alliance club.”
The other members proposed for advisory group are: Carla Brown, Concern for Neighbors Food Bank; Cassandra Dahm, community representative Chris Collier, Housing Alliance of Snohomish County; Duane Landsverk, developer community representative; Keith Edholm, recreation and parks advisory commission; Michelle Senechal, arts advisory commission; Scott Matsuda, diversity, equity and inclusion commission, Thesvy Cashen, community representative and Joe Woods, Pacific Public Affairs.
Councilmember Laura Sonmore expressed concerns regarding how the proposed group members were chosen, saying many of them might have ulterior motives.
“We wanted citizens to talk about what they truly wanted,” she said. “Some of the people on here, their job is to promote certain things. I see it as being a ‘group think’ and being a seller of a product and I do have some concerns.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Wahl pointed out that having members with those specific areas of expertise will actually be extremely beneficial when the city begins working on its Comprehensive Plan update. As an example, Wahl mentioned that one member has a plethora of housing knowledge, and that expertise will be beneficial during the next year’s planning.
The council is scheduled to approve the advisory group members during its Aug. 21 business meeting consent agenda.
Also during Thursday’s work/study session, the council received a presentation from Lynnwood Link Connections. A partnership involving King County Metro, Sound Transit and Community Transit, it’s aimed at addressing changing transit needs and improving mobility options for communities in northwest King County and southwest Snohomish County. That includes the Northshore/SR-522 corridor of Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell.
Transportation Planner Corey Holder updated the council on what the city and surrounding areas will see in the next year or two.
Four new light rail stations will be opened in 2024, he said, which is giving Lynnwood Link Connections an opportunity to update their bus routes to better suit commuters. Holder said there will be 23 bus routes; 15 of those will be all-day routes and eight will be “peak routes.” Those peak routes will run Monday through Friday during peak commuting hours to help mitigate the “rush hour” commuter traffic that the Link is seeing right now.
Holder said the organization spent a lot of time in its community engagement phase because staff wanted to make the commuter process as smooth as possible.
“We wanted to talk to people who ride this thing every day,” he said. “Because they know what it needs.”
Holder said staff is working to simplify the entire commuter process so it can remain user friendly for all of King and Snohomish County’s residents.
“Transit is not always that user friendly,” he said. “So we’ve tried to simplify [things like] how often a bus runs, what are the major destinations and a map – make it very similar to what someone would see if they visited a route page on a Community Transit or a Metro website and not have a whole narrative that someone needs to read through to understand the route.”
While Holder’s team is working to move out of the community engagement phase, residents are still able to comment on the topic for another week before the phase officially closes. Interested parties can leave comments until Aug. 27 at kingcounty.gov/metro/lynnwoodlink. The web page is available in multiple languages so all residents can participate.
The council also heard a very brief explanation regarding the FCS Group contract amendment. The group conducts utility surveys for the city and the original contract — which was created in 2019 — did not include capital facilities charges. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic price spikes, city staff decided to add those charges to the group’s contract. This amendment will increase the cost by roughly $24,900, bringing the total contract to $96,150.
Councilmembers are set to vote on the matter at their Aug. 21 business meeting.
In other business Monday night, the council is scheduled to review and possibly approve both the Perteet Professional Services Agreement for 66th Avenue as well as the City of Edmonds interlocal agreement for Ballinger Park’s new trail system and viewing platform.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace. To attend a meeting online, visit zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID 897 2790 9105 and passcode: 98043. To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the same meeting ID and passcode.
You also can view livestreamed meetings and past video recordings at www.youtube.com/cityofmlt.
You can see the complete agenda here.
— By Lauren Reichenbach