McCardle elected MLT mayor pro tem; public hearing Monday on small cell wireless facilities

Mayor Pro Tem Doug McCardle

The Mountlake Terrace City Council Thursday night covered a range of issues at its work/study session, including the process for filling the council seat left vacant following the death of long-time Mayor Jerry Smith and the election of a new mayor pro tem.

(More information about the process for filling the vacant council seat is here.)

The council also reviewed two issues that will come before it during its business meeting Monday, Jan. 7: a public hearing and adoption of revisions to city code amendments involving small cell wireless regulations and adoption of 2019 funding recommendations from the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.

The council chose Councilmember Doug McCardle as the new mayor pro tem Thursday night. The election was necessary because former Mayor Pro Tem Kyoko Matsumoto Wright assumed the job of mayor following Smith’s death. The council vote, however, came after some tense moments, when Councilmember Laura Sonmore suggested that the council’s process for determining how to fill the mayor pro tem vacancy violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act.

Speaking directly to Mayor Matsumoto Wright, Sonmore said that “we cannot go out and talk behind everybody’s back and decide who’s going to be mayor pro tem before we even get here. I already feel like I’ve been alienated and I don’t feel that it was done properly.”

Sonmore said that Matsumoto Wright “contacted people to run for mayor pro tem. So you’ve alienated me because you didn’t think I could work with you and you’ve alienated some other people on the council because of that.”

Sonmore said her purpose in raising the issue was to bring it “out in the open”; however, the council did not discuss the allegation Thursday night. While City Attorney Greg Schrag acknowledged hearing Sonmore’s claim that there may have been a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act, he added that “it hasn’t been articulated how that occurred so I don’t have enough factual information.”

“I can bring it up another time and I can prove it,” Sonmore responded. “My point tonight is not to bring a charge but to publicly talk about what we can do better,” she said. “I’m not looking for a legal opinion.”

Following her comments, Matsumoto Wright called for mayor pro tem nominations and Councilmember Rick Ryan nominated Councilmember McCardle, who was elected.

Regarding possible next steps on the issues raised by Sonmore, City Community Relations Director Virginia Olsen said Saturday that since the council has not had a chance to discuss them, “the city has no comment at this time.”

The council then turned to the topic of small cell wireless facilities. The council has been discussing for several months how to regulate where these facilities can be installed in Mountlake Terrace and how much they can charge wireless companies to attach the new 5G hardware.

As we reported in our earlier story, small cells are miniature cell phone receiving stations that can be placed on light poles, traffic signals, building roofs, road signs, billboards, and more. So instead of beaming connectivity from a few large cell towers, 5G will utilize lots of small transmitters. They don’t require as much power as full-sized towers, and perform best when clustered together to create more of a mesh network than a point-to-point signal. This requires a lot of hardware and it all has to be attached somewhere.  

On Thursday night, special counsel W. Scott Snyder of Ogden Murphy Wallace went over the proposed amendments to the current city telecommunications codes, including what the city will need to do to meet new Federal Communications Commission requirements for the installation of small cells.

Snyder promised to give a detailed presentation on the proposed amendments at the Monday, Jan. 7 meeting.

Regarding the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommendations that the council will consider Monday night, Community Relations Director Olsen reported Thursday on the group’s recommendation for allocating the city’s hotel-motel tax funds. Under state law, lodging taxes can be used for tourism marketing, marketing and operations of special events and festivals, and operations of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by nonprofits, municipalities or public facilities districts.

This year, the advisory committee recommended the budgeted $25,000 amount of city hotel-motel tax funds be allocated as follows: $2,000 to the Cheeseburger Babies Foundation to be used toward the annual July 3 fireworks event; $4,000 to the Friends of the Arts for Arts of the Terrace; $2,925 for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau Visitor Information Center Program; and $16,075 for Tour de Terrace.

The Jan. 7 meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chamber, 2nd floor of interim Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 6100 219th St. S.W. You can see the complete agenda here.

— By Teresa Wippel




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