Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Brewster council addresses hydro event, accessory dwelling units

Parking fines jump

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BREWSTER – Jim Labrie, director of last year’s first Brewster hydro races, addressed the regular meeting of the Brewster City Council last Thursday, July 20, about this year’s event.

The races were held on September 10 last year, the same weekend as the Okanogan County Fair. Labrie scheduled this year’s races on Labor Day weekend, September 4, to avoid that conflict again.

“I’m trying to make it more than just racing boats,” said Labrie, “If everything goes right, add more activities to make it more of a community event.”

Labrie said he is working with the Boys & Girls Club to host a car show that weekend and is hoping to arrange youngster hydro races in the Cove Park lagoon.

“One of the Lone Point waiters said we used to have Bonanza Days here,” said Labrie. “Maybe we could do something more like a Bonanza Days.”

Other ideas Labrie suggested are vendors downtown and a soccer tournament. He asked the city for help promoting the races similar to promotion of the August Salmon Derby.

Mayor Art Smyth said the city would be willing to pitch in and suggested Labrie also contact the Brewster Chamber of Commerce and get it on board.

City Director of Finance Misty Ruiz added that funds from the hotel/motel taxes may be available to help cover costs.

“As long as you provide the invoice that shows you’re going to put heads in beds there is $10,000 available for that,” Ruiz said.

Labrie said his Region 10 racing group holds hydro races in Pateros, Chelan, and Entiat as well as Brewster.

“Pateros is two weeks before here,” said Labrie. “I get a lot of people to come up for that and I’m hoping the retired people might want to stay, get camp spots, and hang out for a couple weeks and enjoy our area.”

Police Chief Marcos Ruiz requested street closure on Third Street near city hall from Indian Avenue to Main Street on August 19 for an End of Summer Hangout and child car seat clinic.

Parking fines jump

Ruiz also asked the city to increase summer parking fines from $20 to $250 to convince violators to obey no parking signs.

“We are not looking to make revenue here,” Ruiz stressed. “What we’re looking for is a change in behavior.”

Ruiz cited cases where illegally parked vehicles block critical access to water sources that might be needed in the event of a fire. Mayor Smyth endorsed the need to increase the fine.

“The reason this came about is the ticket is just $20,” said Smyth, “So they (parking violators) ask if they could just give us $100 because they plan to be here for five days.”

“The officers are ineffective because they have no means of recourse,” Ruiz added.

The council unanimously approved the fine increase for the summer months.

“You go talking $250, someone is going to listen,” council member Glenn Farrington observed.

Ice Pigging praised

Last month’s ice pigging project that flushed city water lines was labeled a huge success for improving water quality.

“We have had zero black water complaints – zero – since we did this,” said Misty Ruiz. She had high praise for Michelle Johnson with J-U-B Engineers for making it happen.

“We talked about this for years and the people quit on us; they said they were out of business; they could not make it happen, and Michelle made it happen for us,” Ruiz said.

In other business the council discussed another proposed crosswalk on Highway 97, the need for larger trash containers where excess garbage is problematic, and accessory dwelling units.

Accessory dwellings unaddressed

The city does not have any code provisions that address nightly or short-term rentals, but it does have a significant number of accessory dwelling units being rented for living space. Public works director Lee Webster gave the numbers.

“Inside the city limits there are 99 garages, RVs, etc., that are being lived in,” said Webster. “That’s 99 water, sewer, and garbage bills that are not being paid or generated; people living in sub-standard conditions, and so on.”

Webster said he would like to see the city adopt regulations that are acceptable for all cases. That led to an extensive exchange over how to address accessory dwelling units and overnight rentals. City attorney Chuck Zimmerman will look into options for the city to consider as possible code amendments to address what is likely to become a growing issue in the city.

Project bids received

Webster reported that the city received four bids for the Old Highway 97 project scheduled to start sometime after April next spring. The bids range from $1.1million to $1.54 million. The city’s original match for that funding was $200,000 but funds received from the state reduced the city match to near zero.

Work on the airport project will be underway before next month’s council meeting.

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