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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Vancouver to have ‘zero tolerance’ for fireworks

City council also gives final OK to Terminal 1 master plan

By Lauren Dake, Columbian Political Writer
Published: June 19, 2017, 9:45pm

America’s birthday celebration is going to be a lot quieter in Vancouver this summer.

This Fourth of July marks the first since the city’s ordinance banning the sale and use of personal fireworks within the city limits takes effect.

Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli told city councilors on Monday fire officials will be issuing citations for those who violate the new ordinance.

“We’re looking at zero tolerance,” Scarpelli said.

The city passed the ordinance in 2015 but state law requires giving residents 365 days’ notice. Camas and Washougal also passed ordinances restricting the use of fireworks.

Scarpelli said Vancouver residents should call 311 to report any violations.

For the most part people in the community comply with the law, the fire marshal said.

But for those who don’t, Scarpelli said, the city is prepared to move forward with enforcement.

Fines start at $500 for violating the law.

Supplemental budget

Vancouver city councilors also got a glimpse at the 2017 supplemental budget, the largest in the city’s history.

“It represents the growth of Vancouver,” Natasha Ramras, the deputy finance director, said before presenting the budget at the city council meeting. “But very paced growth, so it’s a financially sustainable increase for the city of Vancouver.”

The $114.3 million proposed supplemental budget represents about 11 percent of the city’s total two-year budget.

It includes a variety of city initiatives that were funded after the city adopted its two-year budget, including:

• The city recently approved annexing the area known as Van Mall North, which will add about 4,600 residents to its population on Aug. 1.

• Voters in Vancouver also approved Proposition 1, increasing property taxes to help with affordable housing.

• The city is in the midst of a deal to buy nearly 12 acres of the Town Plaza property, formerly known as Tower Mall, for about $5 million.

The supplemental budget also adds 59.25 full-time employees to the city’s force. The bulk of new employees, 32, will be or already are part of the city’s police department. The Vancouver City Council previously approved a package of tax and fee hikes to increase funding for the city’s police department. The goal is to fill gaps that were created during the recession when cuts were made.

The city is also adding five positions in community and economic development programs to support the city’s growth.

“The economy is doing well, the sales tax is coming in strong,” Ramras said.

Terminal 1 master plan

The city council also approved the final piece of the downtown waterfront development.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, councilors gave the final go-ahead to the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 1 project master plan.

Julianna Marler, the executive director of the port, said the project will reinvigorate the city’s waterfront, boost tourism, promote small businesses while honoring the city’s history and culture. Plus, she added, there is going to be a unique marketplace to complement the farmers market.

The Port of Vancouver would like to develop 10.37 acres of four developable blocks close to the site of the former Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay. The old landmark hotel closed in October 2015 and was partially demolished. The overall development could include up to 355 residential units, including both apartments and possibly live/work units, 62,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of commercial office space and a 160-room hotel, according to information from the city.

The project also includes extending the Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail, improving the existing pier and opening up spaces for public enjoyment. The project could also use 36,600 square feet of existing building area and convert it into a marketplace. The advantages for the city include using vacant and underutilized land within the city’s urban core and creating employment opportunities, including construction and longer-term office jobs. The project is expected to take about seven years to complete.

Councilor Bill Turlay voiced reservations once again about the project. He’s concerned there will be too many people at the waterfront, not enough parking or public toilets, and it will be difficult for the disabled to access.

“These are my concerns … I don’t want to say in a few years, ‘I told you so,’ ” Turlay said. “I would rather say ‘You were right.’ ”

Mayor Tim Leavitt pushed port officials to revisit the parking and public bathroom issue, adding he also doesn’t want to hear Turlay utter, “I told you so.”

Port officials said the marketplace would have public restrooms and there is parking planned for each block; however, they have not drilled down on the specifics.

Councilor Jack Burkman called approval of the master plan a great plan and the first step of a long journey.

“Clearly this is not only the front door of the city of Vancouver, it’s also the front door of our state,” Burkman said.

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Columbian Political Writer