I recently had the opportunity to be a tour guide of City Hall with a fifth grader from The Overlake School named Ender. He was curious about what happens at City Hall and what the mayor and other employees did there. This is a slightly expanded and more technical recounting of our conversation that afternoon.
City Hall is currently closed to the public, but I used my key card to allow him and his mother access to the building. We looked around the council chambers, where the City Council, Planning Commission and Public Spaces Commission all meet (in non-Covid times). I explained that City Council usually meets twice a month, on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Planning Commission meets the third Wednesday of the month, and Public Spaces meets the fourth Thursday. I explained to Ender (and Mom) that these two commissions bring items of concern and requests within their scope to the City Council, which has final say on what gets approved. We all try to work together on issues and projects that benefit the city. We also looked at the area where the meetings are filmed for distribution on Woodinville TV (station 21 on Comcast).
We toured other departments on the main floor of the building. Our police department is contracted with King County, but we have our own very nice and capable Police Chief Katie Larson. They process some permits, can register your home alarm system, and will complete a report on issues that you call to their attention. One of their annual activities is Shop with a Cop, which was virtual this year.
Development Services is next down the hall. They oversee the permitting process. Last year Woodinville had 49 land use permits and 668 construction permits approved. This year we waived the fees on many of the permits.
Public Works, at the end of the hall, works up our CIP (capital improvement projects) list. In our current Covid world, our 2021 list is shorter and only $8M, and includes road and park projects among others.
Last year the City Council distributed $577,000 in Cares Act money. We also had personal and business PPE distributions at numerous times and places in the city. $413,540 of the Cares Act distribution went to food assistance and other human services grants.
Recycling for light bulbs, batteries and prescription bottles is also available at City Hall.
Thank you, Ender, for your interest in city government and giving me a good topic to write about this month.