A nearly five-hour West Linn City Council special meeting Monday — the last before an August recess — was largely defined by another tense debate over the City's legal services structure.
The council did end up approving formal language for a November ballot measure that will propose three charter changes related to legal services — but only after a prolonged discussion that forced the council to rush through the rest of the special meeting agenda and a work session that followed.
There were, however, a number of other items addressed during the Aug. 7 meeting, including confusion over parking restrictions near West Linn High School and updates to the City's public record fees.
In the early portion of the meeting, Metro and Clackamas County representatives appeared before the council to discuss a potential new Metro policy related to the disposal of food scraps at commercial locations.
The policy, according to Metro representative Ken Ray, would require local governments within the Metro boundaries to implement collection programs for food scraps at commercial "food-oriented" businesses. The policy, if approved, would be phased in over five years, starting with larger "food generators" like grocery stores in 2019 and moving to medium-sized restaurants or specialty food markets before finally incorporating schools and cafes.
Metro's goal is to keep food scraps out of landfills, where they are free to release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere.
Metro hopes to have a draft policy in place for public comment in September. It is also in the process of deciding how and where to process the collected food scraps.
West Linn, for its part, has had a commercial business food scrap collection policy in place since 2013.
Public records fees
Since taking office in January, City Councilor Teri Cummings has made a strong push to make public records more affordable and accessible for residents. That effort took a step forward Monday as the council approved a resolution amending the public records section of the City's Master Fees and Charges document.
The changes ensured that digital copies of records may be made by the requestor — which was previously not allowed — and that the first 10 pages of records will be provided free of charge. For requests that require staff research, the first 30 minutes will be free and the fee will now be $20 per hour if the research extends beyond 30 minutes. Previously, the fee was identified as "staff hourly wages."
Cummings pushed for all records to be provided entirely free of charge, but City Manager Eileen Stein said that staff would have to do further research on the records retrieval process before committing to that.
Finance Director Lauren Breithaupt estimated that the City collects between $2,000 and $3,000 per year from records request charges.
"If it's that small, I would rather it be free," City Councilor Bob Martin said.
Exile on Easy Street
Residents on Easy Street near West Linn High School expressed concerns recently when the City removed parking restriction signs that keep students from parking there during school hours.
Stein said that action was taken after the City discovered that Easy Street was technically not part of the ordinance adopted in 1995 that prohibited parking on the residential streets. However, the City will prepare a resolution over the next month to address that oversight for the coming school year.
In the meantime, the signs will be placed back in the neighborhood to abate residents' concerns. While City Council President Brenda Perry expressed concerns with having signs up in the absence of an approved resolution, Acting Police Chief Neil Hennelly said police generally give warnings to students who park in the restricted zones during the first few weeks of school.
City Attorney Tim Ramis said he was comfortable with the signs going back up so long as police did not plan on writing tickets in absence of an approved resolution.
The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11.