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News from City Hall 
Dear Bainbridge Islanders,

As you prepare to enjoy the long holiday weekend, I hope you will find an opportunity to acknowledge Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 11. There are many island families with connections to one or more branches of the military, and their service to our country is an important contribution we should all recognize and appreciate. Within the City staff, roughly 10% are military veterans, which is higher than the overall US rate of 7%. I hope you had a chance to read some of the staff's stories in the November COBI Connects.

At the study session this week, the Council received a presentation from the City's Race Equity Task Force, and will consider approving the task force recommendations at the Nov. 26 meeting. Council also reviewed a workplan to develop an expanded Green Building program, and plans to finalize that process before the end of the year. Click here to watch the Nov. 5 discussions.

At the business meeting next week, the Council will receive a briefing from Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and will review sites to submit as potential locations for a new PSE community solar program. The Council will cover a number of other topics, including the annual funding recommendation for the use of lodging tax funds, the impacts to the City from the passage of I-976, and authorization to access additional State funds for the City's use towards affordable housing.

Best wishes,

Morgan Smith
City Manager
Passage of I-976 reduces funding for City's road maintenance and transit projects

The voters' approval of Initiative 976 (I-976) will cause the City of Bainbridge Island to lose about $600,000 per year by eliminating the Transportation Benefit Fund's (TBF) authority to impose vehicle license fees. 

The initiative, which becomes effective 30 days after passage, will be enacted Dec. 5, 2019.  That timing will result in a modest ($47,000) reduction in the revenues the City planned to receive in 2019. In 2020, the City will face a reduction of approximately $600,000 due to the elimination of all local TBF car-tab fees.

Of the $600,000 amount, roughly $200,000 derived from the increase in fees from $20 to $30 that went into effect in August 2019. Those funds were to be dedicated to new projects related to traffic calming, public transportation, and climate mitigation. The remaining funds ($400,000) were intended to support annual maintenance of the City's 140-mile road network (asphalt repairs, chip sealing). In recent years, the car-tab fees have covered roughly 60% of the City's annual road maintenance budget.

During the Nov. 12 business meeting, Finance Director DeWayne Pitts will discuss these impacts and highlight decision points that City Council and staff will consider in the coming months. In the near term, there is available TBF fund balance that can be used to support ongoing projects. The TBF fund balance is projected to be approximately $900,000 at the end of 2019. This equates to about two years of funding of annual road services at the existing levels. Council and City staff will consider whether to apply this fund balance to ongoing projects in order to keep near-term workplans unchanged.

In the long term, the City will need to determine how best to respond to the funding shortfall created by the passage of I-976. The City could choose the following approaches, individually or in combination:
  • Reduce the amount of road maintenance activities, 
  • Seek new revenue sources to replace the TBF car-tab revenue, or
  • Divert City funds from other programs and services to fund this work
Planning Commission denies proposed HDDP ordinance 

The Planning Commission has denied a proposed ordinance that would change an affordable housing incentive program to support the City's Suzuki affordable housing project and, instead, the Commission offered a new recommendation.
In October, the City Council decided to extend the City's Housing Design Demonstration Projects (HDDP) program, set to expire Dec. 31, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2021 and to remove a requirement that HDDP projects must be 100% affordable. The proposed changes (Ordinance 2019-32) were then referred to the Planning Commission for a recommendation.
During the Nov. 7 public hearing, the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of Ordinance 2019-32. Additionally, the Commission recommends that Council direct the Planning Commission and staff to draft an interim affordable housing ordinance that includes density incentives to promote affordable housing and green building.
Currently, the HDDP program (BIMC 2.16.020.S) promotes development of green residential housing projects to provide a greater diversity of housing options and affordability while utilizing progressive sustainable development practices. The HDDP program is only available within the Winslow Study Area of the Winslow Master Plan and the Winslow Sanitary Sewer System Service Area. 
The HDDP program includes a three-tier structure that pegs incentives to higher levels of green building, sustainable development, and housing diversity. Tier 2 HDDP development projects must integrate 10% of units as affordable housing, and Tier 3 HDDP development projects require at least 50% of units to be designated as affordable housing. The three tiers of the HDDP program have been in place since the program's inception in 2009. The decision to limit projects to those with 100% in affordable housing was added in 2018 while the City was in the process of updating its subdivision design standards.
The Council's changes to the HDDP program are proposed to support the selected site plan for the affordable housing project the City intends to develop at the Suzuki site, a 14-acre property at the intersection of New Brooklyn and Sportsman Club Road. The ability to move forward with 100 units on the Suzuki property is dependent on the project's HDDP Tier 3 eligibility, which would allow additional development above base zoning.

 The City Council, which will have final approval of Ordinance 2019-32, will discuss this topic during the Nov. 26 business meeting.
In addition, Council will discuss the Suzuki project and potential options to revise the number and type of housing units during the Nov. 19 study session. 
Next week: Staff to host workshops on moratorium, planning topics

If you have any questions about the new subdivision regulations or any other planning and building topics (tree regulations, permit process, online mapping, etc.), then please join staff for an open house  next week.

There will be two opportunities to attend a workshop:  Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall.
  • First Hour: Staff will provide an overview of the development moratorium workplan and presentation on the new subdivision regulations and design standards and guidelines.
  • Second Hour: Staff will explain how to navigate the Planning & Community Development Department. They'll briefly explain the permit process, how to research the status of a permit and your own property, how to stay informed on PCD projects, and more.
  • Final Hour: There will be booths with staff available for the public to ask questions, including information on tree regulations, permits, committees, moratorium topics, and more.
If you have questions about the moratorium or upcoming workshops, please contact PCD staff at
Winslow Hotel applicant withdraws project revisions

The Winslow Hotel project applicant has withdrawn project revisions that required a new public comment period and Planning Commission public meeting.

On Oct. 9, the applicant submitted a revision to the site plan and design review and conditional use permit applications to add 11 employee housing units, increase a vegetative buffer along the east side of the project and add an additional 11 parking spaces. On Monday, Nov. 4, the applicant requested to withdraw the revisions and move forward with the prior proposal.

The  Winslow Hotel project proposal, located at 251 Winslow Way W, includes an 87-room hotel with banquet and meeting rooms, restaurant and bar, and spa. There is a landscaped courtyard, reflecting pond and bandshell, and both under-building and surface parking totaling 136 spaces.

In July, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the Major Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and Major Site Plan and Design Review (SPR) for the Winslow Hotel project due, in part, to conflicts with the City's Comprehensive Plan and Winslow Master Plan goals and policies.

The application materials, staff report, and the recommendation of the Planning Commission will be reviewed by Planning & Community Development Director Heather Wright for a recommendation. The project proposal also requires a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold determination before going to the  Hearing Examiner for a final decision. The hearing date will be shared once it's scheduled.

The public comment period for the Oct. 9 proposed revisions is now closed due to the applicant's withdrawal. The City will not be considering the Oct. 9 proposed revisions in its final review.
Get informed: Learn about the role of the Hearing Examiner

Many cities and counties in Washington State have adopted a Hearing Examiner system to allow for objective decisions on certain types of land use matters.

On Bainbridge Island, the Hearing Examiner is appointed by the City Manager and confirmed by the City Council. Once confirmed by Council, the Hearing Examiner serves for a two-year term and may be reappointed to additional two-year terms by the City Manager and the City Council. The duties of the Hearing Examiner are outlined in the City Code and include conducting public hearings involving a variety of complex land use matters, including appeals of land use decisions and decisions on some types of land use applications. The purpose of the hearing is to review a proposed project for consistency with the City Code, appropriate elements of the Comprehensive Plan, and all other applicable law, and to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the project and its compliance.

Projects that require a hearing include major conditional use permits, variances, reasonable use exceptions, and long subdivisions (more than four lots). See the summary table of land use procedures ( BIMC 2.16.010-1 ) for a full list of matters that are decided by, or may be appealed to, the Hearing Examiner.

The Hearing Examiner generally may approve, approve with conditions, deny, or remand an application. When deciding, the Hearing Examiner will consider the applicable decision criteria of the code, all other applicable laws, recommendations of the Planning Commission and Design Review Board, testimony presented at the hearing, and any necessary documents and approvals.

The Hearing Examiner provides a written finding within 10 working days of the public hearing, unless a longer period is agreed upon by the Hearing Examiner and the applicant or appellant. The Hearing Examiner is the final decision of the City, unless a matter involves shoreline conditional uses or shoreline variances. In those shoreline cases, final decisions are made by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The most recent Hearing Examiner's decision in April 2019 involved a proposal for a single-family home on a vacant lot encumbered by wetlands. We anticipate the next hearing will be for the Winslow Hotel project proposal, but the date is pending.

The City's Hearing Examiner services are currently provided by Sound Law Center, which was chosen through a request for proposals (RFP) process that took place in 2017. The current contract with Sound Law Center was approved by Council and was executed by the City Manager and Sound Law Center on Dec. 14, 2017, and came into effect Jan. 1, 2018. It is set to expire Dec. 31, 2019. On November 12, 2019, the City Council will consider extending the contract with Sound Law Center for a new two-year term through Dec. 31, 2021.  

All Hearing Examiner hearings are held in the Council Chamber at City Hall and are noticed through the public notice requirements, including (but not limited to) e-mail, publishing in the newspaper of record, and posting a sign on the property. All hearings are audio recorded and posted to the City's website.
Council considers increase in paper bag fee

It may soon cost you an additional three cents for a retailer's paper bag if you don't bring your own reusable bags when shopping for groceries or other products on Bainbridge Island. Currently, retailers charge five cents for paper bags, but the City Council is considering raising the fee to eight cents to be consistent with Kitsap County, Bremerton and Port Orchard.

Kitsap County recently passed an ordinance to limit the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags to reduce pollution created by the product. According to Kitsap County, Washingtonians use more than two billion single-use plastic bags each year. Kitsap County alone uses approximately 87 million plastic bags annually and only 12% are recycled. The County is now charging an eight-cent fee for paper bags. In 2012, the City of Bainbridge Island passed a similar ordinance, but with a five-cent fee.
The eight-cent fee is retained by the retailer and is meant to offset the cost of bags and other costs related to the pass-through charge.
The Council will consider the three-cent increase during the Nov. 12 business meeting.
Get $350 for recycling eligible wood stoves

If you have an old or uncertified wood-burning device, you may qualify for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency's Wood Stove Program. For a limited time, residents of Kitsap County can receive $350 for recycling old, polluting wood stoves or fireplace inserts that were manufactured before 2000 or were not EPA certified. Also eligible are free-standing manufactured fireplaces (but not built-in, zero-clearance fireplaces), wood-burning furnaces, or residential coal-burning devices. 

Indoor barrel stoves and trash burners are not eligible for the reward. The homeowner is responsible for removal and taking the old stove or insert to the recycling facility. Click here to learn more about eligible devices and how to apply.

Click here to learn more about burning basics. 
Last call: Volunteers needed to serve on Salary Commission

We're looking for seven volunteers to serve on the Salary Commission to help determine how much members of the City Council should be paid.

City Council salary data was last reviewed in 2009. Beginning this year, a new salary commission will be appointed every seven years to perform a salary review. Currently, Council members receive $1,000 per month. The Council member selected to be Mayor receives $1,250 in recognition of additional duties assigned to the position.

Members of this Commission will be appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Council.

Commissioners will serve for approximately 120 days, during which time the group will meet as needed. The meetings are open to the public and subject to the Open Public Meetings Act.

A member of the Commission may not include a City employee or official, or an immediate family member of a City employee or official. An "immediate family member" means the parents, spouse, siblings, children, or dependent relatives of a City employee or official.
Click here for more information about the Salary Commission and to complete the online application.
Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. next Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Interviews will be held in late November and/or early December.

If you have questions about the Salary Commission, please contact Human Resources Analyst Eileen McSherry at 780-8632 or by email at
Maintenance Technician retires after 21 years of service

Public Works Street/Facility Technician II  Ken Taylor retired Oct. 30 after 21 years of service to Bainbridge Island.
During his time with the City, Ken applied most of his talents to facility-related projects. He took care of 62,607 square feet (to be exact) at City Hall, the Police Station, Municipal Court, the Commons (Senior Center) and Public Works facilities.

While the rest of the Public Works team was on the streets serving the public, Ken was busy taking care of staff. His handiwork, including custom cabinets and shelves, cubical dividers, and  adjustable height work desks, is everywhere throughout City facilities.
"Ken is a multi-talented craftsman who excelled at working closely with customers. His good nature and easy-going style will always be remembered," said Public Works Manager Chuck Krumheuer.
Congratulations, Ken! We wish you the best during your well-earned retirement.
Looking Ahead: City Council agenda

Below are some of the topics to be discussed during the Nov. 12 City Council business meeting. 
  • Presentation on passage of I-976 and impacts to Bainbridge Island funding
  • Set public hearing to extend landmark tree ordinance 
  • Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) funding recommendations
  • Puget Sound Energy (PSE) presentation on system improvements
  • City staff feedback on potential locations for a community solar site
  • Consideration of Hearing Examiner contract extension
If you would like to receive the City Council agenda by email when it's published, click here to sign up on the City's Council Agendas webpage.

The meetings are live-streamed on the  City website . Visit the Agendas & Minutes  section, then click on "In Progress" when the meeting starts. You can also watch the meetings on BKAT (Ch. 12 on Comcast & Ch. 3 on WAVE).

Reporting for duty! Ofc. Neve stopped by the police station during the downtown Trick or Treat event Oct. 31 to say "Hello" to fellow officers. She brought a doughnut, too!

The City Council recognized Veterans Day with an annual proclamation during the Nov. 5 study session. 

Upcoming Events & Meetings
  • Saturday, Nov. 9: North Ward Meeting at Seabold Hall; 10 a.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 11: City Hall closed for Veterans Day
  • Thursday, Nov. 14: PCD & Public Works counters closed for Process Improvement Day
  • Thursday, Nov. 28 & Friday, Nov. 29: City Hall closed for Thanksgiving holiday
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: S'mores with the Squad; 7 to 8 p.m. at Waterfront Park
  • Saturday, Dec. 7: Community Climate Workshop; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at City Hall
  • Wednesday Dec. 11: Community Climate Workshop; 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge High School library reading room
Click  here  for the full calendar list.
City of Bainbridge Island