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News from City Hall 
Dear Bainbridge Islanders,

In the course of the past week, there have been several important topics related to City business where community members let us know they had concerns and questions. The topics that come to mind are the Winslow Hotel, the resignation of several Ethics Board members, and a planned pedestrian path to connect open space at the Harbor Square condominiums to a new open space at the Bainbridge Landing project. Judging from the volume of emails I have received, these are clearly important topics to Bainbridge Islanders. You can find some information on each of these items in the updates provided below.

More generally, I hope islanders will continue to consider ways that they can engage constructively with the City on the topics that matter to them. It always takes more time to learn about the "why" behind the "what".  Helping residents know more about the "why" is a central goal behind the City's current communication initiatives. The Bainbridge Landing path, for example, was a requirement imposed in a 2017 decision by the Hearing Examiner in his approval of the Bainbridge Landing project. In our last monthly COBI Connects ( January issue), we shared some details about the role of the Hearing Examiner, as the Hearing Examiner provides final decision-making in projects like the Bainbridge Landing.

Your City staff are here to execute on day-to-day service delivery and planning for the island's future. We are also here to help explain how our work happens, and how residents can help to move goals forward and shape outcomes. There are always community meetings on our calendar where we are actively seeking input from a broader range of residents (think: Island Center Subarea Plan public meeting on Feb. 10). There are often openings on City advisory groups and task forces (think: we have openings on four of these groups now and will have more openings later this spring). We are constantly trying to send out information via our weekly and monthly channels to explain important aspects of City projects and policies. If there are specific topics or aspects of the City's structure you think would be helpful to highlight, please take the time to let us know.

At the business meeting this week, the Council received a briefing on recent collaborations between City staff and the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District to develop a current, islandwide inventory of the existing trail network and key missing connections. The Council also held a public hearing on the moratorium on self-service storage facilities, reviewed the schedule for the next biennial budget development, and discussed whether to consider options for a future sales tax increase to support affordable housing.

For more information on next week's topics and other items, please see below.

Best wishes,

Morgan Smith
City Manager
Ethics program revisions to become effective Feb. 1

At the Feb. 4 study session, the City Council will review the City's Ethics Program and discuss the Council's 2019 work to develop changes to the program.  Over the course of 2019, the Council discussed aspects of this topic during at least 20 separate Council meetings and produced a set of changes to the ethics program that are intended to clarify the procedure for the review of complaints submitted by members of the public as well as for review of requests for advisory opinions and waivers by Councilmembers and members of City advisory groups.

The set of changes were adopted by Council on Nov. 26, 2019 and will take effect on Feb. 1, 2020.

Generally, the Code of Conduct and Ethics Program establishes a Code of Conduct and a Code of Ethics, and provides a process to review possible violations of the Code of Conduct and of the Code of Ethics by Councilmembers and members of City Committees and Commissions. The Code of Conduct and Ethics Program also provides for an Ethics Board to assist with the administration of the program.

As part of the revisions, Council increased the number of Ethics Board members from five to seven. The members are nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council for three-year terms. Please see the Ethics Board webpage for a list of responsibilities of the Ethics Board.

Ethics Board resignations

On Monday, Jan. 27, four members of the Ethics Board submitted a letter of resignation to Mayor Leslie Schneider and cited their concerns about the newly revised ethics program. In the resignation letter, the group wrote they cannot support the adopted changes to the ethics program and that it "stifles citizen complaints and reduces the role of the Ethics Board to administrative gatekeeper."

In response to the resignations, Mayor Schneider sent a letter to the former members to express appreciation for their service and acknowledge their resignations. During the Jan. 28 business meeting discussion at Good of the Order, Mayor Schneider said, "My intent in writing (the letter) is very much to honor the work that these committee members put into this and I do honestly believe that they just had the intent that we want from our public. There are always going to be bumps on a road and this was a lot of bumps on a very long road. I just want to express gratitude for that and just make sure that this is something that we continue to express."

The City is now seeking to fill six seats on the Ethics Board. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. Interviews will be held during the week of Feb. 24. Click here to apply.

"I'm actually very hopeful that our new ethics code is going to work really well and that a new Ethics Board implementing a new ethics code will have a really positive experience and an experience that is meaningful and helpful for our community," said Councilmember Kol Medina during the Jan. 28 business meeting.

The Council will discuss the ethics topic during the Feb. 4 study session.
Listen: Winslow Hotel public hearing

The audio recording of the Jan. 23 public hearing for approval of the land use applications related to the proposed Winslow Hotel project is now available on the City's website. Click here to listen.
According to Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter's post-hearing order, a decision will be issued by Feb. 24 unless the hearing is reopened. The Hearing Examiner will decide by Feb. 12 if the hearing should be reopened.
No additional documents, comments, briefs or other written material will be considered as part of the record except for the items identified in the post-hearing order. Click here to read the post-hearing order. 

The Hearing Examiner's finding is the final decision of the City and does include an appeal period. 
City responds to concerns on pedestrian connection at Bainbridge Landing site

We understand there are some concerns in the community regarding a pedestrian connection at the Bainbridge Landing project site, located near Ferncliff Avenue and Minamoto Lane.
The situation has been reviewed by staff in both Development Engineering and Planning, including the City's arborist. Please see below for more information on the matter.
Bainbridge Landing Pedestrian Connection

Harbor Square residents have expressed concerns about a pedestrian connection between the Bainbridge Landing project site and the Harbor Square public open space, including a heritage tree on the north end of the Harbor Square property.
The pedestrian connection, which is roughly 70 square feet, was required as a condition in the Hearing Examiner's decision issued in April 2017 for the Bainbridge Landing project.

11. To ensure recreational opportunities are provided on-site and connected to adjoining sites, the project shall provide an on-site pedestrian connection to the adjoining public park on the Harbor Square property.

In September 2017, the City approved a design submitted by the Bainbridge Landing developer to install a concrete pedestrian connection in response to the Hearing Examiner condition.

The City staff cannot ignore the Hearing Examiner condition -- a "pedestrian connection" in some form must be provided at this location prior to giving final approval of the site improvements. 

Development Engineering staff met with the Bainbridge Landing developer Thursday afternoon to discuss the project, including the pedestrian connection. Staff shared with the developer that the City cannot change the Hearing Examiner decision for a pedestrian path, however alternative materials may be an option.
City staff may be able to approve a change in the path material that is not concrete, but to do so will require the developer to submit a revised plan to the City for review and approval. The Hearing Examiner's decision ( see condition 26 on page 14 of the Hearing Examiner's April 2017 decision) limits the available options for alternative materials.

Condition 26 requires all public paths on the Bainbridge Landing Project to be "nonskid hard surfaces". The City could approve a "field change" to replace concrete with pervious concrete or asphalt without the applicant being required to submit a revision to their permit. Alternatively, the City could approve a "permit revision" (which would require the applicant to submit plans and specs) for accessible trail surfacing such as fine crushed gravel, decomposed granite, or bonded wood fiber. Based on condition 26, wood chips would be not be an approved material. Wood chips, or bark pathways, are not considered stable, firm, or slip resistant.
If the developer chooses to proceed with the installation of a concrete path, as previously approved by the Hearing Examiner, there is no basis for the City to object to this work. Alternatives were discussed this week with the developer, but it is not clear at this time whether the developer will proceed with a concrete surface or will seek City approval for an alternative surface. The City has communicated that the City would be likely to accept alternative surface options that comply with the Hearing Examiner's decision.

As a condition of the Bainbridge Landing project, the City required the developer to work with an arborist to implement tree protection measures to monitor and manage the tree during construction. As part of this work, the developer submitted an assessment from a certified arborist that confirmed that the location of the planned path would not impact the health of the tree. According to the 2016 arborist report submitted by Katy Bigelow, the trail is not in the drip line of the tree.

In addition, City Arborist Nick Snyder recently evaluated the pedestrian connection and the nearby tree and determined that the installation of a pedestrian connection in the proposed location - whether concrete or some other material - is not anticipated to adversely impact the tree. Although the path is located at the edge of the critical root zone, it is unlikely that any healthy, significant roots will be damaged by the placement of the pedestrian access, since no additional excavation is required.

Harbor Square Open Space
We understand that some Harbor Square residents have described this pedestrian connection as a "pathway to nowhere" and have concerns about the connectivity of the path.
As noted in the Hearing Examiner's 2017 condition above, this path is intended to connect public open space on the Bainbridge Landing project with similar public open space on the Harbor Square property.
In November 2005, a declaration of public open space was recorded for the future Harbor Square Condominium Development that guaranteed public access to the dedicated open space.
In 2006, the final Harbor Square project condition added the tree to the open space. The City designated the tree as a "heritage tree" after the Harbor Square developer (Opus NWR Development) applied for the designation to receive a development bonus for the project.
The pedestrian connection between the existing Harbor Square open space, and the newly added Bainbridge Landing open space, is a meaningful amenity that is intended to expand the utility and function of both areas.
Join the discussion: stormwater management

The Bainbridge Island Rain Garden Mentors (from the Washington State University - Kitsap County Extension Master Gardeners) will host a stormwater management event at the library on Saturday, Feb. 22. 

The group will share information and guidance on how to handle drainage on residential properties, especially using low impact development techniques such as rain gardens for water quality and enhanced yard landscape and aesthetics.

City stormwater staff and Kitsap Conservation District staff will be in attendance to offer support and answer questions.

The event is scheduled 2 to 4 p.m. in the library meeting room. All are welcome to attend, and no registration is required.
City Council expresses support for City, Parks trail collaboration

At the Jan 28 Council meeting, City and BI Metro Park and Recreation (Parks) staff provided a briefing on recent work to develop a joint approach to planning and coordinating the island's trail network. After discussion, the City Council directed City Manager Morgan Smith to draft an interlocal agreement between the City and Parks to establish roles and responsibilities for expanding and maintaining the island's trail network. The agreement will be considered for review and approval by the Council at a future business meeting.

Throughout 2019, staff from the City and Parks began collaborating on a joint planning effort to inventory and map existing island routes, create a common language for use when communicating with each other and to the community, and identify roles and responsibilities to better develop and maintain island trails and routes.

The goal is to better serve island residents by appropriately allocating resources from each agency based on a shared vision and language. This work will help inform and become a part of the upcoming Sustainable Transportation planning effort.
City Council approves Friends of the Farms master lease amendment

On Jan. 28, the City Council approved an amendment to the master lease between Friends of the Farms (FOF) and the City of Bainbridge Island to allow for payment in 2020 of $72,000. The funding allows for direct operating support to FOF related to FOF management of the City's public farmland. 

This is the second year that the City has made a payment to FOF, an arrangement that was not originally contemplated in the master lease, but has been approved by the Council.
Earlier in January, the City Council formed an ad hoc committee to consider options for the ongoing management of the City's 60 acres of public farmland.  The ad hoc committee, made up of Deputy Mayor Nassar, Councilmember Hytopoulos and Councilmember Deets, will review issues related to the stewardship of the City's farmland, including payment for management services, and will make a recommendation to the full Council later in 2020.
Committee to host public workshop on Island Center subarea planning effort

Help shape the future of Island Center! Join the Island Center Subarea Planning Process Steering Committee for a Feb. 10 workshop on the subarea planning process. The committee will share an update on planning efforts related to transportation, public space, natural resource protection, utilities, land use choices and more. 

The committee hosted a workshop in June 2018 to identify the vision and elements for the area and now the committee members will share an update on how they have integrated the vision and elements into several alternative plans. The feedback received at the Feb. 10 meeting will help the committee draft an Island Center subarea plan that will be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council.

The workshop begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 at City Hall. Click here to learn more about the planning effort.
Council discusses affordable housing sales tax

At the business meeting this week, the City Council held an initial discussion on the potential to pursue a local sales tax increase to generate funding for affordable housing.  State law authorizes cities to place a ballot proposition before the voters for a sales tax of up to 0.1% for affordable housing and related services. For Bainbridge Island, it is estimated that the additional tax would yield approximately $500,000 in funding per year that could be used towards affordable housing initiatives.
The funding from a potential sales tax increase would need to be used for specific purposes, as defined in State law. At least 60% of the revenue must be used for constructing affordable housing, constructing mental and behavioral health-related facilities, or funding the operations and maintenance costs of new units of affordable housing and facilities where housing-related programs are provided.  The affordable housing and facilities may only be provided to people within specified population groups whose income is 60% or less of the county median income.  In Kitsap County, the 2018 median household income is $71,610 according to the United States Census Bureau. This means that in order to qualify, the household income would need to be less than or equal to $42,966.
In January, the Council took action to access additional funds for affordable housing that were provided via the 2019 legislation known as HB 1406. Through this action, the City will now receive approximately $43,000 annually for use on specified affordable housing uses.
At the conclusion of this week's discussion, the Council agreed that the possibility of a local sales tax increase will be discussed as part of the Council's annual planning retreat, which is scheduled for March 6.
Looking Ahead: City Council agenda

Below are some of the topics scheduled for the Feb. 4 study session:
  • Ethics discussion
  • Green Building update
  • Sustainable Transportation Plan update
  • Update on WSDOT's State Route 305/Day Road roundabout project
  • Discussion on potential affordable housing programs (Multifamily Tax Exemption and Inclusionary Zoning)
  • Update on Puget Sound Regional Council population allocations
*The next discussion on the Suzuki affordable housing project has been postponed to the Feb. 18 study session. 

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).
Upcoming Events & Meetings
  • Saturday, Feb. 8: City Council retreat at City Hall
  • Thursday, Feb. 13: Planning & Public Works-Engineering counters are closed for process improvement day
Click here  for the full calendar list.
City of Bainbridge Island