Dear Bainbridge Islanders,
This time last Friday, the island was working to cope with some significant interruptions in our telecommunications service. Fortunately, the outage - which resulted from a cut to an underwater CenturyLink cable - was relatively short-lived. But it was an interesting reminder of how we rely on these systems to support our daily communications, retail operations, and transportation networks.
Within the City, our phones were down, which led to some confusion for customers. But email and other systems were fine since these are served by a separate fiber connection. At City Hall, this meant that business went on largely as usual. But at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, the telecom outage was part of a chain of events that created some critical conditions.
The first "event" was the ongoing challenge of succession planning. During the past few years, many long-term City staff have retired after decades of service. These legacy employees develop knowledge and specialized skills that are hard to replace. While we celebrate their move to the next phase of their lives, their departure presents challenges. The City's Public Works Operations and Maintenance division is an important example of this. The current demand for these workers is high and the pool of qualified applicants is small. Many of our O&M positions require key certifications, and because we are a small organization our staff must be highly dedicated and able to respond to a wide variety of situations.
Recently, the City has addressed these challenges in several ways. Existing O&M staff were cross trained to take on additional responsibilities, key positions were filled by seasoned professionals from outside the City, and some positions were filled by entry level personnel with the right potential.
The outage last week was a major test of our O&M staff changes, thanks to the second "event," which was last Thursday's scheduled upgrade to the City's utility monitoring system. The City's plant and other facilities like wells and pump stations are controlled by a Systems Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. Last Thursday, as part of ongoing improvements, the SCADA system files were being migrated to a new processor. During these upgrades, some glitches are common and can take a few days to identify and correct. But then the third "event" - the island's telecom outage - happened before the SCADA upgrades were complete and tested. This meant that the City's utilities were left blind and unable to communicate with each other. Although the systems have redundant capabilities and can continue to operate without communications, major SCADA interruptions cause significant concerns.
During these conditions, it's standard practice for systems to be monitored and controlled manually until the SCADA system is restored to normal. To accomplish this, City staff volunteered to fill shifts around the clock to provide manual coverage. All but one of the volunteers have had their current responsibilities for less than a year. In another piece of bad luck, additional lightning strikes occurred over the weekend, further compounding system anomalies. To resolve these issues, staff worked with the City's long-term telemetry provider and a local vendor to correct problems, restore controls, and in one case rewire systems. By Monday afternoon, systems were nearly completely restored to normal.
Throughout the event, water continued to flow to customers, sewage was pumped along, and wastewater was treated at the treatment plant. No sewage spills happened, no one was hurt, and no damage occurred. Many thanks to all who played a role in that good outcome. The events last week demonstrate the importance of prior planning in order to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. We are fortunate to have City staff and private partners who are willing to step up in times of need to ensure continuity of essential public services. Looking ahead, we must continue to make plans that anticipate the generational changes that are transforming our City's workforce.
At the study session this week, the Council received a briefing from WSDOT on the Highway 305 roundabouts, continued work on changes to the City's Ethics Program, discussed two types of affordable housing incentives (inclusionary zoning and multifamily tax exemptions) and reviewed a request from Friends of the Farms (FOF) for the City to provide FOF with annual funding to support the organization's work to manage the City's public farmland.
At the business meeting next week, the Council will hold public hearings and consider approval of new design guidelines and changes to subdivision regulations. The Council will also consider approval of an extension of some aspects of the development moratorium, which would otherwise expire in early October. The Council will also resume their work on changes to the Sign Code and consider a ban on fireworks, among other topics. Please see below for additional details on these items.
The City Council will hold three public hearings related to the moratorium work plan during the Sept. 24 business meeting.
Public hearings related to moratorium set for Sept. 24 Council meeting
The public hearings will be as follows:
The development moratorium, which has been in place since January 2018, is currently set to expire Oct. 3. The Council is proposing to extend the moratorium for six months to allow City staff time to complete training on the new design guidelines and
subdivision rules and conduct public outreach on the changes, including public workshops. The extension will also give Council additional time to complete affordable housing tasks.
If the moratorium extension is approved, the Council has discussed an approach that would significantly narrow the moratorium in early December. From that point forward, the moratorium would apply only within the
Winslow Master Plan Study Area
(excluding subdivisions; projects in the Central Core Overlay District, which is already exempt from the moratorium as a result of Council action in 2018; and projects that provide 10% of the total residential units as affordable housing). From December onward, the remaining four months of the moratorium extension would allow the Council to continue work to develop new incentives for affordable housing, including a Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) and/or inclusionary zoning (IZ) regulations. See the
Sept. 17 Council agenda
for more on MFTE and IZ regulations.
During this period, subdivisions will be allowed to proceed, however, multifamily projects that have not already completed a pre-application meeting prior to the effective date of the moratorium (Jan. 9, 2018) and that do not propose a minimum of the 10% of the units as affordable housing will still be on hold.
If Council completes the affordable housing tasks before the six-month extension deadline (April 3, 2020), then the remaining moratorium could be lifted early.
See the Sept. 24 City Council agenda for more information when it's published later today.
City Manager appoints new Planning Director
City Manager Morgan Smith appointed Heather Wright as the City's Director of Planning and Community Development. Wright served as the Interim Director for the department since May 2019. She joined the City 12 years ago and has served as Planning Manager, Senior Planner, and Associate Planner.
"Heather brings an exceptionally thorough understanding of our City's municipal code, highly-engaged residents, and overall community and comprehensive planning goals to this role. She's uniquely qualified to lead the department and support the Council's policy direction," said Smith.
After earning a master's degree in Urban Planning with a focus on the environment and land use from the University of Louisville, Wright began her planning career in Florida. With a strong interest in island planning, and after four hurricanes in three and a half years, she relocated to the Pacific Northwest.
"I am honored and humbled to serve as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Bainbridge Island," said Wright, who is also a 2016 graduate of the Leadership Kitsap program. "I look forward to continuing to work with community members to help shape the Island's future."
Council considers Friends of the Farms funding request
The City Council will have a future conversation to continue their consideration of a request from Friends of the Farms (FOF) for ongoing operating support. The Council previously discussed this request in July and at the most recent
Sept. 17 study session
At the request of the Council, FOF provided additional information at the Sept. 17 study session regarding the programs, staff activities, and budget of the organization. City staff provided Council with an update on how other jurisdictions manage and pay for public farmland management. Staff has learned that the City's approach is somewhat unusual due to the small amount of farmland the City owns, and the payment structure FOF has proposed.
The City owns 60 acres of farmland in seven parcels across the Island, of which 21 acres are leased to nine farm operations. These properties are managed by FOF, a nonprofit organization, according to a Master Lease Agreement (Master Lease) originally signed in 2011. Under that agreement and per the terms of the lease, FOF has acted as property manager for the City's public farmland without compensation beyond rents collected from sub-lessees. The Master Lease does not provide for a direct payment from the City to FOF, however, in 2018 the City approved a one-time payment of $65,000 for 2019, with the commitment to further discuss the issue of direct payment this year. FOF has requested $72,000 in annual funding starting in 2020, adjusted annually for inflation.
While FOF manages the property, the City retains the ownership responsibility and shares in planning and managing this important community asset. The City devotes significant funding to its farmland through planned routine maintenance of $40,000 and 100 hours of maintenance work annually, with additional funding as needed for major maintenance projects such as removing fuel tanks and maintaining forested parcels.
The City and FOF will continue to discuss the arrangement going forward to align the lease agreement with both parties' goals. The topic will next be discussed later in the fall (date to be determined), at which time City staff and FOF representatives will provide additional information on program costs and respond to Council questions. Click
to watch the Sept. 17 discussion.
Agencies to participate in mass
casualty exercise at WSF facility
The U.S. Coast Guard along with law enforcement agencies, including the Bainbridge Island Police Department, will hold an active shooter exercise at the Washington State Ferries Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility on Bainbridge 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 21.
People in the area should expect many first responders, equipment and loud noises, including sirens and occasional simulated gunfire.
On Monday, Sept. 23, the agencies will also conduct an active-shooter drill aboard a WSF vessel while it's underway, without passengers, in Puget Sound
Council to continue sign code discussion at Sept. 24 meeting
The City Council is getting closer to approving new rules for sign code. The Council will review a draft sign code ordinance during the Sept. 24 business meeting.
During the July 16 study session, the Council
identified a proposed set of rules for various types of signs in Winslow and other areas to address the proliferation of sandwich boards and other signs across the island.
A sign is "noncommercial" if the sign relates to more than just the economic interests of the sign's owner and her/his audience (e.g. Little League signups, children's theatre, etc.). A sign is "commercial" if it relates solely to the economic interests of the sign's owner and her/his audience (e.g. realtor, garage sale, etc.).
The proposed rules include:
- In Winslow and Neighborhood Centers: sandwich boards in the right of way (both commercial and noncommercial) are allowed but must be brought in at night. Other, non-durable signs (smaller signs with stakes) are allowed if noncommercial (nonprofit events, etc.) but are not allowed if commercial.
- Outside Winslow: sandwich boards in the right of way (both commercial and noncommercial) are allowed but must be brought in at night. Other, non-durable signs are allowed for both commercial and noncommercial uses. Commercial non-durable signs will require a City-issued permit to control the number of days, display times, etc.
In addition, staff developed a proposal to expand wayfinding signage in Winslow as an alternative to the use of individual sandwich boards. This proposal was submitted for consideration by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) for 2020 funding.
The public is welcome to provide public comment on the sign code during the Sept. 24 business meeting discussion.
Please see the July 16 study session discussion for information on the draft ordinance. Otherwise, you can review the draft ordinance in the Council agenda packet when it's published later today. Sign up here to get the agenda by email.
Reminder: Proposals for cultural funding due Sept. 30
The City is seeking proposals for cultural projects and activities that will benefit Bainbridge Island residents and visitors during 2020-2021. A total of $300,000 will be available for distribution through a two-year funding cycle.
Awards may range in size from $5,000 to $30,000 and may be used to support activities during 2020 and 2021. Special consideration will be given to organizations and projects that will use City funds to advance the community objectives identified within the Cultural Element and/or Economic Element of the City's Comprehensive Plan. Special consideration will also be given to organizations and projects that involve robust community participation; create access to cultural activities for underserved/underrepresented communities; strengthen organizational capacity; and foster opportunities for collaboration within the cultural sector.
Applicant and project requirements are included in the RFP, which is available on the City's website. To be eligible, applications must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30.
City's preparedness partnership described as 'unique model' at state conference
The City's emergency preparedness partnership with Bainbridge Prepares and the Bainbridge Island Fire Department was highlighted this week at the Washington State Emergency Management Association annual conference and was described by some as a "unique model" for planning and inclusion.
Emergency Management Coordinator Anne LeSage
was joined by Bainbridge Island Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Jared Moravec and Bainbridge Prepares Co-Founder Scott James. The group
presented on the early stages of the partnership, how the partnership evolved into its current structure, and ways the partnership is equipping the island to respond to and recover from a major disaster.
"We received incredible feedback on our presentation and lots of interest from folks to learn more about our partnership and how we are preparing our community," said LeSage.
Approximately 150 emergency management, law enforcement, and fire service professionals from across the state were in attendance.
Kitsap Public Health seeks input on health priorities
How satisfied are you with the quality of life in Kitsap County? What contributes to the health of your community? What causes the biggest health challenges? These are among the questions asked in a Kitsap Community Health Priorities (KCHP) survey that seeks to understand how Kitsap residents feel about the overall health of their community and ways it could be improved.
Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey. The results will be analyzed and used for development of community health priorities.
The survey is open through Sept. 29. Survey responses are anonymous. Click here to start the survey now!
Join BIPD officers for a cup of coffee and conversation Wednesday, Oct. 2 at McDonald's on High School Road.
BIPD to host 'Coffee with a Cop' Oct. 2
This event is part of a national initiative, Coffee with a Cop, that encourages people to ask questions, share concerns and get to know the officers who serve your community.
"A lot of times, we meet people on possibly the worst day of their lives," explains Interim Police Chief Jeff Horn. "'Coffee with a Cop' allows us to build relationships and trust when they're not in crisis." At last year's event, Horn discussed everything from budget questions to business ideas, opening up space for community members to get to know him and other officers on a personal level.
The event is scheduled 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Looking Ahead: City Council agenda
Below are some of the topics to be discussed during the Sept. 24 City Council business meeting:
- Public hearings on design guidelines, subdivision update, and moratorium extension
- Update on the City's sign code
- Discussion to consider a ban on the sale or use of some types of fireworks on Bainbridge Island
- Sewer treatment plant upgrades feasibility study
If you would like to receive the City Council agenda by email when it's published, click
to sign up on the City's Council Agendas webpage.
The meetings are live-streamed on the
. 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).
||COBI Development Engineer Peter Corelis, Engineer Patty Jenkins, Deputy Mayor Matt Tirman, and Councilmember Leslie Schneider participate in the Sept. 15 Bike for Pie sponsored by Squeaky Wheels.
Upcoming Events & Meetings
- Saturday, Oct. 5: Central Ward Meeting at City Hall; 10 a.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 2: South Ward Meeting at Island Center Hall; 10 a.m.
for the full calendar list.
- Saturday, Nov. 9: North Ward Meeting at Seabold Hall; 10 a.m.