Council to spar over housing

"The Bainbridge Island City Council will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, to discuss the city's affordable housing ordinance.The purpose of the meeting will be to consider the inconsistency between the comprehensive plan, a 1999 council resolution, and the ordinances on the books - and particularly the uncertainty created for purchasers of affordable housing, including the Weaver Creek sweat-equity project. This is a skull session to discuss the direction the (Kitsap County) Housing Authority has been pursuing, said Mayor Dwight Sutton.The council is grappling with the appropriate conditions for resale of affordable homes. Originally, the city ordinance and comprehensive plan called for keeping such homes affordable for 30 years. That meant that any subsequent purchaser would have to meet income ceilings similar to those imposed on the original buyers.But the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority and city affordable-housing specialist Martin Rowe contended that those restrictions were unworkable. They said that where such restrictions were in place, resales were so difficult and the profit potential so limited that buyers would walk away from the opportunity. They have advocated allowing resales at market value, but requiring the seller to reimburse the city a portion of the proceeds, which would then be recycled into the city's housing trust fund to build more affordable housing. Last November, the city council amended the comprehensive plan to adopt the value-recapture approach. Then in December, the council passes a resolution directing the city staff to use a specific procedure using that concept.But last month, the council declined to adopt an ordinance containing the value-recapture approach. And that left in limbo those buyers, including the sweat-equity participants at Weaver Creek, who had purchased homes under the value-recapture program.While the meeting is open to the public, there will be no public participation unless sought by the council. We need to cover the needs of the people in affordable housing, who for the last few months have been operating on the assumption that we're going to go in one direction, Sutton said, without compromising the ability of the city to do what we need to do. "

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