Growth and planning key in north ward raceArchitect Tom Hofferber wants high-density outside of Winslow.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:58 PM
"The Bainbridge Island City Council says it wants diversity and affordable housing, but its actions undermine those goals, Tom Hofferber says.He hopes to reverse that trend by winning the north ward city council seat being vacated by Liz Murray. He will face planning commissioner member Deborah Vancil, who was first to declare candidacy for the seat.The council is taking more and more land out of development, Hofferber said. I can't understand doing that and being for affordable housing, because that will drive up the cost of land.Hofferber, an architect with a downtown Seattle firm, was particularly puzzled by council action to delete wetlands from total acreage for purposes of calculating density.It's going to be open space, so you might as well count it as open space, he said. Other cities include wetlands in their calculations.Part of Hofferber's perspective comes from a two-year stint on the Bellevue planning staff. He says that through inadvertence, Bainbridge is in danger of duplicating the worst aspect of Bellevue.Our intent may be to keep Bainbridge rural, but what we're creating is suburban sprawl - Bridle Trail-type developments of huge homes on big lots, he said.Instead, Hofferber would like to see cluster developments - smaller individual lots with common utilities, common driveways and shared green space.He says higher-density development will eventually need to occur in selected areas outside of Winslow.Density in Winslow is where you need to go, he said, but eventually it's going to be built out, and you will need to look elsewhere.On growthOther areas that he thinks could be appropriate for higher-density development, including multi-family complexes, are the neighborhood service centers - Lynwood Center and perhaps Rolling Bay.He says multi-family complexes - apartments and condominiums - have an important part to play in preserving community diversity.Bellevue is surprisingly diverse, with retirees and recent immigrants, he said. Even though prices for single-family homes are out of sight, apartments and condominiums provide the options those groups need.He sees neighborhood resistance as one obstacle, but says as a council member, he would try to take a longer view.You have to look at the neighborhood concerns, but also at the greater good of the community, he said.Hofferber strongly supports moving forward with the south-end sewer plan, allowing Emerald Heights, upper Pleasant Beach, Rockaway Beach and Point White to join Lynwood Center in being connected to the Fort Ward sewer treatment plant operated by Kitsap County Consolidated Sewer District No. 7.He is not concerned about sewer availability leading to more development.Growth and density are controlled by zoning and land-use laws, he said. I don't know why the sewer issue has taken so long.He supports the proposed downtown parking garage, particularly if it is coupled with affordable housing. While he views traffic as an issue, he says there is little the council can do about it.Traffic on 305 is driven by the ferry system. At present, I don't see any need to do anything about the size of the highway, he said. But if ferry service ever expanded, which seems unlikely now because of the budget, then we would have to take a close look at it.Traffic in the outlying areas is still moderate, and not much of an issue, he said.As far as downtown is concerned, he favors traffic calming on Madison Avenue, but in a far simpler form than the trial realignment used last fall. Hofferber would simply put angle parking on one side of the road, with bike lanes on the other side.Parking would slow traffic, because you would always need to be alert for someone pulling out of a parking space. And it would help business on the street too, he said.After graduating from North Dakota State University in 1972, Hofferber went to work in Kansas dealing with publicly assisted housing. He moved to Bainbridge in 1977, and has worked for a number of architectural firms, dealing more with commercial than with residential architecture.My practice and career are starting to slow down a little, and the kids are off to college, so I thought this would be the time to look at public service, he said. "