City Council passes HDDP

After months of workshops, open houses and multiple second readings, the City Council has unanimously voted into code the Housing Design Development Program (HDDP).

The final product features several new additions, the most significant of which was initially suggested by councilors Hilary Franz and Kjell Stoknes at the July 22 meeting. In the face of public discomfort over the highest amount of zoning allowed under HDDP, 2.5 times the regular density level, Franz and Stoknes proposed that developments under the highest density tier be limited to three during the three-year life of the project.

Currently, the only development tied to HDDP is a 48-home project on Ferncliff Avenue.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, the feeling among the audience was anything but a consensus. People spoke both for and against the ordinance. Those fighting the ordinance alluded to the potential effect on the island’s water supply.

“For years the city has lived high on real estate revenues without having the foresight, despite warnings from many, to realize that the fiscal bubble would one day burst,” said Bainbridge Ratepayers’ Alliance secretary Sally Adams. “And the city seems intent on making the same mistake with respect to water.”

Supporters spoke of the necessity for affordable housing in Bainbridge.

“This is trying to do something that’s a benefit to the community in a responsible way that’s going to cluster and leave more for the community in return,” said Carl Florea, executive director of the Housing Resources Board.

Councilors praised the efforts of the staff and the council committees for constructing an ordinance that supports green-building practices.

“This ordinance represents years of searching to find a Bainbridge solution to affordable housing,” councilor Barry Peters said.

The program uses a matrix and point system that awards projects with increases in density and floor-area ratio for building certain percentages of affordable housing, achieving environmental construction standards such as LEED, Built Green, and Living Building Challenge.

Franz said the bonus densities specified by the ordinance are already allowed in certain areas. As opposed to paying a fee to create a denser project, developers can incorporate affordable housing and green building under HDDP.

Councilors continued to point out that HDDP is only a pilot program. After three years the ordinance will expire and the council can then revisit it.

The HDDP began its journey into the Municipal Code in the Planning Commission more than a year ago when it was known as the Innovative Housing Ordinance.

The commission discussed the ordinance at most of its meetings in the summer and fall of 2008 before finally recommending it for approval on Jan. 8 of this year.

Since first debuting in the council on March 11, councilors altered HDDP by limiting it to the more dense downtown area and changing the evaluation and incentive sections.

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