To the editor:
It was another wonderful evening in the city’s council chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The witty, articulate council members that we elected held court.
We petitioners - waterfront property owners - were waiting our turn to speak. It was past 9 in the evening on a work night and we had been instructed that we were supposed to speak at 8:30, but the august members of the council were busy adjusting their schedules for upcoming meetings. We waited patiently, our limbs stiffening, until they finished their esteemed business and then their essential 10-minute bathroom break. And then it was our turn to speak up about their plan to turn our waterfront homes into nonconforming properties.
Kitsap County had just turned all waterfront properties elsewhere in the county into “grandfathered in” Existing Conforming Properties to satisfy the newly minted Shoreline Management Act update. In fact, throughout the state all the various municipalities had done the same.
But this would not dissuade Our Champions Of The Public Good. They let us talk briefly and state our case. Nearly one-fourth of the homes on Bainbridge Island are waterfront properties and we homeowners have been good stewards of the land/water but that was of no consequence. We were opposed to onerous rules on rebuilding and use of our properties. A couple of people from off-water who were at all of the SMP meetings assured us that we were living in land-use sin. And then the council terminated the public commentary so that they could discuss how to vote.
Councilwoman Anne Blair from the north end, who had installed a large bulkhead on her waterfront property, couldn’t make up her mind. She dithered between pro and con, and was most aggrieved that the county had used the term “grandfathered in.” It should be “legacy conforming,” she insisted. How horribly sexist. We petitioners were all convinced of her brilliance.
To become nonconforming we had to have four of the seven council members voting against us. From what we heard Anne was trending our way. Then it was time for the inestimable Kirsten Hytopoulos to speak. She told us in so many words that she didn’t care what the public believed. She became quite grandiloquent. According to her, she is possessed of an unfailing moral compass that yields her superior results and that she was voting against us.
Anne, whom we considered to be with us, then pivoted - captivated by Kirsten’s wisdom apparently - and voted against us as well. As did “Big Government” Bob Scales. And then Debbi Lester capitulated, knowing that she needed to vote with the city if her husband was to get continued legal business with the city. She knew how to butter her bread indeed. And that’s how 25 percent of our local properties will be subject to the new classification, nonconforming.
My wife, a fourth generation Bainbridge Islander, and I were duly impressed.
TOM AND CONNIE GOLON