BI looks to hike impact fees to deal with growth

Bainbridge Island has a reputation for being anti-growth, but you sure couldn’t tell that by the impact fees it charges for new development — they are some of the lowest in the state.

City staff hopes to change that.

Impact fees are charged to pay for additional services needed due to new development.

Parks and fire on BI have never charged the fees, while the school district did from 1993-2011. The city started charging impact fees to deal with traffic in 2015.

Compared to other cities in the state, the charge is extremely low — $1,811 for a single-family home compared with the state average of $4,744.

The city wants to increase that amount to $2,533, a 40% increase. An example on the business side for an upscale restaurant shows a 30% increase from $7,606 to $9,960. To encourage development of more multifamily housing, the city example of a townhouse would stay the same at $1,086.

Also at that recent City Council meeting, local leaders learned that state lawmakers are requiring BI to plan for 1,977 more housing units over the next 20 years.

About 1,140 of those need to be affordable, which would mean an increase in multifamily zoning.

A Buildable Lands report in 2020 says Winslow has room for 258 such units. So the city will have to plan for 882 more in that area. If it can’t, the growth will need to be planned outside of Winslow.

The city emphasizes it needs to plan policies addressing density and affordability, but it’s not required by the state to build them.

At a later council meeting, deputy mayor Jon Quitslund said he hopes BI doesn’t try to put all of that growth only in Winslow.