Finally, BI in a hurry for housing plan

Bainbridge has been talking about a Housing Action Plan for years, and now that city staff has been directed to work on one the City Council is in a hurry to get it done.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Councilmember Jon Quitslund said at last week’s meeting, adding he’s “impatient” for a housing needs assessment. “There’s things we already know about housing needs.”

The HAP would be part of the Winslow Subarea Plan. Senior planner Jennifer Sutton said it was last updated in 2006. The overall plan could take two years to finish and cost up to $300,000. Besides the plan and assessment, it would include Winslow boundaries, climate action and sustainable transportation, infrastructure planning, environmental protection and open space.

Mayor Joe Deets said so much depends on this analysis, will it really be “two years before we can make use of it?”

Sutton said the two housing aspects should be done by fall.

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said it needs to get done as sensibly as possible by city staff, and the community will have to be heavily involved to help create a vision of what the island wants Winslow to be.

Quitslund said many things in the Subarea Plan are old-fashioned thinking that “stands in the way of things we need.” He said difficult conversations need to take place to start “grinding through our various expectations.”

City manager Blair King said with all the plans city staff are working he knows they have to “hit a sweet spot” in working on them and getting them done. “It could be a little bit messy,” he said.

In public comments, Lisa Macchio said this work is way behind schedule and as a result created problems with a proposal regarding a Winslow hotel. She said there’s “quite a lot of development happening” so the sooner a Housing Action Plan is made the better off we will be. We are “losing ground every day we don’t have that plan in place.”

Foot ferry

Schneider asked the council to be willing to discuss in the future an idea that is “getting some traction” – a foot ferry between Bremerton and BI. “It could make a big impact if we could do it,” she said.

Deets said the idea has received a positive response from Kitsap Transit. A similar link between Silverdale and Bremerton is being discussed. He said it could help BI businesses find employees and keep people off the road. “It’s entirely exploratory,” he said. “Nothing ventured nothing gained.”

Councilmember Michael Pollock said it’s an interesting idea, but he’s heard a lot of ideas over the years and, “At the end of the day it’s about the economics.” He said more needs to be known about financial feasibility before the council looks at it.

Moriwaki and Hytopoulos said they don’t want to waste staff time with so many other priorities. Moriwaki recalled a proposal for a monorail from Poulsbo to the BI ferry terminal that wasted a lot of staff time. He said he didn’t want to throw “cold water” on the idea, but the demand needs to be there.

Schneider said she’d be glad to find out more information and come back in a month.

The BI Chamber of Commerce has been exploring the idea with Schneider and KT.

“There is a long way to go to make this extra ferry route dream a reality, but the prospect of working together with businesses, nonprofits, community leaders, and our county neighbors is one that the Chamber warmly welcomes,” said Stefan Goldby, chamber president/CEO.

Green power

The council agreed to spend about $5,000 more a year to buy all green power from Puget Sound Energy.

Climate control officer Autumn Salamack said if we do 100% it would cost about $20,000 a year.

She said electricity is the primary cause of greenhouse emissions from the city and the community. She said alternative energy of 91% wind and 9% biogas costs an extra .006 cents per kilowatt-hour.