It’s BI who’s treating neighbors unfairly

The July 16 Review article, “They’re not acting neighborly,” is really a dispute between Bainbridge Island and me.

The City Council and staff have acted unlawfully in their attempts to subvert my application to purchase county land.

In April I filed an application with the Kitsap treasurer to purchase the 30-foot-wide county parcel that has been used for 50 years to provide access to my home and six other landlocked properties.

On June 3 the treasurer offered to sell me the property for $23,352. The county expected my deed to be recorded by July 19.

Under state law the county must give the city 30 days notice before any such tax-title parcel can be sold. This law gives the city the option of purchasing the property only if it “will be used for an affordable housing development.”

On June 10, the city Public Works director asked what my intentions were. He said the city’s only interest was to make sure that the undeveloped property at the end of the parcel would be granted easement access. I said the undeveloped property already had easement access to Ellingsen Road.

The Public Works director then contacted the treasurer’s office and convinced them to delay my application. He then placed the issue on the July 13 council agenda.

The council’s discussion focused on whether it was fair to let me buy the property. Councilmembers wanted to ensure the owner of the undeveloped property would be able to extend our road 420 feet, which would save him a considerable amount of money.

The council’s approval is an unconstitutional gift of public funds since taxpayer dollars are being used to purchase land that provides no public benefit but greatly enriches one individual. The city also violated state law because it’s not to provide affordable housing.

If the city converts our privately maintained road into an unmaintained city street, all of the property owners will be required to obtain an “access permit” before they can use the street to get to their homes. Such a permit requires a fee and posting of a construction bond. The city will also dictate how the homeowners must maintain the street through a Road Maintenance Agreement.

The city has orchestrated a hostile takeover of our neighborhood. My neighbors and I have been ignored by the city, and our reputations have been publicly damaged. I hope that the treasurer and Kitsap Board of Commissioners will not become accomplices in the city’s unethical behavior and will refuse to sell the tax-title parcel to the city.

I have lived on BI for 22 years and served for eight years on the City Council. I never would have expected my government to turn against me and my neighbors this way. Six of our seven councilmembers have violated their oath of office by disregarding the state Constitution and state law in their vote to purchase this parcel for the benefit of one property owner.

I hope that the community will take a close look at how their city government is mistreating some of its residents to provide financial benefits to those who have political influence.

Bob Scales of Bainbridge Island