We’re taking a break.


City Permitting Process Is About to Become More Streamlined

It’s April 1st, and this just arrived from COBI:

If you’ve ever dreamed of checking the status of your building permit from the comfort of your kitchen table, your dream is about to come true. On April 14th, Bainbridge Island’s Department of Planning and Community Development will transition from their existing Tidemark Permitting System to SMARTGov; a permit tracking system developed by Paladin Data System, located in Poulsbo, WA.

Phase One of this transition will allow residents to utilize the new public portal to gain a transparent insight into the City’s permitting process. Permit applicants will be able to:

  • Search for permits by permit number, address, name, or contractor
  • View permit information such as contacts, and submittal requirements
  • Search and view public notice announcements for land use actions
  • Monitor approval steps, inspection results, and pending permit conditions online

“The training and implementation will require a lot of work from the staff at the onset. But the payoff in terms of streamlining processes and improving customer service is huge,” said Kathy Cook, Planning Director.

Continue reading ‘City Permitting Process Is About to Become More Streamlined’

City Council Moves Forward on final SMP

From an email by Gary Tripp…

City Council will NOT RECONSIDER issues passed by the previous CC

  1. City Council will NOT RECONSIDER declaring most of the shoreline homes and all their front yards non-conforming
  2. City Council will NOT allowing existing homes to be rebuilt in their original footprint if that footprint is in the buffer.

Go to http://www.bainbridgewa.gov/436/Media-Library select WMV or MP4 for 3/24 and go to time below

City Council comments on SMP process and public hearing starts at 01:55:30

SMP Update Public Hearing Wed. Nov. 20 7:00 PM

Public Hearing on the final draft of the City of Bainbridge Island Shoreline Management Plan Update will take place on Wednesday, November 20 at 7:00. Although it appears that the city council will pass it with few if any further modifications, if you believe it negatively affects your shoreline property, you should testify. Prepare your remarks in advance. Be specific about the section or sections that you would like to have changed, and even suggest language that you’d prefer. Comments will be limited to 3 minutes or less if there is a big crowd.


DOE Initial Review Proves Nothing

An editorial in the Bainbridge Review claims that because the Department of Ecology did not note any problems with the draft SMP Update, it is hunky dory—-not oppressive, not a gross overreach of regulation, not too long, not too complex, not going to bring on expensive lawsuits, not—not—not!

However, claiming this is like a tobacco company claiming that cigarettes are not harmful to your health, will not irritate your throat, will not cause cancer, will not bring expensive lawsuits, not—not—not!

In fact, the SMP Update regulations do add 25 to 100 feet more buffer from the water’s edge. They will require you to plant trees in front of your home’s view if you add a deck or even small remodel. It does virtually outlaw new docks. It does have as a goal to phase out non-conforming uses. Bulkheads will be more difficult to build new and to fix. 50-60% more homes will be in the restrictive “Residential Conservancy” designation. It is an oppressive, a gross overreach of regulation and likely to result in lawsuits costly to the City.

And all of this without pertinent science proving that there is a correlation between these regulations and the overall health of Puget Sound.

Water quality in Puget Sound could be better maintained and even improved if the city would spend the $2M stormwater fees it collected last year on a rain garden at the end of each street end rather than terrorizing shoreline property owners.

As for what the DOE has at stake—-nothing! It is another government bureaucracy focused on its mandate with no need to regard the wider effects of its actions on people and communities. The DOE stamp of approval no more proves that the shoreline property owners fears were unfounded than the tobacco companies claiming that physicians recommend cigarettes to sooth irritated throats.

A Scientist Answers

Three citizens, one a member of the City’s Planning Commission submitted a letter in support of the SMP Update’s buffer widths, dock and bulkhead regulations, claiming that they were the way to protect the ecology of Puget Sound. But, are they correct? Will the additional 25 feet added to buffers in every residential zone, the close to outright prohibition on new docks and the stringent limitations on bulkheads really do anything?

Excerpts from a paper prepared by Don Flora, Ph.D. are shown below. The link provided will allow you to read the whole paper.

“After reading over 3,000 research papers on buffers and related subjects, listing a thousand species of aquatic and marine invertebrates, raising shellfish, doing research on geoducks, examining all 250 miles of South Sound shore via rowboat, doing peer-reviewed analytical work on bulkhead/ecosystem interactions, and looking after various lines of stream research, I was surprised by the Gale et al 2-page presentation. It reveals a singular perspective on the SMA and SMP and their implications for human life next to tidewater.” (Page 1)

“Buffers –- There is a vast literature on the efficacy of buffers. Most research has examined effects of livestock use, row crops, or fallow fields. When adjusted to discharge levels appropriate to residences the extant research shows that buffer widths of 5 feet will almost totally remove the pollutants studied, regardless of slope (the most important variable after application rate), soil type, and stormwater rate and duration. Our city’s consultant suggested 30 feet after looking at studies in which efficacy was reported in terms of percentage reduction, ignoring the actual quantities captured, which were at least 8 times typical residential discharges. This means that the zone 1 buffer vegetated buffer can safely be 5 feet or less in width.”(Page 2)

“Docks Migrating salmon do pause when they approach a ferry dock. About half swim around; there is no evidence that predation results in lower survival among swim-arounds than among swim-throughs. Juvenile salmon tend to congregate under residential docks, not avoid them. I encourage a visit to any narrow dock, including the city’s.” (Page 7)

“Shore protection Contrary to Gale et al, peer-reviewed studies have found near-zero correlation between the density of bulkheads on Bainbridge’s 200 drift cells and ecological functions (tidewater habitat). Those findings are supported by independent research in the San Juans and in the South Sound.” (Page 8)

We encourage you to read the entire paper. It is well worth your time.

More articles about “Real Science,” many by Dr. Don Flora.

A call for political action.

We need both litigation and political success
to preserve private property rights.

by Linda Young, Shoreline Homeowner
Currently an inactive Member of the California Bar
Previously an active member of the Pennsylvania, California and Texas bars.

The DOE website for our new Bainbridge SMP now has a table summarizing what people wrote in their comments.  Of the 112 people writing in to the DOE, 32 praised the SMP or wanted even more restrictions, whereas 80 people opposed its restrictions.  This was a very good turn-out in favor of private property rights.  It is something we now need to direct into the political arena.

There are a whole lot of people, like me, who don’t especially like politics; but this election is different – it’s personal.  We have a great deal at stake in what our new City Council members believe and will vote for, not the least of which is money.  Property rights restrictions affect market value, and for most people, the home is the repository of virtually all their life’s savings.  Whatever your age, eventually your home will be sold and you may need all the money you can get out of it.  Even if you aren’t around anymore, you probably want to leave the most you can to your family or most passionate charity.  And the new SMP would put a big dent in either your personal finances or that of your financial legacy.

You may not be worried about finances, but think about the worry and lifestyle changes the new  SMP would bring into your life.  If you have to go to Spokane to help out your very ill mother and you know it may be for quite a while, you don’t want to have to worry about losing the right to use your home while you are gone.  When you’re looking at the toll winter took on your garden, you don’t want to have to worry about pulling out dead plants because the City will take over and force you to plant tall trees every 20 feet, tall bushes every 5 feet and a 65% vegetation canopy right in front of your wonderful ocean view.  If you see the ground receding from erosion right in front of your eyes, you don’t want to lose the right to have a bulkhead just because wind is causing the erosion, not water.   If you’re a passionate boater, you don’t want to have to find a new, commercial slip for it in some inconvenient location where your boat may not be so safe.  The SMP isn’t just a monetary issue; it’s a life issue – it affects what you can and cannot do with your property.  This is a very personal election.  

Continue reading ‘A call for political action.’

The SMP Update is Bainbridge Island’s ball and chain.


by Linda Young, Shoreline Homeowner
Currently an inactive Member of the California Bar
Previously an active member of the Pennsylvania, California and Texas bars.

Any City Council candidate who believes that the SMP is just something that happened in the past we should not dwell on, is someone who lacks the perspective necessary to see a problem that is staring them in the face and to fix it.  For, while the SMP City Council vote is history, the SMP has effectively attached a ball and chain to the City’s ankle.  At first you may notice it only a little; but, with time, this ball and chain become more and more heavy until finally, you cannot move at all.

The new SMP will, of necessity, involve litigation and high legal fees, as well as a distraction from other important City goals.  Economics will dictate litigation because the shoreline landowner’s property value is so significantly impacted by the SMP’s “nonconforming” designation, by “in perpetuity” dense vegetation requirements, by outright and effective bans on new development, by bans on bulkheads, and by taking private docks, piers and floats.  When these things are so readily identified as unlawful, the obvious economic decision is to go to court and restore your property’s value.  Continue reading ‘The SMP Update is Bainbridge Island’s ball and chain.’

Health advisory lifted for Eagle Harbor.

The Kitsap Public Health District canceled the “no-contact” health advisory in effect for Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island late Tuesday. The original advisory was issued following a 438,000-gallon spill of raw sewage into Eagle Harbor on Aug. 30. Read more

City Council candidates’ positions on the new SMP.

by Linda Young, Shoreline Homeowner
Currently an inactive Member of the California Bar
Previously an active member of the Pennsylvania, California and Texas bars.


Val Tollefson val@tollefsons.us says it’s not perfect but we can fix it.

Richard (Dick) Haugan rdh@324h.com says it will cause extensive litigation that the city can’t afford. We should just amend the current SMP.


Well, the truth is, you could amend the new SMP, but the bottom line is… 

We cannot afford to amend the new SMP. it has so much wrong that it would take more than 1,000 lawyer hours to amend it- that means more than $500,000.  Continue reading ‘City Council candidates’ positions on the new SMP.’

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