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Archive for the ‘Winslow’ Category

RentalIt’s been six months since the Bainbridge City Council voted to develop the Suzuki property with an emphasis on affordable housing, and picked Olympic Property Group as the developer. With the housing crisis raging on throughout the Puget Sound region (see, e.g., here, here, and here, and the island’s Housing Needs Assessment, here), Bainbridge Island has made little progress toward easing its affordability problems.  And that lack of progress comes after more than a decade of inattention, as I wrote in March, when I noted that since 2003, the island has increased its income-qualified affordable housing stock by only 66 units.

But maybe there’s some good news after all. While progress on the Suzuki property has been bogged down in the particulars of an ecological study, the drafters of the Housing Element of the Comprehensive Plan update have done some promising work of their own.

The drafting committee has come up with concrete programs with a track record for helping to alleviate the housing cost burdens embedded in a community where the median single-family home price exceeds $750,000 and rental vacancies are near zero.

Among the ideas: amend the City’s development rules to encourage innovation such as tiny houses, micro units and cottage housing; expand opportunities for infill in Winslow and the Neighborhood Centers; and allow the creation of small lots and smaller footprint homes.

One idea in the draft Comp Plan has been especially popular in other communities: the Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) program. Established by state statute, this program allows local governments to exempt multi-family housing developments from property tax for 12 years if at least 20% of the units are rent-restricted for income-qualifying tenants. This program has been adopted by cities across Washington, both large—Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellevue—and small—Bellingham, Moses Lake, Yakima, Shoreline, Bremerton. (more…)

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There’s lots to talk about on Bainbridge Island these days. Feel free to use this post (or any other) to kick around ideas, reactions, and concerns about our island. And while you’re at it, take the new Notebook Poll on the right-hand sidebar  (yes, I know none of the answers given will solve the whole problem. So definitely post a comment if you have more to say). 

Hot topics this week:

*  What do you think about the possibility that the City will cut funding to community organizations supporting Comprehesive Plan-mandated programs like the arts and social services? (Read the Review article about it here.) Should the City lay more staff off instead? How would City services be affected?

*  Will you vote for the $42 million capital bond for schools (scheduled for a May vote)? (more…)

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In one of my favorite scenes from Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blinkin, a blind man, is perched in a tree on the lookout for strangers. When Robin Hood notices Blinkin scanning the countryside even though he can’t see, Robin says, “Blinkin, what are you doing?” Blinkin answers, “Guessing….I guess no one is coming.”

I thought of that scene last night as I watched our City Council approve the preparation of a $1.3 million contract with construction management heavyweight, Heery International, for the second phase of their work on the Project Formerly Known as Winslow Tomorrow. Just a few hours before the vote (which passed 4-3, with Councilors Vancil, Knobloch and Brackett voting nay), Assistant Finance Director Carol Badzik gave a public briefing on the dismal state of COBI finances. 

Since 2006, City expenditures have exceeded its revenues, she revealed. Projections show expenditures growing at a rate of about 5.67% while revenue is growing by only 4%.  (more…)

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Rod Stevens, an islander and City Hall watcher, sent this letter to the Planning Commission and also to me, for posting here. Stevens is a development consultant specializing in revitalization.

I watched with half-bemusement and half-frustration recently as the Planning Commission struggled with yet another consultant study commissioned by the Planning Department for the Winslow Tomorrow effort, this one from a consulting firm with the curious name of Community Attributes.  Half-bemusement, because the Planning Commission knew there were some problems with the assumptions of the study and just couldn’t quite put their finger on it, and half-frustration because I am tired of playing this game of “whack-a-mole”, of dealing with yet another study intended to justify a Mayoral initiative that threatens our sense of place downtown.  (more…)

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It seems no one is exempt from utter confusion on some aspect of the City’s budget and Capital Facilities Plan. The Review came up short in a front page article yesterday reporting on the City Council’s year-end budget and CFP scramble. Outgoing councilman Nezam Tooloee sent this letter to editor Doug Crist, suggesting a correction (reprinted with permission of the writer):

Your front page story about passage of the budget states that council’s action to fund the work on the Winslow Way project in the 2008 budget out of the utility fund “formalized the often criticized fund plan for the project.”  As the council member who made the motion in this area which was adopted by a 6-1 vote of the council I can say without any doubt that this is at best a misunderstanding of what council did with its recent actions.   (more…)

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Esther’s behind Heart, Embellish to Esther’s, Winslow Home to Traveler, Sweet Deal to Embellish, Traveler next to the bank. It’s not a new chess game you hear, but the sound of re-shuffling Winslow stores. I discovered several owners still moving boxes and putting the finishing touches on windows when I was in Winslow the other night (and by night, I mean 4:30 pm.)

travel.jpgOn our island of globe-trotters, The Traveler has been so successful with its something-for-everyone (jet lag homeopathics and Rick Steves guidebooks anyone?), it outgrew its old space and moved two doors down. Meanwhile, Esther’s Fabrics wanted a longer lease, owner Jennifer Rhoads told me, so she moved around the corner, behind Heart.    (more…)

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