This election season is crowded with issues, but for HRB, one rises to the top: the lack of affordable housing. Before you vote on November 2, read the candidates’ views here. 

A healthy housing ecosystem supports a balanced community with people of all ages, professions, and socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. It’s not something we can leave to the whims of a housing market that has been undermined by a lack of supply and inordinate demand. HRB urges the city to use the policy tools at its disposal, such as tax exemptions and zoning codes, to create ample and appropriate housing. And we urge you to elect the officials who have the determination, collaborative ethic, and open mind to tackle so complex an issue.

So that you can cast an informed vote, HRB reached out to the candidates with the following two questions:

  • The council formed the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. What initiatives in the task force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives? [You can read the report here.]
  • HRB advocates for housing development on Bainbridge Island that is judicious and environmentally sustainable. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals?

You can read their responses below.

District 2

Thank you for the opportunity to give my opinions on this important subject.  It’s interesting to me as the newest person on the Council to see that in 2021 we are looking at Affordable Housing recommendations from a report that was created in 2018.  This speaks to the lack of action by the City Council.

 1 – The council formed the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. What initiatives in the task force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives?

Having read the Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report I see that the first recommendation may have been the reason for inactivity.  This report may have asked for the most controversial changes first.  I intend to go in the opposite direction. I support the recommendations that represent the low hanging fruit of this report.

I support the following:

Recommendation #2 – Pursue opportunities to partner with the private and nonprofit sectors to build affordable housing on public lands.  

Our partners are in the business of building affordable housing.  We as a city should enter into agreements with our housing and secular partners to do that.  The Suzuki project should act as a lesson’s learned project on how to partner with consultants and partners to identify uses of city owned property that could be used for affordable housing.

Additionally, I believe we should enact legislation that allows for more innovative ideas for cooperative affordable housing options. For instance, enacting bills such as SHB 1377 which is not in the RCW 35.63.280, which mandates “increased density bonus for affordable housing projects undertaken by religious organizations”.

Recommendation #3 – Adopt procedures to encourage Accessory Dwelling Units

14% of homeowners and renters are cost burdened, meaning these households are paying more than 35% of household income toward rent. Housing trends regionally and on Bainbridge indicate rapidly rising housing prices, low housing inventory, 0% vacancy rate for rentals and no new housing being built.

Although the 2017-2020 Housing Report to City Council indicated that there is a slight increase of ADUs in the permit process this year compared to the previous two years, there were fewer permits finalized.

The city should investigate ways that would encourage more construction of ADUs.  Tax breaks and other incentives along with the pre-approved prototype ADU design to be made available to property owners. Homeowners appreciate guidance from their city leaders.

Recommendation #4 Adopt an “innovations Program”

Innovations that would not be at the expense of low-income affordability.  I support more low-income AMI 50% – 80% along with housing for middle income 120% AMI.  In other words both would have to be included in any conversations.

Outreach to the community that leads to monitoring of projects would need to also be reviewed by council.

Recommendation #5 Permanent Support for affordable housing

I support permanent support for affordable housing staff.  It is time to revisit this recommendation.  As affordable housing options continue to be more complex, a designated staff person is required to maintain and educate the city on the many options available.  This position would go a long way to help gain progress for abiding by the comprehensive plan’s housing element.

2 – HRB advocates for housing development on Bainbridge Island that is judicious and environmentally sustainable. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals?

Affordable housing is one of the best ways to support environmental sustainability.  When we build housing for families that work here on Bainbridge but can’t afford to live here we accomplish sustainability in the following ways:

  • Transportation – we reduce greenhouse gases by building AH close to schools, public transportation and needs for walkable communities.
  • Energy Costs – using Energy Star checklists to decrease consumption.
  • Designing outdoor spaces to reduce energy naturally.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the need for affordable housing on Bainbridge Island.  Over my 25 years on Bainbridge Island, I have enjoyed a diversity that is deeply seated in the character of our community.  Affordable housing is critical to maintaining that character.

1) To that end, among the initiatives I will support as a member of the Council are:

a. Reduce the cost of creating designated affordable housing by streamlining the permitting process. This would reduce costs and build time.  That would create incentives of for builders to join in this important effort.

b. Establish Housing Trust Fund grant funded within the City’s annual budget cycle. We all have a vested interest in the continued viability of affordable housing.  This can assure continued support of these initiatives.

2. I believe a sustainable future for the Bainbridge Island depends on the preservation of the environment. Affordable housing directly benefits this goal by reducing reliance on carbon powered transportation.  Fewer people on our roads, burning less carbon fuel supports all of us.

District 3

Jon Quitslund, Candidate for the South Ward (Position 3) on the City Council

“Bainbridge voters have come to understand that the state of housing on the island is both unjust and unsustainable.”  I think this statement from HRB is true, and for this reason I am putting my commitment to a thorough reform of housing policies at the forefront of my campaign.  Some of my goals may be out of reach, because it takes teamwork and political will to accomplish real change in our community, but I have learned how to think like a long range planner and I already have a fund of useful knowledge.

Two questions have been put to Council candidates:

  1. What initiatives in the Affordable Housing Task Force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives?
  2. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals?

I will take the second question first.  We should start by recognizing that we tend to see environmental sustainability and new development or population growth of any kind as opposed to each other in a zero-sum problem.  And how can they be balanced, when “the environment” is a big boy at one end of the teeter-totter, and “affordable housing” is his little sister, who may have a hard time getting on the other end of the board?

We have been trying for several decades to maintain the built environment (roads, utilities, houses, businesses, parking lots) and the natural environment in some sort of balance or coherence, and I think we’ve been pretty successful. However, when it comes to time and money spent on policy-making and administration, environmental protection has demanded and received the high-priority attention.  Profit margins in the marketplace have defined what housing gets built and sold.  Affordable housing has been our Cinderella, not yet invited to the ball.

I would define affordable housing broadly, to include homes for the ‘missing middle’ households that the profit-driven market has been excluding.  Such housing, and the culturally and economically diverse people who need it, must be seen as assets, not liabilities.  Such housing won’t be single-family homes, but it must be well-designed, up to code, and in an attractive setting.  Subsidizing such housing, in ways that we have not yet considered, will be necessary.  I see this as a necessary investment in our community’s wellbeing and vitality – our future.

I won’t be able to address all of the recommendations in the AHTF Report; I want to see as many as possible discussed and acted upon.  Some are more important than others, and more difficult to accomplish.

  1. For Winslow and the Neighborhood Centers, there were three recommendations: a mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance; changes in FAR allowances to incentivize affordable housing; a Multi-Family Tax Exemption program.

I think that all new development and re-development should contribute substantially, in some way, to the financing and the construction of ‘affordable housing,’ broadly defined.  Therefore, I support ‘mandatory,’ not ‘optional’ regulations, although a ‘fee in lieu’ may be the best way to satisfy the requirement in some cases.  BIMC 18.21 (Affordable Housing) should be repealed and replaced; I would call the chapter “Inclusionary Housing,” and it would apply mostly, if not entirely, to Winslow and the Neighborhood Centers.

BIMC 18.12 (Dimensional Standards, including base and bonus FAR allowances) needs to be very thoroughly revised.  Maybe the FAR allowances can be modified to be functional, and to promote more and much better mixed-use development, but when affordable housing is mandatory, the distinction between ‘base’ and ‘bonus’ may be unnecessary.

Encouraged by Christy Carr, I composed the first draft of the MFTE Program that is now on its way to authorization by the Council. Participants in the program will provide income-qualified households with affordable housing in at least 20% of the housing units in a development; an alternative program requires 25% of the units to be affordable.

  1. Where it is feasible, I am in favor of using publicly owned land for affordable housing. Plans for the Suzuki property should be revisited, and other possibilities should be explored.
  2. Accessory Dwelling Units as large as 900 sq. ft. are permitted and practical in many parts of the Island, provided that septic system requirements can be met. COBI could facilitate permitting. I’d like to see some plans, suited to different circumstances, developed by local architects to enable construction and furnishing on a tight budget.
  3. As described, the “Innovations Program” seems iffy, since a builder’s proposed ‘innovation’ might skate around essential regulations, and Planning staff are generally wary of the kind of decision-making that is proposed. I support revisions of BIMC 18.12 & 21 that will encourage innovations in design and building practices.
  4. In the best of circumstances, affordable housing will be developed on Bainbridge by dribs and drabs more readily than in big projects, and it will be years before we see game-changing results from changes in the Municipal Code. Some of those changes may be in place in the next two years, but I’m not holding my breath.  COBI needs to make a long-term commitment and engage with the community – with housing advocates, architects, contractors, real estate professionals, investors and non-profits – in ways that have not been tried before.

The Council’s Housing Action Plan is beginning to take shape, and the Council seems almost ready to endorse the hiring of a Housing Specialist, as recommended by the AHTF.  Of course I support that; Planning and Community Development has been short on staff for years, and we are out of touch with problem-solving new ideas in community planning.  COBI can’t embark on the overdue update of the Winslow Master Plan and complete an update to the Comprehensive Plan without a Housing Specialist.

Before responding to your questions some things to note.
  • In my family’s 33 years on the island we have been cost burdened by housing and by good fortune and luck we have made it this far and hope to close out our time on Island. This is relevant in that I understand the issue of affordability first hand. Affordability is not an abstraction.
  • In my view, it is clear both from the report and from my time on Island, as it is to anyone looking, that the Island has changed character. There are fewer characters, fewer kids without structured time and families not taking extravagant trips, and finally fewer people committing to the Island for the duration – often leaving after high school is complete.
  • Some have said that the Island is in a way an extraction based community – where people are interested in extracting the value of the schools and the rise in property values. Who knows, but I have read that the average time someone lives on Island has been steadily decreasing.
  • Why is this relevant? Affordable housing is largely misunderstood from my perspective and the value that diverse housing options offer including strength of community, wholeness of community, and richness of community seems to be lost and not as valued as I would think.
  • These thoughts are relevant because AH goals as stated in the Comp Plan, have not moved forward – in my view because they are not understood or embraced by many in the community.
  • This simply makes it hard for Council to chart a course, a course that now, after so many years of ideas languishing, that need to be rekindled with a powerful accelerant – policies that will make affordable housing a reality before the end of the next Council term.
And there are more points to share –
  • My professional experience has included significant planning, design, and construction of mixed use, multifamily, and affordable housing in the Northwest.
  • This experience includes many urban design projects of similar scale to Winslow and Bainbridge.
  • I understand and have worked with many of the ideas and realities of creating places and housing in communities – the opportunities for meaningful and appropriate integration that creates a stronger urban fabric.
  • My work has included both natural system protection as well as integration and sustainable design tenets – using LEED and other similar building and site tools of green design.
  • As many know, Bainbridge is roughly the same size as Manhattan. And when we lived in Kobe our entire lives – shopping, schools, parks, etc. were in a five acre area – the same size as our parcel on the island and there were nearly ten thousand people in this area. The point of these two references and the previous note about urban design and other design work is that policy decisions must acknowledge the scale/size/relationships/sustainability of a place, they must explore and evaluate options, and finally experience with opportunities when making policy decisions does matter. Urban design, planning, and design without real world experience is fraught with peril.
  • While the Comp Plan and less so the AHTF report note using Neighborhood Centers for AH, I am not fully on board. The development at Lynwood Center, in my view, has both taken away from development in Winslow and created an all Island and even an off Island destination as well as increased traffic and the additional need for services. This triple whammy has many compromising features – more traffic, less island services in Winslow, less sustainable, and an unfortunate precedent for other Neighborhood Centers.
  • And neither document speaks to the impact of property taxes, which can be significant for too many. It is said that up to 20% of homes for sale on Island are folks that can no longer afford their property taxes. While the County provides a break for older low income residents it does not touch the realities or the burden of taxes.
  • As you know, an updated Housing Action Plan is being proposed to Council – this would provide a current snapshot of housing resources on the island, which would help and guide updated AH policies.
  • And, again as you know, Council and staff are working to develop criteria/value for the application of TDRs – currently, a TDR can be sold and receiving areas are identified but their application/use is not yet codified.
  • Perhaps the most significant questions about AH is how it is defined – who would qualify, and secondly how is it paid for. As a fixed income family, the COBI subsidies for the affordable units on the proposed Suzuki development were a challenge. There are many development models where developer incentives and other funding sources reduce the cost burden of AH that should be explored.
1 – The council formed the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. What initiatives in the task force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives?
  • I take little exception to the findings and recommendations to the AHTF report but some things to note –
    • First, I commend the AHTF members and their report – it is a remarkable document that provides both a clear assessment and strategies.
    • I support inclusionary zoning (IZ), TDRs, liveaboards, a COBI AH committee/staff, and fast tracking permitting
    • I do not support use of COBI properties – environmental concerns outweigh the easy win to encourage development on private lands, nor a vacation ordinance – dictating private property use is too loaded an issue when there are other ways to solve the problem, nor duplexes or mini-houses – without requirements these will only increase traffic, compromise ecological considerations, and without a vacation ordinance not be effective,
    • I am unsure about a MFPTE – as a fixed income resident and one of many, I am concerned about what may be compromised in other COBI services and as of now, I understand the tax exemption is not in perpetuity, nor what experimental units may be – if they are transit based and sustainably placed and designed then yes, nor FAR increases – it would depend on where as I would support them in Winslow but not in Neighborhood Centers.
2 – HRB advocates for housing development on Bainbridge Island that is judicious and environmentally sustainable. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals?.
  • The tenets of sustainable design are clear – build where services, transit and utilities exist and do not build in undeveloped, environmentally sensitive, or areas that require a drive to services, shopping, or schools. In other words – the Winslow Core.
  • Compact, higher density, service rich, transit based developments are best.
  • And there are significant reasons to build in the Winslow Core –
    • The recent groundwater report findings are daunting. The crisis in our lifetime must be addressed now and building outside the Winslow Core is a significant compromise to wise stewardship of the Island
    • Utilities and services exist and can be accessed with limited cost and largely on foot or bicycle.
    • Transit is at hand – either the ferry or regular busses to many points – Poulsbo, Silverdale, Port Townsend and beyond.
    • Winslow could use more residents to support more Island services.
  • Climate change globally and locally as well as groundwater locally are perhaps the most significant issues facing the island residents. I do not believe there is need nor justification for compromising the fragile nature of the environment for housing when there are a number of workable solutions without an additional compromise of the environment to build affordable housing.
Finally – thanks for your interest and questions. I hope we can make magic happen and both plan and create more affordable housing on Bainbridge.
Kent Scott
South Ward/District 3 Candidate – BI City Council

District 5

I believe that a community is defined and made richer by social, economic, religious and racial diversity. My prior public service shows consistent efforts to put that belief into practice.

As a board member of the Bainbridge Island Health, Housing and Human Services Council (2001-2003),  I was a vocal advocate for our neighbors in need of help and support, affordable housing and access to basic health and human services. Under the council’s umbrella, the city created the Community Housing Coalition to research and create polices for affordable and public housing.

I wrote a series of guest columns in the Bainbridge Island Review spotlighting these pressing concerns, saying back then that “People who live here can’t afford to work here, and people who work here can’t afford to live here.” That was true 20 years ago, and with the recent, skyrocketing cost of real estate, it has become more acute than ever.

Affordable housing is not only a positive aspiration for greater social and economic diversity, but a necessary public safety concern.

With the vast majority of our first responders and health care providers living off island – with their stressful and costly commutes only adding to the congestion and pollution to our island – we are just one major emergency away from not being adequately protected.  Imagine if an earthquake caused wide spread damage, fires and injuries, and the majority of our first responders are not able to perform their duties and save lives because the Agate Pass Bridge and ferry terminals are either damaged or destroyed.

We must be creative and use every tool possible to encourage, require and create affordable housing opportunities for our seniors on fixed incomes and the first responders, teachers, health care providers, restaurant and hospitality workers, government staff and all others who make our city work.

We also must ensure that the pressures of growth, including new affordable housing, are carefully balanced with the preservation of the quality of life that we all enjoy. It can be done.

While serving as a Tukwila City Council Member (1988-1992), I was a leading advocate for the creation and passage of the city’s first ever Sensitive Areas Ordinance that preserved and protected the environment from intrusive development, years before Washington state required such protections under the Growth Management Act.  Along with the required buffers, setbacks and landscape retention rules that were required in that Sensitive Areas Ordinance, there are other smart and creative ways to help protect and preserve our environment such as stormwater runoff reduction and retention systems and the use of sustainable materials that help ensure that both affordable housing and protecting the environment are achieved.

I believe that the City’s Comprehensive Plan’s Housing Vision 2036 of a Bainbridge Island that is more diverse economically, socially and racially should not be simply an aspiration, but should be an essential actionable element of land use decisions going forward.

One way to reach that worthy goal is to turn to the carefully thought out ideas and proposals from the Affordable Housing Task Force’s 2017 report. I applaud the Task Force’s hard work, vision and recommendations, and the City Council would be wise to be more proactive in its implementation.

1 – The council formed the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. What initiatives in the task force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives? 

Under my leadership, this year the council has adopted a key  recommendation from the AHTF Report, which was to provide a multi-family property tax exemption.

The other AHTF Report recommendations I support and for which I believe there is broad public support are to adopt procedures to encourage accessory dwelling unit construction and to implement an innovations program, specifically to promote tiny homes and tiny homes on wheels. The rationale behind my support for such programs along with a discussion of their complexities, is provided below. You can also find out more about my thoughts on affordable housing by visiting

Affordability is a nation-wide and region-wide problem that has its roots in high housing costs due to increasing land costs, labor costs and materials costs, even as financing (capitalization) costs have remained low. Also at the root of the problem is the growing economic disparity and concentration of wealth among the elite, and the increasing loss of the middle class due to a loss of middle class jobs.

Housing affordability is a numbers game, and the basic question for the public and those who represent them is how much should governments subsidize affordable housing

Consider that a full-time worker earning $25/hr and putting 30% of their income towards housing can afford a rent or mortgage of $1300/month. To help put this in perspective, a $250,000 mortgage with 5% ($12,500) down at a 3% interest rate would cost a little less than $1400/month.

Consider also that on Bainbridge Island today, the median cost of a home is over $1,000,000 (e.g., $1,222,500 according to Redfin), almost no housing units of any kind sell for less than $500,000, and those that do tend to be condominiums with high HOA fees.

Similarly, construction costs in 2021 are running $350/sf for bare bones construction up to $400-$500/sf for more typical homes. At $350/sf a small 900 square foot home would still cost $315,000 to build, not including land and development costs.

Given these financial realities, and the fact that we live in a free market economy, there are limited paths forward for affordable housing, but there are some. Because the affordable housing crisis is a nation-wide problem, nation-wide solutions that have emerged include building smaller homes (e.g, detached ADUs, tiny homes and tiny homes on wheels), and developing less costly construction techniques (e.g. modular homes built off-site and “ecoblocks” made from recycled plastic).

But probably the easiest path to affordability on Bainbridge Island and elsewhere is to take advantage of the existing infrastructure of large, arguably oversized homes and to remodel them to create “attached” ADUs (See BIMC 18.09.030.I.5, COBI ADU Codes).

For example, one study found that attached ADUs, basement ADUS and garage conversion ADUS in Portland averaged between $142,000-$218,000, and between $212-$300/sf (source, whether for rent or to buy (BIMC currently allows ADUS to be sold), such prices certainly fall within the range of affordability

Also worth noting is that recent changes to Washington State law allow for the licensing of Tiny Homes on Wheels (THOW), provided that they are built according to Washington State Department of Labor and Industries standards and inspected during the construction phase, similar to a regular home. However, while Washington State now permits THOWs, they still need to be permitted under local land use laws, and currently Bainbridge Island does not allow THOWs.

Because of their smaller size, typically 200-400 sf, THOWs can be considerably less expensive, ranging from as little as $5,000 for materials if free labor can be obtained, to an average cost around $45,000 to upwards of $150,000 for “high end” THOWs (e.g., see https://seattletinyhomes.com ).

One challenge with ADUS and Tiny Homes is the sewer or septic requirements. Currently, the Kitsap County Health Department, which permits septic systems on Bainbridge Island, requires construction at a minimum a 2-bedroom septic system for either a tiny home or an ADU. Because septic systems range from $20,000-$40,000, this can add considerable construction costs. Further, the Winslow sewer system is reaching capacity and several times this past year it overflowed during heavy rainfall events. Increasing sewer capacity will be a considerable cost, particularly in the context of movement towards tertiary treatment of sewage so as to stop pollution of Puget Sound from contaminants found in sewer outflows.

An alternative to expensive septic or sewer systems is to move towards separating grey water from black water and using low-tech infiltration galleries to dispose of grey water. Such an approach would reduce the strain on septic and sewer systems, and could lead to ADU and THOW hook-ups to existing systems without the need to expand them.

2 – HRB advocates for housing development on Bainbridge Island that is judicious and environmentally sustainable. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals?

The detailed answer to question 1 also provides an answer as to how to best balance environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals. At the heart of both affordability and sustainability is to use fewer resources in the construction of homes. This can be done primarily by building smaller homes.

Sustainability goals can further be met by utilizing existing building infrastructure, either by converting excess office space into affordable homes, remodeling single family residences into an SFR and attached ADU, or building tiny homes on wheels.

Utilizing the existing building infrastructure and building smaller homes not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe)during construction, but also reduces GHGe over the life of the structure because smaller homes use less fuel to heat.

While the use of “green” materials can also help with reducing GHGe, reducing the amount of materials, particularly GHGe-intensive materials such as concrete, is a far more effective path towards sustainability.

Finally, construction of affordable homes near transportation centers will further help reduce GHGe, but more importantly, living a more sustainable lifestyle that involves more walking and bicycling and fewer auto trips, and the use of electric vehicles over internal combustion engines will further help to move us toward our sustainability goals.

Reelect Rasham Nassar Committee – P.O. Box 10940, Bainbridge Island WA 98110 / (206) 909-3207 /

District 7

Joe Deets, Candidate for District 7, North Ward Seat

Question #1: The council formed the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. What initiatives in the task force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives?


We are in a full-fledged housing crisis on Bainbridge Island and to address it I support the initiatives contained in the Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report (AHTF), with some modifications described below. I also support an initiative (please see #6 below) that became available after AHTF was issued.

Since AHTF came out in July 2018 the shortage of affordable housing has only gotten more severe. Back then, the median price of a single family home was $825,000. Today it is $1,100,000. Checking current inventory recently showed only twenty houses on the market, when one hundred would be more typical. And of the twenty, fourteen are over

$1,000,000. High prices and diminished supply has very real implications to the demographics of our community. With homeownership out of reach to all but the most affluent buyers, Bainbridge Island is rapidly becoming an ever more exclusive place to live. Such one sided demographics make us a less vibrant and less resilient community. Addressing affordable housing is thus not only critical to those in need, but to all of us.

Acknowledging the depth of the problem is necessary in order to push forward on initiatives that will be neither simple nor easy. In terms of what Council should be doing, I see the crisis as the catalyst that commits us to putting together a strong planning framework that identifies what is to be done and when. On April 20, 2021 Council took an important step in that direction when it voted to direct the City Manager to prepare a consulting scope of work for developing a Housing Action Plan. This was a responsible decision, an easy decision for me to make. But it was a surprisingly close vote, 4 to 3, surprising considering how far behind we are in creating affordable housing on Bainbridge Island. It is perhaps worth noting that I was the only incumbent running for re-election who voted in favor of the motion.

AHTF & Other Initiatives

Affordable housing is a complex issue and the following is by no means an exhaustive list of what can be done. Each of the initiatives have a strong rationale for being utilized, and together form a solid foundation for concerted action. I believe they can make a meaningful impact to our housing crisis.

1) Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption

The Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) is among the best options that we have available to us. MTFE is a property tax abatement on the residential portion of a new multifamily housing development. Notably, including an MFTE program to the City’s suite of incentives helps to reduce the density of a project. I recently supported adopting both a 12 year abatement and a 20 year abatement, with the eligible areas being the Winslow Master Plan Study Area, the Winslow Sewer System Service Area, and within the Lynwood Center area, the Neighborhood Center (NC), NC/R-12, and R-5 zones.

2) Accessory Dwelling Units

Creating accessory dwelling units (ADU) addresses the important “missing middle” of homeowners, being those who do not qualify for subsidized housing but cannot afford market rates. Allowing the owner of a property to build more than one unit is a practical means of creating housing for this group. We have had an ADU program in place for some time but it has not been successful, with only 225 permits issued between 1991 and 2019. I support kick-starting the ADU program by focusing on the result that we need, creating more affordable homes for the “missing middle”.

Two ideas are worth mentioning here. One is to keep all of the homes small, not just the ADU dwelling, which has a 900 sq. ft. limit, but also the size of the single family home, which presently has no limitations on square footage. Contingent on this first requirement is that we allow for more than one ADU on the property (modifications will need to be made in the instance of an already existing single family home that exceeds 1,200 sq. ft.). Combining these two will keep the overall footprint down, and achieve our objective of creating a greater number of “missing middle” affordable homes.

3) Transfer of Development Rights

A transfer of development rights (TDR) program is a mechanism to relocate development potential from one property to another. If properly designed it preserves farmland, open space and natural resources in outlining areas while protecting historic buildings and affordable housing in urban zones. It compensates landowners where the community wishes to see land protected. Bainbridge Island has had a TDR program since 1996, but it has been unsuccessful, with no transactions having taken place. There are a number of reasons for this, including the lack of a proper “exchange rate” between the development rights in the “sending areas, where development is measured in units per acre, and the “receiving areas”, where development is FAR- based.

Other issues hindering the TDR program include the lack of an intermediary or “TDR bank” to facilitate the transfer. Buyers and sellers have to find each other, negotiate a price per development right, but without an agreed exchange rate. These complexities need to be addressed before a TDR program can flourish on Bainbridge Island. The benefits that come with success are many and I support advancing this effort.

4) Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning

Mandatory inclusionary zoning is a mechanism for requiring developers to include a percentage of affordable units in their housing project. Typically 5% to 10%. In exchange for building the affordable units, the City provides incentives in the allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR), building height, and parking in order to create the necessary density that would make the project financially feasible. Careful analysis and planning is required to make an acceptable public/private tradeoff (e.g. percentage of affordable units built vs. allowed height of building). I support carrying out that analysis for the Ferry and High School Districts in Winslow.

5) Affordable Housing on Public Land

Most of the recommendations outlined in the AHTF, and discussed in this questionnaire response, are incentives primarily aimed at private property owners. I believe that these incentives are necessary but insufficient on their own to address the crisis. It is essential that the City take the lead on this issue and help to create affordable housing projects on property it owns. There are a number of City-owned properties that are unused or under-utilized that can be considered. I support undertaking an inventory of our public land to determine suitable sites.

In addition, I believe that some creativity is called for and that we explore doing a “land swap” with other taxing jurisdictions on the Island. One such trade possibility would be for the City to trade its “Suzuki” property, located on New Brooklyn Ave, with the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District for ten sparsely treed acres of the “Sakai” property along Madison Ave. Being creative and collaborative with other taxing jurisdictions would earn us a valuable affordable housing project in the Winslow area without impacting a heavily forested property.

In a related development, the City has received its first allotment of the $7,061,885 awarded from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As I a write, we are exploring potential uses for those funds, and whether ARPA funds can be applied towards affordable housing project infrastructure. If such an allocation is possible I wholly support doing so.

6) Post AHTF – Affordable Housing Legislation Applicable to Religious Organizations

State legislation passed in 2019 (RCW 63.280) allows an increased density bonus for affordable housing development on property owned by religious organizations. It is worth noting that the Seattle City Council recently unanimously approved adopting the legislation. Here on Bainbridge Island, a project that falls under the legislation has been proposed by Bethany Lutheran Church and submitted to the City. I applaud the Church for stepping up to address the housing crisis, and give them my full support.

Question #2: HRB advocates for housing development on Bainbridge Island that is judicious and environmentally sustainable. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goal?

Bainbridge Island can certainly balance its environmental sustainability goals with its affordable housing goals because there is no fundamental conflict between the two. The sustainability of a community, its resilience, is strengthened when it has affordable housing because both the environment and people’s lives are benefited. Greenhouse gas emissions from cars are decreased because people drive less when they live closer to their jobs, schools and transportation hubs. The stress that people experience from the vagrancies of traffic and congestion on the roads is reduced, thus improving their health and quality of life. And, with less traffic, the need for expensive and environmentally damaging road up-grades is gladly taken off taxing jurisdictions’ work plans.

Homes that are built to be affordable can and should be made with sustainability in mind. It is not a coincidence that the largest affordable housing developer in the country, Habitat for Humanity, is also one of the largest green builders in the country. For their program resolves around building homes that are durable, less expensive to operate and conserve resources. That such a sensible approach to building homes is also environmentally sustainable should be instructive to us.

Ron Peltier, candidate for North Ward, Position 7

1 – The council formed the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. What initiatives in the task force report would you champion? And how would you implement these initiatives? 

Candidate Peltier’s response

In answering this question I would like to offer my views and positions on most of the recommendations from the 2019 Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report.  Before I do that, however, I’d like to explain my general approach to all development-related issues on Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge Island’s Comprehensive Plan applies a sustainability lens to how we go about meeting the needs of the Island’s residents.  From the Introduction to the Comp Plan:

Guiding Principle #3

Foster diversity with a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the Island and the human needs of its residents consistent with the stewardship of our finite environmental resources.

There’s additional language in the Comp Plan about respecting the Island’s carrying capacity:

Policy LU 2.1

Recognizing that the carrying capacity of the Island is not known, the citizens of Bainbridge Island should strive to conserve and protect its natural systems within the parameters of existing data.  Revisions to the Plan should be made as new information becomes available.

The carrying capacity of Bainbridge Island is determined by many factors including the supply of limited resources (particularly water), changes in patterns of consumption and technological advances. This Plan acknowledges that with current information, the carrying capacity of the Island is unknown. During the timeframe of this Plan, additional information on the carrying capacity of the Island should be developed.  

The plan takes a balanced and responsible approach to future development. As our understanding of the Island’s capacity changes, the recommendations of this Plan should be reconsidered to ensure they continue to represent a responsible path for the long-range future of the Island.

Everything contained in my comments is conditioned on sustainability and the Comp Plan policy language I have cited above.

Ron Peltier’s comments on the Affordable Housing Task Force

Final Report’s recommendations

The Report’s Priority Recommendations:

  1. Code Changes to Encourage Affordable Housing in Winslow and Neighborhood Centers

The Housing Element of the Comprehensive Plan lists as one of its highest priority actions the following: “Amend the City’s development code to facilitate an increase in the diversity of housing types and supply of affordable housing.” (HO Action #2). It proposes revising “development standards for the High School Road and Ferry Terminal districts and other portions of the Winslow Area Master Plan to encourage the transformation of these areas from auto-oriented, low-rise, homogeneous commercial land use districts into walkable, transit-served, mid-rise, mixed-use neighborhoods with affordable housing.”

Candidate comments:

Bainbridge Islanders have legitimate concerns regarding the adverse impacts of new development, including: damage to our sense of place and quality of life from additional traffic, noise, alterations to the landscape, and the loss of historic buildings.  There are also legitimate concerns about the environmental impacts associated with the development of housing.  To address those concerns we need strategies for housing needs that are consistent with the responsible stewardship of the Island’s finite environmental resources and strike a balance between state and regional planning mandates and our values and aspirations as a community.  

While I don’t support everything in the 2019 AHTF Report, I do generally support the Report’s proposal to re-imagine the High School I District, the Ferry District, and other parts of Winslow, as more dense, walkable, and transit oriented mixed-use neighborhoods with various levels of affordable housing.  This applies especially to the Ferry District, which is near the Island’s only High Capacity Transit station.  Increased density in that location is consistent with Puget Sound Regional Council’s regional plan, Vision 2050, which calls for Transit Oriented Development adjacent to High Capacity Transit, in part, as a strategy to reduce green house gas emissions.

Transit Oriented Development near the Ferry Terminal

Besides fulfilling regional policies related to growth and mitigation of climate change, higher density development near the ferry terminal would create the least amount of adverse impact, along with benefits to downtown:

  1. It has the potential to create less traffic on our roads than development further from Winslow and the ferry terminal.
  2. Would add to the vitality of downtown Winslow.
  3. Could receive additional density from the more rural area of the Island through a Transfer of Development Rights Program.

Pieces falling in to place for the Ferry District

There are a number of reasons Transit Oriented Development seems to be falling into place for the Ferry District:

  1. Regional policies related to housing (Transit Oriented Development)
  2. Consistency with the City’s Climate Action Plan for reducing GHG emissions.
  3. The availability of tax funds for the development of workforce housing within ½ mile of the ferry terminal.
  4. The City’s current police station site is an asset there
  5. The award of $7 million in American Rescue Plan funds, part of which could be used for necessary infrastructure improvements (specifically sewer, water, and storm water)

Transfer of development rights to the Ferry District

A well functioning TDR program could be sending density from the Island’s Conservation area to Winslow and the Ferry District.    Landowners with development rights to sell could receive a one-time payment and reduce their property taxes to make their properties more affordable to own.

Recommendation 1:A Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance page 12 AHTF Report

Ron Peltier:

Eco Northwest, the consultant hired to make recommendations regarding inclusionary zoning for the City Council in 2019, concluded that significant density bonuses, including additional floor area ratio (FAR) and building heights up to 75 feet, would be necessary to require 10% of housing units created to be affordable.  In general, I have reservations about supporting this approach  to  increasing the supply of affordable housing.  I believe it gives away too much density for too little affordability in return.  However, I would be willing to consider inclusionary zoning in the Ferry District around the City’s only high capacity transit station, the ferry terminal.  The possibility of building heights up to 75ft, though, is a concern to me.   Some version of inclusionary zoning may also be a tool to consider in re-imagining the High School I zoning district in Winslow.

Recommendation 1B: Zoning Changes to Incentivize Affordability in Designated Centers (page 14 of Report)

… to encourage mixed-use development and affordability within the Designated Centers. Emphasis has been given to the High School Road and Ferry

Terminal Districts. Key outcomes include expanding residential uses within allowable building envelopes and the creation of mixed-use villages in areas currently developed as low rise commercial and parking lots.

HIGH SCHOOL ROAD & FERRY TERMINAL DISTRICTS: High school Road and Ferry Terminal Districts shall have their FAR set equal to Core district. Consistent with the goal to have pedestrian oriented villages, these projects shall be required to be mixed-use.

Ron Peltier: I agree with the Report’s recommendations for changing allowable Floor Area Ratios (FAR) in the High School Road and Ferry Districts to encourage mixed-use and residential development in those locations with the goal of creating “pedestrian oriented villages”.

NEIGHBORHOOD CENTERS (NC): Change NC zoning from current method of determining density by units per acre to FAR method. Currently NCs have a low base density (2 units/acre) which doesn’t support pedestrian oriented villages. Basing density on units per acre encourages projects to build large units to maximize buildable area. The FAR approach would increase flexibility allowing smaller unit sizes and related affordability. Staff need to determine what appropriate FAR is in relation to density. The City’s ability to extend infrastructure to the NCs will affect the number of housing units created.

Ron Peltier: I believe that density increases in the Neighborhood centers should be modest.  The change from units per acre to Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is explicitly intended to  “maximize buildable area”.  This is a prelude for justifying the extension of sewer service to the Neighborhood Centers.  While additional growth in the Neighborhood Centers is provided for in the Comprehensive Plan, extending sewer service is not.  The justification would be to simply allow for more density in the Island Center and Rolling Bay centers but it’s unlikely that would be the full extent of the service area..  This happened with Lynwood Center.  Sewer service was initially intended for Lynwood Center only but was later expanded to areas outside of Lynwood center, leading to increased density in those areas.  There is a desire by some to extend sewer service Island-wide to facilitate increased density Island-wide.  That’s not an official Comprehensive Plan policy.   I’m not in favor of sewer extension for reasons related to environmental impacts and what I see as an underlying disregard for the Island’s finite carrying capacity.

Recommendation 1C. Multi-family Property Tax Exemption (page 16)

Ron Peltier: I support the version of the MFTE recently approved by the City Council, which varies from the AHTF’s Report.  The Report calls for new regulations related to height, densities, and parking, and also calls for MFTE to be applied to all the designated centers.  The version of MFTE approved by the City Council applies only to the Winslow Master Planning Area, and Winslow sewer service area, and doesn’t change any of the underlying densities and regulations.

  1. Affordable housing on publicly owned land (page 17)

Ron Peltier: I only support this recommendation as it pertains to surplus City Property located in Winslow. The only parcel I’m aware this might apply to is the existing police station property.  Other City-owned properties that have been discussed are the Suzuki property and public farmlands at Day Road.  I oppose the construction of housing on either of those City-owned properties.  Suzuki is located in the Island’s Conservation Area, and not an appropriate location for the densities proposed (last proposal was for 100 units).  City-owned farmland is not for general purpose or affordable housing: only farm intern housing, which I support.

  1. Adopt procedures to encourage Accessory Dwelling Units (page 17)

Ron Peltier: I support some form of incentivizing and encouraging Accessory Dwelling Units, including: creating stock designs; expedited permits; tiny houses on wheels; and alternative septic systems.  I do not support allowing more than one ADU per parcel. In addition, I would like to restrict the ability of property owners with ADUs from creating condominiums out of their properties and then selling the ADUs as fee-simple units. This practice, I believe, is contrary to the original purpose of allowing ADUs as mother-in-law apartments and affordable rentals.

We also need to be mindful of potential traffic and other impacts when creating new regulations related to ADUs.  Many people, including myself, regard them as a form of up-zoning that doesn’t show up on the Island’s zoning map.

  1. Adopt an “Innovations Program”

…allow City staff the flexibility to permit building projects on a limited basis that do not otherwise fit into zoning and land use code, if 100% of the housing units are affordable (affordability for this purpose will be 120% of AMI or less).

Ron Peltier:  I don’t support this recommendation from the Affordable Housing Task Force.  It would basically allow City Staff  to make up their own rules for approving affordable housing.  I would be interested in knowing if any other jurisdiction in the State allows their planning staff such flexibility, and how it’s worked out.  The AHTF report doesn’t provided examples from other jurisdictions.

  1. Permanent support for affordable housing

Ron Peltier:  My campaign platform includes a plan for affordable housing, so, yes, I believe creation and preservation of affordable housing is an ongoing priority on the City Council’s work plan.  For me, it’s just a matter of how we go about undertaking that work and what principles and expectations guide it.  The Report calls for creating dedicated affordable housing staff position and a standing affordable housing committee.  I am not ready to support those recommendations until we come to consensus on an overall strategy related to housing.  I don’t anticipate that happening in the near future.  The following Guiding Principle from the Comp Plan describes my favored approach:

Guiding Principle #3

Foster diversity with a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the Island and the human needs of its residents consistent with the stewardship of our finite environmental resources

The AHTF Report’s “Quick Wins”  (page 20)

  1. Adopt more generous policies with respect to live-aboards in Eagle Harbor.

Ron Peltier: I was a friend of the Late Dave Ullin, after whom the Dave Ullin Open Water Marina was named.  As a member of the city council I pushed this recommendation by the AHTF forward in 2019.  The city council supported expansion of the Open Harbor Marina and it was subsequently accomplished after resolving potential conflicts with the BI Rowing Club.

  1. Adopt a Vacation Rental Ordinance.

Ron Peltier: We need to consider the impacts of proposed regulation pertaining to short-term rentals, not only regarding the supply of long-term affordable rentals, but also on property owners.  I would be hesitant to prevent someone who lives on a property from renting out an ADU, or their main house, while living in the ADU, in order to afford living on Bainbridge Island.  I would be more inclined to focus on properties not used by their owners as primary residences.

  1. Permit processing priority and reduced fees for affordable housing projects.

Ron Peltier:  I’m open to considering this.

  1. Housing Trust Fund grants.

Ron Peltier: AHTF Report recommends annual grants to the Housing trust Fund.  I support the current 2021-2022 Biennial budget, which allocates an annual $100K transfer of funds to the Housing Trust Fund.  In addition, the Affordable Housing sales tax credit adds approximately $62K per year.  The Report also recommends money from the City’s affordable housing Fee in Lieu be added to the Housing Trust Fund.  I support all of these policies.

  1. Adopt a Cottage Housing ordinance.

Ron Peltier: This recommendation proposes increased density of 10 to 11 units per acre for smaller housing units in establish neighborhoods.  I open to considering it, depending on the proposed location(s).  As with all proposed density increases, comp plan goals and policies, as well as traffic and other impacts, need to be considered.


  • Work with Forterra to adopt a more effective Transfer of Development Rights program.

Ron Peltier: I strongly support developing a functional Transfer of Development Rights Program, which will likely require help from a consultant.  TDRs are one way to lower housing costs for landowners who wish to relinquish unused development rights in exchange for a one-time payment. I also understand this would lower property taxes.  King County has a functional TDR program that can serve as a starting point.  Forterra and Eco Northwest have also recently provided recommendations to the City Council regarding TDR programs, and I know that at least one current Council member is trying to move forward work on this.

  • Community Partnerships. Ron Peltier:
  • Conversion of Single Family Homes to Duplexes/Triplexes. Ron Peltier: I would probably support this, depending on the areas it’s proposed for.
  • Programs to Preserve Existing Housing.

Ron Peltier: Yes, I strongly support this.  I would support a program for purchasing properties to be retained as affordable rentals in exchange for deed restricted affordability.  The City should create a sizable budget for this.  This could be applied in conjunction with the Multi-family Tax Exemption.

  • Affordable Senior Housing/Accessible Housing.

 Ron Peltier: See the above related to purchasing development rights in exchange for permanent affordability.

  • Addressing Limitations Due to Sewer and Septic.

Ron Peltier: I don’t support the extension of sewer service.  It’s a Trojan horse for increased density Island-wide.  I do support lobbying the State and County Health Departments to consider alternatives to septic systems, such as composting and incinerating toilets.

  • Homelessness and Housing Insecurity.

Ron Peltier: I support human services funding related to housing and other needs.

  • Tiny Houses/Microhousing.

Ron Peltier: I support the permitting of tiny houses on wheels as ADUs.  Along with that there needs to be options for alternatives to septic systems.

  • Transportation Alternatives: Car2Go, Smart Cars, Public Transit.

Ron Peltier: I would consider all of these.  In addition, I support the building of bikes lanes, starting on the Core 40, to accommodate the growing trend towards e-bikes, something that will significantly change the way we use our Island-wide transportation system.

  • Advocacy for County, State, and National Affordable Housing Policies.

Ron Peltier: I support hiring of a lobbyist to advocate on behalf of the City Council at higher legislative bodies on a range of issues including those related to housing.  We need to be more sophisticated, and involved in, what’s happening at the State level.

2 – HRB advocates for housing development on Bainbridge Island that is judicious and environmentally sustainable. How can Bainbridge best balance its environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals?

Ron Peltier:  I’m glad to hear that HRB is dedicated to environmental sustainability.  We can best balance environmental sustainability and affordable housing goals by acknowledging that environmental sustainability requires a respect for limits: limits we need to better understand as time goes by.  Our groundwater aquifers, for example, aren’t going to negotiate with us over their long- term ability to support us.  Puget Sound isn’t going to negotiate how much undertreated sewage effluent and polluted storm water we get to discharge into it and still claim to be committed to environmental sustainability.  That’s a matter of science: not a negotiation.  Environmental sustainability will depend on our level of knowledge and the level of caution we choose to exercise.  Given the stakes, I believe we can justify erring on the side of considerable caution.

Here’s what the Comp Plan has to say on this issue:

Environmental stewardship

Guiding Principle #3

Foster diversity with a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the Island and the human needs of its residents consistent with the stewardship of our finite environmental resources

Bainbridge Island’s carrying capacity

Policy LU 2.1

Recognizing that the carrying capacity of the Island is not known, the citizens of Bainbridge Island should strive to conserve and protect its natural systems within the parameters of existing data.  Revisions to the Plan should be made as new information becomes available.

The carrying capacity of Bainbridge Island is determined by many factors including the supply of limited resources (particularly water), changes in patterns of consumption and technological advances. This Plan acknowledges that with current information, the carrying capacity of the Island is unknown. During the timeframe of this Plan, additional information on the carrying capacity of the Island should be developed.

The plan takes a balanced and responsible approach to future development. As our understanding of the Island’s capacity changes, the recommendations of this Plan should be reconsidered to ensure they continue to represent a responsible path for the long-range future of the Island.

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in your survey of candidates.  You can visit my campaign website and see my ideas for housing on Bainbridge Island at: