City Manager's Report
Dear Bainbridge Islanders,
Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee shared his plans for re-opening Washington State through his “Safe Start,” four-phase plan. Governor Inslee has also extended his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order through May 31, with some revisions. The result is a gradual resumption of some types of activities across our communities and region. This is welcome progress and City staff is working hard to support increased activity and requests for City services and support.

The change in our community pace also means that islanders should, in some ways, work to be even more mindful of one another. In particular, I’d like to encourage all Bainbridge residents to keep these important requests at the top of your list for May:

  • Wear masks when you are near other people in public. As more of us are moving within the community, the risk of transmission of coronavirus is higher than was the case in March and April. Public health remains our top priority, and your individual commitment to social distancing and use of PPE is the most important tool to try to keep our level of illness within the capacity of our regional health care system. As we have seen in other communities around the world, if we fail to maintain a manageable level of illness, the results will be devastating.

  • Slow down when driving. We are now in a phase where the mix on island roads between vehicles and walkers, bicyclists, etc. can become very dangerous. Non-motorized users need to have drivers’ full attention and care. Cars need to be prepared to yield, and should expect to encounter many bicyclists and walkers, in many places. Everyone should be driving at – or below – the posted speed limit. Sharing our roads safely is one way islanders can support each another during this challenging time. See below for information on a specific project on Grow Avenue this weekend, as part of a “Safe Streets” program, that will highlight the benefits of shared streetspace innovations.

This week, the City Council held a virtual meeting to consider candidates for the South Ward Council vacancy. The Council intends to formalize their selected appointment at their next meeting on May 12.

Also on May 12, the Council will receive a briefing on the forecast impacts to City budget and workplans from COVID-19. This will be an important first look at how City revenues and expenditures will adjust as a result of recent closures and economic changes. The meeting will also include a public hearing on an extension to the moratorium on self-storage facilities.

For more information on these topics and other items, please see below.  

Best wishes,

Morgan Smith
City Manager
COVID-19 Updates
Staff to present budget update during May 12 Council meeting
At the Council meeting on May 12, City staff will provide the first forecast of how City revenues and expenditures are impacted by COVID-19 closures and restrictions. The briefing will be focused on current expectations for 2020 revenue decreases, and recommended changes in expenditure plans.

At this time, there is a great deal of uncertainty and forecasts will certainly evolve in the coming months. The initial assessment is based on current understanding of regional economic conditions and the City’s specific revenue portfolio. These forecasts also reflect the City of Bainbridge Island’s established emphasis on – and implementation of – conservative and forward-looking financial policies and practices.

The current assessment projects a decrease in 2020 General Fund revenues of 15-20%; the total decrease is estimated at $4.5 million. City staff has identified roughly $2.7 million in potential spending reductions for 2020. Nearly half of these are achieved by holding most current staff vacancies (12 full-time employees) open for the remainder of 2020. Other expenditure savings result from deferral of spending on non-essential projects and activities.

The remaining gap is currently estimated at $1.8 million. This equates to less than 15% of the $12.7 million in fund balance the City estimates will be available at year-end 2020.
The detailed briefing materials for the May 12 Council meeting will include specifics on line-item revenue forecasts and proposed spending choices. This information will be available in the Council agenda materials published on the City’s website later today. 

As a related topic, staff will also address impacts to the City’s 2020 Workplan Priorities. Many projects and activities that were designated as priorities at the start of the year have been delayed or otherwise affected by recent closures and restrictions. This briefing will provide an opportunity to review the status of planned work with the Council and to confirm areas of emphasis for the remainder of 2020.
Governor announces phased approach for reopening businesses, modifying social distance measures
Gov. Jay Inslee announced May 1 an extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order through May 31 and the implementation of a four-phase approach to reopening businesses and modifying physical distancing measures. Phase one began May 5. Learn more about the Governor’s announcement and phased approach to lifting restrictions here.

Click here for the latest updates on the City's COVID-19 response.
Staff outlines building, land use permit application submittal process
The Planning and Community Development (PCD) Department has outlined the submittal process for building and land use permit applications while City Hall is closed during the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. The process now includes:
  • Go to the Planning & Building Submittal Appointments webpage and choose an appointment type and time.
  • Complete the appointment request form and submit.
  • Applicants will receive an immediate confirmation email with directions how to submit documents.
  • Applicants will also receive emailed reminders to email application materials 24 hours before the appointment.
  • A permit specialist will call the applicant to initiate the application intake process. Permit information and payment instructions will be given at the end of the phone meeting.

We mentioned in last week’s newsletter that appointments are now required for building and land use permit application submittals to make the process more efficient for staff and applicants.

The department is offering seven appointments daily for a total of 35 per week.

As a result of this process change, the department has seen an increase in efficiency for the intake of permits which has resulted in a reduction of time for the applicant to get their permit submitted.
Building inspectors adjust to new requirements
Inspections of existing construction projects continued this week following new guidance last week from Gov. Jay Inslee. As of May 6, staff has completed 63 inspections since inspections resumed early last week.

“The experience has been good so far. There has been a lot of compliance with jobsites that I have been to. People are generally positive about the situation and are happy to go back to work,” building inspector Justin Lauritzen said.

The inspections being performed range from looking at the foundation of a structure to final inspections of residential and commercial projects.The inspections are necessary to ensure that structures are safe to visit and inhabit. Building inspectors protect life, property, and the environment through enforcement of building codes and construction standards.

In order to restart existing construction projects, the Governor’s order requires contractors to have COVID-19 safety plans in place and the contractor must meet and maintain all requirements to operate ( read here).

To be in alignment with the Governor’s order, and for the safety of the City's inspectors and our community, all required workplans must be in place prior to any inspection process. City building inspectors have been trained on the jobsite requirements and are performing their work with personal protection equipment, including gloves, masks, eye protection and sanitizer to ensure safety of staff and the public.

“It takes a little extra time to make sure you are ready for each site visit, but you get used to it. I am happy to be a part of the solution to getting our economy back to normal,” Lauritzen said.

All inspection requests can be scheduled by calling (206) 780-3789. Learn more about the inspection schedule here.
Grow Avenue to temporarily close to through traffic for 'Safe Streets' project
At 3 p.m. today (Friday, May 8), Grow Avenue will be temporarily closed to through traffic to support a “Safe and Healthy Streets” project initiated by Squeaky Wheels and Bainbridge GreenWays, a program of Sustainable Bainbridge. The closure will end at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 12. During this time, local traffic, deliveries, and access to Grow Avenue businesses will be allowed, but there will be no through traffic allowed. Any patient of Bainbridge Pediatrics will have continued access. See the signage plan here. Drivers should use Madison Avenue as an alternate route to Grow Avenue.

The City Council formed an Ad Hoc Committee (consisting of Councilmembers Joe Deets, Kol Medina and Michael Pollock) during its April 28 meeting to explore a proposal (read April 22 email here & April 24 email/memo here) from Squeaky Wheels and Bainbridge GreenWays members to develop specific recommendations to support a "Safe and Healthy Streets" initiative. The program is designed to protect people walking and biking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar measures have been enacted in other cities, including Seattle.

Bainbridge GreenWays representatives want to make sure residents understand that making future streets one way or closed off isn’t part of what is being discussed.

According to Bainbridge GreenWays representative Susan Loftus, Grow Avenue neighbors have been involved from the beginning with planning this project. Grow Avenue residents addressed the City Council to support this project, and Grow Avenue residents are also organizers for “Slow on Grow” initiatives. Grow Avenue residents involved with this project have been coordinating with their neighbors and have provided feedback in the planning, Loftus said.

Ideas for potential future Safe Streets projects and locations will come from the residents themselves, Loftus said. One process to request projects will be via the feedback system collected on the Squeaky Wheels website. Learn more about the project and provide feedback here.

Watch the April 28 (click on "New item: shared streets) & May 5 City Council meetings to learn more about the discussion and project.

In addition, all City parks on Bainbridge Island remain open to the public and, as of May 5, all parking lots are open to vehicle access. For the status of BI Metro Park & Recreation District parks, please visit

The temporary closure of Grow Avenue is not related to the City’s Wyatt Way Reconstruction and Safety Improvement project that is scheduled to begin construction next month (more information will be provided soon).
Farmers Market to open tomorrow
The Bainbridge Island Farmers Market will return tomorrow (Saturday, May 9) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Town Square. Organizers ask that you please bring your mask, follow social distancing guidelines, and please leave the puppy and shopping bags at home.

The Farmers Market is limiting the number of vendors who participate, and the tables will be spaced apart. There will be a controlled entrance into the market, a hand washing station, and a hand sanitizer station.

Like grocery stores, farmers markets are among the many essential businesses that have remained open – with important safety guidelines in place. Please see Public Health - Seattle & King County's Public Health Insider for tips on how to keep you, your family, the vendors and other visitors healthy.
City Council Updates
City Council to appoint Christy Carr to south ward vacancy
The City Council is expected to appoint Christy Carr, a nearly 20-year resident and former City of Bainbridge Island Senior Planner, to fill the vacant south ward seat.

The selection was made following a nearly five-hour process that began with remarks from each of the nine candidates, a question and answer session with councilmembers, and two executive sessions to discuss the qualifications of the candidates. Watch the full meeting here.

Carr, a current Senior Environmental Analyst for the City of Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, was the top pick for each councilmember.

Carr has a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from the University of California, Davis and a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Washington. She is the current president of Sustainable Bainbridge and a former president of Friends of the Farms.

The Council will formally vote during its May 12 meeting to approve the appointment.

The south ward position was vacated in February following the resignation of Matt Tirman.
Council sets public hearing for self-service storage facilities moratorium
The City Council will hold a public hearing May 12 to receive and consider public comment on a six-month extension of the the self-service storage facilities moratorium. Council has also staff directed to prepare an exemption for projects under construction.

On Nov. 26, 2019, the City Council approved a six-month moratorium on the acceptance of building permit or land use permit applications for new self-service storage facilities. The moratorium applies to areas zoned as Business/Industrial and Neighborhood Centers. Self-service storage facilities are already prohibited in other zones. When discussing the moratorium, Council cited concerns about preserving these zoning areas for activities with the greatest potential for job creation and business enterprise.

The moratorium does not apply to permits required for upkeep, repair, or maintenance of existing self-service storage structures.

The moratorium is in effect until May 26, 2020 unless terminated or renewed by the City Council for one or more six-month periods. More information will be included in the Council agenda packet when it's published later today.
City Advisory Group Updates
Last call: City seeking volunteers to serve on City Advisory Groups
The deadline to apply to serve on a City Advisory Group is 4 p.m. today (Friday, May 8). There are openings on committees related to land use, historic preservation, climate change, and more.

"We are currently developing the first ever Climate Action Plan for Bainbridge Island. We'd love if you could help us develop this plan for the community and then help in the implementation," said Michael Cox who is the Co-Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Committee.

The Utility Advisory Committee, which provides City staff with a long-term perspective and technical advice on the water, sewer and stormwater utilities the City owns and operates, is also seeking a new member. "I volunteer to help ensure that the City makes well-informed decisions about utility capital improvements, operations and rates, among other things," said Ted Jones who serves on the Utility Advisory Committee.

A list of all the openings and an online application can be found here.

Questions? Contact Executive Assistant Roz Lassoff at
Planning Commission resumes next week
The Planning Commission will continue its work Thursday, May 14 at 5 p.m. following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The topics to be discussed at the May 14 meeting include Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and the Planning & Community Development Department’s 2020 Adjusted Work Plan.

The Design Review Board is anticipated to resume Monday, May 18.

Content for the meetings will be in alignment with any statewide restrictions. The work of the Planning Commission and Design Review Board is necessary due to the specific role that the Planning Commission and the Design Review Board have based on City code requirements regarding the land use process and state statutory review timelines.

The meetings will be conducted remotely on the Zoom platform with the same options for public participation and comment as City Council meetings.

The Planning Commission meetings will continue to be streamed live on the City’s website, with the video recording available following the meeting. The Planning Commission agenda will be available here when it's published.

At this time, all other City Advisory Group meetings remain postponed.
Update from WSDOT
Expect daytime delays during Agate Pass Bridge painting
Travelers crossing the State Route 305 Agate Pass Bridge should expect one-way alternating traffic with 10-minute delays, as work has resumed on the bridge painting project.

Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation closed one lane across the bridge. The single lane closure creates a work zone allowing crews to repaint the bridge.

The lane closure will be in place, Monday through Saturday, during the following hours:
  • Daytime: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Overnight: 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each following day

Learn more here.
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Contact Information

280 Madison Avenue North
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Phone: 206-842-7633