Anthony Oddo is running for the At Large city council seat now held by Ron Peltier, who is not seeking reelection. Oddo is opposed by Kirsten Hytopoulos. Her questionnaire appears tomorrow.
Candidate: Anthony Oddo
Position #: 1 (At-Large)
Your Website: www.anthonyoddo.org
Your Email: email@example.com
Ward of residence: South
Representation: Which Ward or At Large: At-Large
Are you an incumbent? No
- If incumbent, how many terms have your served?
Current occupation: Policy & Programs Coordinator, Housing Resources Bainbridge
Previous Civic Activities: Vice President, Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association (BOSIA); member, Bainbridge Island Rowing (men’s competitive program); past Chair, City of Bainbridge Island Marine Access Committee
Why you are running:
Before my husband and I decided to move to Bainbridge Island, I received some prescient advice from a long-time Islander who sensed that my apprehension about building new friendships echoed her own fears and concerns about moving to a new community long ago. This friend told me to “get involved” and “to throw every log in the fire and see what catches – that’s how you will come to know your new community.” I am so happy that I took her advice, because almost immediately, I found a City and welcoming citizens open to sharing what is truly a remarkable place.
From my first days on Bainbridge Island, I was struck by the immense social and intellectual capital that exists among our neighbors, in all facets of their lives. I also came to discover a place of extraordinary natural beauty and an ethos of conservation and environmental protection that ran deep within the community. Over time, I felt compelled to put myself forward as a candidate in an effort to find additional ways to give back to a place that has already offered me so much.
Looking ahead, I sense that, as in our community’s past – and like many other communities before us – we are at an inflection point. The climate crisis demands our immediate, undivided attention as we look for ways to mitigate and reduce damages associated with rising sea levels, longer dry periods, and stresses to our native vegetation. And yet, we must not lose sight of our other ecosystem – the human one – that is essential to who we are. A lack of affordable housing, our car-dependent transportation system, and a rising level of distrust and incivility at City Hall all cry out for solutions that are worthy of our Island community.
We do have something remarkable on Bainbridge Island, and I believe that we have the capacity to take on the problems before us. I remain optimistic about what is possible to achieve as a City and hope to add my voice to our Council’s important work.
Issues are listed alphabetically and not in any suggested priority.
There is broad agreement that parking downtown is inadequate. The lack of parking spaces is probably costing businesses patronage. You were asked at the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum how you would solve parking. One candidate noted a lack of support from business. Another suggested creating a one-way street to add parking. Neither solves a problem.
Q. How would you solve the parking problem downtown so that both residents and tourists have sufficient places to park and shop?
The parking problem in Winslow is predominately a result of the large number of single occupancy trips that are made on Bainbridge Island coupled with a lack of alternative transportation options (see my answer below). In addition, employee parking for the various businesses around Winslow take up a number of spaces that might otherwise be available to the public. My primary focus, if elected, would be to expand non-motorized and shared transit options to the Winslow core – particularly outside of commuting hours. Next, I would support the City evaluating other possible consolidated parking facilities for downtown employees immediately outside the core coupled with a shuttle. Lastly, we must look to our current zoning and where future growth may happen – particularly at the ferry terminal district – to examine if there are possibilities for building public parking infrastructure along with redevelopment of the site.
Q. Would you support a program that would incent tourists to leave the car at home while creating more transportation options when visiting the island?
Yes. I would like to explore the possibility of creating a circulator style bus system that operates on a fixed route and is not focused on ferry commuters. This system could be similar to the DC Circulator, which for a small fee, provides service to monuments and museums around the National Mall. Similarly, on Bainbridge Island, I would imagine this routed bus would be popular with both residents and tourists as a way to move individuals in and out of Winslow without the need for a personal vehicle. Most importantly, the bus would expand access for visitors to explore other areas of the Island such as Lynwood Center and business parks while at the same time offering a chance for a Bainbridge Island resident to make a trip into Winslow.
Islands are inherently fragile ecosystems that show stress quickly and have limited capacity to recover from environmental impacts.
Q. What grade would you give the current City government on environmental protection and sustainability?
I would give the current City government and Council a ‘B+‘ on environmental protection and sustainability. Over the past few years, the Council has done quite a bit to protect the natural environment and work toward increasing groundwater recharge across the island. I believe quite a bit more could be done though because the Council has often viewed environmental protection and sustainability in a vacuum – without recognizing that every policy that they consider or evaluate should be viewed through a lens of sustainability.
Q. What would you do the same or differently?
I am in support of switching out the lens through which we evaluate and approve fiscal expenditures, capital planning, permitting, and infrastructure design is crucial to having Bainbridge Island lead in preparing for and mitigating the effects of climate change. The purpose of establishing a climate change adaptation certification process is to move away from business as usual. Instead, it asks policy makers, permittees, and others to understand the long-term sustainability of a project and make modifications as a result of climate models. In addition, I would like to focus on the following two policies:
- Developing Green Building standards for new private and municipal construction: It is likely that after power production and transportation, our buildings on Bainbridge Island contribute the next most amount of GHGs to the atmosphere. Beginning in 2020, I would like to see Council work with the Design Review Board and Staff to create green building standards for new construction. I would also like to see incentives or financial assistance for modifications and green retrofits to existing homes. Money for such a program could come from permitting or impact fees.
- Developing more community solar projects and increase renewable energy generation: The City has a role to play as a facilitator of increasing the number of community solar projects on Bainbridge Island. This could be as easy as offering space on City-owned property or requiring new multi-family construction to include solar power.
Q. Do you think the current City government is doing enough to protect our island ecosystems for the long term?
We can always do more to protect our island ecosystems as technologies and our understanding of human impacts continues to improve. For example, we are lucky to have the Bainbridge Island Land Trust play a vital role in our community by protecting ecologically sensitive lands, in perpetuity. What’s more, our Parks Department, School District, and Fire Department are all also stewards of large parcels of land across the island. The City government can play a role in a few areas moving forward that further protect our precious ecosystems. To start, we can increase funding and attention to the removal of invasive species that dampen the functionality of forests, streams, and wetlands. By focusing Staff attention on this task, we can also ensure that our protected spaces are able to work at their full potential.
Another relatively easy solution is to encourage the planting of more native species across the island. In addition to their obvious service in removing carbon dioxide, trees can have a regulating effect on our streams – particularly where there are still fish runs on Bainbridge Island. A focus on planting native vegetation across all lands will improve animal habitat and allow our vegetation to better weather a warming climate.
Q. Do you think the island residents would support stricter protections? Please explain.
I believe that Bainbridge Islanders would certainly support stricter protections of our island’s natural ecosystems if the benefits and need were clearly articulated. Like any ordinance that the City Council looks to pass – whether it is in support of environmental protection, affordable housing, or sustainable transportation.
Q. How do you think the City needs to prepare for climate change for the near term and long term?
Bainbridge Island needs to prepare for climate change by enacting policies that both address mitigation and adaptation. For the former, the City Council has not yet made adequate progress to decrease our fossil fuel consumption, increase the use of renewables, and requiring compact development and sustainable land use designs. In the coming weeks, the Council will receive the greenhouse gas inventory as part of the work of the Climate Change Advisory Committee. These data will be important for policymakers as we look to reduce our single occupancy vehicle trip around the Island and plan for opportunities to encourage private solar installation and the possibility of community solar projects.
With respect to policies that address adaptation to climate change, we need to of course first look again to our land use tools and encourage tools such as open space residential subdivisions and other conservation requirements. Our City must also understand the water supply (see below) of the island and prepare for rising sea levels in zoning and critical infrastructure management.
Voters rejected recent levies for the new police department building and roads.
Q. Why do you think voters rejected these levies?
Both levies had issues with a lack of complete information and transparency to the voters. For the police station, I have understood it was the late-discovered contamination at the site that was the death knell. For the Safe Mobility Levy, it was likely both a lack of trust in the current Council to steward the public’s dollars appropriately coupled with vague objectives that did not have clear criteria by which to measure success. It was unfortunate from my perspective that the latter levy, in particular, failed because our City desperately needs a dedicated source of funding for additional non-motorized and sustainable transportation projects.
Q. What message would you convey to the citizens in support of future bonds?
I think the most important information to convey to voters when going to the public for bonds and levies is a clear picture of how and where the money will be spent. Moreover, as I noted above, it is imperative that voters also be able to see how progress (and success) will be measured. I understand that it may not always be feasible to list every single line item or project in a ballot measure or information session for a levy/bond, but it is important that voters receive the information about how projects will be ranked or prioritized.
I will also note that in coming years it may be challenging for the City to go before the voters for additional funding requests particularly as the school district, parks, and other taxing jurisdictions also plan projects and plan ballot measures. These likely requests are another reason that I support strengthening the connection between the Council and other commissioners through the intergovernmental working group.
Tim Eyman has another $30 car tab initiative on the November ballot. If it passes, Bainbridge Island will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars annual from its Transportation fund.
Q. How would you deal with this significant shortfall of transportation dollars in the Bainbridge budget?
Bainbridge Island’s $30 vehicle licensing fee supports both traffic calming measures across the Island along with approximately 60% of the City’s annual road maintenance program. The City notes that money collected in 2019, paid for about five miles of chip seal as well as asphalt repair across the island. In the past it has also supported right of way acquisition in order to plan for future transportation infrastructure projects. The loss of this funding in the short-term would mean a gap of approximately $600,000 in revenue, which would certainly mean the City would need to curtail or defer planned projects for future years where funding had been planned. In the longer-term, it would be necessary for the Council to direct to Staff to identify either additional (or alternative) sources of funding as well as shift spending priorities given the funding gap. As of right now, I am not aware of additional funding opportunities that are available to cities such as Bainbridge Island to support transportation projects; however, I also imagine the impact to the State will force legislators to explore new avenues for funding.
Growth and Development
City governments often use the GMA as a reason for increased growth and density, while authors of the GMA insist that the GMA provides tools with which to guide growth to be sustainable and in some cases, limit growth.
Q. What’s your view of the GMA?
The GMA is an excellent policy tool because of its requirement that City’s create Comprehensive Plans in order to manage future growth and identify steps to protect natural resource lands (including agriculture) for preservation. I also think that the GMA’s requirement that comprehensive plans be coordinated with adjacent and overlapping jurisdictions is important because not all areas subject to the GMA can grow and absorb growth equally (or have substantial undeveloped areas for preservation). This latter point is important because it provides opportunities for cities, such as Bainbridge Island, to divert growth elsewhere in a planning area and/or concentrate it in designated centers.
Q. Do you think the City of Bainbridge Island is using the GMA wisely to make growth sustainable?
Yes. Though it is more the requirements of the GMA of a developing a comprehensive plan and the codification of that plan into City ordinances that is more essential to ensuring sustainable growth on Bainbridge Island. In addition to the requirements of the GMA, the City Council has a number of other policy options that it has not yet acted on that can make our growth more sustainable. These include passing a green building ordinance as well as implementing a Climate Change Adaptation Certification process, which would be a change of the lens through which we evaluate and approve fiscal expenditures, capital planning, permitting, and infrastructure designs. The certification is crucial to having Bainbridge Island lead in preparing for and mitigating the effects of climate change. The purpose of establishing a climate change adaptation certification process is to move away from business as usual. Instead, it asks policy makers, permittees, and others to understand the long-term sustainability of a project and make modifications as a result of climate models.
Q. Do you think Bainbridge Island has room to grow?
Yes, Bainbridge Island has room to grow in the sense that we have not yet reached our population allocation from the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council during the last round of collaboration over comprehensive plan updates. Our current Comprehensive Plan states that Bainbridge Island has an allocation of 28,660 individuals by the year 2036. In addition, our current zoning can accommodate the additional population growth through 2036 – particularly if our Council follows those goals laid out in the Comprehensive Plan that most future growth be concentrated in Winslow and designated centers.
Q. How much and where should this growth be channeled in order to preserve the more rural nature of the majority of the island?
One of the first policies of the Land Use element of the Comprehensive Plan states that while the carrying capacity of the island is not known, our growth should strive to conserve and protect our natural systems within the “parameters of existing data.” Looking ahead, growth should be channeled to Winslow and other designated centers where there are amenities, public services, utilities, and appropriate infrastructure. Outside of Winslow and the designated centers, I will work diligently to ensure that the residential land use is appropriate and scaled.
Lastly, I believe that it is worth continuing to study the carrying capacity of the island – as required by the Comprehensive Plan. This metric goes well beyond the amount of water that is available (though that is a primary constraint) and should include technological updates that reduce our impact on the environment, health and safety considerations and the ability of our public safety departments to provide adequate services to a growing population.
Q. Do you think the City should allow Tiny houses, ADUs and carriage houses to provide for more affordable housing while being more sustainable?
Yes. I support the current Council’s efforts to move forward with ordinances allowing tiny homes and ADUs as one tool to address the affordability issue on Bainbridge Island. Both types of housing check a number of boxes regarding our Island’s efforts to move toward greater sustainability, reduced energy footprints, and affordability through smaller spaces. Regarding carriage (or cottage) housing, I would like to see the adopt the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Task Force regarding this issue. Cottage housing strikes me as an excellent policy options, particularly for the remaining developable areas of the Winslow core, because they often preserve the single-family character of neighborhoods, but leverage shared common spaces to reduce costs and enhance affordability. Moreover, they often hide their density in a way that blends seamlessly into surrounding areas.
Q. How would you regulate these housing options?
As ADUs are necessarily built on the same property as the primary dwelling, I would continue to regulate these structures as outlined in Bainbridge Island’s current municipal code. ADUs should maintain the appearance of the primary dwelling (if it detached) and should follow the applicable setback and homesite requirements. I also believe that it is important to continue to apply the applicable standards for parking and the health district (primarily septic) to ADUs. Because the ordinance to permit tiny homes is still in the planning stages and it is not entirely clear if they City would move to permit “tiny home villages,” I support treating tiny homes as ADUs as described above if they are located on a property with a primary dwelling. Lastly, because
Q. Do you believe RVs should be allowed as permanent housing?
No. RVs are not suitable for permanent housing and I do not support the current Council’s action. I believe that the Fire Chief’s and Building Official’s memos to the Council during the most recent debate regarding RVs as dwellings establish all of the reasons why RVs are not suitable for long-term habitation.
Q. Where would these RVs be allowed to park, and in what numbers, so as not to negatively impact adjacent neighborhoods?
Please see my answer above.
Q. How do you answer the concerns expressed by the Fire Department over the potential use of RVs as permanent housing?
I do not support the use of RVs as permanent housing.
Q. Given the problems Seattle has over the use of RVs as housing and the impacts on neighborhoods and business areas, why do you think RVs for Bainbridge may be a good idea?
As noted above, I do not believe that RVs should be used for permanent housing on Bainbridge Island. To close this issue, I will simply quote Chief Teran’s memo: “the use of RVs as an approved form of permanent dwelling is unconventional and a challenge regarding compliance with fire and life safety minimum standards. In addition to fire and life safety challenges, older RVs may not be able to comply with minimum recognized RV standards without significant cost and expense.”
Q. What do you propose to combat drug abuse, depression and suicides for young teens and high schoolers?
Regarding social services, the City Council has an important role to play as a facilitator and supporter of existing non-profits and junior taxing districts. I believe that it would be inappropriate for the City to begin to duplicate efforts that are already in place by organizations such as Bainbridge Youth Services and the Tyler Moniz Foundation. These non-profit and community partners have the expertise and the mission to address the issues listed. In this way, the City of Bainbridge Island can continue to support the financial needs of these, and other, entities through the human services grants funding cycle, where appropriate and permitted by law.
That being said, the Police Department can and should continue to play a role in supporting the School District, other organizations, and families with issues surrounding depression, drug use, and suicide. Further and continued training to handle these issues will be important in order to safely manage and deescalate potential crisis situations.
You were asked at the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum about the need for senior citizen housing and services. All agreed that there is a need but all were short on specifics, including how affordable housing would be paid for.
Q. Please detail how you would address these issues. Consider this a two-part question, allowing 250 words per part.
The City Council has a role to play in both protecting existing affordable housing and encouraging or incentivizing the creation of new units to serve senior populations. To start, the City should continue to pursue funds available from the State under HB1406 that allows a portion of the sales tax to be put toward rental assistance and other affordable housing options. These funds could be used to support existing community partners who work in the community on a variety of projects supporting senior citizens. For example, Housing Resources Bainbridge through its Independent Living Program makes health and safety modifications to seniors’ homes so that they can continue to age in place. Other organizations, such as IVC and Helpline House, could use money directed from the City to support their work in supporting seniors’ other needs such as housing, transporation, and case management.
Bainbridge Island will also have access to REET funds under HB1219, which allows a portion of REET to be used for “planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, replacement, [or] rehabilitation . . . of facilities for those experiencing homelessness and affordable housing project.” It will be important to pursue the use of the funds in order to support both existing non-profits in the community as well as begin planning for future infrastructure project.
Regarding the construction of additional housing specific for seniors, I agree with the general direction of examining the Senior Center as potential location for housing that was raised during the Chamber of Commerce panel. The Senior Center building offers a number of benefits as the site for future housing (likely on top of the current building) as it is in the Winslow core, close to needed services and amenities, and may serve as an experiment in reducing parking requirements given its location. Moreover, the City could explore additional funding opportunities from the County and State as the Center currently serves as warming center and emergency shelter during severe weather. That role could be enhanced following a remodel of the current facility.
The city has had a transportation concurrency update on its “to-do” list for two or more years.
Q. What is your understanding of concurrency?
Concurrency means that there is adequate transportation infrastructure in place at the time an infrastructure or other project is completed or the developer or other entity has made allowances to create the improvements necessary within six years. Concurrency is required for planning under the GMA under cities such as Bainbridge Island are required to develop a comprehensive transporation plan with established levels-of-service (LOS) standards for arterial roads and transit services.
Q. Why hasn’t an update been prioritized and completed?
As a prospective new voice on Council, my campaign looks to the future of Bainbridge Island, and I cannot speak for prior council members and City staff. However, I intend to focus our future planning on multi-modal transportation, recognizing that our residents use more than just cars to go about our daily lives. We commute by ferry, we walk to parks and our Winslow core, and we ride bicycles to more and more destinations around the Island. The City is currently conducting a Sustainable Transportation Planning Study, along with updates to the Transportation Element of our Comprehensive Plan. Both of those plans–rightly–look to ensure we are considering every kind of transportation our City needs. Unfortunately, we have not finished building the infrastructure (including better shoulders, bike lanes, and dedicated paths) called for in our previous plans. The biggest problem is not in our lack of planning, but in our lack of execution.
Q. What do you hope to see as a result of a transportation concurrency update?
As mentioned above, I believe our City should prioritize not just studying our transportation needs, but implementing them. I support a dedicated revenue stream to fund and build a network of non-motorized transportation that is safe and welcoming for all ages and abilities. For example, we need to build more sidewalks in the Winslow core, particularly in areas that require safe routes to schools and areas that are entirely inaccessible to residents who use wheelchairs to travel from place to place. Similarly, we need to build a bicycle-friendly network around the Island, including a spectrum of paved shoulders (as on Miller Road), climbing lanes (like on NE Wing Pt Way), buffered and protected bike lanes (at this point, only in Seattle), bike boxes (as in the new Olympic Drive Project), and dedicated paths, depending on the context for each site.
Q. Concurrency and Level of Service is based on traffic counts that date citywide to 2012-14. Do you think this is appropriate?
Our City should always strive to use the best data available. But, our region is famous for a real problem, nicknamed the “Seattle Process,” that often leads us to study clear problems for years and years, without ever building a solution. At this point, we already know the largest needs facing our Island: dangerous roads, a lack of safe routes to schools, and infrastructure that is decades behind the best practices for non-motorized transportation. We have a finite number of dollars available, and every study we conduct uses funding that could otherwise build another block of sidewalks, bike lanes, or shoulders. While we should always use the best information to help us solve new problems, I will prioritize action over studies and updates to our prior plans.
There is conflicting information and opinion on the state of the island’s water resource. Some research says there’s plenty and enough for future growth, while other water experts strongly disagree and point to the fact that the island is a sole-source aquifer and with finite capacity, especially given risks posed by climate change.
Q. What’s your position on our island’s water capacity and quality? Please provide facts and research to support your views.
Bainbridge has been designated as a sole source aquifer – meaning we get a majority of our water from underlying aquifers and there are no alternative sources that might be physically or economically viable. Past studies (e.g., the 2011 USGS survey) noted that the Fletcher Bay system – from which many of the high-capacity wells in Winslow draw – is likely to drop by four to 10 feet by 2035. Other, more shallow aquifers, are stable or increasing.
The USGS study also noted that “no saltwater intrusion was evident in any scenario by the year 2035,” which suggests that it is something to be aware of under realistic projects for the island’s growth. In reading through many of these studies, a few things stand out: (1) our community needs to reframe the discussion around quantity toward increased conservation along with continued study and collaboration with other entities about the availability of water supplies across the County; and (2) we should begin to explore the recharge of the deep-water aquifer with groundwater injection of treated effluent from the waste water treatment plant (rather than dumping to the Sound). This would require tertiary treatment, but I believe it is something to begin planning for now.
As for quality, studies show that fecal coliform and nitrogen are the primary pollutants in the island’s water systems. Both are certainly the result of aging septic systems. Looking ahead, we have to prepare for these systems’ eventual failure as well as better manage future population growth.
Q. Do you believe there should be a building moratorium until a consensus understanding on water aquifer viability is reached and a determination is made whether there is a long-term problem?
As we enter into the final weeks before the November election, there is currently a building moratorium in place on Bainbridge Island. The reasons for its initial implementation and continued extension are manifold and I support the overall objective of aligning municipal codes to the Comprehensive Plan and updating current zoning rules. Unfortunately, I feel as if much of the time spent under the moratorium was wasted on distractions from actually studying and understanding additional issues such as the carrying capacity of Bainbridge Island (as called for in the Comprehensive Plan), which includes understanding on water aquifer viability. Because it is unlikely that Bainbridge Island will continue to be able extend the moratorium until a consensus understanding is reached I do not support an additional building moratorium specifically for this reason. As I stated above, my campaign has focused on planning for the future and looking ahead to the challenges that we face as a community. I believe that additional analysis incorporating our improved understanding of how precipitation will change in a warming climate and its impact on our aquifers’ recharge capabilities is crucial. However, we must be able to do accomplish this understanding outside of a second building mortarium.