Kol Medina is seeking reelection as city councilman to a second term for the North Ward, Dist. 2 city council position. He was selected by his fellow council members to be mayor, the position he currently holds. He is opposed by Kevin Fetterly. His questionnaire appears tomorrow.
Candidate: Kol Medina
Position #: District 2, North Ward
Your Website: www.re-electkolmedina.com
Your Email: email@example.com
Ward of residence: North
Representation: Which Ward or At Large: North Ward
Are you an incumbent? Yes
- If incumbent, how many terms have your served? One
Current occupation: President & CEO, Kitsap Community Foundation
Previous Civic Activities: I consider service with nonprofits to be civic activities so I have listed those types of experience below.
Pacific Northwest Community Foundation Network Governance Cmte 2019 – present
Kitsap Transit Board of Directors 2018 – present
Kitsap Public Health Board 2018 – present
Housing Kitsap Board of Commissioners 2018 – present
Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management Board of Directors 2018 – present
Kitsap 911 Board of Directors 2018 – present
Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council Board of Directors 2016 – present
Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council Transportation Policy Committee 2016 – 2017
Kitsap Economic Development Association 2016 – present
Kitsap Strong Leadership Committee 2015 – present
Kitsap Center for Nonprofit Excellence Steering Committee 2014 – present
Kitsap Strong Funders Committee 2014 – present
Washington Nonprofits Public Policy Committee 2013 – 2016
23rd Legislative District Democratic Party Executive Board 2009 – 2016
Chair of the Executive Board (2011-2012); Vice-Chair (currently)
Health, Housing and Human Services Council 2010 – 2011
Executive Committee Member
One Call for All 2006 – 2010
Association of Bainbridge Communities (ABC) 2005 – 2009
Helpline House 2009
Community Energy Solutions 2008
National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS) 1999 – 2008
Great Peninsula Conservancy 2005 – 2007
Member of Land Acquisition Committee
West Sound Wildlife Shelter 2001 – 2004
Earthjustice Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford Law School 2000 – 2001
Peace Corps, West Africa 1996 – 1998
Agricultural and Environmental Education Volunteer
Why you are running:
In January 2018, the other Councilmembers unanimously appointed me to be our City’s Mayor, a position in which I still serve. Being our Mayor is truly the greatest honor of my life. In part, I am running because as Mayor I have led the Council towards implementing very important and much-needed policy changes. That implementation is not done yet; I want to make sure it gets done.
During all of my 18 years on the Rock, I have been working or volunteering here. Point being: Bainbridge is where I live, work, volunteer, play, and send my child to public school. My wife also works on the Island. We are fully invested in this superb community and have spent 18 years trying to protect and improve it. Being on Council is simply an extension of how I have always been involved in this community.
I think my values are what the majority of people on this Island want in their leaders: intelligence; thoughtfulness; accountability; environmental stewardship.
I ran for office four years ago because people asked me to. I agreed to be Mayor because other Council Members asked me to be Mayor. I am running for City Council again because people asked me to. Point being, I do not do these things because of my ego or a narrow, specific agenda. I serve as your Mayor, and am offering four more years of my service, because I want to provide good leadership in service to you and our Island.
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?
I was one of four Council members who voted to put City resources towards the development of the “town square project”, which ideally would have included a parking garage.
Some Council members, and many members of the public, dispute that there is a parking problem at all. Therefore, we, as a City government, will not be able to undertake the lift needed to really do something about this problem without the support of those who want and need the problem to be solved – the business community.
Let me put this differently – as we looked into the town square project, we received lots of email and comments criticizing us for even considering it; we received very little email and comments supporting our efforts. At the end of the day, our job is to do what the people on the Island want. If no one, or very few people, express support for something, it makes it very hard to do that “something.”
So the solution to the problem starts with people who want to do something about this problem making their voices heard.
Beyond the town square project, we did commission a parking study. That study contained a handful of recommendations for how to help the parking shortage without building new capacity. I am in favor of pursuing the implementation of some of those recommendations but none of those recommendations will “solve” the problem.
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?
Absolutely. I hope recommendations to that effect come out of the Sustainable Transportation planning process that I have helped to lead the start of. The goal is to have a Sustainable Transportation Plan completed and in front of Council by the end of next year.
We must move this community, and those who visit this community, to use single-occupancy car travel less. Climate change is real and threatens the sustainability of our community, not to mention the world. That’s why I have led the City’s work on completing a Climate Action Plan, which is supposed to be delivered to Council in March. A key part of our community mitigating and adapting to climate change will be putting into place systems, incentives, and capital investments that lessen single-occupancy car travel.
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?
This Council has done more for environmental protection and sustainability than any previous Council that I am aware of. My undergraduate degree is in Environmental Studies and Policy. I attended law school to study environmental law. It is simply the honest truth to state that I have been a leader on this Council over the last 3.5 years in working to protect our environment and pursue sustainability (thankfully, there have been other Council members also leading on these topics). In fact, I am being campaigned against by people who want to unseat me because of my strong stance on environmental protection.
Some examples of what we’ve accomplished:
- Much stronger emphasis in our Comprehensive Plan on climate change and environmental protection in general.
- Revisions to the Shoreline Management Program that prohibit the use of plastics in aquaculture around the Island.
- Passage of a comprehensive low impact development ordinance. Low impact development is focused on keeping stormwater on the property it falls on, but doing so in an environmentally conscious manner.
- Passage of a greatly strengthened Critical Areas Ordinance that includes the new and innovative aquifer recharge protection area (ARPA). The ARPA is the strongest environmental sustainability law on the City’s books.
- Authorized the hiring of a City hydrogeologist and City Arborist.
- Landmark Tree Ordinance.
- Work underway on a BI Groundwater Management Plan.
- Work underway on a BI Climate Change Action Plan.
- Work underway on a BI Sustainable Transportation Plan.
Q. What would you do the same or differently?
Even though I am being actively campaigned against for the strong work I’ve done on environmental sustainability, I would do it the same way again. My only dissatisfaction is that we have not gotten more done. It takes a long time to change laws.
I am running for Council again because I want to see these items completed and then implemented (not just put on a shelf):
- A Groundwater Management Plan for the Island.
- A Climate Change Action Plan for the Island.
- A Sustainable Transportation Plan for the Island.
Two or three of us on Council have worked hard for years to get these projects underway. We need to keep persons like myself on Council to make sure these Plans get completed and then implemented. If we lose me and some other key people from Council, all the work done to get to this point could be moot and our City could lose the opportunity we have to make real change in these areas.
Q. Do you think the current City government is doing enough to protect our island ecosystems for the long term?
I think I’ve answered this question in my prior two answers, but I’ll add a bit more here.
While I wish we had accomplished more, I honestly think that we are doing everything we can to shift and then maintain the City government’s focus on environmental protection. It is a priority. But change is hampered by limited City staff time to support the Council’s priorities, limited Council capacity (we only can only juggle so many topics at one time), limitations imposed by federal and state laws, lawsuits, and pushback from some residents and constituencies.
One candidate for Council has adopted the cute campaign phrase the he should be elected to make a “council that works.” This is an attempt at a winning sound bite that uninformed voters might buy into (a strategy that Donald Trump rode to power). But I can tell you with complete sincerity that this current Council works, and works hard. And much of what we work on is environmental protection, especially if you include controlling development as part of environmental protection.
We work together well and are unusually productive. And we work a lot. During my first two years on Council, our meetings averaged around 2 hours and we took off a few meetings each year. Since I became Mayor in January 2018, this Council has been averaging 4 hours per meeting and taken off only one or two meetings each year. We are the only City Council in this County that meets 4 times/month.
Q. Do you think the island residents would support stricter protections? Please explain.
Yes, I do. There would of course be constituencies who push back. Be I have no doubt that environmental protection and sustainability is deeply supported by a large majority of Islanders. This has been proven out in survey after survey for years. And when I’m out doorbelling, the issue I hear the most about is environmental protection and protection against overdevelopment.
However, most people on the Island don’t speak up and lobby Council. Most residents don’t email us; don’t come to our office hours; don’t call us; and don’t show up at City Council meetings. This allows small groups of vocal and organized people to sway public policy, to kill or weaken environmental protection initiatives, and to keep the Council focused on other priorities (priorities that are important, but possibly not desired by as many people as desire more environmental protection).
Q. How do you think the City needs to prepare for climate change for the near term and long term?
My top general campaign issue is ensuring good governance – that means accountability for and transparency in City and City Councilmembers’ actions, and wise decision-making. My top subject matter issue is climate change. That is the most important issue facing us. All of the other environmental protection initiatives, and work to control development, are part of a comprehensive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change.
But to answer the question, I’ll simply say that the answer is this: Make sure our Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) completes our Climate Action Plan next March and then make sure the City implements the dozens of recommendations that will be in that Plan. In other words, I’m not going to pretend to know the best ways to prepare for climate change (although I did study climate change extensively in undergrad). Instead, I’m going to wait for the experts to tell us what to do, and then do everything I can to implement their recommendations.
Voters rejected recent levies for the new police department building and roads.
Q. Why do you think voters rejected these levies?
It is impossible to know exactly why levies failed. But here are my thoughts:
Failure of the Police Station Levy:
- We should not have to increase our taxes to pay for core City services such as policing.
- The site chosen for the station to be built on with the levy money was found shortly before the vote to have environmental contamination.
- The City’s cost estimate and plans for the police station were incomplete or unsubstantiated.
- Some residents have a continuing distrust of the City because of past City failings or embarrassments, some of which were still fresh in 2015 when this levy failed.
- Property taxes on the Island are already high and some people cannot afford them.
Failure of the “SAFE Mobility Levy”, which was a levy to raise funds for non-motorized transportation, including sidewalks, trails, bike shoulders on roads, and trails to schools:
- The levy had a dumb and misleading name.
- Lack of clear unifying purpose.
- The description of the levy in the ballot did not describe what it was actually for.
- Some people complained that the levy was not clear enough in how the money raised would be used (the so-called “blank check” argument).
- The supporters of non-motorized transportation on the Island were splintered in their support (because the levy money wasn’t all for cyclists).
- Items 4 and 5 above apply here also.
Q. What message would you convey to the citizens in support of future bonds?
I don’t think the City should ever ask the public to increase its taxes to pay for core City services like policing. We must use City general funds for those core services.
Future levies need to have a clear and easily explained and envisioned purpose. That clear purpose needs to be tied to real impact for residents.
I think the City needs to continue doing everything it can to increase residents’ trust in the City government. That has been my greatest priority while on Council. That’s why I’ve led City Council initiatives on accountability and transparency. If residents don’t trust in the government, no levy will ever pass.
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?
The only realistic answer is that we replace the lost funds with general fund revenue. In other words, we just suck it up and cover the lost revenue with our other, current revenue sources. This will be hard in that it will squeeze the budget and curtail some other initiatives that we’d like to get off the ground, but it is doable.
We could ask the residents to approve a levy increase or sales tax increase. But, again, I don’t think we should ask the residents to increase taxes on themselves to pay for core government services like roads (unless there is truly no other alternative).
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?
I think the GMA has been extremely successful at its core purpose: Forcing most growth into cities and limiting urban sprawl into our farmlands, forests, and lands that provide important and invaluable environmental services.
I support that core purpose for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that climate change resiliency and adaptation will require that we build dense societies that don’t force (or allow) everyone to rely on automobiles to get around. One of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our environmental footprint is to build denser communities that are centered around high-capacity transit, commercial services, parks, and jobs.
The fact is that our society is growing. We can’t stop that. But we can plan for it and direct it in the manners that will make life better for our children and grandchildren. That is what the GMA is about.
But the GMA is not perfect. It does force growth in cities that might not be appropriate for growth, such as BI. Because BI obtains all of its water from aquifers, BI does have a natural carrying capacity. We must determine what that capacity is and, if needed, use the limits of that capacity to limit growth on BI. That is why I have fought hard, and successfully, to start the process of completing a Groundwater Management Plan for BI.
Q.Do you think the City of Bainbridge Island is using the GMA wisely to make growth sustainable?
This is a complicated topic, but generally put, yes, I think BI is moving forward in a wise manner in regards to growing sustainably. The fact is that over the last 10 years, BI has been the slowest growing city in Kitsap County, except for Bremerton (which is now actively trying to grow and is growing faster than BI).
BI has put in a place a superb Comprehensive Plan. Our Comp Plan is required by the GMA and is the guiding document that is supposed to control all of our future changes, growth, and development. I worked hard to make sure that the Comp Plan revisions we approved two years ago focused on environmental sustainability.
That Comp Plan envisions that at least 90% of future growth on BI goes into Winslow and Neighborhood Service Centers. Focusing growth in Winslow is the only sustainable way that BI can grow. Also, the Comp Plan makes mitigating and adapting to climate change one of our overriding guiding principles.
Unlike prior Councils, this current Council has spent the last two years working hard to actually implement the Comp Plan. We put a development moratorium in place so that we could change our land use laws to implement our Comp Plan vision before substantial new developments were approved. And we have started the process of completing a Climate Action Plan, a Sustainable Transportation Plan, and a Groundwater Management Plan. These Plans are all supported by and aimed at implementing our Comp Plan.
Q. Do you think Bainbridge Island has room to grow?
A simple answer to this question is “yes, our current zoning allows for the building of housing to house at least 4,500 more people.” So if you take this question as “Does our zoning allow for more growth?,” the answer is “yes.”
A more complicated answer relates to groundwater sustainability. I address that topic in more detail in a different answer below.
Another more complicated answer relates to affordable housing. Affordable housing advocates, and people who are being forced out of their homes due to rising property taxes, would argue that BI must grow and grow by a lot so that we can bring down housing prices on the Island.
Another more complicated answer relates to change. I think most people on this Island agree in theory that growth is coming, must be accommodated in some fashion, and should be contained mainly in Winslow. But, when that growth takes the form of single family homes being torn down and replaced by townhomes and 4-story apartment complexes in your neighborhood, many people quickly change their mind and think that growth is horrible.
Point being, there is not a single or simple answer to this question. This question encapsulates the most difficult issue that the City Council wrestles with. My best answer is this: Until we have a rational basis on which to reject more growth, we will grow. So we must be a smart, innovative, and transparent Council that does its best to balance all of the competing interests.
Q. How much and where should this growth be channeled in order to preserve the more rural nature of the majority of the island?
I supported the Comp Plan vision that at least 90% of future growth be contained in Winslow and the Neighborhood Centers (“NCs”). Personally, I think it should be 95% or more with the vast majority of that being contained in Winslow, not the NCs.
Q. Do you think the City should allow Tiny houses, ADUs and carriage houses to provide for more affordable housing while being more sustainable?
The City currently allows an ADU (accessory dwelling unit, aka “mother in law apartment”) in any zone, on any property in the City. That has been true since before I joined Council. I have on multiple occasions stated that I disagree with that. I don’t think that we should allow ADUs in the less dense zones.
Our Comp Plan requires that density and growth be located in Winslow. Allowing an ADU on every property across the Island basically allows growth to double across the entire Island. There is nothing sustainable about that. Point being: I think ADUs should only be allowed in areas of the Island that are meant to be dense. However, I think there are appropriate exemptions from this rule that I could support, including ADUs that are restricted and managed as permanently affordable housing or ADUs that are used by the same family (like a true “mother in law apartment”).
Whether that ADU takes the form of a traditional stick-built house or a “tiny home” makes no difference to me. They are effectively the same in terms of their impacts. I think they should be regulated in the same manner in terms of land use laws.
There are different meanings of the term “carriage house”, so I’m not sure what you mean. If you are using that term as a synonym for ADU, then I think they should be treated in the same manner.
Q. How would you regulate these housing options?
I think my prior answer addresses this.
Q. Do you believe RVs should be allowed as permanent housing?
Only if we can devise laws that appropriately regulate their use as permanent housing. What does “appropriately” mean? A few things:
- RVs could only be used in place of a house or ADU. This means that RVs couldn’t be parked on streets or on lots line or in driveways. They would have to be properly sited on a property in the same manner that a house or ADU is sited.
- Their number would be limited just like houses are limited. If a lot allows one home on it, then a lot would only allow one RV on it.
- RVs would have to be screened appropriately to protect the aesthetics of the neighborhood. No unsightly RVs visible from a public road.
- Reasonable laws would have to be put in place, with appropriate inspections, to make sure that RVs met fire safety standards and health standards.
- RVs would have to handle their septic and obtain their water in a manner that meets the same standards as a house.
In short, if we can find a way to make RVs meet basically all of the same standards as a house, then I would probably support doing allowing RVs as permanent residences.
Q. Where would these RVs be allowed to park, and in what numbers, so as not to negatively impact adjacent neighborhoods?
I think my prior answer addresses this. I’ll just add, to be clear, that no one on Council is talking about or considering allowing RV parks, or allowing RVs to be parked on streets, or in driveways. The RV would be sited and treated just like a house. The only change would be that someone could buy an RV and “install” that on their property to live in rather than having to build a house.
Q. How do you answer the concerns expressed by the Fire Department over the potential use of RVs as permanent housing?
We ask the Fire Department and City Staff to try to devise appropriate regulations that would address the concerns that the Fire Department has raised. That is what we have done. If we can’t develop appropriate regulations, then I won’t support allowing RVs as permanent residences. I believe this is how all Councilmembers feel about it.
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?
I think my answers above addressed this. No one on Council is considering allowing RV parks, or RV areas, or RVs to be allowed on streets.
Q. What do you propose to combat drug abuse, depression and suicides for young teens and high schoolers?
I understand that this is a huge issue. BI teens suffer more of these issues per capita than the average or than other cities in our County. My “day job” is being the CEO of the Kitsap Community Foundation. In that role, I work with nonprofits and government agencies all over the County (including Bainbridge). In fact, I am the founder of Kitsap Strong, which is a county-wide effort involving over 100 nonprofits and agencies aimed at cutting down the single greatest root causes of what is happening to these kids: adverse childhood experiences, inequity, and lack of resilience.
Based on what I know from my work in this area, I know that the City cannot fix this problem. Our community has to fix this problem, and doing so will quite literally “take a village.”
The City should continue to provide funding to human service agencies, as it does now to the tune of $330,000/year (BI provides the highest amount of this type of funding per capita than almost any City we surveyed). I’d like to see the City focus more of that funding on this particular youth issue. Aside from that, there is really not much that the City can do. Keep in the mind that the City does not run the schools and has no influence over the schools.
This problem can only be solved by parents, kids, grandparents, community groups, schools, and other agencies that work directly with kids and with the parents of kids.
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.
Part 1: Senior citizen housing (and how to pay for it)
Part 2: Senior services
Q. Please detail how you would address these issues. Consider this a two-part question, allowing 250 words per part.
Part 1: Senior citizen housing (and how to pay for it)
Housing for our Island’s elders is a serious issue. I have heard from many elders who tell me that they have been forced to move off the Island because rise housing values – coupled with rising property tax rates due to the passage of bonds for schools, parks, and fire stations – has increased their property taxes to the point where they cannot afford to pay those taxes. These people own their homes outright and expected to live out their lives in this community. But they’ve been forced to sell and move because of property taxes. That is a tragedy.
Unfortunately, it is not a tragedy that the City can fix. I believe it is important to be realistic about this. The City can take some actions that could have some positive impact in this area; but the City can’t solve it.
What can the City do? Here’s a list:
- Encourage ADUs (“mother-in-law apartments”).
- Implement inclusionary zoning, a market mechanism that will result in more affordable housing being built.
- Change zoning laws to require or encourage the construction of smaller homes and units in multi-family developments.
- Implement the multi-family tax exemption, a market mechanism that will result in more affordable housing being built.
- Facilitate funding for organizations like HRB to build affordable senior housing. I would support the City placing a measure on the ballot to increase sales taxes by 0.1% and dedicate the money to affordable housing (approximately $400,000/year).
Part 2: Senior services
Due to my work in my “day job”, running the Kitsap Community Foundation, I understand some of the issues faced by elders and understand the types of services that they need from our community. However, I don’t remember a single time that an elder has contacted me as a Councilmember to ask me to help them obtain some service in the community. Point being: I don’t think that our elders expect the City to provide elder-specific services to them and I, as a Councilmember, do not believe it is the City’s role to provide direct elder-specific services to our elders.
However, the City can and does help other organizations provide services to elders. This is an appropriate role for the City. The City helps in two ways: The City provides $330,000 annually to nonprofit organizations providing social services to people, including seniors, on the Island. In particular, funding for Island Volunteer Caregivers and the BI Senior Center goes directly towards providing services to elders. Funding to Helpline House also helps elders. Second, the City provides the building that is the BI senior community center to the organization called BI Senior Community Center for free. In other words, the City provides a huge subsidy to the BI Senior Community Center.
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 is one of the goals of the Growth Management Act and refers to the timely provision of public facilities and services relative to the demand for them. To maintain concurrency means that adequate public facilities are in place to serve new development as it occurs or within a specified time period.
A requirement for traffic concurrency is a requirement that adequate road facilities are in place at the time a development is completed to handle the traffic increased by that development without a decline in level of service (“LOS”) provided by those road facilities.
Q. Why hasn’t an update been prioritized and completed?
I’m not sure what the question means when it refers to an “update.” One doesn’t update concurrency. Concurrency is a requirement, not a changing target.
Concurrency decisions on the Island are based on the City’s traffic model. Possibly this question is asking why the traffic model hasn’t been updated. If that is the question, my answer is that the model is “updated”, in the sense of adding new data to it, each time a new development happens on the Island that is of the size that requires a traffic study. Each of those developments completes a traffic study that includes traffic counts. That data is fed into the model. In other words, I believe that the traffic model is a living model that is constantly updated as the City develops – it is not static.
Possibly this question is asking about updates to the Island-wide traffic counts that are used in the model. If that is the question, my answer is that an update to those Island-wide traffic counts is coming in the next year or two. For the reasons explained above (constant updating) there is not a need to update the Island-wide traffic counts each year. There are best practices in traffic engineering for these updates. I’m confident the City is following them.
Q. What do you hope to see as a result of a transportation concurrency update?
Again, I’m not sure what the question is asking because one doesn’t “update” transportation concurrency. I’m not trying to be snarky here; I just want to be clear in indicating that transportation concurrency is a very complicated subject that is widely misunderstood and you are probably going to get a wide range of confused answers to this question because it doesn’t really make sense as written.
Possibly the question is asking what I would like to see when the traffic model is updated. My answer to that is that I’d like to see that our traffic model is properly adjusted as the traffic counts show that it needs to be.
Possibly the question is asking what changes I would like to see in how the City regulates traffic concurrency. That question has nothing to do with an update – it’s just a question of changing our regulations. If the question is asking what regulations I’d like to see changed in this area, there are two main ones: (1) I want to add level of service (LOS) standards for non-motorized transportation improvements and require concurrency for those LOS standards (this doesn’t exist right now); (2) I want to consider changing some of the motorized LOS standards to make them more stringent.
Q. Concurrency and Level of Service is based on traffic counts that date citywide to 2012-14. Do you think this is appropriate?
I think I answered this question in my prior answers. But I will take this opportunity to add one more important point here.
Regarding the non-motorized transportation levels of service, in order to make that work well, we need to complete a better non-motorized system plan, which is what our sustainable transportation planning effort will do. The non-motorized system plan can then be tied to LOS standards and to impact fees. New developments can then be required to pay impact fees to help fund those non-motorized improvements (this does not happen now). To be clear, this is not a concurrency issue; it is an impact fee issue. In regards to concurrency, this would allow the City to require new developments to fund non-motorized system improvements if the new development were shown to create a decline in non-motorized LOS.
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.
All of the studies completed on our groundwater are here: http://www.ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us/177/Water-Resources-Libraries . The most recent comprehensive assessment of long-term groundwater supplies on BI is a report produced by Aspect Consulting dated March 25, 2016.
Generally put, the Aspect report finds that there will be plenty of groundwater to serve BI for the next 100 years. However, this finding is based on a large number of assumptions and estimates and is also limited in its certainty by the many unknowns about our groundwater system and uncertain impacts of climate change. The report recognizes its limitations and uncertainties and includes a number of recommendations for future modeling that could improve the accuracy of the model.
That report finds that most of the aquifers serving the Island will decline on average by 1 to 1.5 feet every ten years over the next 100 years. The report also finds that stream flow will decrease by 40%. While not remarking on wetlands, a 40% decrease in groundwater flows to streams would also have a relatively severe impact on wetlands. Different wells around the Island will be impacted at different rates because of the different aquifers that they tap into and the different hydrology of the south end of the Island.
Based on this report and others, my view is that we are far from a water emergency but we need to be very cautious and prudent. Therefore, I have strongly supported hiring a City hydrogeologist and completing a comprehensive Groundwater Management Plan.
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?
No. There is no emergency that would necessitate nor support a building moratorium.
However, we need to become more knowledgeable and intentional about how we manage our groundwater use. We must ensure that our children’s children do not have a groundwater sustainability issue. That is why I have supported and led the many initiatives that the Council has undertaken to protect our groundwater, including these:
- We adopted a strong low impact development code. This code is aimed at making sure rainfall stays on the property it falls on and seeps into the ground.
- We adopted a revised Critical Areas Ordinance. The CAO contains the new aquifer recharge protection area (“ARPA”). The ARPA is basically a way of mandating the most environmentally-friendly type of low impact development across 90% of the Island.
- The City is still monitoring the health of a number of streams around the Island.
- We are in the process of hiring a hydrogeologist who will have, as his/her primary task, completing a Groundwater Management Plan for the Island.