Bainbridge Affordable Housing

From Althea Paulson, former chair of the City’s Affordable Housing Task Force

In July 2018, the City’s Affordable Housing Task Force submitted its final report to the City Council, with a menu of suggestions that the City can implement in the near term to create more housing diversity and affordability on Bainbridge island. Task Force members, citizen volunteers with a variety of backgrounds, were given a year to complete their work. The final report contains a dozen prioritized recommendations,with suggestions for further work by City staff and/or a permanent citizen committee. 

The recommendationsinclude zoning changes in Winslow and the Designated Centers, incentives for more accessory dwelling units, and the use of publicly-owned property for affordable housing. To encourage creativity in addressing the region-wide affordability crisis, the Task Force suggested an “innovations program” that would allow City staff to work with people who have proposals for housing affordability that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed by code.

Since receiving the report, the City Council has:

  • acted on one of the recommendations, instructing City staff to increase the number of allowable residential vessels in Eagle Harbor. 

  • created a Council Ad Hoc Committee to study the Task Force recommendations. Council members Leslie Schneider, Sarah Blossom and Ron Peltier are on that Ad Hoc Committee.

The City has also hired consultants to provide advice on how zoning and other City regulations encourage or hinder affordable housing. The consultants will also give advice on how to strengthen the City’s Transfer of Development Rights program. Their report is due in early 2019. 

The Council has a lot of work to do on the Task Force recommendations in 2019, and the coming year will be crucial if Bainbridge Island is to begin meeting its urgent housing needs. The City has not implemented any significant affordable housing policies in more than a decade. Over that time, home sales prices have risen from an already expensive $680,000 in 2007, to nearly $1 million in 2018. Opportunities for affordable housing have been permanently lost due to the lack of City policies. 

Our Council members need to hear from you. Let them know you support comprehensive housing strategies and the Task Force recommendations. You can email them at council@bainbridgewa.gov.

QB