2019 City Council Candidate Questions:

Kol Medina’s Answers


1) What inspired you to run for a position as City Council member?

The short answer is that I was asked to do so.  I’ve certainly always had an interest in serving on Council because it is a way to use my servant leadership skills to help my community.  However, I would not have run 4 years ago if I had not been asked to do so by members of this community whom I respect.  Servant leaders tend to only lead when asked to do so.

The longer answer involves unpacking my statement above indicating that I’ve always had an interest in running for Council.  Why have I had that interest? 

I’ve always had an interest in running for Council because I live here and know that I have a skillset that can help our community through Council service.  This is personal for me.  During every single year of the 18 years that I’ve lived here, I have volunteered my time on one or more nonprofit Boards of Directors and, for most of those years, chosen to work at local nonprofits that work directly in this community.  I’ve done this because my mission in life is to make the place I am better than it was when I got there.  I’m a leaver.  Not a taker.  Serving on City Council is simply an extension of what I’ve always done on this Island.

There were (and are) particular frustrations that I saw in our community that I hoped I could help with through Council service. Those frustrations turned into the following initial goals that I brought with me when I started on Council:  (1) Try to restore trust in City government.  Some prior Councils had been somewhat dysfunctional and, therefore, counterproductive to helping our community; that stain was effecting (and is still effecting) our residents’ trust in our government.  (2) Strengthening the environmental protection policies in our Comprehensive Plan.  (3) Actually implementing our Comprehensive Plan by changing our land use laws to do what our Comprehensive Plan said we should be doing.  Something prior Councils had failed to do adequately.

Those are the reasons why I ran for Council four years ago.  A different question is this:  Why am I running for re-election to Council? 

I decided to run again because our current Council has put in place some extremely important initiatives that our Island must complete and implement.  I’ve worked hard to get these initiatives going.  I owe it to our community to give this four more years and do everything I can to make sure these initiatives are completed.  What initiatives?

 

·      Continuing work to build trust in City government

·      Completing a Climate Change Action Plan

·      Completing a Groundwater Management Plan

·      Completing implementation of the Affordable Housing Task Force recommendations

·      Developing a Sustainable Transportation Plan

·      Completing land use code changes to implement our Comprehensive Plan

 

 

2) What are your top priorities that you would work to have the city accomplish during your term in office?  For each identified priority that requires the expenditure of money, please state how you would fund it.

 My answer here is the list that I provided at the end of my last answer:

·      Continuing work to build trust in City government

·      Completing a Climate Change Action Plan

·      Completing a Groundwater Management Plan

·      Completing implementation of the Affordable Housing Task Force recommendations

·      Developing a Sustainable Transportation Plan

·      Completing our land use code changes to implement our Comprehensive Plan

 I’ll address funding for each of those items. Continuing work to build trust in City government

 Most of the work here does not cost money.  When I talk about building trust in City government, I am referring to many things – (1) Increasing transparency of City and Council operations.  (2) Increasing accountability of Council members.  (3) Managing Council meetings in a mature and civil manner.  We must NEVER let our Council devolve in factions as it has in the past.  (4) Making reasonable and supportable decisions, especially on big picture items.  (5) Actually getting important work done. The one item here that we have spent money on is the new monthly City newsletter.  That newsletter has been widely appreciated by our community.  I led the development of that newsletter; it would not have happened without me.  It costs $60,000 or so per year, plus staff time.  The City can continue to fund that through the City’s general fund.

Completing a Climate Change Action Plan. We’ve already paid for the work that we need done to complete the Plan.  It will be delivered next March.  I can’t comment on what it will cost to implement the Plan and where that funding will come from until I see the Plan.

Completing a Groundwater Management Plan. We’ve already budgeted for the work that we need done to complete the Plan, at least through December 2020.  The Plan will probably not be done until 2021.  In that year, the City can continue to fund the work through general fund revenue. 

I can’t comment on what it will cost to implement the Plan and where that funding will come from until the Plan is done.

Completing implementation of the Affordable Housing Task Force recommendations. Most of the work needed here is code development.  That Code development requires some consultant work and a lot of City staff time.  The consultant work has largely already been paid for, using general fund revenue.  Staff time, of course, is also covered out of general fund revenue.  I expect that all of the code development work needed here will continue to be funded out of general fund revenue.

What can not be funded out of general fund revenue is the actual construction of affordable housing.  This includes our Suzuki project.  The Suzuki project has a $4.5 million funding gap (at least).  The City can not cover that with general fund revenue, not without cutting many other programs, staff, or initiatives.  I do not see a path for funding Suzuki, which is why I voted against proceeding with it.  I’d rather use the resources that are available for Suzuki to complete a project that is actually viable and will actually provide affordable housing.

More generally, though, we need to find a way to fund an affordable housing authority on Bainbridge.  I would support a ballot initiative asking voters to approve a 0.1% sales tax increase that would be dedicated to affordable housing on Bainbridge.  That sales tax increase would generate approximately $400K annually (growing over time).  If I am re-elected, I will ask Council to consider this early next year.

Developing a Sustainable Transportation Plan. We’ve already budgeted for the work that we need done to complete the Plan.  It is being paid for with general fund revenue.  I can’t truly comment on what it will cost to implement the Plan and where that funding will come from until I see the Plan. 

However, I anticipate that the Plan will call for tens of millions of dollars of investments.  The only way to pay for those investments in a timely manner will be a successful ballot measure.  Any person who suggests that the City can pay for these improvements in any sort of reasonable timeframe using annual City general fund revenue is misleading you. 

 Completing our land use code changes to implement our Comprehensive Plan. All of the work needed here is code development.  That Code development requires some consultant work and a lot of City staff time.  The consultant work has largely already been paid for, using general fund revenue.  Staff time, of course, is also covered out of general fund revenue.  I expect that all of the code development work needed here will continue to be funded out of general fund revenue. 

 

3) Describe your relevant previous experiences that prepare you for the Council role.  What skills, training, resources and expertise will you bring to the Council?

The most important qualification is serving for the last 3.5 years in this seat.  Frankly, I feel like I’ve earned another academic degree during these 3.5 years.  This experience includes serving on the Boards of Kitsap Transit, Housing Kitsap, Kitsap Public Health District, Kitsap 911, and Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council.

An extremely important set of skills that I have are the social skills, emotional intelligence, and maturity needed to help this Council function well.  A City Council is akin to an arranged marriage between 7 people.  On Council, I’m in a marriage with 6 people who I didn’t choose and over whom I have no leverage.  Yet, to properly serve our community, I have to find a way to make the marriage work, to not let the relationship break down.  This set of skills is hugely important, but impossible to quantify.  The work I’ve done in this area goes largely unseen.  But this work, and my skills, are why this Council has been so productive and gotten so much done for our Island even while dealing with very difficult personal issues like ethics complaints.

The single biggest area of work for the Bainbridge City Council is working on land use and environmental laws.  I specifically studied land use and environmental law in law school and practiced land use and environmental law for the three years I worked at Foster Pepper & Shefelman (a Seattle law firm).  I believe it has been immensely helpful for the Bainbridge City Council to include for the last 3.5 years an attorney who actually understands land use and environmental laws.

All of my work with nonprofit organizations across Bainbridge and the County is also helpful to my service on the BI City Council.  As the CEO of the Kitsap Community Foundation, in addition to my other work with nonprofits, I have developed a deep understanding of the social issues facing our communities. 

Additionally, I have lived, worked, volunteered, and deeply invested myself in Bainbridge Island for 18 years.  That length of deep involvement is crucial to my ability to make good decisions for Bainbridge.

Much of what I’ve written above can be summarized like this:  I’ve been a dedicated community servant for most of my adult life.  I know how community works.  I know how to manage groups of people.  I know many of the nonprofit, business, and political leaders on BI and around the rest of Kitsap.  I know that improving our community takes thoughtful collaborations between all sectors of our society – government, nonprofit, business, and faith.  And I have proven that I am dedicated to bettering our community. 

Below is a list of my life activities for the last 20 years that relate to my ability to be a good Council member for Bainbridge Island.

Kitsap Transit Board of Directors, 2018 – present

Chairperson 2019

Kitsap Public Health Board, 2018 - present

Housing Kitsap Board of Commissioners, 2018 - present

Kitsap County Dept. of Emergency Management Board, 2018 - present

Kitsap 911 Board of Directors, 2018 - present

Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council Board of Directors, 2016 – present

Kitsap Economic Development Association, 2016 – present

Kitsap Strong Leadership Committee, 2015 - present

Committee Chair

Kitsap Strong Funders Committee, 2014 - present

Committee Chair

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

President (2008)

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

Student Attorney

  

4) Islanders consistently identify water quantity and quality as a top community priorities.  Recent city studies (Water Resources and Groundwater Monitoring) show that our water resources are resilient, however some of  our streams are significantly polluted.  What ideas do you have for improving the health of island (and our surrounding) waters?

This has been a primary issue for me since joining Council. I have been a leader on this issue.  Here is a list of what I have helped Council accomplish, and what I support Council doing in the future, in this area:

We adopted a strong low impact development code.  This code is aimed at making sure rainfall stays on the property it falls on.  This has at least two major benefits:  (1) Rainfall that has picked up pollutants does not flow as readily, in a direct manner, off of our impervious surfaces right into our streams and, thereby, into the Sound.  (2) More rainfall is captured and infiltrates into the ground to serve our aquifers.  In short, LID improves both surface water quality and groundwater quantity.

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. Thus, the ARPA improves both surface water quality and groundwater quantity.

Despite one resident’s strong lobbying to the contrary, the City is still monitoring the health of a number of streams around the Island.  I will continue to support that.

We are about to hire a consultant to complete a study for the City telling the City how much it will cost to implement tertiary treatment for our wastewater treatment plant.  Tertiary treatment will remove from our wastewater (which goes directly into Puget Sound) chemicals and medicines.  I am in favor of tertiary treatment.

I was pleased to support the Council’s decision to ban plastics in aquaculture around the Island.  We are still waiting to see if that decision is accepted by the Department of Ecology.

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.  That Plan will undoubtedly focus on surface water quality as well as groundwater quality.  The two are intricately related.  I will strongly support the recommendations that come out of the Plan.

5) How do you think growth (economic and population) on the island can best be managed? In light of the dictates of the Growth Management Act and the private property rights of landowners, how can the City create a proper balance between building housing and preserving our natural resources? How should we address the issue of code enforcement?

Growth can best be managed through land use laws that implement our Comp Plan.  We’ve developed a Comp Plan, as required by the Growth Management Act (“GMA”).  Our Comp Plan has been approved by the authority that ensures Comp Plan compliance with the GMA.  In short, we have a Comp Plan that complies with the GMA.  Now we need to implement it.

Our Comp Plan requires that at least 90% of new growth is contained in Winslow and the Neighborhood Centers.  The Comp Plan also requires that growth on the Island be managed in a manner that is environmentally sustainable and that helps us adapt to and mitigate climate change.  We must meet these requirements.  This Council has been working diligently towards modifying our land use codes to do so.

 Containing future growth in Winslow must occur so that the “conservation areas” on our Island, which are 90% of the Island, are not developed more densely than they are today.  We must protect the environmental, aesthetic, and cultural benefits that come from these less-densely developed portions of our Island.

Also, future growth must be contained in Winslow in order to accomplish an additional set of goals.  Climate change adaptation and mitigation will require that we develop densely in small areas such as Winslow, rather than sprawling across the Island.  I have no doubt that our Climate Action Plan and Sustainable Transportation Plan will both place strong emphasis on containing new density in Winslow. 

Actually doing this – growing greater density in Winslow – is going to be difficult and controversial.  In order to accomplish this, the Council will need to change our land use code to allow much greater density in some areas of Winslow.  We must find the will to do this.

6) What does the term “affordable housing” mean to you?  Is the subject important to you, and if so, why?  What are your thoughts about the affordability of housing on Bainbridge Island? What policies, if any, would you like to see our City implement to increase the inventory of affordable housing?

For me, “affordable housing” means housing that is needed to allow the following two groups of people to afford to live here or continue living here:  (A) the people who work on Bainbridge; and (B) the people who currently live on Bainbridge.  For some people, that will be truly low-income housing (like housing that is affordable for people with an income at 50% AMI or less) and for some people that will be “workforce housing.” 

Finding a way to provide affordable housing is important to me. 

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 can not 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. 

Another tragedy is realized in the traffic jams we have coming on and off the Island each day.  Most of those people coming on and off each day are people who are working here but can’t afford to live here.  The resources, and time, being wasted by our society because of this, and the pollution being generated by this, is immense. 

Unfortunately, these are not tragedies that the City can fix.  I believe it is important to be realistic about this.  The City can take actions that can have some positive impact in this area; but the City can’t “solve” the affordable housing crisis. 

 What can the City do?  Here’s a list, all of which I support.

o   Encourage ADUs (“mother-in-law apartments”).

o   Implement inclusionary zoning, a market mechanism that will result in more affordable housing being built.

o   Change zoning laws to require or encourage the construction of smaller homes and units in multi-family developments.

o   Implement the multi-family tax exemption, a market mechanism that will result in more affordable housing being built. 

o   Donate all of the proceeds of selling the Suzuki property to a more viable affordable housing project.

o   Facilitate funding for organizations like HRB to build affordable 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).

o  Continue to have a city staff person dedicated to work in this area.  We need someone at the City who is always thinking about this issue.

 

7) Kitsap PUD is soliciting indications of interest in expanding broadband access to neighborhoods on the island.  What should be the role of the city in assisting with this expansion?

As far as I know, this is a non-issue.  KPUD has not been asking the City for any sort of partnership in this area recently.  There was some energy around this a couple of years ago, but that moment has passed. 

But to speak to this generally, I’ll say that I don’t think the City should take the lead in trying to provide broadband to our residents.  The City should certainly not put itself in the position of starting and running a broadband ISP. 

 

But if KPUD comes to the City and requests assistance with KPUD’s efforts in this area, I would certainly be open to the City considering that.  For instance, if there is some action the City can take that would allow KPUD to be more successful in this area, such as changing codes or providing some legal authority to KPUD, then the City should seriously consider doing so. 

 

8) What do you think is the appropriate role for City Council in responding to the climate crisis? What is Council already doing in this area, and what additional ideas do you have for how we should be reducing our Island’s greenhouse gases and adapting to the changes we expect to see in the coming years and decades?

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.  Climate change is the most important issue facing us.  Nearly all, if not 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.  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. 

I suppose that might sound like a dodge of the question.  But I sincerely don’t mean it that way.  My B.A. is in environmental studies and policy.  I studied climate change in undergrad, over 20 years ago.  I’ve followed climate change ever since undergrad.  Everything that is happening now was predicted then and is not a surprise to me.  I understand climate change well enough to understand that the question of “how best to respond to climate change” is very complicated and different for each community.  In short, I understand it well enough to know that I need to wait and listen to the experts.