Tag Archive | "Shoreline Master Program"

BI shoreline

Council Settles for Medium-Level Monitoring of Shoreline “Net Loss”

The Shoreline Master Program requires monitoring of the shoreline to ensure “no net loss” of shoreline ecological functions. No one has yet been able to define what that term from the Department of Ecology means in any measurable way, but the City has to try to figure out what it means and how to monitor it. At the February 24 City Council meeting, the Council selected one of three options presented for carrying out that monitoring.

The option they settled on in a 6-1 vote was the medium-level one, requiring no additional funding and generating limited data.

City of Bainbridge Island staffer Christy Carr presented the three options identified by staff. She explained that the Council directed staff at the January 6 Council meeting to develop a range of options based on the requirements of Ecology and the community’s preference for a “more robust program than is required.”

Carr said that, in addition to demonstrating no net loss of ecological functions, they must implement the SMP, provide permit reviews for new construction along the shoreline, take restoration actions, and track all permits and restoration progress. With any of the options, a new land use/land cover map would be completed with LIDAR and high resolution imagery by the end of 2015.

Option 1 would consist solely of “demonstrating we are thoroughly and carefully implementing the SMP.” It would involve no new data collection, no new funding, no community participation, and no coordination with other programs. It would involve tracking the type, number, and location of shoreline permits and then updating the background documents completed for the 2014 update.

Option 2 would offer “more robust” tracking and limited data collection. It would require the development of a shoreline-specific tracking system of permits. And it would involve the community in monitoring efforts.

Option 3 would implement the recommendations of ETAC, the Environmental Technical Advisory Committee (ETAC), which “strives to bring new data and scientific rigor to the table.” This option would look at select ecological parameters over time for changes that would indicate whether there is net loss or gain of ecological functions. At the onset, it would involve an inventory and gap analysis of existing data and projects. It would also require ongoing updating of the background documents completed for the 2014 SMP update.

Carr said the City Staff recommendation would be to choose Option 2.

Public Comment

During public comment, Maradel Gale, a member of the Planning Commission who worked on the SMP update, expressed how surprised she had been to learn that Ecoloogy had no plan for monitoring the SMP. As she put it, “They didn’t give a rip” about monitoring.

But Gale argued that “no net loss requires us to do whatever monitoring is required to make sure it’s working.” She added that she doesn’t want to “go through the SMP update that we did before.” She urged the council to choose Option 3. She said that the members of ETAC are appointed by the Council and “have been working on this for a number of years.” She wondered why the Council would just “brush aside” such expertise and said it would be “a fool’s way out to try to get by with less.” She said, “We need to be proactive in this and do more than the minimal requirement . . . which is basically nothing.”

Lisa Macchio who works for the EPA as a water quality specialist opened her comments by saying, “We’re living with a lot of uncertainty.” She stressed that the “no net ecological loss concept is something nobody knows how to deal with.” She pleaded with the Council to “think very, very carefully about what you want for the city.”

Macchio cautioned the Council against collecting only limited data as, she said, the EPA and other agencies like Ecology frequently have to toss aside suggestions and concerns because of their reliance on “some crappy data.” She cautioned that “If you’re thinking about seven years from now and you want to have some data to drive decisions,” you need to collect it.

She said there are “great people on ETAC” who are “thinking carefully about what you might need.” She said, “Nobody knows the answer, but if you spend a little bit of money you’ll be in a better position.”

David Sale, the former chair of ETAC, said he likes the approach of starting with Option 2 but that a hybrid of 2 and 3 might be best down the road. He proposed an annual review to keep tabs on how well the chosen option is going.

Wayne Daley who said he was involved early on in the SMP update praised the work of Carr and her colleagues and ETAC. But he cautioned that Puget Sound is in dire condition. He said, We have destroyed the shoreline habitat,” but that’s where forage fish start and salmon need forage fish, and orcas need salmon. He said the “monitoring aspect of what we’re doing is a key element.”

Daley concluded by wondering, “How do you define no net loss when you don’t know what you’ve started from?” He said that ETAC has provided the baseline. “We have to have a viable monitoring plan if we really want to save and protect what we have in Puget Sound.”

Elise Wright, representing Bainbridge Alliance, argued that “The reason for the SMP is not to monitor what we’re doing on shore but what’s happening in the water.” She feels that Option 3 is the only one that actually measures ecological function. But she though the Council might choose to begin with Option 2 and then move on to 3. She acknowledged Councilmember Sarah Blossom’s frequently expressed concern about budget and defining priorities.

Robert Dashiell wrapped up the public comment period by arguing for a “fiscally conservative approach.” He said that it’s not about whether Puget Sound is dying. It’s about what we’re contributing to that. And, he concluded, no net loss is not measurable.

He argued that it would not be possible for ETAC to understand the complexities of the Sound in a short time period. He mentioned variables such as viruses, ocean acidification, temperature changes, storms, and low snow pack. He wondered, if you see a change, how can you relate it to the SMP?

Still, Dashiell thought pursuing grant funding to go after additional data wouldn’t be a problem. But he cautioned against using general fund money for this purpose.

Council Discussion

During the ensuing Council discussion, Councilmember Val Tollefson thanked Gale for calling them fools. But, he said, it would be foolish if they didn’t recognize the quality of the work already done by the staff and take their recommendations seriously. He made a motion that the Council approve Option 2.

Councilmember Steve Bonkowski said that, in the development of the existing SMP, no hard data was available for Bainbridge, which was a problemHe said that alternative 3 is “where we need to go.”

The Council voted in favor of Tollefson’s motion, 6-1, with Bonkowski the lone standout.

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Letter to the Editor: SMP Complicated by Misinformation

The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is a complicated plan because, unfortunately, it is one of those very complicated issues. However, it is made much more complicated by all the misinformation that has been thrown out to the public by local libertarian e-mailer Gary Tripp and others such as council candidate Dick Haugan. Tripp has formed a PAC to support the candidacies of Haugan, Arlene Buetow, and Dee McComb.

According to Haugan, “most shoreline properties will be made non-conforming” and owners will have difficulty selling their properties. Fact: Prior to the SMP update, 35 percent of shoreline homes were non-conforming; with the update, 49 percent will be non-conforming, but with allowed exceptions, it will effectively be less than 49 percent.  Many non-conforming homes in fact sell for more because they may be closer to the water and are considered highly desirable.  Numerous upland homes are non-conforming and have been for years.

Critics have stated that our SMP is much too long, unusually stringent and intentionally overly complicated. According to the DOE, our SMP covers 53 miles of coastline with a multitude of different variations and unique features and is neither longer, more stringent, nor more complicated than comparable SMPs.

Haugan says the “SMP is unconstitutional under both state and federal law.” That charge has been made by a local shoreline homeowner (who neither holds a Washington law license nor is a constitutional legal expert) and the Pacific Legal Foundation. The PLF, a right wing/libertarian public interest law firm that has a reputation of arguing against environmental issues and women’s and gay rights, seems to label most things they don’t like unconstitutional.  Obviously the state legislature and DOE do not consider the SMP unconstitutional.

We have heard that the SMP will result in a multitude of lawsuits against the city. The state and the city’s legal counsel have been clear that since the SMP is state mandated and will not go into effect until approved by the state, only the state can be sued. DOE planner, Barbara Nightingale, referring to Tripp’s erroneous accusations, said “it is disturbing that someone would so blatantly misrepresent a basic fact.” The city would only be held responsible if it illegally applied the SMP once enacted, but that is no different from illegally applying any law or regulation.

There is a word for those who spew out misinformation and intentional distortions. We should stop listening to them.

—Chiara (Kiki) D’Angelo-Patricio, Bainbridge Island

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City Hall

The SMP Saga Ends (at Least for Now) with Council Approval of Update

After three years and by a rough count 28 study sessions, 47 public meetings, and one protest march, the Bainbridge Island City Council has, at least for now, laid the Shoreline Master Program to rest with a 4-3 vote approving the update at last night’s (Wednesday, May 15) City Council meeting. What happens next is that the State Department of Ecology will review the update to ensure that it meets the requirements of the amended Shoreline Management Act and the Growth Management Act. The State Attorney General will review it to ensure it doesn’t violate property rights.

At last night’s meeting, Councilmembers Blair, Hytopoulos, Lester, and Scales voted for the update. It was opposed by Councilmembers Blossom, Bonkowski, and Ward.

The saga began in the spring of 2010 when  the Shoreline Management Act and the Washington Administrative Code passed by the State Legislature required the City of Bainbridge Island to update its Shoreline Master Program passed in 1996. The changes have been opposed by a vocal segment of shoreline property owners, culminating with a protest when they descended en masse upon a City Council meeting on March 13.

Last night’s resolution includes text affirming that the update will not result in a net loss to “shoreline ecological functions” and may, in fact, produce improvements through a program of incentive-based restoration, that it is consistent with the Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan, and that it does not sanction an unconstitutional taking of private property.

The Department of Ecology review will likely result in minor modifications to the update, so look for the saga to continue to some extent in the near future.

Photo by Sarah Lane.

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City Hall

City Council This Week: January 31, 2012

Councilmember Scales was not there at the outset, but there was a quorum. The meeting followed an Executive Session about the collective bargaining negotiations.

Councilmember Blair explained how a study session works. She said it’s more informal and includes community reports and commentary. She said it helps the Council to be briefed on issues. Staff, community groups, committees may bring the issues. She added that it’s also a regular meeting in that a vote may be taken.

Here were the elements of the Study Session:

A. Puget Sound Energy Briefing

A representative from PSE named Linda (sorry–couldn’t get that last name) spoke to the council.

1. 3-year commitment with community. The speaker reviewed this commitment, which is that if the community keeps energy use below the threshold of 58 megawatts, PSE will avoid the need for a new substation or a rebuild. She added the caveat that the threshold will exist unless they discover some significant operational stresses on that system that put customers at risk or their ability to serve them. She said that we did exceed the threshold twice, on December 13 (65.9) and on January 19 (64). She said that’s not a trigger but it is a reminder to the community to start lowering usage when the needle goes into the orange and red zone on the dashboard (which we have on our home page). She said there are a couple of risks that have surfaced:

  • She said our transformers between substations are exceeding their nameplate capacity (the recommended operating level), which could lead to equipment failure.
  • She said we had an oil leak and had to take the substation off line. So we were down to two substations. When that happened, the Port Madison sub peaked at 28.3. There were three other days of peaking on the Winslow substation. They are exceeding their recommended peak loads.
  • On November 30, PSE measured low voltage on several distribution lines. That’s a situation where there’s not enough capacity to meet the demand on an individual line. She said that can cause what customers see as problems with their electronics. The pumps at sewer treatment plant can trigger off, for example.

2. 2012 work plan. PSE is focusing on the distribution system this year:

  • Five treewire projects (treewire is coated electric line less susceptible to branches; it doesn’t trip out as easily): Miller between Arrow Point and New Brooklyn; Fletcher Bay between New Brooklyn and Bucklin; Eagle Harbor Drive; New Sweden, Taylor, and Blakely; and Baker Hill. These are all places where we have impacts from limbs.
  • Structural analysis on steel towers at Agate Pass.
  • Underground express feed to Winslow project, which will continue with Phase II of the project. The speaker said Phase I is complete, on time, underbudget. Some trees on Madison Avenue are in the way that may need to be replaced or relocated.
  • Annual tree trimming and maintenance (26.5 miles of distribution line, 7.5 miles of transmission) and the changing out of 51 poles.

3. Look ahead. PSE wants to start making multiyear plans (5 or 6 years out). The speaker said they’re trying to sequence with City capital improvement projects, for example. She showed a watch map, looking at data of outages in those areas.

Councilmember Hytopoulos asked about the potential tree removal in Murden Cove Phase II.

Mayor Lester pointed out that there is new stormwater load with the removal of some mature trees in the Murden Cove area and that we will need to look at that in the future.

A citizen from RAISE asked for data from PSE about capacity.

B. Unocal Site Park Project Update, AB 12-006

Mayor Lester said that in 2010 a citizen group formed to figure out what to do with the Unocal Property. The group included Rotarians, Women in Black, Arts and Humanities Council reps, and others.

Bruce Weiland spoke on behalf of that group. They’ve talked to Parks Department, they’ve reached out and expanded the membership of the original group, they received a 100 percent endorsement from Kitsap Transit, and they spoke with the Department of Energy (because of site issues).

Weiland reviewed the history. The property is jointly owned by COBI and Kitsap Transit. It was the site of a gas station. There was some leakage, as is typical of gas stations.

The initial vision is that this is a crossroads for the Island and a gateway to Kitsap and Olympics. He described it now as an embarrassment. Group is envisioning a passive, attractive design for the area. He clarified that it’s not about playgrounds or firepits. He described it as a landscape walkthrough with paths, benches, low-maintenance landscaping. Weiland said there are 60 groups on the roster including the Rotary. He said it would be privately funded, and he listed a range of group members.

He said he was hoping for formal approval from the Council. They’re scheduled to be on the agenda tomorrow with the Parks Board. He made four pledges:

  1. He emphasized it will not cost the City anything.
  2. He committed to a broad, public process involving asking the community what they think belongs in the park.
  3. He stressed that the Parks Dept. has tentatively said they will maintain the park.
  4. He promised they would do nothing environmentally irresponsible. He explained that the park would not slow down cleanup of the area and he explained how future remediation would work.

One citizen pointed requested that the City find out what specifically is in the soil there to avoid liability. She said there are grants available for cleanup. She thought the process could be completed quickly. Robert Dashiell said that the last monitoring was done in 2009 but that it had been monitored constantly before that. He said it is a safe site but that there are 43 other sites on the island that are dangerous. Weiland said that he supports the efforts to continue testing the site and that the improvements his group are proposing could easily be removed if needed down the road.

Ward wanted to know if Weiland and his group objected to the voluntary cleanup program of the DOE. Jill Johnson of Parametrix said that the only reason to avoid that is funding.

Lester moved to adopt Resolution No. 2012-02 regarding the park at the site. The Council voted to begin developing the park site (with the understanding that further exploration would be made into cleaning up the site).

C. Rockaway Beach Road Stabilization

Lance Newkirk of Public Works was the speaker. He explained what the city is planning to do to stabilize Rockaway Beach Road. He gave a historical over view of the slope failure. The city became aware in 1999 of the problem after a slide. There was a slope failure in 2005. Berger/Abam’s Bob Hernandez spoke about the design. He talked about the public safety issue and the pressure to get permits quickly. Because the Council declared this an emergency there is an obligation to follow through. He spoke about risks to the cost estimate. The council affirmed the proposed design approach. The Council voted to authorize the staff to negotiate phase II of the design.

D. Multi-Agency Police Response Interlocal Agreement, AB 12-010

Police Chief John Fehlman requested that the city authorize him and the city manager to sign the Kitsap County  investigative response team mutual aid agreement. The Council did so.

E. Shoreline Master Program Update Schedule

Morgan Smith presented the updated schedule. The planning commission will need 4 to 7 further meetings to complete the SMP and the Grow Community review. Then there would be four weeks to prepare for the public hearing. This would mean that the Council would be ready to consider the matter in June or July.

Councilmember Hytopoulos expressed “shock” and “concern” that the process was taking so long. She had understood that the Council would be reviewing this in February. An ad hoc committee was proposed to help push things along.

In citizen comment, Debbi Vann agreed with Hytopoulos that the Council would not be able to meet the SMP deadline if they weren’t presented with the draft until June or July. She encouraged councilmembers to begin educating themselves now on the complex issues involved.

F. City Manager’s Contract, AB 12-012

Councilmember Blair said that Councilmember Scales had asked to speak about the Executive Session on this matter. The Executive Session had preceded the Council meeting. Councilmember Scales moved that Executive Session confidentiality be waived from January 2012 for the limited purpose of discussing how the council reached its decision on the amendment. Mayor Lester seconded it.

The motion was unanimously approved. Blair said that the Council had asked Councilmember Bonkowski to be their spokesperson on this matter. He said that he, Scales, and Ward had been tasked to draft an amendment to the contract to enable them to seek a new manager.

In citizen comment, Barry Peters expressed concern about the city’s need for continuity and effective management. He said he was worried that the move to find a new manager would hurt the city. He asked the Council to reconsider its decision.

Debbi Vann thanked the council for taking its move on the manager issue.

Hillary Franz talked about what she described as Bauer’s leadership in transforming the city financially. She referred to a communication gap between the Council and the community. She warned the Council that they would be spending their tenure looking to rebuild the leadership they have right now with Bauer as manager.

Robert Dashiell said he had been hoping for transparency and openness when he voted for a change in government and deplored the lack of transparency that he perceives. Applause erupted after his words.

Yeta Hammer (sp?) wondered why the prior council needed a consultant to determine whether the manager was the right one. She said that transparency is very difficult to have. She said she was discouraged from speaking with the city attorney and is not so pleased with the city management.

Hytopoulos said that regardless of the different positions on the Council, the council worked together very well in their conversations. She said that some communitymembers have been worried about councilmembers’ ability to work together, but that so far she is impressed, that the outcome is the result of adult conversation. Ward agreed.

Bonkowski moved that the Council approve the amendment to the City Mangers’ contract. It was unanimously approved.

After a recess, Ward moved that they use a search firm to look for a replacement for Bauer and begin a study session on the matter.

Scales said he supported the amendment because he believed that it was in the best interest of the City because it provides for a transition period. He said there is no question that the Council has the authority to search for a new manager. He said that he believes he has a very different perspective on this issue from his colleagues. He said he has more experience on this council than his colleagues combined. He said he has been through the selection process before and that he understands how the departure of a key person can negatively impact operations and how the selection process often comes down to luck, that there’s no way to know if someone will be successful in that position.

Hytopoulos called a point of order. She said she was concerned that Scales was being allowed to state his position because the Council is not allowed to have this conversation within the confines of their agreement. She also said she was concerned that his words on the record would impact their future ability to secure a manager. Blair ruled that Scales could have 5 more minutes and that it should relate specifically to this motion.

Scales said he didn’t know that councilmembers could be limited in time and that he didn’t know if he would have time to complete his remarks. Blair said she would allow him 10 minutes.

Scales continued. He said you can’t turn in a city manager every 18 months like a used car. He said that no city manager candidate would knowingly enter into an abusive relationship, likening the relationship between city manager and council to that of a marriage.

Blair interrupted him. She said that his comments would be appropriate as part of the discussion next week about how to proceed. Scales said he did not understand why he wasn’t allowed to make his comments. He said it was outrageous. He said his comments were relevant to the decision to look for a new manager and so it was appropriate to the motion. Blair allowed him to continue.

He referred to the split vote on whether to make the manager’s position permanent as a destabilizing move. He referred to the Bainbridge Review and the Bainbridge Islander (we weren’t mentioned at all) as being singular in focus about one person and her accusations. A point of order was called again. Blair asked Scales to conclude by remaking his point. Scales said that the recent history on the Island will be extremely important to potential candidates and that this is why he doesn’t believe we will be able to attract a city manager.

The council moved to a vote to initiate a search for a new city manager and have a study session at the next meeting.

Hytopoulos said she wanted an opportunity to respond and make a comment. The council voted 5 to 2 to continue discussion. Scales complained again that he was being silenced and that he no longer felt it was productive to be there and he left.

Hytopoulos said it was absolutely unfair to the Council to be put in the position of not being able to explain how they reached their decision. She said there was a reason the Council could not be transparent about a private conversation. She said it was not serving the community’s interest to create a record of this not being a viable place for a candidate.

Hillary Franz returned to the podium. She said she went through three interview processes when she was a coucilmember. She said every one of them looked back through the newspapers and said,  “Can you explain the six years of bad press? This doesn’t look like a great place to work.” She told the Council they don’t have a history or a reputation to show to a potential candidate.

Hammer returned to the podium and said we did get to know the council through the election process.


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