Is Bainbridge running out of water?

Is Bainbridge running out of water?

We frequently hear at local meetings and in Bainbridge social media that Bainbridge is running out of water. As most people know, the current domestic water supply on Bainbridge is from groundwater. What is the status of that groundwater resource? To begin to answer this complex question the City of Bainbridge Island in 2006 partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to develop a model of ground water recharge and withdrawal on the Island with the goal to predict impacts of both past and future development.

The report for this project was published in 2011. The report identified 11 hydrologic units within the Bainbridge aquifer system: five relatively permeable layers (aquifers) and six relatively non-permeable (confining) layers. The report described the construction of a numerical (computer) model of this aquifer system and its assumptions about precipitation, recharge, withdrawal rates and sea level.

The model was used to predict impacts on ground water levels in 2035 based on three different assumptions for population growth and recharge:

1) Minimal impact (26,000 population by 2035, higher than expected recharge),

2) Expected impact (32,000 population by 2035, expected recharge) and

3) Maximum impact scenario (50,000 population by 2030, approximately 60,000 by 3025, less than expected recharge).

Water levels were predicted in each of the five major aquifer units for each scenario. The findings of the study were that ground water levels were expected to decline by zero to five feet in most aquifers but there could be isolated declines up to 25 feet. For the minimal scenario level declines were less and for the maximal impact scenario somewhat higher, but no saltwater intrusion was predicted in any scenario except that in the maximum impact scenario the report said that “saltwater intrusion likely would occur in that aquifer unit (the deep aquifer) along the northern and eastern coastlines at a future date under continued exposure to these conditions.”

So, is Bainbridge running out of water? The USGS study shows that to manage water demands from greater than 50,000 persons on Bainbridge Island we will need to make changes in our water supply system. BREAK  What are some policy and technical changes that could be made to manage our water supply differently in the future?

We could institute Island-wide conservation policies to minimize water use.

We could use alternative surface water sources on the Island with appropriate treatment. Since approximately two thirds of the Island’s commercial water customers are customers of the Kitsap Public Utility District, the KPUD could implement a water transfer from other sources in Kitsap County.

The Town of Port Gamble recently installed a wastewater treatment and recharge system to replace the old wastewater treatment plant that discharged to the harbor. This system removes pollutants including nitrates and recharges to groundwater using a drain field system. Similar systems could be used in future on Bainbridge.

Perhaps a better way to look at this is that while it is up to us to manage our growth sustainably for the generations that will follow us, there are solutions to water supply challenges. We just need to pay attention to both the management and the solutions.

The City is actively monitoring water levels and salt water intrusion. We will discuss that in an upcoming post.

Housing Resources Board (HRB) on Affordable Housing on the Island –

Phedra Elliott Executive Director and Penny Lamping, Fundraising and Communications Manager

HRB has almost 30 years of experience in providing housing and housing related services to the citizens of Bainbridge Island. We own and operate 90 units of rental housing and have built and sold 42 homes in our Community Land Trust to income qualified home buyers.  We also operate housing programs, such as Independent Living.

On Bainbridge there are currently 283 units of what we would call “Capital A” affordable housing, meaning that the tenant must go through an income certification process and the rents at those properties must not exceed rents set by federal or state entities.  For those 283 units of Affordable Housing there are currently over 400 households on the waiting lists.

Throughout the years, the state of housing affordability on Bainbridge Island has worsened as housing costs increase.  Incomes have not kept up with rising rents and housing prices, and on Bainbridge we have created very few housing units overall compared to the growth in our community.  This results in housing that is scarce and expensive.  Those on the lower end of the economic spectrum bear the burden first because they are unable to pay those increased prices and are forced to move, disrupting their lives and the lives of their children.  In the long term, the effects of this are not good for any of us or for our environment as many who work here are forced into long commutes.

The City of Bainbridge Island convened an Affordable Housing Task Force in 2017. We participated in the Task Force with affordable housing provider Housing Kitsap, developers (one small and one larger), architects, as well as community members who are concerned about the need for affordable housing. Their task was to develop strategies the City could take to improve access to affordable housing across the economic spectrum: to find solutions which balanced costs and benefits to the community. After meeting for a year, they presented their final report and recommendations here to the City Council.

 The Task Force’s five Priority Recommendations include: 

  • Develop code changes to encourage infill in the Designated Centers,
  • Pursue opportunities to partner with private and non-profit sectors to build more units, encourage ADU’s with new procedures,
  • Adopt an “Innovations Program”,
  • Create a permanent affordable housing committee and
  • Designate a City employee who will spend at least half-time on affordable housing strategies.

There were also five “Quick Wins” which can be implemented immediately as well as the additional strategies to be explored. The Quick Wins consist of allowing the maximum number of liveaboards in the Dave Ullin Open Water Marina, adopting a vacation rental ordinance, permitting fast-tracking and fee reduction for affordable applications, utilizing the Housing Trust Fund regularly and adopting a Cottage Housing Ordinance.

At the City Council Study Session held on August 21st, the Council discussed the report and the recommendations. They voted unanimously to accept the entire report and the recommendations included in it. They will be moving forward – working with consultants to develop the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance, examining the budget to assess the ability to hire a part time housing staff person, etc.

We at HRB feel encouraged by this support from the Council and are grateful to planner Jennifer Sutton for her guidance during this process, as well as council liaisons Sarah Blossom, Mike Scott, and Leslie Schneider. The conversation around affordable housing is not new, but it has become more urgent. We believe it takes government as well as community support to make real progress.

Many amazing people that live and work here.  Losing any one of us because housing is out of reach and not gaining those who want and need to live here threatens the very fabric of the Island – the diversity and vitality that comes when all kinds of people from different backgrounds live together.  Knowing and being a part of the lives of all kinds of people is what makes Bainbridge great.  It makes any community healthier and stronger.  Many islanders may never need HRB’s housing or services, but our work and our mission touches everyone on Bainbridge with few degrees of separation.  Past, present, and future HRB recipients are likely to be in the crowd at any location or event on Bainbridge: friends, neighbors, and coworkers of all incomes live, work and volunteer here. There is no “them” vs. “us”.  We are all them and we are all us.  We are connected.

Learn more about HRB at  Like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

State of Washington Housing Needs Assessment –

State of Washington Housing Needs Assessment – Kitsap County data –

Suzuki Update

Olympic Property Group (OPG) has been retained by the City of Bainbridge Island to lead a consultant team in gaining the preliminary plat approval of the Suzuki project.


  • In 2015 the City published a request for proposals for the property.
  • In November of 2015 the City received 4 proposals from both for-profit and non-profit organizations and decided to move forward with Olympic Property Group, whose proposalincluded market rate and affordable housing, growing areas, and room for a Boys and Girls Club facility.  However, hearing the environmental concerns of neighbors and the community, the Council agreed to do an ecological assessment of the property.

The  2017 ecological assessment report from Environmental Science Associates (ESA):

  • identified “mature second growth forest” trees,
  • recommended a buffer around the human-created pond
  • and recommended a 300’ wildlife corridor be left on the property, among other things.

The Council voted to follow these recommendations which reduced the potential area for development from 13.83-acres to +/- 4-acres.  Later, the City Council voted to commit 100% of the housing on the project for affordable housing.

  • The City chose to just hire OPG to gain approval for a plan with the smaller development footprint and 100% affordable housing.

Next Steps:

OPG is beginning the approval process by obtaining more information about the property.  Wetlands experts, civil engineer, and geotechnical engineers will study the property.  This draft site plan will change once studies are completed, and with input from the City Council.

  • Once the information is gathered and mapped, OPG will present it at a public meeting . They will outline their proposed schedule and take additional questions and input.  OPG expects the approval process to last 12 to 15 months. During this time, the housing concepts will be developed through a collaborative effort of Housing Kitsap, Housing Resources Bainbridge, and the City’s Affordable Housing Task Force.  Lead consultant and architect Jonathan Davis will then be able refine site designs.  These too will be shared at public meetings.

If you would like to be on the OPG mailing list for updates on the Suzuki Project please contact Stephanie Foster at

Developing Housing

Housing Kitsap is a “Public Housing Authority that works with home owners, home buyers, renters, developers, and contractors to sustain affordable housing and the betterment of Kitsap County, WA.” It was one of the groups making a proposal when Suzuki was first announced. They are the likely developers of the Suzuki project and according to our mayor, Kol Medina, they are very much committed to seeing this project through.

New Initiative Referendum

Our Bainbridge City Council is considering an Initiative and Referendum resolution and will be discussing, and perhaps voting on, it at a summer Council meeting (It was scheduled for July 10 but is not on the July calendar at this time. We will alert you to the schedule on our Facebook page and website).

The power of an initiative and referendum gives citizens the ability to enact legislation (initiative) that the elected body didn’t enact, or to repeal legislation that was enacted (referendum).  The process involves filing a notice of initiative (or referendum), having the title assigned by the governing body, and then collecting a minimum number of signatures within the jurisdiction to get the measure on the ballot.  The minimum number of signatures needed on Bainbridge Island would be equal in number to 15% of those registered to vote at the time of the last general election (in 2018 the number registered is 18, 929 so 15% would equal 2839 signatures).

People who support the I/R power believe that their elected representatives are not serving them well, and there is a need to move independently of the elected to enact or repeal laws.  Originally, “Proponents argued that the initiative process would neutralize special interest groups, curtail corruption, provide a vehicle for civic education (MRSC Guide)”.  As a citizens’ movement, that makes some sense.
However, the system has been changed by the ability of people with funds to pay other people to collect the signatures, as opposed to volunteers doing this task.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, corporate or major donor money can be used to override the decisions of local elected officials and manipulate the I/R process to their own ends.

Our other concerns regarding the I/R measure being considered by the Bainbridge Island City Council follow.  The measure would:

(1) Increase the cost of city-wide elections particularly if sponsors seek a single issue special ballot.Each special election for a sole initiative is…” estimatedbetween $80,000 and $100,000. If Bainbridge holds an election in February or April of 2019 with another district that has the same or more voters to share the cost, it is estimated between $60,000 and $70,000.” Email from Dolores Gilmore, Kitsap County Auditor

(2) Add complexity and manpower demands on City staff.  State code requires city staff must prepare detailed information text before the item goes on the ballot.  It must also be determined to be legal. Many Islanders already believe City processes takes too long. Adding to City staff workload could delay other tasks.

(3) Add to the workload of current members of Council and extend the hours of weekly Council meetings as these items are given time on the agenda, perhaps excluding or delaying other community and City priorities.

(4) Allow single issues to override the Comp Plan and agreed-upon budget and priorities. The current and previous councils have spent time establishing the planning and spending priorities.  This could potentially overturn all that.

(5) Facilitate complex issues being portrayed as simple issues. The community changed to the Council-Manager form of government with wide approval by the voters. When the community voted for this change we decided to elect the leaders and hire the management.  We expected our City Council and City staff to work through governance issues because many of us, neither individually nor collectively, have the time or resources to devote to researching the best ways to address the needs of our City.

Some council members argue this process would allow the citizens more participation and that citizens will exercise their communal wisdom in their votes.  However, a relatively small group of activists can bring items forward that will result in much expense in time and costs but may well be defeated when the vote is held. Do we want to add this burden to our local government?

If citizens really want the City to have the I/R power, we believe there is a more democratic option for the City to acquire it. That alternative is the Petition Method. The adoption of the powers of initiative and referendum may be initiated by registered voters of the city filing a petition with the city requesting their adoption. To be valid, the petition must contain signatures equal in number to 50 percent of the votes cast at the last general municipal election (the total number voting in 2017 was 9019, so that would mean 4510). The petitions with signatures would then be transmitted by the city to the county auditor for verification of the signatures.

If the petition is found to be sufficient by the county auditor, the city council must adopt a resolution declaring the intention of the city to adopt the powers of initiative and referendum. The city must publish the resolution in a newspaper of general circulation within the city not more than 10 days after passage of the resolution.
If no referendum petition is filed within 90 days after publication of the resolution, the city council must enact an ordinance formally adopting the powers of initiative and referendum.

If a referendum petition is filed within the 90 days after publication of the resolution that is signed by qualified electors of the city equal to not less than 10 percent of the votes cast at the last general municipal election, an election must be held on the issue of whether to adopt these powers for the city. The vote will be held at the next general municipal election if there is one within 180 days of the filing of the petition. Otherwise, the vote will be at a special election called for that purpose pursuant to RCW 29A.04.330. (Taken from the MRSC Initiative and Referendum Guide for Washington Cities and Charter Counties – )

If this proposal gets Council approval, we strongly recommend that members supporting/sponsoring any effort under this process must make their effort transparent.  They should be required to complete monthly financial statements to the Public Disclosure Commission and each should be prepared to regularly respond to FOI requests (which add substantial operational costs for the City) for their communications-emails and correspondence.

Change is inevitable, our responsibility is to determine how we manage it.

We Need a New Police Station

The question of building a new police station has repeatedly come before our community and our City Council.  We have studied the question ‘DO WE REALLY NEED A NEW POLICE STATION?”  and the answer is YES,

THE FIRST QUESTION IS FINANCING THE POLICE STATION.  Using councilmanic bonds, our taxes will not go up.  This is because the bonds sold to pay for the construction of City Hall are just now being paid off.  The new bonds will merely continue the same funding.  There will be no increase. This is a good time to sell bonds, while interest rates are low. Additionally, when the police move out of their current station that valuable property will be sold to lower the cost to the City.

Couldn’t the Current Building be upgraded?  A tour of this old building (originally built in 1945, and renovations made in 1969 and 1982) shows many major problems. Both these remodels were done when the Island population was less than half of what it is today.—Mackenzie-July-2014?bidId=

Safety: The building is not earthquake-safe and retrofitting would be next to impossible and totally impractical.

There is no secure locking evidence room.  This means that items in evidence collected in conjunction with a crime are not secure.  This room is neither earthquake nor fire proof.  Key evidence could be lost either through these risks, or from contamination.

There is no Sallyport- a secured, controlled entryway used to bring a criminal or violent person into the police station.

There is no secured parking lot for police vehicles.  Right now, a person could take a rock, break open a police vehicle window and steal police equipment when a police car is sitting unprotected in the public access area.

Privacy/Accessibility: There is no private conference room where a victim can safely and privately share a traumatic experience with an investigating police officer.
There are only two bathrooms.  One is on an upper floor, and there is no elevator.  The building is not ADA compliant.  These bathrooms serve 25 police plus several staff plus the general public who visit the station.

Police readiness: We expect our officers to dress at home and come to work fully prepared. Should something happen while on duty that requires a uniform change, there is no place to shower and change into a clean uniform. Some have questioned the need for a gym.   Our police spend most of their time driving around in cars. Yet we expect them to be physically fit and able to bring strength and endurance to emergency situations.  Providing an appropriate exercise space will help our officers stay fit and consequently will lessen on-the-job injuries and the resultant expenses of sick and disability leave, as well as the short staffing which can result.

Our conclusion is that YES, a new police station is in the best interest of our police force and our community as a whole.  We have a well-functioning team who serve to protect all of us.  We owe them a safe and secure place as a base for their work.

Quality Bainbridge Spring 2018 Update

Dear Islanders,

We are writing you with information and news of activities in our community that we believe are relevant to you and to our mission to support informed civic participation.

The new Council has been meeting since January and at their daylong “Advance” on January 24, they identified the following priorities (the comments following are our brief description of their status):


Implement Comprehensive Plan
This is ongoing work for staff and Council

Move forward with the Police Station
Evaluation of building options is underway

Infrastructure Ballot Measure
The committee continues to meet

Affordable Housing
Task Force report is due in June with recommended actions for the Council

Inclusionary Zoning:
Will be part of the Affordable Housing Task Force report

Code Enforcement
Details here


Includes STO complete plans, Suzuki Property, Green Building Certification, Financial Capacity

That’s a lot of work for the City Staff, the Citizen Advisory Committees and the part time City Council members. Follow this link to understand what the Council members’ roles are in this process.

Part of our plan for this year is to track and understand this work and make it more available to you. If there is an area that is of particular interest to you,we welcome your help.  Please contact us and we will be in touch about your interest and how to proceed. We are committed this year to deepening our understanding of these and other civic issues and then to make that information available to you in an accessible/informative format. We will be posting reports on these issues on our website.

Michael Scott, Central Ward Council member, resigned as of March 31 because he was appointed to the King County Superior Court and cannot fulfill both roles at the same time. According to the City Governance Manual and WA State law, the remaining Council members choose from the pool of applicants.  Here’s the link to the application process and to the applicants’ resumes: As of the close of the application period, 4/13, there were several applicants. Applicants will be interviewed at City Hall on April 19 from 6.30-9pm.  The public is invited.


__________UPCOMING EVENTS!  __________________________________
Save the Date!
MAY 20th, 2018.  We are co-sponsoring a conference at Islandwood:

Creating Community Together – 

The 15th Annual Association of Bainbridge Communities Environmental Conference

Other co-sponsors include Sustainable Bainbridge, Bainbridge Island Land Trust

The keynote speaker, Sen. Christine Rolfes has had to withdraw from this commitment so we are looking for a substitute who understands these issues from multiple perspectives.

Registration is FREE.


JUNE 8th, 2018

For the Love of Bainbridge Island with Peter Kageyama:
This will be a chance for Bainbridge Island creators, innovators, and connectors to come together and explore the critical importance of the most powerful of motivators – the human heart – in community, social, and economic development. 

Peter is an internationally sought-after community development consultant and author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places.  This evening promises to reenergize our current efforts, inspire new ideas, and catalyze collaboration among the people who love – and want to love – Bainbridge Island.

Nov 2017 Recommendations for Bainbridge Island Voters

Dear Islanders,

In this final weekend of voting we wanted to check back with you to encourage you to VOTE. Find that ballot if it’s gotten misplaced in the midst of bills and other mail. Drop it in the mailbox (with postage) or at the ballot drop in the driveway near the BISD Administration Building on North Madison.

Our endorsements for the City Council:

Ted Jones in South Ward
Wayne Roth in Central Ward
Joe Deets in North Ward

Our letters endorsing them can be found here

Our view is that a good City Council member demonstrates the following:

  • Understanding of the powers and role of city government and the role of the Council as the policy-making entity for the city
  • A strong commitment to working collegially, respecting differing positions but seeking common ground
  • Eagerness to listen to and understand different viewpoints, and a commitment to building and nurturing a sense of community across the Island
  • Joint development of strategic goals and adherence to those goals
  • Tenacity in identifying and addressing specific problems that face the community
  • Relevant experience that demonstrates their ability to work in a complex environment and consider the consequences of policy decisions

Our endorsement for the School Board, Position 5 is Sheila Jakubik.

Our letter endorsing her can be found here.

We believe complex problems are not solved by simple solutions.

Please remember that all Islanders vote for all positions in the general elections.

The Quality Bainbridge Steering Committee

2017 Recommendation for School Board Candidate, Position 5

Dear Islanders,

We are endorsing incumbent Sheila Jakubik for Bainbridge Island School District, Position 5. Our district has benefited from her thoughtful, balanced, big-picture approach and her guidance is exactly the right style for a small district with big goals. Our school district needs and deserves steady management because all change takes time. Sheila listens and acts as a steady hand in guiding that change.  Parents in the district are especially grateful that Ms. Jakubik is recognized as an advocate of all 4,000 students in our district. This global approach, listening and considering all the different ages, needs, learning styles, and physical buildings, is the global overview that we appreciate and that we believe the majority of the Island wants in their leaders.  Sheila has been a tireless member of a board who:

  • Supports teacher development–our District currently provides more professional development than the State will fund:
    • we have differentiation specialists to help classroom teachers best serve every child, and
    • peer coaches to support those who wish to work on their national board certification.
  • Supports teacher innovation—in addition to grants for teacher classroom innovation, some of our highly successful district programs arose from individual teachers:
    • The seeds for our award-winning robotics team began years ago when one teacher received a grant to create Lego robotics in her 6th grade class. That spread to the whole 6th grade science curriculum, then to Woodward as a technology class. It was later adopted at the high school as a club and now is available for credit.
    • AP Environmental Science began with a single class taught by yet another teacher. Now it’s one of our most popular science classes at the high school level.
    • The computer-based ST Math supplement program–used in all our elementary school–started with a single Blakeley teacher looking for a new way to engage her students in math.
  • Advocates for STEM — there is now a STEM specialist at each elementary school, and added hands-on engineering components to the middle school science curriculum for all kids.

Sheila is a collaborator and consensus builder who is respected by teachers, administrators and community members who know her through her work as preschool director or member of her church. She is a former Special Ed teacher who appreciates kids with diverse abilities and learning styles.  She has two children who have gone through Bainbridge public schools, she’s been an active member and leader of multiple PTOs and is familiar with the workings of all the schools in our district.  Sheila has been an advocate for social-emotional learning, teaching to the whole child, and creating a greater sense of community within our District. We strongly endorse Sheila and hope that our community will continue to benefit from her thoughtful work on the Board and her dedication to our schools and to all of our children.


Juliet LeDorze and Anita Rockefeller
For the Steering Committee of Quality Bainbridge


2017 Recommendation for North Ward Candidate

Joe Deets in North Ward

Dear Islanders,

Joe has earned our endorsement because of his commitment to service to our community in a variety of roles. Most recently Joe has served as the Chair of the City Ethics Board. In this position, he encountered a variety of challenging issues that required sensitive problem solving. Joe managed this role with tact.

Joe came to Bainbridge Island with a strong interest in protecting our natural environment and mitigating the impact of climate change. This propelled Joe to co-found the nonprofit organization Community Energy Solutions. He worked with Senator Phil Rockefeller, leading to the passage of the innovative community solar legislation, Senate Bill 6658. This law has enabled thousands of Washingtonians to go solar. To date, there are more than 60 community solar projects across the State, creating clean power and local jobs.

Joe worked with City Hall to install solar power, funded by a group of private citizens. This project is now profitable. He oversaw the installation of the solar project at Sakai Middle School, which was funded by donations and a grant.

Prior to his move to Bainbridge Island, Joe worked in finance and financial policy. This background gives him the skills to understand the complex financial issues facing our City today.

Finally, Quality Bainbridge strongly supports Joe’s five priorities.







Delight Willing and Randal Samstag
For the Steering Committee of Quality Bainbridge

2017 Recommendation for Central Ward Candidate

Wayne Roth in Central Ward

Dear Islanders,

We are endorsing incumbent Wayne Roth in the Central Ward. We endorsed Wayne in his first campaign in 2013, and in reviewing both candidates’ records and answers to our candidate questions, we believe he is the best candidate for this position.

Wayne has been a thoughtful, hard-working member of the Council during his term in office, working with a council that has, among other achievements:

  • Helped stabilize and improve the City’s finances;
  • Adopted an update to the Comprehensive Plan, as required by Washington’s Growth Management Act. The Plan will be the basis for the next Council’s updating of our city code to match the vision and values of our community.
  • Overseen the redevelopment of Waterfront Park to make it more accessible and inviting to residents and visitors.
  • Passed Low Impact Development regulations to ensure we are protecting the amazing environment we call home.
  • Supported the Police Department in earning renewed community trust and respect.

We elect our leaders to engage thoughtfully with the electorate and to make the difficult decisions required to lead a City of over 23,000 residents. Regardless of the size of the community, there will always be differences of opinion. For our Island community, this is, in part, due to the growing pains the whole region is experiencing. We believe we need responsive and courageous leadership to meet our challenges effectively. We also note that Wayne has extensive executive experience through his work at KUOW and NPR, and has served on boards for, or advised, many local Island organizations:

  • The Marge Williams Center for nonprofits
  • The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association
  • The Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council.

We believe this kind of executive experience and deep and wide involvement in the community are essential assets to the work of City Council, namely establishing the policy of our City. While we may not agree with every decision a leader makes, the question is whether we elect, or re-elect a thoughtful, experienced, creative and ethical leader who can help us navigate the many challenges we face. We have that opportunity with Wayne Roth, and therefore heartily endorse him for re-election.


Maradel Gale and Anita Rockefeller
For the Steering Committee of Quality Bainbridge