Affordable Housing Dominates City Council, Planning Commission Agendas

For months, affordable housing has dominated city agendas at Bainbridge Island’s Planning Commission meetings and City Council sessions. This week is no exception – but the time is now to lend your voice at a crucial moment for some key programs and initiatives.

The Chamber is a long-time public supporter of Housing Resources Bainbridge and it’s efforts to create much-needed housing diversity and new affordable housing stock in our community – not simply to ensure that Bainbridge remains a viable option for renters and homeowners of all backgrounds, but also as an essential effort in ensuring the island is able to support and maintain the workforce needed for a diverse local economy that ranges across tourism and hospitality into manufacturing, agriculture, education, real estate, construction and beyond.

With that in mind, here is a primer on recent events and a look at this week’s agendas and ways to get involved with the current efforts including:

  • Bethany Lutheran
  • Ericksen Avenue
  • Madison & Wyatt
  • Ravenwood
  • COBI’s Housing Action Plan (HAP)
  • Bainbridge’s Housing Design Demonstration Plan (HDDP)


Recap of the May 26, 2022 Planning Commission Meeting

– Ravenwood – Would place five 3-story affordable housing townhomes off Wyatt and Madison Avenues close to the Safeway. Generally, the planning commission agreed with initial plans, but raised concerns about community space

– Ericksen Project (2nd Meeting) – Multifamily apartment building includes 22 affordable units through HRB. The public has generally supported the plan, but like planning commissioners have questions about the ratio of parking planned for the units, which is at or below one space per unit. However, the project is in the Winslow core making it readily accessible to stores, schools and services of all kinds, including public transit – Planning Commissioners and the public generally liked the idea but did still have some concerns about the parking allocations.

Watch the meeting in full: https://bainbridgewa.granicus.com/player/clip/758?view_id=1&redirect=true<

Upcoming This Week

Council Study Session (Tuesday June 7 at 7pm)

City council members will meet to review and discuss newly drafted language related to affordable housing on property owned by religious organizations. Specifically, the ordinance creates a new land use type by giving bonuses to affordable housing projects tied to land owned by religious organizations.

In general, this bonus density for affordable housing on land owned by religious organizations has been mandated at the state level, but left to each municipality to craft their own specific ordinances – both Council and Planning Commission have tried to create that local ordinance – which has led us to this meeting.

A proposed version of the required ordinance has been discussed by the Planning Commission multiple times over recent months, and has been the subject of a series of 3-3 votes (with one planning commissioner abstaining each time) – at this study session, Planning Commission Chair Sarah Blossom, will detail the process and progress, even though a full-approved version has not emerged from the process due to those tied votes.

The first project in line to receive a density bonus is Bethany Lutheran’s plan to develop 21 units on their lands between Sportsman’s Club Road NE and Finch Road. By modifying the city’s land-use code in this way, it would also bring it into alignment with the state’s recently adopted lands regarding affordable housing on religious properties.

Read the latest COBI staff memo on Ordinance 2022-02 (formerly 2021-28): https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/1410593/Staff_Memo_re_Ordinance_No._2022-02.pdf

And the entire Agenda Packet at: https://d3n9y02raazwpg.cloudfront.net/bainbridgewa/ae6fbb3d-5ed9-11ec-85e3-0050569183fa-1288c45d-5d3e-46ae-af61-2e888e37b46d-1654298085.pdf

Watch the Meeting (But there is no public comment at Study Sessions): https://bainbridgewa.zoom.us/J/92947338351

Get Involved

In lieu of public comment, get involved by joining the Chamber and many other leading Island community organizations in writing a letter of support – to find out how – head to going to HRB’s latest Advocacy Alert and/or by contacting to your district’s council member, or to all Bainbridge Island council members via email at once.

Planning Commission Meeting (Thursday June 9 at 6pm)

Will review and make draft amendments to resolutions for the city’s Housing Design Demonstration Plan (HDDP). The HDDP was originally introduced as a way to provide bonus density to green or affordable housing projects on Bainbridge as a short-term fix ahead of the upcoming update of the Island’s Comprehensive Plan. It turned into something that needed regular re-approvals – the latest of which extended the program until the end of 2022.

HRB has requested a number of changes to make the HDDP more operable (no projects have been approved through the HDDP so far).

Those changes include:

  • requiring all affordable housing units to serve households at or below 80% median income
  • replacing the score card with an “Innovative Site Development” checklist
  • amending parking space requirements
  • and a potential exemption for development projects with 100% affordable housing in not having to meet the new Innovative Site Development checklist.

This week’s COBI staff memo here: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/1410489/Staff_Memo.pdf
Full Planning Commission Agenda Packet: https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/bainbridgewa/bb30281be9a37f27bab293eb680862fc0.pdf

Get Involved

Public Comment is available at the Planning Commission Meeting, beginning at 6:15pm
Meeting Link: https://bainbridgewa.zoom.us/J/97340072620


More Information:

Full details of the Housing Design Demonstration Project (HDDP) from the city’s website

2017 COBI Instructions to Affordable Housing Task Force

Bainbridge Review on COBI’s Housing Action Plan
Bainbridge Review Ravenwood Project Article

Learn More about advocating for HRB’s Projects
Learn about Housing Resources Bainbridge itself at their brand-new website