City Council Emergency Moratorium Blocks New Neighborhood Inn Developments

Pleasant Beach Village: No More Rooms At The Inn?

After declaring an Emergency Moratorium blocking the new development of inns in Neighborhood Centers, City Council members held a required public hearing Jan. 24th.

Following more than an hour of public comment – mostly about a single proposed expansion project in Lynwood Center – COBI Council Members (led by Kirsten Hytopoulos) expressed concern and reiterated their commitment to maintaining the moratorium on the development of new inns proposed for Neighborhood Centers.

What is happening?

An LLC related to the owners of Pleasant Beach Village began working with city planning officials almost a year ago, bringing forward plans to develop one of two parcels on Pleasant Beach Drive NE with:

  • A 15-room inn, designed similarly to the rest of Pleasant Beach Village
  • Three, 2-bedroom Affordable Housing units, in partnership with Housing Resources Bainbridge
  • A 3,200 sq. ft two-story office building for inn management and remote-work use
  • A 2,240 sq. ft. Japanese-influenced spa

The project was deep into the planning phase when a concerned city council intervened and imposed an island-wide emergency moratorium on developing new inns in neighborhood centers at their Dec. 13 regular business meeting.

City Ordinance 2022-25 – Emergency Moratorium on the Development of New Inns in the Neighborhood Center – City of Bainbridge Island

Why Are We Talking About This?

Lodging construction projects have long faced an uphill battle on Bainbridge Island – even in Winslow where it is still permitted. The last proposed hotel project, slated for 241-253 Winslow Way West, had its permits retroactively invalidated in 2021 (after successfully completing a multi-year planning, appeal, and court process) when a previous iteration of council changed city code in a contentious 4-3 vote. It should be noted that council members Deets, Schneider and Hytopoulos were the 3 ‘losing’ votes in that case. That Winslow Hotel project issue is still in mediation between developer and city attorneys.

Bainbridge Island has seen rising occupancy rates for the island’s modest inventory of hotel rooms in recent years, especially between April and October. High demand has driven up hotel room and inn prices, created a lucrative short-term rental market in recent years fueled by the rise of hosting platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, etc, and forced many visitors to stay off-island, principally at the 183 rooms of the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.

This issue brings into focus what Bainbridge wants of it’s neighborhood centers, and whether Bainbridge businesses should be encouraged to meet increasing demand for local hotel rooms on the island.

Proposed Lodge and Affordable Housing expansion at Pleasant Beach Village
Proposed Lodge and Affordable Housing expansion at Pleasant Beach Village

What’s The Issue?

The interpretation and definition of 2 land use elements in the City’s Comprehensive Plan and the City’s Municipal Code:

  • Land Use Policy 9.81.6 – “Neighborhood Centers achieve a mix of neighborhood-scale businesses, public uses, and housing which are compatible with the scale and intensity of the surrounding residential neighborhood and which minimizes the impact of noise, odor, lighting, fire safety, and transportation on the neighborhood”
  • Inns Definition of BIMC 18.36.030 – “A building or group of buildings containing up to 15 guest rooms, where, for compensation, lodging is provided for transient visitors…An inn is not a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast lodging as defined and regulated elsewhere.”

City Council Position: Concern that the city’s planning department may not have properly interpreted Land Use Policy 9.81.6 or BIMC 18.36.030. Since Pleasant Beach Village already operates at least two inn buildings on multiple parcels at Lynwood Center, adding another under a different LLC with the same ownership and/or management company – on another separate tax parcel – effectively creates a hotel. That as hotels are not allowed in Neighborhood Centers like Lynwood, then the project is invalidated, no matter what the detail.

In the eyes of councilmember Hytopoulos, and former council member Sarah Blossom (via public comment) who co-wrote the relevant city code more than a decade ago, the current Pleasant Beach proposal violates the spirit, if not the letter of that code. In her on-camera response to public comment, councilmember Hytopoulos expressed wider concerns than just this proposal around attracting visitors to the neighborhood centers she intended for use by local residents, about deploying sewer hookups to properties aimed at attracting more visitors, and her opposition to building large-scale hotels outside of Winslow.

“We’ve heard a lot of positive comments about a particular development this evening and a lot of ones from email as well and that is not surprising as I don’t think anyone can deny that there aren’t a lot of lovely amenities down at Lynwood center right now, but this hearing is not about this particular development. Its not even about this particular inn as much as it is about a piece of code that we need to be enforcing.”

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos


Pleasant Beach Village Position: This PBV inn expansion project was conceived in part as a more community-friendly option than simply adding a 4th set of multi-million dollar townhomes on the hill above Pleasant Beach Village. The inn footprint would be smaller, and maintain public access to more land on the property than the townhomes would. That the development of a 15-room inn on a separate tax parcel is allowed by the city’s code and that ownership or management of that inn does not substantially matter. In addition, PBV proposed creating 3 new affordable housing cottages, built with funds generated by the additional inn rooms. They also maintain the property seeks to enhance the mix of neighborhood-scale businesses, public uses, and housing as outlined by the Neighborhood Center definition.

Inn managers added that the current available Lynwood Center inventory struggles to keep pace with demand, particularly during high season, forcing visitors into one of two situations – both of which go against the city’s stated goals for Climate Action and Affordable Housing:

  1. Book off-island and increase vehicle trips to and from the island to join family functions.
  2. Book short-term rentals, further increasing demand, pricing and temptation to make existing properties on Bainbridge into short-term units.

“This project arose in response to two factors: the recognized need for high quality affordable housing in our community – a problem with which the council is quite familiar, I trust, and needs no elaboration from me – and local demand for additional lodging capacity on the island, particularly on the South end. We discerned a strong business need for the latter, a social need for the former, and sought to address both in this project.”

Pleasant Beach Village General Manager Joe Raymond 

Resident Feedback:
Public comment was made by South End neighbors both for and against the project.

Some believe the project is great for the community as an expansion of the Pleasant Beach Village resort they already enjoy as a neighborhood center, home to local businesses, and venue for concerts and events. They assert that it contributes to a more vibrant community.

Others are opposed, citing concern about noise issues during the summer season, a lack of adequate transit/safety infrastructure, and the impact of more guests on the area’s water and sewer lines. They expressed skepticism about the affordable housing units, dismissing them as a negotiating tactic.

On balance, there were more positive than negative comments, and on both sides was an acknowledgement that what has already been built at Pleasant Beach Village is of a high quality and high utility to island residents and visitors alike.

Outcome of Public Hearing: City Council received feedback from the Lynwood Center project leaders and members of the public, but reiterated their concerns and took no further action, meaning that the emergency moratorium approved unanimously on December 13 stays in place for a year.


Rendering of proposed affordable housing cottages at Pleasant Beach Village
Rendering of proposed affordable housing cottages at Pleasant Beach Village

What’s Next?

Without any large-scale expression of public sentiment:

  • The moratorium stays in place across all Island Neighborhood Centers, and the proposed Pleasant Beach Village project at Lynwood Center is on hold.
  • The previously considered, and fully allowed by existing code, construction of 11 townhomes will replace the inn expansion, using more land and reducing public access to the property
  • Pleasant Beach Village will evaluate if the affordable housing cottages can be build without the ongoing inn income.
  • This matter may not be readdressed until next year’s update of the Lynwood Center Subarea Plan and Island Comprehensive Plan (for the next 20 years of planned growth on Bainbridge)
  • City Council remains open to community feedback

What can you do?

  1. Watch the January public hearing, project presentation, and council member response below to see and hear both sides of the issue
  2. If so moved, write or meet with your city council representative
  3. Come to the next city council regular business meeting and share your thoughts via a 3-minute public comment spot (remember to sign up at the very start of the meeting for one of those slots!)

Learn More:

City Ordinance 2022-25 – Emergency Moratorium on the Development of New Inns in the Neighborhood Center – City of Bainbridge Island

Record of COBI Public Hearing – During Council Regular Business Meeting of January 24th, 2023 (Public comment begins at timestamp 01:38:00, Council response at 02:21:40)

City News Bytes: Moratorium on Inns – The Island Wanderer

Inns In Trouble on BI – Bainbridge Island Review