Island Business Organizations Unite To Preserve Bainbridge Permit System

Prior to tonight’s City Council meeting, The Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association, Lodging and Hospitality Association and Visit Bainbridge have come together to publicly ask for careful reconsideration of elements of the proposed alterations to Ordinance 2021-03.

Buried within the Joint City Council/Planning Commission Land Use Subcommittee Phase I “Triage” Code Changes on the Agenda as Item 9A is a stricken section. The removal of this language would allow the City to retroactively revoke previously-approved permits – an action which should raise concerns with any and local businesses or property owners.

While City Council have explicitly expressed a desire to block the construction of the Winslow Hotel project with this move, the wider-ranging impact of such a move fueled the Chamber’s action in this matter.

The Chamber, along with our partners, encourages all members to make their views about this matter known to Council, either by the [email protected] email, or by signing up for public comment via the Agenda for tonight’s meeting.

In the interests of full transparency, the joint letter from April 9, 2021 is reproduced in full here below.


Dear Councilmembers,

The Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association, Lodging & Hospitality Association and Visit Bainbridge have all been recently engaged by members of our local business community with concerns about Ordinance No. 2021-03.

As representatives of hundreds of island businesses, we raise our collective voice by coming together today to ask for careful reconsideration of the proposed amendment.

By removing explicit language protecting previously-approved projects from a temporary prohibition on new construction of hotels in the Central Core, Gateway, and Ferry Terminal zoning districts, you risk invalidating long-standing public processes, and raise specific concerns about fairness and fiscal responsibility.

  • If an Islander, having successfully made it through the multi-year permitting process sees it later invalidated, the entire process is thrown into doubt.
  • If, in a time of pandemic recovery, previously-approved permit approvals are retroactively rescinded, it endangers the survival of any surrounding local businesses already making operating plans based on that approval.
  • If significant density bonuses already paid to the city and promised for the preservation of agricultural land on the island have to be refunded, their benefits will be lost to the community.
  • If a matter already litigated in the County Superior Court is overturned at the city level, the additional legal expenses incurred by COBI, will unfortunately redirect taxpayer dollars that could otherwise help the island’s pandemic recovery, affordable housing, sustainable transportation, and other vital community efforts.

Without getting into the pros and cons of any specific project, the retroactive nature of City Council Ordinance 2021-03 as currently written has the potential to undermine general confidence in our island’s business structure at a time when economic recovery and the support of our local island businesses is of key importance.

We are concerned that this proposed ordinance is in opposition to other clear community goals such as creating a walkable business core in Winslow, planning and building sustainable transportation systems, and building a lively and diverse downtown area that serves both islanders and visitors alike.

As always, Michael, Andrea, Christine and I are all available for discussion around any of these points. It is our ongoing goal to work with City Council to better serve local businesses, residents and visitors for the common good of our island community.

Sincerely yours,

Stefan Goldby
Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce

Michael Goodnow
Executive Director
Bainbridge Island Downtown Association

Andrea Addington
Bainbridge Island Lodging & Hospitality Association

Christine Mueller
Executive Director
Visit Bainbridge Island