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Reporter Ethan Fowler engages island residents in a conversation about their community.
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Posts Tagged ‘city council’

City Council noticing proliferation of sandwich boards

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Photo by Ethan Fowler / Special to the Kitsap Sun A pedestrian crosses Ericksen Avenue as he walks along Winslow Way next to a number of business sandwich boards.

Photo by Ethan Fowler / Special to the Kitsap Sun
A pedestrian crosses Ericksen Avenue as he walks along Winslow Way next to a number of business sandwich boards.

Even though last month the Bainbridge City Council pleased Winslow Way merchants with the process it and the city took in updating an ordinance for the retail use of sidewalks for cafes and displays, the City Council is still keeping a close eye on the seemingly growing use of sandwich boards by island businesses.

At the July 21 meeting, council member Steve Bonkowski wanted to add an item under council discussion about sandwich boards since a number of people had made comments about the influx of sandwich boards and trees advertising a hospital on public land. Bonkowski said he would refrain from talking about the use of the trees for another time and would focus the discussion on sandwich boards.

“At least to me, there are a lot more (sandwich boards) than I ever envisioned possible,” Bonkowski said. “It’s almost as if we’re deforesting the island to make sandwich boards.”

Bonkowski said it appeared there were two different varieties of sandwich boards: ones that advertise to consumers to “come on in” and others that direct the locations of businesses.

City Manager Doug Schulze said that on July 21 that the city’s Code Compliance officer found 39 signs from Madison Avenue, along Winslow Way, to State Route 305 with two violations. On July 18, the Code Compliance officer found 43 signs and only two violations for multiple signs that were off-site.

Schulze said he’s aware businesses use sandwich boards also on High School Road.

During the recent economic downturn, Schulze said cities often gave businesses more latitude on sandwich boards for advertising. Schulze also used a PowerPoint presentation to show the City Council some examples of how cities, including Seattle, use uniform directional signs to direct people to businesses.

“It doesn’t look like it’s a matter of people not complying with the current ordinance, it looks like it’s just what the current ordinance allows,” Schulze said. “What I would suggest is we look at the (sign) ordinance, but at the same time that we’re working with the businesses so that we can find some solutions that can work with the businesses as well. Rather than just looking at eliminating the signage.”

Bonkowski then asked Schulze whether something could be done this summer to impact the issue.

“I think it would be pretty difficult to get something constructed and installed that quickly,” Schulze said. “But, I think, certainly for next summer, it’s a reasonable timeframe.”

Council member Wayne Roth noted there are city directories in the Bainbridge ferry terminal and Columbia Bank that are updated, already in place and providing solutions to the situation. Roth said he’s used them many times with tourists who needed help finding food and clothing locations.

“There’s always been – old Winslow Way/new Winslow Way – some sandwich boards somewhere,” Roth said. “But it is now that everyone has one out and ‘Now I need one, too, (philosophy)’ and it has gotten to be … hard to find a business without one.”

Schulze said he planned to have a discussion with the business community about sandwich boards in the near future and revisit the issue with the City Council possibly as early as September.

Any change in the city’s sign ordinance would require public hearings.


Roth voted City Council’s new deputy mayor

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Starting in July, Wayne Roth will replace Val Tollefson as the Bainbridge Island City Council’s deputy mayor following an unanimous vote on the motion by the council at a recent meeting.

“In six months, you’ll look as old as I do,” Tollefson joked after the vote.

The deputy mayor is a six-month rotating position among council members, Tollefson said.

Roth, Tollefson and Roger Townsend were all elected to four-year terms to the council by voters in November 2013.


Paulson lawsuit moves to March 24 hearing

Monday, February 17th, 2014

By Ethan Fowler
Special to the Kitsap Sun
PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton denied a motion to dismiss a Public Records Act complaint Friday and forced a hearing to determine whether the act was violated for 9 a.m. March 24.
The Public Records Act (PRA) complaint by plaintiffs Althea Paulson, a political blogger for her website Bainbridge Notebook, and Bob Fortner, a self-described community watchdog, alleges two current Council members, Steve Bonkowski and David Ward, along with former Council member Debbie Lester, used personal email accounts to conduct city business last year about the water utility.
In January, Lester was dropped from the amended complaint.
“I made (Judge Dalton) an argument that she hadn’t even thought about,” said Dan Mallove, attorney for the plaintiffs and Paulson’s husband, after 31-minute hearing. “The essence of the argument was when the council members refused to allow inspection of the hard drives of their personal computers, they were placing their own individual interests ahead of the community because they’re exposing the city to liability if there are responsive public documents on their computers and they’re not produced. And that’s a violation of the PRA.
“If they are placing their own individual interest ahead of the city and they’re wrong, then they should be personally liable for that, not the city.”
As she was leaving the courthouse following the hearing, attorney Jessica Goldman, who represents Ward and Bonkowski, said the March 24 hearing was “unwarranted.” According to her motion to dismiss filing, Goldman said the city did “conduct an adequate search and provided reasonably timely access to the requested public records.”
Mallove said Lester produced more than 100 documents, and Ward and Bonkowski fewer than 10 documents. In phone interviews Monday, Bonkowski confirmed Mallove’s document figure, but Ward said he had submitted “substantially more than 10 documents.”
“They were party to scores of these emails that Lester produced,” Mallove said. “We’re looking for the complete thread of the conversation and how do we know what’s not being produced. The public is at a disadvantage because we don’t know what’s out there.”
Dalton told both sides in the case that she thought the March 24 hearing could require a half day in court.


City Council moving toward switching meetings to Tuesdays

Friday, January 31st, 2014

By Ethan Fowler

Special to the Kitsap Sun

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – The seven members of Bainbridge’s City Council
unanimously moved in a direction to change its weekly meeting date
from Wednesdays to Tuesdays at its all-day retreat held at the
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art Jan. 24.

New council member Val Tollefson first broached the idea of changing
the day the Council meets at the Jan. 15 meeting. He cited the change
would allow more time for city staff to do Council work since there’d
be more days to work before weekends and that council members would be
able to read agendas on weekends.

At the retreat, Council member David Ward said he thought the current
day of Wednesday was “horrible” due to the challenges it causes when
he needs to book flights around it due to his work.

Mayor Anne Blair said before the day the Council meets could change,
it would have to be formalized through a vote at an upcoming meeting
because the date is set by an ordinance. Prior to meeting on
Wednesdays starting in 2002, the Council met on Thursdays from
1991-2001, on Mondays from 1965 to 1991 and on Tuesdays from 1947 to
1965, City Clerk Roz Lassoff said.

In addition to changing when the Council meets, the Council also
talked about possibly moving the location of its work sessions to
various centers around the island and conducting those meetings at
tables instead of their elevated Council seats. This would promote a
“more free flow” and exchange of ideas, Council member Roger Townsend said.

The Council also discussed the projects it wanted to complete by the
end of 2014 with moderator Patrick Ibarra, who traveled from
Glendale, Ariz. Looking at the priorities through lenses of “must,”
“need” and “nice,” the Council’s projects included:

–  Shoreline Management Program

–  Biennium budget

–  Comprehensive Plan (land use)

–  Completing all the road projects

–  Transportation Master Plan draft

–  Waterfront Park plan completed and agreed upon

–  Telecommunications ordinance passed with relationships with
companies to improve the island’s cell phone service

–  Agriculture ordinance, possibly to include marijuana and trees

–  Plans to address city workforce demographics

“This is a lot of work,” Ibarra told the Council at the conclusion of
the eight-hour meeting. “You’re setting yourself up for a big year.”


Bob Bosserman withdraws from Bainbridge City Council race

Friday, July 5th, 2013

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — Bob Bosserman is withdrawing his candidacy for Bainbridge Island City Council.

Bosserman announced his decision in a statement Friday. The former Utility Advisory Committee member was running against Roger Townsend and Dee McComb for the South Ward position. Bosserman is now endorsing Townsend for the post. In his statement, Bosserman said he believes Townsend shares his “progressive and environmental” principles.

The South Ward position is currently held by Kirsten Hytopoulos, who is not seeking reelection. Hytopoulos is Bosserman’s niece by marriage.


Lester won’t seek reelection to City Council

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

20091103-222517-pic-898493243_t120Bainbridge City Councilwoman Debbi Lester will not seek reelection, the Central Ward representative announced Wednesday.

Lester’s announcement leaves three positions on the council up for grabs this year. Kirsten Hytopoulos and Bob Scales also have terms expiring at the end of the year and have said they will not seek reelection. Candidate filing week is May 13-17.

Lester joined the council in 2010. She served as mayor last year.

In an email Wednesday, Lester said she decided to step aside to encourage new voices on the council. She said the city has reached “an incredible moment,” with the hiring of Manager Doug Schulze, new police chief Matthew Hamner, and a number of projects and policy revisions coming to fruition.

You can read Lester’s full letter below: (more…)


Gun control resolution on City Council agenda

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Update: The city passed the resolution Wednesday with a vote of 5-1. David Ward voted against. Steve Bonkowski was absent. 

The City Council will decide Wednesday whether to add its voice to the national conversation on gun control.

The council is set to consider a resolution advocating the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons, a federal ban of high-capacity ammunition clips, and state and federal legislation requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. You can read the full resolution here.

blog.vigil

If approved, the resolution will be sent to the island’s state and congressional representatives. It would not change any regulations within the city.

Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos introduced the resolution after hearing from islanders about a need to take action on gun violence issues in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting. A number of cities have passed similar resolutions, she said.

“I feel pretty confident in the values of the community and what I’ve heard,” Hytopoulos said at a Jan. 9 council meeting. “I feel pretty comfortable bringing this forward, I think it’s not considered controversial by most in this community.”

The council will also consider a resolution supporting a countywide tax to pay for mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs, and a resolution endorsing a letter by regional mayors advocating increased transportation funding at the state level.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

Bainbridge Sportsmen’s Club President Alan Kasper distributed an open letter to the council detailing his stance on the issue. You can read Kasper’s letter here (PDF), and feel free to offer your own thoughts in the comment section.

Photo: Sharla Musabih of North Kitsap holds a candle at a prayer vigil organized at Battle Point Park Dec. 15, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. (Tad Sooter photo)


Quick facts on the Bainbridge bag ban

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The island’s ban on plastic shopping bags begins Thursday. We’ve posted some of the basics below. Let us know what you think of the bag ban by taking our poll below or leaving a comment.

Why a bag ban?

The City Council unanimously approved the bag ban this spring as a way of reducing litter and unnecessary waste, while promoting reusable bags. Bainbridge is the fifth Washington city to ban plastic bags and the first in Kitsap County. Seattle banned plastic shopping bags in July.

What are the rules?

Starting Thursday, retailers are no longer allowed to provide those thin, single-use plastic bags at checkout. Paper bags will still be available, but the ordinance requires retailers to charge 5 cents for larger paper bags (this doesn’t apply to qualifying low income shoppers).

There are a few exceptions to the ban. Plastic bags are allowed for restaurant take-out food, produce, greeting cards, small hardware items, newspapers, dry cleaning and waste.

What stores does this apply to?

Short answer: All of them. This ban applies to all retailers across the island, not just supermarkets. It also applies to farmers markets and vendors  at festivals. Food banks can still use plastic bags.

Where can I get reusable bags?

Reusable bags are available at island grocery stores and some other retailers. The city is handing out a cloth “Bainbridge Bag” tonight during the Winslow trick-or-treat event from 4-6 p.m, and at the library and City Hall starting Thursday.

Where can I get more information?

The city has more details and links on its Sustainable Practices page. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty, you can read the ordinance here. Watch for a full bag ban story Thursday in the Kitsap Sun.

What do you think of the Bainbridge plastic bag ban?

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Photo credit: Larry Steagall/Staff Photo


Riding with the Bainbridge mountain bike team

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The Bainbridge High mountain bike team pedals through the Grand Forest on Mar. 21. Photo: Larry Steagall.

A few weeks ago, when I looked into doing a story on Bainbridge High School’s newly-formed mountain bike team, its coach, Gordon Black, was quick to suggest I come to a Wednesday practice and bring my bike along.

I immediately cast that idea to the side. I’d have a City Council meeting at around the same time, and I couldn’t show up muddy and sweaty to a place as decorous and dignified as Bainbridge City Hall. But then a fight broke out during a recent council meeting, and I figured ‘what the heck. If the politicians can practice hand-to-hand combat, why can’t the reporters show up covered in mud?’

I mountain bike fairly regularly, but not at this team’s pace. I’m also not accustomed to the rollicking, narrow pathways they take in Grand Forest Park. There were plenty of sharp turns, steep slopes, crisscrossing tree roots and muddy patches that can instantly rob a bike of all its hard-fought momentum.

I showed up to the practice with a mountain bike a guy at an island bike shop once playfully ridiculed as a “Mad Max” bike. It’s made from mostly scavenged, bartered and donated bits and pieces. Its best part – the front shocks – were yanked from some ivy behind a church in Bremerton. Nothing really syncs up well thanks to the mismatched components and my own happy-go-lucky approach to bike assembly.

Black yelled for me to shift to an easier gear on our first hill. “You’ve got to shift, Tristan! You’re going to kill yourself!” Little did he know that steep-slope shifting on the Mad Max leads only to chain derailment.

(more…)


Editorial cartoonist weighs in on Bauer firing

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Here’s editorial cartoonist Milt Priggee‘s take on City Manager Brenda Bauer’s sudden firing this week.


Knobloch gets restraining order, says he was punched in City Hall tussle

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Knobloch

Dashiell

Former city councilman Bill Knobloch obtained a restraining order against former council candidate Robert Dashiell after the pair scuffled at last night’s emotionally-charged council meeting.

Knobloch is considering filing formal assault charges against Dashiell, who has twice run for council. The pair have never run against each other but say they dislike each other passionately. They are sharply divided over City Manager Brenda Bauer, who was fired just before the fight broke out.

Dashiell said he was served with Knobloch’s restraining order at around 11 a.m. today. He vowed to file his own restraining order against Knobloch tomorrow.

“We’re both former Navy commanders; we both have egos; we don’t like each other,” Dashiell said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

Knobloch, who declined to discuss the fight on Wednesday, said today that Dashiell blocked his exit from the council chamber and then punched him in the jaw.

“He sucker punched me,” Knobloch said. “I said ‘don’t try that again,’ and then he went at me with both hands up and pushed me.”

Dashiell denies punching Knobloch. He said it was Knobloch who made the first move.

“I said to Bill Knobloch ‘you finally got what you wanted,’ and he said something like ‘I almost got what I wanted, a**hole’ and pushed his finger under my chin,” Dashiell said on Wednesday night, shortly after police were called to City Hall. Dashiell says Knobloch pushed his finger upward, forcing Dashiell’s head back. In response, he shoved Knobloch, who fell over a table near the chamber’s exit.

Former councilwoman Debbie Vann was knocked to the floor during the scuffle.

Police made no arrests on Wednesday and advised the men to stay at least five feet apart.

Knobloch and Dashiell said they made a “gentleman’s agreement” not to make a big deal of the fight.

But Knobloch says Dashiell broke the agreement when he detailed the fight to me last night. After reading Dashiell’s account in the Bainbridge Conversation, Knobloch decided to seek a restraining order.

“He’s always been after me,” he said, referring to Dashiell’s frequent criticisms of him in online newspaper and blog comment sections.

The restraining order means Dashiell must stay 500 feet away from Knobloch.

“That means we can’t be at (city) meetings together, and if I’m at the grocery store and he comes in, then I have to leave,” Dashiell said.

Dashiell said he won’t seek charges against Knobloch. That is, unless Knobloch seeks charges against him.

“It’s tit for tat,” he said.


UPDATED: Bainbridge city manager fired, scuffle breaks out

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Update: Click here for my expanded coverage of the meeting.

In a surprise move, the City Council decided to immediately fire City Manager Brenda Bauer, sending her home in the middle of Wednesday night’s council meeting.

Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith was appointed acting city manager. The council estimates it may take six months before a new city manager is hired.

The city had decided in late January to terminate Bauer’s contract, but had planned to keep her on for a few months while the council looked for her replacement.

Bauer’s sudden exit means she’ll get a bigger payout from the city. Her severance package had included $75,000 plus six months worth of benefits. Having her leave before the 90-day transition period ends means she’ll get an additional $37,500.

“The council felt this was in the best interest of the city,” Councilman David Ward said when asked about the decision to have Bauer leave early. He and other council members declined to say anything more specific.

Ward made the motion for Bauer’s immediate firing. Council members Sarah Blossom, Debbi Lester and Steve Bonkowski supported the motion. Council members Anne Blair, Kirsten Hytopoulos and Bob Scales voted against.

Hytopoulos said the move to fire Bauer was “shocking and embarrassing.” She added that the council has become “negative, paranoid and broken.”

A scuffle broke out in the council chamber shortly after the vote was taken. Former city council candidate Robert Dashiell exchanged angry words with former councilman Bill Knobloch over Bauer’s firing. Dashiell said Knobloch pushed his chin with a finger and that he responded with a shove. Knobloch said Dashiell did more than shove him, but would not say more. Police were called but no arrests were made.


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