Category Archives: City Council

COUNCIL SCORECARD: Police promotions and LED lights


The street lights will stay on in Bremerton, and, city officials hope, they’ll save some money too. At a brisk meeting Wednesday night, the Bremerton City Council approved the retrofit of 531 street lights with LED technology, meaning they’ll last longer and require less maintenance.

The cost: $268,000. A state grant and a rebate from Puget Sound Energy drops the cost to the city to $140,000, which officials say will pay for itself in six years. The $194,000 installation cost will be paid to the Consolidated Electrical Distribution company, which has a Bremerton location.

You might remember the demonstration project on Dr. ML King Way that spurred the latest purchase, one spearheaded by Public Works Director Chal Martin. There are a total of 1,619 street lamps in the city, so many will still be of the traditional variety.

Also at Wednesday’s City Council meeting:

Lt. Mike Davis is sworn in by Bremerton Judge James Docter.
Lt. Mike Davis is sworn in by Bremerton Judge James Docter.

Sworn officers: Bremerton’s newest lieutenant, Mike Davis, was sworn into office Wednesday night. Davis, who grew up in Kitsap County, became a Bremerton officer in 1998; he’s trained fellow officers, instructed on defensive tactics, been a detective and K-9 officer and, more recently, was promoted to sergeant.

Put simply, Davis has been an integral part of criminal cases that jolted the community conscience — murders, assaults, the Arnold’s Fire and the killing of Buddy the police dog. Police Chief Steve Strachan read an email from retired Bremerton Police Sgt. Bill Endicott at the meeting, who said Davis would provide the “professional, ethical, and moral” tutelage for a new generation of officers.

Three sergeants — Tim Garrity, Aaron Elton and Keith Sargent — were promoted Wednesday. (And, as Strachan pointed out, that means the city now has a Sergeant Sargent.)

From left to right: new sergeants Aaron Elton, Keith Sargent and Tim Garrity are sworn in.

Also on Wednesday, Officer Jeff Schaefer was promoted to corporal (for background on the position, click here). Former Poulsbo Officer Jennifer Corn and former Bainbridge Island Officer Mike Tovar were sworn-in as new officers in Bremerton as well.

Chromium-6: Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent addressed new fears that the chemical has been found in unsafe levels in most every state in the country. She claimed Bremerton’s drinking water is well under federal limits. “We have a much lower (level) than current standards,” she said. To see the city’s water quality, click here.

Public Works Turmoil: Councilman Greg Wheeler talked about the investigations that led to discipline among personnel in the Public Works Department during his report. He said the Council learned of the investigations because the Kitsap Sun was set to publish a story, and that, though he’s the chairman of the City Council’s Public Works Committee, the situation was appropriately handled by Lent and the city’s administration.

He did add he was “very concerned about the morale of the city staff and our employees” and that he hoped to see more “communication and trust” being built. “This change starts at the top,” he said.

Beautify Bremerton: The annual city “Beautify Bremerton” day is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Residents here, as well as landlords, can take all yard waste free of charge to a disposal site near Legion Field off Sheridan Road. There’s also an army of volunteers and workers that will clean up parks and plazas around the city, including the Pat Carey Vista, Madrona Trails and medians near the Navy’s Farragut gate off Charleston Boulevard.

To see the full minutes and agenda of the City Council meeting, click here.

COUNCIL SCORECARD: Crosswalks and county disagreements

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Bremerton is ready for a HAWK signal, city leaders believe.

And what does that mean? The High-intensity activated crosswalk beacon is a fancy way of saying pedestrians are getting their own traffic light to cross Sixth Street at High Avenue (concept pictured).

Currently, you have to walk to either Veneta Avenue or Naval Avenue to find a safe place to cross there.

The pedestrian improvement is one of five around the city, totaling $688,000 in grant-funded projects. The Bremerton City Council approved a contractor to begin the work in July, with completion in September.

Another intersection, Kitsap Way and Harlow Drive, is due to get a crosswalk, “flashing beacon” to help with crossing and a pedestrian island in the middle of the road to make easier as well. There have been recent calls from Kitsap Lake Junction to get something to help with crossing the runway-sized street.   

More pedestrian improvements are coming to Kitsap Way and 11th Street, Charleston Boulevard and First Street and 11th Street and High Avenue.

Councilman Greg Wheeler, himself a frequent walker around town, praised the changes, which he says have “opened up opportunities” for pedestrians of all kinds to get around town.

“We’ve literally had a hard time getting folks safely across our city,” he said.

County coming to help with streets — but there’s a catch 


The most contentious issue on Wednesday’s agenda was two contracts with Kitsap County, respectively, to do road striping and paving.

That may sound like routine work, but city and county lawyers have for months been disagreeing over the language of the agreements to do the work. “The holdup has been indemnification language,” Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin told the Council.

Basically, the county, in doing the work, does not want to be held liable for anything that happens along the way, unless they are the “sole” cause of it.

Martin ultimately asked the Council to approve the contracts, even with the language. The reason: the re-striping of the city’s streets will cost about $60,000 if the county completes it. A private contract would run about $120,000 to $200,000, Martin told the Council.

That risk-reward equation divided the Council. Wheeler and Councilwomen Leslie Daugs and Pat Sullivan voted against it. The other four voted for it, so it barely passed, 4-3.

H. Emily remembered


Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent praised H. Emily Moshay, a longtime Bremerton advocate and volunteer, who passed away Tuesday night. (You can read the story I wrote about her here.)

“Our city is a better place for her having lived here,” Lent said.

Bike patrol working well

In his monthly report, Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan talked about how the department is ramping up its bicycle patrols.

The goal, he said, “is to contact people who may be causing problems in neighborhoods.”

Strachan said that in April and May, cops on bikes hit the streets of downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods. Officers made 50 arrests in two months, to go with 361 “contacts,” or face-to-face interactions.

“We’re hitting it very very hard,” Strachan said.

Councilman Jerry McDonald, who represents downtown and Manette, was appreciative of the efforts and hoped the department could do more.

“I know they’re making a difference out there,” he said.

Trees at Blueberry Park

A $7,500 grant from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources will fund the planting of 50 trees at Blueberry Park in East Bremerton, which the Council approved.

Retirement system needs more money

The City Council approved $544,000 for a contract with Regency BlueShield to pay for medical expenses not covered by Medicare for what are known as the city’s LEOFF 1 retirees.

These retirees from the city’s police and fire departments have medical expenses paid for in retirement. That changed in 1977 and now police and firefighters are covered under the LEOFF 2 plan, which does not fund health care in retirement.

The Associated Press did a three-part series on the LEOFF system, which you can read here.

Parking study moves ahead

The Council did not discuss the “most comprehensive” parking study in city history, as some have called it, but simply approved it through the consent agenda. To read more about the $110,000 study, click here.

Building codes updated

The City Council passed an updated building code Wednesday night as well. Jeannie Vaughn, the city’s building official, went over several changes, including one involving “utility basements.” Basically, owners who only use basements for utilities but seek to make them habitable for people must have an “escape” or “rescue opening”

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the full Council packet here.

Council scorecard: parking, pathways and passage of a big plan


The City Council passed its once-a-decade comprehensive plan Wednesday night, but that wasn’t what dominated a more than four hour meeting.

The main topic? Parking.

At issue were changes in the city’s zoning code, to include how many parking spaces developers of apartments must install per unit they build. The city’s planning commission had recommended 1/2 of a space for every unit at the city’s biggest population centers EXCEPT downtown. That means for every 100 units built, 50 parking spaces are needed at a minimum.

But the City Council had, at its Wednesday meeting a week ago, raised that to one space per unit (e.g. 100 units=at least 100 parking spaces). And the Council approved that new minimum tonight.

But there’s one exception to that rule: the city’s downtown area has required just 1/2 space since 2007 and it is staying that way for now. That was the main bone of contention for a number of small business owners and others in the crowd. Chase Linbo, manager of Game Wizard Blue Sky Hobbies on Fourth Street, said his business has enjoyed much success in the location. Except for one thing. 

“The only problem I have is parking,” he said.

He and others worried about the idea developers could put in just one half parking space per apartment unit, saying it would make parking problems downtown worse.

Others supported the 1/2 space minimum for the downtown area. Dale Sperling, who is building a nearly 50-unit project on Burwell Street, said his project would not pencil were it not for the 1/2 space minimum.

Even Seattle developer Mark Goldberg, who once built or tried to build a number of projects in Bremerton, stopped by to say he supported the minimum "1/2 spot" rule.
Even Seattle developer Mark Goldberg, who once built or tried to build a number of projects in Bremerton, stopped by to say he supported the minimum “1/2 spot” rule.

“We would not be developing that building if it had to be one spot per unit,” he said.

City Clerk Shannon Corin said a parking study is ongoing and should provide analysis for what the city can do about what one property owner called a “parking disaster.” Many in the audience, as well as several on the Council, said they’re waiting for the results before jumping to a final conclusion.

Many members of the Council acknowledged the parking problems downtown. But an upbeat Council President Eric Younger seemed to signal that it sure beat the alternative — a downtown with no one in it. “This is potentially a good problem to have,” he said.

I chronicled other zoning changes, including the resurrection of duplex construction in some areas, in this previous story.

Elsewhere in Wednesday’s Council meeting:

Tax Exemption: The Council extended the city’s multifamily property tax exemption. Downtown developers could already access eight years without property taxes for building there and 12 years if a percentage of the units met the definition of “affordable.” In a unanimous vote, the Council voted to extend the exemption beyond downtown to areas like Charleston, Wheaton Way, and other more dense areas of the city called its “centers.”

Grass in the new portion of Evergreen-Rotary Park is growing in; a new path will run along its waterfront.
Grass in the new portion of Evergreen-Rotary Park is growing in; a new path will run along its waterfront.

Pathway Extension: The Rotary Club of downtown Bremerton donated $20,000 Wednesday night to build a new 350-foot waterfront pathway at Evergreen-Rotary Park. I had previously asked Colette Berna, the parks department’s preservation and development manager, about the work. She said it will connect a new waterfront outlook — where the old pump station used to be — to the city’s 9/11 Memorial. About $17,000 in federal funding is also being pursued to complete sidewalks in the area of the new portion of the park, Berna said.

If you’ve been down to the newest portion of the park lately, you know the grass is growing in well. For background on the project connecting the old park to the new, click here.

Crime stat suspicions: During Police Chief Steve Strachan’s monthly report, he noted arrested were up, from 179 in April 2014 to 212 to April 2016. He again chalked that up to a number of warrants for failing to appear in court on previous charges. Some other crimes were increasing too, including trespassing, which rose from 18 reported incidents in April 2014 to 45 in April 2016.

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Comprehensive Plan fruition: Last, but not least, the City Council tonight passed the Comprehensive Plan, a roadmap for growth in the next 20 years. The city is continuing its “centers” concept, encouraging more dense growth in certain areas — Charleston, Manette, downtown, Eastside (where the hospital is now), Wheaton Way and the Puget Sound Industrial Center near the airport.

The city expects 14,000 people and 19,000 more jobs to be located in Bremerton in 2036, city planner Allison Satter told the Council Wednesday.

A number of changes are being made to the comprehensive plan regarding land use. Satter described the changes Wednesday night as a simpler regulatory framework — “Tangible, readable, and comprehensible” — than the plan that precedes it.

More to come. For the entire agenda Wednesday, click here.

Bremerton has a new auditor


There’s a new city auditor in town. Jennifer Sims, a local forensic accountant, will take on the job of conducting audits of all kinds of facets of the city government.

The Bremerton City Council approved her hiring at their regular Wednesday meeting.

Sims. (via LinkedIn)

“I thought it would be challenging work,” Sims told me last week, adding later: “Maybe I can help to save Bremerton some money.”

Sims takes over for Gary Nystul, the former auditor of more than a decade, who quit following the City Council’s decision to reduce the role from 40 hours a week to 16.

Sims, 55, has a small forensic accounting firm she runs from her home west of Bremerton. She has two decades of experience “calculating economic damages in litigation and insurance, with an emphasis on lost profits/business interruption, construction damages, lost rents, personal injury wage losses, and economic losses resulting from fraud,” according to her LinkedIn profile. She also worked as an internal auditor for the state of Alaska.

“She has an extensive resume, and strong and broad experience to bring to the role,” said Leslie Daugs, the Bremerton City Councilwoman who serves as chair of the city’s audit committee and who oversaw her hiring.

The reduction of hours was not a problem for Sims, who will also remain in private practice.

The position had gotten a lot of attention from Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and the City Council in recent years. Here’s why, from the article I wrote about Nystul’s retirement:

Nystul, also a Poulsbo City Councilman, has served in the position since 2003. In recent years, his position was increasingly scrutinized by Mayor Patty Lent and some members of the City Council, who felt that the position was outdated and that outside organizations could perform more specialized and productive audits.

The auditor is unique in the state and within the city’s government. Called for by the city’s charter, the auditor does not answer to the mayor or council but to a five-person committee — two council members, two city residents and a certified public accountant. They alone have the power to set the auditor’s agenda and hire or fire one.

For more about the position, click here. I will be interested to find out what the new auditor decides to pursue first.

Lent, city leaders journey to Japan

Bremerton dignitaries arrive in Kure, Japan.
Bremerton dignitaries arrive in Kure, Japan.

You may have noticed Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent hasn’t been in her office this lately. In fact, she isn’t even on this continent. Early last week, she led a local delegation to Kure, Japan, Bremerton’s sister city.

It’s a tradition that dates back 47 years, following a call from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to establish “people-to-people” partnerships including sister cities. The Lions Clubs of both Kure and Bremerton formally established ties in 1969. Since then, 153 exchange students have gone to Kure from Bremerton for the summer; 153 from Kure have also come here.

Every five years, a delegation from Kure comes to Bremerton and in the same time period, a delegation from Bremerton goes to Japan. Kure’s delegation was last here in 2014; Bremerton was to go last year but Kure officials asked them to wait so that their new city hall building could be completed.

Kure is much bigger than Bremerton — about 228,000 people live there compared with our own 39,000 — but they’re both communities with a rich shipyard history.

“It’s vibrant, it’s exciting, and it’s really a cultural exchange both cities benefit from,” Lent said by phone from Kure this past week.

No city tax money was spent on the trip — everyone paid out of their own pocket, according to Elaine Valencia, the mayor’s executive assistant.

Along with the mayor, City Council President Eric Younger, City Councilwoman Pat Sullivan and Bremerton Water Resources Manager Kathleen Cahall are among those in the delegation. Both Younger and Sullivan hosted exchange students in recent years. A number of Bremerton Lions Club members are also in attendance.

Lent, who also spent time at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka on the trip, will return home toward the end of this week, along with the others.

COUNCIL SCORECARD: Car tab fees, police pursuits & March madness


The Bremerton City Council voted on three items Wednesday evening that might not be front page news. But they will have an impact on how government business is done in the city and county. 

Here are the three items the Council passed:

Taxicab regulations: Bremerton City Attorney Roger Lubovich introduced two updates to the city’s taxicab regulatory framework, passed in 2014. First, the city will not be regulating “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft. And second, the police chief now has the authority to immediately suspend a cab license without an appeal period. Lubovich said that was necessary to get the driver off the streets should public safety be threatened.

“If we have an incident — a public safety issue — we need to be able to revoke that immediately,” he said.

RESULT: Passed unanimously.

CenCom changes to Kitsap 911: As you may have read in the Kitsap Sun recently, CenCom (or Kitsap County Central Communications) is becoming Kitsap 911. The county’s dispatch service is becoming a standalone agency separate from Kitsap County. Like other agencies that use the dispatch services, that involves moving assets to Kitsap 911 so the switch can occur.

Councilman Greg Wheeler noted that the public will notice no change to 911.

“Everything you’ve come to expect will remain the same,” he said.

RESULT: Passed unanimously.

Car tab fees: The Bremerton City Council is the board which oversees the pot of money that is our accumulated $20 car tab fees. But under state law, the Council had to hold a separate meeting of something called the Transportation Benefit District board to discuss the funds and how to use them. No more. In a vote Wednesday, the Council has effectively merged the benefit district with the Council itself.

Councilman Dino Davis, who serves as chairman of the benefit district board, hailed the move. He said the benefit district was “redundant.”

“More government and more boards … just make for more work for an already overtaxed staff,” he said.

RESULT: Passed unanimously.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting:

Fisher’s departure: The Council bid adieu to Bremerton Police Lt. Pete Fisher, who is taking the job as Fife Police Chief. I have a full profile of Fisher here.

Strachan with Fisher.

The curbs are coming: Mayor Patty Lent acknowledged that this year, all of the curb ramps at intersections on Warren Avenue and Wheaton Way will be replaced and modernized. The state is doing the work in preparation for repaving the thoroughfare — Highway 303 — in 2017. I have more background on this process here.

Chief’s report: Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan produced some interesting statistics. Arrests are up in the city from 155 in the month of February 2014 to 210 this past February. He blamed many of those on offenders who skipped court dates (therefore they’re not new crimes). Thefts ticked up in the same period in the city though, from 39 in February 2014 to 53 last month.

Strachan also pointed out police are stepping up efforts at the intersection of 6th Street and Park Avenue. Between January and early March, there had already been 11 assaults there.

Strachan introduced his department’s professional standards report, which documents officer discipline and use of force, among other things. He noted the department has adopted a more strict policy when pursuing eluding vehicles — basically they can chase someone by vehicle suspected of a violent felony. He does not believe the chases are safe on city streets, and Bremerton has the most strict of pursuit policies. The numbers showed what that can do: pursuits were down from 21 in 2014 to 8 last year. You can read the whole report here.

Quote of the night: The honor goes to Mayor Patty Lent. In describing a Puget Sound Energy outage map app, Lent described our recent stormy weather this way: “March madness. It isn’t just basketball.”   


In Bremerton, a license to cat?

Grover in unlicensed times.

I must admit, I was feeling some guilt at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting. On the agenda was a new contract for service with the Kitsap Humane Society, part of which included a new “lifetime” license for cats and dogs. Owners of such pets are required to have them licensed each year.

And then it hit me. I had become a scofflaw.

My wife and I adopted Grover, our precious 007-like tuxedo cat, from the humane society in 2009. The organization was a different place then; our cat was sleeping in a litter box when we came upon him. Euthanasia rates, now at 2.5 percent, were closer to 50 percent back in those days. But I recall walking out the door with our new kitty, having licensed him for a nominal fee.

Kitsap Humane Society Executive Director Eric Stevens explained to the Council Wednesday that a new “lifetime” fee — $25 for cats and $45 for dogs — would make it easier for pet owners by eliminating a $12.50 annual fee for dogs and $7.50 for cats.

I hadn’t paid for our license since that fateful day we adopted our kitty. I didn’t know it but I was skirting the law!

Upon hearing the news, Grover — who we named for America’s 22nd and 24th president — just gave me a blank stare. I tried to convince him this was a big deal, but he wasn’t interested in much else other than a tummy rub.

My cat’s lackadaisical attitude made me wonder: what good is a pet license for him, anyway? And how many other pet owners out there had also failed to keep up their licenses?

Hiding in plain sight.
Hiding in plain sight.

First, take the number of cats and dogs that reside in Bremerton. While impossible to quantify exactly, Stevens said most communities average two pets per household. Thus, with 26,000 households, that puts our pet population somewhere around 52,000.

Roughly five to 10 percent of those are licensed.

“So we’ve got a little way to go on our licensing?” Councilman Dino Davis asked Stevens on Wednesday.

Stevens said that 820 licenses were issued for Bremerton pets in 2015, an increase of 63 percent. That’s still a far cry from covering all pets in the city, he acknowledged, but he anticipates the number rising higher with the new “lifetime” option. Plus, more people are choosing to adopt from shelters, and animals that leave there must be licensed, he added.

But what’s the point? Stevens said licensing makes it easier to return pets to their rightful owners if they get lost. He called it a kind of “insurance policy.”

The Council approved Wednesday a new contract with the humane society to handle animal control services. The contract, which goes through 2020, increases two percent each year, from $202,000 to almost $219,000 annually.

Licensing revenues go to the humane society, not the city. You can register your pet online here. I know I plan to get Grover properly licensed — and back within the confines of the law — myself.

COUNCIL SCORE CARD: A new cop and a new president

In case you missed it, here’s three highlights from Wednesday night’s city council meeting, the first of the year. 


New cop on the beat

Derek Ejde was sworn in as the city’s newest police officer (pictured). The North Kitsap High School graduate’s brother Jordan is already a Bremerton officer, and their father, Andrew Ejde, was a longtime Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy. I did a story on the brothers in November, which you can read here.


New Council president

Councilman Greg Wheeler had been president for two three years. But on Wednesday night, he nominated Councilman Eric Younger for the job, and the vote was unanimous. Councilman Dino Davis was sworn in as the Council’s vice president.

What does it mean to be the Council’s president? The president, it goes without saying, is the Council’s leader — he or she runs the meetings, appoints members to committees and monitors and approves business on the Council’s agenda.

“I certainly have big shoes to fill,” Younger said of his predecessor.

Wheeler, who retired from the shipyard this past year, is contemplating a run for mayor in 2017. Mayor Patty Lent said she intends to run, setting up a possible showdown between the two for the city’s top job.

Spyglass Hill.
Spyglass Hill.

Developing stories

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent presented a laundry list of projects occurring around Bremerton in 2016, including the new Chung’s Teriyaki restaurant, Spyglass Hill apartments, Carl’s Jr. restaurant and several others. She mentioned that Bremerton’s community development department issued a record 683 permits worth $81 million in projects in the city in 2015. She also noted that 40 of the 71 units of the new 606 Apartments in downtown Bremerton have been rented.

Lent also predicted she’d work well with the Council in 2016.

“We’re going to be in stride and marching to the same drumbeat,” she said.

She also introduced interim Bremerton Parks Director Jeff Elevado. Elevado, who replaces a retired Wyn Birkenthal, has been with the parks department in 1981.

“We do have our challenges, but we find ways to get things done,” Elevado said.

Beat Blast: 5 things you must know in Bremerton this week

In this Bremerton beat blast, we journey to the end of Pacific Avenue, in search of the city’s newest pop-up store. (Spolier alert: We find it!)

In this week’s edition, you will learn:

1. What pop-up businesses are invading Bremerton?
2. Where can you spot Santa this Friday?
3. What cuts are the Bremerton City Council planning to make?
4. Where will Bremerton’s newest arcade be located?
5. Where can I take a free Bremerton history tour Saturday?

As always, let me know what you think. Oh, and see you Friday at Winterfest, Magic in Manette, and more!



Beat blast: 5 stories you’ve gotta know in Bremerton this week

Here’s your three minute news update for the week in Bremerton. In the video above, you’ll learn:

  1. What Bremerton road will soon get a $5 million makeover?
  2. What park is getting expanded?
  3. Who may be to blame for too much saltwater in the sewers?
  4. The City Council’s change to utility taxes
  5. What brewery opens in Bremerton Friday


This week’s blast was filmed on location at LoveCraft Brewery, 275 Fifth Street, and includes an interview with the owners.

Comments or suggestions? Send them to me at