Category Archives: Government Process

What the heck is a code city? And why should Port Orchard care?

The Port Orchard City Council will hold a public forum Tuesday on a proposal to change the way it conducts business.

Becoming a “code city” would give the council more local control and flexibility in running the city’s business, said Pat Mason, legal consultant for the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, a nonprofit providing research and information to local governments. Residents probably would not notice the change, Mason added.

The handful of people who were at the last month’s meeting at which the topic was reviewed, however, expressed apprehension that the change could give the council too much unchecked power. The council, in the interest of transparency, decided to hold the forum before taking any action.

After the forum Tuesday, the council will consider a resolution initiating the switch to a code code. Residents would have 90 days to submit a petition against making the change.

The proposal has nothing to do with an idea Mayor Lary Coppola floated in March to change from a mayor-council form of government to a council-city manager model.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 216 Prospect St., Port Orchard.

Mayor Patty Lent called to jury duty

“I have been trying to get on jury duty every year since I was 18 years old. To get to go sit in an air conditioned room, downtown, judging people, while my lunch is paid for…that is the life.” — Stanley, The Office

The cranky take exception to the term “public service.” Sometimes I’m cranky. It’s not the “public” part, it’s the “service,” mostly when it’s a full-time job.

Jury duty, though, is something I think almost always merits the description, because even if we get paid the same as we would for doing our jobs, I don’t know many people who would want to do it for a living.

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent didn’t. She was one of 49 who showed up out of the 55 who were summoned for jury duty last week. They filled out a questionnaire answering basic questions. About eight were dismissed for hardship reasons.

Lent herself tried to get out of it, saying her duties as mayor might prevent her from serving.

Judge Anna Laurie disagreed, however, telling Lent the summons she received was the same as everyone else’s. So Lent spent much of Monday, Wednesday and Thursday waiting. She said they advise jurors to bring a book.

On Thursday Lent’s number was called. The attorneys had the opportunity to dismiss some potential jurors. A defense attorney showed Lent the door.

By then Lent was glad Laurie had her stick around. “At first I was sorry they didn’t just let me go at the first,” she said. Now she’s planning to send thank-you letters.

“It was an amazing education,” she said.

That education included what responsibilities lie with attorneys from both sides. It also gave her a glimpse of reality that doesn’t show up on television when cases are concluded in an hour.

I was called to jury duty once when I lived in Poulsbo. I was instructed to call the courthouse every day for a week to see if I needed to go to Port Orchard and actually report. I did that until they told me to stop.

Heads Up on the Agenda


Port Orchard
10 a.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at 619 Division St. to discuss legislative matters and a loan to the Village Green Metropolitan Park District. In between, there will be an executive session on existing litigation. (The board’s afternoon meeting has been cancelled.)

6 p.m.: The Port of Manchester Board of Commissioners will meet at the Manchester Water District’s office on Spring Street. (The library where the board usually meets is still under repair.)


10 a.m.: The Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners will meet at the port’s administrative office, 8850 SW Highway 3.

Port Orchard
7 p.m.: The Port Orchard City Council will conduct a meeting with initiating parties regarding the proposed McCormick East annexation, at city hall 216 Prospect St.

Port Orchard
8:30 a.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioner will meet for an agenda review (March 14 meeting) and information sharing. The meeting will end with an executive session on real estate matters.

5:30 p.m.: The Bremerton City Council will meet in the first floor council chambers of the Norm Dicks Government Center.

7 p.m.: The Poulsbo City Council will meet at city hall, 200 Moe St.

Debate over state symbol is for the birds

A bill that would change Washington State’s official bird from the willow goldfinch to the great blue heron is clearly a debate that pits the bark-eaters, like me, against the farm boys, like reporter Ed Friedrich.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The goldfinch’s main natural habitats are weedy fields and floodplains, where plants such as thistles and asters are common. They’re also found in cultivated areas, roadsides, orchards, and backyards.”

Friedrich, who grew up in South Kitsap back in the old days when it was still largely rural, said he used to see them all the time in the fields of his youth.

I live in the woods of South Kitsap and spend a lot of time walking outdoors. I can’t say I’d know a goldfinch if it flew smack into me. They don’t come to our feeders. The heck with them.

The term “bark-eaters,” by the way, originated with former Arts & Entertainment editor Deborah Woolston, who once referred to South Kitsap as “land of the bark-eaters.”

Back on topic, I’d like to know how the heck the goldfinch was chosen as our state bird in the first place.

There’s nothing about the bird that says, “Washington State.” Its range is widespread, again from the Cornell Lab: pretty much all of North America. The map actually shows the gold finch is more often sighted in the Midwest and on the East Coast, than in the west.

The goldfinch is so common, in fact, that it’s also the state bird of Iowa and New Jersey … New Jersey! And, yes, Jim Dunwiddie, I know there’s more to your former home state than the New Jersey Turnpike.

Another thing that’s just wrong about having the goldfinch as our state bird is that, according to the Cornell Lab map (first linked page), the bird pretty much vacates Washington in the summer (I may be misinterpreting the map, and am sure to hear from nitpicking birdwatchers on this).

Now, about the heron. It’s a beautiful bird, plentiful around Puget Sound beaches. It’s graceful in flight and great at stabbing things with its beak, which is, like, a ninja skill of the bird world.

By the way, have you ever noticed how they always name developments after the critters that used to be there before the houses went in? I used to live near Heron Ridge, before it was Heron Ridge. Herons used to roost in the woods, scores of them. It was quite a sight. I’m sure they’ve found other places to roost. I wonder if they still pack together like that. Maybe you birdwatchers out there can help me out.

Now I’m starting to sound like Ed Friedrich talking about road kill.

It seems like the great blue heron better represents the Puget Sound region than any other area of the state. So probably the best thing about this bill is that it’ll give the folks in Western Washington and Eastern Washington something to argue about besides ferries.

Next I think we ought to mess with the state fossil, which is currently the Columbian Mammoth. Any nominations for a replacement?

In fact, lets just redo the entire list. Have at it:
State flower:
State tree:
State bird:
State song:
State gem:
State dance:
State folk song:
State fruit:
State grass:
State tartan:
State insect:
State fossil:
State marine mammal:
State vegetable:
State amphibian:
State ship:
State endemic mammal:

Bonus Taxing Capacity, Deja Vu

I just wanted to call out a part of my story this week on a proposed merger between South Kitsap Fire and Rescue and the Bremerton Fire Department.

According to Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, there is the possibility, repeat possibility, that the merger could produce something called bonus taxing capacity for the city of Bremerton. Many variables go into calculating the city’s maximum allowable tax rate, and remember that, if the merger is approved on the November, 2011 ballot, the tax implications pertain to 2012. So anyone trying to make predictions as to whether this would happen or not would have to make some educated guesses about the variables.

What the implications would be for individual Bremerton property owners is likewise hard to pin down. But Avery did confirm that the merger could play out in the same manner as when the cities of Poulsbo and Port Orchard were annexed into NKFR and SKFR respectively. The same potential exists as a result of Port Orchard’s annexation into Kitsap County Regional Library District. The PO council, however, has said they do not plan to access the additional taxing capacity, so it gets “banked” until and unless a future council chose to use it.

Avery said he and his staff would take a closer look at the numbers, but with the holiday, I don’t expect a quick answer.

Bremerton City Council President Nick Wofford said he would not comment on the hypothetical possibility of the city being able to use or bank bonus taxing capacity because there are currently too many unknowns.

Hypothetical as this issue — and the merger itself — are, I mention bonus taxing capapacity not to stir up Chicken Little, running around squawking “tax hike, tax, hike!” But the possibility of such does deserve mention and more analysis.

Rudolph on Making Kitsap’s Place at PSRC Table

Now-former Poulsbo City Councilman Dale Rudolph attended his last council meeting Wednesday. Brynn Grimley reported on fellow community leaders’ perceptions of Rudolph, described as a “Methodical. Dedicated. Community servant.”

Rudolph received kudos at the Dec. 9 meeting of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. Fellow members of the KRCC recognized Rudolph’s long-time service representing Kitsap County’s interests on the Puget Sound Regional Council, which oversees growth, transportation and economic development in the Puget Sound region.

KRCC Board Chairman Steve Bauer, who is the county’s North Kitsap Commissioner, said Rudolph was the “corporate history” on relations between the KRCC and PSRC. KRCC member Kim Brackett, a member of the Bainbridge Island City Council, spoke of Rudolph’s “encyclopedic knowledge” on the PSRC’s Vision 2040.

Rudolph was brought the meeting on a ruse. He thought he was being asked for thoughts on the PSRC, to pass the baton so to speak. Before receiving a plaque and thanks from the KRCC board, he talked about his experience of serving on the PSRC.

Rudolph, who most recently was on the PSRC’s Growth Management Policy Board, said it was important for those representing Kitsap County to present a unified voice at PSRC. “I found it interesting to represent viewpoints I didn’t necessarily share. I think it was really good for me to realize we are in this together.”

Rudolph urged those on PSRC boards to be faithful in attending meetings. Putting in seat time gives Kitsap County and the KRCC credibility with the PSRC, which also includes the much larger Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, Rudolph said.

There has been considerable discussion in recent years about Kitsap County’s involvement with the PSRC, and whether its to the county’s benefit. One thing on which everyone agrees is representatives to the PSRC must be consistent in attending the meetings in Seattle, in addition to their other local meetings and duties.

Hauge on Gun Club Attorney’s Public Records Request

At Monday’s Kitsap County Commissioners Meeting, Regina Taylor, attorney for the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club brought before the board a problem she’d had that day getting some materials from the county GIS department, which makes maps.

Taylor said she wanted topographical maps in connection with a lawsuit filed by Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge against the gun club earlier this month. The suit alleges code violations and unsafe operations at the club, in Central Kitsap.

Taylor said a GIS staff member at first told her the documents she requested could be provided. The staff member said an estimate of the cost and the time it would take to produce the maps would be forthcoming. When Taylor didn’t hear back, she called the department and was told her request would have to go through Hauge’s office.

The reason, Hauge said, Tuesday, is that there are rules governing lawsuits that require any person or entity that is party to the suit to make a “discovery” request for documents related to the case. The purpose is so that there is a record of what information was traded, on what date and in what fashion, Haugue Hauge said.

In this case, discovery requests go through the county prosecutor’s office.

He assured that Taylor would be able to get the documents through the correct channels.

The rule does not pertain to public requests from individuals or groups not party to the suit, or to the media, Hauge said.

Taylor was not immediately available for comment.

Heads Up on the Agenda

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at the county administration building at 10 a.m. Monday for review of calendar and agendas, and board information sharing.
The board will be in budget preparation meetings from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

City of Port Orchard: The city council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a work study session. Topics include homelessness, liquor initiatives, facilities upgrades, McCormick Woods Division three, Veteran’s Memorial and Goals & Objectives, among other topics.

City of Bremerton: The city council will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. Wednesday regarding a concession agreement with the Pierce-Kitsap YMCA among other business.

City of Poulsbo: The city council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The agenda was not available.

Port Orchard Neighbors Get Action on Parking Complaints

A tale of public process at work.

When the residents of Advantage Avenue in Port Orchard got sick and tired of not being able to find adequate parking street, they took their complaints to the city in the form of a petition. The result was a bouncing baby resolution, approved by the city council on Tuesday, specific only to Advantage Avenue.

Who knew such a creature existed?

City code allows the council to establish regulations and fees related to parking in the city. Before the resolution, parking was not allowed on either side of the street, which is a dead end. Seven of the 8 residents who live along the north 350 feet of Advantage Ave., asked that they be allowed to park long the east side of Advantage and at the north end of the street. They agreed that parking restrictions would remain in effect along the east side of the street. The petition was circulated at the request of the city to resolve the matter.

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue reviewed the proposal to ensure safety would be maintained.

The council approved the petitioners request with the following conditions:
* On-street parking will be allowed through issuance of a permit, with a limit of two permits per household.
* If the parking modifications prove to be problematic, the resolution will be repealed.

Problem solved.

Now I wonder what kind of precedent this will set, if any, with other neighborhoods. Councilman Rob Putaansuu asked if the public property wanted the council to look at other areas. No, said Fred Olin committee chairman, “If something comes up, we’ll deal with it.”

Heads-up on the Agenda – Port Orchard Work Study

Coming up this week at the city of Port Orchard.

7 p.m.: The city of Port Orchard Planning Commission will meet at city hall. On the agenda: McCormick Village Park Plan Update, status update and subcommittee report; Discussion and recommendation for Title 16: Business and Professional Land Uses, Subject: Resolution for revision to Business-Professional Zone.

7 p.m.: The Port Orchard City Council will meet at 7 p.m. at city hall. On the Agenda (among other things): Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway; Sanitary Sewer Rate Study (according to utility committee member Fred Olin, this pertains to McCormick Woods residents who have the STEP sewage treatment system; the city is considering replacing all this systems, which must be regularly maintained, with grinder pumps that are used by all other customers); and something about a hot dog vendor (wonder if city hall will get a hot dog stand like the Kitsap County administration building, which has two).

Port Orchard’s Design Review Board Not Working as Designed

The city of Port Orchard spent at least two years drafting its Downtown Overlay District Plan, approved in 2007. The plan included much discussed design standards intended to promote an upscale look in new developments or renovations of significant size. To that end, the city created a design review board, to be made up of citizens with certified good taste, some of whom were to have some formal knowledge of design.

The DRB got it’s first “case” recently when jeweler Rudy Swenson proposed to renovate his building at 701 Bay Street in a New Orleans design, complete with wrought iron railings, brickwork, hanging baskets and other acoutrements reminiscent of the French Quarter. The council, on April 13, received a recommendation from the DRB approving Swenson’s design.

Ultimately, however, the process to not go as planned, said Councilman Jerry Childs at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Childs spent a lot of time before he was elected riding herd on the council to enact design standards that, as he said, would enhance Port Orchard’s “charm.” That’s pretty much why he ran for the council seat, he said. So he has a vested interest in making sure the DRB are effective gatekeepers for all that’s tasteful in Port Orchard.

Childs blew off steam at Tuesday’s meeting A. because the DRB, in it’s debut performance, approved Swenson’s plans without having access to schematic drawings of the design elements, and B. Some members of the five-person board approved the plans without having attended the meeting at which they were discussed, Childs said. One of the five did not vote. The other two who were absent voted by e-mail, he said.

Childs and the city’s development director James Weaver will meet to work out the bugs on the design review process. After spending so long on the DOD plan, the city should be getting more out of the design review board, Childs said.

“The very reason I ran got it’s first test, and it failed miserably,” he said.