Kitsap Caucus

A blog about politics and government in Kitsap County as well as Washington state political news as it relates to Kitsap County.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to Kitsap Caucus

Archive for the ‘Lary Coppola’ Category

Footnote on Coppola planning commission appointment

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

The issue of residency was raised Tuesday, as the Port Orchard City Council (minus Rob Puttaansuu and Fred Chang, who were working) discussed outgoing Mayor Lary Coppola’s appointment of his wife Dee Coppola to the city planning commission.

It was up to the council to confirm (or not) the appointment. The planning commission is an advisory board, like the several other boards and committees that weigh in on topics such as parks and development design standards. The planning commission advises on land use, and so could be seen as a relatively powerful body of citizen advisers.

Typically, the council accepts the mayor’s recommendations for all boards and committees without much to-do. But during discussion of Dee Coppola’s appointment, there was a focus on the residency rule that only one of the eight planning commission members can be a nonresident. The council on Dec. 13, already had appointed Robert Baglio, who lives outside city limits.

The Coppolas live in The Rockwell Apartments in downtown Port Orchard, and they own a home in Manchester. At Tuesday’s meeting I, too, was wondering about the residency issue, since Mayor Coppola, in an interview Monday, told me he and Dee plan to move back to Manchester.

The whole thing was also a bit reminiscent of rumors that swirled around Lary Coppola’s official residence during his 2007 bid for mayor.

On Tuesday, Councilman Fred Olin asked, “If someone on the planning commission moves out of the city, and Mr. Baglio is appointed as the non-resident, would that person have to withdraw from the planning commission?”

City attorney Greg Jacoby said city code does not address the issue, which has not come up before. He said there were a couple of possible interpretations. On the one hand, the council could ask to have the appointee removed from the commission. On the other, the appointee could be considered grandfathered in. “I’m not saying that’s the best interpretation,” Jacoby said.

At the request of the council, Jacoby said he would do further research to try to clarify how the code should be interpreted in the event Dee Coppola does move out of the city during her term on the planning commission.

Dee Coppola herself was clear on what would happen. “I’d have to resign,” she said, while allowing for the possibility of being grandfathered in. It would be up to the council to make that call, she implied.

Dee added that she and Lary have no immediate plans to move into the Manchester house, in which the Coppolas have undertaken an extensive remodel. There’s still a lot of work to be done, Dee said. So as for moving, “It’s going to be a while.”


Hand recount likely in Port Orchard mayor’s race

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

If you follow such things, you’ll have noted that the gap between incumbent Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and challenger Tim Matthes is down to two votes, in preliminary results released Tuesday.

Matthes is ahead as he has been since election night, when one vote separated the two. The widest the margin has been is 13 votes.

Although a hand recount seems all but certain, Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore says it’s not a slam dunk. Hard as it may be on the candidates and their supporters, the auditor’s office can’t make that call until the election is certified Nov. 29.

The Kitsap Sun has been tracking updates from the auditor’s office. New numbers are due out tomorrow, but barring a dramatic change in the margin, we will wait until certification is complete to do our next update.

Here’s the brief we’ll run in tomorrow’s paper, with links to earlier stories on the race, below.

By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com360-792-9219
PORT ORCHARD — The gap between the two candidates for Port Orchard mayor has narrowed to two, in preliminary results released Tuesday, and a hand recount is a strong likelihood, according to Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore.
Since the Nov. 8 election, incumbent Lary Coppola has trailed challenger Tim Matthes by a margin ranging from one vote to 13 votes.
The current margin between the candidates, 0.08 percent if you don’t count write-in votes, is small enough to trigger a hand recount.
“It’s neck and neck at this point,” Gilmore said. “Right now a recount is likely.”
State election law calls for a machine recount with a margin of less than 0.5 percent and a hand recount for less than 0.25 percent.
But there are still a couple of wild cards in the race in the form of 13 more Port Orchard ballots left to count and 25 “challenge” ballots, whose signatures must be “cured” if they are to be included in the results.
The Kitsap County Auditor’s office has mailed letters notifying challenge ballot voters that they can resubmit their signatures, which either were missing or did not match the registration.
Anyone the auditor’s office doesn’t hear from by Nov. 21 will receive a reminder phone call. Voters have until Nov. 29, the date the election will be certified, to resubmit their signatures.
The auditor’s office will issue an updated report by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Nov. 8
Every vote really matters in Port Orchard race

Nov. 9
Latest ballot count increases challenger’s lead

Nov. 10
Matthes maintains slim lead

Nov. 14
Port Orchard mayor’s race still in limbo


Josh Brown, Lary Coppola trade accusations.

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola takes the county to task for its dealings with Juel Lange in Poulsbo and Marcus Carter in Central Kitsap. Carter has a gun range. It’s Coppola’s arguments about Lange that got County Commissioner Josh Brown upset. Lange had an outdoor swimming pool he operated for customers for 35 years in North Kitsap. He closed it in 2004 but had hoped to reopen it this year. That won’t happen. From Coppola’s column in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, which he publishes:

Lange won’t be able to open this season after being a victim of what can only be called a classic flim-flam by county regulators.

and

Meanwhile the Kitsap County Health District is requiring Lange to have a lifeguard at the pool, something he claims has never worked because parents would dump off their kids for long periods, with a lifeguard, while they always stayed and watched without one — and according to Lange, the kids behave better.

The Health District also required Lange to install a second pool drain to supposedly prevent sucking swimmers down the drain, or some such nonsense, while an alternative solution he proposed was not acceptable.

Brown points out in his response that Coppola actually sits on the Kitsap County Health District’s board of directors. Here’s the two of them together on the district’s website.

Coppola never raised this issue in his position on the board, Brown’s chief contention in the response to Coppola Brown wrote and shared with us:

Lary,

I read your recent editorial in your newspaper blasting the Kitsap Health District policies over Lange’s Ranch. Your article attacks Kitsap County and our DCD. What you never clear up for your reader is that the regulations that Lange’s Ranch must clear are Health District policies—a board on which you sit! You have never brought this up to the Health District Board at a meeting, nor do I recall ever seeing any correspondence from you asking Health District staff to report back to you and the Board on this matter. This article continues your pattern of misrepresenting facts, attacking others when you take no responsibility, and just plain lying. I believe you owe the employees and Board of the Health District an apology.

Josh Brown

Also worth reading are some of the comments on the stories referenced earlier, the ones from our paper. The first story, the one warning of a “showdown,” begins mostly with those complaining along the same lines Coppola does in his piece, with some counterarguments from those saying government should regulate as it has here. After the second story, however, there appear to be a lot of folks who know Lange weighing in.


For annexation geeks only or … read the fine print

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

This post follows on my story about the Bethel Corridor annexation that ran Saturday.

Just kidding about the “geek” thing. Annexation is something everyone should be interested in because it can affect the services you receive and how much you pay for them, which was the point of the story. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote it at this time is that the father of one of my fellow reporters lives within the proposed annexation area, and he was wondering about the ramifications.

I wanted to add to this post some information from Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola that I wasn’t able to squeeze into the story.

But first, a correction. This comes as a result of the inquiring mind of Bob Meadows, who is a geek in the best sense of the word. Bob pointed out that the comparison of the city and county stormwater fees didn’t make sense, based on the rates charged under each jurisdiction’s code. The city’s first analysis compared county rates for a building with “multiple units” to city rates for a “single family residence,” which resulted in the confusion.

The correct information is: property owners’ net payments would increase with annexation by just less than $220 per year per $100,000 of assessed value if the annexation were in effect today. (I erroneously reported $150.)

Here is the city’s analysis of the comparative cost of living in the city and the county, with the correct figures.
Bethel Corridor Property Franchise Tax comparison-2010.
And here are the respective tax codes for the city of Port Orchard and Kitsap County:
taxcode- City of Port Orchard
taxcode8040

There also are some differences in development codes between the city and the county, illustrated by the city-generated document below (the home is a real residence, used by permission of the owner). As you can see it’s a residential property, not commercial. Given that the Bethel Corridor is commercial and going to become more-so, residential property owners, considering the effects of annexation, may be thinking about selling and moving, or moving and developing properties to the allowed density. I’d be interested to hear from anyone in that boat; e-mail me at chenry@kitsapsun.com. Here’s the code comparison, which has links to both the county’s and city’s codes.
Bethel Corridor 1880 Salmonberry

And here’s the city’s proposed zoning for areas to be annexed:

Mayor Coppola, in his statement for the story Friday, made some noteworthy points. (The mayor outlines the potential advantages of annexation. There is no organized opposition to the annexation. If I hear of any I’ll give them equal air time.)

The mayor goes into greater detail than I did in the story on what would happen to the county’s Bethel Corridor Plan if annexation occurs. The city would use about half of the increased sales and property tax revenue from the annexation (expected to be about $1.4 million per year initially) for help fund the major road improvement. The city would also seek grants, and federal and state transportation funding (all of which I reported). Although the city may modify the plan somewhat, they would adhere to an aesthetically pleasing design since the corridor would be another “gateway” into the city,” Coppola said (which I didn’t report).

The mayor expects the revenue to increase with the eventual competion of two major retail projects, yet to break ground: the Walmart expansion to a Supercenter, and the construction of a Home Depot nearby. Coppola points out that these two projects could, to a certain extent, “cannibalize” some sales tax revenue from other stores in the city. This trend could be partly offset if the Bethel Corridor can attract shoppers from Gig Harbor, he said.

The story summarizes advantages listed by Coppola, including public safety, prompt permitting and improved road maintenance. He goes into some detail about the staffing and equipment needed to maintain the city’s current level of service.

As I said, I’d be happy to post other arguments for or against annexation (or you can simply comment on this post). Here’s the complete text of the mayor’s e-mail (note he mentions an estimated cost of $30 million for the Bethel Corridor under the county’s plan. The county’s website, however, still lists it at $43 million.)

Here’s the mayor:
The City Treasurer and the Finance Committee have vetted the Bethel Corridor annexation, after input from the Police Department, Planning, Public Works, Clerk, HR, and the Court.

The annexation will generate approximately $1.4 million in annual revenue, split between property and sales taxes. The Finance Committee has tentatively committed to put away half of that annual revenue for debt service on the widening project – which will end up being the largest public works project in the history of the City. We are already searching for grant opportunities and federal and state transportation dollars that could be available to also help defray the costs.

The County has done the engineering on this, and the last estimate I heard was about $30 million. However, that was in 2006 (I think) dollars. Considering the current state of the economy, I believe we could shave 15 to 20 percent off of that. Also, we haven’t seen the actual drawings, so we’re not sure what was included in the way of lanes, medians, landscaping, etc., so we don’t know for sure what opportunities there are for additional savings – if any.

Right of way acquisition is also an issue. We’re not sure if the cost estimates included that or not, but they should have. Also, any future commercial development will have to deed the necessary right-of-way to the City as a condition for permitting any development, which should help decrease the overall cost of the project. There will also need to be some re-engineering done, as the County has allowed some construction to encroach upon what should have preserved as right-of-way, so we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.

With all this in mind, we have a budget of about $700,000 to support the annexation. We expect this to increase as development occurs. For example, the two big projects already in the works are Walmart and Home Depot. It appears the County will collect the permitting fees on these, but we will generate inspection fees, sales tax on the construction, and additional sales tax revenue once they open. Since we did our usual conservative budgeting, none of those gains are figured in our projections.

We also expect those developments will cannibalize some of the existing sales tax revenue we already collect. For example, Walmart will take sales away from some of the existing grocery stores, and Home Depot will impact Lowe’s and Scott McClendon’s Ace Hardware. However, we also anticipate a sales tax jump from all the local folks who currently patronize the Gig Harbor and Silverdale Home Depot’s, and think a grocery department at Walmart will attract some additional shoppers from Gig Harbor since they don’t have a Walmart.

As far as personnel goes, in consulting with all the departments, we have identified and prioritized our additional needs, and created a tentative hiring order.

In looking at the costs associated with this annexation, we will have to hire an additional two police officers, and equip them – cars, guns, radios, computers, etc., as well as train them. Since it takes on average about six months to get a cop from new hire to patrol-ready, we are already engaged in this process, and have identified the top candidates, and made an offer of employment to one of them. Currently, police response time is two minutes or less anywhere in the City, and we are committed to not to diminish that standard in any way.

The next immediate need will be for public works personnel. We are ramping up for that, as well as looking into purchasing the additional equipment we’ll need. One thing this does, is justify the cost of another snow plow, but there’s other equipment we’ll need as well.

It’s imperative to note here that water and sewer services for this area are not supplied by the City, but by West Sound Utility District. You may want to chat with Larry Curles and John Poppe about their plans.

The City Development Department will need at least one more person at some point, and we’re planning on that, as well as additional people in the Clerk’s office and the Court. As we learned with the Fred Meyer annexation, calls for police service will increase primarily due to shoplifters, so with the amount of retail involved in this annexation, we’re planning on the need for more time for the judge, an additional court clerk, and more time for the police officer who staffs the courtroom.

As far as taxes go, I believe Allan sent you a comparison sheet. However, since there is very little residential included in this, I’m not certain how valid such a comparison is in reality. I’ve also attached a comparison for the property on Salmonberry Rd. you asked about.

Finally, what’s in it for the property owner? The biggest positive is the police protection and Public Safety. There’s no way the Sheriff’s Department can match our response time given the County’s budget situation. Sheriff Boyer does a great job, but his people are stretched to the limit right now, so public safety is a big plus. As you recall, when the Walmart shooting happened, the Port Orchard Police were first on the scene when the call from the deputies went out. There’s a reason our crime rate is down over 60 percent since I’ve been Mayor – it’s a major priority. Port Orchard is a safer place to live, raise your family, and own a business than at any time in the past quarter of a century.

Another benefit is our permitting time and customer service. We have the shortest permitting time in the county – and unlike the County and some other Cities, we’re still open for business five days a week. Our people understand that they work for the taxpayers and customer service is their highest priority.

The Bethel Road widening will actually get done. It’s been on the County’s work plan since 1999, and I believe is listed as the 13th priority for the county – behind some trails and other things the County has deemed a higher priority – for 2011.

The roads will be maintained better – and snow plowing will happen sooner.

I hope this is what you wanted. Call me if you have questions.

LFC

Lary Coppola, Mayor
City of Port Orchard
216 Prospect Street
Port Orchard, WA 98366
(360) 876-7025 – Direct Line
themayor@cityofportorchard.us
___________________________________________________
Please be aware e-mail pertaining to City business
may be considered a Public Record and could be subject
to public disclosure laws. For document retention purposes,
the City Clerk may be copied on this message.
ü Please Consider Our Environment Before Printing This E-mail
___________________________________________________





Should Port Orchard Relinquish its Role in Hearing Land Use Appeals?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The Port Orchard City Council last week heard testimony on a contentious land use issue — should a Gig Harbor advertising company be allowed to put eight billboards within city limits?

The issue grew thorny after the city initially turned down the applications, submitted in batches last spring. James Weaver, director of development, took the most “stringent” interpretation of the city’s code, which is allowed and called for in another part of the code, he said. The billboard company owner appealed to the hearing examiner, and now the case has come before the council.

Like most cases that reach the appeal stage, there are a number of questions in play:
Did Weaver correctly interpret the code? (The city’s hearing examiner says so.)
Should the billboard company’s application be vested under old rules, even though the city has since passed an ordinance banning billboards? (The hearing examiner agrees with the owner here.)
And was the city’s ban on billboards a violation of constitutional rights? (The hearing examiner declined to rule on this question.)

During the hearing, the attorney representing the billboard owner questioned the council’s ability to rule on the case since none of them are attorneys. He railed against the process by which the city countered his appeal, bringing the matter to the council. He called the actions of City Attorney Greg Jacoby and attorney Jennifer Forbes, representing the city, “frivolous” and “in bad faith.” He said the process had gotten unnecessarily drawn out and was wasting taxpayers’ money.

“I see a lot of blank faces here,” William J. Crittenden told the council. “Do you think your money is being well spent?”

Before 2008, the council used to be the first stop (not the second) in hearings on land use issues. The change was made, in part, because of the tremendous amount of council time involved in preparing for and conducting the hearings. The city now uses a hearing examiner for preliminary review of land-use applications. Where open-record public hearings on such issues were formerly held before the city council, the open-record hearing is now held before the hearing examiner. If the hearing examiner’s ruling is challenged, the appeal moves to the city council.

In a work study meeting, Feb. 15, before the billboards hearing, Councilman Rob Putaansuu questioned whether the council should be involved at all, or whether the city should switch to a model as such the one adopted in 2010 by Kitsap County. Appeals that formerly came before the county’s board of commissioners now go directly to Superior Court.

Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer proposed the change, because he said having the board hear appeals created confusion among the public. The board can only rule on whether the hearing examiner has erred. Their ruling does not necessarily reflect the position the board would have taken on a proposed project, Bauer said.

Hearing examiners generally are attorneys, and they are required to have extensive knowledge of land use codes. A city council or board of commissioners, on the other hand, oversees matters on a wide range of topics, meaning they are arguably less well-equipped to navigate the labyrinth of motions, counter-motions, arguments and counter-arguments that make up the appeal process.

Putaansuu suggested as much, and he reminded the council that, although they’ve only heard one other matter since going to the new system, it, too, turned nasty. A proposed birthing center was turned down by the hearing examiner over neighbors’ concerns about traffic (a needed re-zone was denied). The council initially backed the hearing examiner’s decision. They agreed to revisit the proposal, however, as part of a legal settlement with the owners of the center, who took their case to Superior Court and threatened to challenge the city’s comprehensive plan before the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. The city ultimately approved the center.

Jacoby told the council that cities vary in their methods for hearing appeals. Appeals in Gig Harbor and Fife go straight to Superior Court. The Poulsbo City Council, like Port Orchard, hears appeals.

“It’s sort of an issue of how much control the council wants to have over the process,” Jacoby said. “There’s no right answer, but we can certainly change it.”

The council could appeal any ruling of the superior court with which they disagree, Jacoby said.

Most of the council said they would support a resolution switching the process up. Councilman John Clauson said he could go either way.

As for Crittenden’s criticism of the process, the council sat in shock as he bad-mouthed the city up one side and down the other, particularly Jacoby.

“I’ve been treated like crap by your city attorney for six months,” Crittenden said.

Mayor Lary Coppola challenged Crittenden’s “rudeness.” “He’s acting like a spoiled child,” said the mayor.

Shortly afterward, Coppola banged his gavel and cut short Crittenden’s testimony. “That’s over. We’re done,” Coppola said angrily.

When Crittenden continued his tirade, Coppola got up and walked out of the hearing. (The mayor does not rule on an appeal, only the council, so his absence did not delay proceedings.) He later said he felt he had to excuse himself in order not to say something inappropriate to Crittenden.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers, later in the hearing, advised Crittenden that he would present a more convincing argument “if you would spend your time talking about the particular questions that are pertinent to this whole case as opposed to talking about our counselors spending a lot of money and time … Can you do that?”

“If my anger has spilled over on you, I apologize,” said Crittenden, who remained angry with Jacoby, Forbes and the process in general.

If nothing else, I guess, the change in procedure would spare the council similar tongue-lashings in the future.


Mayor Coppola Apologizes to Port Orchard for DUI Arrest

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Update May 12: Lary Coppola, speaking as a private citizen at the Port Orchard City Council meeting on Tuesday, took the opportunity “to address the situation on May 2.” Once again he apologized to the city and to his family. His statement and a comment of support from Larry DeBarthe are within the first five minutes of the city’s video recording of the meeting. The video is posted on the city’s website.

7:45 p.m. : I received an e-mail from Lary Coppola, who believes I misquoted him in the interview with Dori Monson.

I have revised this post with deletions (struck through) and additions (italics) to indicate where the mayor believes he was misquoted.

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, who was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of drunken driving, appeared on KIRO radio Friday afternoon and apologized to his constituents.

Host Dori Monson, who was harshly critical of Coppola earlier this week, mispronounced his name … saying it as in Francis Ford etc.* But he gave the mayor props for appearing on the show. Apparently state education chief Randy Dorn, who recently found himself in a similar pickle, turned down a similar invitation from Monson.

Coppola, asked to describe the events that let to his arrest, said he was driving home from a “charity event” (that would be the Port Orchard Rotary Crab Feed & Auction Saturday at McCormick Woods Clubhouse. About 100 yards from his home, Coppola said, he saw someone “run out of the shadows and jump in a car.” Suspicious, Coppola followed the car into “a driveway” (near The Rockwell apartments, Coppola’s home) and called 911. The other driver also called 911 to complain that Coppola was blocking his vehicle, according to a police report.

Coppola said that when law enforcement arrived, “They said, ‘Have you been drinking?’ and I said, ‘Well, yeah.’”

Monson asked if, given the mayor’s .12 blood alcohol level, he should have been driving a car.

“I should not have,” Coppola said. “There’s no two ways about it. It was an egregiousgrievous error in judgment.”

Does he have a problem with alcohol? Monson asked.

“No. I drink rarely and very little when I do,” Coppola said.

“There was a time in my life I was a pretty heavy drinker in between marriages,” Coppola said, adding that over the past 20 years he has consumed alcohol “very little.” “I do not drink every day,” he said.

Monson asked what it’s like to be a public figure in this situation.

“It’s personally and professionally humiliating beyond belief,” Coppola said. “This has got to be the worst experience I’ve ever had.”

“It’s been hard on my family,” Coppola acknowledged, telling Monson that a pending adoption of his 6-year-year-old grandson, Bryce, may be in jeopardy as a result of the incident.

Coppola and his wife Dee have custody of Bryce and have raised the boy since he was a toddler. Coppola said Bryce is aware that something is wrong. “Papa, did you do something bad?” Bryce was related to have said.

What about calls for his resignation? Monson asked. Should public officials be held to a higher standard?

“I don’t really know how to answer that question,” said Coppola, who added he’s received scores of e-mails, phone calls and even cards of support since his arrest. “(They say) you’re doing a really good job as mayor. Don’t let the naysayers talk you out of it staying.”

So has the mayor entertained the notion of stepping down?

“It’s not even on the table,” said Coppola. “You can count on ‘no.’ Not only ‘no,’ but ‘hell no.”

To the question, “Would you drink and drive again?” Coppola said, “Not only ‘no,’ but ‘hell no.’”

Finally, “Do you have a drinking problem?” Monson asked, noting that Coppola’s admission of a bout with heavy drinking earlier in his life raised a red flag.

Coppola deflected Monson’s suggestion, talking about how difficult the divorce was. “It changes your perspective on about things,” he said.

He repeated that being Bryce’s dad gives him an incentive to stay sober. “I don’t want to set that kind of example for him,” “My wife doesn’t drink at all, and we don’t keep liquor in the house because I don’t want to set that kind of example for Bryce.” Coppola said.

Coppola also had a message for the locals. “I would like to apologize to the city of Port Orchard for embarrassing our city,” he said. “And I’d like to apologize to my family.”

So Dori, about that name, it’s Lary, with one “r,” like Cary Bozeman. (I don’t know what this is all about; it’s just something with our public officials here in Kitsap.) And it’s “Cop” — as in “Oh, no, the cops are here.” — “po” — as in “podunk,” the image we’re trying to shed — and “la” as in do-re-mi-etc. Thanks for your interest in our town, and you’re welcome.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap/ government reporter


Available on Kindle

Polls

If someone employed by an elected official then runs against that elected official, should the employee be fired?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Primary Election

Politifact Truth-O-Meter

Kitsap Caucus Views since Jan. 4, 2013

Archives

About Kitsap Caucus

Kitsap Sun reporters blog about politics, government and other wonkisms of import to Kitsap County.

Kitsap Caucus

Promote Your Page Too