City’s classification of B&Bs could impact other home-based businesses

You can visit kitsapsun.com later this evening to see how and why the Port Orchard City Council voted Tuesday to increase stormwater rates.

The lead up to this we’ve covered extensively, and last night’s vote was a long time coming.

Due to space constraints, I was not able to elaborate on an issue that arose out of the utility committee’s discussion in June of how bed and breakfasts should be assessed in the stormwater utility.

Here’s a little background you’ll need:
Stormwater charges are based on impervious surface units, with one ISU defined as 3,000 square feet of impervious surface, such as roofs or pavement. Residential accounts, all deemed to comprise one ISU, are charged a flat monthly rate, as specified in the city’s code.

Commercial businesses and multifamily dwellings are assessed the monthly rate times the actual number of impervious surface units on their property divided by 3,000 square feet.

And here’s the long version of the second half of the story that explains how, in one attorney’s opinion, the reclassification of B&Bs as commercial could have far-reaching impacts on all of the city’s homebased businesses.

“Gil and Kathy Michael, owners of Cedar Cove Inn B&B, seconded a suggestion that ratepayers be credited for putting rain gardens, pervious pavement and other stormwater treatment systems on their properties.

The Michaels were required to mitigate stormwater runoff during an earlier expansion of the historic home above Bay Street from which they do business.
And the couple had another problem with the proposal, given that the Cedar Cove Inn has been reclassified as a commercial property.

At the June utility committee meeting, members discussed how B&Bs are assessed in the stormwater utility. The committee considered a suggestion from staff that they should be classified as commercial for accounting purposes.

“The way we handle the code and the way the account is set up is if you have a business license, even if it is a home-based business, you are technically commercial,” said Andrea Archer Parsons, assistant city engineer.

Of the city’s three B&Bs, only Cedar Cove would be significantly impacted, the committee realized. They asked staff to see how other cities classify B&Bs for stormwater assessments, and the report was presented Aug. 19 to the full council but no action was taken.

On June 10, the Michaels got a notice saying their B&B would be assessed as a commercial property “due the fact that they are required to have a business license.” On Oct. 15, they got a notice saying they would be charged for four ISUs.

Their attorney Gary Chrey on Tuesday argued that by extension the “commercial property” rule could apply to all of the city’s home-based businesses, and that could have unintended consequences beyond higher utility rates. He listed higher real estate taxes and more onerous building code requirements among a litany of results.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said he didn’t know where that wording came from and that it needed to be looked at.

Chrey also took issue with wording in the city’s code that defines commercial property as “all property zoned or used for commercial, retail, industrial or community purposes.” The key words here are “or used,” which technically broadens the definition of commercial. Chrey asked that the code be reworded so the classification is based on zoning only.

“I think we still need to do some work, based on what I’ve heard here tonight. We have issues that are related to the increase,” Councilman John Clauson said.

But the council didn’t want to delay the increase entirely and put the city at risk of falling out of compliance with escalating federal water quality standards.

Councilman Rob Putaansuu proposed a one-year graduated increase from the current $7 per month to $9.70 per month on Jan. 1 and $14 per month on June 1 as a way to buy some time to sort out the complicating issues. The increase to $14 is needed, Putaansuu and others say, to fund capital projects that would control flooding and improve water quality.

Putaansuu, John Clauson, Jeff Cartwright and Jerry Childs voted for the ordinance. Fred Chang, Bek Ashby and Cindy Lucarelli voted against it.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

NKSD seeks school board member

The North Kitsap School District seeks someone to replace Dan Weedin on the school board. Weedin resigned last week. Here is the announcement.

The North Kitsap School District Board of Directors is seeking qualified applicants and nominations for qualified applicants for a recent vacancy in the Director District 2 position.  Interested registered voters residing in Director District 2 should submit an application and biographical summary to the following address by 12:00 p.m. Monday, November 3, 2014:  Board of Directors, 18360 Caldart Avenue NE, Poulsbo WA  98370.  Materials may also be emailed to khenry@nkschools.org.

 Application, District 2 boundaries, and timeline may be found on our website at www.nkschools.org, or Click HERE.

For additional questions, please contact Korinne Henry at (360) 396-3001 or khenry@nkschools.org.

We encourage you to share this information with anyone who resides in District 2 and who may be interested in serving on the Board of Directors. 

Tell your story

Click to see a larger version.
Click to see a larger version.

Might I suggest an activity for you on Thursday?

Come tell your story. Or just come and listen to others tell theirs at Story Night in Manette.

The event starts at 7 p.m. and we have to be out of there by about 9 p.m. because Karaoke takes over the Manette Saloon.

If you wish to tell a story, here are the basic rules. Stories must be:

  • True
  • Less than five minutes long
  • Within the night’s theme: “Schooled”

We have an event page and a regular page on Facebook. And I’ve got a website, SpillYourGutsGuts.com, that explains why I’m doing this. Here are a few paragraphs to give you a taste:

“I’ve been telling people for years that it’s probably one of the earliest forms of entertainment in the history of humans. Secondly, if the conspiracy theorists are correct and one day all the power shuts down, then much of our entertainment will be what we can do in person, like sing or dance. Storytelling will also be a big part of the mix.

“Storytelling events also connect us to people we might not otherwise know. We hear their stories and our beliefs about issues, lifestyles and life’s triumphs and mistakes becomes something human. If we’re not careful, storytelling makes us empathetic.

“Finally, it’s fun. You shouldn’t miss it.”

In 1999 or 2000 I attended a storytelling festival in Provo, Utah. That’s probably the first place I had ever become interested in the activity, though I always enjoyed public speaking. I know. I’m weird that way. I get scared, but I love it.

There are not that many opportunities for on-stage storytelling, so over the years I worked on improving my storytelling in my reporting. I also listened to shows that offer excellent examples, such as “This American Life” and “The Tobolowsky Files.” And then I heard The Moth, which is when I became interested in hosting an event. Angela Dice, a former reporter here, and I talked about it for years, but didn’t quite feel confident or disposed with a lot of time to get one going.

Then a few months ago Josh Farley, a fellow reporter who runs the outstanding Kitsap Quiz Night, asked me what I needed to get started. Turns out what I really needed was to have him ask me that question. He introduced me to Rebecca Dove Taylor at the Manette Saloon and we eventually set a date. Since then, it’s gone from slow simmer to full on burn as far as planning. And now the event is upon us.

The official jewelry of Story Night in Manette.
The official jewelry of Story Night in Manette.

A couple weeks ago I finally got to attend a Story Slam in Seattle put on by The Moth. And last week I participated in another Story Slam on Bainbridge Island put on by Field’s End. My message to you? You’ll do fine. Come tell your story. On the Facebook page and on the website are some tips to help you prepare to tell your story if you choose to give one. The winning storyteller on Thursday walks away with the fine jewelry you see pictured here. And I plan on bringing other prizes. I’m still working on those details.

The biggest prize, however, is just whatever you get out of being there. If you speak you get that experience. If you don’t, you get the thrill of hearing others and sharing a night with friends. I’ve been to a few of these and I’ve never been to one that wasn’t fun. And hey, even if you don’t tell a story, you could win a prize! You’ll find out about that on Thursday.

NK’s Page eyes end, but has not set a date

Patty Page, North Kitsap School District superintendent, said on Thursday she will not seek an extension on her contract with the district. That does not mean she is retiring anytime soon.

Page, who started with the district in 2012, signed a three-year contract with the board when she started and has seen one-year extensions each year since. This year she said she doesn’t want one.

Instead, from this point on, as she approaches retirement age she will work with two-year contracts, or go year-to year.

The conversation arose as the board continued conversations about how it will carry out its superintendent evaluation process going forward.

See a real struggle for a school district (not local)

No matter what kind of negative experience you have ever had with a school board, or probably any local government body, I have a hard time imagining it being as difficult as what’s happening in the East Ramapo, New York school district.

This story includes the federal and state governments, side deals and alleged and real racism, all ingredients for contention. And of course, some people get compared to Hitler, this time in a place where that would be an especially inflammatory charge.

The strangest element here though is that the school board is dominated by a group, a Hassidic Jewish community, who would never send their own children to public schools. You can look at the coverage from the Journal News, a Gannett news outfit in the Lower Hudson Valley in New York. That coverage includes amazing video of the district’s attorney actively mocking members of the public. New York Magazine has a comprehensive piece that explains so much of what is motivating the now dominant community.

One thing I think I can say without editorializing on who’s right here; The district needs nicer lawyers.

I first heard about this on the This American Life episode that aired locally here on KUOW on Saturday. I think it does a good job of being fair and it encapsulates the entire story well.

Visualize Asbestos Abatement

If you’ve driven through downtown Port Orchard lately, you will have seen the old Los Cabos building wrapped in white plastic.
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The city of Port Orchard bought the eyesore in August with the idea of demolishing it to improve the ambiance of the downtown core. The sale price of $148,000 included demolition by Turnaround Inc., the company that held receivership on the building. The demolition will be ongoing for the next two to three weeks, hence the wrapped building. More on that in a minute

The former site of Los Cabos restaurant was gutted by fire in July 2013. There were boarding rooms upstairs that were occupied at the time of the fire. Three people escaped by climbing out a bathroom window onto a roof and jumping onto the bed of a truck at street level.

The building sat abandoned ever since, growing a fine crop of mold in what was the dining room.
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But the mold is not the worst problem. The two-story, 6,000-plus-square-foot building was constructed in 1910, accord to the Kitsap County Assessor, and has asbestos within from various additions and remodels.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is a remarkable material, fireproof, strong, a good insulator, but it has been linked to cancers including mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, asbestos can be found in insulation of houses built (or remodeled) between 1930 and 1950, in textured paint and patching compounds whose use was banned in 1977, some vinyl flooring tiles, some roofing and siding shingles, older hot water pipes and furnaces.

According to Bobby Pelkey, of Rhine Demolition of Tacoma, the company handling the building demo, asbestos isn’t a big problem if it’s contained in materials like tile or widow putty, but if it’s part of insulation or “popcorn” ceiling tile, tearing it our could release the asbestos fibers that can cause cancer on exposure.

To protect themselves, workers wear fully enclosed suits and respirators. They tear out the hazardous material and seal it before removal. Inside the building itself, they construct a three-segment decontamination chamber, which includes a shower for removing any particles. The suits are bundled and sealed after they are taken off, as with the rest of the contaminated material.

The job is hazardous, no doubt, but says Pelkey, “As long as you take the proper steps to protect yourself, there’s nothing to worry about.”

According to crew supervisor David Schultz — who has been in the demolition business and working with asbestos for 21 years now — one of the biggest dangers of older buildings is unstable floor and ceilings. Before demolition begins, the building is tested for asbestos, and a walk through reveals potential hazards, such as a ceiling likely to collapse.
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It’s a living, and decent one at that, Schultz said. “I make a comfortable living.”

And about that plastic wrap, it seals any asbestos fibers inside the building. So when the building comes down, the asbestos will have been removed. Voila a blank slate.

Once the demolition is complete, gone will be the entire building, including this well-established collection of pigeon poop.
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What would you like to see on the property?

How we got the river rescue story

Maddy Herring at the Skokomish River in Olympic National Park. Photo by Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun
Maddy Herring at the Skokomish River in Olympic National Park. Photo by Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun

On Sunday we told the story of Maddy Herring, a local 21-year-old who nearly lost her life in the Skokomish River. The story itself was certainly worth telling, but every once in a while the story behind the story is worth revealing to some degree. That is the case here.

Every morning and every evening we make calls to the local fire agencies, Washington State Patrol, the coroner’s office and to Central Communications to ask them and other local police agencies if anything happened worth reporting. It’s just one way we learn about things. Other times it’s people calling us, messaging us on Facebook or Twitter or we hear something on the scanner. It’s not the only way we learn things, but sometimes it turns into something newsworthy. The vast majority of times there is nothing new to report that comes from these calls. But they are worth making because of the times there is something worth reporting.

On Monday, Aug. 25 it was my turn to make the night calls. Included on our list of calls are three Bremerton Fire stations. My recollection is that I called one station and the officer who answered said there was nothing to report from the department, but that I ought to talk to Kevin Bonsell at Station 3 because of something he experienced while out with his family at Staircase the day before. When I called there and talked to another department officer I asked if Bonsell was available. I told him I had heard he had experienced something unique on Sunday and he told me the entire story.

After hearing what happened I was eager for someone here to get the story in the paper for a couple of reasons. One was that there was a public service element to it that reminded people of the dangers rivers can pose. The second, though, was that the story had that element of danger, but ended well for everyone. People showed up and did what they could and Maddy Herring is alive because of it. Bonsell said he would see if the family was willing.

My understanding is the Herring family found him again by reaching out through someone at the Central Kitsap Fire District, and that word got over to Bremerton through them. No one who was directly involved was advertising a story. That makes it even more attractive, because no one was looking for publicity just for themselves. Bonsell didn’t reach out to me, but once I asked him to tell the story he saw the public service benefit as well.

It took a few days but eventually Bonsell called me back with phone numbers for Maddy and her mother. By the time I spoke with Maddy it was a week and two days after the event. I was hoping I could get Bonsell to go out to the site to point out where it happened and talk on video. I had very little hope that Maddy herself would be willing to go. When I spoke to her, though, she was up for it, again recognizing the public service aspect of the story. So we made plans to meet her out there on Friday with a photographer, Meegan Reid.

The video setting is not far from where it all happened, but it’s not exactly there. When we first got there she tried to recognize the spot and could not right away. We eventually figured that the river was running lower than it was the Sunday almost two weeks before. So we filmed from a nice place to provide a good setting for the story. As you can see, Maddy was quite good at retelling it.

After we finished filming Maddy, Meegan and I began walking back to our car as Maddy decided to hike further up the trail. Meegan and I kept thinking that we had missed a turn on the trail so we hiked a little more than we’d planned before making it back. I decided to go the ranger’s station and see if we could get an incident report, which was when Maddy returned from the trail. In the interim she had found the actual spot where she was stuck and took some pictures. She said it looked more or less the same as it had that Sunday, but there would have been no way we could have gone down there with our cameras. She said seeing it made her heart race a little and she was careful not to get too close. The other bonus was the Herrings had left two pair of flip-flops and a T-shirt behind in all the chaos, and that they were still there two weeks later.

A man described as a political science professor also played a role in the rescue. I reached out to several at the different colleges in the area and struck out. Maddy’s mother, Theresa, called me on Friday and we spoke that day. I wrote the story and edited the video that night.

This whole thing came about because of a regular phone call we make in which we essentially ask, “Anything happening?”

My guess is the crews at the fire stations are not glad we interrupt their mornings and evenings to ask that question. I’m always glad when they tell me the calls have been routine. Some of that is because when the calls are not routine it usually means something bad happened to someone. The other part is if something happened it means more work. We’re like NASCAR fans who don’t necessarily want there to be a wreck, but if there is one we don’t want to miss it.

Most local fire agencies, the ones who still welcome our calls, have been very good about sharing what’s happening with us. Maybe it’s because they see the public service element in what they tell us. I’m sure sometimes they get disappointed in how we write what happened. That’s the risk, I suppose. But I think the public is well served in that relationship. And it’s because of that relationship that we were able to tell Maddy Herring’s story.

Signs of life at the Lighthouse

Back from the ashes … again, the Lighthouse restaurant will reopen next week under new ownership, former general manager Brookes Konig said Friday.

And the new owner would be Konig himself, who is leasing from property owners Tim Tweten and Gordon Rush, doing business as 429 Bay Street LLC.

By now, everyone in Port Orchard knows the back story: how the grand landmark building sat unoccupied during the recession, how earlier this year Eric A. Smith of Bothell, a Seattle cop took a stab at the restaurant business, hiring Konig as general manager, how Smith called the place Robert Earl Lighthouse, after his dad, how the community was happy to see the place reopened in May.

Konig, former regional manager of Famous Dave’s, had no personal connection to Smith. A friend of Konig’s in the local hospitality industry hooked them up. So Konig was just as shocked as the rest of South Kitsap when Smith was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light. Employees were laid off, and in mid-July, the Lighthouse closed.

Word was, Konig was looking for a backer to reopen the place. On Friday, he signed the final papers on the lease, and he has purchased the business from Smith.
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On Saturday (that’s today) Rotary members will be at the restaurant, now called the Port Orchard Lighthouse, helping get the place back in shape for reopening some time next week. There’s a free barbecue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and anyone is welcome.

Konig is eager to regain the good will of the community and hopes to distance the Lighthouse from the tarnish of allegations against Smith. “The recovery is what’s so important to this restaurant,” he said.

Konig has rehired 23 former staff members and is still hiring.

The Pink-a-Nator petitions to park at the courthouse

Surely you’ve seen the Pink-a-Nator. It’s hard to miss the Pepto-Bismol pink utility truck with the slogan “Servin’ it up curb side.”
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The food truck dishing out specialty burgers, po’boys and other hearty comestibles has had a regular spot at the Annapolis Sunday Market and in a lot near the Fred Meyer shopping center (although not so much lately, since owner Michelle Roberts-Wash has been busy with catering).

Now, Roberts-Wash has her sights set on the Kitsap County Courthouse campus.

She attended last week’s Port Orchard City Council meeting to pitch her plan. The truck would occupy more than one space. The council’s public property committee has discussed the idea, said Councilman Jeff Cartwright, a committee member. The committee suggested a 90-day trial pending feedback from the county.

Meantime, the Kitsap County administrator expressed concerns about loss of parking spots that are already at a premium, according to Port Orchard City Clerk Brandy Rinearson.

Roberts-Wash had scoped out parking spaces on Austin Avenue between the county administration building and public works building. Councilman Rob Putaansuu noted that, at the previous meeting Aug. 12, a city resident had complained that she couldn’t find a place to drop off her ballot.

Other spaces Roberts-Wash had looked at were in front of the courthouse or the Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Jerry Childs asked if this would set a precedent. What if others came along looking for space to sell their wares?

The public property committee talked about that, Cartwright said. In fact the Pink-a-Nator sparked a wide ranging discussion about food trucks, including Portland’s approach of designating whole blocks to meals on wheels. “Should the city have its own designated food truck zone?” the committee pondered.

“We talked very heavily about the parking versus the convenience of having a food service there,” Cartwright said. “We also talk about would that food service impact other businesses that also serve food.”

A hot dog vendor has a permit to sell in front of the administration building. Inside, Coffee Oasis has an espresso stand that sells food items.

Several council members commented — in the spirit of free enterprise — that competition with other businesses shouldn’t drive their decision.

Putaansuu also suggested the Pink-a-Nator might work in “underutilized” areas including Cline Avenue (the flat part not the mountain climb) and the gravel lot off Taylor Avenue.

Mayor Tim Matthes said South Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido “would appreciate more notice and more information than she’s received so far.”

The council agreed to honor Garrido’s request, and Roberts-Wash said she’s fine with that.

So what do you think? If Port Orchard were to designate a food truck zone, where should it be?

And, if you’re a restaurant or cafe owner with a brick-and-mortar location, what are your thoughts on a food truck zone?

On Saturday, memorials for two young people

A summer of loss.

This is how it feels. Three young people in Kitsap County died within a month of one another.

On July 4, Josh Osborn, 17, of South Kitsap, was on an outing with friends when he fell into the Ohanapecosh River. His body was recovered on July 28.

On July 14, JJ Hentz, 12, also of South Kitsap, was found floating in Island Lake. He died two days later at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma.
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Jenise Wright’s parents reported her missing on Aug. 3. The last time the 6-year-old was seen was around 10 p.m. the night before. On Aug. 7 her body was found, partially submerged in a muddy bog near Steele Creek Trailer Park in East Bremerton, where her family lives. On Aug. 9, Gabriel Gaeta, a friend of the Wright family, was arrested on suspicion of raping and killing Jenise.
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A memorial for JJ Hentz was held several weeks ago. JJ was “a bubbly and energetic boy with an old soul,” said cousin Jaime Wainwright, whom JJ called “Aunt Jaime.”

On Saturday, Josh Osborn and Jenise Wright, will be mourned at memorial services a couple of hours apart. Both are open to the public.

Jenise’s service is at 1 p.m. at the Silverdale Stake Center, 9256 Nels Nelson Road NW.
Jenise was outgoing, always at the center of activity at the mobile home park. She loved the colors pink and purple.
The Wright family is accepting donations to help offset expenses. Donations can be made online at a gofundme account or at Chase Bank branches, under the “Jenise Wright donation account.”

Josh Osborn was “every parents’ dream” according to his obituary, written by his family. “He was kind, handsome, smart, funny, but most of all he had the biggest, most loving heart. Josh loved life and he lived every day to its fullest. He had many passions and dreams.”
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A memorial for Josh is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at the South Kitsap High School gym. In honor of Josh, the family asks that you wear your Seahawks or South Kitsap gear.