Category Archives: Kitsap County Government

Getting the “Dirt” on Sustainable Cinema

Coming up this Sunday is the second in a series of monthly documentaries on sustainable living to be shown at the Historic Orchard Theatre in Port Orchard. The Sustainable Cinema series is hosted by Kitsap County, specifically South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

Garrido, on Monday, said the series is intended as a complement to the activities of the numerous groups around Kitsap County —including the county itself — that are dedicated to preserving natural resources and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainability, in short, is the capacity to endure. The goal is a world in which human needs are fulfilled in a manner that does not deplete the source of those needs. Locally, initiatives related to sustainability involve food, construction, environmental protection and other efforts.

About 30 people attended January’s showing of “End of the Line” a documentary about the effects of over-fishing. Coming up this month is the award-winning “Dirt, the Movie,” about the nature, importance and surprising fragility of soil.

Garrido said she got the idea for the Sustainable Cinema series last year while in Washington D.C. for a conference. In D.C., the film festival involved a number of venues.

Kitsap is not D.C., but the Orchard is known for showing documentaries and other non-mainstream cinema. Future films will depend on what’s available at any given time, said Garrido. Suffice it to say there is no lack of material. She showed me a catalog chock full of documentaries on sustainability.

To pay for the series, Garrido has allocated $750 of the South Kitsap Commissioners discretionary fund. Each of the three Kitsap County commissioners has money in the county’s budget to spend on projects specific to his or her area of the county, “things that wouldn’t get done any other way,” Garrido said. The cost to bring the films to The Orchard is around $100 each. Once the $750 is expended, Garrido said she herself would fund additional showings as long as there is sufficient interest.

Garrido welcomes suggestions for documentaries people would like to see. E-mail her at

What: Dirt the Movie
When: 4:35 p.m. Sunday
Where: Historic Orchard Theatre, 822 Bay St., Port Orchard
Cost: $3 (usual adult price is $9.50)

Here’s One Government Official Leading the Charge on Social Networking

The hitch is, he’s got a way bigger budget than Bud Harris, Kitsap County’s director of information technology, who recently reaffirmed his message of caution on mixing social networking with government.

Bill Schrier, chief technology officer for the City of Seattle, on the other hand, openly embraces new media. Schrier, who writes the Chief Seattle Geek blog, in a recent entry discussed the concept of an “open city,” in which information is shared via the Internet, now accessible 24/7 via laptop and desktop computers, as well as Blackberries, iPhones, cell phones etc.

Schrier writes:

“The theme is consistent: city governments, by opening their information, their data, their engagement processes, can generate a wealth of new ideas and understandings which make them more efficient and effective, and more robust, exciting places, with improved quality of life.

The old model, used for 250 years or more, is for a City is to collect as much data as possible about problems, its responses, services it provides and the general city environment. Then the typical city hires analysts or consultants – experts, if you will – to pore over the data and discern patterns. These experts then make recommendations for policy, action or changes.”

Schrier writes of applications that allow for public discussion of ideas and ranking of concepts through a “public engagement portal.” His department uses a model, Ideas for Seattle, that allows for some limited input online from people, and he hopes to see that concept expanded. Other governments are working on similar programs.

Pursuing this technology will provide a better community process than what Schrier calls “death-by-PowerPoint presentations and long lines of people trooping up to the microphone to give their 2 minute NIMBY mini-speeches,” he said.

Fourteen departments within the city, including police and fire, have blogs, and the city uses Twitter to communicate in “almost real time” about traffic tie ups and such. There’s also, for example, an arts blog to reach a “targeted community.”

The blogs link together on a single page. The city’s policy on social networking assures uniformity in how social media are employed and makes sure its use actually meets constituents’ needs, Schrier said. Public comments on blogs is limited, however. If a department wants to allow comments, they have to be moderated and approved before they’re put up. People who want to make comments can fill out a form on the Web site.

In today’s story on, Harris said he’s not against social networking, but, given the county’s budget struggles and his department’s own full plate, he lacks the resources to develop policy and software to cover the county on both free speech and open records issues. In Kitsap County, the public already can comment via e-mail or sign up for listservs from given departments, said Harris.

In fairness to Harris and his department, Schrier is working with a much larger budget, $57 million, about 70 percent of Kitsap’s total 2010 budget, and he has 205 employees.

Want to Serve on County’s New Food & Farm Policy Council?

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is recruiting members for a newly formed Food and Farm Policy Council.
The 15-member group will advise the board on issues of food production, distribution and access, with a focus on developing sustainable local agriculture. The group will meet monthly to develop strategies encouraging local food production and farming. They also will take part in educational outreach, and help the county develop partnerships with community farms and agricultural businesses.
Applicants must represent food production and farming, distribution, buy-local marketing, nonprofits or sustainable communities.
Announcement of the policy council on Monday coincided with the commissioners’ proclamation of Sept. 29 through Oct. 4 as “Harvest Week” in Kitsap County. The board encourages citizens to visit farmer’s markets, local farms. Kitsap residents can sign a pledge to eat locally. Pledge cards are available at the commissioners office in the Kitsap County administration building, 614 Division St., Port Orchard.
The deadline to apply to the Food and Farm Policy Council is Oct. 30. For more information, contact Jan Koske at (360) 337-4650 or

Port Orchard to Defer Application for Section 108 HUD Loan

Port Orchard’s plan to build a Town Center Revitalization Project is one of three proposals recommended by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council to apply for federal Section 108 loan funding through the county’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

Section 108 loans are aimed to benefit low- and moderate-income people and help eliminate “slum and blight.”

The city seeks $2 million that would be used toward the purchase of property for the parking garage-library-community center complex. The total estimated cost is $36.6 million.

A financial analysis of the applicants has been completed and the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is set to vote Monday on a resolution endorsing the applications.

Port Orchard, however, will defer making its loan application until it has completed a more thorough financial analysis, funds for which will be in the city’s 2010 budget, said Development Director James Weaver.

The deadline to apply for the loan is September of next year.

Other entities that will likely have a vested interest in the Town Center project include Kitsap Regional Library, Kitsap Transit and the Port of Bremerton, documents from the city indicate.

Other projects recommended by the KRCC to apply for the loan include Kitsap County Silverdale Campus YMCA, for $1 million, and Westbury Inc., an airport barricade company seeking to locate in North Kitsap, for $2 million. The YMCA will provide 74 new jobs in Kitsap County, 75 percent of which will be entry-level. Woodbury promises to bring 100 new jobs to the county, some in manufacturing, some in sales.

Read more about the Section 108 loan process in Kitsap shortly at

Port of Manchester IDD: Take the Poll

Should the Port of Manchester form an industrial development district to buy land for a future community center? Read the post, then take the poll on the homepage of this blog.

Port of Manchester to Revisit IDD Tax Monday
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Manchester Library

Revenue would be used for land acquisition and debt service.
By Chris Henry
Port of Manchester Commissioners will vote Monday on whether to form an industrial development district, a taxing district affecting property owners within port boundaries. Revenue from the IDD would fund the purchase of a downtown Manchester property that could some day be developed as a community center.
The IDD, which does not require a public vote, would allow the port to move quickly on the purchase while property prices remain low, said Alan Fletcher, contract administrator for the port.
Strong resistance to the new taxing district at the port’s Aug. 10 meeting led the board to defer the vote and leave the record open for a month. Some who testified supported the IDD, but opponents loudly protested the tax increase and called for at least an advisory vote on the matter.
Under the IDD the port could collect up to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value in addition to the current levy (just more than 14 cents per $1,000 for 2009) for up to six years. Port commissioners estimate they would need to collect 20 to 25 cents per $1,000 to purchase the land.
Fletcher calculates the proposed tax would cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $57.50 per year. The IDD tax is temporary and would expire at the end of the six years.
The proposed community center on the site eyed for purchase is part of the port’s parks and recreation plan, developed with community input. The center would be developed in the future in partnership with civic groups and would likely include an expanded library with space for community activities.
A portion of the IDD revenue would go to retire debt related to expanded parking at the port’s marina.
Port commissioners Steve Pedersen and Daniel Fallstrom, who were elected in 2008, expressed disapproval during their campaigns for the Port of Bremerton’s IDD, formed in 2006 to pay for the new Bremerton Marina. That IDD, which was not well publicized, became a political albatross for the Port of Bremerton.
Fallstrom in 2008 said Port of Bremerton residents should have had a say about the new tax that was set at the full amount allowed by law and in many cases more than doubled individual property owners’ payments to the port. Asked why he did not support an advisory vote for the Port of Manchester’s IDD, Fallstrom said, “It’s too late to do that this year, and cost for a special election would be $15,000, which the port can’t afford.”
Fallstrom added that Manchester’s IDD would not be as costly to property owners.
Residents who favor the community center have told the board they want to secure land for future generations rather than seeing it lost to development, Fallstrom said.
“What we’re trying to do is we have a great opportunity here to get things for the future generations at a great price,” he said.
Fallstrom would not say how he will vote on Monday.
“This is one of these hard decisions elected officials need to make. We’ll just wait ’til Monday and see what the three of us decide,” he said.
Pedersen said the board made extra efforts to seek residents’ opinions on the port’s future in part because of Bremerton’s debacle. He was a proponent of the recently formed port advisory committee whose input led the board to float the IDD. Responses from residents during and after the public hearing have given him pause.
“It’s really made me step back and take a good hard look at the authority and power to tax people, and I take that very seriously,” said Pedersen. “Just because an IDD is a tool, it doesn’t mean you take it out of the tool box and use it.”
Long-time commissioner Jim Strode, who is running unopposed in the upcoming November election, said at the meeting in August, “If I go down in flames for any decision we have to make, I’m OK with that.”

Here’s a map of the Port of Manchester:

Follow-up On South Kitsap Montessori School

In case you were wondering the outcome of of the situation with Farmhouse Montessori School on Bethel- Burley Road — made famous by the Kitsap County hearing examiner’s quote that neighbors of the school might be disturbed by the “noise generated by laughter and screaming of young children” — here’s the story in summary, from reporter Chris Dunagan’s article of Aug. 11:

“Based on new plans — including a maximum of 34 students instead of 40, as well as reduced operating hours — Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter approved the proposal with 22 conditions. The school’s hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, as opposed to the previous proposal of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

Kitsap Commissioners to Consider Sewers & “the Laughter of Children”

Two public hearings of note on Monday’s agenda for the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

1. The board will hear an appeal by the Farmhouse Montessori School in South Kitsap of the county hearing examiner’s denial for a special permit that would allow the school/day care to operate in a rural neighborhood.

2. The Board of Commissioners also will take up the issue of whether to form a Local Improvement District to extend a sewer line along Colchester Drive in Manchester.

Farmhouse Montessori

Kitsap County planners recommended approval of the school’s permit request, but when the project reached the Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter, several nearby residents said they weren’t too keen on the proposal, especially considering the extra traffic, noise and potential damage to the environment.
Hunter denied the permit, saying the use would be detrimental to the surrounding property owners.

“Educating children is an admirable profession and laudable goal,” Hunter wrote in his findings. “Montessori schools offer a unique perspective on the educational process and can provide a valuable service to the community. (But) noise generated by laughter and screaming of young children during outdoor playtime and by up to 84 vehicle trips to and from the property would be materially detrimental to single-family residential properties in the immediate vicinity.”

Manchester Sewer LID 9

The Board of commissioners deferred a decision on the matter, after testy testimony from area residents, who questioned the accuracy of the costs and the process by which LID boundaries were drawn.

Ron Rada, chairman of the Manchester Community Council’s sewer committee, is spearheading the LID process. After the previous meeting in June, he submitted to the board a detailed response to questions raised during the hearing.

Among other questions, Rada addresses a concern about LID boundaries raised by Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, a Manchester resident. Avery asked why some properties between the previously formed LID 8 and the proposed LID 9 were not required to be part of either district. Avery said it was unfair to other residents that these folks weren’t obliged to pay their share of the cost.

Rada, in his letter, explained that some property owners joined LID 8 as latecomers, a move approved by the board. The latecomers and those who didn’t want to hook up to the sewer form a patchwork of properties between LID 8 and 9, some with sewer service, some without.

The committee couldn’t legally require the unsewered properties to be part of LID 9, Rada explained, because the sewer line had already been extended to accommodate the latecomers in LID 8. The law permits LID boundaries to include only properties without current access to sewer. When and if the septic on the properties in LID no-man’s-land fail, they will be required to either fix them or hook up to the sewer, Rada said.

Rada also sent me an article by John Carpita, a public works consultant, explaining how local utility districts are formed . The title of the article, “Are We Having Fun Yet?” hints at the complexity of the process, but Carpita spells it out in his introduction, saying, “LIDs are more fun than root canals without novocaine, a three-month visit from your in-laws, balancing city budgets… (with) a reputation as difficult to administer, time consuming and a public relations disaster waiting to happen (my emphasis added).”

The article addresses the issue of proportionality of assessments. “Statutes specify that the assessment per parcel must not exceed the special benefit, which is defined as the fair market value of the property before and after the local improvement project,” Carpita writes.

Resident Tom Warren questioned whether residents were proportionately represented. The petition approval was determined by area of property, giving those with larger properties more weight in the vote, yet the amount assessed per property is the same, he observed. Carpita’s article confirms that the LID petition “needs to be signed by owners of 51 percent of area within the LID.” (The LID 9 petition just barely met this threshold.) Clearly, Rada & company followed the statutes. However, the question the commissioners need to answer (and one that perhaps Avery himself could address) is whether having access to the sewer line conveys equal value to each property regardless of its size.

I’m going on vacation next week, so will pass this off into other capable hands. But I’ll be watching to see how the commissioners rule and invite your comments of enlightenment before or after the meeting. Cheers.

Yo, Bremerton – It’s a Dog Gone Shame

Fans of Uptown Mike’s hot dog stand – formerly located on the Bremerton Boardwalk — take note. Mike Lipson, a.k.a. Uptown Mike, has relocated his business to Port Orchard, specifically the front terrace of the Kitsap County Administration Building at 619 Division Street.
Hot dogs and government? Well you know what they say about making sausage.

Uptown Mikes 1
Uptown Mikes 1

“It’s something I always thought would be a natural,” said Lipson. “In other cities, street vending by government buildings is like peanut butter and jelly.”
Lipson said on his first day, “I was slammed.”
Apparently Kitsap legislators have a greater appetite for hot dogs than Bremerton boaters.
“There was not enough traffic there to support the business,” said Lipson, explaining his move from the boardwalk.
Lipson, a Port Orchard resident five years and counting, formerly operated his stand on the Port Orchard waterfront and added the Bremerton location about two years ago. Now, he’s open at the courthouse 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and at Ace Hardware in Port Orchard’s Towne Center Mall Thursday through Sunday.
Getting a hot dog at Uptown Mike’s is as much about the experience as it is the food.
Lipson, born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, slathers on the accent – only slightly diluted by 30 years away from the Big Apple – like an extra serving of grilled onions. He sings the praises of his product with characteristic NYC hyperbole.
“You go from baby food to hot dogs. It’s on every street corner,” he said.
Lipson serves genuine Sabrett frankfurters, “the official hot dog of New York City.” That may not mean much to the general public. But to former New Yorkers like Steve Krecker, it’s the gold standard.
“Sabrett hot dogs, as far as I’m concerned, are the best hot dogs on the planet. It’s nice to be able to get them,” said Krecker, his own accent thickening with every bite.
Uptown Mike's 2
Uptown Mike's 2

Krecker has dogged Updown Mike from one location to another.
“Steve’s one of the anchors of the business. He grew up back east. He knows the food,” said Lipson.
OK, so what’s the big deal about Sabrett? As someone who also grew up back east, I can say from experience, there are hot dogs and then there’s Sabrett.
As I remember them, “real” New York hot dogs are plump but not spongy, with a slightly crunchy skin. Smother them with sauerkraut or tangy grilled onions in red sauce, inhale the spicy aroma (mixed with the damp cellar smell wafting out of the subway) and chomp down. Ahhh.
Theoretically all that would be missing here is the subway.
Alas, when I arrived for my meeting with the county commissioners this week, I had just eaten lunch, so I have yet to find out if Uptown Mike’s lives up to my memories.
Bremerton Beat blogger Steve Gardner, who sampled Lipson’s wares in 2007 in Port Orchard, declined to pick a favorite out of Uptown’s — then planning to locate in Bremerton — and two other Bremerton hot dog stands. Gardner recently drove out of his way to see what Snap Dogs Diner, open this year on Lund Avenue in Port Orchard, had to offer. Gardner’s obviously never met a dog he didn’t like.
So, Steve (and Bremerton) eat your heart out. At least you’ll have a good reason to look forward to those commissioners’ meetings.

No Surprise, Assessed Property Values Down Again

Most property owners in Kitsap County will see an eight to 12 percent reduction in their assessed values for taxes payable in 2010, Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery announced Tuesday. In most cases, however, that won’t equate to a corresponding reduction in taxes, due to voter approved levy rate increases in all areas of the county.

The assessor’s office will mail out change-of-value notices on Wednesday to 105,215 Kitsap County residents. Updated information on assessed property values has been available on the county’s Web site since last week.

Avery, who has been predicting an average 10 percent reduction in assessed values for this year, said the eight to 12 percent is what he expected based on analysis of real estate trends.

Asked to predict assessed valuations for 2010, Avery said, “I have no idea. I like to think we’ve hit the bottom from a price point, but I understand there’s still some foreclosures that are going to hit the market. Certainly it’s those foreclosures in my mind that are causing the prices of the properties to go downward.”

Read more in a story to be posted later on

Asked to comment on any silver lining in all this, Avery said – as we’ve heard from those in the real estate industry – this is a great time for first-time home buyers to jump into the pool, especially considering the $8,000 tax credit available to qualified buyers.

Is anybody out there making lemonade?

Citizen Complains of Neighborhood’s Growing Pains

On Monday, I covered a closed record public hearing before the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on the Ridgline development near Lake Emelia in South Kitsap. The proposed project, calling for 102 single family lots on 18.28 acres, is owned by local development investor and Planning Commission member Fred Depee .

The appellants, led by Lake Emelia residents Bill Simmons and Peter Boorman, have been fighting the proposal for two years, charging that storm water from the property would damage Lake Emelia and that the density would disturb wildlife and spoil the ambiance of the neighborhood.

The property, which Depee bought in 1994, was originally zoned urban reserve under the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan, earmarked by the county for possible future up-zoning. During the 2006 comp plan revision, the zoning was changed to urban low residential, which allows four to nine units per acre. Ridgeline’s proposed density is 5.6 units per acre.

Some of the neighbors are chaffing at their lack of awareness of the potential for future development that existed in the 1990s under the urban reserve designation. At least one of them knew of it. The Kitsap County hearing examiner’s records show a letter to the county from resident Peter Boorman dated in 1996. But others, including Chris Lemke, say they weren’t aware that a zoning change was proposed for the area, nor its potential to change the look and feel of the neighborhood.

Lemke , who wrote a letter to the Kitsap Sun editor, complained at Monday’s meeting that the county should be more direct in alerting residents of areas where the urban growth area boundary could be extended. The county publishes notice of public hearings, on comp plan changes, and according to reporter Chris Dunagan, there was considerable press coverage of the 2006 Kitsap County Comp Plan update, as well as a page on the county’s Web site. But Lemke said, “When they extended the UGAs , I never got any notice of it. … Everything is on the side of the contractor right now.”

Depee has said his business depends on his ability to anticipate growth and invest in properties years, even decades before he can expect to a see a return.

In an earlier story, he said, “I can understand their concerns. Everyone fights growth. They’re afraid their rural living is being affected. But it’s not me who put the zoning in.

“I am a third-generation Kitsap County resident. If I had my choice, all of Kitsap would look and be like it was in the ’60s and ’70s when I was growing up. The powers to be, and time, have dictated the change to what it is and I make a living on these changes.”

Under the state’s Growth Management Act, growth is to be concentrated rather than sprawling. But changes in urban growth areas don’t happen without the population increase to support the expansion of the urban growth area, according to Dunagan. The comp plan is updated every 10 years, using updated state population estimates. Where UGA boundaries go is up to local government entities working through the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. Potential growth is allocated according to how much each city is willing/able to handle. UGA boundaries are determined according to a list of criteria, such as where urban services are or will become available.

Lemke, in his testimony before the commissioners, said the county should go the extra mile to inform residents of impending zoning changes by including notice in annual property tax statements. What do you think?