UPDATED: City loses key shoreline planner

City shoreline planner Peter Namtvedt Best has resigned just as the city prepares for the daunting task of updating its shoreline master plan.

Best, who joined the city in 2001, turned in his resignation late last week. He will continue on a part-time basis until mid-September.

“This is a big loss to me and the department,” Planning Director Kathy Cook said. “We’re working on a transition plan now because he was working on so many big projects. We want to keep him on a part-time basis as long as we can.”

Best said he’s leaving the city to be a stay-at-home dad for his twin toddlers.

“It’s with a lot of mixed emotions that I’m leaving, and I have a lot of hope and pride for the projects I’m working on, but my kids will only be this age once,” he said, noting that he might be open to returning once his children are older.

Best’s position is an important one for a city that boasts 53 miles of shoreline.

He lead shoreline research, reviewed shoreline permits and was successful in obtaining shoreline restoration grants worth millions of dollars.

As founder and coordinator of the city’s Shoreline Stewardship Program, Best led a corps of volunteers and professionals on hands-on conservation and environmental education projects. The program’s 2005 salmon study startled marine biologists with data that debunked old notions about regional salmon migrations and revealed that some federal and state protections were falling short for the most sensitive salmon species.

Best would have led the city though what is expected to be a highly contentious shoreline master plan update. Some shoreline land owners have already threatened lawsuits if tougher regulations are enacted.

Best was often the focal point of anger from residents who opposed shoreline development restrictions. In recent months, Best weathered a flurry of criticism over plans he led for the restoration of Strawberry Plant Park’s beach.

He stressed that criticism did not play into his resignation.

“I’ve got pretty thick skin,” he said. “A lot of it was unwarranted criticism, but it was exactly that: unwarranted.”

Best, who grew up in Central Kitsap, began working for the city while he was a student at Western Washington University. His first internship at the city was with the public works water resources division in 2000. He was hired as a planner shortly after his second internship in 2001.

Cook commended Best’s technical know-how and work ethic.

“He is a hard-working, conscientious, talented and skilled employee,” she said. “He had a big load of projects and was extremely diligent in working on them.”

Best’s resignation comes on the heels of several other recent resignations of high-profile staff, including city engineer Bob Earl, public works director Randy Witt and police chief Matt Haney this year.

Deputy finance Director Carol Badzik, planning director Greg Byrne and city administrator Mary Jo Briggs left last year.

11 thoughts on “UPDATED: City loses key shoreline planner

  1. The old politician’s tried-and-true way out of pickle: leaving position XXXX to spend more quality time with my family.

    We will see if COBI Planning Department sans Best will have less of an aggressive litigation edge now that Peter Best departs for greener shorelines.

  2. NO LOSS! This is the best thing that could have happened at City Hall. He, Peter Best, created an atmosphere of contention. Maybe now things will go allot smoother as regards the shoreline and the upcoming update. Maybe even his replacement will be a listener, and maybe even recognize that he or she works for the people of the Island not to accomplish personal agenda items.

    HOORAY! Now we need to rid ourselves of a couple of Council people, Peters and Franz and we’ll have in place an organization, City and Council which can accomplish the work of the taxpayers of this Island.

    Again HOORAY!

  3. Simple solution, Ms. Cook… kill the projects.

    Peter Best’s departure — along with one or two others, including Josh “It’s My Beach” Mecham — would give you and the new city manager a chance to build a department that has a working relationship with taxpayers instead of a contentious, adversarial one.

    As it is, no rational citizen will have a meeting at city hall with Mecham or Best without an attorney present… and that means the city attorney must attend. Why? Because they are totally out of control.

  4. Mr. Bigman- WOW! I agree this departure gives the City a huge opportunity. Imagine the need to go to City Hall with an attorney ea. time because of the contentious atmosphere present. This whole atmosphere was either created and/or greatly strengthened by our ex-Mayor thru her demanding of secrecy and not sharing with the Council and/or the taxpaying public. If you or I worked for such a person we too, to keep our jobs would do as demanded by the leadership.

    Well the Mayor is out, Best, and others have left so Mark, Kathy et al have a great opportunity. Time will tell if they are smart enough to take advantage of it. It is not going to come around again until there is another major upsetting of the apple cart.

  5. Peter Best wasn’t out to win any sort of popularity contest, but he earned respect from a lot of hard-to-please citizens on Bainbridge. In spite of the abuse he endured from people who had little understanding of the principles and expert knowledge that guided his work, I always found him to be poised, even-tempered, and focussed on what he understood to be the best possible outcomes for the community. He was a long-range planner, so of course he was at odds with some short-sighted owners of shoreline property.

    It will be impossible to replace Peter Best with someone equally knowledgeable about the Island’s ecology and all that is required of us (the City and individual shoreline property owners) under the state of Washington’s Shoreline Management Act. But the wealth of information that he has collected and analyzed will be invaluable in the hands of others.

  6. No doubt Jon lives in a cave in the middle of the Island and hasn’t had to deal with Mr. Best as a waterfront owner. He not only lost the popularity contest but lost total respect from most of those who pay the bulk of the taxes on the Island by cowtowing to those in caves who want to go back to paelolictic times.

    Best known science from Mr. Best was always that which supported his personal objectives and always there was conflicting data and this was always tossed aside. A classic case of non-objective study, using only that which supported the cave dwellers and personal objectives.

    Replacing Mr. Best will likely not be too difficult. Someone who has the ability to work with people and hear what people consider to be their wants and needs, priorities, and manage these with the State laws will go a long way in picking up the pieces left all over the Island by Mr. Best.

    Contentiousness was always present where-ever Best tread. People of this Island have NO desire to trash the place and people of this Island want to preserve the beauty, the serenity, and the land so the job of finding the middle ground is very possible without the people issues Mr. Best’s approach developed in the past.

  7. “He was a long-range planner…”

    Was he? In none of these reports have I read that he was certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. Unfortunately, we have LOTS of people calling themselves “planners”. All too often, they are -essentially – political appointees pushing a political agenda. The public should demand that before a government official be given the title “planner” they should achieve certification as such. This would – to the extent anything can – ensure adherence to a set of ethical standards that – commonly – seems to be lacking.

  8. Bingo! BlueLight and Mary share the prize.

    Mr. Quitslund seems to think that a 30-something with no academic or professional credentials is the only possible savior of our unique island environment. In the end, however, the only possible savior is us… all of us… doing the right things because we want to.

  9. P. Best leaving the Island is the best thing that has happened here since the end of WW II. Other Puget Sound jurisdictions looking for a planner, beware! His attitude is a threat to our constutional rights.

  10. I stand corrected. According to the Bainbridge Review, Mr. Best has a degree in Environmental Planning and Policy from Western Washington University. It is bachelor of arts degree, but he thinks of himself as qualified to discuss, even DO science. He lists himself as “editor” of “peer reviewed” scientific reports, but he is no peer, no scientist.

  11. Good deductions Mr. Bigman-a fake he is. I think others have said this already but this departure is NO loss to our City. We need objerctivity, we need listeners, we need City employees to understand who is paying their salary, and we need City employees to work with the residents vs. just throwing up roadblock after roadblock. The City Manager and the Council need to hold a closed door meeting with the City employees and lay out the new cooperative ground rules that so as to overcome the direction of our ex-Mayor which is certainly a major part of the problem. If employees can’t figure out how to work with the citizens of this City, how to work with contractors, how to not be confrontational then they need to join Mr. Best on the sidelines. So Mr. Bigman we all need to spur on our new City Manager, and the Council with encouragement to take advantage of the moment to set down the expectations for the City employees so we can move ahead with the priorities

Comments are closed.