Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bremerton falls under sway of mobile bread pushers. Could Bainbridge be next?

Remember the city’s crackdown on the island’s illicit mobile bread trade?

Well, Bremerton and Port Orchard are now facing their own scourge of roadside baguettes. Thing is, the powers-that-be down in those parts actually appear to welcome four-wheeled bread pushers.

Head over to here to read about a breadmobile that operates with impunity in the county’s south end.

Rather than hide their operation in dark alleyways, the owners of “Loaf and Round” park their brightly-colored bread van along busy streets. And they wear big poofy hats that would be hard for any code enforcement officer to miss.

Everyday, more Kitsap mainlanders get hooked on Loaf and Round’s 40 varieties of bread.

Could Bainbridge be next?

What happened to the police blotter?

You might notice the Bainbridge police blotter is a bit short on detail this week.

That’s because the Bainbridge Island Police Department has a new policy of withholding narrative descriptions from the incident reports they make available to the press on a weekly basis. In place of a narrative is a one- to two-sentence summary.

Access to incident narratives, which provide the bulk of a report’s information, now require that the Kitsap Sun and other members of the press file a public records request for each incident.

The police have up to five days to respond with either the records or an estimate of how long it may take to release the records.

In essence, the press will now receive much less information than in the past unless we go through a time-consuming records request process. The one- or two-hour task of reviewing and reporting on the weekly log of incidents could now take a week or more.

Why the change in policy?

Bainbridge Commander Sue Shultz said she, City Attorney Jack Johnson and Police Chief Jon Fehlman determined that providing less information makes the department more efficient.

“We have less staff to work with,” Shultz said. “This is a way to slim down the product.”

The policy change came after the Kitsap Sun questioned Bainbridge police’s redaction policy, pointing out that it was inconsistent with open records laws.

State law allows police to black out the names and personal information of victims and juvenile suspects on police reports. However, Bainbridge police have had a policy of blacking out all names, all personal information, all street addresses – even the names of businesses, brands, prescription drug makers and consumer products. Vehicle brands were left in, but prescription drug brand names were almost always blacked out.

The scope of redacted information has grown through the years, making a report’s narrative difficult and sometimes impossible to follow.

We cited the relevant state laws and asked that changes be made and obtained an opinion from the state Attorney General’s office that reinforced our position.

We also suggested that redacting less information may actually save police time. Reports from weekends are often unavailable to the press on Mondays because of the amount of redacting police clerks were required to do.

We stressed that the Bremerton and Port Orchard police and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office all provide information in a similar open manner without requiring a formal public records request.

After about a month of discussions with Bainbridge police, Shultz notified us her department would alter its procedure to better comply with state open records laws.

We agreed with her that the names of witnesses, victims, social security numbers and narratives involving children and ongoing investigations should be withheld.

We were surprised, then, to find that the narratives were withheld when we next checked the stack of reports.

Shultz said the city attorney’s review of open records laws indicated that the department is not required to provide the narratives unless we file a records request.

The attorney’s reading is legally correct. However, the relationship between newspapers and police departments has often allowed reporters to read reports without filing a public records request to obtain each narrative. That type of agreement is in the interest of helping journalists report on the community fully and accurately, and minimizes the time spent by police clerks in redacting information or handling public records requests.

In the interest of transparency, and in continuing to provide readers the same level of coverage, we plan to file the requests on each incomplete report we believe may contain valuable information.

We are not accusing Bainbridge police of stonewalling us beyond what the law allows, but we are questioning why a change in procedure is necessary. We’ll continue to work with police to answer that question. The change does make our job more difficult to do, and we hope to find a solution that does not affect what our readers expect from us, and from its police department.

Police blotter: Short on detail, for now


The Bainbridge Island Police Department has a new policy of withholding narrative descriptions from incident reports made available to the press. This means the week’s blotter has far fewer details than the blotters of years past. For more information on the department’s disclosure policies, and the Kitsap Sun’s efforts for greater transparency, see the above post.

Blotter’s below.

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Shoreline Master Program comment period extended

The city is giving residents more time to review and respond to proposed changes to the Shoreline Master Program, a hot-button set of policies that guide shoreline development.

Read the city’s announcement below.

The first of three opportunities to comment on the shoreline citizen workgroup draft policy amendments has been extended to Tuesday, April 26, 2011.

Draft amendments to the Goals and Policies of the City of Bainbridge Island’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) are posted on the Shoreline Master Program Update project webpage for public review and comment.

The draft contains policy recommendations produced by citizen groups as part of the City’s update to the Shoreline Master Program. The SMP guides shoreline development under the state Shoreline Management Act, and state law requires that the city update the management program by the end of 2011. The recommendations are a product of a unique citizen involvement process, designed to engage interested community organizations and citizens in three topic-based workgroups and a task force consisting of representative the workgroups.

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VIDEO: Port Madison Home’s goodbye

Port Madison Home owner John Hays produced a short YouTube video (see above) to discuss the closure of his Winslow Way furniture store.

In it, he urges islanders to support local businesses because they have a more of a stake than off-island chain stores in the health of the community.

“If our downtown is important to you, please consider what it takes to keep it,” Hays says in the video.

For more about Port Madison Home’s closure and the impact it may have on downtown, head over here.

A “new” Blackbird and other restaurants opening in Winslow

Despite the shaky economy and the challenges the Winslow Way reconstruction poses for businesses, five new downtown leases were signed last week, including three for new eating establishments.

Blackbird Bakery’s customers have long wished the nearly-always-crowded coffee and lunch hangout would expand. That wish will come true by mid-April with the opening of Fork and Spoon, a new restaurant that borrows from Blackbird’s menu while expanding it to include meat dishes, salads, beer and wine.

“This started as a way to grow our lunch business, which was held back by seating capacity,” Blackbird co-owner Jeff Shepard said.

Fork and Spoon will take over the nearby Madrone Lane space formerly occupied by Victor Alexander winery.

There will be no indoor connection to Blackbird’s Winslow Way space, although the new restaurant will make use of Blackbird’s kitchen.

The new location will have outdoor seating in an enclosed courtyard.

Shepard said Fork and Spoon will use many local ingredients, including Bainbridge eggs and vegetables.

Also set to open soon is Radish, a high-end restaurant run by the former owners of Real Foods, which closed closed a few months ago.

A new sandwich shop is set to open soon in Winslow Mall, but I have little more detail than that.

Lawsuits, landslides and energy bills

Power down
Bainbridge Positive Energy group officially launched a grant-funded initiative to curb residential power use.

The group is scheduling free home energy assessments for up to 4,000 Bainbridge households.

Read more here.

Ratepayer rebound
Also this week, the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance expanded its lawsuit against the city, giving a bit more life to a legal challenge that has already suffered three setbacks in court.

The lawsuit now includes an allegation that the city failed to properly charge itself stormwater fees for island roads.

Read more here.

Soggy hillside
Gertie Johnson Road remains closed and most of its homes remain empty after an emergency evacuation last week.

Rain continues to plague the landslide-prone hillside on which Gertie sits, making road-clearing risky.

Read my update on the closure here, and head below to read the city manager’s Mar. 18 letter to the road’s residents.

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New Poll: Which Ferncliff design is best?

The Housing Resources Board unveiled a dramatic redesign of the Ferncliff affordable housing project late last month.

The 48-unit community land trust project’s cutting-edge look has given way to something that HRB admits is cheaper, smaller and more traditional.

“This won’t look any different from any other residential development on the island,” said Charlie Wenzlau, an architect and chairman of HRB.

Read the story here.

Above, you can see a before (left) and after (right) of the project’s proposed design. The earlier design was crafted by Bainbridge architect Julie Kriegh. The new design is by Central Highland Builders, a Poulsbo company that will also build the units.

Part of the reason for the change is to get costs lower as the Great Recession slims down the available grants for housing projects.

HRB also want to make the homes more likely to sell so the nonprofit group isn’t saddled with empty houses.

Changes were also made to appease neighbors, who prefer a more traditional look and more parking for the project’s residents.

More of the newer designs can be seen below, as well as the project’s new site plan.

Weigh in on which design set you like best in the poll to the right. For a more detailed critique, head down to the comments below.

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Results are in: Your off-leash dog should earn you a citation

The Bainbridge Conversation’s last poll asked readers to weigh in on how the park district should handle the growing number of dogs at island parks. See related story here.

With a sturdy 53 percent of the vote, the top answer was for the park district to hand out citations to violators of off-leash and poop clean-up rules.

Coming in at Number Two with a distant 24 percent was a desire for the district to build more off-leash areas.

Seventeen percent said off-leash hours should be allowed at certain parks that get little use.

Five percent suggested that specially-trained dogs be allowed to go off-leash at parks.

And coming in last with one vote was the idea for an expanded off-leash area at Eagledale Park.