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TO: City Council FROM: Debbie Vancil Re: Proposed Land Use code DATE: October 30, 2011

update: BIMC 18.108.040.C (1) (g)

The November 1, 2011, city council study session agenda includes review of the city land use code update. While this project offers much needed and long awaited change to our land use code for consistency and clarification improvements, it was never intended to include major policy changes to our land use codes. As a former planning commissioner/chair for 7 years, who helped draft the citys Comprehensive Plan and Municipal Code, and former city council member who served over 5 years on the citys Land Use Committee, with 2 years as the Land Use chair when this code update began, I am surprised to read it includes a major land use policy change currently before the city council. In fact, when the code update project was initiated and approved in 2008, the city council and the community were repeatedly assured in numerous documents and in public meetings that, This update will focus on reducing inconsistencies and excessive complexity to create a more user friendly code. Major policy changes will not be considered. Official City of Bainbridge announcement; March 6, 2008; Kathy Cook. The proposed significant policy change to allow a 50% increase in the lot coverage for non residential uses such as schools, churches, governmental, or health care facilities in all residential zones is included in your upcoming review. This is a major change to the city land use code because it substantially increases impacts of noise, traffic, parking, and density of non residential uses into all island neighborhoods without consideration. Including this new provision in the land use code update is moving beyond the projects scope of work that was relayed to the city council and the community. It is a betrayal of trust with the community that the city made, insuring no major policy changes will be considered as part of the update. The city Comprehensive Plan recognizes that not all neighborhoods on Bainbridge Island are the same; some are more urban in nature, with increased density and desirable pedestrian access to services. Others are more rural in nature, where residents enjoy open spaces and quiet solitude, or agricultural uses. Most of the islands neighborhoods are made up of single family homes and gardens on quiet lanes and streets where children play and neighbors chat and walk. More urban neighborhoods are best able to absorb increases in density and the impacts it brings. While a small country school or a small community church may occasionally be part of a suburban neighborhood, their presence is best being part of the landscape, rather than dominating it, and their non residential impacts of increased traffic, noise, and density to the neighborhoods are able to be mitigated by the fact that they are well screened and buffered. Our Land Use Element in the Comprehensive Plan supports policies that will ensure protection of island neighborhoods.

This particular proposed change to the land use code allows non residential uses to double in size, thus doubling the impacts and reducing the mitigation opportunities, such as space for buffers, without any regard to the surrounding neighborhood. By changing this code as part of the update process and applying it across the board to the entire island, in all neighborhoods, the city is treating all zones in all neighborhoods the same. With this proposed change, it appears the city is determining any neighborhood could absorb large institutions such as combination school/churches or health care facilities without compromising the nature of the neighborhood. We all know that today, churches, schools, and other institutions allowed under this provision of the code are not occasionally used. For economical/efficiency purposes, they are now used 24/7. Unlike such uses in the past, today these institutions have become full time centers of activity. This means the impacts to a residential neighborhood are ongoing. What about traffic and parking? The city recognized that off street parking required for places of assembly should comply with federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) when it changed the standards to be the same for both uses; 10 spaces per 1000 sq feet (for theatres, auditoriums, etc.). Thus, the city recognizes that the traffic and density that comes with the required parking is expected in all neighborhoods with this proposed 50% increase in the size of institutional buildings in residential areas. What about additional impacts of non residential uses as a land use policy? The city recognized that non residential districts such as Neighborhood Service Centers, Business/Industrial, etc. have real impacts on residential neighborhoods, and require mitigation for compatibility with residential uses. Since developing these special mitigations was considered a substantial change it was agreed by the Ad Hoc Committee that these particular changes to the land use code should take place outside the current Title 18 rewrite. Yet, the substantial change of doubling the size and thus doubling the impacts of non residential uses within residential zones is being included as part of the update. This makes no sense, and is inconsistent with the citys own scope of work and stated intentions for this project. The city council should reinstate the 50% maximum allowable size of institutional buildings in all residential neighborhoods. The draft proposed change is outside the stated scope of this project. It is a substantial change because it applies to all neighborhoods without consideration. This change to the land use code should not occur island-wide in all neighborhoods. It is not appropriate for all neighborhoods. Whatever the city thinks is broken and needs to be fixed, it should address outside the current code update, with plenty of public participation. Do you think most neighborhoods are aware of this proposed significant change? Any such change should be considered according to the residential zoning code, with close consideration of the Comprehensive Plan, a city legal document that takes primacy over city code.