Category Archives: Kitsap Alliance News

Zoning Use Code Update

At our Sept 1 Board of Directors meeting, Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD )Staff provided a brief on the proposed Zoning Code Update that is scheduled to be submitted to a Panning Commission Public Hearing at the end of September. The Material that they presented provides a summary of the propose changes. The county Zoning code update page can be found here:
https://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/Pages/Zoning-Use-Table-Update.aspx .

One of the problems with the county zoning use update page is that it is difficult to the content of the change. The Zoning content change is here:
Use Table Resource Guide,
Definitions Resource Guide,
Special Use Provisions Resource Guide

Please read this material carefully and provide the KAPO Board with feedback and consider testifying at the Planning Commission Hearing. The Planning Commission Schedule can be found here: https://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/PCDocs/2020%20External%20Planning%20Commission%20Calendar.pdf

The Board Is interested in your thoughts so testimony can be readied for the public hearing.

The county is adding a whole new 43 page section to the Zoning Code. Basically moving the Zoning code footnotes to a new section.

Section 17.415 General Requirements
17.415.005 Purpose.
This chapter establishes special provisions for allowed uses identified in Sections 17.410.042 through 17.410.048. In addition to other standards and requirements imposed by this title and other requirements in the Kitsap County Code, all uses shall comply with the provisions stated herein. Should a conflict arise between the requirements of this Chapter and other requirements of the Kitsap County Code, the most restrictive shall apply.

This Section contains rules for everything from Accessory Dwelling Units to Zoo, Aquarium. It includes items such as:

17.415.— Garage sales

Periodic, noncommercial sales of personal and household goods, and professional estate sales, at residential dwellings shall be allowed as an accessory use, provided such sale events conform to the following conditions:

  1. A maximum of four events per residential address per calendar year.
  2. A maximum of four consecutive days per event.
  3. Limited to the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  4. Goods shall not be placed in the public right-of-way.
  5. It shall be the responsibility of the resident and/or operator of the sale to ensure traffic is not obstructed.
  6. All goods, tables, canopies, tarps, and associated paraphernalia shall be removed from public view between sale events.
  7. Goods shall be limited to the personal or household property of the estate, the residents of the sale location, and/or the participants in the sale. There shall be no sale of goods or products purchased or produced for resale or otherwise sold by the sale participants in a commercial enterprise.
  1. Pets and Exotic Animals. Pets, nontraditional pets and exotic animals are subject to the following conditions:
  2. Pets which are kept inside of a primary structure as household pets in aquariums, terrariums, cages or similar containers shall not be limited in number by this section. Other pets, excluding cats, which are kept indoors shall be limited to five;
    b. Pets which are kept outside of the primary structure shall be limited to three per household on lots less than twenty thousand square feet in area, only one of which may be a nontraditional pet; five per household on lots of twenty thousand to thirty- five thousand square feet, only two of which may be nontraditional pets; with an additional two pets per acre of site area over thirty-five thousand square feet up to a limit of twenty; and
  3. No feeding area or structure used to house, confine or feed pets shall be located closer than the minimum yard setbacks for the zone in which they are located. No feeding area or structure used to house, confine or feed nontraditional pets or exotic animals shall be located closer than fifty feet from any residence on adjacent property.

17.415.— Accessory use or structure.

  1. One piece of heavy equipment may be stored in any single-family zone; provided, that it is either enclosed within a permitted structure, or screened to the satisfaction of the director.
  2. A residential accessory use or structure in the Rural Historic Town Waterfront (RHTW) zone, notification to the Port Gamble/S’Klallam and Suquamish Tribes is required by the applicant prior to determination of complete application. Written proof of notification is required.
  3. Storage of shipping containers is prohibited unless allowed as part of a land use permit and/or approval. Placement of storage containers allowed only with an approved temporary permit subject to the provisions of Section 17.105.090(I).

17.415.— Campground.

  1. Campgrounds shall be recreational and transient and shall not allow:
    1. Camping for more than thirty days within a forty-day time period. Campers must vacate the overnight park facilities for ten consecutive nights between allowed stays. The time period shall begin on the date for which the first night’s fee is paid. The campground operator shall keep a log of all members of the camping party and ensure that the allowed number of days stay is not exceeded.
  2. The designation of the campground as a permanent or temporary address on official documents or applications submitted to public or private agencies or institutions.
  3. In the Rural Residential (RR) zone, Rural Protection (RP), and Rural Wooded (RW) zones, a campground is allowed only as an accessory use to a park or recreational facility greater than twenty acres in size except when included within the boundaries of a town master plan approved pursuant to Section 17.360C.030. If included within a town master plan boundary, the use shall not include more than sixty spaces per five acres. All use of recreational vehicles must be transient in nature.

17.415.— Manufactured/mobile/RV/park-model/tiny home parks.

Manufactured home/mobile/RV park/park-model/tiny home park must meet the following requirements:

  1. In the Rural Residential (RR) or Rural Wooded (RW) zones and only within the boundary of a town master plan approved pursuant to Section 17.360C.030 on parcels of five acres or larger with all uses set back one hundred feet from all parcels not included within the boundary, manufactured/mobile/RV/park- model/tiny home parks shall be allowed and require a Conditional Use Permit (C).
  2. Manufactured home parks shall be completely and adequately served by public utilities.
  3. Building lot coverage. The maximum building lot coverage is sixty percent, including accessory buildings.
  4. Accessory buildings. Buildings and structures accessory to individual manufactured homes shall be allowed. An accessory roof or awning may be attached to a manufactured home and shall be considered a part thereof. Automobile parking spaces may be covered with a carport.
  5. All drives within the park shall be hard surfaced. Sidewalks and paths shall be provided consistent with county standards.
  6. There shall be at least a ten foot setback between homes, any building within the park.
  7. There shall be sight-obscuring fencing, landscaping, or natural vegetated buffers at least eight feet wide on all sides of the park. Such screening shall contain openings that provide direct pedestrian access to adjoining streets and trails.
  8. Recreational Areas/Open Space. At least five hundred square feet for each manufactured home space shall be made available in a centralized location or locations for recreational uses.
  9. Binding site plan. A complete and detailed binding site plan shall be submitted in support of the permit. The binding site plan shall show the locations and dimensions of all contemplated buildings, structures, spaces, driveways and roads and recreational areas. The Director may require additional information as necessary to determine whether the proposed manufactured park meets all the above conditions and other applicable provisions of this code.

Kitsap Housing Supply is in Crisis

“Housing Affordability” vs. “Affordable Housing”

It’s not about “affordable housing,’·
It’s about housing people can afford to buy.
There’s a big difference.
What brought on the French ‘revolution?

Today in Kitsap County, 1 in 15 families are struggling with poverty due to extreme property regulation.

Kitsap County Commissioners have advised us of our critical housing shortage (Click here)

  • There is a current shortfall of 9500 units to house 4524 families.
  • The housing shortage grows to 34,650 units in 16 years.
  • 515 housing units are currently being built in Kitsap County.
  • 1,480 new housing units per year are needed to satisfy current growth.
  • Without correction, the problem grows worse each year into the future.

Discretionary income allows freedom of choice and liberty. Home ownership is the bedrock of personal dignity. High taxes and excessive regulation destroy and undermine both freedom of choice and personal dignity. Housing is typically a family’s largest discretionary income cost. As we learned in “Economics 101”, supply and demand determine prices. Reducing the cost of housing allows discretionary income to be spent elsewhere, creating jobs and tax revenue.

Kitsap County’s median home price is now $408,590, 77% above HUD’s affordability standard of $236,710 for a median income family. We see State and Local regulations now adding well over 50% to home prices.

Home construction has been impeded by Washington State’s Growth Management Act‘s restrictive regulations over the past twenty five years, resulting in our current housing shortage. For every 100 family units formed. only 42 homes are being constructed. Considering 1/3 of our residents are renters, 11,000 new rental units must be constructed by 2036. This lack of housing supply is the cause of our home and rental prices being out of sight.

County and State leadership have failed to create solutions. There is no apparent plan to increase the rate of housing construction. There appear to be no numerical goals and no measures of progress.

City of Bremerton & Kitsap County Affordable Housing Recommendations report, ECONorthwest, Final Report, March, 2020 (the “ECONorthwest paper”) rightly states adverse impacts of housing regulation can be alleviated by eliminating housing options through zoning. In Kitsap County, zoning has for years prohibited affordable “Missing Middle Housing”:  duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments cottage clustersand accessory dwelling units.

Kitsap County’s rate of housing construction must be increased by at least a factor of five or housing will become even more unaffordable. For construction to accelerate, the marketplace must be allowed to function. Local government must become an incentivized partner in construction of market-rate affordable housing, not an adversary.

The Rucklehouse Report showed the lack of affordable housing is a common complaint in all 39 Washington State counties. Only by rapidly expanding the quantity of buildable lots and unburdening developers from restrictive and expensive regulation will housing prices be reduced to affordable levels.

Washington State home prices are currently 86% above Housing and Urban Development’s definition of affordability.

Kitsap Alliance is well aware of the impacts of Washington State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) and environmental activism on housing availability. We are also aware of County and city long-term foot-dragging in creation of new and affordable building sites and zealously imposing zoning impediments and limitations. The usual bureaucratic response is “The State made us do it.”

Read the Full Housing Affordability vs Affordable Housing report.

Opinion – New York Daily News: Canceling rent won’t solve housing woes

As Americans stagger through a bewildering pandemic summer, buffeted by shutdowns and job losses, millions face each coming month with an additional dread: making their rent payments.

In response to the crisis, numerous states and localities have enacted eviction bans and rent deferral schemes. Unfortunately, such extreme measures are unjust, unlawful and counterproductive.

Governments have taken varied approaches to the threat of people being ousted from their homes en masse. California’s courts closed their doors to all eviction proceedings, even if the reason for eviction had no relationship to the pandemic. Seattle banned evictions related to non-payment so long as a tenant can “self-certify” they aren’t paying rent due to economic hardship brought on by the pandemic, and landlords must allow tenants 18 months from the end of the city’s state of emergency to repay that money. And Ithaca, N.Y., became the first — but likely not the last — city to attempt to forgive rent altogether.

While it may seem intuitive to absolve renters of their obligations during an emergency, such laws force one group to bear the burden of the crisis: landlords. They don’t get much sympathy, but landlords are often ordinary people facing the same challenges we all face. Continue reading

Homeowners told permits for their home renovation will cost an extra $11,000, thanks to upzoning in Seattle

The city of Seattle has demanded that Erika Cherry and her husband, Andre, pay $11,000 to the city’s affordable housing fund because their home-renovation project was extensive enough to qualify as new construction.

The house was always going to need a little work.

An unpermitted second bedroom extending into the back alleyway “bounced” when entered, said Erika Cherry, who bought the 650-square-foot Seattle home with her husband, Andre, in late 2018. When the Cherrys demolished a wall, they found newspapers from 1916 — the year the house was built — in place of insulation. Six-foot-tall Andre could touch the low ceilings when he reached up.

But the Cherrys loved the Highland Park neighborhood, where they’d been renting since 2014. And at $325,000, the house was a steal. They filed what Erika Cherry thought were relatively modest plans to renovate the home with the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections in early 2019. They’d bring the addition up to code, enclose the front porch and raise the roof to make the attic livable, on a budget of less than $60,000.

“We were turning a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house,” said architect Greg Krueger.

The city didn’t see it that way. A reviewer said the renovation was substantial enough to qualify as new construction. According to rules passed in 2019, the Cherrys would need to pay $11,000 to the city’s low-income housing fund if they wanted their permit, in addition to the regular permitting fees. That’s more than the Cherrys — already spending $4,200 per month on rent and mortgage while permitting drags on — were willing to pay. Continue reading

Will the voters freeze new housing development in November?

If a poison causes a disease, the obvious cure has to be even more poison, right? To most of us, that prescription sounds insane—but it’s a fair description of California’s approach to addressing the disease that is the state’s affordable housing shortage. Because much of the existing shortage is caused by government interference with the housing market, the solution, some people reason, must be even more government meddling.

That certainly seems to be the theory behind the misleadingly titled “Rental Affordability Act” appearing on California’s November ballot. This latest misguided scheme, which would allow cities to enact rent control caps on most homes at least 15 years old, will only worsen the affordable housing crisis.

Why is affordable housing such a problem in California? There are a variety of reasons, including restrictive zoning laws, environmental restrictions and other regulatory burdens, punishing impact fees, and NIMBY opposition from other landowners.

But when it comes to building new apartments, one disincentive looms above all others: rent control. Rent control first arose in California in the 1970s in response to changing residential demographics. With a scarcity of affordable single-family homes, more Californians moved into apartments. That, in turn, led to a shortage of apartments. With the supply low and demand high, rents correspondingly rose. In response, liberal enclaves like Santa Monica and San Francisco imposed rent control schemes.

The impact on housing supplies was predictable: Builders feared losing money in rent-controlled jurisdictions, so they took their business and investment elsewhere.

In 1995, the legislature stepped in to limit the damage by passing the bi-partisan Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. That law prohibited cities from imposing rent control on single-family homes and condominiums. Most importantly, newly built apartment buildings would be free from rent control. Moreover, once an existing tenant vacated a rent-controlled apartment, the rent could be reset to match market conditions. While too many other restrictions remained in place to fully address the housing shortage, it did help. More new apartments were built once developers knew they’d be free from rent control.

Until now, that is. In 2018, a group of activists tried to use a ballot measure to toss Costa-Hawkins and allow rent control to be imposed throughout the state. Fortunately, that proposal lost overwhelmingly, with 62% of California voters rejecting the new rent control scheme.

Now the same activists are back with a slightly scaled-back version. Once again, they want to toss Costa-Hawkins and make rent control safe for ambitious politicians. If they get away with it this time, it will make California’s housing crisis much worse than it already is.

Economists are in near-universal agreement on rent control: In a 2012 survey of professional economists, 98% agreed that rent control doesn’t work. By making housing shortages worse, rent control forces prices higher. Any benefit to those living in rent-controlled apartments is more than offset by higher housing costs for everyone else. Even left-leaning economist Paul Krugman warns of the perils of rent control, calling it “predictable” that in a rent-controlled environment there will be “sky-high rents on uncontrolled apartments, because desperate renters have nowhere to go—and the absence of new apartment construction, despite those high rents, because landlords fear that controls will be extended.”

A recent study of San Francisco, where  older apartments are largely free from the effects of Costa-Hawkins, found that rent control failed to keep costs low, and instead resulted in a net loss of affordable housing units. Again, this was predictable: When prices of any good are forced below the market price, the demand for the price-controlled good increases, while the incentive to supply that good decreases. A shortage develops.

And the Rental Affordability Act, if passed in November, will have precisely the same effect. We’re all familiar with the old saying that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” There’s no better illustration of that principle than this latest effort to dress up failed rent control schemes as a solution to the affordable housing crisis. Here’s hoping voters get the message and reject this poisonous ballot initiative, so we can focus on solutions that will actually improve the situation, like changes to zoning laws and regulatory reform that will allow for more new construction.

Pacific Legal Foundation article July 09, 2020 By JAMES BURLING

 

 

Jul 30: KAPO Dinner at Family Pancake House

KAPO Candidate Forum Canceled

Come out and meet the Candidates for 23rd, 26th, 35th Legis. Dists.
1st and 2nd Commissioner Districts.

Family Pancake House, Kitsap Way
July 30. Room available at 5pm for no-host dinner
Speakers 6 pm to 8pm.

Questions? Pat Ryan 350-692-4750 pat.ryan58@comcast.net

KAPO Testimony on Stormwater Design Manual Changes

KITSAP ALLIANCE OF PROPERTY OWNERS (KAPO) over the years has maintained a vigil against over regulation and regulation for regulation sake. We have been consistent in continually bringing the question – “what is the problem we are trying to solve? to the forefront. The next question to be examined in the public debate is: “how are the existing regulations failing to address the problem? While answering these questions we want to know what types of studies have been performed to document problem(s) or the ineffective measures applied in the past. And equally important is: “what is the cost to the public and private sectors to implement new regulations.”

Any regulation, existing or proposed that is crafted without first answering the above basic questions, is by definition “regulation for regulation sake.” Volume 1 of the Stormwater Design Manual fits that definition. It is that fact and other issues as outlined in this review response, that explains why KAPO is opposed to these new stormwater design regulations.

KAPO knows it is costly to actually study the environment (to include the regulatory environment) and it is much easier to just propose regulations because somebody thinks it might be a good idea. The problem with that approach is that regulations get piled on top of other regulations and nobody ever takes the time to make the analysis of whether we even need all of the regulations a county or city has adopted. Read the full letter: KAPO Testimony StmWtrDsgnRegs 6-16-20

Kitsap County Response Matrix to Citizen comments: SDM Comment Matrix

Response To Staff Comments In The Matrix For Issues Raised By Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners On June 16, 2020

Honorable Commissioners:

Before addressing the Staff comments in the matrix, KITSAP ALLIANCE OF PROPERTY OWNERS (KAPO) wants to emphasize something to correct an impression that might be held by some. Besides our mission of working to see that the protections in our US and State Constitutions are not abridged for people who own property, we are advocates for “local control and decision making” and not for State or Regional Control of Kitsap County. Thus, we want our local legislators and their supporting staff to have as their primary concern, what is best for Kitsap County and not what a state agency thinks is best or implements through their funding guidelines. In short, we reject the premise that says in effect, “the state made me do it” to include adoption of this or that regulation.

Even when our State law makers impose regulations on Kitsap County without our (the people of Kitsap County’s) consent, we want to see evidence that our local legislators have exerted every effort possible to oppose regulations that adversely affect the residents and property owners of Kitsap County or the County’s budget in a vigorous line of defense.

Quite frankly what we have witnessed in the last 20-years of involvement in the plans and ordinance development process is either no strong advocacy for local control or passive resistance only. The net result being that abdominal admission ………. “we have no choice ……… the State mandates it.” All that does is call into question, “who do our elected and staff actually represent, the State or Kitsap County?

Now to the issues posed in our June 16th letter. Continue reading

Restrictive housing policies put low-income city residents at risk during COVID-19

In the 19th century, epidemics and crowded tenement housing went hand in hand. Cholera, smallpox, and even the bubonic plague swept through America’s slum housing in numbers that make the COVID-19 epidemic seem like a case of the sniffles.

Unfortunately, today’s housing policies in many urban areas make low-income and minority city residents most at risk of catching infectious diseases. And as the COVID-19 pandemic’s tragic results in cities like New York have now made clear, housing and zoning reform is one of the best ways to protect many city residents.

As early as 1820, the link between overcrowded housing and health was established in official reports, according to A History of Housing in New York City, by Richard Plunz. He notes that one out of every 27 New Yorkers died in 1859, as a result of “urban killers” like cholera, smallpox, typhoid fever, malaria, yellow fever, and tuberculosis.

In 1890, an influential reformist book, How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis, chronicled tenement living with as much contempt for the bad housing as for the people who lived there. Riis described, block by block, the overcrowded, unsanitary housing, while criticizing the poor, ethnic residents as “content to live in a pig sty,” ignorant, lazy, thieves, beggars, tramps, drunkards, greedy, stupid, and so on.

Riis noted that the tenements were “hot-beds of the epidemics that carry death to rich and poor alike.” And that prejudiced outlook drove much of the urban housing reform movement: It was one thing for the “contemptible” classes to die in their slums but quite another for their diseases to spread to “respectable” Americans.

Housing reform throughout the 19th and 20th centuries had a common tactic: The best way to address the problem was by getting rid of the poor, and the best way to get rid of the poor was to get rid of their dwellings. Indeed, the primary reason conservative members of the Supreme Court voted to uphold one of the nation’s first zoning laws in 1926 was to prevent the spread of “apartment houses,” as the slum tenements were known, because they would become parasitic nuisances in otherwise-nice neighborhoods.

In more recent times, “urban redevelopment” and central-city highway construction had a particularly adverse impact on minority neighborhoods. Much poor and working-class urban housing was destroyed, but little was rebuilt.

But whether it was early reform efforts to punch windows in airless apartments, mandating air shafts, or setting minimum building standards, there were gradual improvements. These reforms, combined with economic growth and modern medicine, did much to relieve the urban overcrowding and disease so prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

That history makes today’s zoning and land use policies appear quite ironic. Instead of allowing people to create and move to lower-density housing if they so choose, today’s planners and politicians strive to pack more people into denser cities, serviced by crowded rail and bus systems. This is all necessary, we are told, to protect environmental habitat and save the climate.

Thus, urban growth lines have been drawn, outside of which—in some cities, such as Portland—it is nearly impossible to build. Urban economist Randal O’Toole has described this so-called “smart-growth” planning model as one that is not building for the American dream, but as the title of his book puts it, for the American Nightmare: How Government Undermines the Dream of Home Ownership.

But the irony on top of irony is that environmental and zoning restrictions have reduced new home and apartment construction in coastal regions to a fraction of what is needed to maintain existing population trends. As a result, existing housing has become outrageously expensive. Families once again are doubling up. Worse, our streets are filling with homeless encampments as bad as any of the slums of the 19th century.

And like those slums of yesteryear, the homeless camps are becoming beset by illness, through no fault of the people forced to live in them. Diseases once thought eradicated from America are back with a vengeance, as cases of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis and cholera surge among the homeless. Now, with COVID-19, some of the homeless are being sheltered in empty hotel rooms in order to protect the rest of us. But how long will this stop-gap altruism last?

And even aside from the homeless camps, dense urban living is far from ideal. With greater density comes greater crime, worse schools, and more opportunity for disease. With COVID-19, who wants to ride on a crowded train or bus, if given a choice? How many social-distancing urban dwellers cooped up in small and crowded apartments would not rather live elsewhere?

Don’t let the past be our future. Unless we free up the housing markets and let people build and buy the homes they want to build and buy, conditions in the urban core will only get worse. Instead of planning our way back into the 19th century, we should build into the 21st.

Pacific Legal Foundation Article April 30, 2020 I By JAMES BURLING

Mar 30: EPA withdraws compliance order against Sacketts

Washington, D.C.; March 30, 2020: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally withdrawn an administrative compliance order it issued in 2007 against Michael and Chantell Sackett, removing the threat of crushing fines that the couple has lived under for more than a decade.

The EPA accused the couple of illegally filling a wetland under the Clean Water Act when they broke ground to build their house in a residential neighborhood near Priest Lake, Idaho. The EPA also told the Sacketts that no home could be built on the lot, despite never establishing that the lot is a wetland under congressionally mandated criteria.

The Sacketts have spent the past 12 years fighting the EPA in federal courts — including at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Sacketts are relieved that the EPA removed its years-long threat of ruinous penalties against them,” said Pacific Legal Foundation senior attorney Tony Francois. “This case is a dramatic illustration of how heavily the bureaucratic hand of the administrative state can fall on ordinary Americans. One day the Sacketts were trying to build a house in a residential neighborhood; the next, they were facing fines of up to $75,000 per day. The Sacketts’ resolve and perseverance in this case is admirable.”

Despite the welcome news, an important detail remains unresolved: whether the Sacketts can now build on the lot.

“While the compliance order is withdrawn, it’s not clear whether the Sacketts can build anything without permission from the EPA. The EPA’s determination that the Sacketts’ vacant lot is a federally regulated wetland appears to remain in effect,” Francois explained. “We will ask the Court of Appeals to resolve that question in the Sacketts’ favor if EPA won’t clarify it. Otherwise, the Sacketts remain under the threat of future enforcement action or a citizen suit if they proceed to build on the lot.”

Pacific Legal Foundation Article

The March KAPO Dinner is Canceled

Join us for Dinner at the Family Pancake House, 3900 Kitsap Way Bremerton Washington, Thursday April 30 at 5:30 PM.

More Info Contact Pat Ryan (360) 692-4750, pat,ryan58@comcast.net