Category Archives: Building Permits

June 27: Kitsap Alliance Dinner Speaker Liz Willams Kitsap County Long Range Planner

Our Dinner Speaker for June is Kitsap County Long Range Planner Liz Williams. She has embarked on a program to streamline and revise the County Zoning Codes and Use Tables.

The goal of the program is to streamline the requirements for what can be built in your neighborhood and the process to obtain approval to build. We want to understand where you feel housing, businesses, and services should be built across the county. Your feedback will help the Department of Community Development draft proposed changes for further review later this year.

​The goals for this project include:
  • Modernize and streamline the requirements for what can be built in in your neighborhood and across Kitsap County.
  • Reduce the level of permit review, where appropriate.
  • Remove barriers to investment.
  • Reduce surprises during the permit review process and clarify development standards.
  • Ensure consistency and predictability across sections of the Kitsap County Code.

This project will NOT include updates to site design and development standards. For example, setbacks, density allowances, building height, and parking standards

The dinner will be at our new location of Dennys 5004 Kitsap Way, Bremerton at 5PM on Thursday May 30. For more information call More info? Pat Ryan at (360) 692-4750 pat.ryan58@comcast.net

Maximum Lot Size Restrictions Passed

Maximum Lot Size measure passed on June 11, 2018

The Kitsap county Commissioners held public testimony in Poulsbo on February 12, 2018. Based on Public feedback the delayed action for further reflection. On June 11 they signed the ordinance revision without substantial changes.

What does the Maximum lot size say?

“For new building permit applications on vacant lots over eighteen thousand square feet located in urban low residential (ULR) and urban cluster residential (UCR) zones, the maximum lot size shall not exceed nine thousand square feet. This restriction shall not apply if:

  1. The net developable area of the existing parcel is less than eighteen thousand square feet; or
  2. The project application will meet minimum density requirements as established by this chapter.”

What does the maximum lot size mean?

The intent of the Maximum Lots size rule is to maximize the development density in the Urban areas.

  1. 9000 Square feet equates to less than ¼ acre lot size. (1 acre = 43,560 Sqft)
  2. This restriction was only placed on Urban Low Residential and Urban Cluster Residential Zoning designations. These zones were developed because there are environmental restrictions (Banks, Streams, wetlands, etc) that preclude greater density in Urban Growth Areas.
  3. This requires urban density without providing urban services (water/ sewer)
  4. Any applicant for a building permit on a current oversized lot will be required to subdivide the property with the attendant costs, regardless of the owner desires.
  5. Any Subdivision would require provision for access, water and septic systems for all lots.

PLF asks Supreme Court to rule on Constitutionality of Impact Fees

“Until we decide this issue, property owners and local governments are left uncertain about what legal standard governs legislative ordinances and whether cities can legislatively impose exactions that would not pass muster if done administratively. These factors present compelling reasons for resolving this conflict at the earliest practicable opportunity.” Continue reading

A win for Property owners throughout California

This case is a pretty telling example of the miss use of Hearing Examiners.

For years, Oakland has treated small property owners as a piggy bank, demanding ever growing penalties for minor, alleged building code violations and denying property owners any legitimate opportunity to defend themselves. But thanks to a PLF victory in the California Court of Appeal, that abuse will come to an end.

Things got so bad that Alameda County issued a grand jury report condemning the city’s code enforcement agency for creating an “atmosphere of hostility and intimidation toward property owners.” The grand jury found that inspectors would issue inconsistent findings: one inspector would clear a property only to have another declare trivial violations. Once a violation was declared, property owners were at the mercy of the enforcement agency, the grand jury found. Property owners had no right to a fair and impartial appeal. If a notice of violation was in error, the property owner’s only recourse was to plead with the inspector to withdraw it. When the inspector inevitably declined, the property owner’s last resort was to ask the inspector’s supervisor to overrule her. But that usually proved futile because inspectors did not keep adequate records to allow that review and, even when they did, the supervisor had an incentive to deny reconsideration: the agency profited immensely from the fees charged for finding violations.

Read the full Pacific Legal Foundation Blog

“Affordable Housing” background: The 800 – pound HUD Gorilla

The 800-Pound HUD Gorilla

They say the states are supposed to be the laboratories for legislative creativity.   We can watch what works and what doesn’t, emulate the best and avoid worst, and improve the lot of everyone.

But what happens when the mad scientist is the federal government, cramming an experiment down the throat of a particular state and county?  What if their process is textbook “arbitrary and capricious“, and yet they clearly aspire to go national with the results, regardless of efficacy?

Such is the saga going on in Westchester County New York, where County Executive Rob Astorino is embroiled in a nearly four-year-old legislative and financial nightmare brought on by his predecessor Andrew Spano.   Astorino, a Republican, defeated the three-term incumbent Democrat by an odds-crushing 16 points in November of 2009, and gained unprecedented voter support by vowing to challenge what became law very late in his campaign.   Astorino described the source of the problem, in his recent “State of the County” speech:

“If you think Albany is bad, wait until I tell you about Washington and the housing settlement.  A quick history:  The County was sued in 2006 under the False Claims Act of 1863.  The charge was that the County accepted Federal dollars from the department of Housing and Urban Development, but failed to study whether race is a factor in housing opportunities.  In 2009, former County Executive Andrew Spano and the Board of Legislators settled the case, and critically important, there was never a finding of wrong-doing on the part of the County, or an admission of guilt in the settlement.  Instead of going to court, the County and the Federal government both agreed to settle under the following terms:  The County would spend at least $51 million dollars to build 750 units of housing for lower income people in 31 so-called eligible or mostly white communities by the end of 2016.”

Combating this “mostly white” designation, by any means necessary, is apparently the crux of HUD’s mission.   To HUD’s way of thinking, surely these communities are “mostly white” only because of racial discrimination, or as Astorino went on to describe, zoning practices that they think have the net effect of being racially discriminatory:

“The Federal government has a very different agenda and vision for Westchester.   In fact, HUD calls us, its ‘Grand Experiment.’  That means Washington bureaucrats, who you will never see or meet, want the power to determine who will live where, and how each neighborhood will look.  Now what’s at stake is the fundamental right of our cities, towns and villages to plan and zone for themselves.  This ‘home rule’ is guaranteed by the New York State Constitution.  HUD thinks it can trample on Westchester, because it has the misguided notion that zoning and discrimination are the same thing.  They are not.  Zoning restricts what can be built, not who lives there.” Continue reading

PLF renews property rights battle in Wisconsin announcement

PLF lauds proposed legislation; pledges nationwide campaign to undo Murr’s damage

MADISON, WI; July 20, 2017: Joining a press conference today on new property rights legislation by two Wisconsin state lawmakers, John Groen, Pacific Legal Foundation’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, announced that PLF is launching a campaign to restore and buttress property rights nationwide.

The legislation introduced today responds to the U.S. Supreme Court’s disappointing decision in the PLF case of Murr v. Wisconsin, in which Groen argued at the High Court on behalf of the Murr family. The measure’s authors are State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake). Two members of the family were also on hand at the press conference — Donna Murr and her brother Mike Murr.

The press conference was streamed live at 8:15 a.m. (CDT) and can be viewed  here.

Continue reading

Opinion: Yes, Justice Thomas, the doctrine of regulatory takings is originalist

In his dissent in Murr v. Wisconsin, Justice Thomas opined that “[t]he Court, however, has never purported to ground those precedents in the Constitution as it was originally understood.” and “[i]n my view, it would be desirable for us to take a fresh look at our regulatory takings jurisprudence, to see whether it can be grounded in the original public meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

With all due respect to Justice Thomas, and we respect him greatly, this might not be necessary. The often-espoused notion that the doctrine of regulatory takings sprang forth from the head of Justice Holmes in Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon is wrong. After this idea was put forth by Justice Scalia (of all people) in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, a number of scholars set out to refute it, on both historical and doctrinal grounds. Rather than repeat these arguments at length, what follows is a partial list of some of the better scholarly arguments, pro and con, on the subject. Continue reading