Category Archives: Urban Growth Areas

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.

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

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

Maximum Lot Size in Urban Growth Areas: Public comment period open now

(Port Orchard, WA)- Kitsap County is considering changes to its development code to allow greater flexibility with maximum lot size requirements in urban growth areas around the County. The Board of County Commissioners are considering these changes and have scheduled a public hearing on February 12, 2018 to solicit additional public testimony.  The hearing is part of the Commissioners’ regular business meeting beginning at 5:30 PM. The hearing will be held off-site at the Poulsbo City Hall, (City Council Chambers) 200 NE Moe St., Poulsbo, WA 98370. Please see meeting materials here and provide written comment here .
 If you are interested in staying informed on these items or future Kitsap County Code updates, please sign up for our ‘Code Development Update List’ to receive electronic notifications: click here.

Public Listening Session Feb. 27 on Puget Sound Regional growth strategies, impacts, actions

The Puget Sound Regional Council is seeking public input on the scope for the VISION 2050 plan and State Environmental Policy Act environmental analysis. A listening session is scheduled in Kitsap County from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 6th St., Bremerton. Other sessions will be held this month in Seattle, Fife and Lynwood. The plan scoping notice is available online for review and public comment is open through March 19, 2018.

What important regional issues should be the focus of the update?

  • How should the region’s growth strategy be updated to plan for 2050?
  • What impacts and actions should be evaluated through environmental review?

Input from communities, along with cities, counties, tribes, other agencies and interest groups around Public Sound, will help shape the plan. PSRC’s Growth Management Policy Board will review comments submitted and is expected to adopt a project scope in spring 2018.

“This is an important first step in the update of a document that has the potential to shape Kitsap County’s future,” said Commissioner Rob Gelder, chair of the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners. “I would encourage residents to learn more and add their voice.”

The region is preparing for growth in the coming decades – about 1.8 million more people and 1.2 million more jobs by 2050. VISION 2050 will build on the region’s existing plan to keep the central Puget Sound region healthy and vibrant as it grows and consider updated information and perspectives about a changing region. The plan will identify the challenges the region should tackle together and renew the vision for the next 30 years.

VISION helps coordinate local growth and transportation plans developed by cities and counties to ensure consistency with the Growth Management Act and regional transportation plans. It is an integrated, long-range vision for the future that lays out a strategy for maintaining a sustainable region – promoting the well-being of people and communities, economic vitality, and a healthy environment.

PSRC develops policies and coordinates decisions about regional growth, transportation and economic development planning within Kitsap, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. The council is composed of over 80 jurisdictions, including all four counties, cities and towns, ports, state and local transportation agencies and tribal governments within the region.

More information on the plan update is available on the project website, by e-mail at or call (206)464-7090. Comments  may also be submitted to Erika Harris at; mailed to ATTN: VISION 2050 Comment, 1011 Western Ave., Ste. 500, Seattle, WA 98104; faxed to (206)587-4825; or in person at one of the scheduled Listening Sessions or the March 1 PSRC Growth Management Policy Board meeting.

Lot Aggragation to be reviewed as a taking issue by the US Supreme Court

Case of government land grab scheduled for Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on March 20 in a government land grab case out of Wisconsin where officials told a family their 50-year investment in a piece of property was, No. 1, worthless, and No. 2, still subject to property taxes due every year.

A legal team with the Pacific Legal Foundation is trying to sort out the situation for the Murr family of Wisconsin. The facts aren’t complicated. The parents of Donna, Joseph and Michael Murr, and Peggy Heaver, bought a St. Croix riverfront parcel and built a cabin for their own use in 1960. They also, a few years later, bought the adjacent, separate, lot as an investment, hoping to cash in when property values rose.

But in the 1970s, new land-use rules were imposed that limited the area of land that could be developed. As typically happens in those circumstances, the existing parcels were grandfathered under the previous rules which means the new limits wouldn’t apply.

Except in this case, the bureaucrats arbitrarily said that the rules WOULD apply if the property owner owned an adjacent piece of land. That means the government now officially considers the two parcels purchased by the Murrs one lot, even though they legally are separate entities and property taxes still are collected every year on both.

So the family is not allowed to sell the second parcel, or build on it. Continue reading

Maximum lot size adopted as a “Reasonable Measure” to encourage Urban Growth.

Kitsap County has adopted a “Reasonable Measure” to encourage urban growth; a maximum lot size of 9,000 square feet in Urban Low Residential and Urban Cluster Residential Zones. This is less than 1/4 acre. (Kitsap County Code Title 17.040.50). A person  owning an vacant lot 1/2 acre would not be issued a building permit until the lot was subdivided, a lengthy and expensive process.

Here are our concerns about the Maximum Lot size in Urban Low Residential and Urban ClusterResidential Zoned areas: Continue reading

Opinion: Planners pushing the wrong idea again

Hey, Martha, they’re at it again and just in time for Christmas.

Those Kitsap County planning wizards are going to try to remake Silverdale one more time. (“County set to study Silverdale potential,” Dec. 20) Guess that last “sub-area plan” and the assumptions about redevelopment of existing property did not work out like they said it would. So much for treating assumptions as facts. Now they want to target the strip malls and parking lots.

Shame on me for thinking those small businesses actually generate jobs and revenue. Bet Mayor Patty would love to have some of those “excess” parking spaces. It seems the “new” plan is to “redevelop” businesses into apartment complexes. That would give us more places for people without jobs to live and less tax revenue to support the services they need. Don’t we already have a working (perhaps non-working) model of that concept in Kitsap?

Maybe it really is time to take a hard look at 25 years of central and comprehensive planning and determine just what we have gained or lost from the effort. Until the County really understands the impact of their planning efforts, perhaps they should just leave Silverdale alone. We are doing just fine, thank you.

Jack Hamilton, Silverdale 

Public Comments Sought and Public Hearing for National Housing Trust Fund

The Washington State’s draft amended 5-Year Consolidated Plan and draft amended 2016 Action Plan, in addition to an NHTF substantial amendment changes summary, will be available here, (or upon request) from August 15 to September 14, 2016, for your review and input. These plans determine the priorities, establish strategic goals, and allocate resources for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce which include Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) programs. These plan amendments incorporate the changes necessary to implement the NNTF program.

Public Hearing
Monday, August 22, 2016, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (PDT)

Department of Commerce (directions)
1011 Plum Street SE, Olympia, WA 98504
Building 5, First Floor, Columbia River Room

Call-in Option:
Dial (360) 407-3780
Access Code: 369727#

Online Option:
Meetings sponsored by Department of Commerce are accessible to persons with disabilities. Contact Alisha Howden at, (360) 725-2972, if you need accommodation.

Public Comment Period: August 15 – September 14, 2016
To request the documents in hard copy or an alternate format, contact Alisha Howden at, (360) 725-2972, or by mail to National Housing Trust Fund Program, PO Box 52525, Olympia, WA 98504-2525.

Submit your comments as follows:
Email your comments to Nathan Peppin at
Mail comments to: National Housing Trust Fund Program, PO Box 42525, Olympia, WA 98504-2525
Testify orally or submit written comments in person at the public hearing. Testify orally by calling in to the public hearing.

All of the comments we receive will become part of the official record.

Public Comment period ends:
Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 5:00 pm, PDT

Additional Information:
For additional information on the NHTF program at the Department of Commerce, contact:
Nathan Peppin
(360) 725-2983

Planning Commission Reasonable Measures Markup

This is the red line version of the Kitsap County Reasonable Measures appendix to the Buildable Lands Report. It includes the Planning Commission markup and the staff proposed language.  2016_08_15 Reasonable Measures Deliberations