Affordable Housing



The City has begun work to develop a Housing Action Plan

On March 8, 2022, the City Council authorized a contract to complete a City's Housing Action Plan (HAP), in accordance with Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 36.70A.600(2). The City has received and accepted a grant of $100,000 from the Washington State Department of Commerce for development of a HAP. 

The City's Housing Action Plan website has more information, a project timeline and links to an online survey about housing issues for community members and business owners alike. 


City Council will discussed Ordinance No. 2022-02 at their June 7, 2022 meeting. The City Council will continue review of Ordinance 2022-02 at a future date, TBD. 

The Planning Commission completed its discussion on Ordinance 2022-02 at their April 14, 2022 meeting. The Planning Commission vote about whether to recommend approval of Ordinance No. 2022-02 to the City Council resulted in a 3-3 tie vote. 

Written Public Comment submitted to the Planning Commission.

Frequently Asked Question document provided for further information. 


On October 26, 2021, the City Council discussed the 2019 state law regarding affordable housing on property owned by religious organizations, see  RCW 36.70A.545. The City had received a request from Bethany Lutheran Church, pursuant to RCW 36.70A.545(2) for an increased density bonus for an affordable housing development.  Such development is supported by the City’s Comprehensive Plan, specifically Housing Element Policy HO 3.4.  On October 26, 2021 the Council approved the following motion: 

I move to refer this topic to the Planning Commission to work with City staff to prepare an ordinance to effectuate what is intended by RCW 36.70A.545, including to develop implementing regulations consistent with local needs, specifically to focus on the Bethany Lutheran property and to consider that as a pilot project.

The Planning Commission discussed this concept and draft ordinance over the last several months, at their November 18, 2021, January 13 and 27, and February 10 and 24, March 10 and 24, and April 14 2022 meetings, and draft Ordinance No. 2022-02 has evolved and been amended by the Planning Commission throughout their review.  Ordinance No. 2022-02 :

  • Implements what is intended by RCW 36.70A.545 to provide a density bonus for any affordable housing development located on property owned by a religious organization, which could allow for up to 21 dwelling units on the Bethany Lutheran Church properties (see Ordinance No. 2022-02 proposed new code section BIMC 18.21.050) ; and 
  • Current draft of Ordinance No. 2022-02  would allow only the Bethany Lutheran Affordable Housing as a Pilot Project; and 
  • Proposes additional new regulations for this use added to BIMC 18.21.050, such as green building certification, is in addition to any applicable land use and environmental procedures and regulations for BIMC Titles 15, 16, 17, and 18. 

Related Documents

On March 4, 2022 City issued a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) on the Public Hearing Draft of Ordinance No. 2022-02.


Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program

On November 9, City Council approved Ordinance No. 2021-23 creating a City Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) program.

The MFTE program incentivizes the development of multifamily and affordable housing on Bainbridge Island by exempting qualifying new housing from property taxes for 12 or 20 years on the residential improvement value of a development.

2017-2020 Biennial Housing Report

The Department of Planning and Community Development presented a Biennial Housing Report to the City Council on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The Report is required per the City’s Comprehensive Plan Housing Element Goals to show the progress the City is making on our affordable housing goals and includes data from 2017-2018 and 2019-2020.  An addendum to the Biennial Housing Report was sent to the City Council on July 27, 2021.  To view the report and addendum and/or watch the City Council discussion, click the link to the City Council agendas.

Affordable Housing Task Force

The AHTF met 2017 - 2018 and created small work groups to consider individual comprehensive plan goals and policies.  The AHTF gave an Interim Report to Council on March 6, 2018 and completed a final report with recommendations to City Council in July 2018 (see below).  On November 13, 2018, City Council dissolved the AHTF in recognition of the completion of the group’s planned work.

Inclusionary Zoning

On November 1, 2017 the AHTF voted unanimously to recommend to City Council that the City pursue an inclusionary zoning program.  That recommendation is also Priority Recommendation 1.A from the AHTF Final Report.  The City has hired firm ECONorthwest to provide economic analysis and feasibility study regarding a new Inclusionary Zoning program and adoption of a Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE).  Council discussed these issues on June 19, October 2 and December 4, 2018.  On February 19, 2019 ECONorthwest presented a final report to City Council (see below).  Council decided to continue consideration of adoption of an MFTE and/or an inclusionary zoning program and continued to make progress on these complex issues at their September 17, 2019 and February 4, 2020 meetings.  This topic was discussed at a special joint City Council/Planning Commission meeting on June 22, 2020.  

February 2019 Transfer of Development Rights and Inclusionary Zoning Assessment (ECONorthwest & Forterra)

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Tiny Homes

City Council completed their policy discussion on common ownership of ADUs and tiny homes at their October 22, 2019 meeting.  Those policy changes are integrated into Ordinance 2020-02.  Planning Commission held a public hearing on Ordinance 2020-02 on January 9, 2020.  At that meeting, the Planning Commission formed a temporary subcommittee to discuss proposed rules for ADUs.  

The subcommittee submitted recommended changes to the ordinance at the February 13 Planning Commission meeting, including removing all references to tiny homes, and the Planning Commission as a whole directed staff to make the changes recommended by the subcommittee to Ordinance 2020-02. The Commission discussed and revised the ordinance again at a Study Session on February 27, 2020, and made additional non-substantive revisions to the ordinance. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on Ordinance 2020-02 on March 12, 2020, and after closing the public hearing, recommended approval of the ordinance to the City Council.

The Planning Commission recommendation of the approval for Ordinance 2020-02 returned to City Council for final discussion and approval.  The City Council discussed this ordinance on July 14, 2020. The City Council has assigned additional discussion of ADU regulations to the joint Coucil/Commission subcommittee.