Affordable Housing

Housing Action Plan (HAP)

The City has received and accepted a grant of $100,000 from the Washington State Department of Commerce for development of a Housing Action Plan. More information about this work and contract can be viewed in the March 8, 2022 City Council agenda packet.  Check out the City’s Housing Action Plan website for information, project timeline and links an online survey about housing issues for community members and business owners alike.

Ordinance No. 2022-02 Related to Affordable Housing on Properties Owned or Controlled by Religious Organizations

City Council has continued discussing Ordinance 2022-02 throughout the summer and early fall. Adoption is tentatively anticipated before the end of 2022.


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 referred the topic to the Planning Commission. 

The Planning Commission discussed this concept and draft ordinance between November, 2021, and April, 2022. 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. The City Council moved to continue discussion of the ordinance and provided feedback to city staff on options for resolving outstanding policy issues. The revised draft includes a pilot phase that applies only to Bethany Lutheran Church properties until December 31, 2027, after which the provisions of the ordinance will apply to any property owned or controlled by a religious organization. 

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.

The ordinance has been revised as of September, 2022. An updated SEPA analysis is available. The March 4th determination is retained,


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, 2020 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.