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Apr 08

Mayor's Update - April 8, 2019

Posted on April 8, 2019 at 4:27 PM by Joshua Stecker

Hello everyone,

We’ve had some great warm days lately which reminds us that Summer is right around the corner. The City will be busy with many fun events scheduled. The Maritime Gig Festival & Parade is on June 1st. Summer Sounds at Skansie returns on Tuesday nights starting June 25th. I like adding some new bands while keeping several staple ones as well. I am excited about our line-up. We also have 5 Movies in the Park soon which will be back with a brand-new screen. We have added another movie night to our schedule. Thursday Waterfront Farmers Market starts up on June 6th. Mimi Jansen has done a great job putting all of this together for us. Visit gigharborguide.com for more details on all the upcoming events.

When you’re down at Skansie Brothers Park you will notice some big changes. We’ve removed the tall hedges along the front of the house and added beautiful new flower beds and landscaping. The side walk there is also 2 feet wider with a decorative stamped red brick and is now ADA compliant with the driveway into the pavilion. The driveway is narrower now but also has the decorative brick on each side. The feedback has been very positive and Harbor Wildwatch and our visitor volunteers there have already reported more people dropping in. Go take a look at it yourself. Many thanks are due to our Public Works Operation crew.

Parks Appreciation Day is April 27th from 9am - noon. Please lend a hand at your favorite park for a few hours and help get them ready for the summer. When we all pitch in and work together we help keep our parks special. For a list of parks that will be having work parties, please visit: www.cityofgigharbor.net/639/Parks-Appreciation-Day

Our Community Development Department is happy to announce the promotion of Carl de Simas to Senior Long-Range Planner. Carl has a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning and 8 years of experience in public outreach, code development, code enforcement and Growth Management. We’re looking forward to his help in tackling some of the bigger issues facing the City, including updating our sign code, developing minimum lot size regulations, and revising our Development Agreement code.

Across the country, cities are dealing with the coming of small cell (5G) installations.

There is a lot of uncertainty and confusion on what small cell is and how it works. Because of this, we are forming a Small Cell Advisory Board to give recommendations to staff and Council on how to keep citizens aware of what’s going on. This board will be made up of a few concerned citizens, city staff, and three councilmembers. In time we may include representatives from the health care and cellular industry. This is an important issue and we want to make sure everyone has all the facts before Council makes decisions.

In hiring news, we have just started interviewing candidates for the City Attorney position. We are also starting to bring on seasonal help for our park’s crews. These seasonal workers are very important to keeping our parks looking beautiful the whole summer.

St. Anthony’s Hospital celebrated its 10-year anniversary on March 17th. The hospital has been great for economic development in the Gig Harbor. It is one of the largest employers in the city and a large contributor to our revenue. They also bring stability and reassurance to people who may feel that if they have an emergency it can be taken care of right away and locally. I’ve lived in communities where people moved away because medical help was not nearby.

In February, the school bond passed which allows the school district to move forward with building new elementary schools and purchase the Boys & Girls Club building for a future school. But the Senior Center, which had been operating there since 2010 will be without a facility in June. We are working closely with the Boys and Girls Club, PenMet Parks and people from the Senior Center to try to find a new home (temporary or permanent) for this important group. The City is committed to making sure our senior citizens have a safe place to meet.

One city building that often gets recommended to be used for things like the Senior Center is the old Masonic Hall up by the sand volleyball courts. The City owns this building, but it currently has several limitations. Soon Council will be asked to authorize the City to hire an architect to give us a breakdown of costs for this building. Then we can decide whether it is cost effective to restore or include it in our Crescent Creek Park Master plan coming this summer.

Our Public Works Department will be hosting an Open House on April 8th at 4:30 p.m. to talk about potential revisions to Stinson Avenue intersections at Harborview and Rosedale. This could include installing roundabouts, a traffic light or a hybrid of what is there to improve safety and traffic flow. Please come and see what ideas the City is exploring and provide your input.

I have received many questions about development occurring within the City and folks being concerned about how development can still occur even though City Council and I passed a Development Moratorium in 2018.  The truth is, by Washington State Law, once an application for a plat has been deemed complete, that project becomes “vested” to the law and regulations at the time of application, not at the time of development. 

“Vested rights” are the legal protections that a property owner can rely on when developing real property to ensure that a subsequently enacted regulation will not impair the project they initially applied to build.  What this means, is citizens are seeing development occurring now that was “vested” many years ago.  By law, these projects are legally allowed to move forward under the Municipal Code of the time of application.  This means that subdivisions currently under construction were approved during the previous three City Administrations!

Currently, approved plats are only legally allowed to vest for a period of five years. However, between 2008-2014, plats were able to vest for seven years and prior to 2007, plats vested for ten years by state law!

Below are examples of current development projects occurring in the City that we receive many calls about and their “vesting” dates:

  • Courtyards at Skansie (Hunt Street and Skansie Ave): Vested March 2006.
  • North Creek Plat (HWY 16 and 96th Street): Vested January 2008.
  • McCormick Creek Plat (McCormick Creek Drive / Burnham Drive): Vested October 2016
  • Harbor Hill (GH North): November 2010
  • Harbor Winds (HWY 16 and south of 96th Street): Vested December 2009
  • Latitude 47 Industrial Complex: (Bujacich Rd across from Women’s Prison): Vested September 2016
  • Harbor Reach Storage: (54th Ave NW across from Hemley’s Septic): Vested May 2006
  • Heritage Point (Austin Street and Harborview): Vested August 2016
  • Edwards Plat (Edwards Drive): Vested October 2016
  • Pioneer Duplexes: (Pioneer and Edwards Street): Vested July 2017

City Council and I have made many changes to the City’s Development Regulations within the past year that will require more trees to be saved, lowered density and increased environmental protections. The effects of our work will be seen on development projects vested after summer 2018. 

If you ever have questions regarding development occurring within the City, our Community Development and Public Works staff are wonderful and will give you the information you need.  You can reach them at 253-851-6170. Additionally, to be placed on the Community Development’s Planning Division weekly e-notice, please call 253-851-6170 and asked to be placed on that list!

That is all for now. Stay tuned.

Cheers, Kit