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Gig Harbor mayor seeks public feedback on building code changes

Gig Harbor mayor Kit Kuhn.
Gig Harbor mayor Kit Kuhn.

Gig Harbor has grown rapidly in recent years. In fact, the city’s population has risen by 30 percent in the past five years. Even if we stopped accepting new residential permit applications right now, the growth will continue. There are currently over 1,200 dwelling units in the permit pipeline.

The Puget Sound region is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. The Puget Sound Regional Council has forecasted an increase of 1.8 million people in the coming years, much of which will be absorbed in the South Sound due to lower cost of living and desirable places to live, such as Gig Harbor.

It is important to implement effective, long-term strategies for preserving our unique character. In February, as part of our campaign promise, the newly-elected council and I, decided it was time to temporarily stop accepting new residential development proposals.

We need time to answer some complex questions. How will we accommodate new growth? How will we deal with traffic? How will we provide the necessary urban services like utilities, schools and parks? How will we preserve the natural environment and still grow responsibly?

On Feb. 12, we passed Ordinance 1383 which temporarily imposed a six-month residential development moratorium on the acceptance of certain residential development applications, with some exceptions. The city will continue to accept a limited number of other permits. If if you own an existing residence or a single vacant lot, you may continue to apply for permits to develop, repair and add to the existing lot — nothing has changed.

During the moratorium, the city will not be accepting new planning, civil and building permit applications for multiresidential developments. This includes applications for subdivisions and site plan review within the city limits. We will continue processing applications for vested development, including those 1,200 residential units already in the pipeline.

What happens next?

During the March 26 public hearing, several people spoke to ask the council for minor modifications to the moratorium. As a result of your active participation, city staff presented several potential amendments to the moratorium language to the Planning and Building Committee April 2 to address your concerns. The committee voted to forward some of the proposed amendments to the full city council for consideration in April.

As mayor, I am committed to seeing a number of code changes without the need to extend the moratorium. The city has identified several potential changes we could make to help regulate the pace and character of growth. In the coming weeks, the city will be asking for public comments to help prioritize issues and discover other changes we might make. The team will also be bringing some potential code changes to the Planning Commission and council for possible adoption in May and others in June and July. You can help us by being part of the solution in the following ways:

  • Attend the May 7 Planning & Building Committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the A/B community rooms;
  • Attend an upcoming Planning Commission meeting at 5 p.m. April 19 or May 3 in the A/B community rooms;
  • Attend the April 23 city council meeting at 5:30 p.m.

We look forward to hearing from you! Thank you.