The City of Bainbridge Island has explicitly addressed the potential for sea level rise in the Environmental Element of its comprehensive plan. Adopted in 2004, the plan recognizes that Bainbridge Island is potentially subject to flooding, erosion, landslides, seismic events, and soil subsistence. The overall goal of the Environmental element is to avoid adverse impacts where possible; to minimize, reduce or eliminate impacts over time; and to compensate for unavoidable impacts. The plan outlines protections for critical areas including transfer of and purchase of development rights; provides for the use of the City’s Shoreline Management Master Program to address and protect marine fish and marine shoreline habitat; mandates no net loss of the city’s remaining regulated aquatic resources; requires the maintenance of vegetated buffers between proposed development and aquatic resources; calls for the preservation of stream courses; and the protection or restoration of natural functions of riparian habitat.
The Frequently Flooded Areas component of the plan also addresses sea level rise, noting that “cumulative sea level rise has serious implications for the shorelines and lowland areas that are potentially affected by beach, bluff erosion, and loss of intertidal zones.” The component recommends actions to protect frequently flooded areas including a limitation on development and alteration of natural floodplains; preservation of stream channels and natural protective barriers; revision of the flood insurance rate map to reflect the natural migration of frequently flooded areas; implementation of nonstructural protective methods such as setbacks and the use of natural vegetation; and location of public sewers and water infrastructure outside frequently flooded areas.