South Kitsap Commissioner Spring 2022 Newsletter

cloud banner Spring 2022

The future of ferries

Bremerton fast ferry

Hydrofoil electric passenger ferries

Commissioners Garrido, Wolfe, and Gelder represent Kitsap County on the Kitsap Transit Board. Kitsap Transit, with partners Fast Foil Ferry LLC,\ and Washington Maritime Blue, are advancing a vision for quiet, zero-emission fast ferries to transport passengers across the Puget Sound!

This partnership secured a Federal Transit Administration innovation grant in 2020 to produce a proof-of-concept report for a high-speed passenger ferry powered by electric battery, low-emission technology. The vessel will be designed to complete the Bremerton-Seattle round trip on a single battery charge.

Kitsap Transit’s current Rich Passage-class fast ferries on the Bremerton-Seattle route rely on diesel engines to achieve the speed necessary to cross in 30 minutes and minimize wake through Rich Passage. As the ferry speeds up, a hydrofoil helps lift the vessel’s hull partially above the water and reduce the boat’s wake. The all-electric fast hydrofoil ferry will have almost no wake and emit less noise – a benefit to those standing on shore and to marine life. While the existing ferries can hold 118 passengers, the electric fast hydrofoil ferry will have a capacity of 150 passengers.

When the conceptual feasibility study is complete, a group of agencies including Washington Maritime Blue and Kitsap Transit, will seek funding toward full design and construction of the electric fast ferry. The vessel will then be tested along the Bremerton-Seattle passenger ferry route.

$7.7 million in funding for local foot ferry

Kitsap Transit announced in February it secured a $7.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to design and construct an all-electric foot ferry for the Bremerton-Port Orchard route, and install shoreside charging infrastructure. The ferry will replace the Admiral Pete and look similar to the hybrid-electric Waterman ferry. Kitsap Transit’s Executive Director John Clauson and Commissioner Garrido appreciate the efforts of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Representative Derek Kilmer, for helping secure this critical marine highway federal funding.

The Washington State Legislature passed a $16 billion infrastructure package, which includes $6.5 million for the zero-emission local foot-ferry project. This cumulative $14.2 million for the electric ferry on the Bremerton-Port Orchard route funds up to 80 percent of the cost of design and construction and requires Kitsap Transit to provide the remaining 20 percent. For more information and project updates, see Kitsap Transit’s blog

COVID-19 news

covid 5.19.22

State mask mandate ended

Washington’s mask mandate ended March 12, 2022. This decision stems from a dramatic decrease in hospitalization rates due to COVID-19.

Changes to masking and vaccine requirements include:

  • Though no longer required in K-12 schools and childcare facilities, masks are still required in healthcare settings such as hospitals, outpatient and dental offices, long-term care settings, and correctional facilities.
  • Vaccine verification for large events is no longer required.
  • Businesses and local governments can choose to implement vaccination or face mask requirements for workers or customers, and school districts may request that students and teachers wear masks.
  • Masks are no longer required on public transportation or transportation hubs, including airports.

Kitsap masking guidance

While masks will no longer be required in many settings after March 12, Kitsap residents should feel empowered to keep wearing masks to protect their health and the health of people around them. Masks remain an essential tool for preventing the spread of respiratory illness.”                                     -- Dr. Gib Morrow, Kitsap Public Health District Health Officer

Kitsap Public Health has new local guidelines for wearing masks. Face masks are no longer mandatory in County facilities, except where required by the State emergency order: in the jail, juvenile detention facility, and Kitsap Recovery Center. Masks may still be required in Superior and District courts and by other County elected officials. Members of the public and employees may wear face masks on a voluntary basis.

The end of the statewide mask mandate does not mark the end of COVID-19. The most recent information may be found at Kitsap Public Health's data site and Washington Department of Health's dashboard. As of May 19, 78 percent of Kitsap County residents are fully vaccinated, and 36 percent have received a booster. Safe workplace protocols remain in place. We encourage all employees to continue to be careful, practice physical distancing and virus prevention habits, keep vaccinations updated, and wear a mask if desired, especially in situations where you may experience close contacts. 

COVID testing and vaccinations

Washington households can still order free COVID-19 tests twice per month from Washington's at-home test portal or by calling 1-800-525-0127. Tests are also available at no charge through the federal government at or by calling 800-232-0233. Tests may also be purchased pharmacies and retailers, with some insurance companies providing reimbursement.

Kitsap Public Health maintains a testing kiosk in South Kitsap. Learn more about this PCR test site here and view comprehensive testing information, including testing for travel, here. Vaccinations are also widely available. Find information and locations here. If you or someone you know has difficulty accessing COVID-19 testing, test kits, or masks, please call Kitsap Public Health at 360-728-2219

Counting our neighbors

point in time count

Commissioner Garrido works with the Kitsap County Department of Human Services and local organizations to address homelessness in Kitsap. The 2022 point-in-time count for residents in Kitsap living homeless was conducted in February by Northwest Hospitality and our Kitsap County Housing and Homelessness Division. The count included 113 sites across the county, with 21 in South Kitsap. Food banks and meal sites were surveyed to count those without housing who do not reside in known homeless communities.

Outreach volunteers searched for people who have no permanent housing; those living outside, in automobiles, recreational vehicles (RVs) or boats. Volunteers surveyed people to gather information about their current housing situation and housing history; whether they have children with them; their experiences trying to find housing; and what resources and support they need.

This point-in-time count relies on volunteers being able to find and identify people living unhoused over a short period of time so the actual numbers may be undercounted. Data collected is reviewed locally and reported to the Washington State Department of Commerce and federal government. This helps secure resources for Kitsap County to meet the needs of our homeless residents. Learn more about the county's point-in-time count here.

Homeless outreach

Commissioner Garrido is committed to helping Kitsap County residents living outside transition to stable housing. Outreach teams from the Kitsap County Department of Human Services and Kitsap Community Resources regularly reach out to community members experiencing homelessness. This way we can provide information about services such as access to shelter beds, referrals for mental behavioral health assessments, assistance with qualifying for benefits (including veterans benefits), and connecting with meals and food banks.

County Commissioners approved funds to hire a Homeless Encampment Action & Response Team (HEART) Coordinator, a new full-time position dedicated specifically to encampment response and responsible for implementing the response policy, coordinating groups and resources, and directing clean-up efforts. This is in addition a new encampment outreach team we contracted through  Kitsap Community Resources that will work closely with the HEART coordinator to provide consistent and timely outreach to people living in encampments and other outdoor locations. The outreach team will focus on connecting people with shelter referrals, housing programs, and other resources.

Learn more about homelessness in Kitsap County and resources available to those who need support here.

Homes For All

mile hill

Mile Hill shelter renovations

Commissioner Garrido is committed to helping homeless residents of Kitsap County find stable housing. Last year, the Board of County Commissioners purchased the former Olympic Fitness Club on Mile Hill Drive that will become an emergency services shelter, providing up to 75 beds for unhoused residents of Kitsap. The goal is to offer those in need temporary shelter, behavioral and mental health care and case management to create an individualized plan for each resident’s transition to stable housing. Kitsap Rescue Mission will manage the shelter in partnership with the Kitsap County Department of Human Services.

The building is currently undergoing extensive renovations. For example, the basketball court will become a kitchen for community cooking, as well as a space for families with small children. The remodeled bathrooms and locker rooms will add more showers and space, and additional standing lockers will provide safe storage for possessions. Offices will be converted for services like behavioral health treatment and housing plan coordinators to assist residents in finding long-term, stable housing.

Learn more about the shelter, find answers to frequently asked questions and view slides from public meetings here. A large work party is scheduled during United Way of Kitsap County's annual Day of Caring June 24. Volunteers are needed to help with a landscaping clean-up project at the site. Learn more and register here. Other volunteer opportunities to help are coordinated through Northwest Hospitality at

County Parks


Parks clean-up

Since 2020, the Kitsap County Parks Department and Public Works Solid Waste Division have partnered with Northwest Hospitality volunteers to conduct clean-up events at Veterans Park. During three work parties in March, 36 volunteers collected 35,000 pounds of trash and debris.

Volunteers assist throughout county parks, providing trail maintenance, noxious weed control and assisting with other improvements. Commissioner Garrido is thankful to all of the hard-working people who donate their time in Kitsap County parks, making them accessible and enjoyable for all. Now is a great time to get involved: find parks stewardship opportunities here.

Park updates

April 1 marked the reopening of all Kitsap County parks and facilities, which are already seeing increased use. Commissioner Garrido appreciates the variety of work provided by the Kitsap County Parks staff. Drainage issues in Banner Forest Heritage Park were fixed last fall. The Rotary Club of Port Orchard partnered with the Parks Department to fund a bridge over a stream and create and new paths in Harper Estuary Park. The Parks Department is also working with South Kitsap High School students and the Rotary Club to create an ADA trail from Howe Farm’s parking lot to the apple orchard, making the site more accessible to everyone. Volunteers broke ground on Earth Day, April 22. Learn more about Kitsap County parks at

Neighborhood News

Olalla Market

Commissioner Garrido enjoys spreading the word about the past and present of local neighborhoods. Last year, Olalla's longstanding store, Al's, was purchased by Gregg and Claudia Olsen, Olalla residents who are turning Al’s into a community gathering place while restoring many historic features. Gregg and Claudia want to "serve the Olalla community in the best way possible," while also giving the property a "fresh start," including renaming the store the Olalla Bay Market.

harper park

Harper Park

The Kitsap County Parks Department received funding for improvements at Harper Park. In recent years, Harper Park gained a new pedestrian foot bridge, benches, a reconfigured baseball diamond and backstop, new interpretive signs, and trail improvements to increase walkability. Most of the improvements were made by Youthbuild volunteers assisting the Parks Department, and are greatly appreciated. The Parks Department also conducted a weed removal event, dramatically reducing the presence of invasive and non-native vegetation in the park.

State funds allocated for Gorst Corridor improvements

Gorst Corridor

Moving Ahead Washington is a 16-year plan for development within Washington state totaling $17 billion in project spending. The State Legislature allocated $74.3 million for the initial design of improvements to the Gorst Corridor. This corridor is a key connector within Kitsap County, and to other jurisdictions. The improvement project is essential to our economy, transportation, and public safety. Funding will provide the initial critical design, as well as environmental and cultural resources work necessary to build the project. The process will include full public engagement.

gorst aerial

The Board of County Commissioners is grateful to legislators who worked diligently to make this huge project possible. Thank you to U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer, State Senators Emily Randall and Tim Sheldon, as well as State Representatives Drew MacEwen, Dan Griffey, Michelle Caldier, and Jesse Young. The Board also appreciates the efforts of Senate Transportation Chair Marko Liias, Senate Ways Committee Chair Christine Rolfes, House Transportation Committee Chair Jake Fey, Speaker Laurie Jinkins and House Committee Chair Timm Ormsby. In addition, the Board appreciates the efforts of our Gorst Coalition partners, including each local elected mayor, and city councilperson who communicated the importance of the project to our state legislators. And we thank the many unelected individuals who worked diligently to improve this key corridor. Transportation improvements through the Gorst corridor have been a goal for many years, and are now moving forward. Learn more about the Gorst Coalition at

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