A Message From Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - April 14, 2023


Double Bluff Beach- Photo Courtesy of Commissioner Bacon

Message from Commissioner Bacon

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 15th week of 2023.

  • Regular Session. You can find the agenda for this week’s Tuesday’s meeting here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/848a8c5b-566c-408c-9ab7-b08068fb965f
  • Upcoming Public Hearings
    • April 18th, at 10 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0059 – Parkland Water Association Division, Water Distribution System; Plat of Parklane Division #1 & #2; Camano Island
    • May 2nd, at 10 am: Franchise Consolidation PW2019-0117 – Cascadia Water, LLC; Water Distribution System; Whidbey Island; Various Sections, Townships, and Ranges
    • May 9th, at 10 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0151 – Waterloo Acres Community Association, Whidbey
    • May 9th, at 10 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0208 – Possession Shores, Inc, Whidbey
    • May 9th, at 10 am: Franchise Renewal PW2022-0012 – Andy Bernstein and Grand Gard., Sewer Collection System, Camano
  • Work Session: The agenda and audio recording for the April 12th  work session can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Commissioners/Pages/WorkSessions.aspx
    • In this week’s meeting the Board was finally able to have the kind of policy conversations that Boards of Island County Commissioners have wanted to be able to have for years, but seldom could because in the past they’ve had to use most of their limited time together performing administrative tasks. Now that there’s a County Administrator to handle such things for us, we have the luxury of being able to talk through our ideas about policy. I thought about former Commissioner Helen Price Johnson many times on Wednesday, who worked for a long time to get us to this place.
    • If you are interested in hearing an example of governmental complexity in funding and grants for large public projects (but why would you?), listen to the broadband conversation, the first item on the agenda and in the audio recording.
    • We had an interesting discussion on permits, beginning at 00:27:50 in the audio.
    • One of the high points for us on Wednesday was our conversation on how REET (Real Estate Excise Taxes) can be used. REET 1 is a 0.25% tax on property sales; REET 2 is a 0.25% tax we are authorized to levy because we do our planning under the GMA (Growth Management Act); and we are authorized to use these REET funds primarily for capital projects and limited maintenance. The County pays for many things using REET funds, and this discussion was our opportunity to talk about how we can maximize these dollars in the future by targeting their spend versus using general fund monies for projects. The conversation had a particular focus on funding public parks. The REET conversation begins at 00:44:45 in the audio recording. The paper we are referencing in the discussion can be found on page 95 of the agenda.
    • We talked about deed-restricted land for affordable housing. We started by talking about the $1,998,669 ARPA grant we’re giving to Habitat for Humanity to purchase land in Oak Harbor for construction of 13 affordable homes (mark 01:05:19 in the audio), and then shifted at mark 01:10:30 to a general conversation about why it’s so important to us that when we give land away for affordable housing those parcels must continue to provide affordable housing in perpetuity.
    • The agenda for next week’s work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Commissioners/worksessions/2023/04192023%20Agenda.pdf
  • Public Works Open House for Proposed Freeland Intersection and Pedestrian Improvements. If you would like to see what’s proposed for roundabouts and sidewalks in Freeland, and ask questions of Public Works Staff, the Open House will be held on Tuesday, April 18th from 5 – 7 pm at Whidbey Water Service, 5885 S Lotto Ave, Freeland, 98249.
  • One of the first steps in the Comprehensive Plan update is to review and possibly update the Public Participation Plan (PPP). At the next Planning Commission meeting, Staff will be holding a work shop to discuss the creation and implementation of the PPP for the upcoming Comprehensive plan update. The agenda and zoom information for this Planning Commission meeting can be found here: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/WACOISLAND/2023/04/14/file_attachments/2468378/PC%20Agenda%204.24.23.pdf
  • I serve on the Board of the Northwest Clean Air Agency. At this month’s meeting, we saw a presentation from one of our partners, Community Energy Challenge (CEC). CEC is a joint initiative of the Opportunity Council and Sustainable Connections, and provides owners of residential homes, multifamily homes, and commercial businesses with energy audits—and then helps them access grants, tax credits, and incentives to implement those energy saving activities. Their goal is to reduce overall CO2 pollution; users benefit with lower energy costs. One great example: they did an energy audit of the South Whidbey Community Center (in the old Langley Middle School) and then helped them to get grants to replace their old boilers and radiators with ductless heat pumps. If you’re interested in more information on how you can receive an energy audit from CEC, go here: www.communityenergychallenge.org .
  • This week’s wildfire safety reminder: Reduce Potential Damage to your Home
    • You may be hesitant to evacuate if you’re worried about your home. To help ease that worry, consider the following:
    • Plan your landscaping to incorporate defensible spaces to help slow or stop wildfires on your property.
    • Regularly clean up plant debris and litter that serve as fuel for wildfires.
    • Trim your bushes and trees so they’re not overhanging your home.
    • Consider using hardscapes as visually-appealing fire breaks around your property.
  • Monday Tea with Melanie happens most Mondays at 3 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. Tea is on me.




“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. April is a promise that May is bound to keep, and we know it.” ~ Hal Borland