A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - May 19, 2023


Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 20th week of 2023. Today is National Endangered Species Day. If you’re interested in knowing which animal species in Washington State are considered endangered, click here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-06/threatened%20and%20endangered%20species%20list.pdf

  • Our new website went live this week (still at islandcountywa.gov ), so if you have pages bookmarked from the old site I’m afraid you’re going to have to search for their new location. Please be patient with us as we work through a few bugs (example: as I type this sentence I still cannot find the recording or agenda for the regular session from Tuesday—so if there’s no detail in my “Regular Session” section, that’s why). We hope, though, that when those few remaining bugs are worked out you’ll find our website (including our search engine) much easier to use than before. Check it out—and if you can’t find things you used to be able to find let me know and I’ll follow up with our IT and Communications people.
  • Regular Session. I just found them! You too can find the agenda and video recording for this week’s Tuesday’s meeting here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/97f3c94d-10fd-4a75-b05d-e641738de6d0
    • All of the public comment this week was on the Whidbey Island Fair. Those comments were the first item on the agenda.
    • We appointed a new Deputy Clerk of the Board on Tuesday—former Planning Department employee Layla Tromble. Welcome, Layla, to the Commissioners’ Office!
    • The Board discussed our relationship with the Fair and our interlocal agreement with the Port of South Whidbey, beginning at mark 00:24:39 in the video. At the end, the Board directed our County Administrator to reach out to the Prosecuting Attorney for a review of the interlocal agreement.
      • Note: On Wednesday, I attended a meeting of the Fair Advisory Committee, and I’m happy to be able to tell you that WSU will mediate a discussion between the Port of South Whidbey and the Fair Association next Monday. This will be a closed meeting between those groups—I am not part of that discussion—but I am feeling hopeful that they will reach a resolution and we can all enjoy a fun and satisfying Fair in July.
    • Facilities brought us the proposal for renovating the Coupeville Administration Building, which I wrote about previously when we discussed it in work session. Scope items include removing the fuel oil boiler; replacing rooftop HVAC; roof restoration; window replacement; stucco and building envelope restoration; and rooftop solar installation. This will eliminate the use of fuel oil, reduce electricity by 30% and peak summer demand by 40%, reduce overall energy use from the grid by 92.7%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90.7%, improve indoor air quality and eliminate Ozone depleting HCFCs. I am very excited about this project, which will be the first visible sign for citizens that the County is committed to climate resilience, as we addressed in our climate resolution last year.
    • The agenda for next Tuesday’s 10:00 am meeting is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/?customerGuid=7953d90c-21b5-49e8-b2bb-c8e5a65a54ca&target=foo&view=thumbs&tabs=past|today|upcoming&defaultTab=upcoming On the agenda: a presentation from the Port of Coupeville for the purchase of the AJ Eisenberg Airport utilizing the Rural County Economic Development Grant Fund. If you go to the agenda, you can download documents from the Port’s presentation in advance of that meeting. This is a presentation only—I do not anticipate that the Board of County Commissioners will take any action on Tuesday with regard to the airport.
  • Upcoming Public Hearings
    • May 23rd, at 10:00 am: Resolution C-27-23, Amending the Island County Code Chapter 2.32 Damage Claim Procedures
  • Work Session: You can find the Wednesday May 17th agenda here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_05172023-513 and the audio here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2908/05172023-WS-Audio.
    • In the past, I have gone through the audio recording and noted for you the times when certain topics were discussed in the meeting so that you didn’t have to listen to an hour of something that didn’t interest you before you listened to something that did. Unfortunately, I do not appear to be able to fast forward through the recording in the same way anymore, so don’t see how I can provide that level of information for you today. I will check with IT to see if that will be made available again in the future.
    • County Administrator Michael Jones, Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks, and Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Garden walked us through the proposed changes to the animal control code, now to be known as our Animal Welfare Code (the focus of the new code is to ensure animal welfare). This was the first item on the agenda. You can review the summary of the proposed changes and the draft code itself beginning on page 3. The Board had a few questions that need to be researched, so the proposed code and answers to those questions will be brought back to work session next month.
    • We went through a few examples from the speed limit study recommendations. You can see these examples and maps for existing and recommended county road speed limits, beginning on page 28 of the agenda. I encourage you to look at the data points for your roads. We will have local meetings this summer to go over all these proposals with citizens; I have asked Public Works to schedule three meetings for my district.
    • The Commissioners had a lot of questions and opinions on the proposed Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), the Clean Water Utility Plan (CWU), and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Public Works will bring these topics back to the Board next month with edits as requested. You can find the proposed TIP beginning on page 65 of the agenda, the CWU beginning on page 80, and the CIP beginning on page 83 of the agenda.
    • Seth Luginbill, the coordinator of our Noxious Weeds Program, gave an update on 2022 results in preparation for the 2023 budget. You can find his presentation beginning on page 97 of the agenda. A few highlights in my district: page 104, Deer Lagoon restoration; pp 105-106, poison hemlock removal in Ebey’s Landing and Coupeville school district; and page 110, multiple types of weeds removed in the Kettles Trail complex.
    • We had a great discussion at the end of the day with Planning Director Mary Engle and our two Code Enforcement Officers. We started out talking about code enforcement for roadway signage, but also talked about other issues related to code enforcement. The policy focus was: when our code enforcement priority is on health and safety, how much attention should we pay on nuisance or blight enforcement?
    • The next work session will be held on Wednesday, June 7th. The agenda for that meeting will be posted by Friday, June 2nd here: https://wa-islandcounty.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter.
  • The Council of Governments (COG) and Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) will meet next Wednesday, the 4th Wednesday of the month.
  • You’ve probably heard people talk about “Regenerative Tourism” or “Transformational Tourism” here in Island County and wondered what the heck that meant. If so, please do plan to attend ONE of the TWO upcoming Regenerative Tourism Virtual Workshops on either May 30th or June 1st. Both workshops will be from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. They are organized by the Transformational Travel Council, specifically just for Embrace Whidbey and Camano Islands and our communities. Pre-registration is required at www.WhidbeyCamanoIslands.com/transformational-travel.
  • As you probably know, Governor Inslee signed the Blake bill into law this week. I expect Sheriff Felici will soon let us know if this bill provides him with sufficient legal tools to respond to illegal drugs in Island County.
  • Representative Larsen’s office let us know that they plan to host two in-person Service Academy Info Nights at the end of this month. During each session, representatives from Rep. Larsen’s staff will provide an overview of the nomination process and the resources available to students interested in pursuing a nomination to one of the Service Academies. Personnel from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will be in attendance to meet interested students and parents and answer questions about their respective institutions. Candidates must be at least 17 years old, but not have passed the 23rd birthday; must be a U.S. citizen; must be unmarried, not pregnant, and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents; must reside within the boundaries of the Washington's Second Congressional District; and must meet the medical, physical and academic requirements of the Academy. The nomination application process began May 15 for candidates who are high school juniors and will be seniors the following school year, current seniors or students who have already graduated high school. The deadline for submission of materials to Larsen’s office is in November. For more information on the Military Academy nomination process, email Chris Dingle at Dingle@mail.house.gov or visit https://larsen.house.gov/helping-you/military-academy-nominations 
    • Information Session #1. Wednesday, May 24, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Port of Everett, Blue Heron Room, Side B,1205 Craftsman Way,  #200, Everett, WA  98201 
    • Information Session #2 , Friday, May 26, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Whatcom County Civic Center, Garden Level Conference Room, 322 North Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
  • The Washington State Transportation Commission is looking for customer feedback on possible ferry fare changes that would be implemented starting this fall. As part of the two-year state budget cycle, the state Legislature sets the requirement for how much revenue must be generated from ferry fares. To participate in the survey on ferry fare changes, go here: https://wstcfeedback.participate.online/
  • Maple Grove, Utsalady, and Cavalero 2024 Boat Passes may be purchased beginning June 1st. For more information, see:  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WACOISLAND/bulletins/35b7e04
  • Monday Tea with Melanie happens most Mondays at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. This is an open discussion, a time when citizens can tell me what their concerns are and listen to what other citizens have to say. Tea is on me. I will taking some time off at the end of May, and will not gather for Monday Tea on May 29 or June 5.



“What is a fish without a river? What is a bird without a tree to nest in? What is an endangered species act without any enforcement mechanism to ensure their habitat is protected? It is nothing.”    

           ~ Governor Jay Inslee