A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - June 9, 2023

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Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 23rd week of 2023.

  • Regular Session. The agenda and video recording for this week’s (very short) Tuesday meeting can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/cb789157-52cd-435d-bbe5-9493f163e259
  • This Wednesday’s Work Session agenda is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06072023-554 You can access the June 7 streaming recording here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3582/06072023-WS-Audio. If you want to fast forward to the conversations I note below you will need to download the audio instead of just streaming it, which you can do by clicking on the three dots at the right end of the streaming dashboard and clicking “download”.
    • In response to the many oppositional comments received at a recent public meeting, the Board told Public Works to cancel their Freeland roundabout project. I remain a supporter of the project—I think Freeland would be a safer and more beautiful place if we went forward with it—but since this is a project that would serve only Freeland residents and visitors, we are not going to force it on the citizens of Freeland if they are opposed to it. Citizens are in favor of a sidewalk project—but we do not yet have funding for this. We will continue with the repaving plans (see page 105 in the agenda). You can listen to this conversation at mark 0:36:35 in the recording.
    • We gave direction to Public Works that if costs for approved projects have increased by 50% or more they need to bring the project back to the Board to see if we are still interested in continuing the project at the more expensive rate.
    • Public Works talked with the Board about proposed priorities for the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), using a draft priorities presentation. Details on each of the projects in the TIP can be found beginning on page 98 of the agenda (example: Clinton to Ken’s Corner Trail is on page 130). The priorities may shift, but I don’t expect to see any changes to the items included in the TIP before the public hearing which will be coming up in July or August. We start talking about the TIP beginning at mark 1:03:05 in the recording; we begin talking about the draft priorities presentation beginning at mark 1:19:04.
    • We had a discussion with our State lobbyists about their work for us in the legislative session that just ended, beginning at mark 1:58:42. As I’ve mentioned in this newsletter before, the State has approved $300,000 for the County to hire a consultant to look into new septic/sewer solutions for us. We talk about that beginning at mark 2:06:20 in the recording.
    • Planning brought us the revised codes for our Rural Areas of Intensive Development (RAIDs) and Shoreline Master Program (SMP). RAID discussion begins at mark 3:12:25; SMP begins at mark 3:39:26. The revised RAID code they brought us starts on page 156 in the agenda; the revised SMP code starts on page 179.
    • We talked with Planning about when we can expect to have code conversations about short term housing, temporary housing, and increasing numbers of detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), beginning at mark 4:04:41 (to summarize: they will all be discussed when we consider the Housing element of our Comprehensive Plan update).
    • The Wednesday June 14 work session agenda can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06142023-565. Some of the items on that agenda: code updates for parking restrictions; Freeland Hall management agreement; two Rural County Economic Development Fund applications from Oak Harbor; an Equity Statement resolution; a presentation by Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) Policy Director Paul Jewell on balancing competing policy priorities; an update on the status and forecast for the Local Tourism Advisory Committee (LTAC) financials; a presentation on the Island County Safety and Accident Prevention Program achievements from 2020 – 2022; and a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an experienced housing developer to take on the 58-unit housing project on Swantown Road that the Board envisioned when we bought land there. It will be a long day.
  • At the Marine Resources Committee (MRC) meeting this week, Lisa Kaufman of the Northwest Straits Foundation gave a presentation “Climate Change and Coastal Resilience: Paths and Challenges to Restoration”, which focused on housing relocation as a response to sea level rise. You can watch this presentation here: https://vimeo.com/834513151?share=copy#t=195.
  • I now chair the Local Tourism Advisory Committee (LTAC). We will begin taking applications at the end of June—which is earlier this year than last year. We are also offering 5 bonus points for applications that involve regenerative tourism, in line with the new tourism focus in our county. Jennifer Roll, Clerk of the Board, will make the application information available later this month—contact her if you have questions, j.roll@islandcountywa.gov.
  • I serve on the State DNR’s Wildland Fire Advisory Committee, and we are very worried about the wildfire risk in Washington this year. May saw a large increase in both number and acres of fires on DNR jurisdiction property over the same time in 2022. From the summary of DNR’s June report: “Bottom line, the warm and dry weather of May has set the season trajectory to above normal fire potential and through most of June, that pattern is looking to continue.” So please, be careful with fire outdoors this year. And if the Sheriff institutes a burn ban, please follow it.
  • Public Works Director Connie Bowers and I met this morning and she gave me a number of updates you might be interested in:
    • They are replacing 2 culverts in the Bayview area this month, each requiring 1-day closures. High Meadow will be closed on June 15, and Wilkinson will be closed on June 22. Message boards will be set up on the road, and a gov delivery will be sent out from Public Works.
    • A couple of Clinton projects have been completed—the lighting in the Park n Ride, and the sidewalk and drainage project from Humphrey Road to the ferry.
    • All paving on Whidbey will be completed this month (this does not include chip sealing).
    • They are working on setting up a few public meetings this summer on issues of importance to citizens in my district: Crawford Road--sometime around the 3rd week in July; Speed Study—August 2 to discuss Central Whidbey, and August 23 to discuss South Whidbey.
  • I am very grateful to Sarah Bergquist, the WSU Extension Director, for mediating a solution with the Port of South Whidbey and the Fair Association that ensures we will have a Whidbey Island Fair next month. See you at the fair, Whidbey’s 98th!
  • Just a reminder: Island Transit now offers Sunday service.
  • Island County’s job postings can always be found at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/islandcounty?sort=PostingDate%7CDescending. Right now we have quite a few openings for summer jobs in Public Works.
  • Monday Tea with Melanie returns on Monday, June 12 at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. If you have any issues you want to discuss with me, you might want to bring them this month—due to the 4th of July holiday and my father’s 92nd birthday next month, I will not be available for these gatherings next month until July 24.
  • On June 26 I will also begin holding monthly public meetings in Clinton; these meetings will be held at the Clinton Community Center just before the Clinton Community Council monthly meetings. For the time being, if you live in Central Whidbey and want to meet with me closer to your home I encourage you to set up a meeting during my office time in Coupeville.


“We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love. That’s okay.”
~Laverne Cox