A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - September 15, 2023

Speed Study

Photo Credit: Spring Roehm

As we enter Climate Week, I want to celebrate all of the opportunities being made available to us to learn and do more to mitigate for the impacts of climate change on our islands. One place for you to find climate-related events on Whidbey Island over this next week is at https://www.whidbeyclimate.org/events.

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 37th week of 2023.

  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the September 12th regular session can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/062e158a-dede-4d7f-8cd6-02336aa9b48a.
    • This week we celebrated new hires and service awards. We congratulate Dave Branch of Public Works for 15 years’ service in the Road Shop, Laurie Helland of Camano Solid Waste for 25 years of dedicated work, and Catherine Kelley, our County parks and trails guru, for her 30 amazing years working for the citizens of Island County.
    • Public comment was offered on the Taylor Road and Hoffman Road homeless encampments, and on Island County pay.
    • We approved two resolutions on the consent agenda: C-53-23, “Disposal of County Surplus Property in accordance with Island County Code Chapter 2.31” (9 vehicles have reached full depreciation and are currently in excess); and C-54-23, “Declaring Legal Holidays for the Year 2024”.
    • The Board voted to award 2023 Conservation Futures Funding of $295,512 to the Whidbey Watershed Stewards for the Freeland Wetlands Preserve Acquisition, and $289,488 to the City of Oak Harbor for the Freund Marsh Acquisition—both important wetlands preservation projects for our citizens (note: the Board has also indicated an intention to award an additional $293,002 from the 2024 Conservation Futures to complete the Freund Marsh Acquisition; this additional amount is on next week’s consent agenda although it may be pulled into the regular agenda for discussion). These discussions begin at mark 00:30:27 in the video.
    • The agenda for the September 19th meeting is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09192023-618. The consent agenda includes scheduling a public hearing on October 10 for the Marshall Drainage Basin assessments—but I’m going to pull that from consent to move to the regular agenda for discussion, because after attending the Open House in Clinton on this assessment last night I don’t believe we’re ready yet to hold a public hearing and vote on the matter.    
  • Work Session. The agenda for the September 13th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09132023-616. The audio recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4597/09132023-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”. Depending on your internet access, this download may take a while.
    • As I’ve mentioned before, the County is working with our other local jurisdictions and business sectors on a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a requirement for certain grant opportunities. On Wednesday we discussed our County’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), a document that has been developed by this group. The Board had a couple of changes to recommend, but mostly agreed with the assessments. You can hear this discussion at mark 0:03:57 in the recording; the SWOT can be reviewed on pages 7 - 9 of the agenda.
    • We discussed the wildfire threat to Island County, our County’s similarities and differences to Maui, how much we’re prepared for wildfires, and how much more we have to do. Our Emergency Manager Eric Brooks lead the discussion, joined by Chief Jerry Helm of Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue and Assistant Chief Jason Allen of Camano Fire & Rescue. You can listen to this important discussion beginning at mark 0:46:28 in the recording; the presentation can be viewed here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4609/09132023-Presentations pages 1 - 23.
    • Human Services gave an Affordable Housing Update on the various housing projects funded by the County. At the end of the discussion, the Board indicated interest in taking ongoing applications for affordable housing projects, rather than putting out occasional requests for proposal. This update begins at mark 01:55:08 in the recording; the presentation can be viewed here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4609/09132023-Presentations pages 24 - 33.
    • In the afternoon we held a joint meeting with the Planning Commission to discuss the items tentatively docketed for 2024 for development of the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Update. That meeting begins at 02:25:53 in the recording; the proposed 2024 docket and work plan can be found on pages 107 – 108 in the agenda. Two items stood out for me: the proposed docket includes a full code review of the Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS) for a future year but I was pretty insistent that I want that included in the Comp Plan work next year; the other item was a 5G/Cell Tower Code Update, which we acknowledged could be a divisive issue (we receive strong input both pro and con 5G) and we do not want this issue to derail our Comp Plan work. More (much more) to come.
    • The next work session for the Board of Island County Commissioners will be held on Wednesday, September 20. The agenda is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09202023-619. Some of the items on that agenda: Continued policy discussion regarding homeless encampments (around 9:05); adding Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs) as a layer in the County’s Enterprise Geographical Information System (GIS) (scheduled around 10:50); Final review of ordinance to revise Title VI – Animals (scheduled around 11:25). Note: depending on how the meeting goes, the Board may move items around in the agenda and discussions may not always occur when scheduled.
  • Next Tuesday the Board of Health will meet at 1 pm in the Commissioners Board Room. The agenda will be posted under the Board of Health tab here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter. Those interested in attending the meeting by computer, tablet, or smartphone may use the following link: https://tinyurl.com/IslandCountyBOH or by telephone: 1-323-433-2396 Meeting ID 971 2319 5885 Pass code: 626749.
  • The last Speed Study open house will be held next week, on Wednesday, September 20th from 4:30 – 5:30 at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 901 NW Alexander St, Coupeville. These speed study open houses have been really interesting, and I have appreciated all the community attention to the issue. My general observation: people are pretty satisfied with the recommendations to lower speed limits on some roads, and not so keen on the recommendations to raise speed limits on others.
  • Our Department of Emergency Management is sponsoring an Emergency Preparedness Fair on September 30 at North Whidbey Middle School from 10 am – 2 pm with many of our emergency partners. For more information go here: https://islandcountywa.gov/754/September-Preparedness-Fair.
  • The year is fast coming to a close but there are a number of important issues still planned for Board discussion and action. A few of these are:
    • September 20 work session: discussion of policies related to homeless encampments
    • October 4 work session: discussion of County/community work to prepare for King Tides
    • October 4 work session: finalize 2024 Budget (to be voted on in December)
    • October 17 regular session (tentative): public hearing on Animal Welfare code revision
    • October 18 (afternoon): Emergency Management tabletop exercise
    • October 18 (evening): Listening session with builders and developers on the County permit processes
    • November 1 work session: discussion on 2024 legislative priorities
    • NOT YET SCHEDULED: public hearing on Fireworks code revision
    • Note: because the Commissioners attend the Washington State Association of Counties meeting in mid-November and Thanksgiving occurs at the end of the month, we have constricted work session time in November. Also, the Board tries to limit meetings and important decisions during the end of December. Therefore, most of our remaining work needs to be done in October or the first two weeks of December.
  • Reminder: there is still a Type 2 Burn Ban in Island County, which means no outdoor burning of natural debris even with a burn permit, and no recreational fires. The risk of fire remains high.
  • Unfortunately Island County is now in a Moderate COVID-19 level. To keep up with COVID-19 news, go here: https://wa-islandcounty.civicplus.com/323/COVID-19. This page includes information on such things as how you can get free tests for your family.
  • Commissioner Johnson and I serve on the Northwest Regional Council (NWRC). As one of only two in the State of Washington, NWRC’s Dementia Support Program is paving the way in modern day dementia care through targeted outreach and caregiver support. https://nwrcwa.org/paving-the-way-in-modern-day-dementia-care.
  • Most Mondays I hold Monday Tea with Melanie at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. This is an opportunity for you to meet with me and other citizens to talk about the County issues of concern to you.



“Ice sheets are not Republicans or Democrats — they don’t have a political agenda as they disappear.”  ~ Dr. Michael E. Mann