A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - October 20, 2023


Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 42nd week of 2023.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My sister is a breast cancer survivor, as are some of you reading this newsletter. Writing this newsletter today is a good reminder to me to schedule my own mammogram; maybe it’s a reminder to you too.

  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the October 17th regular session can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/17d7f8ad-65b0-4894-a55e-6fcd60964126
    • Public comment was heard on Ebey’s Historic Preservation Commission’s permit timeline improvements, and data collection for the speed study.
    • I asked that one item on the consent agenda be brought to the regular agenda because I believed it needed a public moment: we awarded an ARPA Affordable Housing Contract of $3,900,000 to the Opportunity Council for the construction of an 82-unit apartment community in Oak Harbor. The discussion about this item can be heard at mark 00:09:45 in the video recording.
    • 1 Resolution was passed on the consent agenda: C-66-23, “Updating the Content Governance Policy”.
    • After a public hearing, the Board unanimously passed ordinance C-57-23, which amends Title VI-Animal Welfare of the Island County Code. You can watch the public comment, the Board discussion, and the presentation beginning at mark 00:13:46 in the recording. Some of the changes to the code include kennel licensing for private kennels (10 or more cats and/or dogs) and commercial kennels (5 or more cats and/or dogs for profit), monitoring of these kennels, changes to enforcement, and the requirement for reimbursement for care when violations have occurred. You can read the new code by clicking on the little PDF file in item 12 of the agenda above. I am very grateful to the citizens who brought the need for this code revision to the Board’s attention and worked with us to accomplish this update in what was, for the government, a pretty quick response (10 months!).
    • The agenda and Zoom link for the October 24th meeting is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/e5b263f2-28af-44b0-b079-c1f47e5927d8 On the regular agenda we have the two public hearings listed below: the maintenance assessment for Diking District 4, and a request to expand the boundaries of the O-ZI-YA Community Club Water System.                              
  • Work Session. Agenda for the October 18th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10182023-642 the recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5058/10182023-WS-Audio
    • The first work session item was a discussion on updating our fee schedules. Despite the fact that we’ve been in an inflationary period, none of the county’s fees have been increased in years—Public Health was last updated in 2019; Land Use in 2014; Planning Plumbing & Mechanical, Building Permit Valuation, and Building Permit Fees in 2018. We expect to increase all of these fees in January 2024 to bring them in line with the Western Region CPI. We will communicate with the public what the new fees will be prior to implementation.
    • We agreed to schedule a public hearing for a PBRS (Public Benefit Rating System) application for 4 parcels. Approval of this application would provide a connection from English Boom Park to public trail lands. The homeowners have planted hundreds of trees and shrubs to restore the site. You can listen to this PBRS application discussion beginning at mark 1:13:16 in the recording.
    • There will be no work session next week. The next work session for the Board of Island County Commissioners will occur on November 1. The agenda for that work session will be posted next Friday, October 27. One item that I know will be on that work session: a discussion of king tides and what the county and citizens who live on the shoreline have done/are doing to prepare for this winter.
  • The Board of Health met on Tuesday. Agenda: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10172023-644 Recording: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5049/101723-Board-of-Health-MP3-recording   
    • The BOH held our first discussion on a proposed proclamation, “Health in All Policies (HiAP),” an approach to public policy that recognizes the profound interconnection between public policy decisions and the health and well-being of our communities. This was a really interesting policy discussion, of the type the BOH doesn’t get into very often. You can listen to this discussion beginning at mark 0:03:39 in the recording; the draft proclamation discussed can be found on pages 6-7 of the agenda. I asked that the adopted proclamation be included as an appendix in our 2025 Comprehensive Plan update.
    • Dr. Chris Kelley, our County Hydrogeologist, gave a presentation on the Island County Public Health Hydrogeology program, including basic review of aquifer science and approaches to groundwater data and cross team collaboration. The presentation begins at mark 0:41:24 in the recording; the presentation itself is available beginning on page 8 of the agenda. This was a really interesting presentation and discussion, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the topic of aquifers in Island County.
    • Our internet went down toward the end of the BOH meeting, so some of our next discussion was lost.
    • Megan Works, our Community Health Manager, gave a short presentation on Breast Cancer Awareness. The presentation begins on page 20 of the agenda; her abridged comments begin at mark 1:33:21.
    • Our Health Officer, Dr. Howard Liebrand, gave us a heads-up to expect that health care settings may return to requiring masking soon, due to the growth in various respiratory illnesses in the population (and as I typed this sentence, I sneezed.)
  • This week, the members of the Board of County Commissioners were the quorum for four boards instead of our usual two (Board of Island County Commissioners and Board of Health). On Tuesday we also held our annual meetings of the Camano Island Library Capital Facility Area Governing Body and the Coupeville Library Capital Facility Area Governing Body. These Boards meet each year in order to review, consider and take action on resolutions to authorize the excess tax levies necessary to make the annual principal and interest levy bond payments for those libraries. The citizens of those areas voted in those bonds in years past.
    • Coupeville: the total increase in 2024 is $2300 (spread out among all property tax payers in that jurisdiction). The payoff for this bond will occur in 2028.
    • Camano Island: the total increase in 2024 is $5200 (also spread out among all property tax payers in that jurisdiction). The payoff for this bond will occur in 2024.
  • On Wednesday the 18th the Board held a listening session with builders and developers to hear their comments and ideas regarding our permitting processes. The recording for that session can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5061/10182023-Builders-Special-Session
  • Next Wednesday, October 25th, the Council of Governments (COG) and Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) will hold their monthly meetings. Also this month the Island Local Integrating Organization (ILIO) will meet immediately following the IRTPO.
  • Upcoming Public Hearings:
    • October 24 regular session (10 am): Diking District 4 assessments
    • October 24 regular session (10 am): Expanding the boundaries of the O-ZI-YA Community Club Water System
    • November 7 regular session (10 am): The 2024 Long Range Planning Work Plan and Docket
  • A 21st century adaptation to Halloween is Trunk-or-Treat. Below are some of these local events for your kids and grandkids to enjoy—let me know about the ones I’ve missed and I’ll post them next week.
    • Trunk-or-Treat at the Thirsty Crab Brewery sponsored by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, October 31st, 4 – 7.
    • Trunk-or-Treat sponsored by the Freeland Chamber of Commerce, Oct 31st 3:30 – 6:30, at the Harbor & Main intersection.
    • Spooktacular Langley, Oct 31st 2:30 – 5 pm, downtown. Trunk-or-Treat sponsored by the Langley Main Street Merchants Association at the Langley United Methodist Church at 3rd & Anthes (and if you’re in downtown Langley on 2nd Street on Halloween at around 3:30 and you see a bunch of zombies suddenly break into dance—keep an eye out for a zombie county commissioner cavorting along in the mob of the undead).
    • Greenbank Farm Trunk or Treat, Saturday October 28th from noon to 3.
    • Island County Historical Museum Trick or Treat, October 29; registration required, 360-678-3310.
    • Oak Harbor Downtown Trick-or-Treat is free to the public and will be held rain or shine on October 31st from 5:30pm-6:30pm.
    • North Whidbey Fire & Rescue, Fire Station 25 Heller St, drive-through Trunk or Treat tomorrow October 21 from 5 – 7.
    • Numerous churches in our area are also sponsoring Trunk-or-Treats as a safe alternative to kids walking through neighborhoods knocking on strangers’ doors (can you believe during the last century we used to do that without thinking twice about it? My parents didn’t even go with us—we were little kids, and they just gave us our pillow cases and sent us out to prowl the streets on our own. And by the time my own kids were in the 6th grade, I did the same thing.)
    • In addition, the Town of Coupeville is going all-out for Halloween. See their Practically Magic Halloweekend here: https://www.coupevillehistoricwaterfront.com/practicallymagic and the Haunting of Coupeville, here: https://hauntingofcoupeville.com/activities/
  • Island County’s Department of Emergency Management will conduct a free 3-day 20-hour CERT basic training on Whidbey Island from November 3 – 5: Coupeville BOCC Hearing Room (Fri & Sat) and Oak Harbor Fire Station (Sun). Times: Fri 5-8; Sat and Sun 9-5.
  • This year’s Ebey's Forever Conference will take place November 3rd & 4th in Coupeville. Tickets for the conference, the conference sessions, and the community potluck can be found both at www.ebeysreserve.com and at the ticket page here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ebeys-forever-conference-2023-registration-528625813037?aff=ebdssbdestsearch 
  • You can find all of my newsletters for 2023 here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Directory.aspx?EID=62
  • Most Mondays I hold Monday Tea with Melanie at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland, an opportunity for citizens to speak with me and with each other about issues of interest to them. What often happens is, people will come the first time because they have a particular question for me, then return the following weeks because they enjoy being part of the broader conversation.


"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. So the only thing to really be afraid of is if you don't go get your mammograms."         ~Cynthia Nixon