A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - December 15, 2023

12/15 Sunset for Newsletter

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 50h week of 2023.


  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the December 12th meeting is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/8abbc5dd-eee2-40e4-9b9c-571f70507919
    • Public Comment heard: Mutiny Bay flooding and a request for a code change; flight times at OLF; adaptations that may be coming to jet planes; gratitude to Island Transit; requests that the Board put out a ballot initiative for a public vote to ban fireworks in South Whidbey; comments about the proposed amendment to the existing County fireworks code.
    • The Board approved three resolutions on the consent agenda: Resolution C-82-23, “Certifying the Levies for Collection of Taxes in the Year 2024 to the Island County Assessor”; Resolution C-83-23, “Providing Lump Sum Travel Allowance in Lieu of Actual Expenses to County Commissioners”; and Resolution C-84-23, “Establishing 2024 Non-represented Wage Increase”.
    • Approved on our regular agenda: Resolution C-81-23, setting a public hearing for January 9, “Amending the Land Use and Building Permit Fees”. These fees have not been changed in nine years, and we strongly suggest that if you want to pay for projects under the old Planning fee schedule, you should get it done before February 1, 2023.  To see the new proposed fee schedule, click on the link in the agenda. Mark 00:29:46 in the recording.
    • Approved on our regular agenda: Resolution C-85-23, “Adopting Office of Financial Management Population Projection for the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Periodic Update”. Mark 00:39:58 in the recording. This resolution directs the Planning Department to utilize a 2045 population estimate of 102,639 for the purposes of planning under the Washington State Growth Management Act and to comply with the regulatory deadline established by RCW 36.70A.130(5)(b).
    • In the afternoon, the Board held a business meeting with the leaders of our Human Services and Public Health departments, and another with our Public Works and Planning departments. These are the agendas for those meetings: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12122023-665
    • The agenda for the Tuesday December 19th Regular Session is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/304fb6f1-4609-443f-b19b-895b1a3ebf1b We will hold a public hearing on Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS) application 171/23. For details, see the link in the agenda.


  • Work Session.  The agenda for the December 11th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12132023-668 The recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5691/12132023-WS-Audio Agenda add-ons and the EDC presentation can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5692/Add-ons-and-EDC-Presentation
    • We started by discussing LTAC requests from the Freeland Chamber of Commerce and Langley Chamber of Commerce.
    • The Board discussed holding a public hearing on an amendment to the Fireworks code (resolution and ordinance can be found beginning on page 49 of the agenda; discussion begins at mark 0:20:34 in the recording); the public hearing is tentatively scheduled for January 23.
    • Ryan Beach, our Facilities Director, brought us two spending issues. We discussed replacing elevators in the Law & Justice Building, which we had budgeted for so it wasn’t a contentious conversation; we moved that to the consent agenda. But then we talked about the need to replace the generator in the Jail Annex building which was a more problematic discussion (I actually swore on the recording, which is unlike me)—the cost has more than doubled, from $630K to $1.4M. The generator discussion begins at mark 0:54:54 in the recording. We have to do it as part of our emergency preparation—but we’re not happy about it. We’ll try to get more money from the legislature, plus we’ll see if Puget Sound Energy will help.
    • Economic Development Council ED Sharon Sappington and President George Henny gave a presentation on EDC achievements as part of our discussion on a two-year contract. The presentation begins on page 1 here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5692/Add-ons-and-EDC-Presentation Mark 1:16:56 in the recording. The rate of this contract had not been increased since 2019; we decided to give the EDC a 10% increase beginning in 2024.
    • We discussed an increase in costs to repair the Cornet Bay dock. We have to replace pilings that were put in 106 years ago, plus the dock that’s from the 1930’s. This dock is crucial for emergency purposes as well as for recreational and commercial fishing. Page 126 in the agenda (pictures and project details on page 127); mark 1:56:30 in the recording.
    • We are expecting a pretty interesting Work Session next week. The agenda for the December 20th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12202023-672 On the agenda: Public Works will bring a petition to vacate a portion of right-of-way at the end of the traveled roadway known as Lincoln Street; we will discuss the Public Works recommendation regarding the County’s small parcel on Brighton Beach; we will review a resolution to consider some drainage projects as complete; Long Range Planning will present on the timeline and process for updating the Comprehensive Plan in 2024-2025 (the presentation begins on page 32 of the agenda); Long Range Planning will bring the Countywide Planning Policies for the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Update as a follow up discussion to the Board of Island County Commissioners (begins on page 53); at around 11 am, the Marine Resources Committee (MRC) will present their White Paper on Sea Level Rise (White Paper begins on page 101 of the agenda; their presentation begins on page 107); the Citizen Advisory Board (CAB) will discuss their recommendation to temporarily suspend the Conservation Futures Fund (CFF) application program for the 2024 cycle with the intention of resuming in 2025; and Treasurer Tony Lam will present his monthly Treasurer’s Report.


  • Other Upcoming Public Hearings (held during Tuesday board meetings, beginning at 10 am):
    • December 19: Public hearing for PBRS Application 171/23
    • January 9: Resolution C-81-23, “Amending the Land Use and Building Permit Fees”
    • January 23 (pending consent agenda approval): Public hearing on amendment to Fireworks code
    • February 13 (pending consent agenda approval): Public Hearing on Countywide Planning Policies



  • Planning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Update:
    • December 20, 6 pm: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12202023-671 Includes discussion on water and sewer/septic, what to expect in 2024-25 for the Comprehensive Plan Update, and follow-up on the December 6 Planning Commission Workshop on the Countywide Planning Policies.
    • January 3, 6 pm: the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Countywide Planning Policies.


  • Island County’s Parent to Parent program has 3 events coming up in the next couple of weeks, fun for the whole family. All Ages, All Abilities Welcome!
    • Tuesday, December 19th they are watching Wonka at Oak Harbor Cinemas. The 4:30pm showing, only $5.  The cinema staff understand their attendees might not be able to sit still, may make noises and need a little extra support.
    • Wednesday, December 20th is their Annual Holiday Party at Coupeville Rec Hall. Hours: 5-7pm with Santa arriving about 5:30pm. Pictures with Santa, Potluck, Arts & Crafts, Holiday Music, Sensory Tubs and holiday cheer.
    • Wednesday, December 27th Bowling Fun with Parent to Parent. Come knock down some pins with others that “get it”. Bring the whole family. To RSVP  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/705507290297?aff=oddtdtcreator
    • The folks at Parent to Parent want to thank you for letting them be a part of your community. You are not alone. Seeking ideas? Need an ear? Looking for resources? They are here. Reach them by email t.wheeler-thompson@islandcountywa.gov (360)632-7539 call/text  Facebook Messenger https://www.facebook.com/islandcountyparent2parent


  • Maxwelton Park: Our Island County Parks department has replaced the 30+ year old playground at Dave Mackie/Maxwelton Park. The new playground was moved to a new site that is overall much safer and more accessible. The playground incorporates skills and challenges that are important to children’s development, and the swing set has parent and child seating with the seats facing each other so they can enjoy the movement and moment together. The old playground site has been completely renovated, thanks to the Island County Bayview Road Shop. The old playground was removed and recycled where feasible, drainage was improved, old creosote timbers were removed, new topsoil was added, and the area was hydroseeded.  Once the area is stable and settled the plan is to place 2-3 more picnic pads and tables, incorporate 2 more shelters of the same type as currently exist, and add accessible pathways to the tables, BBQs and the restrooms using pervious concrete.  


  • Island Transit news. Just this afternoon I received this news from Island Transit, about a couple of big successes in their plans to move toward zero emission vehicles.
    • Island Transit now owns approximately 36 acres of land adjacent to their Coupeville operating base. They are working with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to clear up some conservation easement issues before they make specific decisions on how this property will be used. Their ultimate goal is to find a way to use the new property to assist in their planned transition to zero emission vehicles. This new property provides Island Transit with many opportunities to assist in their decarbonization, including some things that would have been impossible to do with the pre-purchase footprint.
    • Their EV chargers have been commissioned and are now working.  They will be used by Island Transit electric buses and service vehicles. 


  • Dr. Shawn Morris, Island County’s Public Health Director, sent out this message to the Board of Health regarding the uptick in respiratory infections for dogs.
    • There is no evidence of spread from dogs to humans (not a zoonotic disease). Public Health is closely monitoring, working with regional, state, and federal partners.
    • There are higher cases in the Western US – many of the cases have been in Oregon.
    • While the disease is causing more severe respiratory disease in dogs, mortality rates for dogs remain low.
    • Researchers are investigating the cause of this respiratory disease by collecting and analyzing samples, working with veterinarians. A pathogen has not been identified at this time.
    • Dog owners may be able to decrease risk by limiting their pet’s contact with other dogs, like at dog parks and boarding facilities. If people are using boarding facilities when traveling over the holidays, having dogs up to date on immunizations can help.




  • 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, and I am also available once a month in Clinton, just before the Clinton Community Council meeting the last Monday of the month (note: there will be no Clinton Community Council meeting in December). Below are my Mondays through the end of the year, as of now:
    • Monday December 18 – 3 pm WiFire –Yes
    • Monday December 25 – NO
    • Monday January 1 – NO




"This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year's threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath."  ~Margaret Atwood