A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - December 22, 2023

Holiday Photo Commissioner Bacon

Thank you for reading my last newsletter for 2023. The Board of Island County Commissioners will be on vacation next week.

  • Next week: County offices closed on Christmas, Monday December 25. Board of County Commissioners Regular Session cancelled for Tuesday, December 26. Council of Government (COG) cancelled for Wednesday, December 27.
  • Following week: County offices closed on New Year’s Day, Monday January 1. Board of County Commissioners Regular Session cancelled for Tuesday January 2.
  • Island County Solid Waste Holiday Hours: Christmas Eve, Dec. 24: Open 9:30 am - 3 pm. Christmas Day: Closed. New Year’s Eve: 9:30 am- 3:00pm.  New Year’s Day: Closed.
  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the December 19th meeting is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/70573cdc-acec-4e9e-9c2b-75264ad09dfe.
    • Public Comment was heard about the desire for an emergency dike repair permit.
    • The Board approved one resolution on the consent agenda: C-86-23: Amending Island County’s Six-Year Capital Improvement Program for the Years 2024-2029
    • The Board held a public hearing on Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS) application 171/23, mark 00:06:38 in the video recording. This application, which was approved unanimously, provides public access through private property trails to English Boom park on Camano Island. Although I think the commissioners are in agreement on issues more often than not, sometimes we have discussions that really shine the light on the differences in our philosophies. This was one example.
    • The Board of Island County Commissioners will not meet again in regular session until Tuesday, January 9, 2024. You will be able to find the agenda for that meeting by Friday, January 5th, here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter.
  • Upcoming Public Hearings (held during Tuesday board meetings, beginning at 10 am):
    • January 9: Resolution C-81-23, “Amending the Land Use and Building Permit Fees”
    • January 23: Public hearing on amendment to Fireworks code
    • February 13 (pending consent agenda approval): Public Hearing on Countywide Planning Policies
  • Work Session.  The agenda for the December 20th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12202023-672. The recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5729/12202023-WS-Audio. Note: next year we have set aside time on the 1st and 2nd work sessions of each month to work on comprehensive plan topics.
    • Public Works gave an update on an open house they held in Clinton on September 12, 2023 to hear the public’s input on County-owned property on Brighton Beach, Parcel # R32924-330-4620. The property was originally a beach access point, but it has not been maintained over the years and has been used by the community as a turn-around and limited parking area. Not surprisingly, most attendees from the community indicated that they’d like to see it maintained and available for use as beach access again. The Board indicated support for this, and also said we’d like to see the same attention paid to other similar County-owned beach access properties; increase to access to publicly-owned shoreline is included in our Comprehensive Plan. Public Works said they will begin maintaining these properties again for this purpose. You can listen to this discussion beginning at 0:09:15 in the recording.
    • Long Range Planning gave a presentation on “2025 Comprehensive Plan – What to Expect in 2024-25”. You can find this presentation beginning on page 33 of the agenda; the discussion begins at mark 01:18:00. There will be three new elements included in this plan, per changes in State law: a “Rural” element (we are looking for outside guidance on what a “rural element” is supposed to mean for a rural county); “Climate Resilience” (which we are planning to embed throughout the document anyway); and “Sub Area Plans” (which will include sections on Freeland and Clinton, and perhaps also other Rural Areas of Intense Development). The Board will work on our Vision Statement at the January 17 work session.
    • We held a robust conversation on the proposed County-wide Planning Policies, focusing on where we should plan for growth to go. You can hear that discussion beginning at mark 02:01:28. The policies document begins on page 52 of the agenda; the tables and charts begin on page 91. If you’d like to participate in this important conversation too, see the Planning Commission Public Hearing announcement below.
    • Important information for you who are interested in participating in or following our Comp Plan work: the Comp Plan website will go live in January and will include opportunities for online engagement. Sign up for Comp Plan emails at CompPlan@islandcountywa.gov.
    • Due to lack of time, we had to postpone the Conservation Futures discussion to a later date.
    • The Marine Resources Committee (MRC) gave a presentation on their Sea Level Rise White Paper. This White Paper can be found beginning on page 101 of the agenda; the PowerPoint begins on page 107. The discussion begins at mark 02:35:53. Their policy recommendations can be found on page 118. One of their recommendations is that given the changing nature of our times, we should transition from relying primarily on trend analysis for planning and give more credence to predictive planning. This discussion can be heard beginning at mark 02:56:14.
  • The Board of Health met on Tuesday, December 19. Agenda: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12192023-669; recording: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5726/Board-of-Health-12192023-Recording-MP3.
    • I will be the Chair of the Board of Health next year.
    • We passed the resolution “A Commitment To Health In All Policies” that I wrote about last week. This resolution can be found beginning on page 5 of the agenda, discussion begins at mark 0:11:59 in the recording. The Board of Health was enthusiastic about adopting this resolution.
    • Public Health has not updated their fees since 2019, and will be updating them in 2024. The memorandum on this begins on page 7 of the agenda; the actual fee schedule begins on page 10. Discussion begins at mark 0:38:25. NOTE: last week when I wrote in this newsletter that the Land Use and Building Permit Fees would change, I wrote “February 1, 2023” instead of “February 1, 2024” (thank you, Walt, for pointing out that typo!) Anyway, because of Walt’s email about that typo, I was hyper-aware when I saw that Public Health intended to change their fees effective January 1, and suggested that instead they make their effective date February 1 in order to be in line with the Planning Department. This suggestion was accepted by the department and the Board of Health. So: if you want to pay for projects under the old Planning fee schedule or the old Public Health fee schedule, you should get them done before February 1, 2024.
    • The Community Health Assessment Supervisor gave an update on our Community Health Assessment project. The presentation begins on page 15 of the agenda; discussion begins at mark 0:52:51 in the recording. Expect to see a Community Health survey opportunity next month.
    • The Board of Health began a discussion on our Strategic Vision, presentation beginning on page 36; recording at mark 1:29:12. This discussion will continue.
    • We received a grant to provide food and vegetables assistance for families in need, mark 1:40:00 in the recording.
    • We heard an update on the county’s contract to study septic and sewer solutions, mark 1:46:05 in the recording.
    • After 8 years serving on the Board of Health, this was retiring Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severn’s last meeting. We will miss you, Bob. Thank you for your many years of dedicated service to all citizens of Island County.
  • Wildland Fire Advisory Committee. The Commissioner of Public Lands appointed me to this committee a couple of years ago, to represent the western counties. There were a couple of interesting topics at this week’s meeting that I wanted to share with you.
    • Funding #1. We want the State to ensure funding to meet the Legislature’s $125 million biennial commitment in the passage of HB 1168 (2021). This funding will continue the forest health and wildfire resilience work that began last biennium. These critical investments were on the ground to help mitigate the damage and cost of wildfires in 2023. Failure to receive full funding will result in loss of funding for grants and funding to fire districts, forest health contractors, and communities supported by DNR’s Wildfire Ready Neighbors program. At yesterday’s meeting we heard examples of how the additional ground and aircraft resources provided through previous years’ funding contributed to the State’s success in keeping fires small and contained during the 2023 fire season.
    • Funding #2. Also to help fund wildfire fighting, the State Department of Natural Resources is pushing for the first DNR-sponsored license plate, which would feature Smokey Bear, funds going to help pay for wildfire prevention. You can see what the license plate would look like here: https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/em_leg_dnr_smokey_license_plate_2024.pdf; if you scroll to the bottom of the page you can sign the petition in support of the plate.
    • We are working on an addendum to our 2019 Wildland Fire Protection 10-year Strategic Plan https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_wildfire_strategic_plan.pdf. I suggested that we take a whole day in-person to hammer this out, so expect to hear more about that after we have that meeting in February.
    • Because we were successful in keeping fires small in 2023 (see first bullet, above), we saw the least number of acres burned in 2023 in the last 10 years despite an increase in number of fires. You can read the wildfire season report here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/ReportsToTheLegislature/Home/GetPDF?fileName=2023_AnnualWildfireSeasonReport_DNR_0f10b0a0-51ba-41b3-8868-f2a8fca57a2c.pdf.
    • It’s important to note for us in the upper northwest that we saw twice as many fires in our region in 2023 as we did in 2022. Also, FYI, 5% of the fires on the western side of the state were caused by fireworks.
  • Planning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Update:
  • Most food establishments (Risk Level 2 or 3) are required to have at least one employee with a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certificate.  Unfortunately, training for that certificate can be very expensive. To help our restaurants with this requirement, Island County is now going to offer our first Certified Food Protection Manager Class on February 5, 2024 from 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM. For more information, contact Environmental Health Manager Heather Korteum at h.kortuem@islandcountywa.gov.
  • You can find all of my newsletters for 2023 here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Directory.aspx?EID=62.
  • I will return on Monday, January 8 to Monday Tea with Melanie at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. Although these meetings are usually without an agenda (we just talk about whatever the people are interested in), John Lovie from the Whidbey Island Water Systems Association has agreed to come to this first meeting in 2024 to answer questions about our water capacity and other water issues.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!


Peppermint Patty: Have you made any New Year’s resolutions, Chuck?

Charlie Brown: Yes. You know how I always dread the whole year? Well, this time I’m only going to dread one day at a time.