A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - January 5, 2024

January Winter Trees

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 1st week of 2024.

Next Monday at 3 pm (Jan 8), instead of my regular open discussion “Monday Tea with Melanie”, I am sponsoring a targeted conversation on Whidbey water issues, with John Lovie joining us as our subject matter expert. Whidbey Telecom is kindly allowing us to use one of the meeting rooms in the WiFire Community Space instead of gathering in the open space as we usually do, in recognition of our expectation that we may have more attendees than usual. If you’ve been thinking about joining us but haven’t gotten a chance yet, this Monday conversation might be one you’d find interesting.

Note: WhidbeyTel has asked that we NOT bring any food or drink into this meeting room, as they have not yet started offering use of this room to the public and they don’t have a cleaning staff scheduled. So please wait until after the meeting ends at 4 pm before you buy your coffee from the lovely folks at Crabby Coffee.

  • Work Session.  The agenda for the January 3rd work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01032024-676. The recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5795/01032024-WS-Audio-MP3.
    • First on the agenda: we finalized our 2024 State legislative priorities. As I mentioned last year, we’re asking for money for two things for the Ituha Stabilization Facility—short-term operating dollars ($820K), and $90K to complete the design for an expansion; and we’re also requesting $250K for an aquifer recharge study. During the meeting I volunteered to testify to the Senate and House about our need for more investment in ferries. That will happen next week.
    • We held a robust conversation on the recommendation by the Conservation Futures Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) that the BOICC put a pause on Conservation Futures Funding in 2024 so they can work on re-writing the policy. Both Commissioner Johnson and I (Commissioner St. Clair was absent) were not comfortable with making this decision until we receive two pieces of information: the expectations of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust on 2024 funding and the intent of the Oak Harbor City Council regarding Freund Marsh. We also talked about some possible changes to Conservation Futures eligibility. This topic will come back to the Board in a few weeks after we have the requested information. The discussion begins at mark 0:45:00 in the recording.
    • We are going to schedule a public hearing on the assessment for the Marshall Drainage District. We talked about the difference between the Clean Water Utility and this drainage district, and about a few high assessments. Mark 0:34:25 in the recording.
    • We received a grant to replace 1400 regulatory and warning signs and posts that no longer maintain retro-reflectivity, and another grant to replace guardrails at two Camano Island locations where the existing guardrails don’t meet current standards. Mark 1:55:28 in the recording.
    • We are amending the 2024-2029 Transportation Improvement Plan to add these two projects and shift around the budgets for a few other projects. Mark 2:03:12 in the recording; the documents begin on page 68 of the agenda.
    • The agenda for the short January 10th work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01102024-685. On the agenda: the 2024 DEI program; the Countywide Planning Policies for the 2025 Comprehensive Plan; and the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement (the 2016 Vision Statement can be found beginning on page 26 of the agenda). 
  • Other Upcoming Public Hearings (held during Tuesday board meetings, beginning at 10 am):
    • January 23: Public hearing on amendment to Fireworks code
    • Still to be scheduled: Countywide Planning Policies, Shoreline Management Program, Marshall Drainage District Assessment, Compost Procurement Ordinance, 5-year Transportation Improvement Plan amendment
  • The Island Transit Board met this morning, in Special Session and Regular Session.
    • The Special Session was a meeting of the Composition Committee, which decided to increase the size of the Transit Board from 5 to 6 so that it will now include all three members of the Board of Island County Commissioners (up until now, only two members of the BOICC have been members of the Transit Board). The reason for this change is: the largest population and biggest user of Island Transit services is the Oak Harbor area, but they only had one representative, the appointed Oak Harbor councilmember. Camano Island has only one representative—the District 3 County Commissioner. South and Central Whidbey have three representatives—one councilmember from Langley and from Coupeville, plus the District 1 Commissioner (me)—but because of the size of unincorporated area of District 1, all three of those voices are needed for representation. So we decided to add a third County Commissioner position, which means the District 2 Commissioner from Oak Harbor will serve on the 2024 Board as well as Janet St. Clair and myself. Welcome back to the Island Transit Board, Jill Johnson!
    • We welcomed Oak Harbor Councilmember Eric Marshall to the Board, replacing the wonderful Beth Munns who retired last month.
    • Zero emission transition: The state’s Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) gave Island Transit the “go ahead” to utilize the design/build approach for their hydrogen fueling infrastructure. That approval was needed as this will be the first time Island Transit will have completed a project using that process. The battery charging infrastructure has been installed and commissioned; all that is needed now is for the electrical firm to “flip the switch”.
    • Recruitment: Current recruitments include Coach Operator positions at both operating bases. This month Island Transit will host job fairs at Sno-Isle Libraries. The first will be in Freeland on January 9, from 10:30 until 2:00 PM. The second will be on Camano on January 12, from 12:30 PM until 4:00 PM. The third will be in Oak Harbor on January 13, from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM.
    • Rebranding: The public rollout of the new brand is scheduled for Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 10:30 at the Island Transit building in Coupeville. You’re invited to attend—please call (360) 678-7771 to RSVP.


  • Planning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Update:
    • The next Planning Commission meeting will be held at 6 pm on Wednesday, January 17 in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room in Coupeville. The agenda will be sent out on Monday, January 8, and will be available here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/Planning-Commission-4.
    • At next Wednesday’s work session, the Board will talk about the Countywide Planning Policies and the Vision Statement.
    • Upcoming public meetings on the Comprehensive Plan:

Dates and Times


Thursday Feb. 1, 2024 6 - 8 PM

Island County Camano Annex - Convergence Room

Tuesday Feb. 6, 2024  6 - 8 PM

South Whidbey High School - New Commons

Saturday Feb. 10, 2024 10 AM - 12 PM

Island County BOCC Hearing Room

Tuesday Feb. 13, 2024 6 - 8 PM

The Center in Oak Harbor - Multi-Purpose Room


  • As you may know, COVID is back with us. Our Assessor’s office was actually closed this week due to most of the staff being sick.
  • Interested in Serving as a Port Commissioner? The Port of Coupeville Board is looking for a registered voter who lives in Port District #3 who wants to contribute to the future of the Port of Coupeville. New important Port projects are: working to restore the Coupeville Wharf and Greenbank Farm, and a new Broadband Project that is underway to serve the public, provide jobs, and produce income for Port operations. Please apply to be considered to join the vibrant Board that is working to secure the future of the Port’s mission to serve the people! Just send your resumé to executivedirector@portofcoupeville.org.
  • You can find all of my newsletters since January 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. See the first paragraph above for details about the Monday, January 8 gathering.



January is Poverty in America Awareness Month. 

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”   ~Franklin D. Roosevelt