A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - February 9, 2024

February r Newsletter Picture

Thank you for reading my newsletter for the 6th week of 2024.

What with Super Bowl, Fat Tuesday, the beginning of Lent, and Valentine’s Day all happening next week, it’s starting to feel like we’re close to Spring. I’m so glad about this. I am not a good winter person. My mind is reeling over the potential ramifications of Lent starting on Valentine’s Day, but I won’t go into those ruminations here.

  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the Tuesday February 6, 2024 Regular Session is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/aebe18ac-d1b1-4ea2-8979-3dd972126d8e
    • We heard public comment from two citizens with food service inspection concerns, from one person about the Hoffman Road overnight parking problem, and from one person on the importance of protecting open space and critical areas.
    • The Board approved an agreement with a contractor to provide comprehensive project management for the Island County Wastewater Proviso project, which is the study on septic/sewer alternative technologies that the State agreed last year to fund for us. This discussion begins at mark 00:14:36 in the recording.
    • We held an informative and engaged public hearing on the draft Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update, beginning at mark 00:27:27 in the recording and lasting over two hours. You can find a link to the 465-page draft SMP in the agenda above, by clicking on the doc attached to the Public Hearing. The Board has received many written comments on this draft, and heard oral comments on Tuesday from 27 individuals. The Board has a lot to think about and discuss before we take action on this item. We will continue to take written comments for the record until February 16, and will hold a work session on February 21 for the Board to discuss the various issues and decide whether or not to adopt the SMP as proposed, or make changes to the draft. I am pretty adamant that the SMP (and the 2025 Comprehensive Plan) need to clearly establish the County’s philosophy regarding the tensions between our responsibility to help today’s citizens find resiliency solutions that enable them to maintain existing lifestyles, versus our obligations to protect our shore and land ecosystems for the citizens of tomorrow. I spoke about this, beginning at mark 2:30:24 in the recording. More to come on the SMP; the Board deliberation from the public hearing is scheduled to come to our March 19 regular meeting.
    • The agenda for our Tuesday, February 13 regular session is here https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02132024-704. On that agenda: a Public Hearing to amend the 2024- 2029 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).
  • Other Upcoming Public Hearings (held during Tuesday board meetings, beginning at 10 am):
    • February 13: Amending the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) 2023-2029
    • March 5: PSE Franchise PW2023-0127
    • March 12 (pending BOCC approval of date): Marshall Drainage District Assessment
    • March 12 (pending BOCC approval of date): Franchise Renewal Saratoga Shores
    • March 12 (pending BOCC approval of date): Franchise Renewal Juniper Beach
    • March 19 (pending BOCC approval of date): Compost Procurement Ordinance
    • March 19 (pending BOCC approval of date): New Franchise 58 W Camano
    • March 19: SMP, Public Hearing deliberation continued from 2/6.
    • March 26 (pending BOCC approval of date): Countywide Planning Policy
    • March 26 (pending BOCC approval of date): Franchise Renewal Whidbey Country Club
    • March 26 (pending BOCC approval of date): Franchise Renewal Saratoga Beach
    • April 16 (pending BOCC approval of date): a water system approval
  • Work Session. The agenda for the Wednesday, February 7 work session is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02072024-700. The recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6314/02072024-WS-Audio.
    • We talked about the contract to draft the Climate Sub-element for our Comprehensive Plan, mark 0:05:38 in the recording. The Board will discuss this contract again during an upcoming regular session.
    • We received an update on our FEMA Probation—all out-of-compliance properties identified by FEMA in 2013 are now in compliance and we will be taken off probation in August. From the letter: “FEMA extends its congratulations and appreciation to the Island County Planning Department on the changes made in the implementation and enforcement of the floodplain management program to ensure consistency and compliance”. Discussion begins at mark 0:12:35 in the recording.
    • The County is now doing our own fire inspections of buildings, and will be ending the interlocal we have with the fire districts to perform this function on our behalf. Discussion begins at mark 0:19:21.
    • I brought an add-on to our agenda: since the Board has now reduced the types of consumer fireworks that can be used in Island County, the Board would like to encourage community fireworks displays by reconvening our Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) to consider 2024 applications for this type of event only (looking at you, Freeland Chamber of Commerce). You can hear this at mark 0:52:21 in the recording.
    • Public Works let us know there will be a 30-day closure of Penn Cove Road for road stabilization, to occur in the March timeframe (depends on weather). This work will include archaeological monitoring. Notices will be send out to the affected houses and adjacent neighborhoods. Discussion begins at mark  1:34:35 in the recording. The Board will discuss this again at an upcoming regular session.
    • During the road levy certification discussion we learned that our County’s roads are valued at $25.6 Billion. Mark 1:43:29 in the recording.
    • This is the agenda for the Wednesday, February 14 work session: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02142024-702. On that agenda: a 2-hour tabletop exercise on the County’s preparedness, processes, and procedures following a major disaster (I am THRILLED that we are finally doing this!). Also on the agenda: a  presentation on our Early Childhood Support Services.
  • Planning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Update:
    • We’ve held two public meetings on the Comprehensive Plan so far: one on Camano and one on South Whidbey. At these meetings, citizens have an opportunity to weigh in on their values, and it’s been really interesting to me to see the differences in priorities between people from these different parts of our County. For example, the citizens who attended the Camano meeting identified maintaining our rural character as their most important value, whereas affordable housing came in as the top priority for the people who attended the meeting in South Whidbey (this assessment is not scientific; it’s based on how many stickies I counted in the different boxes on the flip charts). I look forward to seeing what the folks in Coupeville and Oak Harbor have to say.
    • The Comprehensive Plan Update public engagement website is now live: https://www.islandcounty2045.com/. I encourage you to join and participate.
    • The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held Wednesday, February 21. You will be able to find the documents on our agenda center page, https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter, next Monday. For Zoom info, go here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=1800
    • Upcoming public meetings on the Comprehensive Plan:

Dates and Times


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


  • Community Health Survey: It only takes 10 minutes to have a BIG impact! Island County’s Community Health Survey, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z3Q2SSZ, is collecting responses through April 30th to include in the Community Health Assessment Report, which will be released in July of 2024. If you haven’t taken the quick survey yet, be sure to do so! The anonymous survey takes ten to twelve minutes and will help Island County Public Health better understand how all islanders are doing. The results of the survey will identify areas of improvement and set a path towards creating a healthier community for all. There are questions about quality of life, access to health care, how people get health-related information, and what are some of the barriers to good health in our county. The more people we hear from, the more complete our picture will be of how Island County community members are doing.
  • 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. I plan to be there this next Monday, but will not be there on Monday, February 19, Presidents’ Day.


   "What the world really needs is more love and less paper work"      ~ Pearl Bailey