Right now, another attack is being launched against growth management in Skagit County. This is the latest in a series over the last several years. The attack is in the form of a push for Fully Contained Communities (FCCs). On March 11th, the County Commissioners docketed an amendment to the County 2021 Comprehensive Plan to review FCCs. Understandably, the Commissioners are concerned about affordable housing, and FCCs offer that false promise.
The appointed Skagit County Planning Commission (PC) wields considerable power in land use planning decisions that affect everyone in the county. Who are the Planning Commissioners? How are they appointed? Do they represent the people of Skagit?
On May 11, 2021, despite over 700 public comments urging them not to do it, the Skagit County Commissioners unanimously voted to docket a comprehensive plan amendment proposal to allow FCCs or “Fully Contained Communities”. By “docketing” the proposal, the County Commissioners prepared a path for developers to turn sections of rural Skagit County into massive housing enclaves.
Skagit County is proposing a Comprehensive Update (major rewrite) to the County’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP), which has not been comprehensively updated since its adoption in 1976. These are just a few of the concerns recognized by several nonprofit groups and tribes who are reviewing the draft and provided comments during the May 11, 2021 Public Hearing before the Skagit County Planning Commission.
Skagit County, Swinomish, and La Conner began to address the impacts of climate change in the mid-2000s. Each took a different approach. What became of those efforts?
The Planning Commission plays a fundamental role in land use planning in Skagit County. But many county residents are unfamiliar with that role and with the series of misguided recommendations the Planning Commission has made – and the Board of County Commissioners has summarily accepted – over the past decade.
Skagit County failed to meet every single state-mandated deadline for updating the Shoreline Management Plan plan over 44 years. Now County staff are trying again.
In 2020, Secretary of the Interior, energy industry lobbyist David Bernhardt, reversed his predecssor Zinke and ended a years long process to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades. The Skagit County Commissioners once again joined commissioners in several other counties to oppose implementing the Endangered Species Act. For now, planning to restore the grizzly bear to the North Cascade Ecosystem has been halted.
This was our first documented experience of possible climate change impacts to our communities. Increased storm intensity, minor sea level rise in combination with a high tide created this unexpected event.
In crafting solutions to meet the need for affordable housing in our county, we should do this while maintaining the character of Skagit County. By taking charge of the problem, we have the ability to preserve what we love about Skagit County while responding to the very real needs of the people who live here.