For the last decade and a half, I and other Skagit residents have urged Skagit County to address sea level rise planning in its Shoreline Master Plan (SMP) update. Most recently, as it became clear that the County’s SMP update would not include sea level rise (SLR) planning, many began to push for an alternative. This summer it seemed the County had heard us.
For Skagit citizens who watched the Planning Commission’s (PC) controversies in 2021 unfold, it seemed it was bound to happen. The new rewrite of PC bylaws enshrines the PC’s power to censure their members. That power was not included in their bylaws when they actually did severely reprimand one of their members through censure in 2021 before they gave themselves the authority to do so.
Representatives of Guemes Island Ferry Workers and Skagit County met with a state-appointed mediator on June 14 in an attempt to resolve the impasse over a new contract for the ferry’s masters and purser deckhands. The ferry workers’ most recent contract expired Dec. 31, 2021.
More than two years of fierce public outcry and organizing against so-called Fully Contained Communities (FCCs) ended in a unanimous vote on May 8, 2023 by Skagit Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). Their vote EXCLUDED from the 2023 docket two previously docketed and then deferred proposals to allow FCCs in Skagit. How did citizen action accomplish the victory?
A massive ferry fare increase threatens farming, working families on Guemes Island. Islanders are shocked that 100 years of ferry service, and decades of including the Island’s Ferry Committee in setting fare rates have suddenly changed. They worry that transportation costs they can afford are in jeopardy.
Skagit County is at a crossroads. For years, we have been protected by our geography from surrounding pressures to convert agricultural, forest, and river resources to urban uses. However, in just the last few years Skagit County has experienced several existential threats and we can expect more as climate changes make the Pacific Northwest both more attractive and more vulnerable.
A series of puzzling, and at times controversial, decisions and actions by the Skagit County Planning Commission led to a push for more transparency from County Commissioners regarding the process of Planning Commissioner appointments. A group of Skagit citizens from Home Rule Skagit, as well as local Good Government advocates, are behind that push. There have been small successes in this process, but more needs to be done. At a time when issues of growth are so crucial, the Planning Commission often seems to be in the driver’s seat of the county’s future.
For the last several years the news and social media have been full of stories about faulty election integrity despite an almost complete lack of well-founded reason for concern. Have you worried about our elections department in Skagit County? Are you concerned about whether your ballot was counted or not?
For six years a group of citizens called Central Samish Valley Neighbors (CSVN) has been working to protect their rural community from the impacts of a large new gravel mine. The permit review process, led by Skagit County Planning and Development Services, has been long, drawn out, and fraught with problems from the outset.
The long saga of failing wells on Guemes Island goes back to 1994. The sole source of fresh water for island residents is an aquifer that has been jeopardized by unchecked drilling of new wells. As the population of Guemes has grown, and new wells are drilled by new property owners, existing wells have been corrupted by seawater intrusion making the water unsafe for human consumption. Since then, Guemes Islanders worked to get Skagit County to find a solution to protect the aquifer. They have been continually thwarted in their efforts. In 2022, they tried again.