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Essential Housing for Essential Workers Key to Skagit’s Rural Future

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.

Skagit Citizens Press for Accountability, Transparency in Planning Commissioner Appointments

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.

Anatomy of a Zombie Permit: the proposed Grip Road Gravel Mine, six years and counting

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.

Guemes Islanders Offer Another Chance to Get It Right on Water- Commissioners Punt

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.

County Commissioner Leads Collaboration Efforts with Cities on Housing

There is a long history of adversarial relations between county government and the cities in Skagit County. Many residents, including this author, have long been puzzled when county government appears to act as if it is in competition with its own cities. Shouldn’t we recognize the cities as assets of the county? While acknowledging that history, County Commissioner Lisa Janicki took a different approach by collaborating and cooperating with the cities to find and implement solutions on the issue of housing.

Will “Fully Contained Communities” Solve Skagit’s Affordable Housing Crisis?

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.

FULLY CONTAINED COMMUNITIES and WHY WE SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT THEM

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.