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?
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.
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.
The decision by the Skagit County Commissioners to docket (or give further consideration to) the Skagit Partners’ proposal to allow fully contained communities has raised a number of questions about the process for making such consequential growth decisions.
by Kirk Johnson The Framework Agreement was adopted in 2002 by Skagit County and the cities of Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Woolley, and the…
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.
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.
Clearly, everyone has to be able to “afford” a house or apartment in order to buy or rent housing. However, obtaining housing is not a problem for everyone. When your wealth or income is high enough, the amount you spend on housing is a matter of choice. It is unlikely that there is a house in Skagit County that Bill Gates can’t afford, for example.
Affordable housing has become a core economic issue for communities throughout our country. For Washington State (and many other communities), it is not a singular issue and has many complex elements.