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.
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.
For Guemes Island residents, the only source of fresh water for most household use are three naturally occurring underground aquifers. Up until 1994, these aquifers supplied all the fresh water needed to support the families of Guemes. Everything changed when wells began to fail because of salt water intrusion. For the last 26 years, Skagit County has failed to implement steps needed to protect Guemes Island’s water supply.
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.