Saving Community Treasures | Letter

Since 2004, the Penwell Trust has worked for and supported Community Treasures (CT) in its efforts to become a permanent facility on San Juan Island. Except for a March 28th, 2012 email, County Staff has continually recommended against changing CT’s site zoning, thereby perpetuating CT’s legally “non-conforming” land use status. A non-profit organization would not be fiscally responsible if it were to purchase a non-conforming site. Non-conforming status is defined by the Washington Department of Ecology as a use that is “To be eliminated over time.” This is usually done over time by regulating the non-conforming activity out of business. This causes business insecurity, applications for grants, banks, insurance companies, and potential donors to take this limited outlook into account.

County Staff are again at a point of making a decision that will impact the future of CT. The County land maps show there is no other feasible land site for CT’s operations. The Trustees of the property have tried for years to make CT’s site conforming, only to have County Staff recommend against land use changes as a path to permanency.

CT’s “boots on the ground” conservation activity has been so much a part of the flavor of our community. CT has operated a recycling and reuse program for community charitable needs at its location for 15 years. We hope that our county government values CT’s services enough to make CT’s site conforming so actions can be taken to make CT a permanent facility. Interested islanders need to send written comments before June 28th, 2019 to:, or mailed to Adam Zack, SJC Department of Community Development, P.O. Box 947, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

Penwell Trustees

San Juan Island