League of Women Voters Observer Corps notes

Submitted by the League of Women Voters Observer Corps.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

San Juan Island School Board regular meeting of Feb. 15

One citizen praised the elementary school’s special education program and complained about smoke from fires near the fairgrounds impacting children on the playground.

The district has 160 special needs students and a successful structural literacy program.

A new meeting feature called Student Showcase highlighted two student projects:

Two bilingual students are assisting students and parents with paperwork and English/Spanish translation, and providing teaching assistant help in classrooms and with sports teams. They hope to expand the program.

The high school Eco Club is using technology to help create a disaster response plan for the island. They were awarded $2500 from Samsung for the project. They visited Olympia and met with legislators to lobby for bills on regionalization and levy lids. One student reported on accompanying Rotary members on a volunteer trip to Honduras.

A social and emotional climate survey will be given twice annually. This survey measures whether students feel safe and supported and have a trusted adult at school. The elementary school held a Kindness Week and features peer mediation for children as young as kindergarten.

Several bills under consideration in Olympia would affect the district, including one limiting special education funding, another mandating free meals and another regarding pre-judgment interest in legal settlements.

The Board is considering providing audio recordings of future meetings.

Town Council, Feb. 16

In the absence of Mayor Jackson, councilman Mason Turnage chaired the meeting. Offices will be closed Monday for Presidents Day.

Town Administrator Denice Kulseth recommended an annual agreement with the Visitor Bureau for destination marketing for $191k. The Visitor Bureau is working on a Tourism Management Plan that will include input from businesses and town residents on tourism, maximum tourist arrivals, and strain town resources. A Council member or town employee will participate. Council approved the proposal.

The Council approved an agreement between the town, Port of Friday Harbor and San Juan County to continue funding for removal of derelict vessels. Town budgets $2,000.00 as part of this agreement.

The Council reviewed and approved the Professional Service Agreement with Wilson Engineering for app. $3 million dollars for construction, inspection and commissioning the Wastewater Treatment. Three million dollars has been spent so far.

The town plans to hire a qualified person for project oversight. Council reviewed and approved a grant for $163,000.00 from the Department of Ecology. This grant is to update the processes to comply with new requirements for nutrient discharge for the wastewater plant.

Denice Kulseth reported on agreed union contract which will be signed and implemented shortly.

Kulseth attended a webinar on affordable housing programs sponsored by the USDA. It covered what cities in rural, tourist-heavy towns are doing to address this need. The cities highlighted were Moab, Utah, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and King City, Ca. She found the webinar very helpful in considering ways to address our housing issue in the town.

Friday Harbor Port Commission meeting Feb. 22

The Commission reviewed and accepted the Golden Era Aviation Hangar lease and a contract Wilson Electric and Plumbing for electric installation at the new Port hangar.

The Commission approved a task order for by $497,361 to cover additional needed remediation with Peter Leon Environmental This will be 90% covered as allowable expenses under a grant.

The Town Poetry Garden agreement was renewed.

The Jensen and Shipyard Cove Marina Rules and Regulations and the Liveaboard Policy were reviewed. Changes were approved reflecting levels of boat ownership including VRBO, AirBnB, timeshares rentals and fractional ownership. All boat owners must be on both the title and insurance policy of any boat. Any LLC-owned boats will have to list the name of the registered owner and responsible party. Sublet assignments and clear language around vessel sales and the amount of time they are allowed to stay in their slips need to be implemented to keep the waitlist moving. The goal is to stop attempts to jump the waitlist for slips. The cost to be on the waitlist is $100 per year. The wait for 60’ slips is up to five years and 50’ slips is up to three and a half years.

A manufacturer’s list of dock box suppliers with the exact dimensions required by the Port will be available to those using the marinas. Boaters are to be reminded about summer droughts and water usage.

The Commission discussed applications for the Citizens Advisory Committee with a goal of m more diversity. The Commission will publicize the to include non-port customers via Facebook, the newspaper and other social media outlets on the island.

The Lummi Nation has offered a tribal totem pole gifted to the Port and for public display.

The Arts Commission has been consulted and it remains to be decided on how to proceed. The decision should be a public process and this will be an action item for the next meeting.

The bathroom remodel is underway and the results are clean, bright and refreshed facilities. Several options were discussed in how to manage the restrooms (Men, Women, no gender) when they are being cleaned.

County Council meeting Feb. 28

The Council approved the County sending a letter to Senator Cantwell supporting a request for federal funds earmark for the Port of Friday Harbor to build a new 50-ton gantry at Shipyard Cove to replace an obsolete one that must be removed for environmental clean-up.

The Council postponed a discussion on the Port Angeles Foreign Trade Zone pending a briefing on the issue by the PA’s Office.

The Council recognized 16 years of contributions by Senior Project Engineer Shannon Wilson upon retirement. The Council held a public hearing and approved the conveyance of a conservation easement to the San Juan Preservation Trust for the Lopez Hill Preserve Addition.

The Council approved purchase of software for the Fire Marshall program that will bring the county up to regional standards.

The Council approved a public participation plan for the update of the Critical Areas Ordinance to include a series of outreach efforts and public hearing including one jointly with the State Department of Ecology. The Planning Department hopes to integrate the process with the subsequent update of the Shoreline Management Plan, though that remains up for debate.

The Planning Department reviewed proposed changes to the Development Code to implement the new comprehensive plan. Changes include language on Mineral Resource Lands, Rural Development Clusters, and zoning for schools. A public hearing was scheduled for March 21.

The Council was briefed on the USGS Groundwater Recharge study currently underway. The county’s water supply is almost entirely from precipitation, but changes in timing and intensity, plus sea-level rise all may impact the balance. The Home Fund Administrative and Finance Plan is being reviewed and updated at its five year mark.

A public hearing was set for March 21 to establish a Safety Committee for county employee health and safety to be made up of county employees elected by their peers.

Auditor Molly Foote briefed the Council on the 2022 Budget outcome. The budget was on track and revenue exceeded expenditure which was on track. Foote also briefed the Council on the County’s internal controls.

The Council approved an allocation of capital funds to complete the Marie Boe building renovation at the Fairgrounds.

Council Members will attend parts of the Agricultural Summit on March 2-4 and hold a meet/greet on Lopez Island on March 11.

Council Member Fuller is on the Ferry Advisory Committee and regional transportation groups. Council Member Wolf went to Washington DC to advocate for county needs. Council Member Minney is going to training on public records and contracts.

Friday Harbor Town Council meeting March 2

Farhad Ghatan presented a proposal to build workforce housing on part of a Tucker Street lot once its use in an upcoming construction project is complete, in an estimated 2 years. The project would use ¼ to ½ of the existing lot and provide 18-36 of low-income housing units. The town would retain ownership with a long lease to the developer. The Council was interested but noted the property would need to go out for a public request for quotes or proposals.

The Mayor will contact the owner of the former Herb’s Tavern property about their plans, and if there is an opportunity for the town to collaborate to improve the aesthetic value of the highly visible corner pending redevelopment.

The Planning Department detailed elements of an amended Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, requiring units to match the style of the main home, providing parking space, and reduced connection fees for units with an affordability covenant. The Planning Commission recommended against requiring that DADU’s be allowed only on properties occupied by the owner, as half of potentially eligible lots are currently long-term rentals, thus reducing the number of potential new units. The Council preferred to have a such a requirement. Council set a public hearing for April 6 on vacating a right-away on a property on Martin St.

Public works hopes to report progress on the delayed Water System Plan by next Council meeting. They are replacing equipment at Pump Station 4 to extend its life for 10 years. Additional elements for the Nash Street project beyond the existing plan would not be covered by the grant so the Town would need to fund them; they will proceed with the existing plan.

The bids are coming in for the Wastewater Treatment Contract and the Council will need a special meeting near March 29 to award the contract by the end of the month.

Administrator Denice Kulseth reported Town contact with Rock Island about internet outages; that they have closed on interim financing for the Wastewater Treatment Plant; that the administrator is exploring the possibility of siting solar arrays on closed landfill; and that Spring Clean-up services will be March 27-31 for residents.