League of Women Voters Observer Corps notes on public meetings

Submitted by teh 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

LWVSJ Observer Corps: Friday Harbor Port Commission regular meeting of May 10

A citizen expressed concern regarding hygiene given residue left from dog owners who pick up after their dogs at the marina and the beach park. Signage was recommended to direct dog walkers to a specific location. Staff will come up with some proposals to mitigate this problem.

The commission discussed the Jensen building lease with ESI. The two-year lease with ESI expired in January 2024 and is now on a month-to-month basis. ESI has given the Port notice that they would leave if they could not negotiate a long- term lease. Following complaints regarding ESI’s business practices, their inability to pay bills on time, and their lack of communication with Port staff, the Executive Director has recommended leases with ESI be terminated at the end of June. The Commission’s priority is the boaters and ensuring there are service vendors available in the Port after ESI leaves.

The commission agreed that the Verne Howard P Hangar Land Lease could be transferred into an LLC for the purposes of estate planning.

The commission agreed to the request from Oystertale Restaurant to move to a month-to-month lease. Barbara Marrett proposed a 2% fee for hangar reconstruction to support the financial viability of the airport. The Executive Director will analyze the proposal and bring it back for further discussion on a future agenda. Gib Black suggested possible revenue options and fundraising to upgrade of the Netshed facility for the Sailing Club.

The staff reported that the first quarter budget is on track. The state’s audit report will be published on the Port website and will give a detailed overview of the financials.

Friday Harbor Town Council regular meeting of May 16

Coming out of Executive Session the Council passed a motion authorizing the mayor to present a settlement proposal to the Home Trust giving them four years to complete the frontage improvements required by town code. If the offer is not accepted and returned to the town by 4:00 pm on May 21, then the hearing examiner will rule on the variance request, and if that is denied the town council will decide on the appeal to denial of the variance request. Council members each reiterated their support for affordable housing and their reasons for upholding town code. They noted that the occupancy permit was being held up by 15 uncompleted items, mainly landscaping.

The town administrator reported that streets were being restriped. The town had removed the steel mirrors in the public restrooms. General spruce up and preparation for the summer season was underway. The town and the Port of Friday Harbor signed an interlocal agreement to work together on maintenance and landscaping along Front Street.

The Administrator said the town needed to put in place a policy for bulk water sales, which is a required element for a water system supply plan, which in turn is required as part of a grant application to fund a new water filter. Currently the town supplies about 900k-1 million gallons per year to bulk water suppliers, all of which goes outside the town. Bulk water supply started after the gravel pit closed at which point the town had spare water capacity. The town’s water rights only cover water for those inside town limits or connected to the town water system and thus do not cover bulk sales. The Council will put this on an agenda to set a policy as the grant application deadline is looming.

During public comment, at least three people spoke on behalf of the Home Trust expressing disappointment that the Town had not accepted the Home Trust’s settlement proposal. The Home Trust director said they were working on the landscaping items, some of which had been delayed over questions about the frontage requirements.

County Council regular meeting of May 21

The council held a public hearing on the Public Facilities Finance Assistance Program awards then approved the advisory committee’s recommended awards for three Economic Development Commission initiatives and core funding and for an upgraded entrance at the Orcas Community Center to make it ADA compliant. The applications that were not recommended did not meet program qualifications.

The council approved the announcement for the 2024 open funding round for the Home Fund with $2 million in REET funds available and another $200k from the new sales tax for low-income housing. The notice will be released June 1 with a July 15 application deadline. There will be a separate funding round in the fall for housing services grants.

The Council agreed to sign a letter of support for an application to the Historic Courthouse Rehabilitation Grant Program to deal with seismic issues in the historic portion of the court building. The exact amount and match of the request will be notified at the June 4 meeting.

The county will hold a series of internal budget workshops with elected officials and department managers, both in person and online over the next five Wednesdays.

Council member Minney was attending Washington State Association of Counties meetings which set their legislative priorities for the next two years. council member Wolf had been in Washington DC with other Puget Sound officials lobbying for salmon recovery funding. Council Member Fuller was interviewed by the local CNL2 TV station. The county was requested to do a presentation on the 32-hour Work week this fall at the WSAC Conference.

After an executive session, the council authorized the County Manager to recruit a code enforcement officer. They announced that an offer had been made and accepted to Jessica Hudson, director of the Fairfax County Virginia public library system, for the county manager position. The county will issue a press release about the new county manager.