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County Council

Posted on: March 21, 2023

Council Meeting Review: March 21, 2023

Council meeting review

This meeting included the adoption of a safety committee, updates to the County Code, and more.

This document is a review of the County Council meeting, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Information related to agenda changes, Consent Agenda, and Public Comment are on the County website. For additional information about what was discussed, please refer to the recording.  


To adopt an Ordinance Regarding a San Juan County Safety Committee –Angie Baird, Director of Human Resources and Risk Management.

San Juan County is required to have a safety committee and operate in accordance with WAC 296-800-10320. The ordinance was previously discussed on February 28, 2023. Council requested additional information related to instructions to the committee members. 

The HR director outlined the general guidelines, the roles and responsibilities, and meeting protocols of the Safety Committee. 

Council voted to adopt an ordinance regarding a San Juan County Safety Committee.

To Adopt an Ordinance Updating The San Juan County Code (SJCC) Title 18 Unified Development Code (UDC) to align with the Adopted 2036 Comprehensive Plan Update, David Williams, Sophia Cassam, Planner III

San Juan County adopted the 2036 Comprehensive Plan (Plan) Update on November 30, 2022. The Plan update included several policy changes that correspond directly with San Juan County Code (SJCC) Title 18 Unified Development Code (UDC). The UDC must be amended to align with the Plan before the Plan update goes into effect on April 1, 2023. The County Council held a public hearing to adopt an ordinance amending the UDC to align with the Comp Plan. Topics include: Mineral Resource Land Overlay, Island Center, Rural Residential Cluster Developments, Affordable Housing, and Schools in Rural Land Use Designations.

Staff provided the County Council with the draft Ordinance Updating the San Juan County Code (SJCC) Title 18 Unified Development Code to Align with the Adopted the 2036 Comprehensive Plan Update. 

Council voted to adopt an ordinance amending the San Juan County Code Title 18 Unified Development Code as shown in Attachment B of the March 10, 2023 DCD staff report and including the changes adopted during deliberation.   

Discussion/Action: To request approval to start a paid Intern Program, Angie Baird –Director of Human Resources & Risk Management and Nadine Varsovia -Executive Administrative Assistant • County Manager.

San Juan County is interested in starting a paid internship program to invest in the next generation of workers. The program is designed to give some on the job work experience with those entering the workforce or entering a new field. Human Resources will oversee the program, monitor budget, open the application process, receive applications and approve them based on county priorities. Human Resources will ensure learning objectives are documented before the internship begins and the supervisor has been provided guidance and support prior to beginning supervision of an intern. 

The program will be open to all departments to apply and will be approved based on what most supports the overall County objectives. Those who can receive grants or other funding sources for internships will still be able to access the materials to provide direction and support for the intern. The program will assist with brand recognition, positive publicity and community relations and will encourage students to consider Public Service as a career.

Council voted to approve a San Juan County internship program and provide funding up to $65,000.

Discussion/Action: To request approval for a new lease for employee rental -Angie Baird –Director of Human Resources & Risk Management.

The County has an opportunity to secure an additional apartment for County housing. The current County apartment is often occupied. The purpose of the additional unit would be to have a secondary option for County employees to have a place to land when they arrive on the island for County employment. The County would be the lease holder. The rent is $1,600/month. The lease is for one year.

Council voted to approve the County Manager to sign a lease for a new employee rental unit.

Discussion: A report on the results of the Farmer/Rancher Listening Sessions, Faith Van De Putte, Agricultural Resources Coordinator.

In January 2023 the Agricultural Resource Committee (ARC) of San Juan County convened the Farmer/Rancher Listening Sessions. Meeting in person on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez, the sessions gathered the agricultural community along with representatives from organizations that work to support the local food system including: WSU Extension, San Juan Islands Conservation District, Conservation Land Bank, The Ag Guild, The Food System Team, San Juan Islands Maker’s Guild, San Juan County Department of Community Development and Department of Health and Parks and Fair. Faith Van De Putte, the County’s Agricultural Resources Coordinator, presented the findings around the topics of:

 What works well about San Juan County’s local food system?

  • What specific challenges or barriers do you currently face that are regulatory in nature (county and state)?
  • What specific challenges or barriers do you currently face concerning infrastructure (either on farm or community level)?
  • What specific solutions or steps would help address the challenges you identified?
  • What kinds of agriculture, business or value added education opportunities or workshops would you like to see offered in San Juan County? 

Discussion/Action: 1/10th of 1% sales tax for affordable housing made possible by RCW 82.14.530.

Mark Tompkins, the Director of the Department of Health and Community Services, presented information to Council about the 1/10th of 1% sales tax. He outlined the administrative items to address in order to implement the tax:

  1. Meet with the Town of Friday Harbor to discuss the tax and its possible application in the Town 
  2. Create an administrative plan to manage the fund 
  3. Draft and ordinance implementing the fund and amending San Juan County Code Title 3
  4. Schedule and advertise a public hearing for the adoption of an ordinance to amend the County Code.

Mark Tompkins noted that the adoption of the tax would likely result in a need of an additional 0.5-1.0 FTE in the Health & Community Services Department to oversee the administration of the revenue. He also highlighted other current County-managed affordable housing funding sources including: 

  • Document recording fees 
  • Real Estate Excise Tax (Home fund) 
  • Affordable and Supportive Housing Fund 
  • Real Estate Excise Tax II 
  • Grants including: 
    1. Community Development Block Grants
    2. Community Housing Impact and Preservation Grants 
    3. Hotel Leasing and Rapid Re-Housing Fund 

Council asked further questions, deliberated, and decided to initiate outreach to inform the public of the possible tax and encourage public comment.

Discussion/Action: San Juan County Council to discuss the appointment of a Vice Chair and Chair for the Snohomish, Whatcom, Island, Snohomish, San Juan (SWISS) Executive Board / Organization.

The mission of SWISS is to identify and advance shared priorities that will improve the quality of life of the people who live in the region.   The Chair, Vice Chair, Executive Committee members, and committee members represent their respective counties.   

Council agreed to support the appointment of Janet St. Clair from Island County for Chair and Ron Wesson from Skagit County for Vice Chair. Cindy, as the representative to SWISS, will cast the vote.  

Discussion: Equipment Rental & Revolving (ER&R) and County Road Administration Board (CRAB) report, Colin Huntemer-Director of Public Works / County Engineer• Public Works, and Van Every-Director of ERR Fleet Services • Fleet Services.

The Fleet Services Department administers the ER&R fund and the Public Works Department administers the County Road fund. Pursuant to WAC 136-600, the Fleet Services Department has established rental rates for County Road equipment for 2023 which the County Engineer has reviewed and certified as an appropriate use of County Road funds.

Council voted to approve the resolution adopting the 2023 rental rates for County road equipment. 

Discussion:  Legislative Bills Updates-Council

Councilmember Fuller

  • HB 1846 – regarding vessel procurement that would allow for WA State Ferries to be built outside of WA State  
  • HB 1052 - Regarding property tax exemptions for non-profits
  • HB 1436 – regrading special needs education funding 

Councilmember Minney

  • The DNR Commissioner of Public Lands spoke to the Legislative Steering Committee about several bills including:  
    1. HB 1789 – regarding the sale of carbon credits to support reforestation.
    2. HB  1378 – a bill to attain authority to remove abandoned aquatic structures 

Council Chair Wolff:

  • HB 5371 – Regarding whale watching at 1,000 yards remains on the table  

Council Update:

Councilmember Minney:

  • Attended Islands oil spill Assoc. board meeting, Noxious Weed Control Board, and Landbank meeting.
  • Board of Health meeting and subsequent Luci B van unveiling
  • Went to Olympia for my every other week attendance of Legislative steering committee board meeting.
  • Sat in on the contracts class given by deputy PA Jon Cain
  • WSAC legislative update meeting and WSAC Monday Assembly with a dive into OPMA legislation


  1. Swiss Regional meeting
  2. Sex Offender Policy Board meeting
  3. Supers (State Fair) Conference in Eastern Washington

Councilmember Fuller: 

  • Attended a Lummi House of Tears Carvers event on Lopez Island to learn of the totem journey they will make to Oak Flat, AZ.
  • Met with the FAC on March 8th – forthcoming re-write of the schedule by WSF; committee setting priorities for issues to work on through the year.
  • Met with the deputies of the Lopez Sheriff’s office for initial introductions.
  • Met with Roni Becker of Lopez Island Seniors Services to learn of services being provided.
  • Attended the monthly NS-BHASO Meeting – Governance / Ops and Board meeting; had an orientation session with outgoing Executive Director Joe Valentine
  • Attended monthly SJI Visitors Bureau Board Meeting for introductions
  • Orientation meeting with Northwest Regional Council Executive Director
  • Attended the Newly Elected Officials Meeting on Lopez Island – March 11
  • Ongoing meetings with constituents on local matters
  • Met with Manager for Human Services, Barbara Labrash of the Dept. HCS
  • Met with Debbie Young – Commissioner (Lopez Island), WA Transportation Commission


  1. Mar. 25 – 10th Anniversary of the San Juan Island National Monument
  2. April 18 – WSF Presentation to Council
  3. Visit with Mike Thomas to the Lopez Island Solid Waste Disposal District to be scheduled in the coming weeks.
  4. Meetings with constituents including a strategic planning session of the LI Library District

Council Chair Wolf

  • Attended a clean water advisory committee meeting
  • Attended a webinar called the “US Banking System Under Pressure”
  • Attended the SWISS Executive Committee meeting
  • Attended DNR’s kelp and eelgrass workshops

Manager Update: Mike Thomas, County Manager

Gave a brief budget update about various County projects including the Historic Courthouse Restoration Grant, IOSA funding, and more.   

Council Clerk Update:  Sally Rogers, Clerk

a. Review Agendas & Council Calendar Items

b. Advisory Committee Appointments/ Reappointments: 

CLOSED SESSION: To discuss matters pertaining to collective bargaining pursuant to RCW 42.30.140(4)(b)



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