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County Council

Posted on: April 19, 2023

Council Meeting Review: April 18, 2023

Council meeting review

This meeting included a proclamation for National Volunteer Month, a discussion about PFAS, and a decision about the Argyle Lots developer.

This document is a review of the County Council meeting, Monday, April 18, 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 approve an Amendment to the North Sound Behavior Health Administrative Services Organization Interlocal Agreement.

•The Auditor’s Office requests for approval of payroll expenditures for the pay period ending 3/24/2023 and warrants issued for the weeks of March 6 and April 3, 2023.

NEW EMPLOYEE INTRODUCTION:  Corey Moriyama, Human Resources Director


PROCLAMATION: A Proclamation for National Volunteer Month to sincerely recognize all County volunteers, advisory boards, advisory committees and advocates who provide support throughout our communities. 

April is designated as National Volunteer Month and the Council signed a proclamation recognizing and celebrating all County volunteers who participate in caring for fellow islanders, natural resources, and County at large.

The contributions of volunteers encompass a broad range of needs across the County, including serving as stewards of our parks and natural areas, child advocates in our courts, public health officers in the health department, advisory and steering committee members ensuring community perspectives are part of our decision-making processes, board members providing advocacy and vital fund-development, and as individuals and groups who provide support to our programs throughout our community.

In addition to the proclamation, Council wrote thank you notes to every advisory committee and volunteer program in the County. The cards will be distributed after the meeting.

Discussion: PFAS Presentation - Ellen Wilcox,   and Brendan Cowan, Emergency Management Director  

San Juan County Health and Community Services (HCS) received confirmed test results on Friday April 14th indicating that a well belonging to the Hannah Heights Water System on San Juan Island tested positive for high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a family of man-made chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and have been linked to potential health concerns.

County staff are working closely with water quality experts from Washington Department of Health (DOH) and leaders of the Hannah Heights water district to develop a robust plan to respond to this complex situation. In addition, the response team is working to define the risk to water sources beyond the well in question and has begun communicating directly with residents and water districts that are potentially impacted.

Ellen and Brendan presented information about PFAS and the incident command structure set up by San Juan County. They shared that a community meeting is set for Wednesday, April 19 for residents in the identified area of concern.  

Discussion: DEM Emergency 101, Brendan Cowan – Emergency Management Director

Brendan Cowan led an open discussion with Council on the basics of emergency response structure in San Juan County. He shared thoughts about best practices for leadership during and after an emergency.

Discussion topics included: 

  • What are the risks?
  • How do we respond?
  • What is Council’s role?
  • What does help look like?
  • Crisis leadership

Discussion /Action: Draft policy and procedures to operate a County Art Commission – Brandon Cadwell-Parks and Fair Director

Council Chair Cindy Wolf asked for preliminary development of policies and procedures for how a county arts commission may operate. Prompted by the new Prune Alley development and needing a mechanism for the evaluation and acceptance of public art pieces, Brandon Cadwell presented a draft of possible draft of policies and procedures on how it may operate. 

Discussion followed on how these documents might operate an arts commission.

Discussion: Presentation from Washington State Ferries, to San Juan County Council.

Representatives from Washington State Ferries presented on several topics including the ferries’ return to pre-pandemic service. This return is dependent on:

  • Ridership levels and accommodating the seasonal increase in summer peak season ridership.
  • The ability of WSF to recruit, hire and train new employees to fill key positions.
  • The rate of retirements and other separations that contribute to overall staffing levels.
  • Lack of vessels due to unanticipated breakdowns and an aging fleet.

They outlined the service restoration process which includes route prioritization – beginning with the Anacortes / San Juan Islands run. 

Washington State Ferries has begun planning for the rewrite of the Anacortes/San Juan Islands sailing schedule. 

The route’s sailing schedule needs to be updated to improve on-time performance and reliability as current seasonal sailing schedules have not been updated in more than a decade. This effort will last about one year, as WSF must implement a new sailing schedule before the 2024 summer season.

Discussion/Action: To set a public hearing for May 16, 2023 for the 2nd Amendment to the 2023 San Juan County Budget, Molly Foote –Budget Analyst

The 2022-2023 San Juan County Budget was adopted in Ordinance 16-221 on December 7, 2021. During the mid-biennium review, the 2023 budget was amended in Ordinance 21-2021 on December 6, 2022.

The second amendment includes three ordinances that increase appropriations of the San Juan County 2023 budget:

1) Beginning Cash Balances ($17.3 million)

2) Emergency Appropriations ($2.3 million)

3) Supplemental Appropriations ($2.4 million)

Request Council to set a Public Hearing for May 16, 2023. Collectively these ordinances amending the 2023 budget will increase appropriations by about $22 million.

Council voted to set a Public Hearing for May 16, 2023 for the second amendment to the 2023 San Juan County Budget. 


Discussion/Action: Argyle Lots, County Council.

This was a follow-up discussion to the March 7, March 13, and April 4, 2023 Council Meetings. 

San Juan County released a Request for Qualifications to identify a development partner for the County-owned parcel at the corner of Argyle and Malcolm in Friday Harbor to develop affordable rental housing. 

Staff and the Housing Advisory Committee have completed their due diligence and consideration of the response to the RFQ, and have made a recommendation to the County Council.

The two developers presented their projects to the Council on April 4 and the Council asked the developers questions directly. Each developer was given 40 minutes to present and discuss their project with the Council.

During this meeting, Council members discussed the two developer options and the path forward. 

Council voted to accept the Housing Advisory Committee’s recommendation of selecting the San Juan Community Home Trust as the chosen applicant from the RFQ submittals received and further directed staff to begin negotiating a developer agreement with the Home Trust.


Council Update:

Council Member Minney:

  • Attended the celebration of Christine Coray at the new PW building
  • Attended the IOSA Board Meeting, the NWCB, and Fair Board meetings
  • Attended the Monday Council workshop 
  • Attended constituent meetings with regard to the Argyle Lot project 
  • Met with Amanda McDade to get an overview of NWRC
  • Attended the WSAC Legislative Steering Committee’s final meeting of the legislative session


  • Northwest Regional Council meeting in person in Mount Vernon
  • Landbank meeting + panel
  • Landbank community conversation

Council Member Fuller: 

  • Met with constituents 
  • Toured the Land Bank’s Watmough addition 
  • Attended an FAC meeting where they compiled key, priority issues to address with WSF 
  • Met with Orcas resident regarding ways to establish meaningful contacts with USPS and discussed Shaw Island Post Office challenges 
  • Met with members of the Northwest Work Force Council
  • Met with property owners to begin discussions on the future of Agate Beach Road
  • Accompanied Rory Smith of the Sheriff’s Office to tour the Lopez Sheriff’s facilities 
  • Attended the North Sound Behavioral Health Administrative Services Organization meeting 


  • Board of health 
  • NWRC meeting in Mount Vernon 

Council Chair Wolf:

  • Attended the marine manager’s meeting 
  • Met Orcas Chamber of Commerce director 
  • Visited Lopez to visit Tom Cowan from Northwest Straits Commission and toured PW property 
  • Attended the Land Bank’s Community Conversation on Orcas 
  • Attended a ribbon cutting at Camp Orkila for the acquisition of two new adjoining properties 
  • Attended a food systems planning workshop in conjunction with the coop 
  • Attended a Law and Justice Committee meeting 

Legislative Update:

Council Member Minney:

  • HB 1267 – one of the Legislative Steering Committee's priority bills – extending the rural sales tax to 2054 
  • HB 1515 - another Legislative Steering Committee priority bill – concerning behavioral network adequacy and addressing procurement requirements for behavioral health services in medical assistance programs 

Council Chair Wolf  

  • The House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 5371, which establishes a 1,000-yard setback distance for commercial and recreational vessels from southern resident orcas, bringing them under the same law as commercial whale-watching vessels. 

Manager Update: Mike Thomas, County Manager Council 

  • Watching the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council that tracks the state economy 
  • Working on distributing and tracking results of the Roads Survey 
  • Discussed the possibility of money from legislature coming to fund future comprehensive plan updates 
  • Attended a County Manager’s conference 
  • CRAB, the County Road Administration Board, is going to add two full time employees to help identify federal funds 
  • Shared that NACO & WASAC are having discussions about broadband and energy projects and how they pertain to local land use control 
  • Working on ARPA reporting requirements   

Clerk Update: Sally Rogers, Clerk

  1. Review Agendas & Council Calendar Items

  2. Advisory Committee Appointments/ Reappointments:



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