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Observer Corp Notes: County Council June 11, 2024
Jun 12, 2024
By League of Women Voters of the San Juans
San Juan County Council Meeting on Lopez June 11, 2024
During public comment a Lopez resident thanked the council for meeting on Lopez and said regarding the new skate park, that rather than spending money on visual elements like colored concrete and an embedded map, he would prefer additional skate features.

Transitions Lopez briefed the council on their transportation survey results of 1016 respondents focused on reducing carbon emissions. People on Lopez strongly supported dedicated bike lanes, and many were willing to use public transportation, biking or ride shares if availability, reliability and safety were improved. Given those amenities, many visitors to Lopez would leave their cars behind if parking in Anacortes were affordable and safe. Because the county is not part of a regional transport organization, accessing state and federal money for projects can be more difficult. Council member Fuller said that regional county partnership of Snohomish Whatcom Island Skagit San Juans (SWISS) was working to fill that gap. Council Member Wolf noted bike lanes cost about $3 million per mile and with the roads levy failure it was not clear if country residents were willing to pay for bike lanes.

The council authorized the Environmental Stewardship Department to apply for salmon recovery funds for four projects: Jackson Beach Restoration, False Bay Creek Restoration Lower Zylstra Lake wetland Restoration, and DNA testing of small waterways to determine whether they harbor fish to support design and permits for culverts and culvert replacement. The council approved the facilities director to request a $1.5 million in the state grant application for a historic courthouse seismic upgrade. The Lopez skate park project is under contract. Construction will begin July 8 and be completed in early October. New elements can be added later. The council reviewed proposed county code updates on the parks and fair advisory boards.

The council began a discussion of future directions for managing destination marketing as required by state law for lodging tax funds. The SJI Visitor’s Bureau has continued in this role under one-year contract extensions while the county worked on a broader destination management plan (DMP). Options include a new amended contract with the visitor’s bureau, opening a new contract to public bids, delegating the roles to island chambers of commerce, or managing it in-house. The council wanted more information on the legal technicalities of options, the role of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, other counties’ programs, and to review the feedback collected on the draft DMP which was set for July 8.

The council wants to talk to WSU about filling the extension program director job and look at how local subcommittees and building advisory committee fit into the work program for the comprehensive plan update.

*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.