League of Women Voters Observer Corps notes

*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.

County Council meeting on March 21

Three members of the public spoke in support of the one 10th of one percent tax sales tax for affordable housing.The Council established an internal workplace Safety Committee.

The Council adopted specific changes to the County Code to bring it into line with the updated Comprehensive Plan; 1) amended the definition of “affordable housing” to match state language; 2) allow existing schools las permitted use of land designated as rural farm forest or natural resource land 3) allow subsidiary housing attached to a commercial, industrial or institutional entity in land designated as Island Center, 4) increase the number of allowed units in rural clusters from 8 to 12, 5) for affordable housing incentives increase the maximum of moderate income units from 25% to 50%. The Council did not adopt the proposed change to remove the requirement for an expert opinion on 20-year commercial viability to request a Mineral Resource Land Overlay designation for existing mining operations.

The Council approved $65k to start an internship program to help recruit future county staff. and to lease an apartment as temporary housing for new hires while they locate permanent housing. Staff occupying the apartment will pay the rent.

Faith Van De Putte, Agricultural Resources Coordinator reported on the farmer Listening sessions that asked what works well, regulatory barriers, infrastructure barriers and solutions. Top positives were good support from County Programs, Food Customer Support and Food Access. The main regulatory barrier was confusion about unclear, overlapping and conflicting regulations especially around land use, food regulation, permitting and composting. Key infrastructure barriers were dry and cold storage, distribution, lack of compost, and housing and labor shortages. Solutions included creating Food Centers and less regulation of small scale processing.

The Council decided to seek broader public input for further consideration of the 1/10th of 1% tax sales tax for affordable housing during Council discussion at the April 4 Council meeting. The presentations on the Argyle proposals is now scheduled for April 4. The County approved a resolution making public a detailed breakdown of the Equipment revolving rental expense and approved Council’s vote for the upcoming election of SWISS five county coalition.

Council Member Fuller informed the Council that Washington State Ferry Staff would be available to brief the Council on WSF issues at the April 18 Council Meeting.