Public hearing is scheduled for Comp Plan

Islanders have the chance to voice their opinions about the 2036 Comprehensive Plane at the public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29 before the County Council. The hearing is expected to continue into Nov. 30. The meeting will be held in person and online.

The 2036 Comprehensive Plan updates represent the culmination of over six years and 71 planning commission meetings crafting and drafting comprehensive plan updates in collaboration with the County’s Department of Community Development, the Planning Commission, County Council members, and an engaged and interested public. Since mid-September, the Council has also held seven special meetings to review different elements of the plan.

“The plan has been a major focus for our staff and the Planning Commission,” said David Williams, San Juan County’s Director of Community Development. “It is the byproduct of tremendous community input and truly reflects the views and attitudes of islanders.”

“This is such an important step for the County,” said Council member Jamie Stephens, who has spent half of his 12-year council career working on the plan.

According to a San Juan County press release the plan “seeks to implement the County’s Vision, meet the needs of the 2036 population, and guide the Islands into the next decade.”

According to a recent press release by the County, the proposed Comp Plan changes will improve the usability of the plan and provide new analyses, assessments, and inventories. The plan will also address key challenges like housing, economic diversification, tourism management, preserving rural character, and climate change.

The 2036 Comprehensive Plan in its current form updates changes to governance practices; land use and rural elements; housing; transportation; historic/archeological preservation elements; capital facilities; utilities; economic development elements; and water resource issues.

In addition, the County is considering several regulatory map changes for Orcas, Lopez, Shaw, and San Juan Island. The map designations regulate the maximum density of development and types of land uses allowed, including forest, farm, and mineral resource lands. The official maps are available for inspection at the Community Development office in Friday Harbor.

“The adoption of this plan is exciting because it will allow the County to begin to implement updated policies that will help us solve some of the most pressing island issues with regards to housing, land use, transportation, and climate resilience,” said Sophia Cassam, one of the lead planners working on the Plan.

San Juan County is required by the Washington State Growth Management Act to periodically update its Comprehensive Plan, and the current updates now before the council have been on the drawing board since 2016 when the last update was due.

Copies of the draft Comp Plan along with staff reports are available online at To read the County’s vision statement drafted in 2018 visit

Public comments may be made in writing at any time to the County Council, and/or at the November 29, 2022 public hearing. To sign up to speak during the special meeting Nov. 29, visit Written comments may be submitted to, and are due by noon Nov. 28.