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Tuesday, November 29th

Draft Model Rules For Public Disclosure



ig_PublicRecords-Keep_Out (17k image)Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced his draft model rules for public disclosure are now available for public comment.

"We visited 13 cities around the state from July through October to gather input from people who request public records and people who respond to these requests," McKenna said. "These Open Government forums provided us with tremendous insight and great ideas for best practices to help improve access to public information. Once the model rules were drafted, we exposed them to intensive internal scrutiny before filing them for public comment.

"The proposed model rules were widely distributed to a group of nearly 1,000 stakeholders, including local government, state agencies, legislators, community activists, the media, and others on November 23, 2005. The proposed model rules and a web-based comment form are posted on the Attorney General's Web site .

The model rules were developed at the direction of the Legislature as part of a comprehensive public records law unanimously approved during the 2005 session.

"The model rules are guidelines that incorporate best practices for requestors and agencies on the public records disclosure process," McKenna said. "The rules will help both requestors and agencies successfully apply our state's open public records law by providing many practical solutions to recurring public records issues. Our goal is to reduce litigation and assist smaller local governments and citizen requestors by helping them avoid 're-inventing the wheel'."

The proposed model rules will appear in the Dec. 7, 2005 State Register and a public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the General Administration Building, 1st floor auditorium, 210-11th Ave. SW in Olympia.

Upon consideration of the public comments and adoption by the Attorney General's Office, the model rules will be published in the Washington Administrative Code.

[more..]


No Money For Town-County Bld



ig-Boothman-MJ_Cahail-1 (33k image)Superior Court Clerk Cahail presents the Town of Friday Harbor with $1.00 toward a new joint-use building

True to her word, Mary Jean Cahail recently appeared before the Friday Harbor Town Council to make a pitch for a joint-use building to be used by the Town and the County. Mary Jean had previously presented the idea to the BOCC Previous Story, and found support for the idea from the Board. But while the Town Council members thought it an interesting idea, the general sentiment was expressed by Councilman Wally Gillette's comment that he was "not very optimistic we can go forward with this" due to a lack of adequate funding being available for such a large capital expenditure.

County Commissioner Ranker was in the audience -after having presented the Council with a general up-date on county business- and decided to join the discussion by telling the Council members that "You have money and the County has land", and that it should be possible to move forward on the project to everyone's benefit. Unfortunately for the opinion, one of the council members pointed out to Ranker that, while the Town did indeed have money in the bank, the amount was far less that was already earmarked for upcoming capital improvements and repairs to their existing infrastructure and utilities, so the Town was in no position to become involved in spending money it did not have, to build a new administrative building on county land.

Town Administrator King Fitch said the Town has a need for additional office space, and had at one point commissioned a study of it's space requirements, and found they would need 10,000 square feet of space, but when the estimated cost came in at 1.3+ million to provide the space, the Town put the study on the shelf.

It now appears that unless the County and the Town can come up with a funding and/or a revenue source, the idea of a joint building will not become a reality in the near future. Mayor Boothman summed up the situation when, with a shrug of the shoulders, said "If the Town has not moved forward, and the County has no money?"

Not to be easily deterred, Mary Jean walked up to Mayor Boothman at the end of her presentation and presented the Mayor with a one dollar bill, as the first donation to a Town construction fund to join in with the County on a joint-use building.

[more..]


Tuesday, November 8th

Quall To Meet County School Boards In FH



ig_Dave_Quall-1 (9k image) (Official photo)

Dave Quall, our local State Representative for the 40th District will take part in a special county-wide meeting with the School Boards of San Juan County. The meeting is scheduled to start Wednesday, November 9, at 12:00 P.M. and run to 2:00 P.M. The meeting will be held in the Gubelman Room of the San Juan Community Theater.

The agenda item to be discussed is: "Current Challenges facing San Juan County Schools (A discussion with San Juan County School Board Directors, Administrators, and Concerned Citizens with Representative Quall"

One aspect of "current challenges" that may come up is a recent bill sponsored by Quall that allows schools to be included in the state list of "essential public facilities"; and for the San Juan School District this bill may make the process of constructing new athletic fields a bit less costly and more likely to be approved by the permitting process; a process that has already begun, and is scheduled to be heard by the Town of Friday Harbor Council this month.

[more..]


Monday, November 7th

County To Increase Bld & Land Use Fees



ig_BOCC_10-25-05-2 (27k image)County Commissioners Review Chart of CD&PD Expenses)

The CD&PD (Community Development & Planning Department) will be raising some permit fees for both land use and building permits. The decision to raise the fees was approved by the BOCC, with the understanding that the increase would allow the department to base the fees on the costs of service. Some of the fee increases will be set "in-house", and without a public hearing, while others will be subject to a public hearing.
[more..]


Wednesday, November 2nd

Public Participation Plan Set For ADU Ordinance



ig_Guest-House-01 (41k image)(File photo)

(Example of a legal guest house that will become "non-conforming" and would be illegal to build on the property under the proposed ordinance)

The ongoing struggle to resolve the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) -commonly called guest houses- will soon reach a point where the public will be able to comment on the County's plan to resolve it. The BOCC will be asking the public to review and comment on a controversial ordinance that was agreed to by the BOCC and The Friends of the San Juans, outside of any public participation, and against the strongly delivered advice of their own attorney ( "BOCC Ignores PA Advice, Stays Guesthouse lawsuit" ).

Leaving aside the question of the BOCC have held discussions that excluded the public when they worked out the details of the new proposed ordinance, there are a number of questions about these details that, based on the past public process, may well be raised again in the new round of public hearings. Some of the details in the new ordinance are clearly in response to complains, such as the prohibition on renting out guest houses on a short term basis, thereby removing them as potential low income housing. But there are other regulations that were discussed and excluded when the original, and current, regulations were accepted, that have now shown up once again, some of which -according to past testimony- will restrict the construction of guesthouses both in number and location, and would, like the short term rental problem, decrease the potential number of affordable housing units in the county.

There is also the big question that some members of the public and county staff are already asking that will not be part of the new hearings: Is this all a waste of time that will simply lead to a new round of appeals and law suits if the proposed ordinance is passed, or will the BOCC follow the advice of their lawyers and let the current legal process proceed without the BOCC second guessing their attorneys?

[more..]


Tuesday, November 1st

CD&PD To Retain Consultant, Make Changes



ig_CDPD-Consul-Rpt-1 (32k image)(Kurt Latimore presents assessment report to the BOCC as Matt Zybas looks on)

The CD&PD (Community Development & Planning Department) has received an assessment of the permit process, and some findings and recommendations on how the department can be improved (Link to past story) . The last time this was done was by an appointed committee of local professionals, but as the years have gone by, and the department has been reorganized, combined, un-combined, and re-combined, and with a turnover of staff, planners, directors, a few controversial resignations and one firing, Interim Director Matt Zybas felt it was time to once again have some outside review of the department. This time the Latimore Company consulting firm was retained to come into the department, review the existing programs and see if there were ways of making some improvements. His 24 page report was recently presented to the BOCC, and after the presentation, Zybas came back to the BOCC with his list of changes that he will have the Latimore Company help implement in the department, at an approximate cost of $10,000.00.
[more..]


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