Go play in the snow!

January 18, 2012 19:05 by Ryan

Lights will be on at Storvik Park tonight until 9 pm. More winter/snow information.

Proposals for Development Regulations Due Soon

January 17, 2012 00:01 by Ryan

MP900305776The City’s Comprehensive Plan and its development code (Anacortes Municipal Code Titles 16, 17, and 18) are adopted by the City Council and together regulate land use in the City of Anacortes. As Planning Commissioner Lin Folsom noted at the last Planning Commission meeting, the City has set the last working day in March as the annual deadline for the public to submit proposed amendments to those regulations.

I’ve spoken repeatedly and at length about the need to revise the entire code, starting from scratch, and without being bound to existing zoning lines. I’ll continue to push for that through getting a head start on our required comprehensive plan update, but in the meantime, if there’s a problem with our land use regulations that you consider especially urgent, please submit a proposal.

Commissioner Folsom specifically suggested that you review the list of uses allowed in your zone, and think about whether you’d feel OK with that use moving in next door. To do that, view a zoning map of the City and determine which zone you’re in. (If you live in Old Town, you’re in both zone R3 and the Old Town Overlay.) Then open the municipal code to Title 17, Zoning, and find your zone. Uses that are outright allowed (no special public hearing required) are listed as “Permitted Uses” or “Permitted Accessory Uses.” Uses that require some form of public hearing are listed under “Conditional Uses.” These uses may or may not be allowed depending on the outcome of that public hearing…but are quite likely to be approved. Also keep in mind that covenants in your development may restrict uses more than the city code.

You’re certainly not restricted to commenting only on your own zone—after all, it’s your city and zones already span vast swaths of land. Please contact me if you have questions or need assistance formulating your ideas. You can find more information about the amendment process in Appendix F of the Comprehensive Plan, or this brochure.

AWC Essentials Training

January 16, 2012 23:18 by Ryan

Councilmember Eric Johnson and I attended the Association of Washington Cities Elected Officials Essentials training this weekend in Lynnwood. The AWC folks managed to pack a lot of information into a bit less than two days, and I met some other interesting electeds, learned about other cities’ practices, and brought home a lot of good reading material. If you’re interested in reviewing some of it, here are a few links:

The event reminded me of the importance of continuing education in any field. Planning Commission Chair Laurie Gere’s comments at the last Planning Commission meeting were similarly on point: instead of a hearing examiner, let’s spend some time educating and training our Planning Commission. Although recently-retired Commissioner Clay Leming had a long background in land use, I don’t think any of our current commissioners do. The field of land use law is complicated, and we ought to give these dedicated volunteers all the training they need.

Depot Retrospective Last Friday

January 8, 2012 23:47 by Ryan


Photo by Elaine Walker.

The City’s celebration of the Depot, including a presentation to Maria Petrish, the driving force behind its restoration, was quite well-attended Friday night (although we’d have loved to have seen more young people!). The Depot, operated by the Arts Foundation for years, recently switched to the City’s control. The mayor invited anyone with ideas and suggestions for its future to contact him. For some background about what’s envisioned, check out the City's 2006 Depot Master Plan (30mb PDF).

Garbage Pickup This Morning

January 2, 2012 08:30 by Ryan

Although usually Ward 1 doesn’t get garbage pickup on Mondays following holidays (and yes I’ve heard your complaints about that), today we do because we’ve had two such Mondays in a row. Although I’d forgotten to put out my trash can, I watched city workers retrieve it from its hiding place to dump it for me. Good job, guys. Remember you can also put out a trash bag of equivalent size to your normal service to make up for last week.

Depot Celebration

December 31, 2011 13:58 by Ryan


The City and the Anacortes Arts Commission are hosting “A Depot Celebration” at the Depot Arts Center (611 R Ave) featuring a 50-year retrospective focusing on the history of local arts and the Anacortes Arts Foundation. The show runs Friday, January 6 from 4 pm to 9 pm and Saturday, January 7 from 11 am to 4 pm. The mayor and Arts Commission will make presentations at 6:30 pm Friday.

The Depot site is slated for many additional changes. For more information, check out the City's 2006 Depot Master Plan (careful, 30mb PDF).

First Council Meeting January 3

December 30, 2011 01:14 by Ryan

My first council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 3, 2012, at 7 pm. The regular Monday meeting is on Tuesday to observe the New Year's holiday.

On the agenda:

  1. Oath of Office
  2. Election of Mayor Pro Tem
  3. Reappointments to Arts Commission
  4. Reappointments to Parks & Rec Board
  5. Change street name

Pedestrian Safety Downtown

December 29, 2011 02:15 by Ryan

Pedestrian safety is a frequent concern of both the public and the downtown merchants I hear from. Drivers on Commercial Avenue routinely fail to stop at intersections to allow pedestrians to cross and exceed the 20 mph speed limit north of 12th Street. The Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey downtown in July 2010 that revealed this is also a top concern for shoppers.

Making our central business district more active and pedestrian-friendly is a high priority for me, and one of my campaign promises. Getting shoppers out of their cars is key to improving our local economy: more foot traffic means more discoverability of our local businesses.

My sense is that many drivers are unaware of state laws requiring yielding to pedestrians, not just in marked crosswalks, but at any intersection. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices suggests one of the following signs can be placed either overhead above a crosswalk, or in the roadway at the crosswalk on the center line. The sign support would be designed to bend over and then bounce back to its normal vertical position when struck by a vehicle.


I support placing the landscape signs at as many different locations as possible on Commercial Avenue and 12th/Oakes. The portrait signs may have the unintended effect of teaching drivers that they need only stop for pedestrians at marked crosswalks, but would still be appropriate for placement in high-use marked crosswalks.

I’ve talked to Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer about this issue. He was quite receptive to the concern. I’ve also asked for a meeting with Police Chief Bonnie Bowers to discuss, among other topics, enforcement of the speed limit.

Welcome to the Blog

December 26, 2011 19:30 by Ryan

Thanks for visiting my City Council blog. During my campaign, I promised to be the first elected official in Skagit County to host a blog. Although Councilmember Eric Johnson beat me to it, I’m excited to use this forum to keep people informed about what the City is doing and how to participate. This site will automatically reformat to display well on mobile browsers (for devices like smartphones) so you can keep up-to-date on-the-go.

Please contact me if you find a bug or have a suggestion. For those without Internet access, I’m publishing a single-page consolidated quarterly newsletter.

Please feel free to weigh in with your ideas, complaints, and suggestions, either by posting a comment below any post or by using the contact tab above.