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Sheriff updated Friday Harbor Town Council on 2023 crime statistics

LWVSJ Observer Corps* summary of  Friday Harbor Town Council, January 18, and February 1, 2024 meetings.

Sheriff Peter gave a report on 2023 statistics. The Sheriff’s Office responded to 9836 calls resulting in 71 felony and 362 misdemeanor arrests. 273 detainees were booked into the jail of which 212 were county residents. There were 1566 traffic stops resulting in 600 citations. There were 109 mental health calls, 18 overdoses, 45 dogs picked up, 22 drug arrests and 56 DUIs of which 38 were on San Juan Island including 19 in the town of Friday Harbor.


The January 18 meeting opened an administrative appeal from the SJI Home Trust on Holliwalk Development requesting a waiver of right of way, setbacks and installation of street improvements in Holli Place. Due to staff changes and miscommunication during the planning and permitting process the Home Trust was unaware of these requirements until the final inspection. Without final approval the Home Trust is unable to transfer the properties to the homebuyers. The Planning Department does not have the authority to waive the requirements, but the Town Council can. The Planning Department recommended the Home Trust request a variance, which likewise would need Council approval. Shortly after Council began discussion the quorum was lost due to an internet outage and the meeting was suspended.

The Home Trust is unable to sell the units because it applied for the wrong type of building permit. A binding building permit allows the sale of the housing units. Unfortunately, the Home Trust applied for the standard building permit. The units are occupied by the families who were to buy the residences. They are renting them until the issue is resolved. The binding building permit is a state requirement to sell the properties. 

At the February 1 meeting it was stated that the Home Trust had filed a variance request and asked that further action in the appeal process be continued until it was adjudicated. The Planning Commission intends to bring the request before Council at the February 15 meeting. There were public comments in favor of the town approving the variance and/or doing what it can to address the housing crisis.

The Mayor acknowledged February as African American History Month and called on citizens to use the month to learn more about the history and legacy of contributions to our country of African Americans. There was a public hearing on the 2024-2029 Transportation Improvement Plan amendments to update cost estimates for the Marguerite project and to add Rhone Street maintenance to the priority list.

Sheriff Peter gave a report on 2023 statistics. The Sheriff’s Office responded to 9836 calls resulting in 71 felony and 362 misdemeanor arrests. 273 detainees were booked into the jail of which 212 were county residents. There were 1566 traffic stops resulting in 600 citations. There were 109 mental health calls, 18 overdoses, 45 dogs picked up, 22 drug arrests and 56 DUIs of which 38 were on San Juan Island including 19 in the town of Friday Harbor.

The Administrator reported the town was enrolled in a state study to check wastewater for PFAFs. She researched local governments using vacancy taxes to encourage long term rentals, but learned such taxes cannot be implemented in Washington due to the state constitution.

She updated the council on water issues, water being sold to water haulers and properties outside town limits that may be using town water for vacation rentals. Such properties need to either give up the vacation rental permit or lose their town water connection.


*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. 

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