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Archive for the ‘PLIC History/Meetings’ Category

Text of Public Comment by Mike Skehan to LIFAC on Jun 13, 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 03:06 PM
posted by mike

June 13th, 2018

From:  Protect Lummi Island Community (501c3)

To:  Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee

Subject: Text of Public Comment by Mike Skehan, Secretary on this date


PLIC has been working hand in hand with LIFAC and our community over the course of this Ferry System Improvement Project and would like to share our final thoughts with you prior to your making a final recommendation to the Whatcom County Council.

It’s clear that the Whatcom Chief and trestles on both sides of Hales Passage are in need of replacement and/or repair in the near future.  There are 280 ferries operating in the US.  Only 35 vessels are older than the Chief.  Terminal facilities, trestles and the like are part of our bridge to the mainland.  Last year there were over 56,000 structurally deficient/obsolete bridges in the US.  Of the 8,120 bridges in Washington State, 2,193 were deemed deficient or obsolete, and in Whatcom County, of 350 bridges, 90 were deemed deficient/obsolete.  These numbers have not improved over the last 10 years, so there is a significant backlog of infrastructure projects in the wings, both locally and nationally.

Kpff has identified a capital need of over $102m over the next 28 years (Financial Forecast) for vessel and terminal improvements, but stops short of laying out a financial plan due to the uncertainties of future funding options.  We understand that.

Therefore, PLIC strongly urges LIFAC to not make a recommendation to the County Council that does not acknowledge the realities of future needs and future resources to pay for that.  We do however support a statement in your recommendations that says: “These findings and recommendations to you should not preclude taking advantage of future opportunities that may arise to acquire a replacement vessel and/or future terminal improvements”.

Respectfully Submitted, PLIC Board of Directors

Source of data FHWA (Federal Highway Admin) & BTS (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)


      By Stuart Rich, President


  • Whatcom Chief’s deferred maintenance costs will increase future costs.
  • In the European Union, people drive smaller cars. We could likely get 34 small  cars on the Whatcom Chief.  What  kind of vehicles we drive in the future will change.
  • Lummi Island water studies have determined the island’s growth limits and the consultant’s project growth estimates need to be linked to these water studies
  • The ferry consultants’ studied growth rates from ten years ago, but they need to go back 40 years for a more comprehensive growth picture.
  • Unless there is a zoning change, the water study indicates a maximum growth population of 3,000 people on Lummi Island.
  • It is difficult to develop a reasonable growth rate projection for the long-term future.
  • For the sake of the future, we should not removed the all electric propulsion option from consideration along with other green alternatives.


  • We are losing revenue due to the ferry’s lack of capacity.



  • Since we are a small rural ferry service, our costs are higher, but I would like costs to be contained similar to today’s fares and costs.
  • contained as possible and similar to today.
  • Costs is always a significant point and should be kept in mind through every step of the process.
  • The cost of fares the level of ridership is related and elastic; when one goes up the other may go down.
  • In the hotel industry, the saying is ” the most expensive bed is the empty bed”, the same can be said about the ferry.
  • Leveling out ridership with webcams and other tools would provide people with choice to keep the ferry full but to avoid waits times by changing their ferry departure times.
  • I think that a $9000 increased operating cost to have a hybrid diesel electric vessel is too costly.
  • We need to clarify the difference between a diesel electric and a diesel hybrid propulsion system.
  • A diesel-electric is an old and widely used propulsion system with proven capabilities.
  • In choosing a propulsion system we should stay consistent with what the WA State Ferries are doing to take advantage of a trained labor pool, ability to convert to electric etc.
  • If we used the Whatcom Chief as a back-up could Skagit County be a partner for the emergency dry dock vessel?
  • It is not cost effective to pay for a second boat to be used as a backup.
  • We need to stay focused on the new boat and doing work on the terminals and look to other possible improvement down the road
  • Living on an island and not having a way off the island is scary. I don’t want to be stranded




  • It is undetermined whether a Ferry Taxing District to qualify for regional funding would be a Lummi Island only or a county-wide district.
  • Whatcom County may be able to form a ferry taxing district but the citizens would have to vote on the levy.
  • It’s unrealistic that we would not have to show support for the ferry project by not having a ferry district (skin in the game).
  • It is not clear how a ferry district would work.
  • The Public Works representative said that LI would not have to pay for capital improvements for the new ferry system just their share of operations and management.
  • We have to continue to work at keeping up the level of commuters as they are the backbone of ridership.
  • The 45% of ferry operation cost paid for by the County does not coming out of the cities (only the unincorporated County areas) even though cities do benefit from the ferry system.
  • Lummi Islanders paid much more taxes than the rest of the County and we are only 1/2% of the total county population.




  • A larger ferry will change the island with more cars, longer lines, and more development on Lummi Island.
  • A larger ferry would not mean larger lines.
  • If you are running the ferry every 20 minutes, that’s a failure
  • A 34 car ferry is safer
  • A 34 car ferry provides for alternative scheduling based on supply and demand.
  • Does this flexibility justify the cost?
  • Given the capital and similar operation and maintenance costs, it is more important to have a boat.
  • Having a small boat hurts the commuters the most as visitors care less about the wait time
  • The ferry wait time issues faced by commuters is also an issue for those with medical needs that need to keep their medical appointments.
  • We are told that the efficiencies and costs are comparable for a 28 and 33 car ferry; by that statement are we being slanted towards choosing the larger boat?
  • Remember we aren’t buying the boat, the County is lines
  • Hybrid diesel electric is convertible to electric and is ” greener”
  • The diesel propulsion option is cheapest to build and to maintain.




  • Presently, there are 2-3 houses for sale in Gooseberry. The County should pursue buying these properties.
  • Can the County government buy property without having an approved plan?
  • Gooseberry Options 2 and 3 use the same dock area; the difference between the two is the uplands development.
  • Parking is a huge issue so the property purchases are important to consider
  • How will queuing work on Option 2 if Lummi Drive is closed and redirected?
  • There is no clear information about the possibility of no future tidal or upland leases with the Lummi Nation and the trading of the county right- of-way for Lummi Nation right of way.
  • If a passenger floating dock were built, would it be available for community good Samaritan use when the passenger boat was not there yet?
  • A passenger-only dock is different from a “passenger loading dock/walkway which is an alternative for the Gooseberry relocation dock in the future.
  • Due to winter weather conditions there would be a concern for leaving the passenger-only dock in operational use year-round.
  • If the County is to acquire Gooseberry private property, you need to have a willing seller.
  • Does anybody know what the Gooseberry trestle deficiency rating is?
  • It is inspected three times more often than any bridge in the County.
  • The 90 K estimate for the cost of the webcam is the capital cost; the operating cost would be an ongoing expense.
  • There has been some concern about people’s privacy with the use of a webcam which can be addressed by blurring the resolution of the camera.
  • There would be only electronic ticketing on the ferry. A ticket vending machine would be located on Gooseberry.
  • It is clear that a two phase development plan is necessary to defer the costs over time and to allow the County and Lummi Nation time to work out the details for the Gooseberry relocation dock.


June 10th is the deadline for the LIFAC online ferry questionnaire which can be accessed at:

or paper copies are available at The Islander. On June 13th at 6:30 p.m. at the Fire Station  LIFAC will meet to discuss the questionnaire results.



PLIC Plain Talk: Real Politics – What’s Next?”

Sunday, November 14, 2010 @ 12:11 PM
posted by mike

Our Plain Talk newsletter outlines a couple of short-term recommended alternatives to Whatcom County Council’s ordinance introduced to raise rates drastically for Lummi Island ferry service. A public hearing is scheduled on this ordinance (Option 6 – $2 surcharge, and just 10% discount on multi-ride cards) Tuesday, November 23 at 7 p. m.

[Plan to attend. Sign up here to either obtain or offer a ride.]

At the PLIC Community Meeting on 11/11, a full house at the Grange agreed that the process is moving too rapidly. To slow it for a more thorough study and more effective long-term solution to County’s drain on the ferry funds and overall budget, our neighborhood alliance recommends (a.) a temporary $2 surcharge that can be easily implemented with no administrative burden, and (b.) formation in cooperation with County Council an immediate and interim blue-ribbon Ferry Task Force.

This offers a means to apply a tourniquet to an increasing deficit, to allow for a mediated lease agreement, and to ease the Council’s overload on time and resources to undertake a complete, thorough review of all Lummi Island ferry costs, revenues,  accounting, and administrative procedures in search of permanent, long-term fixes to a broken system that is draining money.

Read PLIC’s PLAIN TALK on Ferry Fares, Task Force


Community Meeting Summary 9-21-2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 10:09 PM
posted by mike

Highlights included legal update, gov’t relations, media initiative, & community call-to-action

Board Members in Attendance: Stuart Rich, Mark Sexton, Fred Kinney, Dale Kinsley, Mike McKenzie, Lisa Wochos (ex-officio)

County Councilman Ken Mann attended, carrying his 2-month-old son Atticus. The Board introduced Councilman Mann and thanked him for making the trip over. Later in the program he responded to questions from the audience.

Legal Update

Stuart Rich, president, explained the ferry dock lease negotiations status between Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation, stating that both parties have agreed to mediation. However, the mediator had yet to be chosen. PLIC’s position is that the mediator should be someone well-versed in both federal and tribal law.

Stuart reported that after extensive research, GTH concluded that the County has valuable legal rights regarding the Gooseberry ferry terminal on two issues:

  1. The consent degree (the old lease), and
  2. The Right of Way (“Road to Lummi”) established in 1928-1929.

The County has agreed to a briefing in executive session by GTH on these legal positions in the near future. Stuart said GTH advises the PLIC Board to hold the strategies confidential at this time, sharing them only in executive session with County officials so that it can be used productively as part of the lease mediation.

Stuart reported that County Executive Pete Kremen said at the last County Council meeting that he had spoken with legislative aides from Senator Patty Murray’s office and asked for federal financial assistance.

The County Council also passed a resolution supporting a joint request by the County and Lummi Nation for a $16 million appropriations bill for road improvements on Slater and Haxton roads, and at Gooseberry village.

Stuart also stated that we are at a very critical phase in the negotiations and it is important to get the Lummi Island story (our need for a positive resolution to this impasse) out to the government and the community at large. He asked the PLIC membership and community at large to help make this happen.

When asked what the mediation process would look like, Stuart answered that the mediation would be advisory-only and not binding like some arbitration is. Mediation is a process that takes time and most likely will continue well into next year.

Asked if the Lummi Nation’s October 15 deadline remained effective to shut down ferry service if an agreement isn’t in place, Stuart said it had not been withdrawn at this time.

Government Relations

Fred Kinney commented about an article on in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Deputy Director in Seattle said they were not going to get involved because they had very little property held in trust. Fred said that it is true that the BIA holds very little in trust, but what is held in trust is the tidelands that are a focal point in these negotiations. To ignore the County’s request for involvement is “unconscionable,” Fred said, and PLIC will work on getting BIA’s involvement and urge government officials to do the same.

Fred reported that PLIC board members met recently with a number of County Council board members–Kathy Kershner,  Sam Crawford, Ken Mann, and Barbara Brenner. Rob Rich met with top legislative aides of our Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.  Mark Sexton visited with Sen. Patty Murray in Bellingham.

PLIC will continue to develop a relationship with our delegation and request federal financial support for the County and Lummi Nation tied to a long-term lease for Lummi Island ferry service.


Mike McKenzie reported on a PLIC initiative to raise consciousness about the Lummi Island story – an island caught in the middle – that holds potential appeal for journalists. He mentioned local, regional, and national news outlets that have received a story outline, fact sheet about Lummi Island, and timeline of the ferry issue. The Associated Press in NY and The Seattle Times expressed immediate interest. The Bellingham Herald sought PLIC for comment on its last story about the ferry.

King5-TV News from Seattle video-taped a feature on Lummi Island in August, coordinated by islander Terry Terry, including an interview with PLIC VP Mark Sexton. KVOS-TV Channel 12 in Bellingham aired a 6 ½-minute feature three times recently, and we link to it on It included interviews with PLIC officers Stuart Rich and Mark Sexton, fire chief Duncan McLane, and reefnet fishing/former postmaster/longtime resident Jerry Anderson, and much outstanding footage of life on Lummi Island and the ferry.

(A few days after the community meeting The Bellingham Herald ran an op-ed article submitted by Stuart Rich.)

Mike urged islanders to use the [email protected] email to share ideas and thoughts with PLIC board members. He said that the website has been developed as a factual source of ferry negotiation information. He urged those in attendance to continue to use the Lummi Island Ferry Forum for healthy conversation and communication on ferry issues.

Community Call to Action

A. The PLIC board drafted a petition to be signed by Lummi Islanders and presented to County Executive Pete Kremen. Rhayma Blake presented this petition to the audience:

1) We urgently request Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation to immediately select a qualified impartial mediator and begin mediation to avoid the Lummi Nation’s ferry shutdown deadline of 10/15/10.

2) We also request the Whatcom County Executive to prepare a contingency plan for uninterrupted Lummi Island ferry service and to keep Lummi Island residents informed.

Discussion followed and a straw vote of the large group of attendees tabled the circulation of the petition as not necessary at this time.

Councilman Ken Mann offered to take up the October 15 issue with the county administration to see if this deadline could be officially rescinded as part of the agreement to mediation. He said that, after attending the most recent negotiation session, he does not anticipate a quick resolution to the negotiations.

B. Rhayma Blake asked the members to stay informed and represent the island by attending county Public Works meetings and County Council meetings. Volunteers were requested and will be mobilized.

C. Mike McKenzie announced the formation of a group of PLIC Goodwill Ambassadors, islanders who will voluntarily spread the word about the ferry issues and developments with neighbors and friends to increase public dialogue and awareness. Persons who signed up received informational to act as Ambassadors.

D. Also, a volunteer sign-up was solicited comprising persons who will write targeted-topic letters to government officials, using bullet-point topics provided by PLIC to compose letters in their own words. This method keeps mailings specifically centered on the actions necessary to keep the ferry issues forward moving.

E. Dave Wing, membership coordinator for PLIC, reported that PLIC membership stood at 465. He has developed a mailing of 216 new brochures to islanders who have not been contacted previously. (The mailing went out 9/27. He requested volunteers to help with this mailing.

From the audience, Jim Dickinson announced that he has submitted a proposal for the creation of a Ferry Advisory Board to represent islander needs as the ferry ages and negotiations continue. Details can be found at

Stuart announced the next PLIC General Meeting tentatively for Monday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Grange. The meeting adjourned.


PLIC Meeting Minutes

Monday, May 31, 2010 @ 06:05 PM
posted by mike

May 19, 2010 Community Meeting

RESEARCH: Fred Kinney reported that efforts are underway to gather information relating to:

  • Ferry operating and capital costs,
  • Reasons for major cost increases,
  • Ferry ridership analysis,
  • Possible sources of funding,
  • Legal issues related to ferry operations.

The objective is to provide information to the Island and County Council members in a clear and concise manner, and to seek ways to obtain funding to ease the Island’s and County’s financial burden.

As an example, Fred pointed out that the State provides $500,000 annually that is shared by Whatcom, Skagit and Pierce County. This level of State assistance was established in 1991 as a stop-gap measure and has never been adjusted upward to compensate for rising costs since then.

He suggested that officials from these three counties could work together as a political team to get additional State support.

A number of attendees volunteered to assist in research efforts as information becomes available and specific tasks become better defined.

MEMBERSHIP/FUNDRAISING: Dave Wing brought everyone up to date on the efforts of the membership drive. Through one-on-one contacts with neighbors, various current members helped sign up 241 new members. (Note: at the time this report was submitted, PLIC was approaching 300 members, and now has surpassed that on the way to a stated goal of 500.)

During a small group breakout session several additional members agreed to do neighbor-to-neighbor contacts in the areas where they live.

Members also signed up to work an information/membership table at the Farmers Market on Saturdays from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The breakout group discussed other ways to increase membership. Methods will be implemented as soon as possible, such as a mailing to off-island property owners and to PLIC donors.

Any islanders who want to assist in the membership drive in their neighborhood, please contact Dave Wing, [email protected]

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS: Mark Sexton reported that the county Council took action last week that may affect our future ferry service, and we should all try to be as informed as possible. To quote from the county update:

“The Whatcom County Council was updated on the status of the negotiations on Tuesday night, May 11, during an Executive Session. During the regular County Council meeting that evening, a motion was made and approved requesting that the County Administration work with the Port of Bellingham on alternative options for the ferry dock.

The Council took the action to assure that all options and financial considerations were pursued. Both the Lummi Nation and Whatcom County continue to negotiate and both groups believe that a solution is possible in the coming months.”

Dave and the Board encouraged a strong turnout at the next County Council meeting, May 25, because numbers count in getting the Council’s attention, and we need to demonstrate the consensus that exists on the Island regarding Gooseberry Point as the only reasonable option for our ferry terminal. Dave suggested that a few volunteers speak during open session, and stated that our attendance will be noticed.

PLIC will help organize similar attendance to all County Council meetings, every other Tuesday, until an agreement is in place for ferry service.

We broke out into small groups and brainstormed ideas, with great input from all the participants on how to engage more of our neighbors to write letters, attend PLIC community meetings, and generally to speak with a positive voice to our county representatives.

COMMUNICATIONS: Mike McKenzie revealed that a new, professionally produced PLIC official Web site,, is in design phase and expected to go live very soon. It will contain numerous elements and links to enhance more rapid, frequent, and informational updates to PLIC membership and other Lummi Island stakeholders, and to the public at large.

A regular blog, current events and news will anchor the site. The PLIC mission statement and by-laws, plus community meeting minutes will be archived. It will contain a photo album, Ferry Tales feature, Lummi Island history, and other materials.

Additionally, the site eventually will have interactive features, and in the meantime several ways for site visitors to communicate with the PLIC Board of Directors and County Government officials.

Part of the master plan for the site includes use of audio and video, photos and other graphic images, newsletter sign-up, membership form, links to other vital information and related sites (such as contact info for county government officials), and more.

A task force chart was distributed detailing all the needs for volunteer assistance to grow the communications channels for the PLIC community alliance and movement. This included compiling an area media list for regular distribution.

In a break-out group following the general session, nine volunteers committed to task-specific areas of carrying out the vision for effective communications.

Mike emphasized how critical this is, in light of developing news in the negotiations and of the plethora of rumors, gaps in information, and the need for accurate information.

MANAGEMENT: Stuart Rich discussed how PLIC is moving from a committee structure to a Volunteer Task work model in order to promote efficiency and individual initiative.

PLIC defined five work areas with project managers who prioritized projects, created chunk-size tasks, and who will support and assist the volunteers assign to the tasks as follows:

  1. Membership/Fundraising – Dave Wing,
  2. Government Relations – Mark Sexton,
  3. Research – Fred Kinney,
  4. Communications – Mike Mckenzie,
  5. Management – Stuart Rich.

Given the new County/Lummi Nation developments, Stuart urged everyone to pitch in and help with at least one task in order to get the job done during this critical period.

A break-out into small groups filled the last half of the meeting. Attendees chose a work area, learned of the different projects, and selected a task to work on with the help of the project manager.

Stuart reported that there had been contact with PLIC’s law firm, GTH, who had been asked to review and possibly assist with the current County/Tribe developments.