Friends of Skagit County, WA - promoting livable communities and SmartGrowth in Skagit County

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    Preserving Skagit County's rural character by protecting the environment, supporting        sustainable resource based economies and promoting livable urban communities.


What we do – Legal 

In 1993, Skagit County residents founded FOSC to promote local compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA).  When GMA was passed in 1990, Washington state was growing at an unprecedented rate and state legislators believed that requiring local governments to plan for growth would help stop the sprawl that threatens Washington’s natural heritage and high quality of life.  GMA directs counties and cities to protect rural and agricultural lands and “critical areas” such as creeks and wetlands.  GMA also requires that urban services keep up with growth, and encourages revitalization of urban areas instead of unplanned “sprawl” development in rural areas.

FOSC is an advocate for the Growth Management Act, yet unfortunately, Skagit County’s political leadership still resists them.  In the past five years, Skagit county commissioners have paid over $1.2 million in legal fees, principally to oppose compliance with GMA.  FOSC works to promote local growth management using focused legal action when needed, community education, and cooperation with other community groups. 

FOSC participated in 2 Superior Court Cases.

Skagit Superior Court #01-2-00423-1 deals with 1) the Big Lake Rural Village boundary expansion and the density in the 105-acre golf course in Big Lake; 2) open space reservations in the CaRD Ordinance (whether they are permanent or not); and 3) lot aggregation.

Skagit Superior Court #01-2-00424-0 deals with 1) Rural Freeway Service; 2) Rural Marine Industrial (RMI) designations (and zones); 3) with the need to implement the Growth Management Indicators and Monitoring provisions of the Comprehensive Plan before there are further Comp Plan amendments; and 4) with the 410-acre reserve that the County allocated for future Commercial/Industrial development in the Comp Plan and Countywide Planning Policies.

FOSC filed 4 Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board appeals.

  • WWGMHB Case 97-2-0060c deals with the Bayview Ridge UGA; and the need to update the Shoreline Master Program to be consistent with the new Ecology guidelines and the county Comp Plan.

  • WWGMHB Case 01-2-0022 deals with the concurrency ordinance for unincorporated lands inside UGAs.

  • WWBMHB Case 02-2-0005 deals with improving the open space ordinance.

  • WWGMHB Case 00-2-0050c deals with requiring the County to phase commercial/industrial development in the UGAs to avoid leapfrog development and the efficiently provide services.

Friends of Skagit County (Friends) was conceived as a growth management advocacy organization.  The original founders of the organization understood the significance of the growth management act and had the vision to recognize that without an organization to pressure Skagit County to manage growth, our quality of life would decline.  Friends was incorporated in April 1993 and has been  successful in forcing the County to adopt GMA compliant rules and regulations ever since.  Friends developed several successful partnerships in legal cases over the years with other organizations.  In 1996, FOSC collaborated with four other entities in an appeal to ensure habitat protection under the County’s critical areas ordinance.  In 2001, Skagit Audubon Society, Evergreen Islands, People for Puget Sound, and the Tribal Community joined FOSC in an effort to prevent inappropriate high-density development in rural lands.  This resulted in a significantly smaller proposal, more suitable for a rural area. FOSC pursued creative opportunities to encourage citizens to participate in local government decisions. On occasion FOSC bought newspaper advertisements announcing public comment periods on government actions.  FOSC has been the backbone of growth management enforcement in Skagit County.  We believe that the outcomes achieved from our enforcement actions help to preserve the natural environment and rural character in Skagit County.  In particular our Hearings Board appeal on Open Space and the Superior Court issues relating to lot aggregation and the CaRD ordinance all have substantial potential to curb low-density urban sprawl and/or protect wildlife habitat.   


Preserving Skagit County's rural character by protecting the environment, supporting sustainable, resource-based economics and promoting livable urban communities.

© 2003-2019 | Friends of Skagit County | All rights reserved | comments|updated 12.31.19