May-July Ferry 2018 Planning Events

Important upcoming events, from Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (posted April 27, 2018)
As the County’s consultants, KPFF Group, begin to finalize their report in the coming few months regarding the Ferry System Improvement Project, LIFAC last night adopted the following schedule for our meetings and other events and deadlines between now and July:

Wednesday, 5/9/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Regular Meeting

Tuesday, 5/22/18 6:30 pm at Beach School, Lummi Island: Public Meeting with Consultants

Wednesday, 5/23/18 Final questionnaire will be launched (not a meeting, watch for public announcements and posters for details)

Sunday, 6/10/18 Final questionnaire will be closed (not a meeting)

Wednesday, 6/13/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Regular Meeting

Sunday, 6/25/18 ***Deadline for submitting written comments to LIFAC or Public Works about consulting recommendations

Tuesday, 6/26/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Special Meeting to determine final recommendations to present to County Council

Wednesday, 7/11/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Regular Meeting

This replaces any earlier meeting announcements.

This will be the culmination of several years of the Level of Service portion of this planning process. Once the recommendations for Level of Service and the priorities for possible ferry system improvements are determined, the plan is to present it to Whatcom County Council for adoption at their meeting on July 24, 2018. If successful, the County would then begin seeking funding for the Design portion of the project. Keep in mind that even if funding was obtained tomorrow, it will take some years before a new vessel or dock improvements can actually be put in service. Estimated schedules for the rest of the work are also part of the consulting reports.

LIFAC meetings are always open to the public and a portion of every meeting is devoted to receiving public comments. If you would like to see how plans have been shaping up, now is the time to come and participate. Completing our final questionnaire between 5/23 and 6/10 will also be an important part of the process.

Also, draft documents will be posted to the County’s LIFAC web page as they are received by LIFAC from the consultants for you to download and read. The first documents should be online early next week. Please note that these are DRAFT documents–NOT final–and are subject to change (based on public comments received) until comments are closed on June 25. Fact Sheets, contact information, and other relevant information are also available on the website. Here is a link to the LIFAC site:

Please watch the TOME, Brown Betty, Nextdoor, and our email announcement list for more details and venues before each meeting. We’ll also be hanging posters for some of these events.

LIFAC deeply appreciates the positive community support and participation received to date, and we look forward to your continuing help reaching final recommendations that will assure the ferry future for all of us.

Thank you for your interest,
Nancy Ging

Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Meeting 4-11-2018

2018-04-11-LIFAC-agenda, including time and location

Every month, the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC, a county-appointed members from both on and off island) meets to discuss issues related to the Lummi Island Ferry. These meetings are open to all and include a period at the beginning for 3-minute comments by attendees. Meetings are usually held at the Fire Hall on Lummi Island and once a quarter in Bellingham at the Whatcom Public Works building.

The Lummi Island Ferry System is part of Whatcom County’s road and transportation system, administered by Public Works. Operations are paid for partly by ferry user fees, county road taxes, some state funds, occasional grants.

Ferry System Upgrade – Population Projections

Estimating Lummi Island’s population growth over the next few decades is an important part of planning to replace the Whatcom Chief with an appropriately sized vessel, which will have a life span of at least 60 years. (Whether anyone thinks the population “should” grow, shrink or stay the same is irrelevant. There are many empty lots that owners have every legal right to build on – whether to live in full or part time, or rent out short or long term, or ‘just for the investment.’).

PLIC-White-Paper-2-Population-Projections (from Protect Lummi Island Community) briefly summarizes the planning consultant’s best guesses about how the population will change. These predictions are part of what’s needed to decide how to ‘right size’ the new vessel, though other factors also are important.

Gooseberry Point Dock Moving?

Part of the current Lummi Island Ferry system update planning involves improvements to the Gooseberry Pt dock and waiting facilities. The old, aging dock is likely to be moved north of its current location. At the January 4 PLIC (Protect Lummi Island Commmunity) annual meeting, Roland Middleton from the county will discuss the possibilities. All are welcome.

PLIC meeting, January 4, 2018, 6:30 PM, Beach School, Lummi Island

Official Notice:

PLIC Annual Meeting & Social

January 4, 2018 at 6:30 PM at the Beach School

Guest Speaker: Roland Middleton, Special Program Manger-Whatcom County Public Works Department

Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC) is pleased to invite you to attend the PLIC Annual Meeting and Social on January 4, 2018 at 6:30 PM at the Beach School. For over seven years, PLIC has promoted community discussion and consensus on ferry-related issues to insure our community’s vital transportation link. Join us for cake and ice cream to help celebrate a positive new era, as we work towards the relocation of the Gooseberry Ferry Dock and ferry replacement for the Whatcom Chief.

Our guest speaker, Roland Middleton from the Public Works Department will discuss the County’s plans to relocate the aging Gooseberry Ferry Dock and complete needed repairs to the dock. The Gooseberry Ferry Dock is a key component in the development of our new ferry system. Please mark your calendar. Come mingle with your neighbors and learn more about this important topic. Happy holidays!

Stuart Rich- PLIC President

Public Works Letter re: New ‘Safety’ Road Signs

At least this letter from Public Works’ Doug Burghart ‘explains’ things, though some may think the explanation is rather lame given the incredibly large number of new large signs around recently placed on Lummi Island, including at places there’ve been safety signs for years (e.g., warning at the top of Centerview about the sharp curve to Tuttle Lane).  This ‘one size fits all’ approach to signs, some of which obviously are better suited to cars traveling 50+ mph than the island’s meager size (less than 2 mi wide, about 9 mi long including Lummi Mountain) and 25 mph limits is definitely less than satisfactory to many islanders, myself included.

This letter has been distributed electronically via Paul Davis’ Brown Betty email service and it’s been (or will be) posted  on Nextdoor Lummi Island (NDLI). I’m re-posting the letter here because the Ferry Forum has better search and storage functions than NDLI or your email inbox.

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Doug Burghart <>
Date: Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 2:54 PM
Subject: Lummi Island Community Outreach–Roadway Signs
To: “” <>, “” <>
Cc: Jim Karcher <>, Joe Rutan <>, Jon Hutchings <>, Jack Louws <>, Council <>

Lummi Island Residents,


As many of you are aware, Whatcom County Public Works has recently been installing new roadway signs on Lummi Island.   This is part of a County-wide, Federally-funded program to decrease run-off-the- road accidents.


In 2013-2014, Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW) completed the first phase of this program by installing over 35 miles of shoulder and centerline rumble strips as well as nearly $400,000 in beam guardrail installations across Whatcom County.  The second phase of the program, currently underway, will install over 21 miles of shoulder rumble strips as well as over 800 curve warning signs at nearly 300 locations County-wide.


These curve warning signs are required by the new standards in the federally mandated “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD).   It should be noted that WCPW was given a grace period to comply with the new requirements, and by obtaining this Federal grant, we are able to come into compliance as well as make all the County’s roadway warning signs uniform.


During the preliminary engineering phase, WCPW engineers, surveyors, and technicians reviewed existing roadway geometrics to identify the nearly 300 sites throughout Whatcom County that were deficient in terms of horizontal alignment signage.   Fourteen (14) of these sites are located on Lummi Island.


In determining exact sign placement for the various sites, WCPW did their best to accommodate the needs of individuals, although this has proved to be challenging due to the vast number of sites.  We are continuing to address concerns with individual sites as they come up, the primary one on Lummi Island being the signs at the Beach Store Café.  There may be options available to achieve the aesthetic concerns of individual property owners; however, this safety obligation must be met.


In hindsight, WCPW realizes that Lummi Island residents would have benefitted from this information being provided to the Tome prior to the beginning of this work.   This has been a very long duration and wide ranging project across the County and we appreciate the public’s understanding and patience.  For additional information please contact Doug Burghart, Project Engineer at 360-778-6277.

Rash of new ‘safety’ road signs on Lummi Island

In the past few weeks, an astonishing number of new road signs have been installed on Lummi Island, with no warning and in some cases of dubious safety value. For example, one resident counted 32 signs on a one-mile stretch of Granger Way, which seems total overkill. Two days ago I wrote Public Works very calmly asking for some explanation of the plethora of new road signs on Lummi Island and requested some communication with islanders about this sudden rash of new signs.

Another new sign popped up yesterday, prompting me to email Public Works today, asking them to please stop adding new signs until they talk with islanders. Here’s what I wrote:

Yesterday this new sign taken by an island resident appeared opposite the Beach Store Cafe, on North Nugent Road. He was sitting at one of the cafe’s deck

Hmmm… does mean N. Nugent starts running one-way heading south & one-way north right at this point? To say it’s confusing is an understatement. The blind curve just past the cafe is dangerous, but this sign fails to warn about that hazard. It does not improve road safety in any way I can understand, and I drive this road daily. Update: Looking more closely, I see the 2 arrows are at a bit of an angle. I need to drive by, both ways, and take a look. Doesn’t resolve the blocking the view problem, though.

The sign also blocks the view of Mt Baker from the Beach Cafe. Blocking the viewshed with such a confusing sign is not good. Lummi Island residents and our many tourists value our views, and property owners pay property taxes that are based on the views the tax assessor says we have. Will Public Works ensure that we get tax rebates when PW chooses to wreck those views by unsightly (not to mention confusing) road ‘safety’ signs?

Could you please, please, please stop putting up new road signs until you have contacted islanders explained what the heck is going on and gotten our input on them? I imagine that the The Community Association or PLIC could help organize a meeting. Or the Church. Or the Civic Club. Or the Grange. Heck, I’d  even be willing to personally pay for time at the Grange for a public meeting to discuss this.

Wynne Lee
Lummi Island, WA

Letter to LIFAC Member Antholt From Marine Engineer/Architect

LIFAC member Chuck Antholt continues to help gather information about potential future options for a replacement ferry. Here is an email exchange he had recently with marine engineer L. Paul Zankich who wrote the most recent report on a survey of the Chief’s hull condition to Public Works. First shown is Chuck’s emailed questions, and Paul’s reply follows.

On 9/23/2014 10:05 AM, Chuck Antholt wrote:

Mr. Zankich.  I am a member of the County’s appointed Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Group.  I read the September 5 report you submitted on the Chief.

We are currently looking at replacing the Chief – someday.  But, that someday seems rather elastic.  Some think the chief should be taken out of service asap, others think that it is sensible to prudently maintain the Chief for a while, say 10 years.   Eventually, however, it will have to be replaced. Read More »

Comprehensive Planning for Lummi Island – What role does the ferry play?

Sub Plan Cover
Are those bagpipes I hear down there?

If you want to open a can of worms, then read on, as many from the 2003 ‘Comp Plan’ Committee will attest – “there are as many opinions as there are worms”.  The point of this post is not to preach an outcome, or even to question our personal preferences, but merely to continue a dialog started over 10 years ago by our neighbors who volunteered two years of their time in intensive discussion on this very subject.  The Citizens Committee consisted of 24 islanders from all walks of life who  gathered the communities voice all along the way, debated the issues of the day and influenced the current planning documents that guide us.

Without digging too deeply into our current Sub Area Plan, adopted in 2003 and updated in 2009, it’s important to understand how ‘Preserving our Rural Character’ is based on current land use, zoning, population trends, and  key components of the plan which identifies three main factors that restrict future growth on the island – build-able lots, water resources, and ferry capacity.

The plan discusses the context for growth and its related impacts on the island, identifies
potential strategies and techniques to preserve the rural character and mitigate the impacts
of growth. It concludes by laying out clear policies to guide the implementation steps
necessary to achieve the vision outlined by the community. [Comp Plan 2009]

I encourage you to read, or at least browse the current plan before reading further.

Ben Frerichs and I presented a demographic and land use study to a group of 62 islanders on Sep 24th at the LICA (Lummi Is. Comunity Assn) potluck going back to 1990 and looking forward to 2025.  Several main points emerged about how we have grown in the last 24 years.

  1. We have become much older as a population (from 35 to 55 years old on average).
  2. We have 1/3 fewer families with children (born out by census and declining school enrollments)
  3. We are a wealthier population (growing as much as 40% faster than Whatcom County)
  4. We continue to double our population during the ‘Summer Peak’ season as in the past.
  5. 50% of all lots now have a dwelling unit on them.

All of these indicators point to us becoming a retirement/tourist community with fewer working families and  a likelihood of continuing that until the constraints on growth dominate that trend.  Those constraining variables were well described in the Comp Plan and continue to play the dominant force in how we will evolve.

  1. Maximum build-out on existing lots has reached the midpoint of development under current zoning laws.
  2. With a current population of about 1,000, and double that in the summer, we are approaching the maximum ability of our current water supply [aquifer and surface water] during peak periods of demand.
  3. Our current 20 car ferry (Whatcom Chief) and crew continue to provide excellent service to islanders during off-peak times of the year and continues to struggle to meet demand during summer peaks, when population doubles.

The long and the short of all this discussion is setting the stage for both LIFAC Subcommittees to produce recommendations for how Whatcom County deals with replacing the Whatcom Chief sometime in the future.  I’ll stop here for today, but would like to provoke some additional discussion on how you view the ferry as one of those ‘limiting’ factors in the list given above.  I’m sure some would be happy to have Lummi stay just the way it is, or even was in past years, and probably an equal number would be just as happy returning to a younger more diverse population of just 20 years ago.

Some additional food for thought here could focus on how you think additional unknowns will play out.  These will likely include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Climate Change ‘Refugees’ coming from a dryer Southwest, and flood prone Eastern Seaboard.
  • Immigration from abroad and more Canadian ownership of island properties (currently less than 10%)
  • Effects of Baby Boomers retiring to Lummi Island over the next 20 years

Where do you think Lummi Island will be in 20-40 years and is that a good or bad thing?

Minutes – Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) – 8/19/2014 – DRAFT – LIFAC

LIFAC’s (Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee) newest Subcommittee for looking at Long Range Planning is now official and off and running.  Minutes will be posted with the County for inclusion to their website, and a courtesy copy of minutes in draft posted here on the Ferry Forum.  A final ‘Adopted’ version will be posted to a searchable database on, as well as being placed n the Lummi Island Library for those interested.  Our next meeting will be this coming Tue, in the Hanson Room of the Lummi Island Library, from 6:30pm to 7:40.  This is a work session to adopt a Scope of Work.  The public is always welcome to attend any of our meetings

This is an important issue for islanders, as Whatcom County is currently in the process of updating their Comprehensive Plan, and the Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) is updating their transportation plans for the year 2036.  We are well positioned to gather our thoughts as a community, and give meaningful and timely inputs into both of those processes.

Thanks for viewing this, 

Mike Skehan, Chair, LRPC

Draft LRPC minutes Aug 19 2014 pdf