Public Meetings Available online

Posted October 4, 2016 at 5:50 am by


Sto­ry by Louise Dustrude

With the advent of afford­able live-stream­ing tech­nol­o­gy and a desire for increased trans­paren­cy in gov­ern­ment, San Juan Coun­ty and Fri­day Har­bor, like many oth­er juris­dic­tions in the Unit­ed States, have imple­ment­ed video access in recent years.

In a coun­ty like ours where many res­i­dents live on a dif­fer­ent island from the coun­ty seat, the abil­i­ty to view leg­isla­tive meet­ings in real time (or watch the record­ing lat­er) has allowed the pub­lic to become more engaged with local government.

Even many peo­ple liv­ing right on San Juan have embraced the con­ve­nience of watch­ing the local gov­ern­ment dis­cus­sions from their homes.

Now sev­er­al groups take advan­tage of the set-ups in the coun­ty leg­isla­tive meet­ing room — the Coun­ty Coun­cil, the Coun­ty Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, the Coun­ty Board of Health, the Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal Dis­trict, and occa­sion­al­ly oth­er groups such as Wash­ing­ton State Fer­ries — and the same sys­tem set up in town hall.

Coun­ty and Town videos are also archived to watch lat­er and sub­jects of inter­est can be watched sep­a­rate­ly. The agen­da is post­ed along­side on the video page with links to spe­cif­ic items where just that seg­ment can be viewed. A great time saver!

The State’s Open Pub­lic Meet­ings Act encour­aged local gov­ern­ments to take this step, and the tech­nol­o­gy and afford­abil­i­ty made it pos­si­ble. Many large coun­ties in the state now offer live stream­ing of meet­ings, accord­ing to Ingrid Gabriel, Clerk to the Coun­ty Council.


Howie Rosen­feld — SJ Update file photo

The Coun­ty Coun­cil dis­cussed this pos­si­bil­i­ty dur­ing 2009 but were dis­cour­aged by the expense. Howie Rosen­feld, who was a mem­ber of the Coun­cil at that time, explains: “I had been urged by a Skag­it Com­mis­sion­er to come see their new hear­ing room. On one trip I had time and stopped by. Dur­ing the tour she showed me the stream­ing ser­vice they were using. I imme­di­ate­ly saw stream­ing as some­thing we need­ed and start­ed lob­by­ing my col­leagues. Cost was a big stum­bling block until then-Coun­cil Clerk Ann Lar­son found Chad Swan­son [a res­i­dent of Shaw Island] who was in the ear­ly stages of devel­op­ing the stream­ing ser­vice AV Cap­ture. He offered to use SJ Coun­ty for test devel­op­ment at low cost and that’s how we were able to get started.”

Ingrid Gabriel and Sue Kollet - Contributed photo

Ingrid Gabriel and Sue Kol­let — Con­tributed photo

Accord­ing to Gabriel, “The amount of traf­fic on the stream­ing site varies accord­ing to the pub­lic inter­est in the top­ic. Dur­ing the Crit­i­cal Area Ordi­nance delib­er­a­tions the ‘hits’ eas­i­ly ran into the thou­sands in one month. San Juan Coun­ty videos are watched both in the coun­ty and world­wide, by res­i­dents at home, res­i­dents when they trav­el, and by peo­ple just inter­est­ed in what’s hap­pen­ing with leg­is­la­tion in SJC. It’s safe to say that since its incep­tion in 2009 view­er­ship has steadi­ly increased.”

Gabriel says the sys­tem “has brought more cit­i­zens into engage­ment with the gov­ern­ment.” Res­i­dents can get agen­das and also doc­u­ments for upcom­ing Coun­cil meet­ings from Gabriel by writ­ing her at

For agen­das of Board of Health meet­ings write Coun­cil Staff Assis­tant Susan Kol­let at For Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ings, write Lyn­da Guernsey at To get notices of meet­ings and agen­das for the Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal Dis­trict meet­ings write to Pam Hutchins at To get Town agen­das and notices of meet­ings write the Town Clerk, Amy Tay­lor,

To watch the var­i­ous Coun­ty com­mit­tee meet­ings, go to, click on Com­mu­ni­ty and then Coun­cil Hear­ing Room Videos and select the one you want by date. For the Town of Fri­day Har­bor Coun­cil meet­ings go to and then to Council.






You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

Categories: Community, Government

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0