Anacortes, Washington
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 Anacortes Real Estate


Future Development of Anacortes

The following goals and policies were laid out by the City of Anacortes Planning Commission in the 2006 Comprehensive Plan Update.


The City of Anacortes is 15 square miles in size, half of which is public park and recreational lands. The City has 12 miles of shoreline and 67 miles of public trails. Its population is currently 16,000 with buildout estimated in a few years at 19,300. The City is home to thousands of boats and over one million visitors each year use Anacortes ferry connections to the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island.

The City has all the necessary infrastructure to support both its current and future residents and businesses. Public facilities are well maintained, recreational facilities include a public pool, and the local hospital is in the midst of a major upgrade.

This Comprehensive Plan is designed to provide general policy guidance for the growth and development of the City of Anacortes. It is anticipated that this Comprehensive Plan will be updated annually. At a minimum, this update will involve revisions to the Capital Facilities Plan. The Growth Management Act's requirement, that the City reassess its land use element if probable funding falls short of meeting existing needs, is not applicable. The City's land use element, capital facilities plan element, and financing plan element are coordinated and consistent. In this regard the City has adopted impact fees for transportation, park, and fire facility improvements. Based on a review of the Anacortes School District Facilities Study, 1990, the City has concluded that existing school facilities are sufficient to accommodate projected growth. Accordingly, no impact fees have been assessed for these facilities, no transportation demand management strategies are required, and no reassessment of the land use element is required. However, school needs will continue to be monitored as new information and facility plans are developed.

The GMA Planning Process

The City addressed the 1990 State Growth Management Act (GMA) mandates by adopting a new Comprehensive Plan in 1993 and a new set of Development Regulations in 1994. The Development Regulations included a Critical Area Ordinance that enhanced protections for City Park and Forest Lands, other significant habitat, and wetlands. The Comprehensive Plan included detailed plans for upgrading the City infrastructure, e.g. water, sewer, stormwater, transportation, and parks. These functional plans have been updated on a staggered basis every five or six years and integrated into the City’s six year Capital Facilities Plan (updated annually).

Beginning in 1995 the City updated its Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations annually. The City also prepared two sub-area plans: The Fidalgo Bay Sub-Area Plan, 200 and the Anacortes Airport Sub-Area Plan, 2005. The former in turn lead to a state approved Shoreline Master Plan Update, 2000.

This 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update is the first thorough review, though, of the overall direction last set in 1993. It will be followed in 2006 by a complete revision of the City’s Development Regulations, except for the Critical Area Ordinances that were thoroughly revised in early 2005.


GOAL 1: Urban Growth. Encourage development in urban areas where adequate public facilities and services exist or can be provided in an efficient manner.
GOAL 2: Reduce sprawl. Reduce the inappropriate conversion of undeveloped land into sprawling, low-density development.
GOAL 3: Transportation. Encourage efficient multi-model transportation systems that are based on regional priorities and coordinated with county and city comprehensive plans.
GOAL 4: Housing. Encourage the availability of affordable housing to all economic segments of the population of this state, promote a variety of residential densities and housing types, and encourage preservation of existing housing stock.
GOAL 5: Economic development. Encourage economic development throughout the state that is consistent with adopted comprehensive plans, promote economic opportunity for all citizens of this state, especially for unemployed and for disadvantaged persons, and encourage growth in areas experiencing insufficient economic growth, all within the capacities of the state's natural resources, public services, and public facilities.
GOAL 6: Property rights. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation having been made. The property rights of landowners shall be protected from arbitrary and discriminatory actions.
GOAL 7: Permits. Applications for both state and local government permits should be processed in a timely and fair manner to ensure predictability.
GOAL 8: Natural resource industries. Maintain and enhance natural resource-based industries, including productive timber, agricultural, and fisheries industries. Encourage the conservation of productive forest lands and productive agricultural lands, and discourage incompatible uses.
GOAL 9: Open space and recreation. Encourage the retention of open space and development of recreational opportunities, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, increase access to natural resource lands and water, and develop parks.
GOAL 10: Environment. Protect the environment and enhance the state's high quality of life, including air and water quality, and the availability of water.
GOAL 11: Citizen participation and coordination. Encourage the involvement of citizens in the planning process and ensure coordination between communities and jurisdictions to reconcile conflicts.
GOAL 12: Public facilities and services. Ensure that those public facilities and services necessary to support development shall be adequate to serve the development at the time the development is available for occupancy and use without decreasing current service levels below locally established minimum standards.
GOAL 13:

Historic preservation. Identify and encourage the preservation of lands, sites, and structures that have historical or archaeological significance.


GOAL 1: Create and maintain a healthy, aesthetically pleasing high quality of life and environment that maximizes the opportunity for all citizens to share the social, psychological, physical and economic benefits of Anacortes/Fidalgo Island.
GOAL 2: Improve the image of Anacortes as a marine oriented City by encouraging, protecting and enhancing marine views, public access (particularly along the waterfront), and marine habitat resources and by encouraging marine water dependent and related industries and activities.
GOAL 3: Promote compatible land uses and improve visual appearance in each and every zoning district.
GOAL 4: Keep a reasonable balance between housing, manufacturing, commercial/retail, open space and other land uses within the community.
GOAL 5: Encourage the development of a balanced and adequate employment and revenue base necessary for provision of needed services.
GOAL 6: Encourage continued and improved interaction with other agencies to better coordinate area wide activities.
GOAL 7: There shall be periodic and regular review of the City Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance; see Appendix E of City Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Additionally, the City Council and/or the Planning Commission may from time to time initiate Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance Amendments.

Open space connectivity. Establish and acquire a network of open space and public access corridors.


  • Develop an integrated open space network plan that identifies connection opportunities between historical, cultural, aesthetic, archeological, biological, natural, recreational and educational sites.
  • Establish an “areas of significance” acquisition fund for the protection of open space required for habitat and wildlife movement, public access, non-motorized recreational corridors, and other uses that support the goals and policies in the Plan. Funding may include donations, grants, and designated bond issues. Additional acquisition measures may include conservation easements, tax incentives, vacating rights of way and regulatory development standards.
  • Unopened or under-developed rights-of-way shall be evaluated for use as non-motorized public and community access corridors prior to granting any vacation or encroachment agreement.
GOAL 9: Historic Preservation. The City of Anacortes, through the Anacortes Historic Preservation Board (AHPB), shall administer a historic preservation program within the City of Anacortes to identify, evaluate, protect and enhance historic properties. The AHPB shall advise Mayor and Council on programs, policies and regulations that support and enhance preservation and protection of significant historic properties.
  • The City of Anacortes, through the AHPB, shall inventory historic properties and archaeological sites in order to guide decision making in resource planning, environmental review and resource management.
  • The City of Anacortes shall encourage land uses and development that retain and enhance significant historic properties and sustain historic community character. City building and zoning codes and other regulations and standards should provide flexibility to accommodate preservation and reuse of historic properties. Zoning actions should take into account the effects of zoning on historic properties.
  • The City of Anacortes shall develop incentives to encourage the retention and enhancement of historic properties. Such incentives could include a revolving loan fund.


Waterfront facilities in Anacortes are critical to a significant part of the County’s manufacturing base. The City, including its Urban Growth Area at March Point and Summit Park, supports 37% of the County’s manufacturing employment (Table 3); the City’s current share of the County’s population is 14%.

Manufacturing Goals and Policies


Heavy manufacturing development should be contained in those general areas presently designated for Heavy Manufacturing in the existing zoning ordinance. Manufacturing is defined as those industrial or manufacturing activities which are engaged in the production of articles or a product from raw or prepared materials by giving them new forms and qualities. Heavy Manufacturing is manufacturing which in the production process creates a potential hazard or a nuisance to other uses.

Additionally, Appendix D describes consistency between City and County Comprehensive Plans; Appendix E sets forth the Interlocal Agreement between Skagit County and the City of Anacortes relative to the City’s Urban Growth Area; Appendix F sets forth administrative procedures for Comprehensive Plan amendments or revisions; and Appendix G sets forth a proposal to adjust the UGA Boundary to be consistent with the South March Point Feasibility Study, 1997; and Appendix H sets forth the City’s Public Participation Program.


  • Encourage coordination and cooperate with other entities within the County which are involved in manufacturing development.
  • Where appropriate, follow a policy of utilizing Planned Manufacturing District classification in the Zoning Ordinance which would allow for development of Light Manufacturing uses in a manner compatible with surrounding uses.

In shoreline areas with deep water access encourage and support water dependent and water related uses such as manufacturing, shipping, moorage, navigation, cargo handling and storage, fish processing, and ship/boat construction and repair.


  • Encourage the Port to develop water dependent and water related uses such as manufacturing, shipping, moorage, navigation, cargo handling and storage, fish processing, and ship/boat construction and repair.

When benefits to the City are comparable, encourage multiple business manufacturing development, providing a more stable economic base through diversity, as opposed to a single large manufacturing industry.


  • Through land use designations and performance standards provide opportunity for mutual benefits for various businesses which co-locate.
  • Allow mixed use residential/light manufacturing development where people can live and work in the same facility as long as provision is made to ensure compatibility.

Develop policies for manufacturing areas which will provide the City and the developers with consistent expectations with regard to performance standards and contract obligations.


  • Provide manufacturing development performance standards in the zoning ordinance for impacts such as noise, glare, and emissions, and periodically review such standards and their application to assure clarity and consistency in City expectations and enforcement.
  • Manufacturing activities and developments should be designed to minimize adverse impacts to surrounding areas and the community as a whole.
  • The shipment or movement of hazardous and nuisance materials within or through the City should be managed by the City.


Anacortes is the retail center for a trade area that takes in all of Fidalgo and Guemes Islands, La Conner, North Whidbey, and the San Juans. Reflecting population and tourism growth in the San Juan Islands, the number of annual ferry passengers and vehicles has more than doubled since 1970 to approximately 600,000 passengers and 400,000 vehicles today. Over the same period, tourist traffic on the Anacortes to Sidney, B.C. ferry run has recorded no long-term increases, averaging approximately 150,000 passengers and 50,000 vehicles annually.

Commercial Goals and Policies


Increase retail sales trade.


  • Provide incentives for improvements and development of attractive, high quality commercial sites according to Comprehensive Plan, through City cooperation, zoning ordinance and land use plans.
  • Develop a comprehensive, downtown.circulation and parking plan vehicular and non-motorized circulation and parking plan.
  • Capitalize on the growing tourist activity with tourist-oriented commercial retail uses in mixed use developments.
  • Provide City and Port informational signs to inform local citizens, tourists, boaters and ferry traffic of services available in Anacortes.
  • Encourage the development of a downtown to Ferry Terminal shuttle service connecting downtown with southern Commercial Avenue, the Fidalgo Bay waterfront, and the State ferry terminal.
  • Enhance the entrances to the City with extensive landscaping and appropriate signage.
  • Consider establishing a conditional use process, together with criteria (including economic criteria), for deciding whether or not to allow stores and complexes of stores over 50,000 square feet in size in certain portions of the Industrial and Light Manufacturing 1 zones; the economic criteria shall include an assessment of the impacts to existing business, traffic, and the long-term well-being of the community.
  • Establish a waterfront esplanade from Washington Park, along the Guemes Channel, and then along Fidalgo Bay to March Point.

Improve economic growth and well being of Central Business District.


  • Encourage development in the area between 11th Street and waterfront, R Avenue and O Avenue for concentrated pedestrian oriented commercial use and the area south of 11th Street for vehicle oriented commercial use with appropriate attention paid to the needs of pedestrians and nonmotorized vehicles.
  • Encourage and allow for innovations to make downtown more attractive through City and Port programs and encouragements to merchants and landlords, with particular attention to landscaping and pocket parks.
  • Encourage the development of High Density Residential zone bordering the Central Business District.
  • Define a long-term sign/marketing improvement program to improve the aesthetic quality of our retail sales trade.
  • The City of Anacortes' Commercial Avenue and Central Business District shall continue to supply the majority of commercial services for Fidalgo Island.
  • Consider expanding the Commercial Business District in appropriate locations adjacent to the existing Central Business District.
  • Encourage high density residential development above street level in the Central Business District and Commercial zones.

Encourage marina related business activity.


  • Develop marina-to-downtown pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular circulation plans, directional graphics, and informational displays to describe events and shopping opportunities.
  • Provide a commercial marine classification in the zoning ordinance that allows for a range of uses that are compatible with marina related businesses.
  • Add a graphic directory of downtown businesses in a visible CBD location.

Do not rezone additional areas for large scale commercial development until existing commercial areas are fully developed or shown to be inadequate for the need. This could be achieved by expanding existing commercial zone(s).


  • Commercial Avenue from 11th Street to 34th Street should continue as highway oriented, commercial use with pedestrian and bicycle opportunities.
  • Do not zone additional areas for comparable scale and pedestrian oriented use as the downtown area, except for the Cap Sante Marina area and the adjacent CM1 zone.
  • Grocery and sundries retail stores are to be allowed in residential areas as conditional use on a limited scale (not to exceed 1,200 feet of retail sales floor space).
  • Commercial areas should be designed to minimize adverse impacts to surrounding areas.

Adequate parking for customers, employees and residents shall be provided by all new or modified developments in all commercial areas.


  • Adequate, convenient, safe and well maintained parking for both cars and bicycles shall be provided in all commercial areas.
  • To enhance pedestrian use of CBD, parking requirements should be reduced provided adequate parking is available. Encourage the City to develop public parking downtown to be paid for by Business Improvement Areas, Local Improvement Districts, and in-lieu payments.
  • Renovation of existing buildings should be encouraged in CBD and not hindered by parking ordinance. Parking requirements may be waived or modified in such instances by Planning Commission.
  • Expand the 2 hours parking areas when needed to make maximum parking available for customers and to encourage employees to park on back streets.
  • Add handicapped parking wherever necessary and appropriate.
  • To maximize view corridors and improve the aesthetic quality of Commercial Marine areas, building height limits may possibly be modified for developments that provide structured parking garages.


Goals and Policies


Preserve the CM areas for commercial enterprise where orientation to the waterfront and waterway areas is of prime importance to marine, commercial and tourist activities.


  • Encourage commercial activities that are environmentally clean and labor intensive.
  • Encourage City and Port cooperation in the development of CM areas.
  • Encourage retail and commercial enterprise that will enhance the marine-oriented and aesthetic qualities of the waterfront.


Encourage a public access element in all development plans abutting shoreline where appropriate.


  • Public access and pedestrian access to the shoreline shall be required.
  • CM areas that are unplatted should be encouraged to provide public access areas such as fishing piers, waterfront roads, street-end parks, view parks, public areas for beach walking, transient moorage.
  • Conditional Use permits should require the same public access conditions as those required of retail and commercial development.
  • CM development between Ship Harbor and the Guemes ferry dock should be compatible with the proposed recreational corridor.

The zoning ordinance for Commercial Marine should strongly encourage marine, commercial and tourist developments that are water and waterview dependent, destination oriented, and enhance the marine values inherent in the district such as physical and visual access to waterways and shoreline.


  • Regulated public access should be encouraged in all development plans where economically feasible and safe. Unregulated public access is access for all persons at all times; regulated public access is access for all persons paying fee for use of facilities such as restaurants, shops, motels, or access which is limited by time, location and activities.
  • Encourage marinas with boat and marine equipment as well as services.
  • Encourage boat repair facilities.
  • Encourage boatel, motel and hotel accommodations to enhance the marine oriented activities.
  • Encourage recreational equipment rentals and sales.
  • Encourage specialty shops and eating establishments.
  • Encourage City and Port cooperation in the development of transient moorage
    and moorage for moderately sized cruise ships; moorage buoys should be included in appropriate locations.

The zoning ordinance for Commercial Marine 1 may allow limited residential development on sites greater than 10 acres, provided the residential development is integrated with and contributes to marine, commercial and tourist developments that are water and waterview dependent, destination oriented, and that enhance the marine values inherent in the district.


  • Any residential development must be consistent with the marine character of the waterfront.
  • Residential development should be coordinated in design and scale with the overall mixed use development.
  • Encourage any residential development to provide public amenities such as view corridors, public plazas, and walkways in coordination with the overall marine, commercial and tourist development.
  • Encourage provision of landscape features for any residential development and coordination between the landscaping for the residential development and the overall marine, commercial and tourist development.
  • Support the development of public access to Fidalgo Bay and linkages between the Railroad Corridor/Linear Park and Cap Sante Marina/Harbor by offering incentives which would attract private investment.
  • Any project shall be economically advantageous in the long run to the City.

Performance standards and regulatory incentives should be developed for the CM areas to promote desirable development and public amenities.


  • Assure economic benefit to the City.
  • Encourage preservation of unique and/or historical features and marine views.
  • Provide adequate on-site parking that is, to the maximum extent feasible, landward of the principle structure(s) away from the shoreline or in a parking garage. including underground if possible.
  • Assure adequate vehicle and pedestrian circulation and access to and from the areas.
  • Permit greater flexibility by allowing development by the PUD process, permitting mixed uses within the same building and greater lot coverage.
  • CM area should provide adequate buffer areas and/or sight screening where appropriate.
  • In the CM1 area south of 17th Street and north of 22nd Street, East of “R” Avenue, the City may allow limited residential development which may consist of multi-family dwellings, provided the residential development is integrated with a mixed–use marine, commercial and tourist development through a planned unit development process, perhaps with a development agreement.
  • Residential development in the CM Zone shall be by conditional use, and not exceed R4A densities (28 18 units per acre), and be an integral part of a mixed use neighborhood; timeshare vacation rental type of arrangements are encouraged. Tidelands may not be included for purpose of density calculations. Affordable housing provision(s) shall be part of any such residential development, either on-site or off-site.
  • Development in Commercial Marine areas should be designed to minimize adverse impacts to the marine habitats, shorelines, and surrounding areas.
  • Development approved through the conditional use process may not cover more than 50% of the upland area with buildings.

Review other areas in the City that may be appropriate for the CM designation, giving consideration to existing land uses.


Goals and Policies

GOAL 1: Attempt to achieve a balanced distribution of housing to meet the needs of all citizens.


  • Residential land use densities for Anacortes shall be designated as R1, R2, R3, and R4.
  • Residential occupancy should be permitted in the Commercial and CBD zones above the first floor up to the maximum height allowed in these zones.
  • In the R4 zone where multi-family units (attached) are permitted the equivalent number of units may be built as detached units provided the setbacks and lot coverage requirements are met (or PUD approval is secured).
  • A PUD may be approved on any size of parcel.
  • An accessory dwelling provision should be added to the City Zoning Code.
  • The City should work to ensure that at least 30% of the housing units within the City are rental units.
  • The City shall encourage the creation and retention of modestly priced owner-occupied and rental housing units, particularly when a planned unit development proposal is considered.

Maintain and allow for open space corridors in Anacortes.


  • In areas of Anacortes where terrain and lack of streets and utilities make a large lot size appropriate, a R1 land use designation is to be provided, with 15,000 square feet minimum lot size and with the opportunity for cluster development.
  • R1 identification shall be directed at identification of open space corridors within and between Urban Growth Areas, including land useful for wildlife and connection to critical areas.


Single family, detached residential units shall be the major residential form in the community.


  • The Land Use Plan shall designate a major portion of the residential use area in the City for single family use.
  • R2 areas (not more than 4 dwelling units/gross acre) are to reflect existing residential trends and should be designed to reduce adverse impacts from commercial and industrial development and from major thoroughfares. Gross acre is acreage plus one half of the width of abutting rights of way of streets and alleys.
  • Duplexes are to be allowed in R2 areas as conditional use.

Multi-family dwellings in the R3 zone shall not exceed a four-plex unit.


  • R3 (5 to 9 dwelling units per gross acre) should be located where terrain, traffic routes, public utilities and existing neighborhood patterns allow.
  • Multi-family units greater than a duplex are to be allowed under a conditional use permit.

Provide for higher density housing in areas where appropriate.


  • R4 density areas are principally for multi-family apartment uses.
  • There are to be two R4 Classifications: 18 units per gross acre maximum, and 28 units per gross acre maximum.
  • R4 areas (18 to 28 dwelling units per gross acre) (10 to 28 dwelling units per gross acre) should be functionally and spatially related to major traffic routes, places of employment, commercial and governmental centers, park and recreation spaces, public utilities, public facilities and avoid adverse impact on existing neighborhoods.
  • In the R4 zones, the minimum lot size is to be 3,000 square feet, plus 1,200 square feet for each additional unit.
  • Residential development in the CM Zone shall be by conditional use, not exceed R4A densities (18 units per acre), and be an integral part of a mixed use neighborhood; vacation rental type of arrangements are encouraged. Tidelands may not be included for purpose of density calculations. Affordable housing provision(s) shall be part of any such residential development, either on-site or off-site.
  • Residential development in the other CM Zone areas shall be by conditional use and not exceed R4 densities (18 units per acre).

Provide for flexibility in subdivision development.


  • Make a process available for residential development which allows for a tract of land to be developed as a coordinated unit according to an approved plan, e.g. PUD.

Improve visual appearance of residential neighborhoods and maintain integrity of existing residential areas and neighborhoods.


  • Require undergrounding of utilities wherever reasonable and practicable.
  • Pursue strict enforcement of City's ordinances that regulate dangerous buildings and health hazards, and that affect visual appearance of neighborhoods.
  • Review and improve procedures to notify property owners and the public of land use changes and development.
  • Encourage neighborhood and civic pride.
  • Zoning regulations that involve placement, screening, or height of antennas based on health, safety, or aesthetic considerations must be crafted to reasonably accommodate amateur radio communications, and to represent the minimal practical regulation to accomplish the City's legitimate purpose.

Encourage rehabilitation of substandard housing and neighborhoods.


  • The City regulations and building codes should not unnecessarily obstruct the rehabilitation or improvement of older homes.
  • Provided that zoning densities are not exceeded, flexibility should be provided to owners of large old homes to convert to multi-family units where appropriate to make restoration economically feasible.

Provide for recreational vehicle parks development in appropriate locations.


  • Recreational vehicle parks shall be allowed as a conditional use within the CM zone provided restrictions ensure transient use only (not year round occupancy) and provided they are not located immediately adjacent to the shoreline.
GOAL 10:

Current Subdivision codes for newly platted areas shall also apply to undeveloped platted areas.


  • These developments shall have standard width streets, storm sewers, curbs and sidewalks.
GOAL 11:

A detailed affordable housing program shall be developed by the City.


  • A Citizens Advisory Committee shall be established to develop a
    comprehensive affordable housing program for consideration in 2006.


Access to Anacortes is available through all major transportation modes: air, water, rail (freight only), and highway.


An airport is located in the west end area of Anacortes and a seaplane base is located within the
skyline marina.


Waterborne transport of materials is centered at the Port of Anacortes, Piers 1 and 2, in the northeast area of the City on Guemes Channel. Industrial water transport facilities are to be located in conjunction with the City Industrial Park Area, and petroleum tanker facilities are available off March Point. Waterborne public passenger service is available for trips to Guemes Island (Skagit County Ferry), and via the Washington State Ferry System there are regularly scheduled trips to the San Juan Islands and Sidney, British Columbia (Vancouver Island). The thousands of privately owned boats, both resident and visitors, which ply the waters off Fidalgo island and the San Juans, comprise the major water transportation activity in terms of number of trips.


Main access to Anacortes is via State Route 20, off of I-5 in the Burlington area. Secondary roads (Heart Lake Road, Havekost Road and Marine Drive) provide southern access to Deception Pass and Whidbey Island.

Within Anacortes, the main traffic route is the extension of State Route 20, Commercial Avenue, 12th Street and Oakes Avenue, to the State Ferry Terminal. Traffic on this route far exceeds volumes of any other streets in Anacortes.

One particular traffic problem in Anacortes is the conflict of residential and ferry traffic uses along 12th Street, the only complete east-west arterial in the City. Residents along 12th Street find high traffic volumes generated by the ferry to be an unwanted intrusion, and resist widening the street to accommodate growing traffic demands.

Public transportation (bus) in and out of Anacortes is provided by Skagit Transit (SKAT) and the Airporter.

The rise in popularity of bicycling has brought large numbers of cyclists into the Anacortes area. Many cyclists pass through Anacortes on trips to the San Juan Islands. Growth in this activity has generated auto-cycle conflicts and additional bike lanes and routes are needed, as is improved signage for these lanes/routes. This requires that well-designated bike lanes of adequate width be developed on 12th Street/Oakes and D Avenues routes to the state ferry and to Washington Park.

Goals and Policies of the Transportation Committee address these and other concerns relating to the circulation of goods and people in Anacortes.

Transportation Goals and Policies

GOAL 1: Encourage planning for public transportation which will link the most highly frequented destinations, i.e. ferry, downtown, medical facilities, recreational facilities.


  • Seek out options which would aid in development of public transportation.
  • The City shall protect the existing Burlington Northern right-of-way from the railroad trestle to the Port marine terminal facilities for future transportation planning and development with any surplus property available for sale as appropriate.
  • The City shall work to secure right-of-way and to develop a pedestrian and bike trail along the Guemes Channel from the state ferry terminal to connect with the Fidalgo Bay Trail (Tommy Thompson Parkway).
GOAL 2: Improve traffic pattern for incoming and outgoing traffic in City Industrial Park and Port dock areas.


  • The City shall actively enforce truck use of truck routes.

Improve traffic circulation.


  • Maintain existing dedicated rights of way intact where potential future traffic flow indicates a need.
  • In future subdivision development, plat rights of way so they tie in with existing rights of way where reasonable and practical.
  • In future subdivision development, require street designs which provide routes for through traffic where reasonable and practical.
  • Consider roundabouts and traffic calming devices.
  • Work to improve side street access and pedestrian crossings along the SR 20 corridor.
  • The City shall actively enforce truck use of truck routes. Adequate signs will be placed along the truck route and the City will identify and work with the major shippers to ensure that their drivers are aware of the truck routes.

Improve air, road, rail, and water public transit in and out of Anacortes.


  • Implement the Anacortes Airport Sub-Area Plan, the Airport Zoning, and the Airport Development Agreement.
  • Encourage and promote improved bus service to and from Anacortes and the Anacortes ferry terminals.
  • Work with State Ferry system to encourage ferry walk-on transit service and additional passenger-only service centered in Anacortes.
  • Encourage development of a float plane landing and service area in Anacortes.
  • Encourage transient moorage.
  • Our goal is “To undertake an update of regional transportation planning as this relates to a Regional Air Transportation Plan that further defines the role of the Anacortes Airport and its future part in the regional transportation plan in Skagit County to meet the aviation needs of the City and the surrounding communities in a manner consistent with the goals of the Washington State 2005 Transportation Plan, and the 1994 Port of Anacortes Airport Master Plan, recognizing that both the City and the Port have the authority to update and amend their various plans without the approval of the other, except as may be otherwise agreed to.”
  • Encourage Guemes Ferry facilities that are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and mitigate for ferry traffic impacts; this should include bus service for the Guemes Ferry maintenance shutdown.

Develop the city as a pedestrian friendly community and improve non-motorized circulation patterns.


  • Encourage development of safe and easy-to-use bike paths and pedestrian walkways in and around Anacortes.
  • Encourage identification and signing of scenic, historical, and waterfront routes.
  • Encourage identification and signing of shopping and public use facilities (parks and forest lands where appropriate, swimming pool, bike paths and pedestrian walkways).
  • Develop improved signing for public transportation-related facilities, i.e. airport, ferry systems, etc.
  • Require the construction and repair of sidewalks to ADA standards.
  • Encourage pedestrian movement and the development of gathering spaces and pocket park spaces, particularly in Downtown Anacortes.
  • In any replat or street vacation proposal the City shall retain the right-of-way necessary to connect Volunteer Park and the airport to the ACFL.
  • Improve pedestrian crossing opportunities on Commercial Avenue and other highly traveled areas.
  • Define and develop ADA compliant walkways through town, which provide access to key city amenities and services for people with disabilities and prioritize these areas for facilities improvements.
  • Ensure safe pedestrian travel to schools throughout the community.
  • Prepare a Master Plan for Commercial Avenue From 11th to 34th Streets.
GOAL 6: Require adequate off-street parking in all zones.


  • Provide adequate parking space in the non-residential zones by: (i) developing a comprehensive parking plan which designates immediate and future parking lot sites and shuttle parking lots; (ii) periodic survey of parking space availability and occupancy to determine any emerging need for additional space; (iii) developing a L.I.D. proposal for off-street parking at the point where increased measured need occurs or when downtown businesses express a need for additional space.
  • Encourage sufficient space for parking of boat trailers and vehicles at existing and future boat launch sites, marinas and boat storage facilities.
  • Encourage Washington State Ferry system to provide adequate parking for State Ferry patrons. Overflow parking should be provided out of town and a shuttle provided to the State Ferry Terminal.
  • Encourage Skagit County to provide adequate parking for Guemes Island ferry patrons.


Travel and tourism is an important economic activity in Washington State. Spending by visitors generates sales in lodging, food service, recreation, transportation, and retail businesses – the “travel industry.”

The travel industry is often promoted as an economic development tool for several reasons.

First, travel is an “export” industry that injects money into local economies. In this respect, it is similar to firms and industries that sell manufactured products in other geographic markets. However, a local travel industry accomplishes this through spending by visitors on locally produced services.

Second, because the travel industry is service-oriented and labor intensive, it generates many employment opportunities relative to investments in physical capital. The travel industry provides a large number of entry-level positions, as well as opportunities for small business proprietors.

Third, the promotion of visitor amenities can have other beneficial effects in a community. Many of the same attributes that draw visitors to a community (e.g., recreation facilities, cultural events, attractive downtowns) can also enhance the “quality of life” for residents.

The travel industry ranks among the leading export-oriented industries in Washington in terms of its contribution to Washington Gross State Product (GSP). Travel industry GSP was $4.8 billion in 2003. Of the leading industries with which the travel industry was compared, only the Software industry had a significantly higher impact ($13.2 billion). The other industries with which the travel industry was compared were aerospace ($5.7 billion), computer/electronics manufacturing ($2.5 billion), agriculture and food processing ($5.6 billion), and forestry and wood products ($3.9 billion).

The growth of the travel industry has historically been positive and relatively stable. This is likely to continue given the demand for leisure as household earnings rise. An estimated 1.8 million people travel through Anacortes annually to reach the WSDOT Ferry Terminal. The visitors are already in our town, we just need to offer the products and services they desire in order to grow this market.

Anacortes’ proximity to large metropolitan areas and its “world class” natural beauty offers visitors what they are looking for; an adventure that is close to home.

Tourism Goals and Policies

Encourage an attractive community in order to increase the City’s appeal to visitors and residents alike.


  • Encourage local businesses to make use of the development district procedures to rehabilitate areas as necessary.
  • Utilize the shoreline and marine resources to Anacortes to increase tourism while maintaining the quality of the marine habitat and resources.
  • The City and Port should give preference to those development plans which enhance the City’s marine heritage, its waterfront, and its scenic beauty.
  • Provide an equitable balance between tourist activity and local use and enjoyment of resources.
  • Continue charging differential rates for non-resident use of certain facilities.
  • Develop neighborhood parks including street end parks.
  • The City and Port should work together to provide facilities for small and moderately sized cruise vessels.
GOAL 2: More clearly define routing into Anacortes and more clearly identify points of interest within the City.


  • Work with the State to improve the signing on I-5 at SR 20. Signing should indicate ferries to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, B.C.
  • Locate points of scenic and historic interest within the City and determine ways that they might be best identified.
  • Coordinate with the State and County on improvement or removal of unsightly roadside structures and signs along the approach to the City and improve the landscaping along these routes.
GOAL 3: Encourage and actively promote development which could provide year-round visitor attractions.


  • Work with County and other public and private entities toward the development of recreation activities, e.g. a major recreation center, boating facilities, hiking trails, RV parks, festivals, and special events.
  • Coordinate with educational organizations, businesses and like groups to develop marine-oriented educational and training programs, industrial tours, folklore and craft demonstrations of interest to visitors and residents.
  • Encourage the City and Port to support the development of a convention center or a resort facility and/or destination hospitality facility by offering incentives and development regulation flexibility which would attract private investment.
  • Improve pedestrian links between marinas and commercial areas and public services such as the library and museum.
  • Encourage retention and/or expansion of services oriented to the boaters at marinas.
  • Ensure that launch facilities for small boats are retained on Fidalgo Bay and adjacent thereto.
  • Consider facilitating the establishment of shuttle service between marinas and commercial areas.
GOAL 4: Utilize the shoreline and marine resources of Anacortes to increase tourism while maintaining the quality of the resource.


  • The City and Port should give preference to those development plans which enhance the City’s marine heritage, its waterfront, and its scenic beauty.
  • Encourage development plans in shoreline areas that provide opportunities to increase tourism and public recreational use of the shoreline, such as mixed-use marine, commercial, and tourist developments.


The City of Anacortes has approximately 3,465 acres of land devoted to Parks, Recreation, and Open Space. This is divided between significant open space holdings in the Anacortes Community Forestlands as well as a wide range of active and passive facilities. The Parks and Recreation Department provides recreational activities including youth sports leagues, special events, youth and adult classes as well as various other recreational opportunities.

Parks and Recreation: Goals and Policies

GOAL 1: Provide a range of quality and accessible park and recreational areas, facilities, and opportunities that will attract all age groups and interests.


  • Provide park areas that are convenient to and accessible by all residents of Anacortes.
  • Provide facilities and activities that are accessible by ADA standards and are sensitive to issues of universal accessibility in spirit.
  • Develop safe, high quality facilities that serve multiple purposes and functions whenever appropriate.
  • Develop a comprehensive multi-purpose trail system for use by bicyclists, horse riders, motorcycle riders, hikers, walkers, joggers, casual strollers, and school children.
  • Encourage further development of waterfront park areas including street ends.
  • Ensure that our facilities are developed and maintained at a level that we would be proud of.
GOAL 2: Strive to ensure that all age groups and recreation interests are provided the opportunity to fulfill their leisure time goals including leisure services for the disabled.


  • Manage recreation programs on an economically sound basis, evaluating the need for fees on a case-by-case basis.
  • Act as a catalyst to help special interest groups organize and run their own programs.
  • Develop and maintain feedback system for public input into future recreation programming.
  • Involve and utilize volunteers in the planning and delivery of park and recreation programs.
  • Strive to have our recreation programs run so that we would encourage our own children to participate in them, they will be organized fairly and administered efficiently.
GOAL 3: Develop a comprehensive park, recreation, and open space plan that fulfills requirements of state and local granting agencies, develops and implements parks maintenance strategies that balance ecological impacts and benefits with recreation/facility service delivery, and includes a capital improvements that guides capital expenditures.


  • The Park Board’s Comprehensive Park Plan should provide a balance of both active and passive recreation opportunities as appropriate for community needs.
  • Develop a fees and charges policy for non-Anacortes residents.
  • Require new subdivisions to provide land for neighborhood or pocket parks, or at the City’s discretion, in lieu of such land, provide impact fee payments to the City.
  • Adjust park impact fees to keep park facilities current with growth.
  • Improvement to the arterial street system in the City shall make provision for bicycle paths.
  • Support and encourage the Forest Management’s Plan’s provisions for the maintenance of a trail system for recreational users.
  • Every effort shall be made to include greenbelts in all new development or redevelopment; these greenbelts shall include pedestrian connections and wildlife corridors wherever practicable and reasonable.
GOAL 4: Increase the opportunities for public access to and enjoyment of the shorelines of Anacortes.


  • The multi-use trail along Guemes Channel should be a high priority project.
  • Open appropriate waterfront street ends for recreational use and shoreline access.
  • The City should work with the Port to develop and interconnect Cap Sante Marina and surrounding areas. Areas for consideration should include:
    1. Increasing and improving transient moorage facilities.
    2. Development of a public fishing pier.
    3. Improve landscaping, roadways, and pedestrian walkways.
    4. Development of a maritime commercial area.
  • Maintain a public boat launch adjacent to the downtown areas.


Goals and Policies


Identify areas of aesthetic, educational, historical, cultural and/or biological significance, encourage their preservation, and regulate development which could cause significant deterioration of these qualities.


  • An inventory of such sites should be conducted, made available to the public, and included in all applicable City plans. This inventory should be consulted by the Planning Commission and City Council when development and zoning decisions are made.
  • The ACFL is a critical area having the designation as a Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area.
  • An acquisition fund for the ACFL, shoreline areas, and wildlife corridors will be developed by the city.

The provision of recreation/tourist sites and activities for visitors should be planned and coordinated to provide opportunities for residents to have access to undeveloped natural areas.


  • Whistle Lake and Little Cranberry watersheds should be managed to maintain their pristine and/or fragile environment as viable wildlife habitat, to preserve watershed, wetland, and shoreline viability, for aesthetic values, and for recreational use primarily by residents.

The City's parks and forest lands (ACFL) should be managed with the principal goal to maintain and enhance aesthetic and recreational values.


  • City Council should adopt such ordinances and resolutions as deemed necessary to implement the Anacortes Community Forest Management Plan, 1991, which should be updated every 10 years.
  • City Council should adopt such ordinances and resolutions as deemed necessary to implement the Anacortes Parks and Recreation Plan, 1996, which should be updated every 10 years.
  • The Lakeside quarry in the ACFL and user fees in Washington Park should be the only economic activity in the City park and forestlands.

Public access to shorelines and tidelands should be maintained, enhanced, and increased.


  • A primary consideration should be given to the preserving and adding to public access to all beaches. Increase  and preserve physical and visual access to shoreline areas.
  • A recreational and wildlife corridor should be developed along the Guemes Channel with links to other natural areas including ACFL, Ship Harbor, and Washington Park.
  • City owned right of ways or street ends that afforded access to, or views of, marine shorelines should be evaluated for suitability of street end parks and wildlife corridors. Those street ends which lend themselves to park use should be considered for development as such. The City street vacation policy shall reflect this intent.

Develop and maintain a resource conservation attitude within the City with an ongoing educational program together with volunteer assistance.


  • Establish and promote an ongoing volunteer program in and out of our schools aimed at educating residents and visitors with speakers, programs and written information. This program shall promote stewardship of Fidalgo Island.
  • Develop and implement a program aimed specifically at reduction of litter and other nuisances within the City.
  • The City of Anacortes will support and encourage citizen involvement in backyard wildlife habitat programs, forest education programs, tree preservation, and shoreline stewardship programs.
  • Water conservation and water recycling shall be high priorities in the City’s Water System Plan.
  • Explore the cost effectiveness of standard LED technology for public lighting.

Encourage City staff, City officials, and residents to increase their awareness of conservation issues through ongoing educational opportunities.


  • A continually updated list of City, County and State planning, environmental and development documents shall be made available for public review at the City Hall and the Anacortes Public Library. Sufficient copies of each of those publications shall be available to the public at the Anacortes Library.
  • Publish and make available information to help private owners maintain property in its historic or undeveloped state, such as tax benefits, the Nature Conservancy, Skagit Land Trust, City Historic Preservation Board saleback and leaseback, property donation, property exchange, cluster development, and transferable development rights.
  • The City shall implement the educational provisions of its Critical Areas Ordinance.

Maintain or improve the functional integrity of water-courses, wetlands, bodies of water and their shores by keeping them in their existing natural condition where appropriate or restoring them as appropriate.


  • Streams and wetlands areas should be examined in a basin-wide approach before adjustments to the system are considered and decided upon.
  • Significant fills and excavations, which by their nature affect both surface and ground water dynamics and habitat, shall be allowed only by permit process.
  • Inventory all significant drainage patterns. Make this information available to City planners and residents.
  • Place appropriate restrictions on land surface modifications and tree removal that would cause unnecessary landscape scarring, hydrology modifications, erosion, or undermining of support of nearby land, including, but not limited to, dredging, filling, clearing, paving, and grading.
  • New or expanding marinas shall provide sewage pumpout facilities.
  • The City of Anacortes will continue to support the Conservation Easement Program until all eligible acres have conservation easements.

The existing quality of life experienced by inhabitants of residential areas has an intrinsic value that should be preserved.


  • All proposed development subject to City review through the conditional use or Planned Unit Development policies directly affecting existing residential neighborhoods should be compatible and shall seek to maintain the intrinsic quality of life as presently experienced by those residing in said neighborhoods.
  • Single family residences should be the major form of housing in the community.
  • Commercial and industrial development should be restricted to areas zoned for such development. Consider rezoning requests only after existing areas are demonstrably inadequate.
  • Through the public permit process, efforts should be made to protect existing scenic views from public places and residentially zoned property.

Energy conservation shall be a goal in the design or remodeling of commercial, public and residential buildings.


  • The City should consider developing incentives for construction or remodeling of structures to utilize state of the art energy conservation techniques (including, but not limited to, insulation, passive energy design, co-generation); the City shall follow the latest energy codes.
  • Work with Puget Power to encourage energy conservation in street lighting and other, private uses.
GOAL 10:

Planning by the City of Anacortes for electric utility facilities development will be coordinated with planning by other jurisdictions and affected utilities for electric utility facility development.


  • Coordinate the formulation and periodic update of the utility element (and relevant implementing development regulations) with adjacent jurisdictions.
  • Coordinate, and seek to cooperate, with other jurisdictions in the implementation of multi-jurisdictional electric utility facility additions and improvements. Such coordination and cooperation should include efforts to coordinate the procedures for making specific land use decisions to achieve consistency in timing and substantive requirements.
  • Encourage the joint use of utility corridors, provided that such joint use is consistent with limitations as may be prescribed by applicable law and prudent utility practice.
  • Provide timely and effective notice to utilities of the construction, maintenance or repair of streets, roads, highways or other facilities, and coordinate such work with the serving utilities to ensure that utility needs are appropriately considered.
  • Appropriately place electric utility facilities on public rights-of-way.
  • Review and revise the City's current Undergrounding Ordinance to better implement the policies of this Comprehensive Plan.
GOAL 11:

Enhance and preserve the City’s marine resources.


  • Work to preserve and restore forage fish spawning areas as shown in the Fidalgo Bay Sub-Area Plan and its restoration element.
  • Water dependent and water related uses should be allowed to continue to locate and expand in industrial, commercial, and commercial marine zones.
  • Soft armoring of shorelines is preferred over riprap or hard armoring.
  • Plan and implement shorelines enhancement projects where the natural shorelines have been altered.
GOAL 12:

Recognize the importance of mature trees as an integral part of the ecology and heritage of the city.


  • Retention of mature trees should be an essential consideration in project development and building plans.
  • Variances in regulations which assist in preserving trees will be encouraged.
  • Education practices will encourage the planting and retention of trees.
GOAL 13:

The City’s environmental and conservation requirements shall be vigorously enforced.


Keller Williams Western Realty – 3800 Byron Ave #148, Bellingham, WA 98229