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Our office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Our office is closed on all county observed holidays.
There is a list of exemption and tax relief programs that can be used to reduce property taxes on our website.
Assessors must annually update values to real property. The Assessor is required by state law to assess properties at market value. Properties are physically inspected every 6 years and are statistically updated the other years. If changes to value are made, the assessor mails property owners a Valuation Change Notice. The notice states the new and the previous values.
Contact the Assessor’s Office if you feel there is an error or that your property is valued at more than fair market value. If the Assessor and you cannot agree on a satisfactory valuation, you have the right to appear before the Whatcom County Board of Equalization.
Contact the Assessor’s Office first to verify information. The county Board of Equalization outlines the steps to file an appeal on the assessed value on a property. Appeals must be received by the Board of Equalization on or before July 1st of the assessment year (the year before taxes are due) or within 30 calendar days after the date of a notice of valuation. Additional information can be found on the Board of Equalization’s webpage.
You can view ownership information on the real property search website or contact us. However, it’s important to note that Assessor’s Office records are for tax purposes only and we do not guarantee or insure title.
Our results default to the most recent appraisal year with a certified value. To view the current ownership on a property, make sure that the most recent appraisal year for tax year is selected in the results display section before hitting the search button. This allows any ownership that has been changed in the current year to be viewed.
For example, if a property sold in April 2020, you’ll need to manually change the results display to 2020-2021 since values for 2020 are not yet certified, but the ownership change occurred during this calendar year.
If the property does not show the current ownership in the current appraisal year for tax year it is possible the current document for changing ownership has not been processed by the assessor’s office yet. This process can take up to two months after the document has been recorded with the county auditor’s office.
We have instructions on our website about different ways to contact us and the information we need to update a mailing address for a property. This is the address where the assessor’s change of value notice is mailed. Updating your mailing address with the Assessor’s Office will also update your address for Treasurer’s office property tax statements.
Assessor records are public records and subject to full disclosure, except for records that are expressly exempt from disclosure by law. The exceptions are as follows:
For our office, records that are exempt from disclosure and treated as confidential are income and expense information for the senior citizen and disabled persons programs (RCW 84.36.389), and also commercial/industrial property and personal property asset information (RCW 42.56.070 and 42.56.210).
The Washington State Legislature passed law (RCW 40.24) in 1991 creating a program for protecting personal address information for persons who are survivors or victims of crime. These are sometimes referred to as witness protection programs. Individuals may seek to have personal address information suppressed by registering for the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) with the Washington Secretary of State. In 2011, the ACP began accepting "criminal justice employees who have been threatened or harassed because of their work". Assessors are notified by the Washington Secretary of State when individuals become enrolled for ACP.
For more information, please see the Address Confidentiality Program website here:https://www.sos.wa.gov/acp/
On their website you can view the eligibility requirements and how to apply by clicking the "Get Help" link.
RCW 84.40.025 states, “For the purpose of assessment and valuation of all taxable property in each county, any real or personal property in each county shall be subject to visitation, investigation, examination, discovery, and listing at any reasonable time by the county assessor of the county or by any employee thereof designated for this purpose by the assessor. In any case of refusal to such access, the assessor shall request assistance from the department of revenue which may invoke the power granted by chapter 84.08 RCW.”
Appraisers do not need interior access to homes and buildings, but they do need access to all sides of the building; therefore, they may enter the backyard even on fenced properties.
When working neighborhoods, the appraiser may be on foot to reduce mileage and fuel costs. They will be carrying county issued ID. If you have a doubt, please call the Assessor main line at 360-778-5050, we can describe the appraiser working your neighborhood that day.
Most office supply or stationery stores carry certain legal forms. The recording requirements are found under
A multiple title document is a single document that contains more than one transaction, where each transaction could stand on its own and requires separate entries in our index. Per RCW 36.18.010 each transaction in a single document that meets this definition requires a separate recording fee. The fee is calculated for each type of transaction/title listed on your document. You can help minimize the confusion of multiple title documents by being very clear about what the intent of your document is, and how many actions it contains. A complete explanation of how recording fees are calculated for multiple title documents can be found here .
We do not maintain an address field. Please contact the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office via phone at 360-778-5050 or
We cannot tell you who the owner of a piece of property is by parcel number or street address. Please contact the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office via phone at 360-778-5050 or
We do not have birth or death records. Please contact the Whatcom County Health Department via phone at 360-778-6000 or online.
Veteran service records and marriage records are not viewable online.
Documents will not be available online for viewing until the document has been indexed. This could be anywhere from 24 hours to 5 days. Please refer to the indexed through date.
Images begin 1975 with the exception of veteran service records and marriage records. Images that are not available through the records search can be requested in person, on the phone or by mail. Information on how to request a copy can be found here: Copy Request
The website is made available in order for the public to obtain information regarding the documents that are on file in the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office. You can request a certified copy by mail or come into the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office. Copy of a Document.
You cannot remove the documents from view. Recorded documents are public records and can be viewed by anyone who comes to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office. The online Digital Research Room makes the same documents available via the internet that are available in the office.
The board is wholly separate and apart from the Assessor's Office. They are comprised of 7 county residents appointed by the Whatcom County Council to 3 year terms. Board members are selected for their knowledge of real estate values and each member is required by law to attend an intensive training by Washington State Department of Revenue on the valuation of real property. Board members receive continuing education from the Washington State Department of Revenue. The board is directed by state law (Revised Code of Washington, RCW, and Washington Administrative Code, WAC).
Appeal forms are available from the Clerk of the Board of Equalization at the Whatcom County Council Office, or online, or forms are available at the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office, both locations on the 1st floor, County Courthouse:311 Grand Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225. You may also call the Board of Equalization at (360) 778-5016.
The petition form has clear directions attached. Your properly completed petition must include specific reasons why you believe that the Assessor's valuation is not correct. The amount of tax, the percentage of assessment increase, personal hardship, and other matters unrelated to market value cannot, by law, be considered by the board. Include the parcel number of the property you are appealing. A separate petition must be completed for every individual parcel. Also include the Assessor's determination of value, other appraisal information, your estimate of value, recent sales of comparable properties, or other supporting information for your appeal. Statements that simply indicate the Assessor's valuation is too high or the amount of tax is too high are not sufficient evidence. All evidence should relate to the true and fair market value of your property. Be sure to indicate if you intend to submit additional evidence prior to the hearing. You must submit additional information at least 21 business days prior to your hearing. For purposes of scanning and records retention, please submit evidence in paper format no larger than 8 1/2" x 11", loosely bound with paperclips, binder clips, or rubber bands. Please do not use staples, dividers, tabs, or binders. If filing after July 1 a copy of the Assessor's Notice of Value must be included with the petition.
For the purposes of filing a complete appeal, as long as your petition includes sufficient information or statements to apprise the Board and the Assessor of the reasons why you believe the Assessor’s determination is incorrect, it is not necessary to include all the evidence you intend to use at the filing time. While it is recommended that you provide the evidence you will use as early as possible, additional evidence may be submitted up to 21 business days before your hearing.
The Board schedules hearings on a first come, first served basis. Accordingly, the scheduling of your hearing will depend on the volume of appeals and the timing of your petition filing. You will be notified by mail of your hearing date approximately 6 weeks, or more, in advance.
Documentary evidence (comparable sales, appraisals, estimates, photos, etc.) must be submitted to the Board at least 21 business days before the hearing.
You will receive a written decision from the Board within 45 days of the hearing. The Board can either raise, lower, or sustain the Assessor's value. Summaries of Board actions are available on the County Council's website.
Either the petitioner or the Assessor may appeal the Board’s decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. An appeal must be filed with the State Board within 30 calendar days of the mailing date of our Board’s decision.
The State Board of Tax Appeals has the authority to sustain, lower or raise the value. (RCW84-08-060)Appeals to the board of tax appeals by any taxpayer or taxing unit concerning any action of the County Board of Equalization shall not raise the valuation of the property to an amount greater than the larger of either the valuation of the property by the county assessor or the valuation of the property assigned by the County Board of Equalization.
Appeal forms are available in the Whatcom County Council Office [(360) 778-5010] or may be obtained from the Board of Tax Appeals (360-753-5446) or online. You may also pay your property taxes "under protest", (consult with the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office for direction) and petition the Superior Court for a refund by filing a lawsuit under RCW 84.68.020
You have the capability to upload different types of documents, however, the preferred document type is PDF. When you upload a Word document, the system automatically converts it to PDF after it is published on the website. There is sometimes a delay in that conversion process, so in the mean time, someone can open your document in Word and save it as Word. Another thing to consider is that formatting such as strike, underline, color and highlight are not retained when the system converts from Word to PDF. If you have a document with any formatting you would have to convert it to PDF before uploading it as an attachment to protect that formatting.
See procedures for contracts in the online Staff User Guides.
See assigned ordinance or resolution numbers in the meeting details after a meeting has been updated
See what actions any meeting body took
View Agendas and Minutes for individual meetings
Add any meeting to your own calendar
Watch live video for a meeting
Watch video for a meeting or just a particular item after a meeting
Share video on the whole meeting or just one item
See a list of adopted/approved ordinances/resolutions
Search for a file on a given topic
Click on the Files Module (even if you are already in it--this assures you are in Search Mode). Go to the Details tab and enter your email address in the "Entered By" field. Click Search in the green toolbar at the top. You can also fill in other fields such as agenda date to filter your created files by more specific criteria. Double click a file name to open it. Then you can use the arrows on the top right of the window to go forward and backward from one file to the next, or click on the pointing finger icon to return back to the search results list.
If you prefer to use a spell checker, create your document in Word on your computer first, spell-check it, then copy and paste it into the appropriate boxes of the Title and Summary Word Template. The Template itself does not have the ability to check spelling.
If you'd like someone to be able to edit your file while it's in the formation (draft) stage, in the Files Module go to Tools>File Assignments and choose someone to assign the file to.
You can delete people from an active sequence only if the file has not yet come to them. To do this, go to the Files module and the Approval Tracking tab. At the bottom of the window, click on the Pause button to pause the sequence. You can then delete someone who has not yet been involved in the approval process.
No. The file is a record of the whole life of the file. We want to keep attachments. You can even add replacement files, but for the record, the old one should stay to show the file's history.
No. Legistar is just a copy of the original document on your computer. Legistar does not sync in any way to your computer's drives. If you change a document for Legistar on your computer, you would need to attach it again to copy the edited version to Legistar.
Go to the District Map. Once there, zoom in to find an area or street, then simply click on the map to see what district it is in.
You can contact individual Councilmembers or all of them at the same time. Individual contact information can be found on the page Council Terms and Contact Information
The Council meeting agenda is usually on the website by the end of the day on the Wednesday before the Council meeting. It can be found in the Legislative Information Center
Meetings are held in a hybrid format unless otherwise noted on the Legislative Information Center. Hybrid meetings are available for in person or remote participation. You may provide public comment to the Council during open session or a public hearing by joining the webinar or coming to the council chambers in person. Please visit the County Council’s Participate in Hybrid Council Meetings webpage for specific instructions on how to watch or participate in a meeting. All live testimony will be broadcast, recorded, and retained for the public record.
To sign up for an notifications for Whatcom County Council and Committee agendas navigate to the Notify Me Center.
Regular Council meetings generally start at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Whatcom County Courthouse at 311 Grand Avenue in Bellingham. Check the Legislative Information Center for information on each upcoming meeting.
You can access information about a Council meeting by visiting the : Legislative Information Center. Here you can
You may make partial or full payments with debit/credit cards online through our website, at http://whatcomcounty.us/districtcourt and select "Tickets/Payments." You may also mail in a check or money order referencing your ticket/infraction number for partial or full payment to: Whatcom County District Court 311 Grand Avenue, Suite 401 Bellingham, WA 98225 You may also come in to District Court in person between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at the address listed above to pay with cash, check, debit or credit card.
We do NOT take payments over the phone. You can pay with your credit or debit card by going online to the District Court website at http://whatcomcounty.us/districtcourt and select "Tickets/Payments."
Call Whatcom County District Court at (360)778-5400 and provide your ticket/citation/infraction/case number if you have it. We can also look up your case when you provide us some identifying information.
The Probation Department does not accept money, other than money orders and cashier’s checks for restitution payments. You can pay your Probation fees through the court that oversees your case (i.e. Bellingham Municipal, Whatcom County District Court, etc.). For questions regarding fees and payment plans, please contact the court’s clerk.
There are two local options for completing the DUI Victim Impact Panel. You can contact your local health department if you live out-of-county. The first option is through the Whatcom County Health Department. Their VIP is held on the first Monday of every month, from 6:30PM-9:00PM, in the Council Chambers room of the Whatcom County Courthouse. The second option is through Assessment & Treatment Associates. Their VIP is held on the third Saturday of every month, from 12:30PM-2:00PM, at Whatcom Community College. For more information, VIP schedules, and directions for how to sign up, please contact the provider you choose.
Whatcom County Health Department
509 Gerard Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
Assessment & Treatment Associates
2219 Rimland Drive, Suite 301, Bellingham, WA 98226
You can look for current volunteering opportunities on the Whatcom Volunteer Center’s website at https://www.whatcomvolunteer.org/ or by calling (360) 734-3055 for more information. Once you have found an agency you want to work with, make sure you check with your probation officer and/or the court, to make sure you are approved to complete your hours there.
Community service must be completed in Whatcom County, or the county in which you reside. Community service hours will only be accepted from 501(c)(3) designated, community-based, non-profit agencies. The hours worked must be for the benefit of the community, and not for the individual. Participation in a training program or a school setting does not qualify as community service. The person performing the community service cannot receive compensation of any type, financial or otherwise, for the work performed.
Community Service Hours Log
You can find a list of local agencies that provide alcohol and drug evaluations, under the Treatment Resources section of our site.
You can find a list of local agencies that provide domestic violence evaluations, under the Treatment Resources section of our site.
Call ahead to the Executive office at (360) 778-5200, or email us and submit your meeting request, including the purpose for the meeting, to one of the staff.
You can contact Robert Ney, Projects & Operations Manager, at 360-778-5365.
Childhood immunizations are free in Washington State for everyone under age 19.
There are a few ways to access your family’s immunization information:
You make educated choices about your family's health and well-being every day, from which car seats to use to what food you eat or how to find quality child care. The choice to immunize is no different.
Many records are available online through our online search tool at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3312/Septic-Drinking-Water-Records. If your documents are not available online, the search tool will notify you.
The Department of Ecology is responsible for well drilling regulations and requirements. Information on drilling a well can be found online. A well site inspection must be approved by WCHD for water availability application.
You will need to the Whatcom County Health and Community Services' Environmental Health Division.
Stop drinking the water. If the severity of your illness concerns you, contact your health care provider and they can help you with any necessary treatment to help get you well. Contact our office for help in determining why the water you drank may have made you sick.
Information on water treatment systems can be found on the National Sanitation Foundation’s website.
Please view the Planning & Development Services - Exempt well/water FAQs.
Yes, you do need a permit. You will need to apply for a permit, submit a floor plan and menu information, and pay an annual permit fee. After receiving a permit, Whatcom County Health and Community Services staff will inspect the facility to ensure safe food handling practices.
You will need to complete a Change of Ownership Packet and obtain a food establishment permit through our office. You may return completed paperwork to our office and pay the associated fees. Contact our office to determine the cost. Next, you may schedule an inspection with a Whatcom County Health and Community Services Inspector.
You will need to provide detailed construction plans and information on your proposed menu and method of food preparation. This information is included in the Plan Review Packet.
A temporary food establishment is a food establishment that operates at a fixed location, with a fixed menu, for no more than 21 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration, such as a fair or festival.
Individuals or groups planning to hold events that are open to the public must obtain a permit. Whatcom County Health and Community Services requires that each food booth or vendor operating during an event obtains a temporary permit.
You need to purchase a Temporary Food Establishment Permit from our office. Please contact our office at least two (2) weeks before your event, so we can process the application and issue a permit before purchasing or preparing food. For more information, please visit our Food Permits webpage.
A public event is any organized event advertised in any way to the public such as flyers, newspaper articles or ads, radio, or social media. A public event is open to the public and offers food during the event. The requirements do not change if the food sold is for profit or provided at no charge.
Yes, you still need a permit. Permit fee waivers are possible for meals served to people in need. Contact our office at 360-778-6000 for more information.
To get a food worker card, you must take the online food worker course. You can obtain a food worker card online for $10. You may also purchase (cash, debit or credit card) and pick up the food worker card at our office during business hours.
You need to complete the coordinator’s checklist. Submit this paperwork at least one month before your event. You may add food vendors after you submit the application; contact our office with the information you need to add to your application.
You need to complete the coordinator’s checklist. We ask that you submit this paperwork at least one month before your event. You may add food vendors once the application is submitted; just contact our office with the information.
Caterers are not exempt from temporary food establishment permits even though they may currently have a permit. Caterers who choose to operate at a temporary event must apply for a temporary food establishment permit.
In addition to a hand washing sink, you need to have enough functioning equipment to keep potentially hazardous food at the proper temperature. The outdoor booths must have an overhead cover over storage areas, food preparation, cooking and serving areas. You need walls when it is necessary to protect food and food equipment from the elements.
If you use ice chests ensure you have enough ice to completely submerge food so that it can hold food at 41°F or less. Keep ice chests and refrigerators out of direct sunlight. Equipment must hold food at 135°F or hotter. Sterno chafers are not allowed at events unless the event is indoors and less than four hours. You must have a thermometer to ensure foods are holding properly and are cooked to the proper temperatures.
For more information on setting up and operating temporary food establishments, please see the Checklist for Temporary Food Establishment Operation.
Out of county vendors need a temporary food establishment permit. The type of permit depends on menu and duration of event. In addition, complex food preparation may need to occur in a Whatcom County commissary kitchen. Visit our Food Permits webpage for more information.
Permitted mobile units may operate anytime, anywhere in Whatcom County including events (with the coordinators permission). As long as you bring the mobile unit to the event and are offering the same menu items as listed in your approved plan of operation, you need no additional permits from our office. Mobile units must have a local commissary kitchen to service the mobile unit.
If you have a mobile unit, but want to operate out of a booth for an event, you must apply for and obtain a temporary food establishment permit, even if the menu is the same. If you are interested in operating a mobile unit please read the Mobile Food Plan Review Packet for more information.
You must purchase pre-washed produce or you must wash your produce at a commercial kitchen or permitted food establishment. You cannot wash produce at the event site unless the venue has a dedicated produce preparation sink. You cannot wash produce in a residential kitchen.
For one day events, bring enough extra utensils for the following: to change out utensils every four hours, to replace dropped utensils and to replace other contaminated utensils. You must change utensils that come in contact with potentially hazardous foods every four hours if utensil cleaning facilities are not available on site.
If your event is more than one day and you are applying for a temporary food establishment permit, you need to have a plumbed three compartment sink or commercial dishwasher to wash and sanitize utensils. If the event venue does not have a plumbed three compartment sink or commercial dishwasher, you must have a commissary agreement with a local commercial kitchen. If you have a food establishment permit in Whatcom County, you may use your dishwashing facilities for utensil cleaning.
Some menu items, like smoothies made with dairy, soy or protein products, require frequent cleaning and vendors will need access to a plumbed three compartment sink at the event site. Whatcom County does not allow the three tub method for utensil washing and sanitizing at temporary events.
You may not make food at home for sale to the public unless it is for a bake sale. You may not prepare any foods on site that require multiple steps or extensive assembly. You must make any advanced menu preparation in a commercial kitchen with equipment to support your menu.
No, hot food must be made the day of the event, held hot and served. Discard any leftover hot food; do not save and re-serve it to the public.
Operators of petting zoos, county fairs, pony rides, or any similar settings that encourage contact with animals must post a warning sign for visitors about the potential risk of disease. They are to provide easy access to hand washing stations, or as an alternative, an approved method using hand sanitizers. Operators must also post signs at each exit of an animal exhibit reminding visitors to wash their hands.
The local municipality may require a permit for gathering in a public area or to vend food on a public right of way. Contact the city or county in which you are operating for more information.
If you have additional questions, please call our office to leave a message or schedule an appointment.
If the complaint involves a retail food establishment or a food you purchased for your own use contact our office. If you purchased the food for resale, you can contact our office and we can help determine which other agency you need to contact.
Staff from the Whatcom County Health and Community Services Food Safety Program inspect all retail food establishments. State law requires the Health and Community Services Food Safety Program to inspect each food establishment at least once per year.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture, The United States Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration inspect facilities that sell foods at the wholesale level.
Any person who works in a grocery store, restaurant, school cafeteria, camp kitchen, deli, tavern, or other retail food establishment and anyone who handles unwrapped food products will need to obtain a food worker card.
If you have an unexpired Washington State Food Worker Card, bring your old card and the card you received online into your local Health Department within 5 days of passing the test and we will issue you a three year card. If your old card has expired, you will only be able to receive a two-year card. You can receive a five-year card if you have completed an approved advanced training course such as ServeSafe Food Managers Course within 2 years prior to taking the Food Worker test.
If you are having a problem, please email [email protected] or call 1-800-204-4418. When sending an email, please include your full name, phone number and a brief description of the problem you are having.
Yes, your training session is good for 30 days from the date you start the training. You can log back in and click on the "Complete" button to finish the training at any time during this 30 day period. After 30 days, your training session will expire and you will need to start over. If you stop during the test, you will need to retake the entire test.
You can reprint your card for free from the online course. Go back to the beginning of the online course, select the "Login" button and sign back in. Be sure to use the exact same registration information you originally signed in with (information is case sensitive). If you wish to come into our office, there is a $5.00 charge for reprinting.
The $10 fee is set in state regulation, Washington Administrative Code 246-217-025. Local health jurisdictions use the fee to cover the costs of food worker training and education, administration of the program, and testing of applicants.
If the severity of your illness concerns you, contact your healthcare provider. They can help you with any necessary treatment. In addition, please contact our office to report the illness. Depending on what we learn from talking to you, we may help prevent other people from becoming ill.
Do not prepare food for others when you are sick. Wash your hands thoroughly before you begin to prepare foods or eat foods. To properly wash hands, use plenty of soap and lather for at least 20 seconds (e.g., singing the Happy Birthday song twice) before rinsing and drying.
Avoid bare hand contact on ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. Keep food at a safe temperature.
Except for some toxins and viruses, most harmful microorganisms take longer than a few hours to make you sick. Symptoms of foodborne illness can start anywhere from a few hours to several weeks after eating contaminated food. So don't be so quick to blame your illness on the restaurant you ate at today for lunch - you may have gotten sick from something you ate a few days ago. Contact your local health department if you suspect you have a foodborne illness or want to file a complaint about unsafe food handling practices at a restaurant.
Ill food workers frequently make others sick by preparing food. If at all possible, avoid preparing food for other people when you do not feel well.
If your friend is experiencing a crisis or their condition is getting worse, please call the Volunteers of American Crisis line at 1-800-584-3578 for free support. More information can be found at https://www.voaww.org/behavioralhealth.
There are many therapists offering services in Whatcom County. An updated list can be found at this website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists, and you can choose to narrow down the field by focus issues (from the sidebar on the left).
If your child is a student attending public school you can reach out to the school counselor who may provide you with advice regarding your son or daughter and offer recommendations.
Whatcom County Health and Community Services works very closely with North Sound Behavioral Health Organization to ensure high quality mental health services, as well as with many partners in other departments of Whatcom County government, the City of Bellingham, and numerous non-profit agency partners.
There is currently a shortage of providers, but there are several things you can do. First, have a look at the list maintained by Psychology Today. Be persistent and get yourself on some waiting lists to be called. The openings often come and go quickly. You can also make an appointment with the Western Washington University Counseling Center; they can be reached at 360-650-3164.
No, this is a free program for all eligible women.
Your nurse will visit you every one to two weeks during your pregnancy and until your child turns two years old. Nurses are flexible and can work with your busy schedule to find a convenient time to meet.
You and your nurse can work together to decide on a place to meet that feels comfortable to you and gives some privacy for your visit.
Yes! You choose who you would like to take part in visits with you and your nurse.
NFP provides so much to babies and their families-from postpartum support to mental health screenings to help with understanding how your baby is developing to just having someone to talk to besides a baby! New moms, and dads, need all the help and socializing they can get, and NFP provides that, as well as someone your baby can grow to know and have a relationship with. Your nurse also becomes a very easily accessible resource for all of the millions of random questions that end up floating around in your brain when you have a new baby!
Whatcom County NFP participant
Many moms say the support of their nurse made a big difference for them. Find more NFP mom stories on the NFP website.
Whenever the water table is high or your sewage system is threatened by flooding, there is a risk that sewage will back up into your home. The only way to prevent this backup is to relieve pressure on the system by using it less.
Once floodwaters have receded, there are several things homeowners should remember:
You need an OSS permit (septic system permit) any time you construct, repair, replace, modify, connect to, or expand your septic system. You do not need an OSS permit when you:
Your OSS permit does not mean that you have met any other legal requirements like building codes or zoning ordinances. You must also comply with relevant permit requirements from other agencies before you begin work on your system. For example, you may need to get a land disturbance permit from Whatcom County Planning and Development Services.
State and county sewage control regulations require that either a licensed OSS designer or Registered Professional Engineer design your OSS. The state issues Licenses for Designers and Engineers.
Whatcom County code requires that all OSS be installed by a licensed OSS installer; however, if you are the property owner and you will live in the home the OSS will serve, you can request an exemption from certification requirements. The request will be reviewed and if approved, you can install the OSS. We recommend that you hire a Licensed OSS Installer for complex systems, e.g. pressure systems or alternative systems.
Developers must hire a Licensed OSS Installer or obtain an OSS Installer's License through Whatcom County Health and Community Services to install OSS on properties they plan to develop and then sell.
Health and Community Services documents related to OSS and Drinking Water in Whatcom County can now be found online.
Please see the following guidelines from the Washington State Department of Health in regards to sewage cleanup.
Some warning signs of a failure are odors, surfacing sewage, soggy spots with lush green grass growth in the drain field or septic tank area, plumbing or septic tank backups, slow draining fixtures, or gurgling sounds in the plumbing system. If you suspect that your OSS is failing, contact us for assistance.
Your property was assessed a fee based on information in our database that indicates there is an OSS on your property. We understand that some information in our database may be incorrect, and will review the fee if you believe it was incorrectly assessed. We have generated a form to process these requests to ensure that our database is accurately and efficiently updated, and the updated information forwarded to the Treasurer’s Office. Please complete the On-Site Sewage System Request for Fee Review form, and submit it to our office.
For information on how to talk to youth about alcohol, check out Start Talking Now.
Please refer to our Parent & Community Resources webpage and the directory of treatment and recovery resources (PDF).
See the Whatcom County Code, Chapter 8.10, which covers this in detail. It can be found on the County’s website. In this section of the Code, the County Council has established service levels and rate structure principles. 8.10.040 of the Code states:
A. Certified haulers shall perform collection and hauling of garbage from single-family residences that request collection service in unincorporated portions of Whatcom County.
While the County Council has established the level of service as listed in Chapter 8.10, it states under Chapter 8.10.080 that “The Whatcom County council, pursuant to RCW 36.58.040, hereby notifies and requests the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to carry out and implement the policies and programs specified in this chapter and in the plan in coordination with certificated haulers and common carriers through the Commission’s rate setting and oversight authority.”
In other words, Whatcom County establishes certain service levels within unincorporated areas of the County, while the WUTC ensures that those services are rendered and the costs properly passed on to the rate payers.
The Whatcom County solid waste recycling and collection district was created (WCC 8.11) to make solid waste and recycling collection mandatory in Whatcom County. The recycling and collection district includes all unincorporated areas except the Diablo/Newhalem area of Whatcom County.
A G-Certificate is a certificate or license to legally haul garbage (the “G”) on a commercial basis. It is issued by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. The WUTC has a specific application process which includes the submittal of documents, including financials, which are then verified and evaluated before granting a certificate, providing there is a franchise area available. The applicant must prove they are “fit, willing and able” to provide the service of hauling garbage. This process may take up to several months upon receipt of a complete application packet. For more information see the WUTC’s website.
Contact your health care provider for care of the wound. Contact Whatcom County Health and Community Services at 360-778-6000 during working hours, or at 360-715-2588 during after hours to report the incident. One of our staff will interview you and help to determine what to do next.
Try to close the door to the room and keep the bat contained without touching the bat and contact our office. We may need to send the bat to the lab to test for rabies. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) recommends that we consider this an exposure to rabies unless you saw the bat fly through the door and back out. For example if a bat was in your house at night while you and others in the house slept, we cannot rule out that the bat did not expose someone in the home, especially a small child. Contact Whatcom County Health and Community Services at 360-778-6000 or evening or weekends at 360-715-2588 to report the incident. One of our staff will interview you and help to determine what to do next.
No, we cannot accept live specimens. The State Department of Health Laboratory in Shoreline, Washington tests the animals. The lab has very specific rules we must follow before they can test the animals. Our office works through the local veterinary community and animal control officials to prepare animals for shipment to the lab. Contact our office, a veterinarian, or animal control official before you touch the animal of concern. This will help to assure that additional people are not exposed.
The term "food poisoning" can be very misleading. Many different types of bacteria and viruses can cause similar symptoms (just vomiting, vomiting and diarrhea, diarrhea only, abdominal pain only, etc.). These germs can be spread from contaminated food, as well as person-to-person, from animals to people, or from contaminated water. The term "food poisoning" can be confusing because these infections do not always come from food.
While undercooked meats are one of the main causes of Salmonella infection, many other non-meat and non-animal products can spread the infection as well. Salmonella can be found in sprouts and other vegetables, eggs, fruits, and even processed foods (like nut butters). The best way to prevent Salmonella is to cook your vegetables and fruits. Since raw fruits and vegetables have health benefits, the next best way to avoid Salmonella is to thoroughly wash your produce before eating it. Avoid unwashed, raw fruits and vegetables.
Whatcom County requires the transportation and disposal of solid waste by qualified providers. An exemption is allowed. Please contact Environmental Health online for more information.
Contact any of the providers on the list who provide services to individuals with low income or medical coupons and see if you are eligible for a sliding fee scale. You will need to tell the agency what your monthly income is and how many people are in your household. They will be able to give you an estimate of what your cost will be, but you will need to bring your most recent monthly pay stub in at the time of your evaluation.
At this time, we do not know if e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes. Before the current outbreak of vaping-linked lung injuries, scientific studies suggested that people who completely switched from smoking to using electronic cigarettes would be exposed to fewer harmful chemicals. But the outbreak highlights that there is still a lot we do not know about e-cigarettes and vapor products. We also do not know the long-term effects of vaping, because these products have not been around long enough to study what they might do to long-term health.
E-cigarettes have not been proven to be effective tobacco cessation aids. Adults who use e-cigarettes, vapor products or other tobacco products and are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications.
Even without the smoke and tar of cigarettes, nicotine itself can damage your heart, arteries, and lungs, increasing your risk for heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.
Nicotine is worse for young people, whose bodies are still developing. The use of nicotine during adolescence and young adulthood has been associated with lasting cognitive and behavioral impairments, including effects on working memory and attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine can cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use.
Unfortunately, we just do not know. The investigation of the vaping illness outbreak has not clearly identified a common product or substance as the cause, so it could be many different products. The CDC and Washington State Department of Health are investigating all e-cigarettes and vapor products.
Vaping, like smoking cigarettes, has never been safe. From a public health perspective, there's still more we need to learn about vaping products and their short- and long-term effects. More regulation of vaping products and greater reporting requirements will help us to better identify public health risks.
Tribes are sovereign nations and enact their own laws. Some tribes in Washington are enacting their own policies that align with the emergency rules passed by the Washington State Board of Health.
In Washington, the Liquor and Cannabis Board has regulatory authority over the cannabis industry and vapor product retailers. They have authority over the production and sale of cannabis products. They have less authority over vapor product retailers but do enforce some regulations such as conducting compliance checks to ensure compliance with no-sales-to-minors.
The bigger challenge is around regulating e-cigarettes and nicotine vapor products. Currently, there are few federal or state regulations for e-cigarettes and nicotine vapor products.
Veterans need their DD214 to access all veteran benefits.
A Veteran can apply for a lost DD214 by submitting an SF180. The form and instructions are below:
Some veterans may qualify for VA Healthcare. Click the link below for more information.
Some low income veterans may qualify for burial assistance through the Whatcom County Veterans Assistance Program, please call the office at (360)778-6050 to inquire.
The Worksource Whatcom Veteran Employment Representative is a great place to start. Their number is (360)676-3203.
The Whatcom Homeless Service Center offers several programs to help low income veterans with housing.
Please check out the Whatcom County Veterans Calendar to see a comprehensive list of veteran event in the area.
Veteran Service Officers can help veterans both understand and apply for their earned VA benefits. Please call (360) 778-6050 to set up an appointment.
Contact your health care provider first and tell them that you developed a rash after swimming in a pool. They can evaluate the need for treatment to make you well. Contact our office and let us know the name of the pool. We will investigate the incident and attempt to determine the cause of the rash.
Contact your health care provider for treatment. Contact our department to report when and where you went swimming.
Swimmers itch usually refers to a rash caused by a little parasite that burrows under your skin and dies. To avoid the rash, you should shower immediately after leaving the water and towel dry and put on some dry clothes. Try to remove little water droplets before they dry on your skin. The little parasite lives in the water and can survive in a water droplet long enough to burrow under your skin.
Unintentional drowning remains a leading cause of death for small children. The fence and gate keep the unattended small children away from the pool.
Yes, not being able to detect distressed or drowning bathers is always a cause for alarm. Additionally, poor water clarity is often a result of poor filtration, poor disinfection, poor water balance, slow turnover rates, and over-saturation of chemical stabilizer. Report this immediately to the pool facility's person in charge, and then call our office. Washington state law requires pool closure in such situations until correction of this issue.
Only adults (18+) can swim alone in a limited use pool facility. If a child 12 years of age or less is using the pool, a responsible adult 18 years or older must accompany the child, and be at the pool deck at all times the child uses the facility. If an individual between 13 years-old and 17 years-old is using the pool, at least one other person (13-17 year old) must be at the pool facility.
FMLA is a federal law that allows employees to balance their work and family life by taking reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. Eligible employees may take up to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period.
Only if your medical condition requires you to stop work prior to delivery or if your maternity disability will exceed 6 weeks following birth. If this is the case, have your doctor complete an FMLA Medical Certification form (PDF). Please communicate any changes to your leave with your supervisor and your HR Representative.
Download all necessary forms to add your baby to benefits online. You need to complete and return the benefit enrollment forms to your HR Representative within 60 days of birth.
We update job listings when positions come open. You can be automatically notified if you fill out a job interest card.
There are now two different ways to be notified when job openings at Whatcom County become available.
To be notified when a job opens in a particular job category, visit the Job Categories page, select which category(ies) you are interested in, click the green Subscribe button, and complete the job interest card.
To be notified when a job opens in a particular job title, visit the Job Descriptions page, click the title of the job you want, click the green "Subscribe" button in the upper right corner, and complete the job interest card.
*For current County employees only: internal postings will continue to be posted on the existing Internal Jobs page, and if you have subscribed, you will continue to receive notifications of internal postings. If you haven't already subscribed to be notified of new internal postings, follow the directions at the top of the Internal Notify Me page to subscribe to the Human Resources - Internal Jobs News Flash.
No. We only accept applications for positions that are open for recruitment. We do not accept unsolicited resumes. See open positions here:
Review the job announcement and follow those instructions. A completed County job application is most important. If you do attach a resume to your online application, do not type "see resume" in sections of your application because this may render your application incomplete.
Yes. We accept applications through the closing date for listed jobs. If a listing says "on-going recruitment," we will accept applications until the position is closed. See open positions here:
1) use accrued vacation leave, personal holiday, compensatory time, and/or PTO, as applicable;
2) go on an unpaid leave of absence without first using paid leaves; or
3) request contributions of vacation leave from other employees through the County’s leave sharing program (you must use your accrued vacation, PTO, and compensatory time before qualifying for shared leave).
If your unpaid military leave is thirty days or less, your medical coverage will remain in place.
If your unpaid military leave is longer than thirty days:
For employees covered by the County’s self-insured medical plan (HMA), the County will continue to provide coverage for you, your spouse, and your dependents for up to 18 months of unpaid military leave. This coverage will be provided under the terms of your collective bargaining agreement or the Unrepresented Resolution, whichever applies to you. The County’s medical plan excludes coverage for treatment while serving in the armed forces or treatment made necessary as a result of war, but for all other covered medical needs, and for your family, your coverage will be intact.
If military leave is longer than 18 months, you may elect to self-pay COBRA premiums to extend your HMA coverage. If you choose to discontinue County coverage during military leave, your coverage will be reinstated the month you return to active employment, with no waiting period.
For employees covered by the Teamsters medical plan, the terms of this plan do not permit employer-paid coverage while the employee is on unpaid military leave. You may elect to self-pay COBRA premiums, and, as with HMA, if you choose to discontinue County coverage, you will have coverage reinstated the month you return to active employment, with no waiting period.
If you are in unpaid status, you may continue coverage as follows:
1) dental and vision insurance through COBRA;
2) life insurance coverage by converting to an individual policy;
3) long-term disability insurance coverage, if applicable, via billing from the County’s Finance division.
Employees may take leave leading up to a spouse’s deployment or during a spouse’s leave from deployment: The Washington State Military Family Leave Law provides that spouses of military personnel can take up to 15 days unpaid leave per deployment before and up to deployment, or while their spouse is on leave from deployment, during times of military conflict declared by the President or Congress. You may use vacation, PTO, sick leave, personal holiday, or compensatory time if available; otherwise, the time is taken as leave without pay. To take leave under this provision, you must work an average of 20 or more hours per workweek, and must notify your supervisor within five business days of receiving the official notice of a spouse’s leave or impending call to active duty.
Family members may take “qualifying exigency” leave, related to deployment or active duty:The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) contains provisions for “Qualifying Exigency Leave.” This allows an eligible employee to take unpaid time off to handle urgent matters arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in support of a contingency operation.
“Qualifying exigencies” include: issues arising from a covered military member’s short notice deployment; military events and related activities; certain childcare and related activities; making or updating financial and legal arrangements to address a covered military member’s absence; attending counseling related to the call to active duty; spending time with a covered military member during short-term R & R leave during deployment; and attending to certain post-deployment activities. An eligible employee is entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of leave during a “single 12-month period” to handle qualifying exigencies. You are an “eligible employee” under the FMLA if you have worked for Whatcom County for at least 12 months, and if you have at least 1,250 work hours in the past 12 months. See the County’s FMLA Policy for additional information about the FMLA.
Family members may take “military caregiver leave” leave to care for an ill or injured military member:The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) contains provisions for Military Caregiver Leave. This allows an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness to take job-protected FMLA leave to provide care to the servicemember.
You are an “eligible employee” under the FMLA if you have worked for Whatcom County for at least 12 months, and if you have at least 1,250 work hours in the past 12 months. See the County’s FMLA Policy for additional information about the FMLA.
A “covered servicemember” is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty.
An eligible employee is entitled to take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a “single 12-month period” to care for a seriously injured or ill covered servicemember. The “single 12-month period” begins on the first day the eligible employee takes military caregiver leave, and ends 12 months after that date. Employees taking military caregiver leave are entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks of all types of FMLA leave in the single 12-month period.
Deputy Sheriff’s continue to patrol and Corrections and Detention staff keep offenders secure on a 24 hours / 7 days a week basis.
Facilities staff arrive early to take care of buildings and walkways.
The courts remain open whenever possible. Other Courthouse and county offices open their doors as soon as enough staff is available to provide public service.
If you came to work and worked during all declared open hours, put down hours for the full workday. In most instances, you will be able to work with your supervisor to "flex your time." Record absences for late arrivals, missed days, and early departures in this order: 1. Accrued comp time 2. Accrued vacation 3. Personal holiday 4. Leave without pay (if Payroll is notified before cutoff date). If you were pre-scheduled for vacation, comp time, or personal holiday, or were sick, put down earned accruals for the full workday.
At the very top right of the browser window in the parcel viewer there is an arrow pointing SW. Click on that and you will get an inset map that will let you hover and drag the map extent (gray box). You can toggle the inset map on or off using the arrow. When clicking on the arrow (below), an inset map will appear at the top right (bottom), enabling the viewer to navigate in the inset map.
Use the My Location button on the toolbar – this will take you back to a view where your current location is centered in the map. You will be prompted to allow the browser to use your location, select Yes.
If you have zoomed out too far, or lost your place in the map, you can easily et back t the default extent (amount of zoom in or out) by selecting the Home button. This will snap you back to a map that is centered on Whatcom County.
Advanced Options: Select Advanced options and put in a mapping scale and other options you can check on/off. You can also specify units you want to use for your map.
All layer adjustment will be done through the Layer tool located on the toolbar.
GIS data is pulled together from a variety of sources with varying degrees of accuracy and precision, so horizontal positional accuracy can vary greatly. For many of the subdivisions, Coordinate Geometry or COGO calculations were performed using recorded plat documents. While recorded documents are used to inform our mapping, online mapping data is for assistance in property location and not guaranteed for accurate measurements.
At this time there is no way to move the pop-up around, however, you can reset the popup by click on the outer Edge of the map feature so that it is no longer obscured by the pop-up.
The only adjustment available for layer symbology is transparency, which is located in the Layer window.
Both text and markup are available in the Draw window. Simply open and select what color/shape you’d like to draw with, and scroll down for advanced options.
We are always monitoring for performance as more and more users discover the Parcel Viewer. The app may occasionally experience slowness for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
To improve performance, you can:
Click in the text field at the top left of your watershed viewer window where it says "Find address or place". Type the FULL address in this text field and hit "Enter". An address point will appear on the map with a dialog box.
Use the My Location button at the upper left of your watershed viewer window– this will take you back to a view where your current location is centered in the map. You will be prompted to allow the browser to use your location, select Yes.
If you have zoomed out too far, or lost your place in the map, you can easily get back to the default extent (amount of zoom in or out) by selecting the Home button. This will snap you back to a map that is centered on Whatcom County.
Advanced Options: Select Advanced options and put in a mapping scale and other options you can check on/off. You can also specify units you want to use for your map.
We are always monitoring for performance as more and more users discover the Watershed Viewer. The app may occasionally experience slowness for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
Inquiries about public records should be directed to the Public Records Officer. For more information, see the Public Records Information page.
Jail overcrowding is defined as housing more inmates than the building was designed to hold. In 1984, Whatcom County opened the current downtown jail, originally designed to hold 148 people. As jail population has grown, some limited remodeling helped to increase the operational capacity of the main jail to 212. However, the infrastructure (kitchen, laundry, visiting booths, medical clinic areas, etc.) was not able to grow along with the additional beds. With jail population outgrowing the expanded capacity the County, with taxpayer support, constructed a temporary work center in 2006 with an additional 150 beds and an operational capacity of about 127. Today, the combined operational capacity is 339. The maximum reported occupancy of the existing jail over the last two years occurred on May 11th, 2015. On that date, it was reported that a total of 389 offenders were under supervision.
In addition to design capacity, overcrowding is caused by several factors. Population increases, legislative changes related to mandated arrests, and the Sentencing Reform Act which pushed sentences that were once served in prisons to county jails, have all contributed to overcrowding. Overcrowding accelerates erosion to the building, has detrimental effects on the jail population, and escalates staffing needs.
National best practice recommends that jails should operate at 85% capacity to allow for separating incompatible groups of offenders that don't get along. Currently the jail consistently operates either at absolute capacity or over capacity. The existing jail was originally built to hold 148 offenders. With some limited remodeling, the operational capacity of the main jail should be 212. The absolute capacity of the Work Center is 150 beds and the operational capacity is about 127, depending on the offender mix. The combined operational capacity is 339. The maximum reported occupancy of the existing jail over the last two years occurred on May 11th, 2015. It was reported that a total of 389 offenders were under supervision. Of the total number of offenders 253 were in the main jail, 94 were housed at the work center and 29 were monitored on Electronic Home Detention.
A facility with 440 regular beds and 36 health facility beds is intended to house about 404 inmates (374 regular inmates and 30 inmates with medical issues). This means that if the 476 bed facility is operated at 85% it will have a design capacity that is 19% (404/339) larger than our current facilities.
Working in coordination with all Cities, the County crafted a Jail Facility Financing and Use Agreement (JFFUA) which was approved by all of the city and county councils in June and July of 2017.
The JFFUA sets the housing size at 440 regular beds, +/- 3%, with 36 medical/behavioral health beds.
The County has spent millions, and provided an open and transparent process (EIS, public meetings, Council decisions) in evaluating, deciding and purchasing the Labounty Road property over the last 5-7 years.
Slater Road is the northern boundary of Bellingham. From many locations in Bellingham the actual drive time to the Labounty site is equal to or less than driving to the downtown jail. For other county cities, and other law enforcement agencies such as the Washington State Patrol, it is easier and faster to get to the Labounty road site than working their way through downtown Bellingham. As an added benefit, the design and configuration of the New Jail, with appropriate booking and holding cells, will likely reduce the actual time that officers will need to be at the facility when booking inmates.
As part of the JFFUA, "The County agrees to provide jail services to facilitate the needs of inmates for Courts appearances at the Courthouse sally port and holding space for all parties during the hours that the facility is staffed and operational for the Courts, unless otherwise agreed upon."
In 2015, DLR architects projected the total project cost and construction cost of a new jail to be $91 Million, with a construction cost of $70 Million.
In comparison, the Skagit County jail costs for the total project and construction cost is $62 Million, with the construction cost at $48 Million. Skagit County built a 400 bed facility with 4 medical beds.
The 2017 projection of $110 Millions includes construction cost for a new jail, project costs, land acquisition costs, a 15-20% inflation increase from original projection, a sally port and holding facility in the courthouse, removal of the old jail, and about $3 Million in immediate repairs to the existing jail.
The County and all cities agreed to pay an equitable contribution for the construction costs, 78% of the construction costs are to be paid by the County and the remaining 22% are to be paid from the combined cities. The breakdown of the 22% paid by the cities is as follows:
The Public Safety Tax is projected to collect $7.97 Million in 2019, to pay the annual bond payment projected at $6.75 Million.
Starting in 2019, the cities are projected to have additional public safety tax revenue above their portion of the capital payment.
The excess sales tax can be used for public safety issues (police), including facilities and programs for medical and behavioral health services and incarceration prevention programs.
The JFFUA allocates a percentage of revenue back to the cities after the capital payment to the County. Any revenue the city keeps from the public safety tax can be used for public safety, behavioral health, and jail alternative purposes.
The JFFUA specifically indicates that "all parties agree to implement the recommendations of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) upon their final recommendation, where possible. This includes increasing the availability of alternative jail programs, including Electronic Home Detention, Work Release and Work Crew programs, and the establishment of a County pretrial supervision program."
The JFFUA indicates "to ensure the continued commitment to reducing incarceration and recidivism, the IPRTF will have a task force member on the ....Advisory Board."
In coordination with the approval of the JFFUA, Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham crafted and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to ensure the continued support of incarceration prevention and reduction programs. The Parties agreed to recognize and fully support the goals of the IPRTF and commit over $30 Million dollars over 30 years to incarceration prevention and reduction programs.
Building from the recommendations of the Justice Project Needs Assessment, the Implementation Plan lists five (5) key strategies and fifteen (15) projects, including:
Read the full Implementation Plan.
The Justice Project began with a Council-appointed Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) tasked with guiding the development of a Needs Assessment report. The SAC had 38 voting members including individuals with lived experience in the criminal legal system, mental health and substance use disorder providers, housing specialists, criminal justice advocates, as well as key city and county leaders.
The next step, which was to create an Implementation Plan, was led by the Executive’s Office with guidance from the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) acting as the Law and Justice Council (LJC) for Whatcom County. The IPRTF has been working since 2015 to provide resources to address the underlying causes of incarceration in order to lead people out of the criminal legal system and into supportive services, reducing the chances of reincarceration. The Justice Project – including the Needs Assessment and the subsequent Implementation Plan – has also been guided by input gathered through community focus groups, workshops, surveys, and listening sessions.
On June 12, 2023, the IPRTF endorsed the Draft Implementation Plan as ultimately approved by the County Executive and County Council. The Draft Implementation Plan then moved under the direction of the Executive and County Council. Councilmembers discussed the draft Implementation Plan during a reoccurring series of Committee of the Whole Justice Project Workshops. Workshop materials and information are available here. During a special meeting on June 26, 2023, County Council approved the Implementation Plan as amended.
The Implementation Plan identifies key projects and actions that can be taken in the next 1-3 years. Some projects are already underway, but others will take longer to accomplish and may not be completed within the 1-3 year timeframe.
View the Implementation Plan, including a list of projects that can be started in year one.
In the past, there was an assessment of the jail facility but not all the complex components that determine who is in the jail, whether enough is being done to keep people out of jail, and how large the jail should be. This time, an in-depth needs assessment was completed under the guidance of a diverse stakeholder group with a large amount of public engagement and feedback, including feedback from priority audiences such as people with lived experience in the criminal legal system. This effort focuses on all the elements that help prevent people from going to jail and keep them from reincarceration. The Implementation Plan was developed in coordination with the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force, which is made up of service providers, community members, and other key stakeholders who are working to refocus Whatcom County’s approach to public safety around equity, public health, and community safety.
The Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) will establish the Justice Project Oversight and Planning Committee (JPOP) to ensure transparency and facilitate communication with the public.
You can also stay updated on IPRTF news by:
Public comment on the Justice Project and Implementation Plan has concluded. Thank you to all who shared input and contributed to the development of the plan!
Past comments on the Justice Project are posted and available for viewing.
To stay informed on issues relating to the criminal legal system and behavioral health, follow the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF):
The various services, facilities, and oversight projects outlined in the Implementation Plan will need to be matched to applicable funding types. Some of the funding is in progress or likely while other sources still need to be identified in order to fill gaps.
How It Can Be Spent
Proposed new sales tax
1/3 must go to Criminal Justice, 2/3 for anything, including the proposed Implementation Plan
Behavioral Health and Housing facility capital costs (crisis relief and stabilization centers)
County Behavioral Health Fund
Any behavioral health purpose, including Therapeutic Courts, school prevention, community behavioral health services, psychiatric services in the jail, GRACE program.
Healthcare, including behavioral health services, outside the jail (reimbursement rates are limited)
North Sound Behavioral Health ASO
State and Federal funding for regional behavioral health facilities and services, crisis services, involuntary commitment, co-responder program
Local housing funds
Affordable Housing, rental assistance, shelter and related services
General Fund and existing sales tax
Supports operating costs for existing jail and Work Center
Read about funding possibilities in the Implementation Plan.
Whatcom County Response Systems division of Health and Community Services has a number of programs to support community members facing substance use disorders, mental health challenges, and other emergency situations, including:
The Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) has introduced and helped facilitate a number of strategies to lead people out of the criminal legal system including incarceration alternatives, prevention and diversion programs, and process improvements.
Learn more about efforts to reduce the size of the jail population.
The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) included members with lived experience in the criminal legal system as well as representatives of local Tribal Nations. For development of the Needs Assessment report, Justice Project planners sought out the feedback of individuals with lived experience and BIPOC communities through surveys, focus groups, and listening sessions. Learn more about this community engagement process.
The Implementation Plan identifies the following recommended structures for oversight:
The Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) will create a Justice Project Oversight and Planning Committee (JPOP) to help track progress, prepare updates, and provide public communication and engagement. Participants of this committee will include members of BIPOC communities, people with lived experience in the criminal legal system, and service providers.
The Whatcom County Executive will establish a Justice Project Finance Advisory Board made up of representatives from local jurisdictions, police departments, tribes, communities with lived experience in the criminal legal system, the behavioral health system, and IPRTF co-chairs. This board will provide oversight of the funds collected for the construction and operations of the jail and behavioral care center and associated services. The Advisory Board will also ensure fair cost sharing and public transparency.
Previous studies, such as a 2016 report, concluded the best solution is to build a new jail due to significant building deficiencies, projected costs, and limited space in the current facility. The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) evaluated current conditions and costs to maintain the main jail facility in consideration with their belief in a healthy and humane jail and determined that the existing facility lacks the capacity to meet the needs of incarcerated people and should be replaced.
There was also common agreement, from the SAC, through IPRTF workshops, and through focus groups with BIPOC communities and people with lived experience, that a new facility needs to reflect a different approach.
The replacement facility will be designed and built to enable secure detention with integrated services for people who pose a significant threat to public safety. It also will include an array of rehabilitation services and diversion options including facilities and alternatives for lower-risk offenders (e.g., work release). Behavioral care treatment beds and services would be connected with these facilities as an alternative to incarceration.
Learn more about facilities recommendations.
No, there are different funding sources for the various proposed projects, and all of these funding sources will be critical to advancing the projects in the Implementation Plan.
Ballot measure for new sales tax/bond
1/3 must go to Criminal Justice, 2/3 for anything, including the proposed Implementation Plan
Healthcare, including behavioral health services, outside the jail (reimbursement rates and limited)
State and Federal funding for Regional behavioral health facilities and services, crisis services, involuntary commitment, co-responder program
Affordable Housing, Rental Assistance, Shelter and related services
The average combined daily population in the current jail and work center facilities is 325. Approximately 50 percent of the jail population experiences some form of mental illness while roughly 80 percent of the jail population experiences a substance use disorder. Approximately 90 percent of those booked and held in custody have been charged with at least one felony offense.
Snapshot of Charges from April 24 – May 1, 2023
Description of Crime
# of People
% of Total Population
Murder; bank robbery, robbery, assault, or burglary with deadly weapon
Robbery; attempted murder; assault (severe bodily harm); assault with car (usually DUI); burglary of home; manufacture/intent to distribute drugs; auto theft; possessing a stolen gun
Assault First Responder; domestic violence; DUI; attempt to elude police; felony harassment
Assault (usually in domestic violence); DUI; violate no-contact order; probation violation
View the “Who’s in Jail” presentation for a more detailed breakdown of jail population statistics.
Most individuals in the jail are awaiting trial after judicial review. More serious crimes usually take longer to process, and if someone has multiple charges in multiple jurisdictions, the time spent in jail can increase. Most people booked and held in custody have been charged with at least one felony offense.
Some individuals may have failed to appear for court in the past, resulting in a higher bail amount, which they cannot pay. The Superior Court currently uses an evidence-based, statistically valid pretrial risk assessment in making pretrial release decisions.
A small percentage of individuals being held in the jail pre-trial are awaiting competency restoration, which typically requires a wait for a bed at Western State Hospital.
Learn more about factors affecting the size of the jail population and their length of stay.
The county does not have the power to make determinations about bail. Changes to the bail system would have to occur at the state or federal level.
Judges in Superior Court currently use a risk assessment tool called the Public Safety Assessment to help make pretrial release decisions. The purpose of this tool is to assess defendants’ risks of failing to appear at future court hearings and determine whether they can be safely released in the community until trial. The Pretrial Processes Work Group, a subcommittee of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) has been investigating the possibility of enabling this tool for use by judges in all Whatcom County Courts.
The current jail facility was originally built in 1984 for 148 people, though it experienced extreme overcrowding in the 1990s with populations over 260. The Interim Work Center, which opened in 2006, has capacity for 150 low-risk individuals, bringing the total number of available beds to 359. The average daily population across the two facilities hit highs of over 400 between 2007 and 2014 prior to many diversion programs being implemented. In May 2023, with booking restrictions in place, the average daily population of the combined facilities was 325.
A new jail and behavioral care center would absorb the population from the current jail and the Interim Work Center, which would then be replaced or repurposed. It would also incorporate a behavioral care center with additional beds.
In calculating the size for detention facilities, the National Institute of Corrections recommends approximately 20 percent of additional capacity to allow for days with above average needs and accommodation of individuals with different security classifications. Adding 20 percent to the 359 current available beds results in a total of 430 beds. This estimate assumes very little change in the average daily population of people detained (with booking restrictions).
The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) recommended the jail be right-sized without the use of booking restrictions. Ultimately, requirements about who has to be booked into the jail are established by state code. There are opportunities to release people prior to trial, but that’s at the discretion of the judge. Risk assessment tools can be helpful in determining who can safely await trial outside the jail, and who can participate in diversion programs, thereby reducing the population that is incarcerated.
For the purposes of cost estimation only, a conceptual bed count was defined. Preliminary concepts for the new jail facility account for minimum to high security housing for 400-440 individuals, not including behavioral care center beds, which are estimated to serve 60-75 individuals. A final size (bed count) still needs to be determined.
At the Council’s June 13th Special Committee of the Whole meeting, Council approved a motion to amend the Implementation Plan to clearly define the equation for calculating the number of beds that will be proposed initially and what triggers expansion. (AB2023-304).
The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) and Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) are considering the advantages and disadvantages of three county properties as well as horizontal versus vertical designs for the construction of a new facility. The Civic Center site was eliminated from consideration by the IPRTF because of limited space and high costs. These conceptual costs are only starting places of what would house the people currently incarcerated. These numbers do not account for population growth, the removal of booking restrictions, or the addition of behavioral care beds and treatment facilities.
At the Council’s June 13th Special Committee of the Whole meeting, Council approved a motion to select Labounty as the location for a new correctional facility (AB2023-304).
Jail and Behavioral Care Center Location
Civic Center (near Courthouse, located in parking lot across from current jail)
Irongate (Division St.)
Labounty (off Slater Rd. & I-5)
1.3 acres developable
10.6+ acres, 5 acres developable
39+ acres, 16+ acres developable
Vertical (~7 stories)
Vertical (~5 stories)
Horizontal (1-2 stories)
Distance from Courthouse
Preliminary Cost Estimate
Co-location with Anne Deacon Center for Hope (Crisis Stabilization Center)
Lower operating costs because of horizontal design; adaptable to changing needs over time; able to co-locate other facilities to create a campus (e.g., behavioral health services, housing services, etc.)
Sources of Funding
Status of Funding
23-hour Crisis Relief Center
State - $9M already received; Proposed new sales tax - remaining $3M
Estimated local share of operational costs
$500,000 - $1M/year
Behavioral Health Fund; New sales tax
Jail and Behavioral Health Treatment Center
Capital expenses – detention for low-high risk + space for services
$8 - $10M/year
Capital expenses – Behavioral Care Center
Operational costs – behavioral health treatment center
Capital expenses – small recovery/supportive housing
Behavioral Health Fund
Federal HOME funds (to match state funds when possible)
Operational costs – small recovery/supportive housing
Capital expenses – large re-entry supportive housing
Behavioral Health fund
Local housing funds (to match $20M+ in state & federal funds)
Operational costs – large re-entry supportive housing
The 0.1% sales tax was approved by voters in November 2004 and implemented in 2005. Funding was directed to “costs associated with financing, design, acquisition, construction, equipping, operating, maintaining, remodeling, repairing, re-equipping, and improvement of jail facilities that house inmates being held, charged, or convicted of misdemeanor or felony acts,” as per RCW 82.14.350. The funding was used to construct a minimum-security work center, which was intended to be a temporary facility while the County planned for a new jail. Although sales tax revenues provided some funding for a new jail, operational costs and jail repairs authorized by the ballot measure resulted in insufficient remaining funds to pay for the costs of designing and constructing a new jail.
In 1977, Judge David Soukup, presiding judge of King Co. Superior Court in Seattle, started a volunteer Guardian ad Litem program to make sure he would know all he could about the long-term welfare needs of each child that came through his court room. During that first year, the King County program provided 110 trained volunteers for 498 children in 376 dependency cases. Following the success of this model, programs across the state and across the nation began to crop up.
In 1988, a Washington State program was formed joining local county programs and stakeholders to carry out statewide training, legislative advocacy, data collection, and awareness statewide about the issues affecting abused and neglected children in Washington State. The Whatcom County program was established in 2008 and continues to grow each year, both by number of volunteers and by number of children it successfully advocates for. Today over 85,000 Volunteer GAL's give over 260,000 children a chance to have their voice heard in courts across the United States.
Volunteer Guardian ad Litems are assigned to a case when it enters the juvenile court system. The Volunteer GAL’s role includes conducting an independent investigation, making reports and recommendations to the court at scheduled hearings, monitoring the progress of the child and the parties’ compliance with court orders, and continually advocating for the best interests of the child. Ideally, the assigned Volunteer GAL will follow the case from the beginning to the end and will continually visit and monitor the progress of the child and report on these observations to the court.
Volunteer GALs are crucial to meeting the goals of the court in providing for the best interest, safety, and well-being of the child. Volunteer GALs are able to assist the court in reaching the goal of swift and appropriate permanency planning to establish stability for dependent children.
Decorations may not be attached to the walls or wood work and should not make holes or cause damage to any surface. Smoke machines, fog machines, hazers, and candles are not allowed. Rice, birdseed, and confetti of any kid are prohibited. All decorations must be removed and cleaned up completely prior to leaving the site.
Pet must be leashed (maximum 8 feet) at all times, including in campgrounds and reserved picnic areas. Whatcom County Parks has one designated and marked off-leash area at Hovander Homestead Park.
Pets are prohibited in the following parks and locations:
Click here for all regulations on pets.
If you have reserved a picnic area or shelter, you can bring your own grill but you are responsible for the safe operation of your grill. Grills are prohibited on decks, walkways, or within 25 feet of any structure.
Bounce Houses and other inflatables are not allowed at any Whatcom County Parks
Noise from sound systems, speakers, bands, microphones or any other amplified sound must be at a volume such that it cannot be heard outside the area you have reserved.
Food TrucksFood Trucks for private functions are only allowed in the following circumstances:
Click here for the required insurance limits and documentation. Please email [email protected] with additional questions.
Customers are required to leave the facility in the same condition as when they arrived. Cleaning supplies are provided for indoor facilities. Garbage and recycling must be removed from the premises (must be taken from the park) unless the customer has paid the optional waste disposal fee.
The Alcohol Use Fee charged by Whatcom County Parks is not a liquor license. To find out if you need a State of Washington Banquet Permit please check here. It is your responsibility to research and follow all laws pertaining to alcohol use at your event.
Facility Rental Cancellation Policy.Cabin & Campground Cancellation Policy.
The billing address of the reservation holder must be in Whatcom County in order to receive in-county rates. If the credit card address is outside Whatcom County, but the customer is a County resident, they can:
Click here for all reservation policies.
You would need to apply for a Special Event Permit. Special Event Permits are required for any of the following situations:
For information on Special Event Permits and the application process please see our Special Events page.
You can get more information regarding on Code Enforcement Division from our website. You may submit a Code Violation report using our online submission form.
Call the burn information line at 360-778-5903 or visit the Outdoor Burning Regulation page on our website.
Learn about residential and commercial burn permit information and requirements on Burn Permit Rules page.
Learn about fire-related permits on our Fire System Permits page.
Learn about residential fire code information on our website
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation. They developed the green building certification system known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Use the Whatcom County GIS Tax Parcel Viewer to find your property and the zoning designation.
Once you have determined the zone designation of your property, you can search the applicable code by clicking Whatcom County Zoning Ordinance (Title 20). For example, the zoning requirements for a property zoned R5A or Rural 1 unit / 5 acres can be located by going to Title 20 and selecting Chapter 20.36 Rural (R) District.
Dependent on the zone, each district will describe the allowable uses and development standards (building height, setbacks / buffers, lot coverage, density requirements, etc.).
Building setbacks are found in Chapter 20.80.210 – supplementary requirements of the Whatcom County Zoning Ordinance. Please note that each property may have more restrictive setbacks than those that are stated within the Whatcom County Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 20.80.210). More restrictive setbacks may include fire protection setbacks (which may be stated on the plat that created the lot), landscape buffers (for commercial developments), on-site sewage systems, well protection zones and/or critical areas (i.e. setbacks from shorelines, wetlands and/or geological hazards).
Please contact a Natural Resource Planner at 360-778-5900 to discuss setbacks from critical areas and/or the Whatcom County Health Department at 360-778-6000 to discuss setbacks from septic systems and wells.
A legal lot of record means a lot which is described by final plat, short plat, or metes and bounds, and is established pursuant to applicable local and state regulations at the date a legal instrument creating the lot is recorded at the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office. Whatcom County code states that only legal lots of record are allowed to be built on with permitted, accessory, administrative and/or conditional uses.
A determination of legal lot of record status is made by staff from Whatcom County Planning and Development Services. If in question, you can contact a Current Planner at 360-778-5900 to discuss if your parcel is a legal lot of record. A Lot of Record Application and associated fees will need to be submitted if staff is unable to quickly determine how your described parcel was created. Please note that a determination of how your parcel was created is required prior to the submittal of any building permit application.
A taxable lot is a parcel which appears on the Whatcom County Assessor's map and has been assigned a tax parcel (geographic) number by the Assessor. Tax parcel (geographic) numbers are typically assigned for billing purposes. These parcels are not necessarily an indication that the lot was legally created and/or able to be developed on.
By knowing the zoning of the property, its size, wastewater type (septic / public sewer), water (public / private well), and how it was created (legal lot of record) you can determine if your property is eligible to be subdivided. To determine the allowable density (the number of dwelling units / lots allowed per acre or acreage) please refer to the maximum density and minimum lot size section of the applicable zone district. If shown, the number associated with the zone designation is also an indicator to determine the allowable density.
For example, a property that is zoned R5A is rural and has a base density of 1 dwelling unit per 5 acres. This can be verified by reviewing the maximum density and minimum lot size table for the rural district, which is found in section 20.36.253 of the Whatcom County Zoning Ordinance. Please be aware that each zone district is different and it is always best to refer to that specific zone district’s maximum density and minimum lot size section.
Other factors can affect the ability to subdivide such as the availability of water, the ability to obtain an on-site septic system or public sewer hookup, the property’s access to public roads, the presence of critical areas and the type of soils (i.e. agricultural protection overlay). In some cases it may be best to consult with a Whatcom County Current Planner at 360-778-5900 or at our office to discuss the possibility of subdividing a particular property. A pre-application meeting is required prior to the submittal of all subdivision applications.
Most residential zone districts, through an administrative use permit, allow for either permanent or temporary (i.e. for medical purposes) secondary dwelling units. In order to qualify, the proposed development and property must meet a list of criteria which is specific to that zone district.
For example, the criteria stated for an accessory dwelling unit within the rural zone can be located under Whatcom County 20.36.132 (1) – (13). Please be aware that the minimum lot size for permanent detached units is different in each zone district.
An administrative use permit is a land use permit that authorizes an applicant to establish or conduct a specific activity or use on a property. The proposed use, as stated within the administrative approval uses section of that zone district, is reviewed by staff for conformance to all applicable development regulations, standards, adopted plans, programs and policies of Whatcom County.
If the proposed use conforms to the approval criteria then administrative approval for that specific use may be granted by staff subject to conditions. Some common uses that require an Administrative Approval Permit may include secondary dwellings (temporary medical and permanent), cottage industries, wireless communication facilities and wind energy systems.
You may schedule a pre-application meeting by contacting a Current Planner at 360-778-5900 and/or by submitting a pre-application meeting (application) to [email protected].
Pre-application meetings are held between the applicant and staff members from various county departments and agencies that may be involved in the review of your proposed project. Our goal in a pre-application meeting is to help identify any areas of concern, to inform you of the applicable code requirements, to answer any questions you may have, and to help you avoid costly delays during the permit process.
Employees of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office are prohibited by law from answering legal questions or offering legal advice.
Most of our documents are public record. There are statutory exemptions that may apply to certain cases or certain documents in a case. Request forms are available at our on our website at http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/1027/Public-Records-Disclosure-Information. You can also contact the police agency that created the report.
Turn yourself in to jail. And show up for court.
Our Support Services Division may be able to help. Please contact them at (360) 778-5210.
Every employee in this office is issued official identification. Ask to see it.
How much punishment a criminal gets depends on how bad their crime was.To help determine how bad a crime was, the crime is called either a 'felony' or a 'misdemeanor'. Felonies are more serious crimes, and misdemeanors are less serious crimes. Both can result in a jail sentence but only a felony can result in a prison sentence.The maximum sentence a person can receive on a misdemeanor is 365 days or less. Sentences on felonies can be less than or more than a year, and can be up to life in prison. If the sentence is less than a year, the sentence is generally served in a local jail. If the sentence is more than a year the time is generally served in prison.
The Prosecuting Attorney's Office is responsible for prosecuting all adult and juvenile felony cases referred by county law enforcement agencies, and all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases referred by the county sheriff, the State Patrol, all state agencies, and some cities who have contracted with the county for misdemeanor prosecution services.
A deputy prosecuting attorney reviews cases brought to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office by local law enforcement agencies. The reports are reviewed in light of current law and whether the case presented by the agency can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Prosecuting Attorney's Office is prohibited by law from providing legal assistance or advice to a defendant. For help, you may contact a private attorney or the Whatcom County Public Defender's Office at (360) 778-5640. The Public Defender represents defendants who cannot afford an attorney.
Enforcement of court orders is a private matter between you and the other person and must be handled by a private attorney. Government attorneys do not settle custodial disputes or enforce court orders between individuals. If a private attorney helped you obtain the order, a private attorney (not a government attorney) must help you enforce the order.
There are several types of restraining orders available to residents of Washington State. Depending on the circumstances will dictate which order is most appropriate.
The decision to drop charges in any criminal prosecution can only be made by a prosecutor with the approval of a judge. The victim's wishes alone will not dictate whether or not a case will be filed or dismissed. One reason for this is that some criminal charges affect more than one victim, and the other victims may wish to proceed. Another reason is that sometimes the victim has been intimidated or pressured to drop the charges, or believes that such a request will stop any retaliation. If our office did not proceed in such cases, victims would continue to be intimidated and hurt. If you would like to discuss your case, you should speak with the prosecutor handling the case.
The Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney's Office is a non-investigative agency. In most cases, crimes must be reported to the Sheriff’s Department, a Police Department, or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in Bellingham it should be reported to the Bellingham Police Department. If the crime was committed in any unincorporated area of Whatcom County, the crime should be reported to the sheriff.The crime may be reported to the local law enforcement agency by calling 911 immediately. There are two levels of crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor offenders can never get more than 365 days in jail. Felony offenders could be sent to prison, depending on the crime. If the offender has committed a felony crime, and have been arrested, they will have a First Appearance Hearing the next judicial day after their arrest. If over the weekend, the hearing will be the following Monday. On misdemeanor cases, when an arrest has been made, the arresting office will provide the offender with a citation. At the time of their first appearance, the court will provide them with additional court dates. These hearings occur every weekday morning. If the offender was not located by the police and an arrest has not been made, the police will forward the reports to the appropriate prosecutor’s office and the file will be reviewed to determine if charges can be filed. The victim should contact the responding police agency to find out which prosecuting attorneys office the reports have been forwarded to, if they have not heard from the prosecutor’s office directly.
Witnesses are not only "eye witnesses." You may have seen the crime happen or may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or may know something that contradicts another witness's testimony. If you wonder why you are testifying in a particular case, ask the prosecutor handling it; there is probably a common-sense reason.
You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can probably sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also witnesses. Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside the courtroom for their turn. In some cases, a Victim / Witness Coordinator from our office may also be with you, if you request. Talk with the prosecutor about that.
Your time at court varies greatly from case to case. Some witnesses will be at the courthouse for more than a day.
Yes. The defendant has a constitutional right to be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say.
We try to accommodate witnesses’ schedules as much as possible, however, it is the court that determines when a case goes to trial. Contact the deputy prosecutor on the case or his/her legal assistant with your scheduling conflict. You should receive a letter with your subpoena with this contact information.
A bench warrant is issued by a judge when a person with a pending criminal case violates the rules of the court. Sometimes a warrant is issued for violating pre-trial release conditions. Most often, people with bench warrants simply have failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance. Once a bench warrant is issued, the police can treat it like any other warrant and use it to arrest people and keep them in jail, until the appear back in front of a judge.
If you can’t work out your differences with your court-appointed lawyer first, your next contact would be the Director, Starck Follis or the Chief Deputy, Maia Vanyo. You will find it most helpful to address your concerns in the form of a letter.
• Make sure that your lawyer has an accurate address and phone number for you. Immediately notify the office if this information changes. Contact your lawyer as soon as you get a letter from the office advising you to do so and show up for your scheduled appointments.
• When you are in jail, avoid discussing the facts of your case with others, visitors, and people you call on the phone (other than Whatcom County Public Defender employees). Remember: All non-law-office calls from the Whatcom County Jail are recorded and may be used against you in trial or as the basis for additional criminal charges against you.
• When you are in jail, do not send letters discussing your case to anyone, as letters may be intercepted by law enforcement and used against you at trial. Avoid discussing the facts of your case in postal mail and emails.
• Provide your lawyer with a list of potential witnesses as soon as possible, with accurate telephone numbers where they may be reached at least and addresses where they can receive mail if possible.
• Come to all your court dates. Unless your lawyer has told you personally that you are excused, you must come to court when the court order says. If you miss court, even if you might have a good excuse, there can be serious consequences, including being arrested and charged with a new crime. You may be inconvenienced by missing work or changing a medical appointment, but your boss or your doctor can’t have you arrested if you don’t show up. A judge can, and will put you in jail and possibly keep you there, if you don’t appear in court as ordered.
• Be on time for court.
• Dress for court as seriously as you would for a job interview or for any other appointment that could affect your future.
For new parcel numbers, please contact the Whatcom County Assessor at 360-778-5050. Maps of existing parcel numbers can be obtained from the County Assessor or our office. However, you must provide either the owner’s full name or a site address in order for us to research.
There are three criteria that must be met to be eligible for the septic system rebate.
You are a senior citizen or a person with disabilities with your residence in Washington State and qualify for a property tax deduction under the property tax exemption for senior citizens and people with disabilities program.
At Whatcom County Public Works- Natural Resources, 322 N. Commercial, 2nd, Bellingham, WA 98225. The office is located in the tall gray and blue building across the street from the Bellingham Public Library.
If this is your first rebate for your property and you have completed a Health Department workshop in the past three years, you may submit your rebate application with a copy of your invoice. If it has been longer than three years, remember to complete the refresher quiz and attach to your application materials.
If you have not completed a Health Department workshop, you may complete the Health Department’s online training and submit your application with the attached quiz and invoice.
You will need to submit:
If this in an additional rebate for this property, you may attend another workshop or complete a refresher quiz to receive the rebate.
*If in-person workshop was completed, no Refresher Quiz is necessary
In-person training workshops are hosted by Whatcom County Health Department. You can find training dates and locations on their website. Homeowners can also complete the Health Department’s online training in lieu of the in person workshops. Homeowners who complete the online training must complete and submit the refresher quiz with their rebate application.
Your rebate amount will depend on the activity you complete.
Standard Septic Rebate
*This rebate category is eligible for one rebate activity per property
Septic Assistance Rebate
*This rebate category is eligible for multiple rebates per application- Up to $500 total for the completion of both services
Rebate applications are typically processed within 4-6 weeks. You will receive a check at the mailing address you indicated on your rebate application.
Rebate applications can be received for 12 months after the work on your septic system has been completed. Funding is limited, so participants are encouraged to submit materials as early as possible.
Nope! You should be all set. We will contact you if we need any additional information.
No, you may complete all three activities. However, each parcel* is eligible for one rebate. Your rebate will be processed for the highest rebate level from your mix of activities. For example, if you completed both an evaluation and septic system pumping, your rebate will be processed for the septic system pumping.
* If there are multiple septic systems on one parcel, you may be eligible for multiple rebates. Contact Molly Burke at [email protected] to determine if you have more than one eligible system.
Yes, as long as the work was completed in the last year, you complete a septic system training, and you can obtain a copy of your receipt or paid invoice.
Yes, the Whatcom County Health Department keeps records of landowners that have completed septic system classes. Upon submittal of your rebate application materials, we will verify your eligibility. If it has been 3 years or longer since your completed workshop, a refresher quiz will need to be submitted with your application.
Please Note: Rebate applications can be received for 12 months after the work on your septic system has been completed.
Processing time ranges anywhere from 4-6 weeks; if you have not received a rebate within two months of submitting your materials, please contact us at [email protected] or (360) 778-6230.
This is a grant funded program with a goal of increasing homeowners’ knowledge of septic systems, how they work, and how to identify potential problems before a system fails. Thus, the training is a requirement to be eligible for the rebate program.
You can apply for an additional rebate for your property if:
You will find links to the refresher quiz and rebate application on the Public Works website or contact us at [email protected].
To review information before completing your refresher quiz or your septic system inspection, visit the Whatcom County Health Department's homeowner training webpage to complete the homeowner training and access the homeowner training materials.
A farm planner at the Whatcom Conservation District will help review your eligibility for the rebate program. Call 360.526.2381 for more information.
There are four criteria that must be met to be eligible for the small farm improvements rebate.
Submit application materials by mail or in-person at Whatcom County Public Works- Natural Resources, Attn: Small Farm Rebate Program, 322 N. Commercial, 2nd Floor, Bellingham, WA 98225 or email to [email protected]. The office is located in the tall gray and blue building across the street from the Bellingham Public Library.
You will receive the rebate application at your workshop or site visit. You will need to submit:
Rebates are available to reimburse up to a total of $300 of eligible costs, based upon actual expenses.
Management practices are not one size fits all for farms. This is a grant funded program with a goal of connecting you with farm planners that can discuss siting and materials so your new BMP works the best it can to reduce mud and protect water quality.
People that are leasing land for farm animals can be eligible for the rebate with the landowner’s permission. You will need to have a letter from the landowner approving the installation of the BMP or have the landowner sign the rebate application with you.
Rebate applications are typically processed within 4-6 weeks. You will receive a check at the mailing address you indicated on your rebate application. If you have not received a rebate within two months of submitting your application, please contact the PIC Program at [email protected].
Funding is limited, so participants are encouraged to submit materials as early as possible. Rebates will be rewarded in the order they were received until funding is exhausted.
No, each “farm area” * is eligible for one rebate (one BMP).
*“Farm areas” are defined for this program as adjoining parcels with farm animals under the same land ownership. Each “farm area” is eligible for one rebate (one BMP). If a landowner has more than one separate “farm areas”, each “farm area” is eligible for a rebate. Separate rebate applications must be submitted for each “farm area”.
Processing time ranges anywhere from 4-6 weeks; if you have not received a rebate within two months of submitting your materials, please contact contact the PIC Program at [email protected].
The Whatcom Human Society removes dead animals from Whatcom County roadways. You can reach them at 360-733-2080.
The sources of fecal bacteria pollution are varied, widespread and dependent upon surrounding land use. In rural residential and agricultural areas, sources of fecal pollution may include human waste (poop) from improperly functioning septic systems and animal waste from farms, pets, and wildlife. In more urbanized areas, human waste sources can include leaking sewer pipes, sanitary sewer pipes cross-connected with storm sewer pipes, and homeless encampments without available sanitary services. In urban settings, animal waste pollution sources include dog poop left on trails, sidewalks and lawns, and un-naturally high concentrations of urban wildlife (e.g. raccoons, rats, etc.) attracted by human-sourced food. As rainfall or snowmelt moves over the ground, the runoff picks up and carries with it human-made and natural pollutants. Fecal bacteria washes from the land into storm drains or into ditches and creeks that flow through our communities. The pollution flows to larger creeks and rivers, and eventually empties into our bays and harbors where people work, play and harvest shellfish.
Testing for pathogens is difficult. Water carries many kinds of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Each type of bacterium, virus or protozoan requires a different test. Many of these tests are expensive because they require special materials, equipment and/or are time-consuming. It is difficult to monitor water for every pathogen on a routine basis. We measure fecal coliform bacteria to estimate and understand the level of fecal contamination in the water. E. coli and enterococcus bacteria are also indicator bacteria that can be used to determine the health of the water.
No. In the Nooksack River, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are not a likely source contributing to increased fecal bacteria levels.
WWTPs at Everson, Lynden and Ferndale have Individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to discharge to the Nooksack River. Permits require that WWTPs regularly monitor effluent for several parameters, including fecal coliform and specify a monthly geometric mean limit (28 CFU/100mL) for the treated water that empties to the Nooksack River. The WWTPs all comply with their permits. Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) accredits the WWTP labs that analyze samples. An Ecology permit manager monitors required monthly reporting, annually inspects facilities, and verifies sampling results through duplicate samples analyzed elsewhere.
No. Several factors support that pollution sources originating in the Nooksack River watershed are the primary cause of high fecal coliform bacteria levels in Portage Bay. About 5.26 square miles of Lummi Reservation land area drains to Portage Bay. The Nooksack River watershed is about 786 square miles and produces substantially more storm water. The prevailing wind direction from the east southeast and low salinity levels often measured in the marine water of Portage Bay indicate that Portage Bay is heavily influenced by the freshwater flowing from the Nooksack River. Studies summarizing data include https://www.lummi-nsn.gov/userfiles/1_2000_to_2001_Final_DWIF.pdf and the Nooksack River Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load submittal report accessed from https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/publications/documents/0010036.pdf. Approximately 400 residences are located on the Lummi Nation land area that drains to Portage Bay. The Lummi Tribal Water and Sewer District provides sewer services to 380 homes; 20 homes have on-site sewage systems (OSS). The Northwest Indian Health Board regulates the 20 OSS. The Lummi Gooseberry Point WWTP discharges effluent to an outfall located in Hale Passage. Washington Department of Health studies have confirmed that Gooseberry Point WWTP discharges do not reach Portage Bay.
Yes, wildlife may contribute fecal bacteria to water.
Wildlife, including birds, can contribute fecal bacteria to our waterways. Examples may include waterfowl that seasonally visit agricultural fields in Whatcom County and potentially contribute fecal bacteria pollution to water that drains from the fields. Wildlife such as raccoons or rats can be a pollution problem when animals become concentrated in unnaturally high numbers in an area due to food sources made readily available by people (e.g. pet food outdoors or unsecured garbage).
Sometimes, but not on a routine basis. Several misconceptions exist about using DNA testing, or Microbial Source Tracking (MST), to find the source of fecal pollution. One mistaken belief is that a single water sample can point out which specific person or animal is causing the pollution. Current science is not capable of identifying all sources of fecal bacteria in a water sample. Analysis looks for genetic markers for certain species, but we do not have markers for all species. Even if a lab develops a marker for a certain species, not all individuals of that species may carry the marker. MST strategies rely on establishing patterns based on multiple samples taken over time from specific sampling locations. A limited number of labs are qualified to conduct MST analysis and costs are high. Past MST studies in Whatcom County’s Drayton Harbor watershed and in Skagit County’s Samish watershed confirmed already suspected fecal pollution from humans and from ruminants (cows, horses, and sheep) among other unidentified sources. Fecal pollution to water from human, livestock, and pet sources is preventable. Finding and fixing those sources provide the opportunity for improving water quality to healthy conditions.
Find out how your property may be contributing fecal pollution to the water in your neighborhood and make corrections. If you have neighbors who may be contributing fecal bacteria to our community’s waterways, encourage them to fix the problem.
Whatcom Conservation District (WCD) offers free help to residents who ask for assistance in making their rural properties and farms more productive, while reducing the risk of polluting water. A WCD planner can evaluate whether your property may be contributing manure-related fecal bacteria pollution to waterways. If together you identify a problem, the planner can suggest ways to fix the pollution source and may be able to offer financial assistance. Conservation districts are non-regulatory and do not have authority to enforce regulations; help from a conservation district is free and confidential. Contact WCD at 360-526-2381 or see www.whatcomcd.org/ for more information.
Whatcom County residents can contact the Whatcom County Health Department (360-778-6000) with questions about septic systems and for technical assistance. For more information, visit www.whatcomcounty.us/septic.
The Department of Ecology establishes and regulates water quality standards in Washington State. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves the standards. The National Shellfish Sanitation Program establishes separate standards for marine water quality in areas where shellfish are grown.
In January 2019, Washington Department of Ecology adopted updated fresh and marine water quality standards for the protection of water contact recreational uses in state waters. Updates became effective in February 2019. Among other changes, updates include:
Protecting primary contact recreation in fresh water
Protecting primary contact recreation in marine water
Protecting shellfish harvest use: Fecal coliform continues to be the bacterial indicator for protecting shellfish harvesting uses in marine water. Bacteria criteria to protect shellfish harvest use did not change when Ecology updated standards to protect water contact recreational uses. Because fresh water flows to and affects the quality of marine water in shellfish growing areas, we will continue to monitor for fecal coliform in fresh water. New fresh water data will be compared to historic data and to fecal coliform benchmarks to track status toward protecting the shellfish harvest use.
Whatcom County Public Works samples water at a fixed network of sites on a regular basis. For routine sampling, Public Works and other agencies pre-schedule sampling dates. Public Works uses results of routine sampling to characterize long-term conditions at each location and to prioritize pollution reduction efforts. Public Works and other agencies typically conduct non-routine, pollution source identification sampling when a water quality hot spot has been identified or rain contributes to conditions that produce runoff that can be sampled entering waterways.
Maybe. Klebsiella are one of many bacteria categorized as fecal coliform bacteria. Water, soil, and plants, including wood products like mulch or wood chips, can naturally contain Klebsiella. However, about 30 to 40 percent of all people and animals have Klebsiella in their intestinal tract, which are shed in feces. When fecal coliform bacteria counts are too high, it is important to assess what is happening around and upstream of the high sampling result to determine potential sources.
Yes. Klebsiella can make people sick, and even cause death, when ingested in large numbers or by people who have a health condition that makes them vulnerable (i.e. immunocompromised). Studies have shown that, in general, strains of this bacterium from plants, soil, or water are as likely to cause illness as those from animals or people (Struve, 2004). Estimates are that ingesting 100 ml (about 3 oz.) of drinking water containing 35 Klebsiella per ml could be a risk to susceptible people (American Water Works Association, 1999). Klebsiella has been linked to illness outbreaks from contaminated iced tea (Tauxe, 1996) and turkey (Rennie, 1990).
•The US Environmental Protection Agency and Washington Department of Ecology (ECY) have authority to enforce rules related to water quality protection through the federal Clean Water Act. ECY enforces Washington’s Water Pollution Control Act. •The Washington State Department of Agriculture has authority related to water quality protection for licensed cow dairies. •Washington Department of Health (DOH) and Whatcom County Health Department have authority to enforce health and safety regulations related to on-site sewage systems and drinking water. DOH administers the National Shellfish Sanitation Program and regulates shellfish harvest in Washington. •Whatcom County Planning & Development Services regulates land use, such as enforcing the Critical Areas Ordinance and approving farm plan applications submitted for compliance.
Agencies such as Whatcom County Public Works Department (Public Works), Whatcom Conservation District (WCD), and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) do not have authority to enforce regulations. Public Works gathers and analyzes data to prioritize pollution reduction efforts and coordinates landowner contact in the County’s Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) program focus areas. Related to reducing bacteria pollution from livestock and manure, WCD and NRCS serve important roles in providing no-cost, expert advice and planning services for residents who want to benefit from the free help.
The Engineering Division administers the Whatcom County Development Standards. Please refer to Chapter 5 - Road Standards.
Private residential driveways (1 and 2 residential units) outside of county rights-of-way are typically reviewed by the Fire Marshal in Planning and Development Services at 360-778-5900.
It’s a paved approach to an intersecting county road extending from the property line or a driveway approach abutting a paved public road. For details see Drawing 508.D-4, 505.E-3, 505.E-4 of the Road Standards - Chapter 5.
That will be determined by the Right-of-way Inspector after you have applied for a Revocable Encroachment Permit.
12-inch minimum diameter, larger if drainage requires, as directed by the County Engineer - County Road Standards, Drawing 508.D-1.
Other federal, state and local permits may be needed. Check with the local jurisdictions/districts for water and sanitary sewer hookup information. A good resource for checking what federal or state permits you may need for your development is a handbook titled “Commonly Required Environmental Permits for Washington State.”
Development Standards - Chapter 2 - Stormwater Management requires, as a minimum, that a Preliminary Stormwater Proposal be submitted. The Proposal is intended to provide the county with a general overview as related to a proposed project. The information will be used to determine which regulations apply and whether to require a more detailed Stormwater Design Report.
County road projects are principally funded by local funds generated via road taxes. However, the use of local county funds can be diminished by supplemental funds from a variety of sources. These supplemental funds are received by applying and completing a Whatcom County project with other counties’ and cities’ projects. A few of the various funding sources are federal bridge replacement funds, federal road project funds, state transportation improvement board funds, state rural arterial preservation funds and federal hazard elimination funds.
Recovery Courts are a recent phenomena within our criminal justice system. The emergence of these new courts reflect growing recognition on the part of judges, prosecutors and defense counsel that traditional criminal justice methods of incarceration, probation or supervised parole have not stemmed the tide of criminal activity by drug addicted individuals.
Recovery Court is a special court charged with the responsibility of handling cases involving drug-addicted offenders. This is accomplished through an extensive supervision and treatment program. Recovery Court has the power to offer an individual an alternative to traditional court if they successfully complete a Recovery Court supervised treatment. For "graduates" of the program, the court may dismiss the original charge, lessen the sentence, or offer a lesser penalty.
Recovery Court is for individuals who are taken into custody for non-violent drug offenses. Persons with prior crimes of violence or sex offenses will not be admitted. It is up to the individual to apply to enter Recovery Court. If they decide to apply, the prosecuting attorney's office, the defense counsel, and the case manager decide if the individual meets the criteria to be enrolled in Recovery Court.
Recovery Court sets forth clear goals and incentives to aid in drug addiction recovery. These goals and incentives must be met by the individual every step of the way to ensure graduation from the program. Strict penalties are put into place if the person does not meet the intended goals. This includes failures to appear at weekly court hearings, failure to show for a treatment session or failing of a drug test. Sanctions are implemented swiftly and in increasing severity. Repeated or escalating violations of policy will result in termination. Commission of any new felony offense requires termination.
Recovery Courts are based on negative reinforcement; the withdrawal of negative or unwanted factors to reward positive behavior. In these cases this is the removal of incarceration and/or fines for positive performance in treatment programs.
Sadly, people who are in need of treatment programs are not identified in the traditional court system. With the continuing increase in incarceration costs and the need for room in overcrowded jails, only 10% of persons who need treatment receive it in the traditional court system.
Studies regarding the use of drugs also suggest that some drug offenders utilize drugs in an attempt to self-medicate themselves for a psychiatric disorder. Individuals with mental illnesses are 2.7 times more likely to have substance abuse problems than individuals in the general populace. Individuals with substance abuse problems, particularly problems involving drugs other then alcohol, demonstrate almost a five–fold greater incidence of mental illness then the rest of the population.
One of the purposes of the Recovery Court system is to deal with all drug-using offenders while they are in the community, utilizing the programs that are currently in place. The goal is to place drug-using offenders in appropriate Recovery Court tracks that tailor the level of intervention and resource commitment to the needs of the offender, and more importantly the needs of the community. Recovery Courts provide more comprehensive and closer supervision of the drug-using offender than other forms of community supervision. While most community based treatment programs are based on volunteering enrollment, Recovery Court remands individuals into programs, documents participation, and provides rewards for positive progress.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported that incarceration alone does little to break the cycle of drugs and crime. One study, completed in 1993, found that a full 60% of police chiefs believe that police and other law enforcement agencies have been unsuccessful in reducing the drug problem in the United States.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has set forth 8 key elements to provide a guideline and structure format for Drug Courts in the nation.
If a person is currently charged with a felony offense, a request for admission to Recovery Court may be made.
In 1997, the Government Accounting Office reported that 71% of all offenders entering Drug Court/Recovery Court have either successfully completed their Drug Court/Recovery Court program or are at the present time actively participating in the program. The retention rate is very important to the program.
Please contact the Treasurer’s office during COVID to see if the office is open. Normally, we are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, including the lunch hour. Passport services are suspended during COVID. Please see our current observed holiday schedule for days that we are closed.
A drive-up drop box is located near the north rotunda entrance to the Courthouse on Grand Avenue. A second drop slot is located outside the south entrance to the Courthouse. The slot is located on the brick wall adjacent to the door and is labeled "Envelope Depository." A third a drop box is also available just outside the lobby of the Treasurer’s Office.
You may use the single copy PDF version, rather than the Excel version, of the Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit (REETA), and all other REET forms, including Mobile Home, and Supplemental Statements. Please be careful that you don't reduce the print and/or form size when printing these documents from the Department of Revenue website. We will only accept one original legal size (8.5" x 14") signed document, if not submitting the 4-part legal size carbonized form. Once reviewed and receipted, we will make the necessary photo copies. Please provide 1 copy of all attachments, on standard letter size paper (8.5" x 11"). Including, but not limited to, legal description, and any attachments required by the WAC rules. Washington State Department of Revenue Forms
There is a Real Estate Gift Supplemental form that must be signed by both parties, and must accompany a completed Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit. These documents are filed in the Treasurer's Office and are subject to a minimum filing fee if there are no taxes due. Follow the link below, then look for Real estate excise tax supplemental statement.
If the mobile home is going to be moved, as a condition of sale, obtain a tax certificate (moving permit) from the Assessor's Office. There is no charge for the tax certificate. Take the tax certificate to the Treasurer's Office to be certified that any property taxes due on the mobile home have been paid, and receive an orange decal which must be displayed on the mobile home while it is being moved. It is a violation of Washington state law to move a mobile home without a validated tax certificate and orange decal. When all property taxes have been paid, the Treasurer's Office will issue a tax verification form (half sheet). The tax verification form, and the current mobile home title, can be taken to the Licensing Department in the Auditor's Office to pay sales tax and transfer the title into the new owner's name.
If the mobile home is not going to be moved, go to the Treasurer's Office to complete a Mobile Home Excise Tax Affidavit and pay any excise tax that may be due. This affidavit must be signed by the buyer and the seller, and is required along with the current title, to transfer title in the Licensing Department of the Auditor's Office. Please be careful that you don't reduce the print and/or form size when printing these documents from the Department of Revenue website.
Follow the link below, then look for Real estate excise tax mobile home affidavit.
Yes. This program is administered by the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office. All questions or requests for information should be directed to their office at (360) 778-5050 or go to their Property Tax Exemptions Page.
Taxes are calculated every January when the levy rates are set and the tax roll is certified by the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office and then turned over to the Treasurer’s Office. The levy rate varies for each taxing district depending upon the budget for each district, and any voter-approved special levies and bonds. This levy rate is multiplied per thousand dollars of assessed value.
Example: If assessed value is $100,000 and the levy rate is 10.5432 per thousand dollars of value, your tax will be $100,000/1,000 x 10.5432 = $1,054.32 tax liability
Contact the Treasurer's Office at 360-778-5160, and a duplicate statement can be mailed to you. You can also View Tax Statement Information Online.
There are several different special assessments possibly showing on your tax statement.
Birch Bay Watershed & Aquatic Resources Management (Birch Bay WARM) - contact Public Works/Stormwater at 360-778-6230.
Foreclosure Warning Notice - contact the Treasurer's office at 360-778-5173.
On-Site Sewage Fee - contact the Health Department at 360-778-6000.
Various Watershed Districts - contact Henry Bierlink at 360-354-1337.
All others are managed by Public Works River & Flood Division at 360-778-6230.
We are open Monday through Fridays, 8:30 am - Noon and 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm.
600 Dupont Street, Suite A, Bellingham, WA 98225