Opinion

Long-term work brings real change | IN OUR OPINION

  - Bainbridge Island Review photo
— image credit: Bainbridge Island Review photo

Chiara D’Angelo will certainly have quite a story to tell her grandchildren someday.

She’ll be able to stand in the middle of a drugstore parking lot near High School Road and tell them how this used to be all trees; towering Doug firs, hemlocks, red alders and madrona trees.

She’ll be able to tell them how the forest looked before an out-of-state developer came to the island with plans to plop a bunch of new buildings down and wipe away the wildlife.

But if her young ones ask, “What did you do about it?” D’Angelo will have more to say, much more than others her age or others who were equally outraged at the development that future generations will grow up accepting as part of the established landscape.

D’Angelo captured the public’s attention this week with her bold protest against the new shopping center, from atop one of the Douglas firs in the now-vanished forest.

Treetop protests, like marches on city hall, can be watershed events that stoke public passion and galvanize opinion.

Meaningful change, however, is seldom prompted by such dramatic moments.

Instead, it’s the plodding work of the patient few — the citizen volunteers on boards and commissions, the city hall watchdogs who attend every meeting — who bring about lasting advances.

It’s an important fact for islanders to remember as the city starts its update on its comprehensive plan.

Many residents in communities across the state who have been great participants in the crafting of comp plans in years’ past, those who have spent hours wordsmithing development policies and vision statements, have sometimes found themselves disappointed and disgusted that development on the ground has not matched the goals previously put on paper.

It’s happened again and again as residents who have devoted their precious time to work on comp plans fade away at the time when they are most needed: After the comp plan is adopted and work turns to the mundane rewriting of development regulations.

It’s there, however, where the true limits are placed on new development. Comp plan policies are meaningless without codified regulations to back them up.

Islanders would do well to remember their job is not finished when the city’s new comp plan is adopted by the city council, and they must remain engaged until the last new rule is written.

 

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