Letters to the Editor

Land use update process has been encouraging | Letters | May 27

Our current 2010 City Council, the first under the council/manager form of government without an elected mayor, may not be changing things fast enough for you or me, but there is a big difference in the way councilors are handling the Land Use Code (LUC) Update process.

If all stays on track, we will have this 2010 council to thank for rescuing our current valued land use protections from an untimely demise.

What happened is that a unanimous 2007 council directed Mayor Darlene Kordonowy’s administration to move forward on a two-year, $300,000 project to “implement the Comprehensive Plan” by transforming our complex and confusing LUC into a “user-friendly document, free of inconsistencies, and that integrated current land use regulations.”

While staff assured council that the update would not “be a receptacle for a host of new issues,” that last promise by the old regime was not kept. The update that arrived at Planning Commission’s doorstep in 2010 included significant policy changes.

Together, city staff and the consultants have eliminated extensive land use protections, replacing them with provisions that rendered almost unchallengeable to any prospective Planning Department land use decisions.

During 2010, the Planning Commission, with help from a committee that included two council members, addressed at least 70 percent of the concerns raised by citizens who had reviewed the document. In 2011, our new City Council began its review.

That’s when I was taken aback. Rather than limit public involvement to the usual non-interactive dialogue, this council set up a process that invites constructive, timely public input during their review process, section-by-section, and provision-by-provision.

Since Feb. 16, council has held two-hour update review sessions at least twice a month, and they are still ongoing.

This time-consuming process provides reassurance that this 2010 council will not rubber-stamp the watered-down LUC Update, prepared when Mayor Kordonowy was in charge of staff.

No longer do I feel that our efforts to protect our island are futile as was so often the case in 2009 and earlier. It is a new day.

Check out the LUC update changes on the city’s website, check the calendar for what’s being discussed on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and show up. Provide constructive suggestions. This council listens. While points may not be won, they’re all discussed and many suggestions adopted.

It’s a new day at City Hall. This council has set up a process to utilize public input to help them transform a document that undermined far too many land use protections into one that addresses current and future needs of our community at large.

Kudos to council.

Sally Adams

Bainbridge Island

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