The County Executive’s first term was fairly low key and avoided controversy. But he is making up for it in a second term with a personal agenda that is increasingly in conflict with public process. The most recent example is the short course on planning, a one night public education presentation on GMA planning issues that is sponsored by the Department of Commerce.
Obtaining a short course for the community is just a phone call away for the county.. A couple of months ago, I suggested that the administration obtain such training for our community since so few people were participating in the comp. plan process and few people really understand what the process was and how it works. At that time, staff advised Council it was currently working on something with the DOC.
Silly me. I assumed that the focus of this short course would be on the comp. plan update process, the substantive requirements for the comp, plan and the development regulations, such as the Critical Area Ordinance. perhaps even water issues…quality and quantity. It was something I was looking forward to and hoped there would be good public attendance. Now I am not so sure.
Two of the topics will be taught by Jon Sitkin, a competent attorney, albeit one that works for the port of Bellingham, an agency not known for it’s ethics, openness or transparency. Mr. Sitkin will be talking to us about the constitutional basis for zoning and general constitutional issues that arise in land use. And he will be closing the evening session, (March 31, 2016, 6:15-9:15PM at the county courthouse council chambers), with a discussion of Washington’s open government laws.
There will be class on a broad overview of GMA basics, something not best suited for the current situation. I know that DOC will work with a city or county and develop a custom agenda based on the specific needs of the jurisdiction. I guess the county also believed the public needed to learn about planning roles and responsibilities, such as legislative vs. quasi-judicial processes. Gee, I wonder why that is being emphasized?
This is not an agenda drafted with the greatest public needs in mind. It was an agenda drafted to best forward the Executive’s political goals. By all means, please attend. Just know that this could have been much more carefully tailored to focus on our current comp. plan process.