Letters to the Editor

New era: good time for change in attitude | Letters

With a new county council to be sworn in and a new county administrator to be hired, it is timely to recommend a policy change.

For all too long county policy has evidenced a purpose to obstruct property owners’ desires whenever construction or property development was involved.

Some applauded this anti-development sentiment. This past election demonstrated that voters have perhaps had enough of these obstructionist policies.

What is recommended is a wholehearted commitment to the belief that citizen property owners should make the decisions about development, and that county employees should be facilitators of their intentions. And more importantly, that citizens’ interests and not political agendas should be their ascendant concern.

Such a change in attitude is not to be interpreted as meaning that our codes are to be bent or relaxed. Rather, it acknowledges that our codes are now myriad and that citizens need facilitators in government to guide them through the maze.

An anecdote from my years of experience as an architect and general contractor is instructive. One large city had enacted a landscape ordinance which I had read and re-read and for the life of me could not see an interpretation that would allowing for permitting a project without expensive landscaping (on a 10-acre property owned by a Catholic church and school that could ill afford the expense).

I appeared before the permitting official and humbly asked if there was perhaps something I had missed in trying to come up with the required “landscape points”. The property was mostly well-maintained lawns with little other vegetation. The bright young code official sure earned my admiration when he indicated that trees in the alley right of way could be counted!

My experience is that such a cooperative response is rarely forthcoming unless specifically requested. And it is this sort of facilitating response that our permitting officials need to evidence as a matter of routine.

Both our elected and employed officials would do well to keep in mind that they are there primarily for residents and not to further some environmental or political agenda. Be facilitators.

Albert Hall/San Juan Island




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