Vocal minorities swaying city decisions
When I ran for council, I promised to make decisions that would benefit all of West Linn. As a councilor, I did not bestow preferentiality to my individual supporters and their personal agendas and so was called disloyal by some. The council is tasked with governing the whole of West Linn and not just their personal supporters and vocal minorities. It's important for the City Council and Planning Commission to listen to citizens, but they must also be fiscally responsible when assessing requests. All 26,000 citizens in West Linn deserve equal consideration, whether or not they attend City or Neighborhood Association (NA) meetings.It is very apparent that vocal minorities in West Linn get the most attention. This is sometimes done through NAs, where resolutions are passed after a one-sided argument is presented by a passionate advocate. This is then translated into being representative of the entire neighborhood. Testimony at City Council and Planning Commission Meetings by these individuals is often given more credence because either they represent an NA, attend frequently, or passionately pursue their personal agenda.One such example is the proposal to alter the Tannler Road stormwater drainage system, described as "daylighting Bernert Creek." Despite arguments against this venture that include engineering challenges and the potential for enormous costs, the feasibility study for this project has been prioritized. Two recent resolutions were passed by 12 NA members at the Savanna Oaks September NA meeting. It is unknown how many actual households were represented as couples often attend. The issues were presented by the President and Secretary of the NA, both of whom are passionate "daylighting" advocates. Before the vote, did they explain the concerns about changing the stormwater drainage and that the playground money comes from SDCs and so cannot be used for this purpose? Is this a true neighborhood representation? The park is currently underutilized and is significantly impacted by the 205 traffic noises, but a playground and restroom would hopefully increase usage.So who actually supports this particular venture and what benefit does it have for West Linn? Proponents say that the project will increase the biodiversity of the area, but there is no evidence of that. What is likely is that we would lose the grove of trees running down the side of the park and potentially destabilize the land. Should we really prioritize spending $20,000 on a feasibility study for a project we have no money to construct? I believe that NAs have an important role in West Linn. They keep people informed of items of local interests and bring attention to development plans that may impact their particular neighborhood. However, I am concerned that small vocal minorities use this forum to advance personal agendas. Many operate with single figure quorums as attendance is low. This results in a handful of attendees making decisions for thousands of residents. Maybe it's time to re-examine the role of the NAs and how representative they are of their neighborhood. I encourage all West Linn citizens to pay more attention to what decisions are being made on their behalf. Read the West Linn Tidings, watch the videos of city meetings and at least check agendas and minutes of your NA. Once decisions are made and money spent, it may be too late.Brenda Perry is a former West Linn city councilor
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