Council is the root cause of marathon public comment

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Sammamish Retreat 2017

The Sammamish City Council yesterday created an ad hoc committee to come up with ideas to reduce the number of marathon public comment sessions.

However, in the discussion, not one Council Member or staff put their finger on the root problem. It is the Sammamish City Council’s own fault.

The following is my public comment given this morning on the topic.–Scott Hamilton.

I listened yesterday to all the discussion about public comment.

  • You complain about 2 hrs about public comment. I understand this.
  • But this comes with the job.

More importantly—nobody mentioned this yesterday—and I don’t have to worry about getting fired for what I am about to say–

  • You brought a lot of this on yourselves.
  • Yet you seem to be ready to penalize all those pesky constituents who come with something to say.

What do I mean by you brought this on yourselves?

  • Tamarck: This has been an issue for 10-12 years, and you’re still no closer to a solution. No wonder you get the property owners coming in week after week after week, many times saying the same thing. They are frustrated because you continue to fiddle while Rome burns. Or in this case, floods. There are some of you who are so concerned about the property rights of the trail land owners, but you are applying a different standard to Tamarack. As an impartial observer with no dog in this hunt, it seems to me this opposition has more to do with political opposition to the principal advocate for Tamarack than any other reason.
  • The Lake Trail: This is an incredibly difficult issue with intense passions on both sides. The property owners and trail advocates come out in droves to argue their points. But let’s acknowledge this: members of this Council on both sides of the issue have done their fair share of agitating those to come and make public comment. I have seen those emails. I have heard what you’ve said. Then you have the temerity to complain when a score of people show up to discuss their issues, and it takes two hours to explain their very legitimate issues? Remember this, too: The bicycle clubs and alliances and some of those who appeared before you who are the strongest advocates for developing the trail to the King County design are not your constituents or do not live along the trail. They don’t care about the unique problems of those who are your constituents, who are being railroaded by the County.
  • The moratorium: You had two hours of public comment on this topic as well. This was mishandled from the moment it was mentioned. It wasn’t vetted with fellow council members. It wasn’t vetted with staff. It was an incredibly bad idea. There was no meaningful forethought given to bringing the topic up, and one council member immediately emailed Murray Franklyn the next day about this. No wonder you had a chamber full of people protesting.
  • There’s the 42nd Barricade, the YMCA Pine Lake property and Sahalee Way that in their own ways were mismanaged processes, years of no resolution, or attempts to ram through approval in 2015 so one council member running for reelection could point to an accomplishment. In each case, scores of people came to complain or advocate.

Before you look at “solutions” that limit public comment, you first need to look at the root cause on these six issues that were mismanaged or rife with inaction. The consequences aren’t the result of a bunch of whining citizens who have nothing better to do.

If you want to solve the problem of marathon public comment sessions, solve the problems citizens come to talk about. You’re not doing that on a timely basis and in some cases, you’re not doing that at all—you’re kicking the can down the road.

This is the result of your own actions. Outside of these issues, you don’t have a public comment problem. Certainly not one of the public’s making.

4 thoughts on “Council is the root cause of marathon public comment

  1. I really appreciate your posts, they are very informative to me as a Sammamish resident who doesn’t have much time follow the Council

  2. I agree with you Scott. The Council needs to lead, not follow. Each has their constituents who they can consult for guidance on their own, but the meetings are meant for action.

    Workshops can be held to gather feedback, the Planning commission and other committees can provide venues for the public, and the staff needs to provide unbiased reports on potential actions. Then council meetings become the final vote.

    In the end, the Council must lead by taking action and realize that not everyone will be happy with their decisions.

  3. Nice article- thank you for advocating for the residents Scott. I’m worried that many citizens will have very little knowledge of what’s happening now that the local papers will be gone and the Comment at the end of the year.


  4. Pingback: A for Effort on Retreat livestreaming; transparency needs work | Sammamish Comment

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