Looking forward to transparency with CAO amendments | Letter

Mar 03, 2016

This is an open letter to the Edmonds City Council and the mayor:

Dear Council President Johnson, esteemed Councilmembers and Mayor Earling,

As a citizen, I look forward to seeing a compiled list of Critical Areas Ordinance update

amendments that reflect the intent of the councilmembers who proposed them.

It is always helpful to get the city staff's take on the practicality of those proposals.

This was certainly presented in the PowerPoint at the Feb. 23 council meeting.

What was missing was the rationale and clear intent of the councilmembers who proposed those amendments.

They are often verbalized at council meetings on the dais, but don't regularly get into the presentation to the public later on.

For the sake of transparency, I would expect that both staff considerations and council intent be reflected when publicizing this information.

I am aware that council voted on various proposed CAO amendments on Dec. 15, 2015, and majority vote approved them.

A public veto by Mayor Earling was expected as indicated via email to council; however, I

don't recall a public announcement of a veto at a meeting in January.

Instead pressure was put on council to concede to a more "flexible" language and try again.

And so it goes. Back to square one and fresh amendments brought forward after the "veto.” Please let's make sure that the public gets the full picture of what's going on with these amendments as they are not a part of the behind the scene discussions.

From experience, I can say that putting varied amendments out there, such as those presented, is really good for the public to weigh in on.

It helps people consider how the proposals could affect them as well as the future of these critical areas.

Council gets to hear opinions in public hearings before they make a final decision.

Components of a final draft are voted on and what shall emerge is a document that represents our city. As it should be in a democratic society.

Elected officials are expected to respond to citizen opinions and concerns when crafting legislation. They are the makers of that legislation and staff carries that out appropriately, not the other way around.

I also hope that the amendments can be presented in the context of the draft CAO update document.

It is a daunting task for a citizen to go through the entire document which seems overly complicated, layered and not easily understood by the public or a potential developer even.

Everyone should be able to understand the language if it's clearly stated.

I want to commend council for sticking with this arduous process and making sure the outcome matches the desires and long-term needs of our citizens.

I also want to compliment staff on their hard work in complying with directives from their boss. Ultimately, it's your call, council, and whatever you vote approval of should be carried out for the good of the city.


Val Stewart,



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