Wednesday, July 31, 2013

GPT & Growth Management

Here we are at the end of July and I haven't posted for 6 weeks.
I'd like to say I've been waiting for some good news, but mostly I've just been otherwise occupied and somewhat lazy, having read two heavy tomes by Jared Diamond; Guns, Germs & Steel and Collapse.
The former attempts to explain why some societies tend to have "more cargo" -meaning advanced civilizations- while the latter examines the causes of failure of various cultures.

These are not easy topics, but the author uses his extensive knowledge and communications skills to condense and simplify things enough for lay persons like me to comprehend, even though it does take a fair amount of time and dedication to the task to get through it!

That begs a comparison with some of our current candidates for Whatcom County council, both incumbents and challengers, who seem to have problems understanding what their role should be regarding Growth Management as well as why citizens and organizations - such as RE-Sources and FutureWise- have important roles to play in the planning for our common future.

It seems all four 'Republican' candidates for these 'non-partisan' seats have attitudes that they allow to prejudice them against even  a public forums that focus on growth planning and the ecology!
What is that about? Silly me, thinking such forums are important for the public to see and hear BEFORE voting!

Two incumbents - Bill Knudzen and Kathy Kershner - have supported the poor growth planning policies that invited lawsuits and Growth Management Hearings Board actions on behalf of the public, yet they are unwilling to learn any constructive lessons from that! Instead, they choose to continue spending scarce public dollars on silly appeals.

The two R challengers - Michele Luke and Ben Elenbaas- are also part of the problem since they serve on the inept County Planning Commission that is responsible for some very stupid recommendations to the County Council!
Because of this childish behavior, in fairness, the growth planning and the ecology forum has now been cancelled.
Take that voters!

But, as sorry as our County Electeds have been regarding Growth Management planning, there is at least one County that is worse, at least according author Jared Diamond.
That would be Ravalli County, in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, which has NO planning or consistent zoning despite the crying need that exists in a place with great natural beauty, poor conditions for agricultural enterprises, a declining local economy and wide differences between 'Haves' and 'Have Nots'.

Rather than try to paraphrase Mr Diamond's descriptive words, I suggest reading Chapter One in Collapse for those interested.

Regarding GPT, another 'issue' our erstwhile County Council must eventually face - without benefit of much knowledge and understanding - today's news carried an article that indicates the MAP Team has decided to incorporate many of the hundreds of legitimate concerns expressed by citizens by considering impacts from rail traffic and other factors!

This latest MAP Team decision is truly good news.
Now, maybe our County Electeds won't be winging their 'fact-free' decision as much as they might been so inclined?
Let's hope so!