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County should be responsive, transparent


Mary Whalen of the Coalition for Sensible Planning delivered these remarks before the Board of Supervisors last week:

Voice of Mary Whalen

We welcome the new supervisors and look forward to working with you and the rest of the board on community concerns, especially those pertaining to local control, rezoning and land use issues, due process and the ability of the public to have meaningful input.

As our elected representatives, we believe that it is your responsibility to listen, first and foremost, to your constituents and then to state and county bureaucracy and special interest groups . . . We hope that preserving local control and stopping the encroachment on local government by the state will be of utmost concern to you.

We hope that respecting the present character of existing neighborhoods and protecting the character and environment of the South Coast will be given slow, serious and thoughtful deliberation.

Many special interest groups are vying to drastically redesign and rezone our community for us and trying to silence any valid opposition to these proposals. They try to dismiss community opposition to the proposed monumental changes as "misinformation."

We hope that the new board will truly listen to and integrate the educated and thoughtful opinions of long-term community residents in the coming months as rezoning proposals are brought forth.

We are deeply concerned about process.

We are hopeful of changes regarding public participation and community input where public dialogue and public comment is not treated as a mere formality to meet the letter of the law.

We hope that this new board will take the lead in making sure the public is informed of plans as they are being formulated so the entire community can be involved in the planning process.

We hope for transparency in regard to any proposals that will greatly affect the design and shape of our community . . . We would like to see the Board take a leadership role in making the democratic process work as it should with policy being formulated by elected representatives based on strong input and guidance from their constituents and then implemented by staff.

We look forward to a fair and open process from board and staff and hope to work with you as you fulfill, not just the letter of the law, but the intent and spirit of the law as it relates to true public participation.