The recent coverage of the Island County Planning Commission meeting on the Housing Element draft text as part of the Washington State Growth Management Act has been interesting.
The first news article, by reporter Laura Guido, covering the planning commission meeting on June 19 identified a new voice, Planning Commissioner Shannon Williams.
The coverage indicated a “philosophical shift” of the commission, which I believe is a gross overstatement.
The audio recording of the meeting may be heard at https: www.islandcountywa.gov/Planning/Pages/planning comm.aspx if you choose to listen to the actual language.
Williams, at her second meeting as an appointed commissioner, was, in part, supported by Commissioner Munson, from District No. 3. Commissioner Gilroy, also from District No. 3, offered several language edits to the draft, but did not express any change of support for the Housing Element draft “philosophy.”
Guido’s reporting did not reference my comments that attempted to bring the discussion back to the purpose of the Housing Element analysis, which is a serious look at the growth and housing needs of Island County.
Perhaps I was not strong enough in my language to disagree, but I eventually took Commissioner Williams at her original statement, that she needed more background in the project.
Several of the comments were volatile and expressed very biased opinions regarding the residents of our county. I had never heard this “exclusive” language nor narrow opinions during the many meetings that I have attended as a resident, or since I was appointed a commissioner in January.
The discussion deteriorated and, even after I attempted to bring this back to the intent of the Housing Element draft text, it felt like an ambush with some of the commissioners prepared with an agenda.
I leave the verdict on the “shameful” commissioner remarks as reported in the Opinion column to the community. I know that I will not let this language occur in the future without challenge.
The planning commission is left with the consequences of this regrettable discussion. A planning commissioner appointment is not only about one’s perspective, but the community and culture of Island County as a whole.
Planning Commissioner, District No. 1