Northwest NEWS

April 19, 1999

Editorial

Code violation from 1997 still has not been resolved

   I read with great interest the letter from Mr. Don Brocha, mayor of Woodinville, about how issues with the city can be discussed and resolved.

   I realize that the Letters to the Editors page isn't the proper venue for discussion of a difficulty with city government, but the mayor and council should be aware that having discussions with the city sometimes have a net effect similar to that of having protracted conversations with perhaps a tree or a stone wall. Mayor Brocha's points, listed below, are in italics.

   I have had an issue with the city regarding a very clear code violation initially reported April 1997, and resolution is apparently impossible for the city to affect, as nothing has ever been done. I'll use all of the mayor's four points to illustrate how the system can, and does, simply fail.

   Point 1: Talk directly to city staff and the city council. I've had conversations over the past two years with council, the mayor, and staff about action on a reported sign code violation. The violation existed under the old code and the new code. I've been told on various occasions that the code wouldn't be enforced; that it was unenforceable; that we've never enforced the code; that we will enforce the code; that we need to hire staff to enforce the code; that we are enforcing the code; and that we're not sure about this, we'll have to investigate and get back to you within the week (this was approximately three weeks ago and two years into the process). Total correspondence and conversations during the period must number a dozen.

   Anyone else out there ever have this kind of out-of-body experience dealing with the City of Woodinville?

   Point 2: If you come to city hall, we will do our best to help you. I've been to city hall on six occasions to complain about the sign code violation and request action. I've been twice to council meetings and once to Mayor Brocha's Thursday lunchtime availability, and three times to request action by the planning department. So far, nobody's come up with an acceptable solution. And this is just a simple request for enforcing the sign code.

   Point 3: Make sure the issue is still an issue. I checked yesterday. We're at two years after my initial complaint now, and all of the banners that are in violation of both the old and new sign code are still flapping in the breeze.

   Point 4: If you feel that the city and the city council are not doing our jobs correctly, run for council. I do feel it's dragging a red herring for the mayor to suggest that everyone who has a problem with city government should run for office. Is there a rule somewhere that you have to earn the right to obtain resolution from your government? I thought everybody who lived here and owned a business here paid large amounts in taxes to pay for a government which provides order, infrastructure, and ordinances with which to run the city.

   Running for office simply isn't a requirement for obtaining something from the city. Why do public servants seem to think that a different standard of performance should be applied to them than in the private sector and that a completely different set of rules apply? I'd run for the council in a minute, but can't, due to my residence address which is outside of the city limits.

   But whether or not I do is irrelevant. Given the council's inability to deal with such a simple problem, perhaps that's a good thing for me. At least they can only impact my business, not my home.

   I'd like to suggest that Mayor Brocha needs a reality check. His theory, except for point 4, is fine. The problem is execution.

Jeff Boswell, Woodinville