Northwest NEWS

April 26, 1999


To resolve an issue, stop by city hall

   All right, all right, you got me. The editorial cartoon in last week's Weekly [print edition] is right. Letters to the Editor can be effective when they strive to educate, as was the intention with my last letter, or when they try to influence public opinion, as were my intentions with the letters I used to write when I was a neighborhood activist.

   However, I will still stand by my statement that they won't solve city-related issues. Talking to the city staff and council is the way these issues get resolved.

   Jeff Boswell's letter disagrees that even when you talk to the city, things get resolved. I understand where Jeff is coming from as he has talked to me in person about his issue with signs. And he is right--we have taken some time to resolve his issue. I'm sure he is frustrated with the process of city government.

   I, too, was frustrated when I first got on the council. I thought, how can government take so long getting things done? First we talk about it, then we study it, then we ask for public opinion, then we study it some more.

   After awhile, I realized there's a reason for this. We even have a name for it: it's called democracy. Everyone gets to have their say as many times as they want. That's what took time to get the sign ordinance passed in the first place.

   Even though we passed the sign ordinance, it has taken more time to get the signs in question into compliance. If the signs he is concerned with were in a right of way, we could use our police powers in a summary fashion to remove them. However, the signs in question are on private property, and the city has bent over backward to try and get voluntary compliance to have them removed.

   We are coming to the end of our reasonable efforts, and the next step is to use our regulatory powers and impose civil penalties. That means dollars. The signs in question will be brought into compliance.

   Finally, let me make sure that my last letter is not misunderstood. Keep writing letters to the editor if you want to raise an issue, but if you want to resolve an issue with the city, make sure you stop by city hall.

Don Brocha, Mayor, City of Woodinville