As the owner, along with my wife Holly, of two storefront businesses in downtown Langley it was gratifying to attend the Planning Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday and see the public process operate the way it is supposed to. City Hall was proposing a zoning change that was not popular with nearby residents nor necessary to accommodate the needs of the property owner.
This proposal was crafted without the input of those most affected by the decision. The residents formed a community group and worked their way into the process, bringing the issue to the Planning Advisory Board. Voices were respectfully listened to and a consensus was reached that satisfied the nearby residents and the property owner. Now it’s up to the council to do the right thing and approve the measure.
This is what should happen with the First Street Redesign in downtown Langley. City Hall determined their course of action behind closed doors. The local business owners were not a part of the process that determined that angled parking should be changed to parallel parking resulting in the loss of at least 12 spaces.
This is parking crucial to the economic vitality of these businesses. This change would allow for no ADA parking on all of First Street. First Street has an historic quality that works.
It is not necessary to tear it apart and build something new. I went door to door asking the business owners what they thought and almost all of them are opposed to this change. More reasonable alternatives exist that address all of the above concerns and improve First Street.
A group of business owners, planning professionals and concerned citizens is organizing to restart the public process to include the opinions of the small business owners of Langley and their customers to create a solution for First Street that works for all users.
To quote the Washington State Open Meetings act: The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.