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Councilman Gilman should step aside | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the editor:
Referencing your article re: Mark Wahl/city manager petition: as an architect/planner/educator, I am responding to the uninformed and petulant quotes from Mr. Wahl regarding our quality planning staffs — past and present.
One may be angry regarding decisions made on the basis of fact and code, but one does not have the luxury of loose and unsubstantiated personal attacks on professionals.
Just because people have degrees in science and math does not make them experts in all fields, especially planning and design with multiple stakeholder issues. This community lost two competent planners, Dr. Larry Cort and Fred Evander, from this type of verbal attack and lack of support from key elected officials.
Our new staff, recent to the job, barely unpacked, are already under attack from Mr. Wahl’s group of NIMBY-ists. These professionals require respect for their experience, knowledge and integrity; not underhanded and demeaning comments from the let-us-change-the-government-because-we-didn’t-get-our-way interests.
A number of these planners did not like certain subdivision proposals either — and they did their jobs and applied the existing code. If you don’t like it Mr. Wahl, change the code.
This is about Councilman Gilman who is controlling the planning process in Langley.
Mr. Gilman sat on the PAB committee for two years and then, as I witnessed, derailed its honest efforts for change with his pitch for “community cells” with transfer of development rights ($$) and land-use “budgeting” ($$) no-growth fringe philosophy. (Who sets the land values and square-foot budget per cell? Mr. Gilman’s group?)
I offered my services to the councilman to host and facilitate, as a University of Washington professor, a series of community information forums on alternative subdivision regulations and other code improvements (to ward off future Langley Passages) during the PAB process. I was rebuffed by him all three times. As a public-involvement specialist, I found this troubling and prophetic, and now I am considering a petition — for recall.
Yes, Mr. Wahl, you are polarizing the community; and this is about instituting the Gilman land-use budget/transfer-of-development-rights philosophy (expensive and unnecessary), implemented by a change in governmental structure. He has espoused and not deviated from this approach since the inception of the comprehensive planning process I witnessed as a housing committee member years ago, and this is a professional criticism, not a personal attack.
If you and your group want to reform the process, ask Councilman Gilman to recuse himself in writing from all future mayoral aspirations and to return the planning process back to the people and planning professionals.
In my professional opinion, it is a conflict of interest for a council member to write plan elements and codes and then vote on them; and I am contacting state planning officials regarding this issue.