Langley committee asks for removal of residency requirement

The less restrictive requirements would allow a more ethnically diverse population to participate.

One of Langley’s citizen-led commissions is considering less restrictive residency requirements that would allow a wider and more ethnically diverse population to participate as members.

At the April 1 city council meeting, Councilmember Chris Carlson informed his colleagues about the Dismantling Systemic Racism Advisory Group’s request for the removal of the Langley residency requirement for members in order to draw BIPOC – Black, indigenous and people of color – from the broader community that might have connections to Langley beyond residence. Carlson said there are at least two people who have expressed interest in joining the committee; they have family or work connections to Langley but live elsewhere.

Current requirements call for at least two Langley residents on the committee, and the others must live within the bounds of the South Whidbey School District. More than half of the commission should be BIPOC.

“When I ran for council, I was informed that there were only five permanent African American residents of Langley,” Councilmember Harolynne Bobis said. “I don’t know what the population is of Asian Americans, Latino Americans in Langley proper. So I am all for getting rid of this and looking at South Whidbey as a whole. I mean, you can’t make what you don’t have.”

Councilmember Craig Cyr said he strongly supported this action for BIPOC individuals. Councilmember Gail Fleming, on the other hand, said she would feel a little bit strange about no one left who lives in Langley being part of the city committee.

Carlson suggested amending the city’s uniform code for citizen commissions, which would give the council the discretion when approving potential members to bypass whatever residency requirements exist.

Councilmember Rhonda Salerno pointed out that the council has already reviewed the uniform code and previously voted on this action. She told Carlson to let the Dismantling Systemic Racism Advisory Group know that residency requirements can be overridden.