Update – Sep. 22: I visited this meeting, which was attended by about 20 high-level community volunteers from West Seattle. City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Lisa Herbold showed up to listen. (Herbold had to leave, but she brought a staff member who remained.)
The community people expressed their dismay and incomprehension at the disrespect shown to them by the Mayor and the Department of Neighborhoods. The City made no attempt to work with the District Councils before the Mayor’s edict. The people at this meeting could not understand why they were dumped without notice or consultation. They did not say it, but I think the Mayor was responding to his “urbanist” constituency, who hate old people on principle.
These are the people who show up and work on behalf of their neighbors and their community. For the Mayor to cut ties and insult them as ineffectual racists is both ignorant and cruel.
The fear among community volunteers is that we will lose the ability to advocate for specific neighborhoods based on geography. The Mayor’s plan is reorganize “citizen engagement” according to interest groups (which will result in “silos”). As one person said: “I don’t know why I would have a gay opinion about sidewalks!”
Councilmember Burgess assured the group that the City Council will not allow neighborhood advocacy to disappear, but Cindi Barker immediately pointed out that the Mayor’s new Comp Plan does exactly that, removing any reference to “neighborhoods” and replacing them with vaguely-defined “communities.” The Comp Plan will be before the Council again on October 10.
The Department of Neighborhoods is walking back the Mayor’s rhetoric on District Councils (see this post). Legislation is expected to be part of the upcoming budget.
Original post: The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council – in the person of its chair, Mat McBride – has invited four City Councilmembers to a District Council meeting Sept. 21. In an open letter published in the West Seattle Blog, McBride invites the Councilmembers to “a conversation…regarding community, engagement, and the future of the District Council system within the Department of Neighborhoods.”
The four invited Councilmembers are: Herbold, González, Burgess, and Johnson, who are representative of District 1 (West Seattle), the two at-large Council positions, and the Neighborhoods committee.
In his invitation, McBride makes a spirited defense of the District Council system, and criticizes the Mayor’s proposed online processes for “community engagement”:
It is vital to provide a forum in which the public can champion or object to issues, initiatives, or proposals within a specific geography. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to people doing things. Not taking a poll, not reading a newsletter, not submitting a comment to a blog, but actual honest-to-goodness engagement.
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council will meet Wednesday, Sep. 21, 7:00-9:00 PM, at the Youngstown Cultural Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106.