County manager’s comments about citizen testimony ‘disconcerting’

Susan Rasmussen
Clark County Citizens United, Inc.

When citizens take the time to come in and present their points of view under difficult conditions in public hearings, the county public record should accurately reflect their efforts.  Clark County Citizens United (CCCU) presented testimony on behalf of our membership at every hearing and open house for this growth plan update, going back years.  CCCU’s testimony reflects the important issues of our members and wanted to be clear our views were presented.Letter to the editor clarkcountytoday.com

CCCU has been persistent as our members believe in the democratic process and critical issues impacting their lands were being ignored.  As such, it was very disconcerting when the county manager (Mark McCauley) declared,  “You and Carol (Levanen) have been packing the record.”  I’ve never witnessed a display of disrespect directed at the work of a citizens’ group by an authoritative official.  A county prosecutor stood nearby.

CCCU began preparations for our appeal of the county’s growth plan by researching the public record.  Mysteriously, hours upon hours of landowner’s testimony, CCCU testimony, emails, maps, documents reports and notebooks containing facts somehow were withdrawn or failed to be placed in the public record for all to review.  Additionally, hundreds of comment cards collected at CCCU’s 2016 Hockinson open house were missing.  (Deputy) Prosecutor (Chris) Cook attended the open house.  Amazingly, the record contained a mere fraction of CCCU’s vast body of work even though all data was lawfully submitted.

SUSAN RASMUSSEN
SUSAN RASMUSSEN

In order for a record to be public, the documents are required to be posted in a way that ensures all people can easily access them for review.  The review enables the will of the people to be recognized by officials and allows informed discussions.  This elevates the democratic process and drives good policy making.  This is why public records are foundational to all planning work under state GMA laws.  Was CCCU’s data unavailable for review in the record when important decisions by a new Board of County Councilors were about to be made?  Their decisions would impact the futures of rural properties for their constituents.

CCCU trusted and relied on the democratic process to play out.  CCCU trusted the sanctity of the public record would be ensured, much like we trusted the county would eventually comply with all aspects of Judge Poyfair’s 1999 Superior Court Orders.  The Orders state the county applied an unauthorized formula to land use regulations.  “The result is a plan that gives little regard for the realities of existing rural development in direct contradictions of the terms of the GMA,”  Honorable Edwin Poyfair.

Judge Poyfair referred to the land use zoning regulations that show only 8 percent of all parcels zoned Forest-40, and 17 percent of Ag-20 parcels comply to their zone size.  There is a great disconnect between the regulatory parcel zoning sizes, and actual predominant parcel sizes on the ground.   It is stunning county staff ignore court orders and claim, “compliance to GMA.”  Research reveals the county has made little attempt to dismantle the, “erroneous formula,” and comply with all Superior Court Orders.

Clark County has clearly established a pattern regarding rural issues and property rights.  The county has failed to live up to obligations to satisfy Superior Court orders.  A county official declares CCCU is packing the record.  Somehow, hundreds of CCCU’s testimony pertinent for landowner issues … missing.  To this day, the county uses a generic version of rural character rather than a truthful description.  What are citizens to think?

CCCU believes in responsible growth planning that provides the most benefits for all citizens, urban and rural.  Please help ensure CCCU’s appeal of the county’s comprehensive growth plan is advanced into the courts.  

Donations can be mailed to CCCU, P. O. Box 2188, Battle Ground, WA., 98604, or online at clarkcountycitizensunited.org.

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