March 20, 2012
Public not engaged in redevelopment plan
The city of Issaquah has come a long way toward adopting a Central Issaquah Plan, a blueprint for a future Issaquah with buildings up to 150 feet tall, more people and traffic, and more commercial buildings combined with multifamily residential units.
Meetings begin this month and continue into May to hear public comment.
Sadly, only the usual suspects are likely to speak up. Developers and landowners, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and members of the Issaquah Environmental Council will be there — but few others. It doesn’t need to be that way.
When Issaquah wrote its Comprehensive Plan nearly three decades ago, a facilitator reached out to neighborhood groups, churches, clubs, sports organizations and more to walk them through a visioning process that helped write and preserve the characteristics of Issaquah that citizens hold dear.
Three years ago, the community packed Pickering Barn as participants sketched out possibilities for Issaquah. It was one of a series of evenings that got people enthused to dream big. Alas, those ideas seem to be shelved.
Last year, a mayor-appointed task force took a low profile while it waded through the implications of what a new plan should look like. It’s the basis of what is now coming before the Planning Policy Commission and the City Council.
We are rightly concerned that the general public will be absent from the upcoming meetings as the Central Issaquah Plan is discussed. It’s just more than the average citizen can bite off to be able to comment with knowledge. It will take a more engaging process if city leaders really want public input.
In an effort to call your attention to the plan via signs and a website, the Issaquah Environmental Council has launched Eyes on Issaquah, a campaign to encourage citizens to take a closer look. But that effort is independent of the city.
There is no rush to get the Central Issaquah Plan adopted. There are reportedly no developers waiting in the wings for its guidelines. Getting input from citizens should be the first priority.