Rather than start with aspersions and angst, we should start with a positive vision. Our land use change process should be:
Comprehensive – “We are dancing with the 10,000 things.” Economics, aesthetics, public facilities, sustainability and 9,996 other aspects need a reasonable level of timely evaluation.
Organized – Starting with early grass roots input, through final approval, the process should be a clear step by step path that is known to all stakeholders.
Inclusive – To quench the community thirst for input, the process should reach out to those who have something to say but are overwhelmed by an un facilitated process.
Democratic – To avoid the competing claims that “my view represents the majority,” from the earliest community input meetings to the final approval by elected officials, decisions should be guided by the clear open votes.
Fair – Those with limited resources should not be shut out by of the process by a lack of access to neutral legal and technical expertise.
Civil – Although emotions often run high when people perceive the smallest threat to their quality of life, the process should emphasize civil discourse and respect for the good intentions of all participants.
Revenue Neutral – The beneficiaries of land use change should pay the full cost of every aspect of the change that benefits them. Fees in advance of services should be paid so that the County can hire everything from facilitators for community input to experts that study transportation, economics, sustainability and ecological issues.
Limited – The process should avoid repetitive testimony, multiple hearings, unending appeals and endless evaluation. In the interest of economics and energy, there should be a level of focus that limits all aspects of the process.
Malleable – We live in an age of continuing advances and need to allow for continuing evolution of how we use our land. Our process needs to allow for continuous evolution in the face of new realities and opportunities.
Future Focused – We need to see beyond the current reality to a future that is far closer to perfection. We need to insure that all that we put in place aims for that higher reality.
The next question is what kind of process will enhance the probability of achieving these benchmarks?