Becoming an Activist in the Community
Friday, June 27th, 2014
We are told that our voice is heard. I go to community and government meetings when I can. I learn about the most current issues, find out about the events and meet others in the area or with similar interests. I go because I hope that my voice is heard because for every person that goes to meetings and comments, there are hundreds … probably thousands … of people that do not show.
This week I attended the Westlake Stakeholders Group in Seattle. I have a vested interest in the changes ahead as the Seattle Dept of Transportation creates a plan to redo the Westlake parking and walkway to accommodate more bicyclists and pedestrians in a better designed path. This will eliminate a good portion of the parking affecting the businesses, those that live aboard boats or floating homes, and boaters. With all the comments and emails tabulated, the Dept of Transportation said that safety is the number one concern from the stakeholders. I find that interesting because thousands of people are affected. They may have written about the parking concerns, ingress and egress, commuters parking, and even the cyclists and pedestrians commented … etc.. and added the safety issue. Yes, everyone is concerned about the fact that there have been many bike/car/pedestrian accidents and near misses, but I don’t think the overall feeling in the audience is that they are willing to lose 20-40% of the parking because of safety. The bikers ride way too fast, it is not clear where they should be riding, they are not clear about right of way and are often not being conscious of the traffic. But, the Seattle Dept of Transportation has “safety” on their number one concern of the citizens. I sat there in that room at the table surrounded by people that are impacted on a much greater level and I could feel that maybe their voice wasn’t heard.
I also attended the quarterly real estate commission meeting where the six commissioners appointed by the Governor make decisions that affect every real estate licensee in the state. Virtually no one in the industry attends. The Realtor association is represented by one or a few people, the Center for Real Estate Research is there for their report, and a few of us that are educators. I have attended more commission meetings than anyone else has in the state for over 20 years. (I think I missed 6 meetings since 1993) This month two real estate made a presentation about floating homes and the issues surrounding having them sold by real estate agents and marketed like single family homes on the MLS. They have been reclassified in the last year based on whether they are houses, barges, houseboats, and recreational. It was a very interesting presentation. Where it goes next, I am unclear. The MLS wants to follow the DOL which would take years to pass any legislation. Over the years I have been a voice at the meetings with the intent to speak for the thousands of real estate agents that will never attend but be affected by decisions.
The Finn Hill Alliance held a meeting this week focusing on landslides, erosion, and water issues in this area that is newly incorporated into the City of Kirkland. Representatives from the City, a geotechnical engineer, and a woman from the Univ of Washington were on a panel. It was a small course in landslides including information about the Oso Landslide this spring. My house is located at the end of a ravine and bottom of a hill. It is not in any immediate danger which is the same for all this area. there are some upcoming events in the neighborhood. I met some other neighbors. It was pretty clear that though City employees stand and say that they are willing to meet with citizens and are interested in their concerns, I felt that the neighbors surrounding me didn’t share that same feeling.
My voice, though loud sometimes, feels lost in these kinds of meetings. I hope that I make a positive difference for those that do not attend.