Speaking to the Redmond City Council

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Tonight was my first time speaking in front of the Redmond City Council, Mayor, City Commission staff and an audience.  I’ve written emails, talked in person to and written ‘Letters to the Editor’ of the Redmond Reporter.  I’ve watched meetings online and attended them in person.  But tonight, was a first for me.

I’ll take a brief moment to thank my Rogue River High School speech teacher, Mr. Rolph.  Brief, because although he embarrassed me horribly during one of my speeches, completely throwing me off and then giving me a horrible grade because I couldn’t regain my composure; that moment has stayed with me forever.  Negative reinforcement to not ever to that again.

I wrote my speech 3 times, more if you count the times I wrote it in my head and in the shower.  The first time the words hit the electronic page on my laptop, I had a lot of emotives in the words.  Words like “Disappointed, discouraged, angry, and astounded” formed the basis for my 4 minute speech.  I let it sit, as I do most of my writings, for a couple of days.  The words bounce around in my head and some of them are replaced with other words.  Some of the words are snotty enough to stick their tongue out or wag a finger at me, others just crawl away and disappear.

Then, one morning in the shower, a new speech started in my head.  So, after I finished my morning stuff, I sat down with a cup of coffee and wrote it all down.  (I am amazed that so many of the things I write actually come to me in the shower.  I’m barely awake and could hardly, if pressed, form more than one or two coherent words before the shower is finished, let alone before at least 2 cups of coffee.  But, my muse apparently lurks in hot water and steam.)

I have 4 minutes, and I have no idea how many words that is, so I decide to video myself (shudder) with my phone camera which has a timer.  I had to edit and shorten it about 3 times, rearrange a couple of paragraphs and finally I had it down to under 4 minutes.  A friend suggested it be no more than 3:40 in case there were interruptions during the speech as the clock runs regardless of interruptions.  I’m not sure if this friend expected cheering or jeering, but I managed to whittle it down to 3:45.  Then I deleted the video.  Because seriously, I do NOT want to look at me giving a speech from the front.  (shudder).

So, now I have TWO DAYS to obsess about it.  Two words:  EEE-EEK! (see?  2!)  There are a millions things I could say.  Are all my facts right?  What if I lose track of the pages?  Are people going to heckle me?  Will I wake up to my house TP’d some morning?  Will my son be shunned by his peers?  Maybe my….Relax.  It’s just the City Council meeting.  It’s not speech class in High School with Mr. Rolph.

I arm myself with adult clothing (slacks and a blouse instead of yoga pants and a fleece shirt), reinforce my nerve with a Vente Carmel Mocha (WITH WHIPPED CREAM!) and park in the lot.  Early.  30 minutes before the meeting starts and I’m not the first one there.  Sign in and sit down.  A couple of people I know are there and as the time draws closer to the meeting time the room fills up.  A Boy Scout working on his “Citizenship in the Community Badge”.  Several neighbors.  People I recognize from various organizations (but have forgotten their names).  A businessman I’ve been communicating with regarding facts and information.

I’m the 3rd or 4th speaker and I’m nervous.  But, I get up there and I do it.  No heckling, no jeering, no buzzer.  I sit down and I’m shaking, palpitating heart and pounding in my ears.  Deep breaths.  Finish the Carmel Mocha.  Ahhhh.

Nearly 1 hour and 15 minutes of public comment before the meeting even started.  Most of them were business people or residents of Education Hill and Redmond.  Most of them were AGAINST the amendment proposal (see below).  A couple of advocates for homeless gave impassioned speeches about length of stay and compassion.  One young woman, who works for Union Gospel Mission gave a moving speech about helping the homeless, then stunned the crowd by revealing that she was the victim of one of the two documented sexual assaults by a homeless person in Redmond.

If you’d like more information on the proposed amendment, here is the link and some information:

The Redmond Planning Commission has issued a report (dated January 13, 2016) regarding amending the temporary use regulations for encampments.

So here, is my speech (before a few last-minute edits) that I gave to the Redmond City Council tonight, March 15th, 2016.

Members of Redmond City Council, Mayor Marchione and residents of Redmond, good evening. 

I have lived here in Redmond on Education Hill for nearly 30 years.  The City has changed a lot in those 30 years; adding residents, businesses and traffic to all areas and neighborhoods. 

When “Tent City” was first proposed, many of the residents on Education Hill were accordingly concerned about the temporary encampment and asked the City to reconsider their agreement with St. Jude.  That original permit was approved in December 2006 and, despite misgivings by the neighborhood, Tent City 4 began its stay in Redmond.  10 years later many of the residents near the encampment sites are still not persuaded of the wisdom or value of allowing Tent City 4 to be hosted on a continued basis; even when only allowed for 3 months.

Many of the residents here tonight did not learn of the proposed zoning amendment from the City; they were informed instead by business owners, friends and social media pages.  The City professes to follow Redmond Code by posting notifications at City Hall, the Library; a brief but tardy article in the local newspaper and a small blip on the City website.  However little effort was made to notify the residents that will actually live near these encampments on a daily basis for the proposed 6 months out of the year.

This lack of notification is just another example of the City making decisions on their own with little attempt or concern for the people who elected them.  In the past month, Mayor Marchione has notified residents 3 times of impending windstorms on the Education Hill Facebook page; however nothing on that same social media page regarding this or other proposed zoning code amendments that have longer lasting consequences and are every bit as urgent as a windstorm. 

Once again, the City of Redmond; represented by the Council and the Mayor, appears to have ignored the opinion of neighbors surrounding these encampments by entertaining the idea of extending the stays from 3 to 6 months per location.  Not only does this show an extreme disrespect to the people of Redmond, it undermines the quality of the representative government that the Council and Mayor are supposed to uphold.  Lengthened stays would increase the stay at each location to twice the amount of time allowed at any other encampment site on the Eastside.

If this amendment is passed, up to 100 encampment residents will be able to live in Redmond City limits year-round; presumably moving from the parking area at St. Jude’s Parish to the parking area at Redwood Family Church. It is absurd to entertain this idea when many of our own Redmond residents are struggling with shelter, food and healthcare.  There is barely a day that goes by where I don’t see someone on a corner in Redmond with a sign asking for money.  Our schools collect food and clothing donations which are sent home to families that need them.  If we as a city cannot take care of our own residents, how can we even consider helping people who, by their own admission, come from areas outside of the Eastside; EVEN FROM OUT OF STATE? 

I am discouraged because I believe the Council and Mayor have already made their decision in favor of the recommendation as outlined by the Planning Commission without giving serious and thoughtful consideration to the views and opinions of the residents of Education Hill and of Redmond.

I PLEAD with the Councilmembers and Mayor to REJECT the proposed zoning amendment.  Allowing up to 100 additional people to camp in parking lots year-round is of little value to the taxpayers and business owners in Redmond; and of even lesser benefit to our growing City.

Thank you.

“The recommended Zoning Code update would: allow five encampment stays under one initial permit; require no additional fees for those subsequent stays, allow encampments to stay up to six months with six months between stays, require subsequent stays send a courtesy reminder to residents of approved encampment; and reaffirm the revocability of the issued permit. The Planning Commission also proposes that permit fees should be lowered to $200/stay ($1,000 permit fee).”

You are  encouraged to communicate your opinion to the Council and the Mayor on this issue on your own by emailing:

mayorcouncil@redmond.gov
council@redmond.gov

 

 

 

 

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