During the Feb. 13 Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission meeting, Commissioner Alena Nelson-Vietmeier took a bold and firm stance on community engagement. (As the video was cut off prior to her statement, I will provide the gist of it.) Past and current outreach efforts were and are falling short of expectations. Ms. Nelson-Vietmeier made it clear she would not continue to rely on statements from the city or the hired consultants for housing outreach activities.
While commissioners were in the process of volunteering to join Ms. Nelson-Vietmeier on a citizen outreach committee, Director Hope reminded commissioners they also need to focus on their public policy committees.
As the commissioners have not received the outreach work they expected, I applaud the commissioners in devoting even more of their time to finding ways to involve a wider range and larger number of citizens. Alena made a point of including Russian and Ukrainian citizens. The commissioners will not settle on the stakeholders the city has relied on in the past (plus a few housing populations, recommended by the city).
In a previous meeting, the housing commission questioned and changed the term and definition of stakeholder. The commission clarified that the residents are the stakeholders, not certain groups in the city.
There is a need for improved accuracy and transparency. There is nowhere to find an accurate picture of the citizens housing commission meetings, not even if one combines all of available sources: videos, resources, agendas… Pieces are missing, and some are inaccurate.
There appears a need for additional resources to aid in the following
Online Agenda Packets
- Many of the agendas repeat information from other agendas (dates are inaccurate).
- Agendas do not include materials presented during the meetings (such as PowerPoint presentation slides).
- Agendas regularly have significantly more items than could possibly be covered.
- There are no true minutes to reflect what actually happened.
- Materials that were covered during the meeting are not added to the final agendas, or “approved notes”.
- Basic presentations and materials are often not displayed for the public to follow along on the presentation screen. (This is especially problematic when the materials are also left out of the online agendas.)
- The audio-video recordings are cut off before meetings end, thus valuable material and discussion are lost.