September/October President's Message

By Rick Sepler

Goodbye and Thanks!

This is my last President’s Column.  My term ends at the end of October and my able successor - President-elect Nancy Eklund - will be crafting the November-December column as a means of introducing herself to our membership.  I know Nancy will do a fine job supporting our Chapter and wish her the best of luck.

For me, it’s been a good ride. I’ve learnt a lot about the diversity of our membership across the state and have come to further appreciate how much our profession cares about developing better outcomes for all Washingtonians. That may be our superpower:  the ability to see a better future and effectively guide our communities there.

It’s been a privilege to serve as your President and I appreciate the support you have shown during my term.

A Parting Shot

Planners generally have a well-developed idea of how things should turnout. After all, that is our stock and trade – the ability to develop alternative futures and help select the best path forward in the face of anticipated challenges. As a profession, we are paid to have a clear vision of intended outcomes. As such, we can likely articulate what a horrible future might bring (Planner’s Hell) and what some of the aspects of the perfect future (Planner’s Heaven) might bring. I offer up some observations of both for you below.

In Planner’s Hell:

  • All of the residents in a jurisdiction must be personally noticed by owl post 60 days in advance of any forthcoming public hearing so that someone can say at the meeting that they “never received an owl.”
  • Public comment at meetings are not time-limited and speakers are encouraged to bring snacks and blankets and to “settle in.” Extra negative karma points will be awarded should anyone say “I didn’t plan to speak on this topic, but…” or “I’m not against this project” but then spend 20 minutes stating why the application should be denied.
  • Parking in the public right-of-way in front of your house is constitutionally guaranteed.

In Planner’s Heaven:

  • Elected and appointed officials read the whole packet before the meeting and highlight and underline the best parts of submitted materials, which they compliment you on during discussion.
  • Public comment against a proposal doesn’t cite “traffic, parking, noise and adverse effects on wildlife” as the sole basis to deny a project. 
  • Community character isn’t defined by...well…community characters.

Upon imparting this wisdom, I exit stage left.

Return to the July/August issue of the Washington Planner