It was a welcome move by Wolbach and an attempt to re-establish a more congenial atmosphere on a new council that has been unable to find its bearings.
But unfortunately Wolbach, who ran for City Council in 2014 on a platform that emphasized improving civility in Council interactions, managed to undermine his own attempt at rehabilitation by unleashing needless pot shots at DuBois (for his "inaccurate op-ed" in the Weekly), a former mayor, presumably Pat Burt (for "misrepresentations"), and Board of Education member Todd Collins (for a "hyperbolic and inaccurate" letter to the council expressing concern about the impact on schools of the targeted growth in housing in the draft Comprehensive Plan).
Not exactly the way to re-build bridges.
Councilman Adrian Fine similarly didn't help himself by unapologetically saying that it was "democracy in action" for the council to have reversed its vote after a community outcry over the council's "irrationality." A better form of democracy would be to act more thoughtfully and rationally in the first place.
For his part, Mayor Greg Scharff thankfully pivoted away from the hard-edged leadership posture he has taken thus far and took a notably more constructive and inclusive approach as he effectively led the council through a series of Comprehensive Plan issues that could have ignited new antagonisms among members.
By the end of the evening, Scharff ended up crafting a compromise and joined the four slower-growth council members (DuBois, Filseth, Holman and Kou) in passing a reasonable "preferred" plan for housing and job growth to be used in the final environmental assessment of the revised Comp Plan. We hope to see more of this version of Scharff going forward.
A failure to communicate
The city's voicemail box for questions is full and unable to take additional messages. Emailed questions go unanswered. A website is nearly impossible to navigate. A complicated and poorly explained process for getting permits leaves people confused and frustrated. And outreach is so poor that it reinforces the perception that the city doesn't care how its actions may impact the public, and especially the business community.
That is the state of the rushed implementation of the new residential permit-parking program in the Evergreen Park and Mayfield neighborhoods, approved by the City Council in January and taking effect in a week, with enforcement set to start on April 24.
Given the poor communication, both residents and employees of nearby businesses are in for some big surprises when the permit-only parking signs go up and new two-hour restrictions are implemented.
The new Evergreen Park and Mayfield parking programs are not simple and threaten to severely disrupt the California Avenue business district and the customers on which it depends. With only 125 permits being issued to employees for parking in each of the two neighborhoods, the easily predictable result will be large increases in the number of employees having no place to park and therefore needing to move their cars every two hours, depriving shoppers of spaces and creating unnecessary congestion.
And at the end of the year, the parking lot behind Starbuck's will close for more than a year while a new parking garage is constructed. That will further reduce the available parking by 160 spaces.
This week, businesses were given less than 24 hours notice, through email, of a meeting held yesterday to explain the program and its complicated permit system.
There is no excuse for such poor communication about a program that has so much potential for disruption.
This story contains 680 words.
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