Guest Column

There is talk of recall in our town. Residents who feel ignored and unheard are threatening to recall the entire City Council over the location of managed camps for homeless persons. It is important that the council communicate about this openly because it is a growing concern that we can address together without pitting one neighborhood against another.

Some feel the people we elected to represent us have failed to connect with us. In other cities, council positions are considered full time. Councilors have dedicated staff to help with constituent relations. Those council members usually represent a geographic section of their city.

In Bend councilors are elected at large. Although they do serve as liaisons to neighborhoods, they are not responsible to a specific district. Most of them have full-time jobs or businesses to juggle with their council duties. Councilors do not have aides, so they must rely on city staff to shape their decisions.

That is why Neighborhood Associations (NA) are so important. They are specifically charged with facilitating conversation between residents and the council. They are the only city committees with this task. NAs are familiar with the specific needs of their residents. Mountain View, Southeast and Old Farm NAs understand how the sewer and water resources are being stretched by their ever-expanding boundaries and new subdivisions. Old Bend knows the stresses homeowners face when throngs crowd their streets and sidewalks.

Under Bend’s current system, it is critical that residents participate in their Neighborhood Association to ensure good communications. NAs are well funded by the city so they need not fundraise. An important role is that of reading and interpreting land use notices and permit applications. As development occurs, comments made in the beginning stages of planning have the greatest impact. In support of this function the Neighborhood Leadership Alliance developed a Land Use Guide posted on the city’s website.

NA boards are always recruiting and seeking out those with a variety of viewpoints.

They hope to be seen as welcoming to new and established residents and businesses. They all need members with good communication skills and social media expertise and that means folks who know their way around Facebook and Nextdoor.

In this age of multiculturalism, they would like to have people of different ethnic backgrounds on their board of directors.

When the City Council has an important decision to make, it should communicate directly with the individual neighborhood leaders to sound out community reaction.

Early conversations avoid misunderstanding and aid in detecting unintended impacts from a policy. Council will find residents care about our city and want to be part of keeping it the friendly, welcoming place it is known to be. Too often despite the good work of the communications department, residents don’t learn about an issue until it is too late. That is in contradiction to the mission to “provide residents the opportunity to help shape the future of their neighborhood and City.” Managing a city like ours is a big job. The staff and council need all the help they can get. Neighborhood Associations are meant to be part of the larger team.

Editor’s note: The author requested we run a Spanish translation of the first two paragraphs. It was prepared by Catalina Frank of Translations y Traducciones for the author.

Hay rumores de una revocatoria en nuestro municipio. Los residentes que se sienten ignorados y no atendidos amenazan con remover a todos los miembros del Concejo Municipal debido a la ubicación de los campamentos administrados para personas sin hogar. Es importante que el Concejo se comunique abiertamente sobre este tema pues es una preocupación creciente que debemos abordar juntos, sin tener que enfrentar a un vecindario contra el otro.

Algunos sienten que las personas que elegimos para representarnos no han logrado conectar con nosotros. En otros municipios, los cargos del concejo se consideran de tiempo completo. Los concejales tienen personal dedicado a las relaciones públicas con los constituyentes. Y por lo general, los miembros del concejo representan una sección geográfica del municipio.

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Joette Storm is a resident of Bend’s Boyd Acres neighborhood and the convener of the Neighborhood Association Round Table.

(2) comments

MF

I’d rather try and solve the problem of world peace than homelessness.

Transitory Inflation

Talk of recall? lol

NA's are a form of entropy. They hold back adaptation to changing conditions.

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