Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good fencing makes for good neighborhood associations

The city of Bend is wondering if it should allow its 13 neighborhood associations to be politically active.

This would be a monumental shift.

The neighborhood associations were created almost 10 years ago, after the Westside Consortium fiasco, to allow various areas of the city to air their gripes in public about anything from barking dogs to failing roads.

The city would listen politely and then completely disregard what these associations wanted. The "charettes" held about the Reed Market Road corridor are a prime example.

The associations were designed to give the appearance that the city listened to its non-prominent citizens, when, in fact, the opposite was true.

The only thing the city wanted from neighborhood associations was benign participation like organizing trash pickups or noxious weed-pulling days.

Well, city officials should not only let neighborhood associations become political in nature, like endorsing candidates for city council, but they should also be allowed to sue the city or developers when agreed-upon conditions of development are not met. Or when persistent problems are not remedied. Or when the city says it has run out of bond money and can't fix Reed Market afterall.

The only way citizens have any redress is through the legal process. Why do you think the builders' association/union is so successful? Because it sues government so often.

The way to give neighborhood associations a true voice in their own city is to let them sue -- early and often, if need be -- so that we can maintain a livable city.

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