Letter | The future of the Houghton Community Council should rely on commitments and open and transparent process

To: Kirkland Views

The recently proposed state legislation that would affect the Houghton Community Council (HB 1812) created quite a stir in Kirkland. After much discussion and feedback, the legislation was pulled. Potential changes like this should have been the result of an open and transparent process. Anything less creates suspicion and mistrust between citizens and government.

I want the Houghton community to understand that the proposed legislation was just as much a surprise to me as it was to the citizens of Houghton. I regret that this legislation was proposed because the Kirkland City Council has a good working relationship with the Houghton Community Council, and I hope this will not damage that relationship.

An even bigger issue, however, is government’s responsibility to honor its commitments. The Houghton Community Council was established by a commitment that was made when Houghton and Kirkland were combined into one city decades ago. The Community Council was created as part of an agreement to convince Houghton to become part of Kirkland. It was part of a “trade-off”: Houghton became part of Kirkland in exchange for the creation of the Houghton Community Council to preserve local control over land use decisions. A commitment was made and this commitment should be honored. How can citizens trust government if it does not honor its commitments?

The Houghton Community Council is a Kirkland institution and I believe it should continue. Yes, it can make land use planning and other decision making more complicated and time consuming. We have learned through experience that we can make the process more efficient and get a better outcome if we work together on important decisions and that we start working together early in the process. Open communication and working together leads to successful decision making.

If there is to be a change in the Houghton Community Council, it should come from the Houghton community, and should be the result of an open and transparent community process.  As long as the Houghton neighborhood supports and values the Houghton Community Council, I support and value the Houghton Community Council.

 

Jessica Greenway Kirkland City Councilmember