Leaders insist commercial involvement organization's 'contentious' debate is over
With what some might call a free-fall in attendance, The Commercial Citizen Involvement Organization of Tualatin held its second meeting on Jan. 11 with 45 percent fewer participants.
In the words of the organization's newly elected president, Jonathan Crane, the 'contentious, lively debate' that took place at the first meeting two months prior is the likely reason attendance went from 73 to 33. However, now that the organization is through with establishing bylaw language, Crane is eager to stir up interest once again.
'Now that we're done with the bylaws, we can just promote our existence and get the question out as far as what people's concerns are,' Crane said. 'We truly want to hear from them.'
The initial formation of Tualatin's Citizen Involvement Organizations, finalized in late August of 2011, piqued a lot of interest and encouraged a fair amount of debate.
'I think it's fair to say everyone in this room wants what's best for Tualatin. I think our goals are the same,' Crane said during the Jan. 11 meeting. 'A lot of people who don't necessarily have the stomach or time for it were a little turned off by (the last meeting). We hope to get this organized fast so the city can get it right. The more they get to know the pulse of the community, the better they can govern.'
Much time was spent discussing bylaw language during the organization's initial meeting in November. One major point of contention involved the authority and mere existence of the Citizen Involvement Coordinating Committee, a group whose purpose is to act as a liaison between the organization and the city.
'The language has been fixed,' Crane said. 'There were about half a dozen people who really put in the time, crossing the t's, dotting the i's. We've been really diplomatic. Now that we're done with the bylaws, we can just promote our existence, find out of what people's concerns are. We truly want to hear from them.'
Near the start of the process, concerns had also been raised by members of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce regarding the exact role of the new commercial organization.
'We weren't a part of the process, so we just didn't know what it was going to look like,' said chamber CEO Linda Moholt. 'But now that everyone has met and made the bylaws, I think everyone feels very comfortable with it.'
The main role of the organization will be serving as a liaison to the city on matters that affect local businesses.
Crane said he has encountered business owners in Tualatin who felt like they were running into a wall with the city's business regulations. Crane cited this as an obstacle that the Commercial Citizen Involvement Organization can help businesses overcome.
'I've heard some business owners say, 'I've opened businesses in other places, but opening in Tualatin was a nightmare,'' Crane said. ''Why is it so difficult to get approved here?'
'We would all benefit from attracting business and making Tualatin a user-friendly place to be. I don't think that's the case right now. We can't change any policies, we can only inform the city as to what people's attitudes are.'
Marissa Houlberg runs Houlberg Development with her husband, Michael, out of their home. They are the only employees in their business, which has developed computer software for a number of clients around the country since 1985. Though they moved their business to Tualatin in 1993, they are not members of Tualatin's Chamber of Commerce.
'Local networking is not as important for our business,' Houlberg said, as none of their clients are anywhere near the Portland region. 'I like the idea that (the Citizen Involvement Organization) is business and residential, and that it's a way for the City Council to get more feedback. I've served on advisory committees, and it's hard to get people's feedback. I think this will be an easier way for the city to do that.'
Houlberg also said that it's good to have the support and resources the organization can provide.
'For small businesses, it's hard to foresee if an issue comes up that might affect us, and we'd like to have a voice,' Houlberg said. 'I'm a little guy, so it's kind of nice that I get the same (say) as someone else.'
'Word travels,' Crane said. 'We're all out to see Tualatin grow and flourish. To make that happen, word of mouth is one of the best things we can do. If we become a better place to open a business, I think we can all enjoy the success from that.'
For updates and information on any Citizen Involvement Organization, commercial or residential, as well as upcoming meeting times and locations, visit tualatincio.org.