My dear fellow citizens, do you want to have a say in the future of West Linn? Then now is the time to take notice and speak up before these rights disappear.

You perhaps say, “I am too busy. I don’t really follow the local issues. Nothing I say or do will make a difference. West Linn is a wonderful place to live and everything is just fine.”

I understand these comments very well, but unfortunately things are changing whether you like it or not. Decisions about West Linn are being made behind closed doors and without citizen input. The “Regulatory Streaming” project is one example of these changes. The opportunity for West Linn residents to testify at City Council and Planning Commission meetings is steadily being diminished. Decisions like the LOT project and expansion of the White Oak Savanna Park show that public testimony is also being ignored.

All West Linn citizens belong to one of the eleven Neighborhood Associations. Meetings generally run 1 to 1.5 hours one evening a month, so participation is not arduous. The hard working volunteer officers of these associations attend City Council, Planning Commission pre-planning and other meetings, gathering information on topics that impact West Linn and their local area.

Developers are required to present upcoming plans to the Neighborhood Associations impacted by their proposals and members have the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns and stay informed. Yet attendance at some of these associations is often so poor that they either meet at very infrequent intervals or stop altogether.

In a meeting to set city goals earlier this year, the City Council discussed the role and relevance of Neighborhood Associations, raising concerns with many West Linn residents that the council may plan to disband the associations altogether. The opportunity for individual West Linn citizens and Neighborhood Associations to use the de novo process is already under threat, public testimony time curtailed and gradually the voices of West Linn citizens are being silenced. We need these Neighborhood Associations, because without them, citizens lose a collective voice and decisions impacting the community would go unchallenged.

“What can I do in the limited time I have available?” you might ask yourself. You have a voice and now is the time for you to be heard before it’s too late.

Support your Neighborhood Association, even if you can only attend occasional meetings. Meeting agendas and minutes for Neighborhood Associations and all City Council Meetings are posted online on the city website. Check what is up for discussion and read the minutes if you cannot attend. Send written testimony to the City Council and Planning Commission if you are unable to attend. Read up on issues and VOTE whenever you have the opportunity!

Oregonians are lucky that they are not required to line up at polling booths; we just check a box and mail our choices. The ballot doesn’t even require a stamp if you use one of the available drop boxes. What could be easier? And still we have low voter turnout in most elections.

My friends and neighbors in West Linn, speak now or you will end up forever holding your peace. Speak now before our beautiful city goes to the developers and our schools become hopelessly overcrowded. Speak and stand up for all the reasons you love to live in West Linn.

Brenda Perry is a resident of West Linn

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