Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On the Campaign Trail

Knocking on a stranger's door and trying to engage them in a discussion about city government may seem like an awkward task, but it's not. Virtually everyone is polite, many seem grateful to see me making the effort, and a sizeable percentage have something they want to talk about. City government is about small things that affect our everyday lives, so I guess it's not surprising people have strong opinions.

It should be no surprise I've been hearing a lot about the new water rate structure and ground water runoff surcharge since the water bills just arrived. The biggest complaint is the hardship it imposes on fixed income residents. Several different people commented to me that Hood River yards look "less green" this summer. I understand the motivation behind the new water rate structure-- promoting conservation and raising money for the new water pipes-- but based on the level of anger I heard I'd like to see a review of the rate structure at its one year anniversary. I hope some tuning could reduce the hardship in specific areas while still generating the needed fees for system improvements.

I'm keeping a running list of issues people have asked me to look into. For now I'll present it unfiltered and without analysis or solutions:
  • Water rates
  • Sewer failures
  • Parking at downtown shops, especially during events
  • Parking at the library
  • Parking at the post office
  • Disruption to neighborhoods during construction (parking, noise, trash, dirt, traffic)
  • Lax monitoring/repair of damage caused during construction (roads, signs, curbs)
  • "View wars" as houses vie to get a view blocked by the house in front of them
  • Absentee owners/ landlords
  • Illegal apartments (noise, parking issues)
  • Truck brake noise on the freeway
  • Protection of waterfront/ riparian zone
  • Perception of anti-business attitude in city government
I'm not suggesting I will be able to solve all these problems, but I will try to follow up on several of them. I hope the other city councilors get a chance to solicit some raw, unfiltered feedback from the city residents. I think there is a difference between what people will tell you when you send them a survey and what they will tell you when you knock on their door.


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