Rep. Springer considering new bill that could end Houghton Community Council
By CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
Kirkland Reporter Editor
January 6, 2012 · 11:27 AM
After Rep. Larry Springer halted a contentious house bill last Legislative session that aimed to end the Houghton Community Council, he is considering a new bill that would achieve the same end.
However, this time around, he is introducing the bill much earlier in the session and will give residents ample time to respond.
"I thought it would be best to drop a clean bill, brand new, everyone will be notified and there will be no behind-closed doors allegations this time," said Springer.
Last session, many Houghton residents were outraged to learn that House Bill 1812 barreled through the session without any public awareness or opportunity for input. Many lambasted the measure for its seeming lack of transparency.
With just days to prepare for a last-minute push in Olympia, several residents scrambled to organize a petition against the measure, which would effectively end community councils in Washington State.
Sponsored by Reps. Steve Kirby (Tacoma), Ruth Kagi (Lake Forest Park) and Jim Moeller (Vancouver), at Springer's request, the bill would affect both the Houghton and East Bellevue community councils - the only two community councils in the state.
Springer, who said that community councils are "poor public policy," consequently asked the Senate to remove the bill from the agenda last March.
This session, Springer said the bill was tentatively scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Local Government on Jan. 10.
However, he said he spoke with the committee chair and they agreed not to proceed with the bill "because several of us are working on a new bill."
Springer said the new bill will smooth out some of the flaws in the old bill, including if voters in the entire City of Kirkland should be allowed to vote on whether or not to continue the existence of the HCC.
He said once the new bill is drafted, it will probably be introduced during the first week of the session. The 2012 regular session begins Jan. 9.
Houghton was the first community in the state to have its own neighborhood council, which was established in 1968 after a new state law allowed for the smaller of two merging cities to form its own community council.
Houghton and Kirkland agreed to consolidate, with the caveat that a community council would be established to review the city’s land-use decisions that related to the Houghton area. This gave the HCC the authority to veto those decisions, if necessary.
Houghton’s boundaries include the central Houghton and Lakeview neighborhoods, and a section of Bridle Trails that together make up 6,300 residents.Contact Kirkland Reporter Editor Carrie Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-822-9166 (ext 5050).