Here is an open letter 5/9/2011 to the Molalla City Council. Since the Council/city manager have allowed a HALF A MILLION DOLLAR PLANNING DEFICIT to be created for an urban reserve plan that just got RESOUNDINGLY DENIED, it is time for a dose of reality. Molalla’s future can’t afford a FAKE PLANNER WITH ZERO CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS:

Dear Molalla City Councilors,

I just spoke with Jolene Morishita, Asst. City Mgr. of Gladstone (503-656-5225) She is very helpful and friendly and I urge anyone with questions to call her.  Gladstone is a city of about 12,000 residents (it just LOST population I was told) that has used County Contract Planning for the past 5+ years.

In Gladstone:

All planning is handled at Clackamas County. Citizens go to Clackamas County to do the paperwork. Gladstone city staff (Jolene, the City Mgr. and an Administrative Asst.) answer questions on the phone as necessary and direct citizens to the codes posted online – but ALL ELSE is done at County offices BY A PROFESSIONAL, COLLEGE EDUCATED COUNTY PLANNER.

The appointed County planner attends Gladstone Planning Commission meetings. A city legal counsel also attends, paid for by Gladstone.

Jolene said Gladstone is very, very happy with the Contract Planning services. I previously  sent the Council information about how very, very happy Estacada is with County Contract Planning. Gee: Saving money and very, very happy: What’s not to like?

I spoke with Gladstone accounts payable clerk “Jeffery” who said that in the 2010-2011  budget (about to end) Gladstone (remember, a city of 12,000) budgeted $30,000 for County Contact planning on demand services and they have spent to date $35,000 this budget year.

Jeffery said he would say in general that Gladstone, depending upon demand, can expect to pay the County between $30,000 and $40,000 a year for COUNTY CONTRACT PLANNING. And remember, it is ON DEMAND, not paying for a “body” to sit around being paid by the hour – especially a “body” with NO CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS and NO COLLEGE DEGREE IN PLANNING and who has a track record filled with LEGAL MISTAKES AND BAD FEELINGS.

Jolene noted that they also contract to the County for the 2009 laws that require erosion control studies to be done when any development occurs.  That is aside from planning – I wonder if anyone in Molalla “planning” is even aware of the 2009 erosion control mandates? I will certainly be researching those laws.

So, I believe it is obvious that there IS NO REASON to have a “body” sitting in an office in Molalla, especially in times of real estate investment constriction. And, it is highly counter to economic promotion to have a “body” with extremely poor communication/customer service skills pretending to be a “planner” as your front person.

I met investors – people who were actually interested in building something in Molalla  – at the comp plan hearings who were turned off and very angry after meeting fake planner Potter. One investor told me that he asked to see the comp plan in 2008 and Potter arrogantly told him THERE WAS NO COMP PLAN and that the investor had to wait a couple of months till the hearings were over! That real estate investor was furious – he KNEW that every city has a comp plan and that while Molalla’s might have been old there WAS A LEGAL COMP PLAN AND THAT POTTER SHOULD HAVE PROVIDED IT ON THE SPOT.

So, I ask you: How much business has Molalla LOST because it failed to have a certified planner with excellent, honest customer service skills? The tanking city of Molalla  certainly does not owe Potter a job for life. It is the city’s manager’s fault for allowing this fiasco to continue as long as it has and it is your responsibility to correct thE money hemorrhage that should NEVER have been allowed to go this far!

I hope you follow through quickly and send your planning (THE LITTLE THERE IS) to the County were  it will be done in a courteous, legally correct manner QUICKLY the FIRST TIME. Your struggling city can’t afford anymore planning mistakes! Your taxpayers certainly can’t afford it! It is time for Molalla to stop living in a bubble of ignorance and start to understand how the County works and how Molalla is just a small part of a big picture. So far, Molalla is only special by its refusal to accept reality.

Your urban reserve failure shows what happens when you refuse to listen to reason. You owe it to the people who elected you to do research sooner rather than later on issues like these. You are NOT supposed to be a herd of sheep: you should be questioning and finding these answers for yourselves – how can you expect to make decisions without FACTS?

5/9/2011 #2
Dear Councilors,As I anticipate an inane debate coming about the per hour cost of fake planner Potter vers REAL COLLEGE EDUCATED PROFESSIONAL  URBAN PLANNERS on  call as needed in  County contract planning, you might take a moment, to google. as I did, the SKILLS NEEDED BY  URBAN PLANNERS (you know, the REAL PLANNERS responsible cities hire and retain and that the County hires and retains).I posted results below. Note especially the paragraph at the end about the need for COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Potter is worth LESS THAN minimum wage given his total inability to negotiate or communicate on any issue. In over 6 hours of County hearings all Potter said was “I couldn’t say”!I believe we all remember the cute move when he sent the comp plan/urban reserve package to the wrong agency? He sent it to DLCD instead of to Clackamas County?

I could go on but just read the list of what REAL PLANNERS DO (it is not a casual learn on the job career – and the ability to understand AESTHETICS is a primary part of the package – I LOVE the “Potter color palette” on the planning website – like anyone would want Potter telling them how something should look!). And talk about failure to have knowledge of “urban spatial structure or physical design” – how about a few more nasty little dead end roads to nowhere – Potter certainly killed the city with that kind of NON-DESIGN. Or some more crammed in sideways buildings where the front facade doesn’t face the road?

When a person is in over his head he becomes a defensive bully – that’s all Potter has ever presented – as a planning dictator. He has ZERO community DEVELOPMENT skills. Do you really want to risk the city’s future with a defensive bully as a front man? My husband laughs and says Potter is a gift to ensure Molalla will never amount to anything but I believe you have done a grave disservice to your citizens – you have killed the future by retaining Potter this long.

Skills of Successful Planners

  • Knowledge of urban spatial structure or physical design and the way in which cities work.
  • Ability to analyze demographic information to discern trends in population, employment, and health.
  • Knowledge of plan-making and project evaluation.
  • Mastery of techniques for involving a wide range of people in making decisions.
  • Understanding of local, state, and federal government programs and processes.
  • Understanding of the social and environmental impact of planning decisions on communities.
  • Ability to work with the public and articulate planning issues to a wide variety of audiences.
  • Ability to function as a mediator or facilitator when community interests conflict.
  • Understanding of the legal foundation for land use regulation.
  • Understanding of the interaction among the economy, transportation, health and human services, and land-use regulation.
  • Ability to solve problems using a balance of technical competence, creativity, and hardheaded pragmatism.
  • Ability to envision alternatives to the physical and social environments in which we live.
  • Mastery of geographic information systems and office software.

Finally, planners communicate. Professional planners have no legal authority to put their plans into effect. Everything a planner proposes will get done only if the planner persuades others that it is the right thing to do. Planners need to communicate in language understandable to many different types of people with different values and experiences, and planners need to get all these different people communicating with one another.

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