Washington County News July 2021

Conflict at WashCo Planning Commission

The Washington County Planning Commission is a volunteer committee that advises the elected Board of County Commissioners on land use and transportation issues. They conduct public hearings, make final decisions on some changes to land use plans, and convey recommendations to the Board on comprehensive plan and community development ordinances.

During a meeting earlier this year, Commission member Sushmita Poddar requested that Planning Commission include a “land acknowledgement” as part of the introduction to the meeting. This is a statement acknowledging that we are on land that originally belonged to native people. Initially this was met with agreement. 

At a subsequent meeting, Commissioner Mark Havenar suggested that the meetings should include the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Poddar stated was that was “insulting.” When Commissioner Mills questioned why including the Pledge of Allegiance would be insulting, the conversation turned into ugly misunderstanding about citizenship.

Following this, Mills resigned from the Commission because of conflicts with his work schedule. When staff scheduled time to acknowledge Commissioner Mills for his time on the Planning Commission, Commissioner Poddar objected. Audio of the meetings is available here.

Commissioner Mills’ resignation leaves two open seats on the Commission that should be appointed by the District 1 Board Member, Nafisa Fai. 

No fireworks ban for Washington County or nearby cities

Because of the extreme drought in Oregon, and recent high temperatures that dried out our vegetation, many people on social media were calling on Washington County to enact a ban on personal fireworks for the Fourth of July. However, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R) and leaders in the cities and county agreed among themselves to issue strong statements advising against the use of fireworks but decided not to try for a ban.

State regulations on fireworks are complex and it almost sounds like they were written by the fireworks industry, since enacting any kind of ban is difficult and complicated. County Commissioner for our district, Pam Treece, agrees that Washington County should look into this for the future. How about a big public fireworks show at the County Fairgrounds?