Zoning change: Reader suggests ‘speed guidelines’ instead of limits

Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Sunset Hills City Engineer Bryson Baker stated re the proposed new zoning code approach that we should choose “design guidelines” over “codified standards” in a new zoning code.

He goes on to say that “If we do standards, it’s going to be a lot more difficult on the staff, and I think we’re gonna have a lot more conflict with applicants.”

The Houseal Lavigne consultant, Nik Davis, retained by the city observes that “design guidelines give you a little more flexibility to encourage people to do the right thing…”

I think Baker and Davis are on to something here. Let’s carry this idea over to the police and city court and have “speed guidelines” instead of “speed limits,” thereby giving people a chance “to do the right thing.” After all, speed limits are “a lot more difficult on the staff” in the Police Department and the Municipal Court.

We even have a model for how guidelines versus standards might work out: our educational system, for example.

When 2 + 3 could add up to 9 but our new system didn’t require the “standard” answer of 5, our students started slipping badly in math and the other STEM skills — far enough that U.S. students don’t rank in the first tier internationally any more. We’re now No. 17 according to The Economist, and No. 27 according to S.S. Lim et.al vs. No. 6 in 1990. So the solution was to make the tests — SAT, ACT — easier.

Sounds like Baker and Davis have already anticipated this outcome and therefore propose making the test easier and plan to add a perfect bureaucratic step to the process by hiring a third party to “review proposals.”

No mention as to what the “staff” will do with all the free time created by the third party taking over proposal reviews.

I have a suggestion for one more step in the process: Hire an additional city attorney to deal with all the litigation arising from applicants’ complaints about uneven interpretation of the “flexible” guidelines.

After all, if 2 + 3 can be anything you believe it is, there will be lots of room for interpretation.

Unless of course that “third party” is Mother Teresa, but last I checked she will be unavailable to “review proposals.”

The recent increase in property values and associated taxes should put Sunset Hills residents in the right mood to add more costs to our government’s structure.

Peter Bruck
Sunset Hills

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