As far as I can tell HB 2201 is still in the Rules Committee today. Please keep it in committee and off the floor. Here are my concerns and those of others here in Anacortes:
While this bill appears to change the hearing examiner service to work better, it also includes problematic language which would allow automatic rulings against appellants who did not have the resources to pay the filing fees. The fees mean that the HE position is largely "self funded", but also that the average citizen would not have the resources to file appeals. This effectively removes the ability of most people to appeal local land use and other decisions.
In addition the bill says that "qualifying" cities (over 10,000 population) be required to hire a hearing examiner. It also states that the HE can only be dismissed for "cause". What about budget reductions or other reasons to not pay for the position? What if citizens wish to re-empower Planning Commissions and City Councils with the ability to determine appeals?
The fees mentioned make me question whether we, the citizens, have the long term resources for appeals. Also, what kind of limitations are there to our ability to address poor land use decisions?
Please do not let this bill out of committee.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter of such importance to citizens' rights and due process.
1302 K Avenue
Anacortes, WA 98221