Compromise is the whole point

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Dear Editor,
Tuesday’s forum regarding the Visual Impact Regulations was a reflection of the sad times our society is in today. The stellar concept gave both sides another chance to voice their views. I arrived in support of the measures and left feeling much the same. But, I did listen and learn and have a couple minor points that might be changed. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as a Democracy? Isn’t voicing our differences in a calm and respectful way and then finding areas of compromise the whole point? Instead, I was shocked to hear people yelling “shut up” when an opinion different from theirs was expressed and shocked when people openly laughed and waved a handkerchief when their opponent got emotional over the rancor she sees in our community. I even heard a developer label the VIRs as borderline Communism! That really got the adrenaline pumping from the opponents. Really? You think some common rules around building standards aligns us with, say, North Korea?? These changes in the rules are not about religion, politics or elitism. Making them about these emotional issues is feeding fear and destroying our ability to be civil. That is a much bigger loss to our society than color choices.
I saw highly paid attorneys give lengthy PowerPoint presentations projecting all sorts of catastrophes, as if slides made them true! However, two of them, each speaking in opposition to the VIRs, argued diametrically opposed positions on growth and resulting demand for permits and expense to the county. They can't both be true, but, because they were negative, they got the crowd excited. Some used personal disputes with their HOA to prove we are headed down a slippery slope. No one forces you to buy in an HOA so accept responsibility for it if you do!
Here are my suggestions after openly listening:
1. If one house is 3000 sq. ft. and another is 1000 sq. ft., it isn’t fair to limit their expansion to 20 percent each. It seems more equitable to define a total footprint that is the same footage before a variance is required.
2 It should be clear that after a fire one can rebuild their home just as it was on the original foundation, even if it is in a VIR corridor and would not comply with the new standards. Not doing so might incur great expense.
The fact that these regulations do not affect existing structures because they are grandfathered in, seemed to be lost on many people. If that wasn’t the case, we should be up in arms. Trying to make people think their current homes or structures are threatened is just fear mongering to rile up as many people as possible.
Our society has now replaced fact with PowerPoint presentations and dialogue with fear mongering. The result is a bitterness that is more destructive than the goals of either side. It destroys our freedom to be civil neighbors, which, once gone, will be extremely difficult to recreate.
Barbara Steele
Pleasant Valley