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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Vancouver residents voice concerns on crime, zoning, homelessness, parking at community forum

City councilors, staff field questions at third forum of the year

By Carlos Fuentes, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 26, 2023, 7:10pm
4 Photos
Vancouver Police officer Tyler Chavers, part of the Homeless Assistance Outreach Program, shares pamphlets and speaks to Vancouver residents at Monday night's city forum.
Vancouver Police officer Tyler Chavers, part of the Homeless Assistance Outreach Program, shares pamphlets and speaks to Vancouver residents at Monday night's city forum. (James Rexroad for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Homelessness. Potholes. Housing. Parking. Crime. Land use. Pollution.

The list goes on, but these were some of the major issues discussed at Vancouver’s third community forum of the year Monday night.

The event at the Luepke Center allowed residents to speak with city council members about any topic. Some residents came with lists of questions; others came to become involved in their community and learn about their neighbors.

“Whenever I come, I learn something and it’s worthwhile,” said Cindy Skrivanek, who has lived in Vancouver for five years. “I really appreciate that this city council makes the time to come out and have these community forums.”

Skrivanek, who also attended a city forum earlier this year, said she enjoys hearing about the issues that other residents are facing.

One of the most discussed issues was a potential rezone in east Vancouver that brought a group of concerned neighbors to the forum.

The group of residents of Fisher’s Landing East neighborhood, all wearing red, spread out between the city councilors. They came with fliers and a petition opposing the rezone, which would allow developers to build apartment buildings on lots currently designated for low-density housing. The lots are all near the intersection of Southeast 15th Street and Southeast 189th Avenue.

“We’ve formed a little group to kind of lead the efforts to get a petition going,” said Andrew Chen, a member of the group. “We had a good showing here in the city council meeting forum … we’re trying to be a squeaky wheel.”

Chen said he appreciates the city giving residents a platform to speak to council members face-to-face.

William Cooley, community engagement manager for the city, said the forums have successfully given residents a voice and fostered a sense of community for many.

“I’ve seen a lot of great relationships and connections emerge from these meetings,” Cooley said. “We see the same folks returning again because they had a positive experience.”

To help residents get answers to their questions, the city set up tables around the event focused on different topics, such as the city’s comprehensive plan, housing programs, parks and recreation, and more.

During the forum, city staff from several departments roamed from table to table to provide further insight, which Cooley said was helpful for many residents.

“We’re always gathering feedback, so we’re trying to adjust our meeting designs to better meet community needs,” Cooley said. “For example, having staff that are working on all these different projects is a great opportunity to connect people to them and have their questions answered.”

The next forum is scheduled for Dec. 11.

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Columbian staff writer