And the Learning Begins!

February 16, 2013 § 17 Comments

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It is not official but I have received MANY warm welcomes and congratulations from people throughout the community and today I received a letter from the Mayor, it looks as though I made the cut and if all goes as planned will be a Planning and Zoning Commissioner next Tuesday.  Here is where the education begins!

So, I would be lying if I said I was super familiar with the whole city government system, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I’m not but in my defense it’s been a few years since government class, in reality it’s all pretty overwhelming.  And, since this is a learning blog, here is where we start learning about this process, if people are interested that is.  I will add that one of the main reasons I am interested in learning on this side of the fence is largely motivated by how it can impact the tiny house community.  Zoning is a big hurdle if not THE big hurdle for tiny homes, there are problems getting incorporated.  I believe this is due to a couple different factors though not really revolving around zoning but classification systems, none of these factors do I fully understand yet.  This is my learning process and I invite you to learn with me.  If I post comments that aren’t clear or if someone has questions please leave a comment and ask.  If I can’t answer I will certainly ask any questions and do my best to find great answers, I’m quiet but I’m not really very shy, please, all questions welcome, let’s figure this out together.

So, I want to take a tiny little bit to explain how this position falls in line with the rest of the City of Meridian.   What is the Planning and Zoning Commission?  I will defer to Wikipedia, they are far more concise than me!

Planning and Zoning Commission is a local elected or appointed government board charged with recommending to the local town or city council the boundaries of the various original zoning district and appropriate regulations to be enforced therein and any proposed amedments thereto and shall collect data and keep itself informed as to the best practices generally in effect in the matter city planning and zoning to the end that it may be qualified to act on measures affecting the present and future movement of traffic, the segregation of residential and business districts and the convenience and safety of persons and property in any way dependent on city planning and zoning.

The chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission (or a staff member) is responsible for publishing public hearing in the newspaper about certain matters that come before the commission. Most municipal or county Planning and Zoning Commissions consisting of five to seven members. This number does not include alternates.

Some communities elect members of the commission. In other jurisdictions the Planning and Zoning Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor or First Selectman of the city or town and approved by the city’s legislative body, i.e. city council, board of aldermen, etc (some planning and zoning commissioners are appointed by the City Commission as a whole).

So, in this case, I was approached by a current Commissioner to see if I was interested in filling a position that is opening but I could have just as easily applied directly to the Mayors Office as well.  I was contacted shortly thereafter by the Mayors office to set up an interview.  I met with two of the current Commissioners and the Mayor to figure out if I was a good fit for them and visa-versa.  It was pretty laid back and casual overall, it felt rather comfortable for an interview :).  Even though I don’t know as much about the process just yet as I should I do know that I have valuable skills and passions that will be of use for my community and I am excited for the opportunity to contribute and learn from this adventure!   So I don’t want to get too in depth so that seems like plenty for now, I’m excited!

So, is this something people would be interested in hearing more about?  As I see it, it could bring valuable insights to some holes in the tiny house community structure and potentially bring good insights as to how to make the transition of legalizing tiny houses smoother, or it may not bring anything, I don’t really know yet but I am happy to share if people would be interested?  Thoughts?

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§ 17 Responses to And the Learning Begins!

  • Bob Pritts says:

    Macy, this is so exciting…..I am so happy for you…….go rock their world……..yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kristiewolfe says:

    Yay Macy! I would love to hear more about it – keep us updated.

  • stacey whitcomb says:

    Congratulations! Let’s hear all about it!

  • So very proud and impressed and blown away! Good job Macy! You’re a rock star!!!

  • Bob Pritts says:

    yea girl….so happy for you and what an exciting venture for you……go rock their world girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Debra says:

    Sorry for the belated congrats : ) That is awesome! Maybe you can make headway for the tiny house movement : : A trendsetter! Yes, please keep us abreast……..

  • Great job Macy! Any tips for us in other parts of the country in how we can get involved in protecting the interests of tiny housers (as far as zoning, etc.)?

    • Macy M says:

      I will be certain to write about this as I discover more! Getting involved with your local city seems to be a good start, maybe not as much time as holding a commission role but volunteering at the city helping people (dog shelter perhaps for you, could be good networking/marketing too), or the library etc. In my experience the people you run into at those city and government functions are the ones that show up to council meetings etc. and therefore are the most influential on policies. You stand better odds to get to know these people and in knowing them you automatically educate them on the possibilities of the tiny life. So then, when they hear about it they remember how ‘normal’ that Melinda girl was and its automatically a more normalized idea.
      Without experience on particular issues people can jump to the conclusion that it’s a bunch of crazy hippies etc. and want to keep that out of their area. It’s always helpful to have experience and I think associating on whatever level with the ‘right people’ (the ones most active in creating policies/participating in the local government) is a great first step. And there are A LOT of opportunities to get involved, my first experience was going through the Chamber’s Leadership class (I think most jurisdictions have his), it’s a great way to introduce yourself to different levels in your city AND get your personal business out there and in front of people. I see you and your man marketing a lot and I’ve actually thought about mentioning it before for those reasons. There is generally a small fee to become a chamber member but it also typically pays itself back and then some in business :).
      I am sure there are ‘easier’ or less involved things that can happen too, I will be sure to mention those as I learn about them 🙂

    • Macy M says:

      And also! I have been meaning to write you and Chris to thank you both for being involved with the Tiny House Chat stuff. It would not be very successful if people didn’t come and engage like you two do. Ryan and I really appreciate it! It’s nice to have people engage with the co-hosts and be so warm and welcoming to all those people who just show up in the chat room not really knowing what to expect, you two definitely add a lot to the Chat so thank you very much! Please pass that on to Chris too :).

  • caseyfriday says:

    Congrats! Well done.

  • Yes! This! I am very interested in hearing more about your adventures as a zoning commissioner – it is on part with the recent thoughts I had about the subject that I wrote about at Tiny House Talk this week. I can’t wait to hear more about it.

    • Macy M says:

      Hey Ms. Laura! I should do an update on this again soon, but I am FINALLY getting to build again so all my time has been going there, I have a P&Z meeting tonight though, maybe a quick update after that! 🙂 I read your post, I really really like your ideas, I am glad you are writing about this little niche, you make conversations happen!

      PS… I am going to try to make a trip east this summer for fun and research on tiny house developments and I am probably (definitely) going to contact you to see if you have time for a meet-up! 🙂

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