Pullman called to be more transparent

City must notify those living within 100 yards of new construction



Pullman City Councilmember Brandon Chapman at a forum on Sept. 11 at the Daily Grind. Chapman said there have been complaints from residents about not having enough time between when projects are announced and voted on.

LUKE HUDSON, Evergreen reporter

A Pullman city councilmember wants the city to be more transparent about new construction projects so citizens are able to comment on them.

Pullman city councilmember Brandon Chapman said several residents are frustrated with the time span between when projects are announced and when they are voted on. Sometimes announcements are posted on a Friday for a meeting happening the following Tuesday, and that does not give people enough time to prepare.

“It was very telling that a resident said that her biggest concern was that she just doesn’t get very much information,” Chapman said.

He said the city usually meets the legal minimums but does not go beyond that.

Pullman planning director Pete Dickinson said he believes the city does go above and beyond the state requirements.

“[The city provides] notification of a proposed development through the media sources here at the city,” Dickinson said. “That’s not written down anywhere that we need to do it. We do that just to be more open and transparent about what’s happening in the community.”

Dickinson said the monthly newsletter sent out by the Planning Department gives people enough time to prepare for when decisions are made about new constructions during public meetings.

The city must notify residents living within 100 yards of any new construction, Chapman said. With the proposed 13-story apartment complex at the corner of Bishop Boulevard and Johnson Street, only one person was notified but two residents outside the 100-yard zone reached out to the city with concerns.

Chapman said the city should have reached out to them in “good faith” because the project could affect more than just those within the 100-yard minimum distance.

“There is some contention between our city planning and me, and most residents that I’ve talked to feel like we are hitting the minimums,” he said.  “We’re really not going above and beyond.”

Chapman shared an email sent to him by a constituent about concerns with transparency in the construction process.

In the email, the constituent suggested that the city post the monthly planning newsletter on social media. The constituent wrote that they could not find notice of the Paradise Lofts project on the city website despite a “concerted effort.”

Dickinson said he is open to the idea of posting the planning department newsletter on social media.

“I am all for getting the word out,” Dickinson said.

Chapman said this is not an issue of conflict between city officials.

“I think with most issues, most concerns here in Pullman, we can fix them, right?” Chapman said. “We can absolutely improve.”