I had been to one a few months ago and I knew that a bunch of my neighbors would be there being all gross and NIMBYish and saying "ew, poor people," and I felt it was important to counter that to the extent that I could.
(I am pretty disappointed this swath of my neighbors. Also in my HOA, which has been sending out lots of email encouraging people to show up to the hearing. Oh, but they "have NO opinion or position" on it. Really? Liars. If you really had no opinion, you wouldn't have brought it up...)
I also knew that there would be a huge number of people who wanted to make public comments. So I left work in the middle of the afternoon so that I could get to City Hall and be there waiting at 5 when the sign up sheets came out and be first on the list. I was hoping that I might set the tone a little, and also maybe take the wind out of some of the complainers' sails. (Also, I knew that if I had to sit through a bunch of people being awful, I would end up thinking about nothing but how much I wanted to set them all on fire when it was my turn to speak, and would not make a good impression.)
What I said, approximately:
"I'm a resident of [adjacent subdivision], and I'm here to express my support for the proposed development.
Affordable housing is important, and we need a lot more of it in our city. A robust mix of housing is good for the city, good for its residents, and good for the economy. There are other cities, like Seattle and San Francisco, that are having serious problems because they just don't have enough housing, especially at the low end of the market.
So we need to build affordable housing everywhere that's feasible in Westminster. And the proposed development isn't just feasible, it's good. I live nearby; it's a good neighborhood with a lot of good stuff in it.
There have been a lot of concerns voiced, and many that need to be considered. And on the basis of what I've read about the proposal and what they've presented tonight, I think the developers have done a really good job of addressing those concerns.
As a civil society, we have a responsibility to make sure that there's a place for everyone. I work in Boulder, and it's nice, but I can't afford to live there. We bought a house in Westminster because it was in our price range, and I count myself lucky, because it's a really great city. And I think we should share that.
We all have a natural impulse to resist change, especially in times of uncertainty, and that's understandable. But I think we owe it to each other, and to our community, and to ourselves to overcome that impulse and be better than that.
I want my community to be welcoming and supportive of those who are not well off, and to share my neighborhood with them.
So I say Yes In My Back Yard. Please build this. Thank you."
The second speaker was a lady who works with the homeless, and the third speaker was a lady in a wheelchair who talked about how she lost her home after the car crash that disabled her, and how important affordable housing was to her. (The fourth speaker was a lawyer for some third party who started droning on about some point of procedure, and I didn't stick around after that.) So I think maybe we did set some tone.
I had my advisory board meeting this evening, and I found out that after three and a half hours of public commentary (until 11:30 pm, ugh), the council did indeed vote yes. Hooray! And the councilor who comes to our meetings said that my comments did have some influence, so that felt good.
I mean, it's a drop in the bucket when you think about the big picture, but it's not nothing. You gotta do good where you can.