All Politics is Local

What’s a few thousand characters among friends?

About a week ago, APIL documented a concern from Sydney Reisbeck, who told commissioners how disappointed she was that an online form the county uses to gather feedback from citizens about the county’s comprehensive plan update appeared to limit responses to 450 characters — a ridiculous limitation that’s tantamount to three and a half tweets.

Of course, the 450-character limitation was just what the response form said, and there was really no way of knowing whether it was accurate. Could people write more? Who knows? But why would anyone bother to do that if they were told they couldn’t?

The commissioners essentially blamed the IT department and said the county would fix the problem. That seems to be the case. Now when you go to the county’s webpage, the form says people are allowed to use 8,000 characters. While it’s unclear whether the form actually limited people’s comments to 450 characters (or whether that was simply what the form said), the county’s Community Planning Director, Gordy Euler, said people have had lots of opportunities to provide their comments.

He explained that the online form was for people wishing to comment on the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). People may still comment, in various ways, on the Growth Management Act.

“People can make comment on the comprehensive plan at any time,” Euler said.“Anything we do, we welcome comments at any time.”

I still wonder how, exactly, such a mistake could be made. After all, 450 characters is a far cry from 8,000. For now, all the county is saying is that it was a fixable IT mistake.

Tyler Graf

Tyler Graf

I started working for The Columbian in 2012 and currently cover Clark County. I'm a 2007 graduate of The University of Oregon. Contact me at tyler.graf@columbian.com