Grassroots Government March 7- 13

Community Diversity Engagement Committee 

Meeting held: March 7 

What happened: No public comments or community reports were made. Community Diversity Engagement Committee (CDEC) Chair Thais Rodick led the conversation about preparing for a joint session between the council and CDEC to discuss its future and what it has done. 

Tammy Kunz discussed how the CDEC needs to practice engaging with more neighborhood associations in Keizer to expand its area of effect as well as gathering more support from the community. 

Councilor Shaney Starr described that it is important for the CDEC to be advising the council, however, it should also be able to be more proactive when trying to address possible inequities in Keizer. 

Starr provided an example of a potential CDEC project of making the parks in Keizer more accessible to those with disabilities. 

Councilor Laura Reid agreed, adding that it is important to address and identify more things the CDEC can be involved in. 

The committee also discussed its accomplishments describing events such as the Keizer 40th Birthday party, committee input on the draft strategic plan for the city as well as helping review the climate friendly equitable communities legislation. 

Member Carrie Brown made a point about whether or not the CDEC is able to reach out to all groups in Keizer. She noted how there are some the committee does not reach out to, such as the LGTBQ+ community in Keizer, and how these groups are important to recognize. 

She also noted how it is important to reach out to groups like these as often they may not necessarily be able to or inclined to do the same. 

Rodick noted one way to address this issue could be during observances to bring in members of the group for which the proclamation is for. 

Brown continued, stating that a common trend around the country is to eliminate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. 

Nationally, there has been some fatigue with DEI policies, as suggested by a 2024 report from  Paradigm, a DEI consulting company, although, overall, many private companies appear to see the utility of such programs as it pertains to employee retention and overall happiness with DEI policies. 

In the case of government, in states such as Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis for years has described how efforts to create more DEI engagement were in fact just attempts to create more “discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,” according to NPR reporting. 

The CDEC reviewed the list of holiday observances made by the city and solidified who would be creating each proclamation for that particular month. 

A full list of the holidays observed as well as what CDEC member is responsible for it being acknowledged can be found in the meeting minutes for the Mar. 7 meeting. 

The committee reviewed an inclusive language guide for the remainder of the meeting, highlighting a variety of terms that can be used to foster more inclusivity as well as clue people in on what words some may find offensive. 

An example of this found in the language guide was in reference to migrants who come to the US. 

In some cases people may refer to these people using words such as “alien” or “illegal.” This can be harmful as it both delegitimize someone’s ability to be in the country as well as stigmatizing them as both of these terms tend to incite more negative and harmful or “blaming” narratives on individuals who often are forced from their original home. 

The guide noted that a better word to use in place of this would be “undocumented.” 

Reid brought up the point of this guide not as a way to language police people or to create a “politically correct” notion but instead take into account the feelings of others and thinking before you speak. 

Parks & Recreation Advisory Board 

Meeting held: March 12 

What happened: Tammy Kunz came forward as the first public comment. Kunz described how she has been working on coordinating and reaching out to the various neighborhood associations in an attempt to have better transparency and so that associations can better give input on what the board does. 

The board discussed how events are posted to the public, such as via the city website though there was confusion as to how private events are labeled as well as how people learn about event information so as to encourage more people to attend park events in Keizer. 

The board discussed the grant request of Connor Graham for Bair Park in order to address and replace invasive plants with native species. 

The grant is for $510 in total for both supplies as well as labor to perform the clean-up which was valued at $7,423.25. 

Overall, the board noted how they have a minimum budget to spend of around $13,000 on parks projects with just around three months left to spend it before new funding comes in. 

The board made a motion to match the grant not exceeding $512 and voted unanimously to approve it. 

The board next had Keizer’s Environmental Education Coordinator, Jenny Ammon, speak about the city’s tree plotting inventory as well as associated training needed to conduct it. 

Ammon described how the program began last fall after receiving approval allowing the next step of developing a logistical walk through of how the program would work and be managed. 

Ammon noted that River Road has been the primary spot to place more trees so far, though she noted that the city has a five-year plan on where and how to plant more trees. 

The program is volunteer-led and training will be aided, in part, by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). 

Training for this program will be held at Keizer City Hall on May 4, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., with professionals from both the city and the ODF guiding attendees. 

For those interested, a flier can be found in the written comments section of the Parks Board March 12 meeting or can reach out to Ammon at  [email protected]

Committee members gave reports of each of the parks in Keizer noting that most parks appear to be in good order, although trash was found in some such as Keizer Little League Park. 

Board members responsible for Claggett Creek Park and Palma Ceia noted how heavy rain has affected certain structures, such as a wall at Palma Ceia, or how the ground has been soggy at Claggett Creek Park. 

Palma Ceia is in need of a dog waste bin. 

Board member Lisa Cejka described new, efficient, green dog waste bins as something that could be made and how this could prove an easy and beneficial project to be undertaken by someone such as an Eagle Scout. 

Chair Matt Lawyer responded enthusiastically declaring an opportunity to create a “doggy duty” grant as a future possibility. 

The turf field at Keizer Rapids Park will have a groundbreaking ceremony March 21, at 4:30 p.m. 

Planning Commission 

Meeting held: March 13 

What happened: No public comments were made. 

The commission began the meeting discussing a proposal to increase its responsibility and voting power in regards to the approval of conditional use permits and variances. 

Planning director Shane Witham described the possible routes for the commission to take. 

He also explained the difference between a conditional use permit and a variance noting that a variance is an exception to a rule concerning how a building space is used while a permit request falls within the correct usage for how an area is zoned, it’s just that specific criteria must be met first. 

Chair Lawyer mentioned adding the ability to review amendments for any city master plans in an effort to bring community input earlier on any future projects. 

After all members weighed in, the commission determined that minor variance approvals will be conducted at the staff-level, a minor and major variance would still be passed through to the highest level of review (the council) and that major variances, conditional use permit and master plan amendments would be added to the motion. 

The commission approved planning staff to create a packet of proposed amendments for the commission to review in a future public hearing. 

The commission next had a discussion on the amount of square footage for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), Garages and Out-houses. 

The discussion revolved around creating a standard of allowable size for such additions. 

The conversation, which is a continuation of a discussion started by commission member Ron Bersin, covered if members should create the standard to improve building code consistency, determining that rather than have a different standard for some buildings, where 600 square feet was the allowable size depending on when it was being built, to a 750 square foot rule. 

The commission determined, by consensus, that staff should create a text amendment for review by the commission at a future meeting. 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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