Below is a letter to the editor, presented as it was sent to Burien-News.com:
by Matthys Van Leeuwen
As a real estate developer, I sometimes have the opportunity to attend a council meeting in a neighboring city. I recently delivered public comments in a neighboring city; there, I was permitted 5 minutes instead of the 2 (or sometimes even just one) minutes you get at the City of Burien.
I noticed that the time allotted directly impacts the quality of the comments. When you allow people more time, the chance that they rant is significantly less. Allotted time has a positive correlation to quality. I understand that some people are hard to listen to, but if you put them on the spot with sufficient time, they might calm down and focus on their message.
The other thing I’ve observed is that the council members are actively engaged when the public comments are longer, as if the speaker has a message instead of a nuisance rant.
Another thing that I noticed is that the City Manager of the other city engaged with the public before the meeting; he connected me to the Head of Planning. Sometimes it is just the small things that can make a big difference!