The Moab Area Housing Task Force is trying to figure out how to be responsive to the public while at the same time making sure that actual membership on the task force remains clearly defined. With housing being such a pressing issue in and around Moab, there is more than a passing interest in the task force by area residents.
“I think in the past we could have done better at welcoming people,” said Grand County Community and Economic Development Director Zacharia Levine, who sits on the task force, during a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 4.
That doesn’t mean the members of the public don’t attend the meetings. They do, and because of the relatively loose nature of the body, it has become sometimes difficult to distinguish between interested citizens and actual task-force members with voting privileges.
Some positions on the task force are appointed, but others are not, and people can join by request. Some interested citizens come and go.
“Is there something that can clarify what constitutes being a member of the task force?” asked member Claire Spalding, an AmeriCorps volunteer with Community Rebuilds, which specializes in providing environmentally-conscious, energy-efficient and economical housing (and which was founded by Moab City Mayor Emily Niehaus).
There is some guidance, officially, to answer her question. Documents do state that members must attend a certain number of meetings, and most officially have requested to become members.
Until now, there have not been a set number of people that make up the task force. Currently, there more than 40 people on an email list sent out to members, but, said task force member Amy Weiser, “The people who regularly come and regularly show up, the number is 20.”
Twenty seemed to be the size of that appealed to most at the meeting last week.
If a limit is implemented, Moab City Council Member Rani Derasary, also on the task force, suggested some elected officials vacate their spots to make more room available for lay citizens who may want to take part.
And to facilitate people who may want to become members, or who simply wish to attend meetings and observe, Levine suggested the appointment of someone to be responsible for making sure that notice about meetings is clearly disseminated.
“That’s where I think we could do a better job of keeping the housing task force transparent,” Levine said.