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Bulldozing barriers — with the City of Lakewood’s blessing

BulldozerLakewood, Washington, is fast becoming a byword for environmental destruction.

It may not be on par with the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests, but the City’s unique natural heritage is being undermined on a daily basis. The City is home to a unique concentration of Garry Oaks, which take over a hundred years to reach maturity. Unlike conifers, they put down deep roots, which make them resistant to drought. Yet the City is allowing Garry Oaks to be torn down, through lax tree preservation codes and large-scale rezoning. It seems that the City’s prime directive is letting business have its way… rather like a computer organized society, in a science-fiction dystopia, that is programmed to put commercial interests first.

To give an example of the City’s messaging, I came across a website they appear to control, buildyourbetterhere.com. This website is pushing Lakewood to investors, and when I last visited had the photo and contact details of Becky Newton, the City’s economic development manager.

The website had the following message:

If you’re looking for better, we’re building better here in Lakewood. Better looks like affordable starter homes in established neighborhoods. Or lakefront living on some of the most luxurious properties in the state. Pick your lake. Lakewood has seven. Better is also a streamlined business climate. With business-friendly policies and development incentives, Lakewood invites investment and bulldozes barriers. How will you build your better here?

On the face of it, the message is that businesses can come to Lakewood and do what they like. Most importantly, Lakewood will facilitate businesses, by “bulldozing barriers.” As was commented at a City Council meeting on July 19 2021, the word bulldoze is very emotive. According to Merriam-Webster, bulldoze as a transitive verb has three possible meanings:

 to coerce or restrain by threats: BULLY

to move, clear, gouge out, or level off by pushing with or as if with a bulldozer

to force insensitively ruthlessly

The implication seems to be that if you’re a business, the City will, if need be, do what ever it takes to clear the barriers. For example, being insensitive to people’s concerns about the environment, bullying people making objections, and ruthlessly using the power at their disposal to allow business interests to get their way.

Hopefully the use of the word “bulldoze” was a mistake, and when you visit the website you won’t see it anymore. It was a week ago that the comment was made, and changing the wording of websites can take a long time. However, as it stands, businesses can be confident that the City of Lakewood will bulldoze whatever barriers they face. The machine knows its priorities, and they aren’t those of the ordinary residents of Lakewood.

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