Whatdya say, send, or not send?

 Deciding whether or not to actually click send... Please advise.

Dear Executive:

I would like to bring your attention to the great disappointment that many, including myselfm feel at DDES with the denial of alternative work schedules.  

Over the past few years, DDES staff have been asked to change schedules and working conditions a number of times.   Three years ago, we were told that we all must go to a four ten-hour day schedule.  There were no options for flexibility.  We were told that this would save a lot of money, jobs, and the environment. We were told we were going to be leaders in commute trip reduction, and reducing the County’s carbon footprint by minimizing commuting, reducing heating impacts by closing the building, and responding to our customer’s needs by starting earlier and ending later. Although it required employees to change their lives, sometimes drastically (making different childcare arrangements, losing carpool options, etc.), everyone made the change with little complaint, because we were told it was really an important way to contribute to the County’s budget crisis, as well as the looming climate crisis. We were also required to take 10 days leave without pay.

A year later, we were told that we needed to reduce our hours to 36 per week, because this was needed to save jobs.  Although it was a hardship for many, to take the equivalent of 26 days of leave without pay, we all changed our lives to accommodate it, because we believed we were helping save our co-workers jobs, and continuing, in our own small ways, to reduce the County’s carbon footprint.

This week, we are being required to return to a 40 hour week.  There is no option for remaining at 36 hours.  The required hours will put us in the dead center of the worst commute traffic.   We were told we could request alternative schedules, but for our section, at least, every single one was denied.  There has been no information provided about the County’s about face on climate change, commute trip reduction, and being available before and after the standard work day for our customers.  It’s hard to feel valued under these circumstances.

Employees at DDES deal with very angry frustrated people every single day.  There’s a myth that their frustration is a direct result of our poor customer service, and that may be the case in a rare instance.  But we could be open seven days a week, answer every phone call on the first ring, and still, people would be angry.  They’re angry because permit costs are high, and they’re angry because we are required to tell them no, they can’t do what they want.  That’s our job, to make sure development in this county is consistent with the zoning code, and it doesn’t always make the customer happy.  We probably take more direct, personal abuse than almost any other non-enforcement job in the county, and most of us endure it with grace and professionalism, and work hard to be reasonable, empathetic, and responsive while still upholding the zoning code.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I will tell you that I do this because I think it’s important.  I think that working with the public to help them understand and abide by the zoning code, in particular, the critical areas ordinance, is a key way to keep this area liveable.

It is disappointing to work for an organization that doesn’t look like it cares much about it’s employees, or being a leader in creative solutions to environmental problems.  I also assume that we will lose more staff by increasing our hours, because permit volumes have not increased.  I did want to let you know directly that yes, I’ll move to the schedule that’s being demanded, but I’m doing so with great disappointment and frustration.  It really is not the way to treat professionals.



  1. I'd send, but I'm probably not a good person to pay any attention to, because I'm unemployed and probably because I had opinions...

  2. Did you decide? I'd edit and send.


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