Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

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Leslie Allandale
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Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Leslie Allandale »

CDS Citizens.
Because there are a number of laws which need to be updated, as well as some that have been proposed in the past, which might be appropriate substitutions or additions to them, I am moving on from the dialog surrounding the formation of a Building Approval Committee in 2008.
In fact, when a governing group chooses not to sit, en masse, as a commission, it follows that a separate commission would be appointed to oversee the planning or administration of one or more administrative areas. In CDS,a few of these areas are either so small, activities so intermittent, or procedures so obvious, that a permanent commission would be burdensome. In the past this may have applied to land-use, however if private occupancy of land and ongoing maintenance/upgrading of public land, is added to prim manipulation and sim planning, the area is probably large enough to warrant the attention of a permanent group -- a process which could, as well, relieve the RA of many pressures..
As a brief CV: I have had half a century’s experience dealing directly with RL land use agencies in California, Colorado, and Virginia, as well being a member of civic commissions and councils in both San Diego and Mendocino Counties --,so I know the dance.
Please peruse the following draft, and help me make it a workable and beneficial part of our “noble experiment.”


Confederation of Democratic Simulators: 21st Representative Assembly
Principal Author: Leslie Allandale
Title of Bill: Permanent Land-Use Bureau

BE IT ENACTED BY THE 21ST REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY

Whereas, any democratic group, in which individuals have the power to change the group environment, must have the power to regulate that change;
And, since an expectation that such regulation of the change or use in the graphical environment will require persistent expertise, continuity of vision and consistent adherence to applicable laws;
And, since Individuals responsible for such regulation must: 1. Have expertise in how change is made; 2. Be accountable to the group for their actions, and; 3. Provide a measure of continuity to the regulation process:

SECTION I: FORMATION OF A STANDING LAND-USE COMMISSION
It is proposed that the Representative Assembly, in accord with its Constitutionally mandated service role to “perform long term planning,” establish a permanent commission, called the CDS Land-Use Commission (hereinafter called the Commission), to assume the regulation of such use in the Confederation of Democratic Simulators,(hereinafter called CDS). Which Land-Use shall be hereafter defined as; Any manipulation of, or activity within, the three-dimensional Second Life grid including, but not limited to, sim purchase and placement, terraforming, object placement, textures. as well as the type of activities which said environment shall be used. Said authority shall be vested with the Commission, within the CDS estate in the present Second Life Grid, its territories in an SL2, or another grid upon which CDS establishes a presence..

SECTION II: POWERS
The purpose of this commission is to form a group of experts to advise the RA in the mandate of the parent body to make laws and control finances. It shall have access to, and permissions for, all the assets of the CDS, both in its 3D-grid environment(s) and all CDS controlled media in the performance of its work which shall be enumerated in section VI – including, but not limited to, access to public venues, exterior of structures on private parcels, permissions to rez and manipulate objects for Commission business, scheduling meetings, conducting surveys, publishing results. Nothing in this document, however shall allow the commission to make law or fund projects. Such powers shall be explicitly reserved for the Representative Assembly.

SECTION III: MEMBERS
To be composed of six members whose aggregate expertise is composed of, but not limited to: terraforming, landscaping, building, texture creation and application. Such members are to be nominated: 1. Two citizens, by the CDS Artisans Guild, or by subsequent, approved, NGOs; 2. One citizen by the RA from its membership, each term and not subject to the rotation. 3. One citizen from the Chancellor’s office, and; 4. Two citizens by RA members from the Citizenry-at-large. Those nominated shall be confirmed by the Representative Assembly and become Members of the Commission. Such Membership shall be, after the initial seating, on a rotational basis, according to a plan formulated by the initial members and approved by the RA. A member may resign or be removed from office at the discretion of the RA upon the recommendation of their nominator. This resulting vacancy, or the vacancies due to end-of-term, shall be filled according to the legislated process, the new member(s) assuming the term of the member(s) replaced.

SECTION IV: STRUCTURE
The commission shall select a chairperson and an alternate, who shall preside over meetings, without a vote, unless to decide a split decision, a secretary who shall keep minutes of the proceedings and inspectors who may be hired from the Commission or Citizenry-at-large, who will determine the conformity of all builds and uses, including complete sims, within the jurisdiction of CDS, either in Second Life, or other grids, as CDS establishes presence on them.

SECTION V: MEETINGS
Meetings of the Commission shall be held at published times, at a frequency dependant on the demands of its mandate, but not less than once per Month. Procedures shall be adopted to encourage speedy and measured discussions and votes. A quorum shall be 1 member more than half of the appointed members. All decisions shall be considered passed by either a majority of the quorum or by the chairperson if the vote is split. Unless otherwise published, all meetings shall be open to Citizens, who shall be afforded a brief time at the end of the session to ask questions. All in attendance shall be notified that the entire transcript will be recorded and published. The Secretary shall post the transcript of the meeting, within 24 hours of adjournment, in a medium accessible to all Citizens. Minutes of all meetings shall be accepted at the following regular meeting, and be published with the transcript of that regular meeting.

SECTION VI: AUTHORITY
VI-A. NEW SIM PLANNING
The Land Use Commission shall, upon a request from the RA, investigate the viability of new sim purchase and present recommendations to the RA. This will include, But is not limited to:
1. Consideration of type of region (full region, homestead, void);
2. Consideration of placement of region;
3. Consideration of region theme;
4. A survey of Citizens;
5. Appropriate In-world meetings for discussion and public comments;.
6. Compilation and summarization of ideas and comments from citizens from survey and official meetings, or future channels as they may be useful.
7. A consideration of finances, balance of public and private prims and any specific public spaces appropriate to the theme.
8. A draft of legislation for the acquisition of a new region or regions, including covenants and/or codes for said Sim, which shall regulate the manipulation or use of CDS’ three-dimensional, graphical environment, whether on Public or Private parcels,

VI-B: PUBLIC WORKS
Upon a request from the RA, the Land Use Commission shall call for bids for either the planning and/or the construction of Public works, either new, or for maintenance, to be awarded on a competitive basis. Such bids shall be from citizens of the CDS, or, under special circumstances, from foreign contractors, and shall include methods, timeline and payment schedules, as well as design elements. The Commission shall forward the winning bid(s) and alternates, if required, to the RA for approval. Once approved, the Commission shall, through its inspection team, work with the Contractor(s) to facilitate the timely and coherent completion of the project. If the RA determines that any project is sufficiently complex, it shall direct the Commission to add a method of continuing the project, in the event that the RA, upon advisement of the Commission, would decide that the initial contractor cannot fulfill its obligation. Nothing in this section shall limit the ability of a commissioner, engaged in the activities of a contractor, to continue activities within the Commission, except in the role of an inspector on any project where there might be any conflict of interest, or when the Commission is discussing or voting on issues related to a project in which the Commissioner is, or will be, involved. In addition, should a Commissioner participate in discussions, or vote, on an issue involving any given project, such Commissioner shall be prohibited from participating in that project.

VI-C: PRIVATE LAND USE
The Land Use Commission shall:
A. Monitor, through its inspectors, the changes in the CDS environment and work with landowners to resolve any differences between such changes or uses and the covenants and codes. In the event that the land owner is unavailable, or ignores the Commission, the Commission shall have the power to issue notices of non-compliance, “stop work,” and/or abatement orders, for any non-conforming elements(s) or use(s), until such differences shall be resolved. Such notices shall be posted on the associated parcel and forwarded to the owner of record by note card. Should these notices be further ignored, the matter shall be forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office for resolution, including removal of offending objects, and such other measures as might be included in the codes.
B. Accept, in a prescribed format (including public input, if appropriate), and approve, petitions for variances from the existing covenants and codes, under the condition that: 1. The substance of such variance shall be considered in compliance with the intent, if not the letter, of the law, and; 2. The application of such variance might contribute to the overall aesthetics or usefulness of the CDS environment.

SECTION VII: RECOURSE
Decisions made by the Commission and/or its inspectors, plus any subsequent action(s) by the Chancellor’s Office may be challenged: a. By a petition of the affected party; b. In a format approved by the commission, including a requirement of personal attendance; c. To the Land-Use Commission; d. At its next scheduled meeting, or sooner, if a quorum of the Commission agrees to expedite the process. The Representative Assembly may, at its discretion, hear an appeal to overturn any Commission ruling.

SECTION VIII: CONTINUITY
With the exception of existing sim placement, topography, infrastructure, landscaping, theme, and covenants, plus existing public and approved private structures along with their existing uses, all existing laws pertaining to the land use described in the preceding sections shall be immediately superseded. If a conflict arises between existing laws and the duties, responsibilities and authorities specified in this law, this law shall prevail. Covenants, codes and procedures which fall under the purview of this bill but are not explicitly described in it, shall continue according to present use until the Commission shall recommend new codes and procedures to the Representative Assembly, and such codes and procedures shall be adopted by it.

DEFINITIONS
A. CDS: Confederation of Democratic Sims.
B. RA: The sitting, Representative Assembly of the CDS.
C. Land: Virtual property defined as the area bound by discrete horizontal coordinates in the SL, or other similar grid, and including a vertical axis with an associated volume.
D. Citizen: An avatar within the LL CDS group who has voting rights.
E. Public Works: Change to the 3 dimensional environment on any CDS land.
F. Private Land: Land whose ownership pays tier to CDS.
G. Covenant: Regulations attached to a specific parcel of land.
H. Code: Regulation with general application.
I. Procedure: Authorized an/or prescribed activities carried out by an entity, acting within the scope of this bill.
J. NGO: Any self governed group, approved for one or more particular purposes by the RA.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Widget Whiteberry »

Nicely done, and about time. I've nothing to add at the moment.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Rosie Gray »

Wow, Leslie this is a huge piece of work and you have made many astute observations as well as laying out what looks to me like a fair and practical way of managing the land that doesn't place too much responsibility on any one person. I like the balances it seeks to achieve.

I think that this type of legislation is long overdue for the CDS and would save us from many of the follies, inconsistencies and arguments that we seem to experience.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Leslie Allandale »

I would like to make a clarification due to the private responses concerning the section on Recourses.

This section in no way infringes on the authority of the SC, which will, as it has in the past, hear petitions on the law from any citizen, but who should not be arbitrarily subject to every whim of a disgruntled citizen. Further, it has been noted, that if layered appeals were approved for this area of government, that other areas might want a similar structure. It would seem to me that such a process would not be a negative consequence of this legislation. If such a layered appeal process were appropriate to another function of government then it should be available to them -- if not, then it would not be adopted.

This section is, in fact, only inserted into the bill to prevent inspectors who are having "bad hair days" from making arbitrary judgments, and to give citizens the right, and a procedure, to challenge such judgments. If the codes, covenants and regulations, although part of a law, are not, in themselves, laws which it would be appropriate to challenge in the SC, then an issue of how they would be interpreted would be even less so. The function, of deciding how well textures in different elements of an object should match (for example). would be best left to the knowledgeable people who have to deal with such issues every day. In fact, in practice it is a procedure that will see very little, if any, use, if only because we all except that this experiment is really a huge, exciting and enjoyable learning process.

In addition, this is a virtually unchallenged process in comparable RL institutions. I am aware that some might say "the experiment of CDS should go beyond RL and explore new territory." Such a charming idea is attractive, but one in SL as in RL should be aware that cautions against "re-inventing the wheel" and being "doomed to repeat history, if ignoring it" are perfectly applicable.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by AbbyRose »

Rosie Gray wrote:Wow, Leslie this is a huge piece of work and you have made many astute observations as well as laying out what looks to me like a fair and practical way of managing the land that doesn't place too much responsibility on any one person. I like the balances it seeks to achieve.

I think that this type of legislation is long overdue for the CDS and would save us from many of the follies, inconsistencies and arguments that we seem to experience.
I agree with both Widget and Rosie. You have done a very good job, Leslie.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by AbbyRose »

Rosie Gray wrote:Wow, Leslie this is a huge piece of work and you have made many astute observations as well as laying out what looks to me like a fair and practical way of managing the land that doesn't place too much responsibility on any one person. I like the balances it seeks to achieve.

I think that this type of legislation is long overdue for the CDS and would save us from many of the follies, inconsistencies and arguments that we seem to experience.
I agree with both Widget and Rosie. You have done a very good job, Leslie.
Do Good. Be good. Try to be happy.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Patroklus Murakami »

Thanks for all your hard work on this Leslie. It's clearly a piece of work which you have put a lot of effort and thought into.

It addresses one of the major problems which our laws have not caught up with - the demise of the 'chartered NGO New Guild' (the current Artisan's Guild is a totally independent NGO and a different body altogether). This is a good attempt to recreate a broad-based body which can provide impartial advice on the aesthetic concerns that affect land development. I like that it draws people from different bodies and will be a permanent, standing body to provide continuity. I hope this will help to promote unity and also provide new 'avenues for participation' (an old CSDF slogan but one I still support!)

Well done.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by cleopatraxigalia »

Nice job ..

I would like the membership to be much more broad given the extreme power this commission is being given.

I would open up to all citizens that have an interest in this sort of project and would allow all meetings to be open to the public, happen more frequently, and allow for any members to vote on matters to do with any issue.


The idea is wonderful, the work Leslie did writing it is great. I am not happy at all though with the size of the commission and the limited access to its membership. I think one does not need be an expert at executing the skills of terraforming, etc. to have ideas and be able to give input into the community.

This is putting a HUGE power into too few hands. Broaden the membership to anyone who would like to participate and I am all for it. Otherwise, I am not in favor.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

Excellent job, Leslie. So good, in fact, that I can dump my own suggestion, which has been 'dormant' (meaning: also gathering some comments and support from others) and just propose to adopt yours :)

I do have a few (minor) issues with the way things are written on this bill, which tend to imply certain things and might bring trouble on at a later stage. A typical example: this states clearly that the LUC is an advisory body (as it should be), but then it suddenly has the power to notify citizens when they're not in compliance with the Covenants. Now a 'notification' is an Executive act. Obviously the Executive can delegate powers (and it should, in my opinion), but, in that case, the LUC is not merely an 'advisory' body any more — it becomes an executive one. There would be no problem in that, either (it would be just a question of replacing the word 'advisory' by 'executive'), except that the bill clearly states that this body is mandated by the RA (i.e. it tends to derive its structure from the existing legislation that creates RA commissions), but, unlike standard commissions — which expire at the end of the term — this one would be a permanent, standing commission (although its membership would rotate). Again, the principle is fine. However... and here is the major problem... the RA cannot delegate executive powers into a commission. On the other hand, the Executive can certainly delegate their powers to a commission... but not to a RA commission... due to the principle of separation of powers. And, to make matters worse, the LUC apparently is supposed to go beyond merely 'advising' on future Covenants, but actually writing them. That would clearly be a delegation of legislative powers. Another tricky one! The RA is not allowed to delegate their legislative powers (unlike the Executive, which can do that). What they can do is to form commissions to discuss legislation, gather proposals, and then vote upon them in plenary.

In any case, a reading of the proposal for this LUC tends to imply that it is a Fourth Branch of Government, one that — ironically! — has much in common with the former Artisanal Branch, before we had an Executive. In fact, I find its principles very familiar indeed! The problem is that introducing a Fourth Branch, which would get powers transferred from the Executive and the RA, requires a major rewriting of the Constitution, because we would need to add a lot of new checks and balances for this Fourth Branch, and rethink the role of the RA and Executive in terms of land management (note that in the days of the Artisanal Guild, all issues related to land management and building were invested in the Artisanal Guild — the RA would do little more than approve budgets and define legislative frameworks, etc.). I'm not saying that this isn't possible, or even desirable. I'm just questioning if this is what Leslie is actually proposing! Probably not!

So I'm in touch with him to try to point out the small inconsistencies and try to figure out what exactly is intended with this LUC. If it's merely an advisory body, just as the New Guild was in 2008, then I believe that just a few word changes are necessary to get it approved. If it's a bit more than that, then this might either require extensive correction, or, well, a major constitutional change. Note that both are possible! Nothing is written in stone in the CDS...
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

Just some extra feedback: this bill is planned (no commitment yet!) to go before the RA on the next meeting, if possible. Although this has not been some legislation that was provided by a formal commission, nevertheless I understand, from what Leslie has been telling me, there was a rather large group of citizens working on this. So it will be not a 'surprise bill' presented in a hurry and tried to get approved as quickly as possible; rather, I understand there has been a reasonably long discussion period with many reviewers, and, hopefully, there will be a few extra changes before it gets discussed at the RA level.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Cadence Theas »

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote:Just some extra feedback: this bill is planned (no commitment yet!) to go before the RA on the next meeting, if possible. Although this has not been some legislation that was provided by a formal commission, nevertheless I understand, from what Leslie has been telling me, there was a rather large group of citizens working on this. So it will be not a 'surprise bill' presented in a hurry and tried to get approved as quickly as possible; rather, I understand there has been a reasonably long discussion period with many reviewers, and, hopefully, there will be a few extra changes before it gets discussed at the RA level.
Actually, if you remember the session where we formed the commission, it was given to a commission; the New Sim Commission was charged with this task of establishing a building commission to help facilitate the development of the new referendum mandated sim, and future sims. So it does have an important context.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by cleopatraxigalia »

Thank you Gwyn,

I was not happy with the composition of the committee on first read, but as I read your post, and I am glad I did, you point out some very important points. This is a constitutional issue not just a law. though I think continuing the discussion has merit, it really needs to be placed on the back burner and wait for the outcome of the Powers Commission it seems to me, unless it is purely advisory.


I did not realize it was another "appointed for life" situation. That is completely unacceptable to me.

Yes, this bill does take a huge chunk of power away from the Executive and give it to another body, enough to say that it is indeed creating a 4th body altogether. am fine with recreating this 4th body if it is indeed elected and has a check and balance, but not ok in its current form.


I am glad you are working with Leslie and look forward to seeing a re working of the law.

Seems sticking with an advisory apparatus is the way to go.

No one needs remind anyone as to the dangers of having a group of well meaning people interested in sim aesthetics pounce on new citizens and make them "aware" and offer to "help". Among other things...

There is a lot of merit in the idea, though, and I see it is worth working with to create an advisory only commission. I would like to have this be the place we again allow ALL citizens to have input into these types of decisions though, and not limit it to just a few.

Should the elements of the composition of the group, its powers, and ability to officially interact with the public without elected official oversight, be addressed I would consider supporting this proposal.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Bromo Ivory »

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote:Just some extra feedback: this bill is planned (no commitment yet!) to go before the RA on the next meeting, if possible. Although this has not been some legislation that was provided by a formal commission, nevertheless I understand, from what Leslie has been telling me, there was a rather large group of citizens working on this. So it will be not a 'surprise bill' presented in a hurry and tried to get approved as quickly as possible; rather, I understand there has been a reasonably long discussion period with many reviewers, and, hopefully, there will be a few extra changes before it gets discussed at the RA level.
I was not aware of this group to form the proposal and the above proposal is news to me, and consequently did not have the chance to add my input (or not). Given my role in the New Sim commission, as well as the Developer of Dougga and having worked at the "sim level" for development and maintenance, I would have liked the opportunity to have done so. Given the RA has taken great pains on other issues, I'd really hope that they would open this to a wider group that the more informal one that wrote this one.

I have been crticized fro transparency by many - when I feel I have been open. I would like to point out that the formation of this feel like opaqueness to me - though I will offer that they might have felt it was open. Because I didn't know about it, it was at least opaque to me.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Rosie Gray »

Bromo Ivory wrote:I was not aware of this group to form the proposal and the above proposal is news to me, and consequently did not have the chance to add my input (or not).

I have been crticized fro transparency by many - when I feel I have been open. I would like to point out that the formation of this feel like opaqueness to me - though I will offer that they might have felt it was open. Because I didn't know about it, it was at least opaque to me.
It's right in front of you now Bromo, so feel free to comment on it.

Note that the document was primarily created by Leslie due to his many years of RL experience in the field, as is stated right off the top: "Principal Author: Leslie Allandale", and "As a brief CV: I have had half a century’s experience dealing directly with RL land use agencies in California, Colorado, and Virginia, as well being a member of civic commissions and councils in both San Diego and Mendocino Counties --,so I know the dance.
Please peruse the following draft, and help me make it a workable and beneficial part of our “noble experiment.”


I note we seem to still be awaiting the correct version of the proposed Dougga sim covenant. Perhaps in the spirit of transparency you will post it immediately so that people can comment on it.
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Re: Bill to establish a permanent Land Use Commission

Post by Cadence Theas »

Rosie Gray wrote:I note we seem to still be awaiting the correct version of the proposed Dougga sim covenant. Perhaps in the spirit of transparency you will post it immediately so that people can comment on it.
I just did, since no one from Dougga was doing it.
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