Sacramento Area Council of Governments
The Sacramento Region is facing major growth and environmental challenges. The Sacramento Region Blueprint brought four possible growth scenarios to the public, and gave them the power to decide which would be best for them. The Blueprint provided participants with clear background information so that they would be able to wisely choose a scenario. Using wireless Internet networking, the project brought state-of-the-art planning technology into the public meetings. The Blueprint is a model of creative public participation combined with innovative technology use.
The Sacramento region is facing enormous growth and daunting environmental challenges. Its population is expected to double in the next 50 years, and the region's wetlands and woodlands are quickly disappearing. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) set out in the Blueprint's Land Use Transportation Study to link transportation with land use as the basis for the next transportation plan. The Blueprint project is an effort to fully examine current land-use patterns, influence future land-use patterns, and develop alternative growth scenarios on which to base transportation choice.
To accomplish this, SACOG wanted to reach out to the public on a large scale and employ new technology to improve decisionmaking. The Blueprint's public involvement and education process is unprecedented in the Sacramento region. It is developed primarily through a citizen involvement effort that includes direct citizen participation in neighborhood-level, county-level, and regional workshops, supported by a public education media campaign.
The planning process began by developing a "base case" scenario: What would happen if current plans were followed with no significant action? After gathering data on existing conditions, SACOG gathered plans for all of the 26 local governments in the area, plus parcel-based GIS data. It entered all the data into powerful PLACE 3 S software, and was startled by the results: The base case reflected a large imbalance between jobs and housing, a lack of affordable housing, significant depletion of wetlands and longer commute times.
With these discoveries, SACOG was ready for the next phase: public input. They conducted 30 neighborhood workshops, seven county workshops and two regional forums. Overall attendance at the workshops was above 5,000 people and included low-income residents, business representatives, and government officials.
Each workshop was organized into tables of 7 to 10 participants. Each table was led by a trained facilitator using a laptop with wireless Internet access so that participants could create and compare varying alternative scenarios in real time using the Web-based PLACE 3S software. The software enabled comparisons of vehicle miles traveled, transportation mode availability, energy use and emissions, housing density, jobs/housing balance, mix of uses, and economic feasibility, and also made the workshops more interactive and enjoyable for everyone.
Workshop participants were given a glossy printed "menu" of land-use choices. These included various types of residential, retail, industrial, open space and mixed use. The menu included pictures and descriptions of each type of land use. Participants worked together to develop four alternative land use scenarios, labeled A, B, C, and D. Each had varying levels of housing densities, focused growth in different areas, and included the transportation and environmental changes that would result.
These scenarios were brought back to the public, and they were able to make educated decisions regarding the choice of a preferred scenario on that basis of social, economic, and environmental considerations with the aid of the most advanced visualization software at their disposal. The results of these planning exercises are being applied to SACOG's 2005 update to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
The Blueprint project is an example of how technology can be used to cause residents to rethink the way they live and work. Land-use planning, transportation planning, stakeholder involvement, and public participation were integrated on a large scale to reach the best decisions for the region's future.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
San Francisco Bay Area, California
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission established a new standard for outreach and community participation with its public involvement campaign for Phase I in the development of Transportation 2030, a regional transportation plan for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Thousands of residents contributed to the plan through telephone interviews, workshops and the Internet.
Public involvement is an essential part of all transportation planning processes, but the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has taken the concept to new levels. The population of the San Francisco Bay Area is very diverse, and MTC took upon itself the challenge of reaching out to all of the region's residents.
The MTC partnered with local community groups to reach out to the largest possible audience in its remarkable public involvement campaign.
The MTC wanted the Transportation 2030 plan to be responsive to the myriad transportation needs of the region despite severely limited financial resources. To do so effectively, the MTC needed input from as many area residents as possible, and so the Commission launched an unprecedented public involvement campaign. The campaign began with a regional "kickoff" summit in June 2003 that drew an overflow crowd of nearly 500 to San Francisco's historic Palace Hotel. This summit incorporated a sophisticated electronic voting system that enabled attendees to immediately register their opinions on a range of subjects.
Other aspects of the $500,000 public involvement campaign included:
To foster participation among lower-income and minority residents of the Bay Area, MTC provided $5,000 grants to eight community-based organizations to co-sponsor Transportation 2030 workshops in targeted areas around the region. This enabled MTC to partner with the community organizations to reach out to diverse populations. Workshop materials included response cards for a shorter, print version of the Budget Challenge (featured on the MTC Web site), which were printed in Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese as well as English. Translators were on hand at most meetings to facilitate participation by non-English-speaking residents, and some community-based organizations even provided on-site childcare to make it easier for parents to take part in the Transportation 2030 process.
Phase I also included nearly two-dozen other public meetings on Transportation 2030, targeting business and labor interests, environmental advocates, Bay Area bicycle coalitions, Tribal governments, and the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area. These workshops brought the public face-to-face with the policy makers, and to be sure, their voices were heard.
Guided by recommendations from the thousands of people who attended public workshops, participated in focus groups, responded to the telephone poll, and/or took the interactive Budget Challenge, Phase I came to an end in December 2003. The Commission adopted six new goals for the Transportation 2030 Plan, a five-point platform for transportation and land-use integration, and a breakthrough investment strategy for an estimated $8.8 billion of discretionary funds from Federal, State, and local sources.
The goals of the MTC's Transportation 2030 plan reflect the values and needs of the diverse residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. Each one of the thousands of participants owns a part of the plan and will watch as their collective vision becomes reality.
Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency
Lincoln City, Oregon
Can a "small-town Main Street" rise from a state highway? It did in Taft and Oceanlake, Oregon through an intensive redevelopment plan. Dealing with State Highway 101 bisecting the communities was only one of the challenges, but the Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency overcame them by forming new and innovative partnerships while involving and inspiring the community.
Lincoln City is a group of neighborhood districts, or "villages," along an eight-mile stretch of the Oregon coast. The residents and merchants of Lincoln City's villages care deeply about their communities. Tourism, always an extremely important part of the local economy, had become the area's primary economic foundation with the decline of the fishing, dairy and timber industries. State Highway 101, a traffic and pedestrian obstacle as well as an eyesore, bisected each community. Lincoln City residents realized that, as an important feature of urban renewal, public and transportation facilities would have to improve to increase tourism. Although the Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency isn't a transportation agency, it took the lead in this transportation-oriented project to revitalize the city.
The Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency determined that revitalization plans should be prepared for each of the city's villages. These separate plans would more clearly articulate each community's desired urban renewal activities, and to strategically direct transportation improvement funds (TIF) in order to leverage private investment. To start the project, the Agency chose the villages of Taft and Oceanlake as the first to participate in the Urban Renewal Plan and Program.
Plans for the two oceanfront communities included downtown redevelopment, streetscape and urban design, beach access, wetlands preservation, housing, and traffic and congestion. One of the priorities in the redevelopment plans was to focus on Highway 101, which bisects each community, resulting in a variety of traffic, pedestrian safety, and aesthetic issues. The objective was to create a pedestrian-friendly, traffic calmed village environment.
The process was planned to include significant public involvement and meaningful partnerships. This took on novel forms, including a signage preference survey and design charrettes. An important partnership was with the media, whose consistent coverage of the process was integral to the spread of information. The Agency's efforts to include the public and build partnerships were successful. Fifteen hundred of the city's 7,000 residents - over 20 percent - participated in the process, and numerous partnerships with public, private, and non-profit organizations were secured.
The communities embraced the resulting plan. It included a facelift for Highway 101, which now has a green median, pedestrian crosswalks, and traffic-calming elements. Multi-use pathways, better beach access, and facade improvements all contribute to the revitalized Taft and Oceanlake. Fifteen to 20 million dollars of reinvestment has occurred in Lincoln City since the plans were implemented, and many new businesses and jobs have come to the area.
The redevelopment plans for Taft and Oceanlake are examples of revitalization efforts that are based on the desires and vision of local residents and business owners. They successfully tackled the highway dividing Lincoln City's villages, an issue that many small cities must face. The plans took the unique needs and concerns of the area into account, and built on its assets. Lincoln City residents embraced the plan; it was devised by them and works for them.
Michigan Department of Transportation
The 2003 Transportation Summit project spanned six months, culminating in a 2-day, 500‑person event in December 2003. The Summit process was the first gathering of stakeholder representatives from across Michigan to create a statewide long-range transportation vision and a strategy to turn the vision into reality through action plans.
Representatives from 70 diverse organizations were invited to identify key issues to explore, leading to a new vision for Michigan's transportation system. Of those organizations, 40 people from 34 organizations formed the Summit Planning Team. The Team members came from the construction industry; consultant firms; citizen and advocacy groups; local, State, and Federal agencies; service providers, including port authorities; safety experts; and others interested in a vision of Michigan's transportation system. The group created an Operating Charter that guided them through difficult discussions and fostered consensus decisionmaking.
The Summit Planning Team held 13 meetings, during which they identified 9 key issues to explore in order to create a meaningful transportation vision: Asset Management; Research and Evaluation; Safety; Coordination, Cooperation, and Connectivity; Mobility Options; Land Use; Communication, Consciousness Raising and Public Involvement; Commerce and Trade; and Funding. The Planning Team held full-day meetings to explore and study each issue. Academic, industry, government, and technical experts helped the Planning Team understand each issue, its history, and current concerns. Based on all they had learned during the Issue Meetings - from Webcasts, public comments, and other feedback - the Summit Planning Team drafted a Vision Statement and proposed action plans for each issue.
The December 2003 Transportation Summit attendees reviewed and discussed the results of the Planning Team's explorations, confirmed the draft action plans, and selected a final vision. Over 500 people from Michigan and 12 other states, representing the transportation community and the public, gathered to hear key international, national, and local leaders speak about Michigan's current environment, its future, and the opportunity at hand. A variety of interactive communications means, including breakout sessions and Webcasts, was employed to provide maximum interaction between the public and the Summit participants during the discussions and decisionmaking process.
At the close of the Summit, over 240 participants volunteered for Action Teams to turn the actions into reality to achieve the statewide vision. Alliances and partnerships between organizations and individuals were formed. The Action Teams are meeting regularly and have determined next steps to implementing the action plans.
The long-term viability of this effort is based on its structure-that is, the project is inclusive of multiple and diverse organizations and individuals who created a common vision, respect their shared voices and responsibilities, and contribute time and resources to turning the vision into reality. Participants have taken ownership of the process.