The public should always be involved in city and community planning. It can be a difficult exercise, though, but morally, and legally, we must do it. I got my own experience with dealing with the public by setting up and running, from the venue to the content, a public meeting about bicycling in Chicago in summer 2009 (reports and documents, photos).
Participants at the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council public meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, discuss relevant bicycling topics.
What’s unfortunate, though, is that public participation tends to turn into meeting theater.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has just released the public comments from the third “screening” of the Circle Line Alternatives Analysis study. Screen 3 presented the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), including route alignment and new station locations. I’ve collected a handful of some of the irrelevant or humorous comments members of the public submitted to the CTA after the open houses in September 2009. I’ve also included a selection of thoughtful, serious, and relevant ideas and questions (these ideas comprise the majority). Download the entire collection.
These comments are recorded by the CTA study team, but not addressed and thrown in “Topic Area 23,Â do not pertain to the Circle Line.”
- Nobody builds 1890s technology like Chicago!
- What would Daniel Burnham think of this “LPA?
- The connection for regular service to the Old Orchard Mall has my support.
- These comment cards are meant to constrain public debate. RTA does not use these. Why does CTA need to control the public? [Note: If the commenter feels the need to say this, a comment card is the wrong outlet; also, an open house is not an opportunity to debate anything]
- What is this “future plan? [Note: It seems that the commenter is unsure of their presence at the open house, or they don’t understand that the Locally Preferred Alternative includes only a small part of the Circle Line vision]
- Tonight I was handed a flyer from LVEJO claiming that MidCity is cheaper than Circle even though it is 20 miles longer. CTA’s study says theÂ opposite. Which one is more accurate? [Note: I would also like to know the answer]
- The material provided on the CTA web site (the presentation slides and display boards) do not seem to be sufficient for public comment except atÂ the most superficial level. Especially for those citizens who were unable to attend one of the three public sessions, the web materials are all thatÂ are available, and I do not believe they are adequate to meeting your requirements for public participation.
While the team who puts on the public meetings categorizes the comments into distinct topic areas (in order to more quickly address them), there are at least three major topic areas I saw prudent to discuss here. Read these after the jump. Continue reading