Tagpublic participation

Voting on bikeways in San Luis Obispo County

Session summary: A staffer at San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) wants to learn about ways to have residents learn about proposed bikeways in the jurisdiction, their costs, and possibly vote or rank them to prioritize installation. SLOCOG is also considering a referendum for a sales tax that would fund transportation improvements to pay for road maintenance, transit service, and bikeways. This tool could be used to decide how the sales tax revenue is spent.

UNEDITED

SLOCOG – what a funny name
250-300k population for the county.
slow-growth county, not affordable

GIS, web interface – routes of bikeways, identified by color
$30m over 25 years
bike plan
Oh, you want that class 1 to the beach? That’s $15m
survey of unmet bike needs

This is what we want to do, this is the money we have.
This is where 10k people want a bike lane.

passenger car sales tax (I missed how the sales tax would work)? county sales tax increase to fund transportation
quadruples range of options.

Adriel Hampton: Bright Idea – ideation, vote them up and down
Lot of marketing, moderation, outreach
Just cuz you build it, people don’t come
You have to market it hard.

Me: Will there be a soft side to this? In-person charrettes? No, but will consider.
Have the potential bikeways already been identified and have all had their costs estimated?
Yes, bikeways identified.
Costs will be estimated soon based on past construction projects.

Starting with bikeways, then complete streets modules, streetscapes.

Jeff Wood:
Phily Planning Organization, web interface – click on the projects you want
Portland
Sacramento – Willingess to pay game?

Matt: How do they frame sales tax? This is the touchiest subject for us.

OpenPlans GeoExt application.

Adriel: I think scenarios is better than open.
Matt: We’ve made the plan, have the network. We need the people to justify the funding decisions we make.
mottmann@gmail.com

Leah: TechSoup – let county-wide bike coalition get grants to pay for software/application.
Google StreetView – have the trike feature your best bike route.
LA Times, if you do this in the budget, then this happens. Generated a lot of buzz.

Sean Hedgpeth: Capital and operating budgets.
I added about federal funding not paying for maintenance.

Matt: rideshare.org
Richard: 66% votes needed to approve the sales tax.
Sean: Have to sell sales tax with potholes.
Matt: Cycling will get 7% of sales tax.

What’s the county’s policy on open data? It’s not that it’s hidden, it’s just that the organization and outreach is not there.

SidewalkChalk (?, url)

Adriel: SeeClickFix – civic points – put a gaming aspect on things. participation rates are so low.
1-9-90 model. Create, read, do nothing to web content.
Look at
Adding some goofy elements to project.
So anti-Farmville until I found out about their special corn that would help Haiti

Bump out opportunity

I was reading a plan for a streetscape design (doesn’t matter for where) and I saw a street map with orange dots showing “bumpout opportunities.” The plan was mostly images and didn’t describe this feature.

Were these opportunities because the community had indicated their desire for slower turns, shorter crosswalks, additional landscaping, or they needed space for bike parking?

Or did someone think, “A bumpout would fit here, let’s install one.” (In other words, “because we can.”)

This post is less about questioning the rationale behind constructing bumpouts (also called curb extensions), but about questioning why and how we decide to build stuff.

Do we build things because there’s a need for that thing, or because someone thinks that thing is needed? This discussion leads us to talking about the role of public participation in planning. Often I see public participation used as a way to measure support for an idea that seems like it will become real regardless of which way the vocal public feels. Organizations should measure, instead, the demand for a solution of a problem, from which they can attempt to discover, understand, and propose fixes or improvements to the problem.

Circle Line brings out the public’s comments to the CTA

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.

Irrelevant

These comments are recorded by the CTA study team, but not addressed and thrown in “Topic Area 23, 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]

Serious

  • 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 the 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 at the most superficial level. Especially for those citizens who were unable to attend one of the three public sessions, the web materials are all that are available, and I do not believe they are adequate to meeting your requirements for public participation.

Common Topics

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

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