PublicEngageToolbox_WCSept08_0 - PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND...

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PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATIVE GOVERNANCE 1400 K Street, Suite 205 Sacramento, CA 95814 916.658.8208 F 916.444.7535 The Public Engagement Toolbox Meaningfully engaging the public requires planners and government officials to develop a public participation toolbox that can be used in a wide variety of situations. Local governments may use several effective approaches, depending on whether the project is an ongoing planning initiative or a public input process. Traditionally, the public or community project meeting takes place in a large room with rows of chairs facing the front. The city planner or developer presents the plan or project and then opens the meeting to questions. With a controversial project, it’s safe to assume that public concern or distrust has already led to a volatile and adversarial situation. It’s not uncommon to see people shouting at each other, city staff backpedaling to correct inaccurate information, and a few loud voices dominating the forum. In a community meeting in San Carlos some years ago, we found ourselves facing three times the number of people expected, many of whom stood lining the walls, adding to the meeting’s negative tone and general discomfort. While it’s not always the case, I have often seen the traditional meeting method fail to achieve any meaningful public exchange of information. It pays to be open to new methods of engaging the public. In San Carlos, we recently tried a somewhat nontraditional community open house for a
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PublicEngageToolbox_WCSept08_0 - PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND...

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