THE NEIGHBORHOOD REFERRAL PROGRAM
Can It Be An Effective Strategy For Facilitating Citizen Participation?
College of Design and Planning
University of Colorado at Denver
Karen Stephens Griffith
THE NEIGHBORHOOD REFERRAL PROGRAM
Can It Be An Effective Strategy For Facilitating Citizen Participation?
Karen Stephens Griffith
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Planning and Community Development College of Design and Planning University of Colorado at Denver Professor Dan Schler, Thesis Advisor
Citizen participation has always been a key component of the planning process to me. It is the citizens of the community that we are planning for and therefore I believe that it is of the utmost importance that they be included in the planning process. While there are volumes of works on citizen participation, I found little research evaluating the effectiveness of the various techniques in use. It is important to determine which strategies are effective for both the local governments employing them and the citizens participating in the process. Through this study I hope to contribute to the body of knowledge about citizen participation because I feel that the topic is of great importance.
The focus of this study is to evaluate one citizen participation strategy to determine if it can be effective in facilitating citizen participation. Although I would like to evaluate a number of strategies, this was beyond the scope of the study. The neighborhood referral program strategy was selected to be evaluated because it appears as though it has the potential to be one of the more effective techniques for use in the local government decision making process, especially for planning decisions.
In the course of doing the phone surveys for this project I had a delightful discussion with Janet Stromberg of Jefferson County. She asked me how I had developed an interest in citizen participation. The question took me by surprise because I had never really thought about
when I first became interested in participatory planning. I think the interest is ingrained in my personality as well as my ethics as a planner. My answer to Janet was that my family has been active in participating (or at least protesting) in local government decisions in the town I grew up in. I remember my father going to hearings to voice objections to proposed developments he found to be objectionable. My grandfather was a labor organizer and a "union man" in Racine, Wisconsin, thus the belief in participation and activism seems to be part of my roots.
My strong interest in citizen participation was also developed from the example set by the members of the community I grew up in. The community, Oak Creek, is a small town in southeastern Wisconsin, where people seemed to be very involved in local politics. In high school our ecology and conservation teacher, Robert Slamka, taught his students to become active in the conservation movement and I became aware of local government issues, particularly from an environmental perspective. From his example, I learned how to become involved in local community government. I would like to to take this opportunity to thank him for the many hours he has spent trying to better the community and for the many hours he unselfishly spent devoted to his students, including me.
I would like to thank my parents, to whom I am deeply greatful for their incredible support and encouragement through the years and for making higher education possible for me. I am also very greatful to my husband Matt, who spent hours helping me finalize this document by typing and
I would like to extend sincere thanks and my deep appreciation to Dan Schler, my thesis advisor, and to Herb Smith, both of whom have given me a great deal of support and encouragement on this project and throughout the program. I would also like to acknowledge their efforts in building a fine graduate program in planning, which includes practical as well as academic learning, and one that emphasizes an extremely important aspect of planning; the development of the community.
I would like to thank my committee members, Jack Reutzel and Anne Bockenkamp, and to Carole Aspinwall, all of whom have given me the encouragement to finish and they have helped me through other crazy times.
Finally, I am very appreciative of the time spent by all of the planners and neighborhood group leaders who made the time to respond to my survey, and who helped to generate my enthusiasm for the project.
TABLE OF CONTENTS page
DISCUSSION OF CITIZEN PARTICIPATION 4
Democracy: The Basis of Citizen Participation 4
What Constitutes Citizen Participation? 5
Reasons for Employing Citizen Participation 8
The Participants 10
WHAT IS EFFECTIVENESS 17
Effectiveness Defined 17
Factors of Effectiveness 17
Goals and Criteria for Effectiveness 18
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Neighborhood Referral Programs 24
The Survey Sample 25
Survey Administration 26
The Design of the Questionnaire 26
Evaluation of the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program 28
Selection of Survey Respondents 30
Survey Administration 31
The Registered Neighborhood Group Questionnaire 31
Unregistered Neighborhood Groups 32
Constraints and Limitations 33
EVALUATION OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD REFERRAL PROGRAM STRATEGY 35
Ability to Produce Better Decisions and Influence Outcomes 36
Real Opportunity for Input and Genuine Openness 36
Reduction of Resolution of Conflicts 37
Equal Access 37
Representative of Population 38
High Benefit and Low Cost in Terms of Money 39
High Benefit and Low Cost in Terms of Time 39
Accurate and Meaningful Information 41
Two-Way Information Flow 41
Educative Function 41
Improved Relationships Between the City and Citizens 42
City Survey Results 43
DESCRIPTION AND EVALUATION OF THE LONGMONT NEIGHBORHOOD
REFERRAL EVALUATION PROGRAM 48
Introduction and Overview of the Development of the Program 48
Program Objectives 50
How the Program Functions 50
City Characteristics 51
Evaluation of the Longmont Referral Program 52
Registered Group Survey Results 52
Unregistered Group Survey Results 57
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 61
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 69
Modern democratic theory provides for the involvement of citizens in the community decision making process. However, the structure of many communities has changed, perhaps most radically since the development of the automobile and the Interstate Highway system. People are able to work outside their community, and in many cases it may be quite some distance from where they reside. As a result, people may be less informed about issues and projects in their neighborhood and in their city. At the same time, government is expanding and becoming more complex as responsibilities increase. It is becoming increasingly
difficult for citizens to participate in the local government planning and decision making process. Perhaps even more so today than in earlier times there is a need for local governments to adopt programs and techniques to inform and involve citizens in the planning and decision making process.
However, local governments have limited resources to implement such programs. Given that both citizens and governments have limited time and money for citizen programs, there is a need to develop citizen participation techniques that are effective for facilitating involvement and are not expensive in terms of time and money.
The overall goal of this study is to address this problem by evaluating
one strategy to determine if it can be an effective citizen
participation technique. I have chosen to evaluate the neighborhood referral program strategy. This involves the registration of
neighborhood groups with a city, which then disseminates information and sends referrals to the group so that their concerns can be addressed early in the planning process. This strategy appears to be effective because it requires little extra time on the part of city staff, is relatively inexpensive to implement, and can substantially improve communications with and the involvement of citizens in the local planning and decision making process. It is my thesis that a neighborhood referral program can be an effective technique for
facilitating citizen participation in local government planning and
decision making. Given the problem of trying to develop programs to effectively involve citizens in the community decision making process, the objectives of this study are:
1. To find out what techniques and strategies other communities are using to involve citizens.
2. To find out which techniques tend to be most effective, based on the experience of other planners.
3. To determine specifically if a neighborhood referral program can be an effective strategy for involving citizens in the local planning and decision making process.
4. To determine specifically if the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program can be an effective strategy for facilitating citizen participation in the City decision making process.
This paper will examine the parameters of citizen participation that
determine effectiveness and will apply these factors in an evaluation of the neighborhood referral program strategy. Three approaches will be used to evaluate the strategy. The first is to evaluate the strategy based on criteria for effectiveness identified by the literature. Secondly, city planners will be consulted to determine which techniques they have found to be effective. The third approach will be to evaluate a newly initiated program to determine if it is meeting the program's goals and if it has the potential to become an effective strategy. This evaluation will include a survey of the registered neighborhood group leaders, as well as a survey of potential neighborhood group leaders.
DISCUSSION OF CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
Democracy: The Basis of Citizen Participation
The fundamental justification for public involvement is the axiom of a democratic society that derives from the consent of the governed and that people should have the opportunity to participate in decisions that effect them(Creighton,1981).
The provision of opportunities for all residents to participate in the
government decision making process is a fundamental principle of American
Democracy. The ancient Greek Herodutos first coined the term democracy,
meaning the people to rule. During his time it encompassed the rights of
citizens in four areas; equality before the law, popular deliberation and
the development of a popular consensus, public accountability of
officials, and later equality of speech (Fagence, 1977). Unfortunately,
in ancient Greek times, the principles of democracy were only applied to
the citizens or freemen who numbered 150,000 of a population of 400,000
The concept and practice of democracy has evolved considerably over time. American Society now grants the rights of equality and equal opportunity to all members of its population. Further, the participation of citizens in their government is a critical requirement for the functioning of a democratic society (Checkoway and Van Til, 1978). Nelson Rosenbaum asserts this position in his statement "Political equality is the
essential first principle of democratic governance---------The essential
condition of democracy is that all citizens have an equal opportunity to exert influence through the political process if they choose to do so" (1978). Thus, the participation of citizens in government is critical to the functioning of democratic government. This principle is summed up by Michael Fagence in his statement "Most people in western democratic political systems are taught at some stage during their programmes of education that, in order for democracy to flourish it is necessary for the citizens to be both interested and active" (1978).
What Constitutes Citizen Participation?
Even in Ancient Greek times, it was realized that citizen participation did not mean that a mass decision making body was to be assembled, but rather that government was to be representative (Fagence, 1977). "The diverse interests of citizens are reconsiled through two processes, the selection of representatives who hopefully share those interests (or at least are not opposed to them) and the influencing of their subsequent decisions" (Cook, 1976). Thus, citizen participation includes three components: the individual as a member of a community, the community as a social unit, and the action of elected representatives on behalf of the individuals (Cook, 1976).
The concept of representative government is in contrast to the ideals of some citizen participation theorists, including Sherry Arnstein, author of the frequently cited article "A Ladder of Citizen Participation" (1969). Arnstein defines citizen participation as a redistribution of power from the politically and socially elite to the "have-not poor" who she asserts
are excluded from the political and economic processes. In her words citizen participation is "the means by which they can induce significant social reform" (1969). Arnstein can be classified as conforming to the Marxist orientation of citizen participation, which subscribes to citizen control and citizen action, where it is liberating to those not in power and is related to class objectives (Checkoway and Van Til, 1978).
A second orientation of citizen participation is that of the elitists, who "warn of the dangers of excessive participation, however see a central role for participation by the electorate and by those sectors of the citizenry who are fully informed" (Langton, 1978; Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). The third orientation is that of the citizen theorists who view "participation as a crucial educative experience for the citizen and an open-ended process of revitalization for the society" (Checkoway and Van Til, 1978).
The third orientation appears to be the most appropriate for local government planning. The assertion that citizen participation is the transfer of power from the "haves" to the "have-nots" is not particularly pertinent to local government planning for several reasons. First of all, Arnstein advocates the return of power to the citizens. In a local government it is the local citizens who are elected to office. The advocacy of the return of power to the citizens is more relevant when discussing the planning and administration of federal programs, which was Arnstein1s frame of reference when "A Ladder of Citizen Participation" was written. Further, this interpretation is not particularly valid in suburban middle class communities where few poor minorities exist. "Arnsteins theory is argued for have-nots, and leaves little participation
for the haves. It simply becomes a struggle of those with power to those who don't have it" (Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). The "Robin Hood principle" of redistribution of power from the elite to the poor does not conform to principles of democracy, where all citizens have equal opportunity to access government; rich, poor, and middle class alike. The citizen theorist orientation is the most appropriate one for local government, where citizen particpation contributes to the vitality of the community, and where citizen participation serves an educative function.
For the purposes of local government planning, citizen participation and the concept of public involvement are the same. Creighton's definition of public involvement as "a process or processes by which interested and effected individuals, organizations, agencies and government entities are consulted and included in the decision making of a government agency or corporate entity" (1981), is an appropriate definition of citizen participation.
On the other hand, citizen participation is not a one way communication flow from an agency to the public in order to persuade them to adopt or support a program or action.
At the outset it is important to distinguish between successful methods of citizen participation and successful citizen lobbying efforts. The latter are attempts to change public policy by getting large numbers of people to contact the appropriate public officials. The assumption is that a particular view is correct and the aim is to get as many supporters as possible to express this view to public officials (Crosby, et al, 1986).
The difference between public information programs and public involvement is that the purpose of public information is solely to inform the public, "while the purpose of public involvement is both to
inform the public and to solicit public response regarding the public's needs, values, and evaluations of proposed solutions" (Creighton, 1981). Thus, citizen participation must be a two way flow of communication.
Another parameter is that citizen participation is an ongoing effort. "Citizen participation is primarily an effort of providing an intermediate, continuous level of informat ion/influence/control inputs into administrative decision making" (Cook, 1976). Cook further stressed that it does not include the "intermittent choices of the electoral process and the passive acceptance of governmental action" (1976).
Another important feature of citizen participation is the opportunity to influence a decision prior to the decision being made. Asking citizens to radify a decision that has already been made is a token effort to involve citizens in the decision making process and does not qualify as citizen participation. Finally, citizen participation is complementary to, not a substitute for the role of the professional planning expert, and the responsible politician (Fagence, 1977).
Reasons For Employing Citizen Participation
In the local government planning and decision making process, citizen participation can increase the staff workload, add extra costs, and lengthen review time for projects. Why then, some officials may ask, should they bother to go to the trouble of incorporating citizen participation in the decision making process? There are a number of reasons why government should involve citizens. To begin with, as was discussed previously, the participation of citizens is essential to the
functioning of a democratic government. It was also discussed earlier that it is a basic right for citizens to participate in their government and to have equal access to government.
There are also more practical reasons for citizen involvement. In the long run, the involvement of citizens in the decision making process can save time by shortening the review process (Soloman, 1986). It can also save the government and the private sector money by reducing the likelihood of an issue ending up in court, or being placed on a ballot for an initiative or referendum. Public involvement programs can result in savings of time and cost in implementation of a project (Conner, 1986). In some cases this may actually "prevent a later exhibition of direct and possible physical opposition from those persons whose usual predisposition to pacificity has been disturbed by events or actions considered by them to be unacceptable" (Fagence, 1977). Public involvement can also reduce dissent because "those who are initially unreconciled to government policies come to value the programs they helped to shape" (Langton, 1978). Citizen participation can reduce conflicts and provide a forum for arriving at a consensus among the affected parties (Cook, 1976).
Thomas Heberlein asserts that the goal of citizen participation is to reach better decisions. By not leaving out or alienating groups, these groups are less likely to resort to traditional and legal mechanisms (1976). Once this occurs, it is unlikely that all interests will be represented in a decision. "Actions taken with adequate public involvement will be more comprehensive and will be less likely to be capriciously reversed or modified" (Heberlein, 1976). Additional
information from the various participants can also lead to technically better projects (Conner, 1986). The parties effected by a project are those most familiar with the area and can often contribute important information to be considered by the decision makers. Public involvement can also avoid the development of a negative image of the organization as well as improve the morale among staff (Conner, 1986)
In the development review and planning process cities that have employed citizen participation strategies have found that it reduces the length of the review process and reduces conflicts. It can result in less lengthy and heated hearings. One planner found that it enabled them to facilitate solutions prior to the public hearings (Soloman, 1986). In short, citizen participation can save time and money, facilitate consensus building, and can enhance implementation by obviating "the likelihood of unsuspected opposition at a subsequent time" (Fagence, 1977).
According to Michael Fagence, "the planning process will function most efficiently if it recognises the variations in contributions from the different 'publics' "(1977). This section will discuss the different types of participants as well as address the factors influencing participation and non-participation. One of the requirements for citizen participation often cited in the literature is for the participants to be representative of the population. Unfortunately, "participants are hardly representative of the public as a whole" Fagence, 1977). By understanding which groups of citizens are likely to
participate and which are not, as well as common reasons for participation and non-participation; more effective citizen participation strategies can be developed.
The literature cites a number of factors that influence whether an individual will participate in politics or the community decision making process. One factor is an individual's value system, and how important the outcome is to the person. The higher the value of the expected outcome, the more likely it is they will participate (Wanderman, 1984). A second factor is the person's expectations. Those with higher expectations are more likely to participate (Wanderman, 1984). A third factor is their involvement in other organizations. People already involved in other organizations are more likely to participate. Additionally, the perception of too few or too many problems is related to non-participation (Wanderman, 1984). Other factors include personal needs and problems. People tend to participate if they believe they are strongly effected by a proposal (Creighton, 1981). The possession of the necessary resources to participate including time, skills, and money also has a great influence on whether a person will participate. In fact, it is frequently cited in the literature that individuals of a higher socio-economic status are more likely to participate and tend to
be over-represented by participants. Income, education, and
occupational status all correlate positively with individual
participation (Langton, 1978).
Individuals with a high degree of civic commitment, or civic mindedness are more likely to participate. Fagence further divides this group into
two categories; the communalists, who have broad civic interests, and the parochial participants, who exhibit a high degree of involvement, initiative, and commitment to particular issues (1977).
Personality traits of individuals have a strong influence on whether individuals will become involved. Strong egos, feelings of efficacy, gregariousness, and a positive self image "are all important psychological ingredients in active participants in the polity" (Kasperson, and Breitbart, 1974). The charisma, status, prestige, and expertise of a person are also personal charachteristics influencing participation. Of course, the setting and the structure also influence whether someone will participate. Some individuals are more apt to fill out a survey in their home, yet they might decline an opportunity to voice an opinion in a public hearing. Thus, the institutional setting will also influence who the participants are in a given public involvement strategy.
In general, the majority of Americans are not active participants in government and politics. "There is a thin layer of highly active participants, a thicker layer of those who sporadically do a little campaign work, or discuss politics with their neighbors, and finally an extremely thick layor of people who are inactive (Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). Several authors have discussed a hierarchy of political involvement involving four tiers (Milbrath as cited in Fagence, 1977; Checkoway and Van Til, 1978; and Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). The lowest level on the hierarchy includes the apathetics. This group is unaware of what is going on, is uninterested, and takes a passive role. Approximately one third of the American population falls
into this category (Langton, 1978). The next level is comprised of the spectators, who are minimally involved. Their activities include voting, button wearing, and discussions, but they are not actively involved. Approximately sixty percent of Americans fall into this level. Thus, "voting is the most common form of political participation. Less than one-half of the electorate are regular voters in local elections" (Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). A transitional level includes those who may attend meetings, provide monetary contributions, and may call officials on occasions. The highest level is comprised of "gladiators" who are actively involved in political activities. These are the citizens who actively campaign, hold public office, attend meetings, join political parties, and solicit money (Milbrath as cited in Fagence, 1977; Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). Only four to seven percent of Americans are actively involved at this level (Langton, 1978). These activists come disproportionately from upper status groups, and this is particularly true for the more difficult activites. Men tend to be over-represented in these more activist groups (Fagence, 1977).
Verba and Nie offer a different typology of participants which largely corresponds with Milbrath's hierarchy. Six types of participants are identified. The inactives are essentially the same as the apathetics in the Milbrath hierarchy, as are also the voting specialists. The voting specialists are described as people who "are commited to activities which require Title initiative; their political activity is exhausted by the act of voting. They have low levels of psychological involvement and efficacy, and their sense of identification with civic and welfare
causes is not highly developed" (Verba and Nie as cited in Fagence, 1977). Verba and Nie add a third category called the parochial participants, who exhibit a high degree of initiative and commitment, but only to particular issues. They refrain deliberately from broader social welfare issues (As cited by Fagence, 1977). The communalists are at the fourth level. These citizens are interested in broad civic issues and are "engaged accross the spectrum of political activity" (Fagence, 1977). The campaign activists are the fifth type. This group is also interested in broad civic issues, but is more commited to party causes. The campaigners are highly informed and efficacious, and have a high degree of psychological involvement (Fagence, 1977). The final level describes the complete activists who exhibit a high level of commitment and are essentially the same group as the gladiators. People in this group have a very high level of psychological involvement, sense of efficacy and possess excellent skills and a high level of information. They also "possess a high sense of contribution to the general welfare of all citizens" (Fagence, 1977).
Clearly, the literature demonstrates that it is a difficult task indeed to assemble a group of participants that are representative of the population. Only a small minority of citizens tend to participate and the ones that do come from higher socio-economic status levels than the general population (Cook, 1976). In order to attempt to provide more representative citizen involvement strategies it is useful to further examine the inactive group and to understand more specifically what characteristics these groups have that keep them from taking an active role in society. "The reasons for deliberate participation inaction are
often as important to understand as those motivating participation"...(Fagence, 1977).
There are a number of reasons why people do not participate. These range from personality traits, to socio-economic status. In terms of personality characteristics, the inactives are the antithesis of the gladiators and the complete activitists. People with low ratings on sociality, dominance, and self esteem are not likely to participate (Kasperson, and Breitbart, 1974). The inactives have little commitment to conflict resolution or civic improvement (Fagence, 1977). "The poor, the minorities, those with a negative self image, and the 'lower class', lower income tend to stay on the periphery" (Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974). Those who limit their involvement to voting (the voting specialists and the spectators), come disproportionately from lower status groups. Further, this group is characterized by those who lack interest in political activity, are psychologically detached, and have a poor resource base of skills (Fagence, 1977). People also will not participate if they do not believe they can influence the decision (Creighton, 1981).
Creighton also offers several reasons for non-participation. People will not participate if they already feel adequately represented by someone in the active minority (1981). Secondly, they may not believe that the impact of the decision upon them justifies participation (Creighton, 1981). "Any act of participation involves an assessment of reward contained in the object of participation compared with the reward which accrues to the most favored alternative uses of time and effort" (Kasperson and Breitbart, 1974 citing Dahl, 1970). Some people choose
not to participate because they simply have other preferences for their scarce resources of time and energy, and "simply believe that participation will not be worth the effort (Checkoway and Van Til, 1978). Perhaps most important, people will not participate if they are unaware they are effected by a decision (Creighton, 1981).
WHAT IS EFFECTIVENESS?
It is the thesis of this paper that a neighborhood referral program can be an effective strategy for facilitating citizen participation. In order to demonstrate this, effectiveness must be clearly defined. This chapter will define effectiveness, and then identify and discuss eleven key factors in determining the effectiveness of citizen participation strategies.
Effective is defined as being productive and efficient, producing a desired result, having a desired effect, or being successful (Webster's Dictionary, 1972).
Factors of Effectiveness
In order to produce desired results, it must first be known what are the goals and objectives that are to be accomplished. Thus, the first prerequisite in achieving effectiveness is to define exactly what result is desired. A second aspect of effectiveness is productivity. Once the objectives are known effectiveness can be measured in terms of whether desired results are produced. The third aspect is efficiency, which is
producing the desired effect, without waste of resources
(Merriam-Webster, 1974). This requires a wise use of resources, with
great benefits in terms of accomplishing desired results, and low costs in terms of money and time.
Goals and Criteria for Effective Citizen Participation
As just discussed, a prequisite for effectiveness is identifying goals, because in order to produce a desired result you must first know what the desired result is. The body of literature on citizen participation espouses a number of general goals, or criteria for effectiveness. Following is a discussion of the key factors required for effective citizen participation strategies.
One such goal is to produce better decisions (Creighton, 1981). "Participation quality is effective if it influences a particular decision or produces a favorable policy outcome" (Langton, 1978). If a public involvement program produces a change or influences a decision, then the effort has been successful.
This closely parallels the concept of tokenism, where participation is sought, however the participants actually have little or no influence on a decision. In some cases the decision has actually been made and the participants are essentially asked to radify it. Hence, a second expectation of citizen participation is that a real opportunity to participate actually be provided, and that the process is genuinely open. "In evaluating the impact of participation on particular policy outcomes, the extent to which outcomes are genuinely left open is a key ingredient in the quality of participation" (Kasperson and Breitbart,
1974). The likelihood that the recommendations of the group will be followed should be high (Crosby, et al, 1986). A third goal is the reduction or resolution of conflicts (Conner, 1986). Some strategies and techniques invite conflict whereas others actually do facilitate resolution of conflicts and promote consensus building.
As was discussed previously, equal access to the decision making process is a fourth and critical goal of citizen participation. In many communities the developers are provided access to staff, information, and the decision makers, while access to the same is more restricted for citizens.
The previous discussion of the literature has already demonstrated that individuals of higher socio-economic status comprise the active minority. Thus, for participation to be more representative it should strive to include more individuals of lower socio-economic status, including the poor, minorities, and women. The fifth criterion is that citizen participation strategies provide for more equal representation.
Two important goals for both the local government and the participants are that the strategy is low in cost compared to benefits and that the strategy is low in time compared to benefits. In terms of costs, it should be relatively inexpensive for the agency to provide the program. The expense to the participants must also be low in order to encourage their participation. The perceived benefits for having spent the time and money should be high for both the program sponsors and the program participants. In order to attract participants, they must first perceive a benefit for participating. "Findings further underlie the
necessity of bringing a program into the public eye and of making perceived benefits real if citizen participation is to be more representative" (Cook, 1976). In order for the agency to allocate funding for a public involvement program it must be convinced that the extra staff time and expense will be beneficial in the long run.
"Only public awareness of opportunity and a clearly perceived benefit can produce broader bases and higher levels of participation" (Cook, 1976). It is also necessary for people to be adequately informed in order for them to participate. Adequate notice is a necessary ingredient for successful participation strategies. "People are motivated to participate only when they perceive that a decision effects them, they may not participate in making that decision because they are unaware of its impact" (Creighton, 1981). Thus, an eighth critical goal is that citizens be provided with accurate and meaningful information. (Crosby, et al, 1986).
In order for a strategy to be effective, the flow of information must be two-way. The participants must be informed about the decision, the different alternatives available, and the ramifications of each decision. Alternatively, the decision makers must be able to obtain the feedback from the participants, or it is not a sincere participation effort. Hence, the ninth important criterion is the provision of a two-way flow of information.
Participation cannot be effective if the participants are not educated about the decision, as well as how they can participate. Studies show that "the quality and extent of participation by citizens in various
mechanisms (boards, public hearings, and the like) varied chiefly with the participant's training for and/or experience with similiar roles...training is probably the more effective approach if more active participation is desired" (Cook, 1976). The participants need to be educated both about the issues as well as the process of decision making. "Highly visible ways of participating must be made available so that people know how to participate if they want to" (Creighton, 1981). Only when citizens are informed of the issues and what is expected in terms of their participation will citizen participation be successful. Creighton further asserts that the entire public must be informed of the consequences of a proposed action so that citizens can choose whether or not to participate (1981).
Citizens must also understand the ramifications of a decision so they can make intelligent comments. "For example, when a development project is being considered by local government, certain requirements are mandated by code and are not open to alterations. On the other hand, a number of other aspects may be negotiable. It is important for the citizens to have an understanding of which items are open to discussion and which items officials cannot change, or at least cannot be changed as part of the decision making process they are involved in. Conner further stresses the need for a mutual education process, where citizens learn about the decision making process and at the same time officials learn more about the needs and concerns of citizens (1986). Thus, a tenth goal identified is that the participation strategy serves an educative function.
The eleventh key goal is the improved relationships between the
government and the community members and the development of mutual trust. "It is essential that participation be satisfying, rewarding, and not frustrating if it is to acheive the basic objective of creating and sustaining a voluntary union and mutual trust between government and its citizens" (Fagence, 1977). If the relationship between a City and the participants is not good, then it is unlikely the strategy will be effective. An effective program will reduce animosity between the decision makers and the community and will foster good working relationships over time.
It is the overall goal of this study to determine whether the neighborhood referral program strategy can be effective for facilitating citizen participation. The topic was chosen because of the need for effective public involvement strategies in the local government planning and decision making process. As was stated earlier, the neighborhood referral strategy was selected because it appears as though it meets some of the criteria for an effective citizen participation strategy. It is the author's thesis that this strategy can be effective in facilitating citizen paticipation. In order to address this issue, two questions must be evaluated. The first and more general question is, does this strategy meet the overall criteria for successful citizen participation? The second more specific question is to determine whether the program selected to be evaluated as a case study, the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program, meets its goals and objectives.
A second study objective was to determine what citizen participation techniques and public involvement strategies are being used in other communities, and how effective these techniques are. Evaluating the effectiveness of techniques used in other communities will provide for a
comparison of techniques being used in planning and for the evaluation of the effectiveness of these techniques.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Neighborhood Referral Programs
In order to conduct a general evaluation of the neighborhood referral program strategy the literature on evaluation methodologies in the field of sociology was consulted. "Evaluation is concerned with how well a program is meeting its goals" (Suchman, 1980). If the neighborhood referral strategy is considered as a large scale program, then the first step would be to determine what the goals are. The goals were determined from the general field of literature on citizen participation, as discussed in chapter three. Once the goals were identified then the second step was to locate or develop suitable measures of outcomes. Some of the most commonly used measures are tests, interviews, questionnaires, observational data, and agency records (Suchman, 1980). Based on the evaluation of the literature two approaches were selected. The first was a written evaluation of the neighborhood referral program based on whether it met the goals and criteria defined by the field of literature, as discussed in chapter three. The second approach was to administer a survey to planning practictioners to find out what approach they found to be most effective. The survey was constructed to include questions to evaluate certain criteria identified by the literature as parameters of effective techniques.
The Survey Sample
The author chose to administer the survey to planning staff members of the selected cities. It was decided not to interview planning directors for two reasons. First of all, because of the short amount of time that was available to conduct the study, it was determined that directors would be more difficult to contact. Secondly, the entry and mid-level planners probably have more contact with citizens based on the fact that they tend to be more directly involved in project implementation.
The cities were selected to be surveyed based on three charachteristics. The first set consisted of cities that were known to have neighborhood referral programs in place. This set included three cities; Aurora, Denver, and Lakewood. The second and largest set of cities sampled were those that were roughly the same size as Longmont, with populations approximately between 30,000 and 60,000. This set included Greely, Englewood, Fort Collins, Loveland, Littleton, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster, and Wheatridge. The third set of cities were larger cities that were likely to have registered neighborhoods or referral programs. This set included Arvada, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Peublo. Additionally, two more cities and two counties were added to the list of those sampled. Adams County, and Greenwood Village staff were surveyed as part of the pretest. Broomfield was added as a second city of smaller size (in addition to Greenwood Village) just for comparison purposes. Lastly, Jefferson County was surveyed because they have a citizen participation planner on staff and it was thought that the planner's expertise and experience would be helpful and would contribute to the study.
The city survey was designed as a telephone interview format. The questionnaire was read to each respondent, and the answers were recorded on an individual copy of the questionnaire.
The Design of the Questionnaire
The questions were designed to address the objectives of this study. One objective was to determine what techniques are used by other cities, and which cities are using a neighborhood registration and neighborhood referral program. Thus the first question was to determine which techniques were being used. (Please refer to the appendix for a full copy of the questionnaire). A second objective of the study was to determine which techniques planners find to be effective based on their experience. Thus, the second question asked respondents which techniques were most effective for facilitating citizen participation. A third criterion of the study was to find out which techniques are most efficient. Hence, the respondents were next asked to list the techniques that are most efficient. In order to get a strong comparison of techniques, it was also asked which techniques are least efficient.
The next section of the questionnaire was designed to focus on attitudes of the elected officials and the staff toward citizen participation. The first question in this section was to ask the respondents how successful they thought citizens were in influencing decisions in their community. This question was designed for two reasons. First of all, it could be used to indicate if there was a relationship between the different techniques, as well as the number and combination of
techniques compared to how successful the citizens were perceived to be in influencing city decisions. Secondly, the question was also intended to compare the perceived influence of citizens in cities with referral programs with those that did not have a program.
The next question asked the planners how important they thought citizen participation is to the elected officials (decision makers) in their community. This question was also intended to provide a comparison between the perceived influence of citizens and the importance the officials placed on citizen participation. One reason for asking this question was that the literature stressed the importance of an open attitude for successful citizen participation. The planner was then asked how important she/he thought citizen participation is. This question provides an indication of the staff's attitude toward the importance of citizen participation. Planners often have the first contact with citizens and can have a big impact on their attitudes toward the city.
Respondents were also asked how available opportunities are in their community for citizens to participate in the planning and decision making process. This question provides for a comparison between the cities surveyed, as well as a comparison to the number and types of techniques employed.
Two questions were asked to determine whether the planners felt time spent on citizen participation was worthwhile. This question was asked in two parts, first of all the respondent was asked to answer the question. Secondly the respondent was asked how the planning director
would answer the question. Because most respondents would be mid-level planners, this question was designed to provide a comparison between the mid-level staff and the management staff regarding whether staff time on citizen participation is a waste of time or is time well spent. It has been the author's experience that the planning directors tend to be less supportive of citizen involvement strategies than entry level or mid-level staff. This question also was designed to determine how important citizen participation is to the city planners sampled.
The last question was an open ended question asking the planner if they had any other comments about citizen participation in general or about citizen participation in their community. This provided for some open discussion and a chance to cover any issue of importance not included in the questionnaire.
Evaluation of the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program
The author chose to evaluate the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program for several key reasons. Longmont is a "medium sized city" which can be an awkward size from a neighborhood planning perspective. It is not large enough to be able to provide full time neighborhood planners to facilitate citizen participation. At the same time it is large enough to have distinct neighborhoods with individual concerns, and is large enough that people may not be as aware of or involved in local government as would be typical of a smaller town. It should be pointed out, however, that this is not a study of neighborhood planning per se, but it is a study to determine if a strategy to provide more contact with neighborhood groups can be an effective strategy for facilitating
citizen participation. Thus, the author believed that the medium sized city is in particular need of effective strategies that are not extremely costly to implement. Secondly, the author was impressed with the genuine interest in citizen participation expressed by the Longmont City Council and the number of techniques that were already in place. Thirdly, Longmont is the community that the author works in, so there is a natural interest in evaluating a strategy specifically tailored for Longmont to facilitate successful citizen participation. The Neighborhood Referral Program has only been in place since late July of this year and was only in place for three months when the evaluation was started. This evaluation was considered by the author to be a prime opportunity to evaluate a program still in its formative stages, while changes could still be easily implemented to enhance it. Thus, this program was evaluated in its early stages for the purpose of making any adjustments necessary for it to be a successful program. This type of evaluation can illustrate how an early evaluation can be conducted to ensure that a new citizen participation strategy will be successfully implemented and may identify some factors for sucessfully implementing a new program. Finally, the author selected to evaluate this approach because the program was designed as a cooperative effort between the city staff and the neighborhood members and leaders.
Michael Scriven (1972) describes two types of evaluations. The first type is the formative evaluation, which is designed to aid the development of a program in its early stages. It is used by the developers of the program and the program staff. The second approach is defined by Scriven as a summative approach. This approach evaluates the
worth of a program after it has been in operation. The summative approach provides little opportunity to adjust a program to ensure that it is meeting its goals. Thus, it would be prudent of program administrators to arrange for both types of evaluations.
"The major function of an evaluation is to aid administrators or program operators to plan and adjust their activities in an attempt to increase the probability of acheiving the desired action or service goals" (Suchman, 1980). Thus, a formative program evaluation methodology was employed to evaluate the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program. The program was evaluated to determine whether it was meeting its established goals. Because the objective of this evaluation was to get feedback on how well the program was working in its early phases of implementation, the most appropriate method was to conduct a survey of the program participants, to determine if the program was meeting its objectives to date. Additionally, potential group leaders of neighborhoods that were not yet registered were also surveyed to find out reasons why they did not participate in the program.
Selection of Survey Respondents
All of the program participants, the neighborhood group leaders of registered neighborhoods, were selected to be surveyed for an evaluation of the program. All known potential group leaders who had expressed interested an interest in the program were also surveyed with a separate questionniare, as just mentioned above.
All respondents were contacted by telephone and were asked to participate in the survey. The questionnaire was then delivered to the person at their home or office. At that time arrangements were made to pick up the survey. A few respondents preferred to return it
themselves. The respondents were given about two days to complete the survey.
The Registered Neighberhood Group Questionnaire
The survey instrument for the registered heighborhood groups was
primarily designed to evaluate the progress of the program in meeting
the stated goal of disseminating information to effected neighborhoods early in the process (City of Longmont Staff, 1986). Questions were
asked specifically to evaluate the progress toward meeting the goal of
whether the neighborhoods were receiving information from the City and
whether the amount of information had increased since the program was
initiated. Another question was also designed to ask respondents if
they were receiving information earlier in the process. However, this
question was deleted due to strong objections of staff involved in
implementing the program. Hopefully this question and other questions
that were originally formulated, but were substantially re-worked, can
be asked in a future evaluation in order to get a more detailed
assessment of the program.
The next set of questions asked the respondents how effective they thought the neighborhood referral program was, as well as two questions to evaluate the responsiveness of City Officials and staff both before
and after the program had been initiated. Following that was a question asking leaders to indicate how available they thought opportunities for citizen participation were in the community. Then they were asked for suggestions on improving the program.
The final set of questions was designed to determine how well the program is working in terms of fulfilling the neighborhood leaders expectations and whether they believed they were receiving information and referrals on all projects substantially their neighborhoods. They were also asked if there were other public involvement methods that they thought the City should use to facilitite citizen participation. Finally, they were asked if they had any other additional comments they wanted to add.
A series of questions was also provided in the beginning, regarding whether the groups had used any of the services offered, and how beneficial each of these services was to their neighborhood. These questions were intended to indicate how important and beneficial these support services are to the neighborhoods as part of the program.
Unregistered Neighborhood Groups
As was stated previously the primary reason for administering this survey was to find out why the unregistered neighborhood groups had not signed up to participate in the program. This data would be helpful in evaluating the program and determining ways to encourage more participation. Thus, questions were asked about why they had not signed up, whether they intended to sign up, and why they intended to sign up or not to sign up.
The unregistered leaders were also asked the same questions as the registered groups on the availability of opportunities to participate, and the responsiveness of staff and City Officials. They were also asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the referral program and suggest improvements or other public involvement methods that the City should use to facilitate citizen participation. These questions would allow for a comparison between the registered and unregistered groups.
Constraints and Limitations
As in most program evaluations, program staff were found to be sensitive to the evaluation, and the first draft of the registered questionnaire was changed substantially to be more acceptable to the staff. This was a constraint because some of the questions that were necessary to evaluate the progress in meeting the goals were deleted. Secondly, the short amount of time that the program was in operation was considered to be a serious constraint by staff, who all felt the program was being evaluated too soon. Even one respondent noted this. Thirdly, as the evaluator was involved to a large extent in the development of the program, there inherently will be a bias in the evaluation. However, the evaluator put much effort into developing questions with unbiased response categories.
The program methodology was chosen based on limited time and resources. Had time and money been more available, a large sample of cities would have been included. Also, "citizens at large" in cities with referral programs and in cities without referral programs could have been surveyed. This would have provided data on what techniques citizens
rate as being effective as well as an evaluation of the referral program strategy in cities which employ it.
EVALUATION OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD REFERRAL PROGRAM STRATEGY Introduction
In chapter three, eleven criteria (goals) for effective citizen participation were identified. Following is a list of these criteria: (1) ability of the strategy to produce better decisions, influence decisions, or produce a favorable policy outcome, (2) real opportunity for input is provided and the process is genuinely open, (3) the reduction or resolution of conflicts is facilitated, (4) equal access to the decision making process is provided, (5) the participants are representative of the population to the extent possible, (6) there is a high benefit and low cost in terms of money, (7) there is a high benefit and low cost in terms of time, (8) accurate and meaningful information is provided, (9) there is a two way information flow, (10) it has an educative function and, (11) it facilitates the improvement of the relationship between the government and the citizens.
As stated in the methodology discussion, this chapter will evaluate the neighborhood referral strategy based on these identified criteria.
Ability to Produce Better Decisions and Influence Policy Outcome
The neighborhood referral program does provide an opportunity for citizens to influence decisions, to produce better decisions and to produce favorable policy outcomes. This process results in the formal recognition of neighborhoods as organized groups. The literature demonstrates that formally organized groups are more likely to influence decisions. "Only an active, well-organized group with its own positive agenda and the ability to mobilize people and resources independently can successfully change the way decisions are made or or benefits allocated in our society" (Perlman, 1978). Further, the consultation of the neighborhood groups increases the likelihood of better decisions because the residents are more familiar with their neighborhood and can contribute information useful for decision making. Finally, the early input of the groups will increase the likelihood of favorable policy outcomes. Neighborhood participation is likely to produce decisions that are more sensitive to the neighborhood and hence produce more favorable outcomes.
Real Opportunity for Input and Genuine Openness
This aspect will depend on the individual community as to how open the decision making process really is. However, it is unlikely that a community would initiate a neighborhood referral process unless it was genuinely open to citizen input. Also, because this strategy is ongoing it should foster an openness of the process over time. By providing
information to the groups earlier in the process, and by providing access to developers of projects, the opportunities for citizens to actually influence decisions will increase.
Reduction or Resolution of Conflicts
The referral process facilitates the reduction and resolution of conflicts in two key ways. First of all, in programs where the developer is encouraged or required to meet with the neighborhood group, conflicts can be reduced. The developer has a vested interest in resolving conflicts prior to the public hearing. Having the support of the group at the hearing can shorten the review process. Further, a planning commission, or city council, is much less likely to deny a project if there are no objections to it at the public hearings or if the project has the suport of the neighborhood group. Secondly, when staff receives the groups comments ahead of time, staff may be able to work out a compromise, or suggest ways the project can be altered to address their concerns. Again, concerns are addressed prior to the public hearing in a less heated forum. Once unresolved issues go to public hearing it is less likely they can be resolved. Solutions may require some research to determine whether they are feasible or not. This is usually not possible during the public hearing.
The neighborhood referral process can increase the number of people that are given access to the planning process. Instead of just notifying adjacent property owners or persons within five hundred feet of a project an entire neighborhood is notified. Additionally, more people
can be represented, because the neighborhood can appoint a spokesperson who is not afraid to stand up in front of a microphone and communicate all of the neighbors' concerns on a project or issue. The more active neighbors will also be able to encourage those people who usually choose not to participate. Perhaps most importantly, the groups are given more access to information and to staff than they normally would. In cities that do not have referral programs, more information and access to the staff and the decision makers is provided to the developer of a project unless the neighborhood, or citizens, take a strong initiative and ask for the information. Finally, this strategy does provide equal access for any citizen who wants to participate in the program. This is an excellent program for equal access, compared to techniques such as ad hoc committees, or task forces that only include a few select individuals.
Representative of the Population
A referral program can increase the representativeness of the participants by encouraging people to get involved who normally would not. This depends however, to a great extent on the attitudes and concerns of the neighborhood leaders. It is their obligation to "get the word out" to all neighborhood residents and to encougage their participation. By distributing more information, and serving an educational function, greater participation can be encouraged. Cities that have neighborhood planners or organizers will be more successful in encouraging minorities and persons from lower socio-economic groups to participate than those who do not have the staff to encourage their participation.
High Benefit and Low Cost in Terms of Money
The neighborhood referral program is relatively inexpensive in terms of actual cost. In most programs, a referral is sent to only the neighborhood leader, who is responsible for further distributing it. It is not at all expensive to send an extra notice and packet of materials to one or two effected neighborhood groups. Additional meetings held with the neighborhoods prior to public hearing usually do not substantially increase costs. The benefits, in terms of resolving conflicts ahead of time and in terms of reducing the length of the formal review process can save cities and developers considerable sums of money. The costs to the neighborhood groups include the reproduction and the distribution of materials. Some cities provide extra materials or provide photocopying of the materials to reduce the costs to the neighborhood groups. Some neighborhood leaders or members have access to copying machines and can provide copies at reduced or no cost. Thus, depending on whether the group receives assistance for the copying the costs of reproduction can be low to moderate. Many neighborhood groups distribute information by phone or on foot which does not add any extra expense. Thus the cost to the neighborhood can usually be relatively low compared to the benefit to having a real opportunity to influence decisions.
High Benefit and Low Cost in Terms of Time
Very little extra time is required of the staff to prepare a referral to send to a neighborhood group. If meetings are involved, obviously the amount of time can increase. It may take a total of one-half hour of
staff time to send a referral out, whereas a meeting may involve another two to four hours of staff time. However, most planners are not hourly employees and the extra staff time for an evening meeting is not usually an expense the city is responsible for. Considering that a neighborhood meeting may reduce the amount of meetings required later to resolve a controversy, and can even reduce the likelihood of court cases and referendums, the costs in terms of time are very low compared to the benefits offered to the City. The referral process may even help to shorten meetings and can certainly make them less heated.
From the neighborhood's perspective, the cost in terms of time will vary depending on the project. A project that is not considered to be objectionable will probably take very little time. The group might meet to discuss the project and to agree on their referral comments, which will then be sent to the city. If a project is very controversial, considerably more time will be spent gathering additional information, and notifying all the residents in the neighborhood. If a referral program is not in place most of these actions will occur anyway. The difference is it will be easier for the registered neighborhoods participating in the referral process to obtain information. As was the case for city staff, the referral program can save the residents time in the long run by having their concerns addressed earlier in the process and reducing the amount of meetings they will have to attend. Thus, the time investment in the process can be less for the neighborhoods than if there is no referral program and it can be concluded that the cost in terms of time is low and the benefits are high.
Accurate and Meaningful Information
Groups that participate in referral programs and receive information directly from city staff will receive more accurate information compared to groups who may get initial information from other sources, including the newspapers, which may tend to sensationalize the information to attract the attention of the readers. Further, the staff sending the referral is trained about the issue and should send all pertinent data. If the staff is sincere in their efforts, they will also try to present the information to the groups so that it is understandable and meaningful. It is in their interest to do so, because if they do not it may well be brought up in a hearing that the proper information was not supplied to the groups. If the planner provides information that can be readily understood by the neighborhood, conflicts can be reduced ahead of time and lengthy public hearings can also be avoided.
Two-Way Information Flow
The neighborhood referral process most definitely facilitates the two way flow of information. Referrals are sent to the groups, which in
turn send their comments back to the city. In some cases comments are also sent to the developer.
Neighborhoods participating in a referral program will be given more information about how the decision making process works when they sign up to participate. The city staff will want to make certain they understand when their comments must be received and what issues are open
to negotiation versus issues that are set by ordinances that cannot be changed. The staff will benefit from providing this information because it will reduce problems in the long run. Again, this will reduce arguments and confusion at public hearings. It will also reflect well on the staff. Thus, the referral process does serve an educative function. Participants begin to learn what aspects they have real opportunity to influence compared to issues the decision makers have no control over. In the long run this provides the benefit of improving the group's effectiveness as they learn more about the process. At the same time, the city staff and decision makers will learn over time what issues the groups are most interested in and how some of their concerns can be resolved.
Improved Relationships Between the City and the Citizens
If the city is genuinely open to receiving the neighborhood's input, the relationship with the residents will improve. The fact that the city is automatically providing information to the groups early in the process will improve the attitudes of residents toward the city. An important result from the referral process is that the groups do not start out with an angry attitude toward the city because they did not receive any information about a project. By "legitimizing" the groups through registering them for the referral program, animosity between the city officials and the residents can be reduced. The groups should tend to stop thinking of city hall as their opponent because the city cared enough to initiate a program so their concerns could be addressed. The public officials will much appreciate having the hostility of the groups reduced and may be more open to discussing their concerns, because
through the implementation of the referral program the neighborhoods have learned to focus on legimate issues that can be addressed.
City Survey Results
Twenty cities were asked to participate in the study. Only one did not participate. Longmont was included in the survey. All four of the cities that were sampled that had neighborhood referral programs rated it as the most effective technique for facilitating citizen
participation. Four cities; Aurora, Denver, Lakewood, and Boulder, used this technique on a regular basis. Longmont had just started using a neighborhood referral program. These cities all reported the
neighborhood referral strategy as the most effective technique. Longmont rated it as the second most efective technique. Overall, the neighborhood referral strategy was tied with neighborhood meetings as being the most effective technique. Eight respondents rated it as one of the most effective techniques. Of all the cities, the "companion" neighborhood meetings, where developers and/or city staff meet with the groups to discuss project proposals, was also rated as the most effective technique. Eight cities reported this technique as most effective. Following this was the newsletter, rated by seven cities as one of the most effective techniques. The following techniques were rated as being most effective by fewer cities; notice to adjacent property owners (5), surveys (4), public hearings (4), town meetings (3), council ward meetings (3), and workshops (3). Rated as the most efficient techniques were the neighborhood meetings (7), the newsletter (5), public meetings (4), public hearings (4), and public notice (4). The strategy rated as the least efficient was the legal notice of public
meetings. Four cities rated it as the least efficient because the notices generally are not read. Following this as least efficient were public meetings particularly when they are informational only (3), cable T.V. programs (3), surveys (3), legal notices (3), and open house (3).
The larger cities tended to employ the most techniques, with Denver using (24), Arvada (21), Aurora (20), and Lakewood (20). Colorado Springs used fourteen (14), but is considering using additional strategies including the neighborhood referral program. The middle size cities tended to use a medium number of techniques; Fort Collins (19), Greely (17), Loveland (17), Northglenn (16), Thornton (16), Wheatridge (17), and Littleton (14). Longmont uses twenty-one (21) techniques. The two smaller cities surveyed both reported using fewer techniques; Broomfield used nine (9) and Greenwood Village used twelve (12).
The majority of the respondents felt that citizens were very successful in influencing city decisions. Fourteen (70 percent) rated citizens very successful, and six (30 percent) rated them as being somewhat successful. The cities with the lower rating were also those employing fewer citizen participation strategies, including Broomfield, Littleton, Westminster, Colorado Springs, and also Adams County. However, the Longmont respondent rated citizens to be somewhat successful in influencing city decisions, and and they employ twenty one strategies.
When asked how much importance elected officials placed on citizen participation, the majority of the respondents reported that it was very important to the officials. Fifteen (75 percent) rated it very important, two (10 percent) rated it important, and three (15 percent)
somewhat important. The importance rating by staff on citizen participation was more evenly distributed. Seven (35 percent) reported it as very important, eight (40 percent) as important, four (20 percent) as somewhat important and one (5 percent) as not important.
Most staff felt that opportunities for citizen participation in their community were very much available; fourteen (70 percent) reported opportunities were very much available. Four (20 percent) reported opportunites were somewhat available. Two cities (10 percent) reported the opportunities to be neutral. The cities with the lower ratings also tended to be the ones using the lower number of techniques. This included Englewood, Westminster, Colorado Springs, and Wheatridge in the somewhat available category and Adams County and Broomfield in the neutral category.
When asked if staff time on citizen participation was well spent, six respondents (30 percent) reported that it was very well spent, and ten (50 percent) reported it as well spent. Three cities (15 percent) reported it as neutral and one (5 percent) reported it as time not well spent. Staff was then asked how the planning director would answer the same question. The perceived ratings of the planning directors were somewhat lower than those of staff. Four planning directors (20 percent) were thought to place a very well spent rating on citizen participation, with fourteen (70 percent) rating the time as well spent. One planning director was thought to be neutral (5 percent) and one (5 percent) was thought to rate it as time not well spent.
The survey results clearly demonstrate that the referral program is an effective strategy for facilitating citizen participation. The four cities with formal referral programs listed this technique as the most effective technique of the twenty-five techniques listed. The overall rating by respondents listed neighborhood referral programs and the "companion" neighborhood meetings as the most effective techniques. The neighborhood meetings in conjunction with projects was also rated as the most efficient technique.
The results of the evaluation in terms of the general goals identified by the literature also clearly indicate that a neighborhood referral program can be effective in facilitating citizen participation. The strategy can produce better decisions from the additional knowledge and influence of the neighborhoods. The strategy does provide a real opportunity for input because information is provided to the groups and the decision makers early in the process. Although the city must genuinely want the input from the neighborhood in order for the strategy to be effective, it is unlikely that a city would select this strategy unless they were genuinely open. The stratey can contribute to the resolution of conflicts by providing the opportunity to voice concerns and work out conflicts early in the process. The strategy increases the access of residents to the city decision making process, which is a privilege more reserved for developers in cities that do not use the referral program strategy. The strategy can increase the representativeness of the participants by encouraging non-active members to participate, and also those more vocal citizens can be the
spokespersons for the neighbohood, yet still represent the less vocal residents' concerns.
The strategy is relatively inexpensive in terms of money and provides high benefits. This is particularly true if the neighborhood groups have access to low cost or free photocopying. The time required for the participants, the decision makers, and for the staff is relatively low. Also it can save time in the long run.
The main purpose of the strategy is to provide accurate and meaningful information to the participants. The strategy provides for a two way flow of information between residents and the city as well as between the residents and developers in some cities. The strategy does serve an educative function for both the neighborhoods and the city over time. Some cities take this a step further and hold training workshops and include educational articles in their neighborhood newsletters. Finally, this strategy can result in improved relationships over time if the city is genuinely open to the neighborhood's concerns and comments.
DESCRIPTION AND EVALUATION OF THE LONGMONT NEIGHBORHOOD REFERRAL PROGRAM
Introduction and Overview of the Development of the Program
As was previously discussed, this aspect of the evaluation will focus specifically on wnether the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program Strategy is meeting the stated program goals. This evaluation was conducted very soon after the program was initiated in order to provide early feedback to allow for program adjustments.
During the summer of 1985 the Longmont City Council directed the city staff to research different programs and strategies that might be used in Longmont to facilitate citizen participation in the city planning and decision making process. The Council had been very impressed with a presentation by Aurora's Mayor Champine, who discussed Aurora's
neighborhood referral and planning program. The public information
officer did most of the research requested by Council and discovered
that Aurora, Denver and Lakewood all had neighborhood referral programs.
Staff continued to research possible citizen participation strategies and in August of 1985 the planning office presented a list of techniques that could be utilized by the city to obtain citizen input. The staff memo emphasized that Longmont must first identify the program goals and objectives.
Once it was determined what the actual purpose of the program was, specific strategies could be selected. The staff then prepared draft goals for the program and asked for the City Council's approval to proceed with the program, which was granted. In February a public meeting was held and all citizens interested in developing a neighborhood registration program were encouraged to attend. This first meeting was very well attended, approximately 60 people were in attendance. Concerns at the meeting were initially expressed that the city was gcinq to force people to register and to somewhat control the existing neighborhood groups. The staff assured them that this program was to be a cooperative process. The staff would work with the neighborhood leaders to develop a registration program that was acceptable to the neighborhoods.
Potential neighborhood leaders as well as leaders of existing neighorhoods would meet with the staff to develop a program. Fourteen individuals orginally expressed interest in the program, but many of these people were not interested in organizing a new neighborhood group themselves. Throughout the spring and early summer the staff and the group leaders met to identify the goals of the program and then to develop a program based on those goals. A consensus approach at the meetings was used to arrive at decisions. An agenda of discussion items was provided at each meeting to focus discussions.
The neighborhood referral program was selected, emphasizing that neighborhoods were not required to register, but any group registering would be on the City's referral list. In July of 1986 the staff scheduled the referral program on the City Council Agenda and requested
approval of the program, as well as funding to provide support services for the groups, including photocopying and typing, and providing meeting rooms. City Council unanimously approved the program. Some disappointment was expressed that the program was not more comprehensive to include features like Aurora's neighborhood planning program. However, the staff emphasized that it was better to have the program start out small and expand in the future, than to take on too much to start with.
The identified objective of the program was to "disseminate information on City projects, programs, and major development proposals to affected residential neighborhoods early in the process to enhance citizen participation". As was discussed in the chapter four, several unstated goals are also involved; to improve community relations between the City and the residents, as well as to develop more of a two way information flow.
How the Program Functions
Any neighborhood group that desires to become a registered neighborhood group contacts the City's public information officer. A simple registration form is given to the group leader, asking for the name of the neighborhood, the location of the neighborhood, and the name, address and phone number of the contact person. The city staff then records the neighborhood on the referral list and referral map for use of all departments in sending out information to the neighborhoods. The public information officer serves as the main contact person and
coordinates some of the referrals sent to the groups. In the case of the planning office, any long range project, development ordinance, or major development project requires that a referral be sent to all effected neighborhood groups. The neighborhood groups are notified as early in the process as possible. The groups are instructed to reply by the deadline if they want their comments included in the staff report to the Planning Commission. The staff will include their concerns, as well as make any appropriate recommendations to address the neighborhood's concerns in the staff report to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and later in the process to City Council.
Longmont is a city of approximately 50,000 located in the Front Range Corridor of Colorado in Boulder County. The City is located on the periphery of the Denver metropolitan area, and is a member of the Denver Regional Council of Governments. Longmont is a home rule city, and is governed by a mayor and six council members. The city manager serves at the pleasure of the Council. The City is an older community in Colorado, having been founded in the late eighteen hundreds.
Although Longmont is a small city compared to other Colorado cities such as Aurora and Denver, it is large enough to have distinct neighborhoods. One neighborhood was organized enough to influence the City in 1982 to formulate a new zoning district, called the RLE zone; Residential Low Density Estblished. This older neighborhood is located on the east side of the City's central business district. The RLE zone was developed to preserve the single family atmosphere of the neighborhood, while
providing for "sensitive reviti1ization". The group representing this area aptly named itself the Citizens for Sensitive Revitalization.
Another active neighborhood is located on the west side of the central business district, and is also an older neighborhood, featuring many beautiful historic homes.
The other neighborhood groups are less active and tend to be reactive groups. Most were formed to fight objectionable projects proposed in their neighborhoods. These groups are located in the newer areas of the City.
It is hoped that the referral process can result in a more pro-active approach to planning in the long run, with the neighborhood groups becoming more involved at the long range planning stage when plans and ordinances are formulated. This will be a great challenge because the groups tend to become inactive when no threatening projects exist.
Evaluation of the Longmont Referral Program
Following is a discussion of the results from the survey of the registered and unregistered neighborhood group leaders.
Registered Group Survey Results
This survey was administered to a total of seven groups. Five of the groups had been registered for several months, and two groups had just registered after the survey began. They were given the registered group survey because some of the questions about why they had not registered
would not be pertinent. An eighth registered group leader was not able to be reached and was not included in the survey.
The respondents were first asked which of the services were most beneficial to them. Overall, printing of newsletters, information from the city, meeting rooms, and a list of other registered neighbohoods and contact people were listed as the most beneficial. The printing of newsletter was rated highly beneficial by five groups, information from the city was rated highly beneficial by four groups, and meeting rooms were rated highly beneficial by four groups. Referrals from the City were rated as highly beneficial by three groups, and beneficial by two groups.
The next question asked the groups to rate how effective the Neighborhood Referral Program is in terms of facilitating their neighborhood group's participation in the City decision making process. Of the five previously registered groups, one rated it as very effective (20 percent), three rated it as somewhat effective (60 percent), one rated it as having no effect (20 percent), and there was one no response (20 percent). Thus, overall of the previously registered groups the response was positive in that the program was at least somewhat effective.
The group leaders were then asked if they had received information from the City was since the program was initiated. All of the five previously registered neighborhoods indicated they had received information. Of these groups, four reported (80 percent) that the amount of information had increased, while one reported (20 percent)
that it stayed about the same.
The next series of questions was designed to measure any changes in the perceived responsiveness of city staff and city officals to the neighborhood groups. Only a slight change in responsiveness was recorded for city officials before and after the program was initiated. Four of the previously registered groups (80 pecent) rated the officials as responsive before and after the program, and one group (20 percent) rated officials as unresponsive before the program and neutral after the program. No changes in responsiveness of staff were indicated by the results. One group rated staff as unresponsive (20 percent), three as neutral (60 percent), and one as responsive both before and after the program was initiated (20 percent).
When the group leaders were asked how available they thought opportunities to participate in the City decision making process were, the previously registered groups rated them as very available (one; 20 percent) and somewhat available (four; 80 percent). The two newly registered groups added one more very available rating and one somewhat available rating. Thus, of the total number of respondents for this question, two rated opportunities as very available (29 percent), and five as somewhat available (71 percent).
The group leaders were then asked to suggest how the referral program might be improved. Five of the groups responded with suggestions. The suggestions included comments that neighborhoods need the referrals one to two weeks prior to consideratin of City Council, and that the groups need more data about projects and proposals adjacent to their
neighborhood. One group leader said that the City should be more active in promoting the program. He suggested that the utility billing newsleter would be a good way to promote the program. Another comment received was that the program needs to be expanded to encompass more areas. Also some projects impact more than one neighborhood, such as traffic projects, utility improvements, and service cutbacks, and the implication was that the groups need to be notified about these changes.
Regular meetings of the group leaders to exchange ideas and strengthen the organizations were requested u,y une leader Anuiiiet leader a^keu for training programs for the groups to learn about city processes, including how the government process works, and how to use it successfully. One leader asked if developers are notified to contact the groups for input, and felt the neighborhoods should be notified when staff is contacted about a large project or when a change in zoning is being requested.
The groups were then asked how they expected to benefit by participating in the program and whether their expectations had been fulfilled. The expectations expressed were; to be contacted by staff when the study of a specific area occured (staff has not started the study of this area yet, this comment indicates they are not aware of this). A second leader wanted to increase contact with the other groups and to learn how they could better function. By being "recognized" by the City they hoped to be pro-active on issues that impact their neighborhood. Another group's expectations were to get their newsletter printed. Two group leaders reported that they had hoped to know about projects in the initial proposal stages. One neighborhood was hoping to become more
united as a group rather than continue individual efforts, and to to get Longmont citizens united in order to help Council follow the direction of the citizen's wishes.
The group leaders were then asked to what extent their expectations had been fulfilled. Of the five previously registered groups, one leader's expectations were very much fulfilled (20 percent), three were somewhat fulfilled (60 percent), and one was very much unfulfilled (20 percent).
When the groups leaders were asked if they were receiving referrals on all city projects substantially effecting their neighborhood since the program was initiated: one leader responded yes (20 percent) and four leaders responded no (80 percent).
The next question asked the groups what other public involvement methods the City should use? The responses included mediation between the neighborhoods and the developers, and more informal meetings with Council, groups, and staff. Another suggestion was to have regular meetings for group leaders, and a regular neighborhood newsletter.
The final question was an open ended question asking the groups to add any other comments. In brief, their comments were that the groups believed the referral program concept has great merit and were appreciative of the City's efforts. Again, it was emphasized that the program needs to be promoted. Also, incentives need to be provided to encourage the groups to stay organized. One leader said the process will become more fine tuned and more effective as issues arise. Two groups used this opportunity to ask for more information early in the process, as soon as any work is being done toward development effecting
Unregistered Group Survey Results
Only three groups filled out this survey. One of these groups thought they were registered (and their group registered the next day), one leader was interested in the groups but had not done any organizing and does not consider herself to represent an actual group. The third leader expressed interest in organizing his neighborhood, but did not complete any of the open ended survey questions that asked why the group had not signed up, and did not give suggestions on the program or other techniques that should be used. After the leaders were contacted it was discovered that some of the unregistered leaders lived in the same neighborhood, and one lived in a neighborhood that was already registered. One group leader's phone number had been re-assigned.
The unregistered group leaders comments were less uniform than the registered group leaders. When asked how effective the neighborhood referral program was, one responded very effective, one responded no effect, and one responded it has negative effects. (This same person thought they had been registered and also intended for his group to register). Their rating on City Council was also scattered; one rated them as very responsive, one as neutral and one as unresponsive. All
members of this group rated City staff as being responsive to the groups. When asked about the availability of opportunities to participate, two leaders indicated the opportunities were available, and one said they were not available.
The questions asking whether the respondents intended to register, and
why, as well as why they had not yet signed up did not prove to be successful. Of the three groups, one thought they had been registered, but intended to register (they had been sent a letter within two weeks prior to the survey stating which groups had not yet registered). The second respondent indicated she did not belong to a group so did not intend to register, and the third leader did intend to register.
Only one leader answered the open ended questions. His suggestion for an improvement to the program was to have planned speakers from City Government. The respondent's comment on o^he^ public- involvement methods was to put things on the air other than Council meetings, and that every one doesn't have cable T.V.
The results of the registered neighborhood groups clearly indicate that the program is meeting its stated goal of sending out more information. This study was unable to determine whether the groups are receiving information earlier in the process because of objections to the questions from some of the staff involved. It can also be concluded that most of the groups were appreciative of the effort of the City to initiate the program.
The groups also indicated that the services offered, including the dispersal of information, are beneficial to them. Of the groups that had been previously registered, the referral program was rated to be somewhat effective for facilitating citizen participation; 60 percent of the respondents rated the program as somewhat effective, with another 20 percent rating it as very effective. One group (20 percent) did not
respond to the question. The survey results indicated that the program has not changed the perception of responsiveness on the part of officials or staff. On the other hand, the officials were already rated to be responsive, and the staff was generally rated to be neutral, which can be an appropriate response of staff.
The rating of the availability of opportunities for participation was positive, one group rated opportunities as very much available (14 percent), and six rated opportunities as somewhat available(86 percent), ihe overall effectiveness rating of Inc bCiauey,y was veiy mixeu, wiln one very effective rating (11 percent), four somewhat effectives ratings (44 percent), two no effects ratings (22 percent), and two no responses (22 percent). However, it can be expected that non-participants would rate the program lower, thereby lowering the overall rating. The majority of the previously registered groups did rate the program as being somewhat effective and that their expectations had been somwhat fulfilled to date.
The results were very clear from the registered groups that the groups do not feel they are receiving information on all of the projects substantially effecting their neighborhood. Also, from the open ended comments they would like information as early in the process as is possible, including after the land is sold and "any planning at all is occuring". In many cases at this early planning stage staff is not at liberty to disclose information to the public. However, the staff can strongly encourage developers to contact neighborhood groups. Also, this feedback indicates the need for education on the development process, so that groups know at what stage they can receive information.
In summary, the program is meeting its goal of getting out more information to the groups. It also may improve community relations in the long run since many groups indicated their appreciation of the City's efforts to date. The area where the most improvement is needed is to send out referral on all projects effecting the neighborhoods. This can be improved immediately to some extent, but will also take some time for staff and the neighborhood groups to develop a better working relationship so that staff has a better idea of the issues and projects about which the groups expect to be notified.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Conclusions
The results of this study demonstrate that a neighborhood referral ^f-vgtsgy can effect1''10 -* 'Statin'1 cif>7Pr> pvtir"'p;,t''On Tho literature search identified eleven criteria for effectiveness in citizen participation. The evaluation of the strategy demonstrates that the referral strategy can facilitate participation, and indeed meet the criteria for all eleven strategies. Please refer back to chapter five for a complete discussion of how the neighborhood referral strategy meets the criteria.
The results of the survey of planning professionals in the Colorado Front Range area also demonstrated that the neighborhood referral program strategy is one of the most effective citizen participation techniques. All cities using this technique rated it as the most effective strategy. Neighborhood referral programs and neighborhood meetings held to discuss projects referred to the neighbohoods were rated as the two most effective techniques. The overall results from the planners indicated that the neighborhood meetings held to discuss proposals with the neighborhood groups to be a highly effective technique. The survey results also rated these neighborhood meetings as the most efficient technique. Some cities actually require a
neighborhood meeting with the developer of a project prior to the project being scheduled for a public hearing. One of the results that was rather surprising was that notice to adjacent property owners (a one way information flow), and public hearings (which are known to increase conflicts), were rated moderately high as effective techniques.
The strategies that were rated least efficient were not at all surprising. These included the legal notices in newspapers which were rated by four cities as the least efficient technique, followed by public meetings, particularly those that arc informational cr.ly (2), cable T.V. Programs, (3), (probably in part because not everone has cable, and they may be competing with prime time shows that are more interesting), surveys (3), because they can be expensive and time consuming, and open house (3).
The results on the number of techniques being used by cities was rather interesting. The larger cities used more techniques and rated themselves higher on availability of opportunities for citizens to participate. This is somewhat in contrast to the idealistic model of the small New England community, which is commonly thought to provide great opportunities for participation. Of course the smaller cities were not really representatively sampled so this observation is not at all conclusive. The author was surprised to see as many techniques employed as there were. Denver reported using twenty-four of twenty-five techniques, and the respondent was unsure about the use of one technique. Overall, the number of techniques used by the cities ranged from nine to twenty-four.
Another result from this survey that the author found to be puzzling was that planners would mention they had used a technique, (and it was frequently one that is considered to be successful, such as an educational meeting for neighborhood groups), and after trying the strategy they found that it did not work and were not sure why. Several of the planners expressed their frustration at having gone to great lengths to provide a citizen participation program, for example on a new comprehensive plan, with thousands of notices having been sent out, only to have very limited participation. Other planners, who stressed the need for citizen education, said how it can be frustrating to work with citizens who have a certain viewpoint, but have little understanding of all of the issues at hand, or how the decision making process works.
The author was also pleasantly surprised to see how much importantance the elected officials were perceived to place on the need for citizen participation. Another result from the city survey that was somewhat surprising, was that public hearings were rated relatively high for effectiveness in facilitating citizen participation. Four planners rated the public hearings as one of the most effective techniques.
The results of the evaluation of the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program indicate that it is meeting its main objective to provide more information to the neighborhood groups. The groups that had been previously registered reported that the strategy is somewhat effective for facilitating citizen participation and that their expectations had been somewhat fulfilled. Most were very appreciative that the program had been initiated and had high expectations for its future. Many good suggestions on promoting the program, including having more training and
educational sessions, and having regular meetings of group leaders were offered.
The survey of the unregistered groups did not turn out to be successful. However, one group did register to participate in the program after being contacted to fill out a survey. It was also discovered that there were fewer unregistered groups than thought because some people listed as unregistered leaders already lived in a neighborhood that was registered, and a few other people were included in a neighborhood that reqistered after the initial contact was made. Overall, the survey of the neighborhood group leaders was successful and worth the time and effort because valuable feedback about the program was obtained. It was discovered that the groups do not feel as though they are getting referrals on all projects effecting their neighborhoods. The feedback and the suggestions were very helpful and the results will be presented to the program staff and the group leaders for their use in improving the Longmont Referral Program.
The neighborhood referral strategy can be a very effective strategy for facilitating citizen participation. The "companion" neighborhood meeting held in conjunction with the referral program is indicated to improve the effectiveness of this technique and it is recommended that cities using the referral program incorporate this into the strategy.
Some of the cities surveyed indicated that they informally referred projects to the neighborhoods they knew of, as well as homeowners associations. Although this is better than no referral program at all,
it is recommended that these cities initiate a formal registration and referral program. This encourages the groups to be more active and also lets the city know what issues the groups want to be informed about. It also lets the staff know which groups are still active, who the contact persons are, and what the boundaries of the neighborhoods are. Without established neighborhood boundaries, it is guesswork for the city to determine whether a certain project might effect the neighborhood. It is also not effective to send a referral to someone who has moved
because the city did not keep a current list of contacts.
During discussions with the city planners who were surveyed, the
importance of education in citizen participation programs was stressed. The Longmont neighborhood group leaders also requested educational programs as part of the referral strategy. The neighborhood referral strategy will be most effective when it is accompanied by programs to teach the groups how to use the program to their benefit, as well as to teach the city staff how to use the program.
The effectiveness of this approach depends a great deal on the genuine
openness of the city to citizen participation, on the part of its staff
and appointed and elected officials. One planner recommended that this
type of program, or any other citizen program should not be implemented
unless the city is genuine about wanting the involvement of citizens in
the planning and decision making process. This concept is stressed by
Walter Rosenbaum in his statement:
Citizen involvement is not a technique; rather it is a strategy, an approach, a philosophy. There is no one way to handle citizen involvement. Avoid the syndrome of a technique looking for an application; what works in one place may not always work in another. It is not the technique that
is important so much as the people who employ the technique and their attitude (1977).
This is a key statement. The staff who were involved in the more successful citizen participation programs were very enthusiastic about the topic and extremely convinced of its importance.
This statement might also appear to be contradictory with the purpose of this paper in that it stresses that the people are more important than the technique and that cities should avoid the syndrome of a technique looking for an application. The author agrpp^ that the real determining factor of the success of a program will be the genuine openness and the attitude of a city's staff and officials. "The real key to citizen participation is the wilingness on the part of both the technicians and policy makers to really have citizens participating... the techniques without this willingness become merely subterfuge Fagence, 1977).
However, cities still need information about the types of programs that can be developed and how successful they are. It is critical that studies be done in order to share other communites' experiences and to contribute to the field of knowledge in citizen participation, particularly in the planning field. Only when this is done will some of the planners frustrations of going to great lengths on a citizen input strategy only to have very little participation, be addressed. Yet, this author's literature search turned up a very limited number of studies specifically evaluating the effectiveness of strategies. Most of the literature seems to be a how to do it approach, or is very academic and not all that useful to the professional planner. Another
recommendation is that more classes in planning schools be held specifically on citizen participation strategies, and how the political system works.
Additionally, the education of citizens about local city government does not appear to be adequate. Planners need to make a concerted effort to develop community education programs for all age levels. When this is done over an extended time period, the citizenry will become more educated about the process and more effacious, and the planning profession will be less frustrating.
Further, it is important that the citizens be consulted about programs designed for their participation. In fact, they should be integrally involved in developing the program. If this does not occur, the citizens may not even be convinced of the merit of the program, even if it is an excellent one, and may not participate because they were not consulted.
In terms of recommendations for the Longmont Neighborhood Referral Program, the first priority will be to send out referrals on all City projects having an impact on the neighborhoods. Secondly, more programs and workshops are needed on how to use the program for both the participants and the staff. Thirdly, the program must be further promoted, as the one leader suggested. The suggestion of having more informal meetings between staff, citizens, and elected officials is also an excellent one. This would certainly work toward improving relationships between the community and the City. Many of the groups that have been active in the past mobilized to defeat a proposed
development project. There seems to be quite a bit of animosity from citizens and developers toward the city, thus this is an area that needs much effort. Finally, the literature stressed the need to provide incentives for participating in (and providing) public involvement programs. One group leader also made this comment on his questionnaire. Longmont, and other communities with public involvement programs, must develop incentives for both the city government and the citizens to encourage funding and participation in the programs.
In summary, the neighborhood referral strategy can be effective in facilitating citizen participation. It appears as though this strategy will be most effective when "companion" neighborhood meetings are held with the neighborhood groups on proposed plans or projects. Additionally, there should be accompanying educational programs, including newsletters and workshops to inform the citizens on how to best utilize the program.
Finally, much more research participation strategies appears to to be included in the curriculum of
on the effectiveness of citizen be in order. This topic also needs planning schools.
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1. I am going to list a number of citizen participation techniques. Please indicate after each one whether your city uses this technique.
cable T.V. programs
citizen advisory committee
citizen education programs
citizen representatives on boards/commissions
neighborhood coalition/or council
neighborhood meetings(hosted by City or Council Member)
neighborhood organizations/registered neighborhoods
notification of affected residents open house of city hall
public invited to be heard on planning meetings and Council meetings
public information office or officer
suggestion box or comment/complaint forms surveys
task force or ad hoc committee telephone hotline televised council meetings town meetings workshops
Are there any other techniques that your city uses that I have not mentioned? What are they?
2. Of the techniques listed above, which do you feel are most effective for facilitating citizen participation? list up to five in order of effectiveness.
3. Which techniques are most efficient in terms of time spent for the input/information gained? list up to five.
4. Which are the least efficient?
5. How successful do you feel citizens in your community are in influencing City decisions?
very successful somewhat successful no effect negative success
6. How much importance do your elected officials place on incorporating citizen participation in the City decision making process?
Very much not important
7. How much importance does the city planning staff place on incorporating citizen participation in the City decision making process? Is it:
'very much not important
8. Overall, do you feel that the opportunities for citizens to participate in the decision making process in your community are:
very much available
"very much net available
9. Generally, do you feel that staff time spent on citizen participation is
very much well spent well spent neutral
not well spent
Very much not well spent
10. How do you think the planning director would answer the above question?
very much well spent well spent 'neutral
'not well spent
Very much not well spent
11. Do you have any comments or observations to make about citizen participation?
THANK-YOU FOR YOUR TIME!
The stated goal of the Neighborhood Referral Program is for the City to disseminate information about City projects, programs, and major development proposal to neighborhoods early in the process to enhance citizen participation. In order to measure the progress of the program to date, please answer the following questions.
1. Since the referral program was initiated in July which services has your neighborhood group used?
meeting rooms printing of newsletters speakers bureau "list of contact people
"list of registered neighborhoods and the contacts for other neighborhoods "other (please list)
"other (please list)_______________________________________________________
2. Please indicate below how beneficial each of the services is to your neigh borhood group.
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial ^highly unbeneficial
printing of newsletters
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
information from the City
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
referrals from the City
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
list of contact people
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
list of registered neighborhoods and contact peopl
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial "highly unbeneficial
highly beneficial beneficial neutral unbeneficial highly unbeneficial
3. How effective do you feel the Neighborhood Referral Program is in terms of facilitating your neighborhood group's participation in City decisions?
has no effect
has negative effects
has very negative effects
4. Since the program was initiated in July has your neighborhood group received information from the City?
4a. If yes, has the amount of information your group has received from the City:
increased substantially increased
stayed about the same decreased
5. How responsive do you feel the City Officials (Boards, Commissions and City Council) are in considering your neighborhood group's concerns and comments in the City's decision making process?
a. Before the referral program
b. Are now
very unresponsive unresponsive neutral responsive very responsive
very unresponsive unresponsive neutral responsive Very responsive
6. How responsive do you feel the City Staff is in incorporating your neighborhood group's concerns in their recommendations to the City Officials?
a. Before the referral program
b. Are now
very unresponsive unresponsive neutral responsive Very responsive
very unresponsive unresponsive neutral responsive very responsive
7. Generally, do you feel that the opportunities for citizens to participate in the City's decision making are:
very much available
very much not available
8. Do you have any suggestions for ways that the Neighborhood Referral Program might be improved? Please list below.
9. How did your neighborhood expect to benefit by participating in this program? Please describe below.
10. To what extent have your expectations been fulfilled?
very much fulfilled somewhat fulfilled neutral
somewhat unfulfilled very much unfulfilled
11. Do you believe your neighborhood group has received referrals or information on all City projects or issues substantially effecting your neighborhood since the Neighborhood Referral Program was initiated?
12. Are there any other public involvement methods that you think the City should use to facilitate citizen participation? Please list below in order of your priority.
13.Please add any other comments you would like to make.
Dear Neighborhood Leader,
The stated goal of the Neighborhood Referral Program is for the City to disseminate information about City projects, programs, and major development proposals to neighborhoods early in the decision making process to enhance citizen participation. In order to measure the progress of the program to date, please answer the following questions.
1. How effective do you feel the neighborhood referral program is in terms of facilitating your neighborhood group's participation in City decisions?
has no effect
has negative effects
has very negative effects
2. How responsive do you feel the City Officials (Boards, Commissions, and the City Council) are in considering your neighborhood group's comments and concerns in the City's decision making process?
very unresponsive unresponsive neutral responsive very responsive
3. How responsive do you feel the City Staff is in incorporating your neighborhood group's concerns and comments in their recommendations to the City Officals?
very unresponsive unresponsive neutral responsive very responsive
4. Generally, do you feel that opportunities for citizens to participate in the City's decision making process are:
very much available
very much not available
5. Please list below the reasons why your neighborhood group has not register ed with the City. Please list in order of priority, with the most significant reason first.
6. Does your neighborhood group intend to register with the City?
7. Please list below the reason!s) why or why-not your group intends to regis ter with the City.
8. Do you have any suggestions for ways the Neighborhood Referral Program might be improved? Please list below.
9. Are there any other public involvement methods that you think the City should use to facilitate citizen participation? Please list below in order of your priorities.