The guide is broken out into chapters (Stakeholder Engagement, Visioning, Feasibility, Site Planning, and Action Planning), which are then divided into distinct activities. Each activity includes a brief description to give a sense of what the activity covers; the goals for the activity; the expected outcomes for the activity; and an explanation of how the activity played out for us. All of the suggestions in the ‘In Action’ section are reflected in the final presentations, materials, and facilitator guides in the appendix of the guide. All users are encouraged to use individual activities or presentations for their own planning process
There are three distinct types of activities, denoted with icons:
|Workshop Activity: Curriculum for a workshop with residents, tenants, and local stakeholders.|
|Preparation: Preparation activities for facilitators in between workshops.|
|Presentation: Educational slides to inform participants during a workshop.|
Roadmap to the Participatory Planning Guide
Several activities may be combined to form one workshop. In our experience, we usually had two activities and a presentation for each half-day workshop. Generally, workshops at the top of the graphic were completed first and those at the bottom of the map came later in the process, it is recommended that you choose the activities that make sense for your project and organization.
3.1 Stakeholder Engagement
Effective and extensive community outreach and organizing drives successful community participation. Most importantly, having strong outreach and organizing capacity will ensure a deep and rich process whether through your organization’s own expertise or by partnering with experienced organizations to create an outreach plan. Whether or not you have a strong membership base, door knocking in the immediate vicinity can bring additional voices into the planning process and make the entire neighborhood feel included. Face-to-face contact is an important way to engage residents in discussions of why your project is important and to start to develop a community-driven analysis of your current work around TOD issues. The stakeholder engagement process can take weeks to months of organizational time, so it is important to plan ahead for this phase of the project. We customized our stakeholder engagement approach to better engage both community members, institutional stakeholders, and local businesses.
Depending on the scope and size of your project, assemble a team of residents and members to knock on doors within a quarter-mile or half-mile of your site. To prepare the door knocking team, host a training session to familiarize everyone with the history of the project and any other background information (see ‘0A Door Knocking Training Facilitator Guide’ in the Appendix). Decide how you want to engage neighbors; designing and administering a survey can be an effective way to introduce them to the types of issues your organization works to address and to invite them to your planning process (see “0C Survey Tool’ in the Appendix). Through door knocking, gather each interested neighbor’s contact information so that you can reach out to them in the future, bring flyers for your event, and provide information about your organization. If residents are not home, leave information about your workshop and organization at the door. You should keep track of people you did not have to face-to-face contact with, and return to speak to them.
Once you have made initial contact with neighbors, follow up by phone to remind them of upcoming workshops and to connect with them regarding their experiences in and their vision for the neighborhood. An additional strategy to further engage residents is to schedule home visits with neighbors who have been active in the planning process.
|1A: Door Knocking Log Sheet|
|1B: Door Knocking Materials|
|1C: Survey Tool|
|1D: Sample Flyer|
If the property has current tenants, it is crucial that you engage as many as possible in the planning process. Developing strong relationships and gaining the trust of current tenants is especially important if you plan to redevelop the property, in which case residents may experience temporary or permanent relocation. One-on-one meetings with tenants outside of formal workshops are essential. Host meetings in the subject building so that residents can express their concerns and desires for the redevelopment of the property. Tenants can also be persuasive advocates for the plan and will have unique insight into the neighborhood.
Meeting with Institutional stakeholders and Local Businesses:
Engage with political and institutional stakeholders in the neighborhood; their support for your development is crucial to achieve success during any political and permitting hurdles you may face. Potential stakeholders include:
- Local representatives from your City or County Council District (e.g. the planning deputy);
- The Department of City Planning representative for your planning area;
- The Housing Department;
- Local Neighborhood Council;
- Major institutions such as universities, other government institutions, hospitals, etc.;
- Local faith institutions, community based organizations and business and property owners
Develop materials that explain the need for the project and adapt those materials as your plans advance. Invite stakeholder input early in the process. Prepare a letter of support so that stakeholders can edit and submit to zoning administration and public decision makers.
In preparing for the first sessions of the planning process, be sure to include members of the community in this initial process to help shape the goals and outcomes of the future development. Visioning can integrate many different learning styles, various levels of participation and ages, and multiple activity types. Most importantly, participants should be able to develop an initial vision with relatively few restrictions imposed by the facilitation team. For the visioning component for the redevelopment of Rolland Curtis Gardens (held over several sessions) we brainstormed what the neighborhood needs in the context of TOD, visited other sites to give participants ideas about the range of possibilities for our own development, and explored different types of architectural styles. The following workshops, planning exercises, and presentations are reflected in the pages that follow:
|Asset, Safety, & Route Mapping||Site Visits|
|Introduction to Transit Oriented Development||Voting on Architectural Styles|
Asset, Safety & Route Mapping
Mapping is a critical tool to understand the neighborhood context of a future development. Questions arise, such as: where do participants travel to in the neighborhood? How do they get there (looking both at routes and modes of transportation)? What obstacles do participants face? For this mapping activity, break out into small groups and, on large maps showing a 1-mile radius of the site, ask participants to mark the assets in the community (schools, grocery store, shopping districts, churches, parks, etc.). Based on where they go in their neighborhood. Then, participants will discuss and mark on the map what routes and what mode of transportation they take to get to these places. Finally, participants will identify places on the map that are unsafe and describe why: cars drive too quickly, danger from violence or assault, trash, broken sidewalks, no shoulder for cyclists, etc.
|2A Mapping: Assets, Safety, and Routes Facilitators Guide|
- Develop a framework for assessing mobility around the site. Do participants take the bus, the train, walk, bike, or drive?
- Determine the best ways to get to and from the site.
- Develop an increased awareness and vocabulary about mobility issues.
- The maps and notes developed in the small groups help determine physical access to the site.
- If you have an opportunity to impact street improvements or bike and pedestrian infrastructure around the development, use the mapping exercise to identify and prioritize these improvements.
Introduction to Transit Oriented Development
Transit Oriented Development is a complex and relatively new theme in planning and development. It is important to explore the definition of TOD with participants, especially as it relates to them as residents and transit-users. Through a presentation, define Transit Oriented Development as housing and commercial uses located near a rail station or bus corridors, near services and retail, and near jobs. Adapt and use slide from ‘3A Introduction to TOD’ in the Appendix.
|3A: Introduction to TOD Presentation|
- Develop a shared vocabulary and definition of Transit Oriented Development.
- Understand the political landscape in terms of Los Angeles’ recent focus on transit.
- Lays a foundation for TOD conversations for the entire planning process.
- Initiates a conversation about increased density and the types of commercial activities on-site.
Without context and examples, creating a site plan can be challenging and overwhelming for participants and facilitators. To resolve this, take participants on a site tour of other TOD mixed-use developments. Set goals and plan in advance for the transportation needs as conducting site visits is an integral part of this visioning process that people use as a point of reference in other stages of the process. Visit up to three different comparable sites. At each site, ask a representative from the architecture or development team to lead participants around on a tour of the facility. Center most of the tour on questions from participants at each site and in transit, and debrief together after the tour.
|4A: Site Visit Facilitator Guide|
|4B: TOD Cards|
- Visits to other developments will show us possibilities for site amenities and design features we could include in our development.
- Become familiar with development and architectural terminology.
- Participants from this workshop develop ownership over the entire planning process.
- Gives participants ideas for site planning and layout for the development.
- Serves as a reference point throughout the site planning process.
Voting on Architectural Styles
Architectural drawings (called ‘Massing’) in their early stages can be non-descript and unappealing since they depict the shape of the structure and not the architectural features. Present printed images of architecturally diverse developments and ask participants to vote for their favorite. This short and effective activity gives workshop participants an opportunity to visually explore the range of possible architectural styles.
|5A: Voting on Architectural Styles Facilitator Guide|
- Learn new vocabulary around architectural styles.
- Choose a general architectural style to use for the development.
- Come to a consensus on the general type of architectural style participants wanted for the development.
Feasibility analysis should be both an internal planning tool as well as an activity with participants. Our internal feasibility analysis began before the workshops in order to define the budget, legal, zoning and construction constraints on the property such as density, height, and parking restrictions, which will limit the ultimate design of the development. In order to determine the initial feasibility, we met with an external feasibility consultant but you can also consult with the Department of City Planning through the planning counter, a surveyor, or you may have the capacity to do the feasibility analysis internally. We were highly conscientious to refrain from defining any more than the most essential and unavoidable constraints before the process started so that participant-driven discoveries and decision-making could be maximized. In between community planning sessions, additional feasibility analysis occurred throughout the planning process sessions. We also incorporated feasibility analysis into an activity that both demonstrated the progress that participants had made in developing the site plan and gave participants an opportunity to prioritize their own proposals for the development.
|Documenting Participant Proposals|
|Prioritizing & Evaluating Participants|
Documenting Participant Proposals
Throughout the workshops, participants will develop a significant number of proposals and suggestions for the site. After several sessions, develop a matrix that begins to track all of the participant’s ideas that were generated through the workshop and group activities. Categorize the ideas into groups, e.g. service, commercial, design quality, community areas, building features, and commercial space. Note the workshop from which the idea was generated.
- Track ideas generated through workshops
- Increase transparency of planning process, holding facilitators accountable to a truly participatory process.
|6A: Documenting Participant Proposals|
|See Below: Prioritizing Matrix Facilitator Guide, below|
- Begin to determine feasibility of all of the items for use in the ‘Prioritizing Matrix Activity.’
- Once charted and categorized, participants can prioritize all information generated in the workshops in a following session.
Prioritizing & Evaluating Participant Proposals
Once you have developed the matrix of every proposal and suggestion, you will need to prioritize each suggestion with the participants. This prioritization activity will democratize the feasibility conversation that will follow. For the activity, break out into groups of six to ten participants. Each group will receive items from a single category in the matrix developed by facilitators in between sessions (see ‘Documenting Participant Proposals: Planning Activity,’ above). Participants will prioritize the items by voting with stickers. Items from each category will be split into three levels of feasibility: Possible, Challenging, and Impossible. If a Challenging or Impossible ‘item’ is prioritized over other ‘items’ discuss why the items were not possible and their tradeoffs.
|7A: Prioritizing and Evaluating Participant Proposals Facilitator Guide|
|7B: Example of Matrix Items Printed on Half-Sheets|
- Review all of the suggestions and input that have been added thus far.
- Prioritize different elements of the site plan based on feasibility.
- Together, prioritize all feedback from previous workshops and activities.
- Since participants will generate a lot of feedback and ideas through the planning process—some of which are not feasible, some of which are not complementary—this activity will eliminate some suggestions and prioritize others.
Parking is often a contentious issue (especially in Los Angeles), but it is important for participants to understand how parking and driving negatively effects the health of our communities, degrades the environment through pollution, and drains our financial resources due to the expense of owning and maintaining a car. Through a conversation with participants, present and discuss the tradeoffs of parking. Participants and stakeholders may push back if the proposed development has reduced parking.
|8A: Parking Workshop and Presentation Facilitator Guide|
- Learn the true cost of owning a car - How much does it cost to own a car? How much it costs to build a parking space? and the environmental, health, and community impacts of car ownership.
- Review alternative forms of transportation in the context of our development.
- Explore and challenge the value that our society places on car ownership.
- Learn about the impacts of car ownership on our community, the challenges of a parking space for each residential unit.
- Participants will become advocates for reduced parking based on the impacts of car ownership on the community and environment as well as the cost of developing parking spaces.
3.4 SITE PLANNING & SPACE PROGRAMMING
Developing a comprehensive and visionary site design with participants demanded creative design activities. Architecture and development are not traditionally fields that are highly accessible to those not working in the field since it has specific industry jargon and requires a strong understanding of geometry. The following activities and presentations help to break down barriers to site planning. By starting from scratch, participants and facilitators can rely on their respective expertise to design a development that reflects the desires of neighborhood residents and that suits the neighborhood context. We typically had at Planning Action Item Planning Action Item least one site-planning!activity in each of our workshops.
|Site Plan Cutout||Green Space, Safety, & Access|
|Programming for Commercial Space||Final Presentation|
|Review of Two Site Plans|
Site Plan Cutout
In this activity, participants will break out into small groups to plan their ideal development. Each group will have a birds-eye view map of the neighborhood with the site or the development in white, a blank slate to plan. Cutouts in different colors represent various uses: parking, residential, open space, and commercial. Each cutout and shapes corresponded to a certain square footage, which is to scale for the site. Participants will cut up the shapes and will have to use all of the pieces. They may layer different uses on top of each other.
|9A: Site Plan Cutout Facilitator Guide|
|9B: Sample Product for Cutout Activity|
- Make preliminary designs for the future development. Our designs will show where people will live, where we will have open space, where people will park, where the commercial space will be, etc.
- This puzzle-like activity will create the initial design for the development.
- Creativity and imagination of participants drives the design of the development.
Programming for Commercial Space
Participants know what types of commercial uses- both retail and services- are missing from the neighborhood. Ask participants to brainstorm different commercial uses for the development: What types of commercial activity would they want to see in their neighborhood?
- Discuss and consider different types of commercial and retail that we would want in our development. Specifically, what kind of businesses and services do we want in this neighborhood?
|10A: Commercial Space Facilitator Guide|
- Come to understand what kind of commercial services the neighborhood is missing.
- A community approved list of potential uses for the commercial space of the development.
Review of Site Plan Options
From the results of the cutout activity, produce two different site plans. In small groups, ask participants to review the plans based on their own experiences and also through the Transit Oriented Development framework. Break out into groups of five to eight participants and present the different elements of the plans as well as the TOD framework. Contrast and compare the two printed site plans; draw what you like and dislike directly onto the printed plans.
|11A: Review of Two Site Plans Facilitator Guide|
|11B: Preparing for Review of Two Site Plans|
|11C: Sample Product: Site Plan Markups|
|11D: Review of Two Site Plans: Presentation|
- Edit the different types of designs made in the cutout activity.
- Determine likes and dislikes of the distinct site plans.
- Participants are able to pick up on similarities and differences between the two designs, combine elements from the two plans, and narrow in on a rough draft of the final site design.
- Prioritize what features are critical versus those that may be less urgent/necessary.
Green Space, Safety & Access
Green space, safety, and access for people, bicycles, and vehicles are usually top concerns of participants throughout the planning process. Present a single site plan for the development and in small groups assess the green space, safety concerns, and physical access to the building. In small groups, ask critical questions about the development, giving participants an opportunity to analyze and further refine the site plan.
|12A: Green Space, Safety, and Access Facilitator Guide|
|12B: Preparing Preliminary Site Plans|
|12C: Green Space, Safety & Access Sample Markups|
|12D: Final Presentation & Discussion: Green Space, Safety, and Access (English and Spanish)|
- Improve the development based on the type, size, and access to green space; safety concerns, and how residents, cyclists, and vehicles will enter the building.
- Make recommendations to further edit the site plan.
- Discover how residents want to interact with green space in the development; how the site plan can mitigate and improve residents’ perception of safety; and the best location for entrances for pedestrians and vehicles.
Final Site Plan Presentation and Discussion
For this presentation, prepare the final site plan based on participant input through the entire community-driven planning process. It is a way to show the final designs and to celebrate your accomplishments. In small groups, review the final site plan, asking participants to present all of the different elements. Host a conversation about how participant ownership of the process leads to a final development produced by the community. This small group activity leads directly into the ‘Final Action-Plan’ activity, below.
|13A: Final Concept Plan Presentation and Discussion Facilitator Guide|
|13B: Preparing Final Concept Design|
- Celebrate the long hours spent developing the plan;
- Plan for how to voice your support for this project if it needs defending;
- Voice your support and any remaining concerns for the plan.
- Give participants space to talk about the process and take ownership of and champion the final development.
- Participants practice supporting and defending the development through their presentations of site plan elements.
- Engage potential tenants, who will be supporters for the project through the entitlement (seeking of a zone change, etc.) and permitting process.
3.5 COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN
Over the course of the planning process, participants will develop ownership over both the process and the final development program. Developing an action plan can strengthen participant ownership beyond the term of the planning process, which builds a strong sense of community between participants and also prepares participants to advocate in support of projects during the permitting process and time construction.
|Community Action Plan|
Community Action Plan
Once the final site plan has been presented, prepare participants to support the project and take ownership of the development process. Set up a piece of butcher paper so that participants can ‘sign-on’ to the project with their signature. This is especially important when you face potential opposition from city officials and other stakeholders who did not participate in the process. Additionally, this activity serves as a means to begin an organizing committee with tenants and as a way to continue to build a base for your organization.
|14A: Community Action Plan Facilitator Guide|
- Learn about the next steps in the development process and how to work together to ensure that redevelopment occurs
- Receive written support from participants for the development.
- Advance an action plan to support the final site plan through the development timeline and any political or neighborhood hurdles you may encounter.
|15A: Workshop Evaluation Materials|
|15B: Internal Evaluation Materials|
Through the development of our initial goals for participatory planning, we identified evaluation as one of the most important components of our process. We had two different evaluation processes: first, participants evaluated each workshop session that we hosted (see ‘15A: Workshop Evaluation Materials’ in Appendix). Participant evaluation helped us improve the subsequent workshops. Second, directly after the final workshop in March 2013, the facilitation team reconvened to evaluate the entire process: from goal setting to action planning (see ’15 B: Internal Evaluation Materials’ in the Appendix). In our internal evaluation, we reviewed whether we had achieved our initial goals for the process (see ‘Goals and Priorities’ section, above) and whether the process helped us reach a final product: an innovative and viable site plan. By conducting internal evaluations throughout the process, we were able to reflect on what worked and what could have been changed for a more effective outcome. Evaluations of our work can be found in the “In Action” sections at the end of each workshop description.