City charts new path toward updating Comprehensive Plan
Original post made on Mar 18, 2014
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 5:05 PM
on Mar 18, 2014 at 6:47 pm
"Design sprints" (week-long intensive problem-solving and brainstorming) and high-tech participatory democracy (a la California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome's book Citizenville) can shrink 48-month public processes down to one week, with more innovative outcomes, higher impact mitigation, richer quantitative analyses, and increased public participation, all at much lower cost.
In Citizenville, Gavin Newsome draws on his frustrations from his term as San Francisco's Mayor. Within public processes, loud citizen voices drown out others. Feedback is monopolized by a small, passionate group of people with hours of free weeknight time to spend sitting through plodding public meetings. At these meetings, staff/electeds spend four times longer than normal to say half as much, in order to not to offend anyone. The views of the too-busy-to-attend silent majority are ignored in favor of more extreme views. Old-fashioned processes enable defensive, obstacle-seeking strategies, dampening problem-solving creativity.
According to Newsome, "new digital tools can dissolve political gridlock and transform democracy." These tools address complex, messy, seemingly-intractable issues and augment citizen capacity to find ways through messy situations. Rapid-fire processes break down creative barriers.
According to Google Ventures Design Staff, "design sprints" produce predictably good results for startups and new products in only one week. Such sprints also promise to revolutionize city planning processes.
on Mar 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm
As to Google Design Sprints -- Google does not generally design, develop and sell products that people are willing to pay for. Google is an engineering-centric house that churns out a lot of Beta-quality software, that often disappears about as quickly as it is created. If it doesn't work, they can can the project as quickly as they green-lighted it. Given the City's ability to take people's property with eminent domain, got to wonder how often Google would simply take property owners homes and business, and bull doze them down as the simplest way to get from point A to point B?
If Google were building airplanes--wonder how many people would actually be willing to Fly Google?
on Mar 19, 2014 at 2:03 am
"...is monopolized by a small, passionate group of people with hours of free weeknight time to spend sitting through plodding public meetings."
You mean, our current City Council?
We need a paid Council. It's time we had full-time Councilmembers who could afford to take the time from their jobs to work for us as we need.
Where in the above mix is the parent community from different sides of town? We are often the least able to attend City meetings, but we make up a huge contingent in this town that is known for its schools.
Why don't we have the ability to participate remotely in City Hall meetings? Someone stood up and suggested this at a recent meeting and mention San Carlos (?) already does this?
I fear this coming into the community is less to know what we think and more about trying to find people who know less about what is going on than the historic numbers who have been newly participating in the past year, and whose message they would like to give themselves a reason to ignore. I think they feel if they can reach people in smaller groups, they can elicit the echo they hope for. Shepherd, Price, Kniss, and Klein are inclined to do this.
City Council needs to give residents some teeth to enforce protections in the comprehensive plan, at least in regards to important state-mandated provisions like safety and traffic circulation. We don't have a separate safety and traffic circulation element you say? I wish I believed part of the consultants'' job would be to examine where our current plan needs improvements to further the goals of maintaining neighborhoods and quality of life as in the existing plan, but I see no evidence that this council has changed its spots. It's more likely they'll be figuring out how to hijack the thing for developers. I would like to see the timetable extended beyond where THIS Council decides its ultimate form. We should all be willing to go to bat over that, or it's kiss Palo Alto college town goodbye, hello San Jose Mini-Me.