Urban Chat Meeting – The next Urban Chat gathering will be the day after tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13. We’ll convene at 7:00pm in the upstairs room at Maguire’s on Kentucky. Online discussion on bylaws will be underway, which can be a topic of conversation, but our primary focus will a discussion of public outreach.
It’s a topic that has been of recent local concern. The Planning Commission recently reviewed a proposed public outreach policy. The staff report can be read here, http://petaluma.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=31&clip_id=2523&meta_id=397067. I’m generally supportive, but had concerns, which I set forth in an email to Planning Manager Heather Hines. The email text is attached.
Overshadowing all of this is the furor over the Water Street Art Project, which is a perfect example of a project in which an outreach process didn’t lead to a generally acceptable solution. Catherine Alden is the chair of the Public Arts Committee in whose lap the situation has landed. I’ve prevailed on Alden, who also has the misfortune of being my cousin, to talk with us about the Water Street outreach process and then to participate in a group conversation on the subject. (Please note that comments on the art itself will be mostly out-of-bounds.)
For those looking for extra credit, here’s an article from StrongTowns about how public involvement fails, https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/5/25/public-engagement-isbroken. The author is in California, so his insights are pertinent to our state and, from my experience, right on. He also links an article about a new public involvement in Colorado. The link is here, https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/4/18/the-next-evolution-of-public-hearings. I like the concept, but fear it has the same timing concern I described in my email to Hines.