Government Code 65583(c)(7) “The local government shall make a diligent effort to achieve public participation of all economic segments of the community in the development of the housing element, and the program shall describe this effort.”
Housing issues affect the entire community – residents, employers and the public and private sectors. The public participation requirement of housing element law presents an opportunity to engage constituents in a dialogue – defining problems and creating solutions. The inclusion of community stakeholders including residents in the housing element public participation process helps ensure appropriate housing strategies are more efficiently and effectively evaluated, developed, and implemented. An inadequate public participation process may lead to community conflict or in worse case scenarios, anti-development initiatives, and NIMBYism. Successful public participation is important because a diverse cross section of the population can be engaged in defining the housing problem and in crafting community sensitive solutions. Another benefit of broad participation and true engagement of the public is that when it is time to adopt housing strategies and approve housing developments, a greater portion of the community has been involved and participated in the plan and more frequently will support its implementation. Meaningful participation creates stakeholders in the ultimate outcome of the process.
To announce workshops on the update of the City’s general plan the City of Richmond mailed over 32,000 newsletters to households, placed ads and announcements in local newspapers, on the radio and the project website. In addition, the General Plan Team provided a mobile planning department – known as the “Plan Van.” The Plan Van made stops in the community on several Saturdays, at neighborhood events and made daily stops throughout the City to provide residents with information, encouraging them to share their ideas for the City and learn more about the General Plan Update.
Photos of the Plan Van courtesy of the City of Richmond Planning Department
In order to ensure the broadest range of input during its community outreach process the County used a combination of workshops, targeted focus groups, and internet outreach. The County’s internet tool provided a status update for the housing element project, invited users to receive e-mail updates and comment on the draft, and provided information on the housing element process, location of meetings, and copies of draft documents.
A Note to Stakeholders and Third Party Commenters
Pursuant to Government Code 65585(c) the Department must receive and consider written comments from any public agency, group or person as part of its review of the housing element. If an organization or individual plans to provide comments to HCD on a jurisdiction’s housing element, early contact with the assigned review staff member is encouraged to ensure the Department is aware of this intent. To ensure the Department has sufficient time to consider comments in the review of the element, it is recommended that written comments are provided within the first 30 days of the review. To ensure organizations are aware of elements received for review, a weekly notice is sent by email to the State Housing Element Law subscriber list. To subscribe, click on the following link and select "State Housing Element Law". http://www.hcd.ca.gov/fa/DFA_Subscriber.html