Please join us on Thursday, July 22nd when the City Planning Department hosts their first-ever webinar for the 2010 draft LA Bike Plan. The webinar will take place in two sessions, both of which will have a half hour presentation followed by a half hour round of question-and-answer with all registered online participants. You can read their press release PDF right here.
The first webinar session, from 6:00 to 7:00, will review the entire bicycle plan. The second webinar session, from 7:30 to 8:30, will cover the what, where, and when of all the bicycle infrastructure proposed in the 5-year plan. Though registration will be allowed up until the 22nd, City Planning urges you to register soon for both sessions. Registering for the first session does not mean you are registered for the second session automatically. The second session, covering the proposed 5-year implementation plan, promises to have more concrete details for bicycle infrastructure where you live, so don’t make the mistake of failing to register for both.
Why Public Involvement is Necessary
When drafting new plans – whether they are zoning plans, traffic plans, community plans, specific plans, etc. – one of the most challenging steps is public involvement. Public input is essential because plans must be understood and approved by the public they are meant to serve. When approved by a community, a plan gains legitimacy and cultivates a sense of ownership. No longer “their plan”, it becomes “our plan”, a plan people will be commit to and fight for. People have the right to be happy, and even proud, of what a plan calls for in their community.
Gaining such legitimacy for a plan, however, can be quite troublesome. There aren’t too many people, when it comes to down brass tacks, who love planning enough to go find this information on their own(Ed. Note: I may, in fact, be one of those people). It takes a large amount of outreach and education to get sufficient public involvement in crafting a new plan. What’s more, planning can be daunting for outsiders and newcomers. There are myriad terms and acronyms in a planner’s vocabulary which do not come naturally to the layman. Even more problematic, in this era of budget deficits and limited city resources, is the simple truth that public outreach is expensive. The resources and staff hours needed to create and distribute literature, organize and run public meetings, and process and incorporate public comment can be quite demanding. There is a fine line between how much public involvement is necessary for a plan to be considered legitimate and how much resources a planning office is able to dedicate toward public involvement.
A New Era for Planning?
In such an era of limited resources, Chris Steins is a godsend. As co-founder and co-editor of the planning clearinghouse Planetizen.com and CEO of web development company Urban Insight, Chris has long been an advocate of using technology for public engagement in the planning process. It is through his generous assistance that City Planning is able to host and organize this webinar. As this is a new experiment for City Planning, Chris is providing the technical expertise to get the webinar off the ground. If successful, this could pave the way for the use of webinars throughout the City’s planning and development efforts. While this particular webinar is only offered in English, SAP capabilities may be added in the future if webinars become a staple of the City’s public involvement strategy.
Besides this webinar, City Planning is presently organizing a slate of public meetings in September. While the number of meetings and dates have yet to be determined, LADOT Bike Blog will keep you updated as soon as more information becomes available. Flyers for the 2010 draft LA Bike Plan are also available at bike shops and bike co-ops throughout the City. The plan itself is also available online at the LA Bike Plan website. Hard copies of the bike plan are also available at the “Regional” libraries.
After comments and changes have been incorporated, the Plan must pass through the Planning Commission, the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, the Transportation Committee, and a full vote before City Council. With smooth sailing, the plan could be adopted around the new year.
So, please, register soon for both sessions of the LA Bike Plan webinar on July 22nd. The success of the webinar can not only improve public involvement for the Bike Plan, but for all planning in Los Angeles.