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Ventura County- Involving Residents in Planning for a Sustainable Future

Case Story

Community: Ventura County
Population: 797,740

Summary:

The compact for a sustainable Ventura County is a partnership of ten cities, the county, and other agencies that have agreed to work together to address the challenges posed by long term growth and to plan a sustainable future for the region. In order to gauge public support for different long range planning options, a committee representing the partnership hired an experienced consulting firm to help them design and implement a public engagement process.

Program Highlights

  • About 300 residents worked in small groups of ten to explore what the future of the county might look like using table-top map simulations.
  • Using input collected in the public mapping workshops and from 100 completed questionnaires, three possible scenarios were developed for the county’s future transportation and housing plan.

Lesson Learned:

  • Having opportunities for “hands-on-learning” gave residents the opportunity to see connections between growth, density, and redevelopment that could not be replicated in a questionnaire.

The Rest of the Story…

The public engagement process began in the fall of 2009 with a series of six “Map the Future” workshops in six different cities. In these workshops, about 300 residents worked in small groups of ten to explore what the future of the county might look like using table-top map simulations. Colored chips were used to represent different types of development and various tape colors represented different transportation routes that could serve new residents after thirty years of growth. Online and paper questionnaires were also used to poll resident preferences in different situations that involved difficult trade-offs related to transportation and housing.

In the spring of 2010, a series of five Sustainability Summits involved over 300 residents in five different cities in vetting these scenarios. Following educational presentations and discussion, keypad polling was used to transparently collect the priorities of participating residents, who registered strong support for the idea of expanding public transit options in the county. Consultants are now preparing a report summarizing input from the public that will be used to prepare a written sustainability compact for endorsement and collaborative implementation by public agencies in the county.

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