Public Involvement Plan
and Toolkit for Las Cruces

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of Transportation
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Project Team Contacts
Cody Gildart
Public Relations
23 East Fine Avenue
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928)226-0237 fax
cgildart@esmaz. com
City of Las Cruces

Carol McCall
Community Development Department
P.O. Box 20000
Las Cruces, NM 88004
(575)528-3155 fax
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency

Clark Wilson
Office of Sustainable Communities
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW [MC 1807T]
Washington, DC 20460
(202)566-2868 fax
wilson. clark(gjepa. gov

  "Picturing El Paseo"-A Snapshot	2
  1. Ask the Key Questions	5
  2. Set Goals and Outcomes	6
  3. Develop Outreach and Participation Activities	7
  4. Perform Outreach and Participation Activities	7
  5. Evaluate the Results	7
  7. Share the Results	8
  Tailoring the Public Involvement Plan to a Project	8
  Summary	9
  Introduction	10
  Outreach Tools	10
  Participation Tools	13
V.   Appendices	20


The city of Las Cruces is committed to developing a robust public participation model that
includes deliberative planning and visioning processes. To that end, the city applied for
technical assistance through the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's Smart Growth
Implementation Assistance program (see Appendix A for a description of the program). The goal
was to develop a Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit that include strategies that invite and
maintain the participation of all residents, especially ethnically diverse, low-income populations
and others that have had limited to no previous involvement in community planning and design.
Creative outreach and participation strategies that focus more on pictures than words were tested
in two visioning workshops for the El Paseo corridor, a 1.7-mile corridor that extends southeast
from Main Street in downtown Las Cruces to the New Mexico State University campus. The
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit summarize the process this project created and includes
many, but not all, of the outreach and participation tools the project used to begin developing a
vision for the El Paseo corridor. The plan and toolkit are intended to be used by city staff for all
city efforts requiring public involvement.

Through the assistance, the city hopes to:
       •   Implement new public participation models that use multiple and non-traditional
          techniques to engage—and build collaborations among—the government, residents,
          and other stakeholders.
       •   Demonstrate the application of public participation tools to redevelopment efforts in
          the El Paseo corridor area that support fair choices in housing, mobility, and
          commercial activity.
       •   Develop options for how a public participation strategy or toolkit could be applied to
          the city's larger, comprehensive planning efforts.

EPA selected the city of Las Cruces because of the city's interest in developing inclusive public
participation strategies that would help Las Cruces become a more sustainable  and equitable
community by:

       •   Promoting biking and walking as a safe alternative to driving.
       •   Reusing brownfields and vacant and underused parcels, thereby reducing pressure to
          develop on open space and agricultural land.
       •   Encouraging a mix of residential and commercial uses for residents and visitors
          regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level in the El Paseo corridor, as well as
          throughout the city.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 1

       •  Incorporating landscaping into street design and site development to reduce flooding
          and improve water quality (commonly referred to as "green infrastructure").

Though written specifically for city of Las Cruces staff and decision-makers, the strategies and
tools compiled in this document will be useful for many other communities wishing to expand
the conversations about development to include populations that have often remained outside of
decision-making process because of socioeconomic issues and language barriers. A more
inclusive decision-making process can help communities identify and decide upon policies that
encourage development that is good for the environment, the economy, public health, and the
The El Paseo corridor was selected by Las Cruces staff as the location to test public involvement
practices because of its potential to accommodate future mixed-use, development that would still
serve the needs of existing residents and users. Staff from EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), along with
the EPA contractor ESMpr and city of Las Cruces staff, made up the project team that developed
a public involvement process and selected (and sometimes created) specific involvement tools.

El Paseo Road is an active corridor with a mix of uses and a diverse population, many of whom
rely on public transit or walking to get around, including low-income families, senior citizens,
and high school and university students. The corridor is home to some of the highest commercial
vacancy rates in the city. The design is heavily automobile-oriented and is dominated by strip
malls separated from the street by vast, mostly empty parking lots. These design factors,
combined with heavy automobile traffic, make the area unpleasant and dangerous to pedestrians.

In the spring and summer of 2010, city staff undertook extensive community outreach in
preparation for workshops in the fall using the outreach tools described in Section IV. Strategies
ranged from using social media and establishing a project website ( to
more direct engagement with citizens through an activity called "Planners with Scanners." In this
activity, city staff went out into the community to senior centers, coffee shops, and other places
to gather stories about what El Paseo used to be—a vibrant street where one would go to "see
and be seen."

The two "Picturing El Paseo" visioning workshops were held in the fall of 2010 to test outreach
and participation strategies collected and developed by the project team. The first visioning
workshop was held in October 2010. This workshop was for invited stakeholder groups to test
participation techniques and to train city staff to lead the second visioning workshop. A
photobook created to summarize the activities is included in Appendix B. The second public

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 2

workshop was held in November and was open to the public. In both workshops, activities were
very visual: annotating maps, using visual preference surveys on computers, and artists drawing
participants' ideas for El Paseo in real time. Participants were also broken into small groups to
assemble photographs that city staff collected from people prior to the workshop into a collage
that illustrated what they liked and did not like about the corridor area.

As part of the visioning process, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funded a one-day
road safety audit in October 2010. A road safety audit is a formal safety performance evaluation
of an existing or future road or intersection conducted by an independent, multidisciplinary team.
The El Paseo team included representatives from FHWA, the city of Las Cruces, Las Cruces
Police Department, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Las Cruces RoadRUNNER
Transit, and Las Cruces Municipal Planning Organization. The audit's preliminary
recommendations included improving crosswalks and sidewalks and reducing the number of
driveways off of El Paseo. The recommendations are generally consistent with the comments
from participants of both workshops.

Finally, the city also hosted a green infrastructure workshop in August 2010. The workshop,
developed by the city of Las Cruces staff with EPA assistance, was  for local design and
engineering professionals, city staff, and decision-makers. The purpose was to present and
educate participants in green infrastructure practices appropriate for an arid climate such as Las
Cruces. The workshop preceded the El Paseo visioning workshop and complemented the
visioning efforts by educating city staff about green infrastructure techniques, which allowed
them to include a session about these techniques in the visioning workshops.

The Picturing El Paseo workshops and associated activities provided the city with a rich
collection of images and written comments that city staff began to analyze in early 2011. City
staff and leaders hope that El Paseo can  one day return to being the  heart of Las Cruces.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 3


The Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit provide a framework for meaningful public engagement
and the outreach and participation strategies necessary to build trust, excitement, and support among
Las Cruces residents for a city project or initiative. When done correctly, public involvement
creates the opportunity for mutually equitable outcomes, growth that increases economic vitality,
and environmental stewardship. These initiatives can result in a more equitable, environmentally
responsible, and economically healthy Las Cruces that is appreciated by residents and visitors.

Successful public involvement means including all voices—the traditionally represented as well
as underrepresented groups. Traditionally represented groups include politicians, developers,
philanthropists, and voting constituencies who routinely participate in civic affairs.
Underrepresented groups include those who have, for a variety of reasons, not participated.
These groups might include people with limited mobility, the learning impaired, non-English
speakers, youth, those ineligible to vote, and the low income. These voices are important parts of
a rich social dialogue and bringing them together can inform the planning process in ways that
create more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable outcomes for all

Involving the community requires time and resources, but community involvement is worth the
effort for several reasons:

       •  Everyone is treated equally.

       •  Incorporating substantive public  input increases the likelihood that the public will
          support the project.

       •  Proactive public involvement can reduce or eliminate disputes by bringing public and
          stakeholder interests together at key project stages.

       •  The project can be improved by bringing an informed citizenry together with

       •  Development can be expedited with a clear mandate from the community.

       •  Trust is created between the city  and the community.

The plan presented here outlines the necessary steps for establishing realistic goals, selecting
appropriate outreach and participation strategies from the accompanying toolkit, evaluating the
results, and sharing those results with the community.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                     Page 4

Though the specifics for each public involvement effort will depend on the city project or effort,
the process to develop a Public Involvement Plan involves six steps:

1. Ask the key questions.
2. Set the goals and expected outcomes of public involvement.
3. Develop outreach and participation for the Public Involvement Plan.
4. Perform outreach and participation as outlined in your plan.
5. Evaluate the results against plan goals and outcomes.
6. Share  the results.
The first step asks four key questions. These questions determine if the plan should move
forward. If the answer to any one of these questions is "no," then the city should change the plan
to address concerns or determine if the plan should be cancelled.

The four key questions are:

A. Do we have the right team?
B. Do we have the time?
C. Do we have the resources?
D. Does our plan meet legal requirements?
This plan is intended for all city of Las Cruces departments, since public involvement is not
under any single department's purview. All city-led projects benefit from public involvement
whether it is a redesign of a particular street, a new housing development, a new park project, or
even a new budget process. Many projects and initiatives will benefit greatly from cross-
departmental cooperation. The team, though led by a particular department, could also include
staff from other departments that have an interest in the outcomes. This would not only improve
communication among departments but also expand the participation of community stakeholders
that traditionally may have only been involved in the activities of one specific department. A
diversity of voices will ultimately produce richer results.
The time needed for a public involvement process can vary greatly. Typically, three months of
outreach prior to the involvement activities (e.g. public workshops) will be enough time to raise
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                   Page 5

awareness through the Internet and media and to engage community-based organizations and
other interested parties.
Sufficient resources are needed to put the plan into action, including time and staff to develop the
plan, generate all materials needed, and perform the outreach and participation tasks. Tasks can
be resource intensive, and a team of staff members or volunteers will probably be required.

Language considerations must be taken into account during the execution of the public
involvement plan. All information should be available in both English and Spanish in both print
form and through simultaneous verbal translation at meetings. Spanish-language information
should be presented in the local dialect and use plain language free of technical jargon. Staff
should consult with native speakers regarding each initiative governed by this plan to ensure that
Spanish information adequately matches all English materials in content, form, and tone. In
addition to producing materials in the two most commonly used languages in the area, the city
should accommodate those who speak other languages. Showing the willingness to translate
materials to make them more accessible will demonstrate to target audiences the city's
commitment to engaging them, and they will hopefully appreciate the effort to communicate and
be more interested in working with the city.
Regulations and laws at various levels of government affect public involvement, often requiring
specific outreach activities or participation techniques. All legal requirements will need to be
considered as the city implements the plan to create legally defensible processes. The following
legal issues are among the requirements that the city might need to address, where appropriate, in
the plan:

       •   Americans with Disabilities Act
       •   National Environmental Policy Act
       •   Federal Transportation Planning Requirements
       •   Environmental Justice Requirements
       •   Housing and Urban Development Requirements
       •   State of New Mexico Open Meetings Act
       •   State of New Mexico Inspection of Public Records
Setting goals for the plan is important to determine the activities that comprise the plan and to
evaluate the success of public involvement. The goals and desired outcomes should be defined in

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 6

a document that all involved parties have a chance to review prior to involvement activities. If
the goal is to create a community-driven design, an expected outcome would be substantive
public input to give to designers. Writing these expected outcomes down makes evaluating the
involvement process after the plan has been completed much easier.
After asking the key questions and setting the goals, the city should develop specific outreach
and participation activities. Outreach and participation tools are described in the toolkit in
Section IV. Outreach activities should be well defined and include details such as target
audience, budgetary implications, and who is responsible for developing and distributing
outreach materials or performing outreach activities. Participation activities should be described
so they can be understood by the public and should include details such as step-by-step
instructions to perform the activity, the results that will be generated, and how the results will be
used. Describing the outreach and participation activities creates a work plan that will guide the
project team and become part of the public record of the project. Additionally, defining public
involvement activities in writing clearly lays out the city's commitment to involving the public.
After the public involvement plan for the project or initiative is crafted, it should be reviewed
and discussed by the project team—those who will actually perform the outreach and
participation tasks. Team members need to be realistic in understanding the amount of work
involved in producing the outreach materials, distributing these materials, developing
participation, and facilitating participation exercises. Additionally, team members will benefit
from occasionally taking a step back, looking at the big picture, and ensuring that they are
honestly listening to other people.
Upon completing the involvement activities, team members should evaluate the input received
and the process used. The results of this evaluation can be as important as any input gathered, as
the lessons learned can help improve subsequent plans.

A successful public involvement process may result in a great deal of public input, often
gathered through multiple methods. This input needs to  be carefully examined and summarized.
Then the input should be shared with the public, allowing the public to "double  check" the
results. This step also maintains transparency in the involvement process. All input should be
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                      Page 7

synthesized into a format that is clear and understandable to the public and to future staff and
decision-makers to provide insight into the process used to gather it.

After synthesizing public input, the team should evaluate the entire public involvement process
to identify lessons learned. This exercise will help the team determine which activities were most
successful in meeting the goals. If the process and the results align with the expected outcomes
and goals, the lessons learned can provide guidance for similar success in the future. If there is a
disparity between outcomes and expectations or if goals were not met, then the city should
consider how future attempts at similar involvement could be modified. Furthermore,  even if
outcomes are not what were expected, sharing this fact can build public trust by demonstrating
that the city values honest, transparent communication and not just results.
As with all aspects of the public involvement plan, the performance evaluation should be well
documented. By writing documents that describe the processes, the results, and the evaluation of
those results and processes, the city creates a public record for each initiative. This public record
helps staff look back on the process and understand the effort involved, the benefits realized, and
the lessons learned. The documents also allow all members of the community to share in the
project's success and facilitates public dialogue about the results of public involvement
processes. The city can keep two-way communication open after sharing the results to give the
public avenues to comment on these results. Comments regarding the results can steer decision-
making, gauge public sentiment, and develop buy-in from stakeholder groups, other city
departments, and the public.
To tailor this plan to a specific project, the team needs to determine what level of involvement is
needed and set the goals accordingly. The goals outlined for the plan will drive the outreach and
participation tools described in Section IV. Outreach requires identifying target audiences and
specific strategies to reach these audiences. In participation, the techniques will change
depending on the type and level of participation needed to develop the input the project needs.
The Public Participation Spectrum (Figure 1) can be used to determine the level and type of
involvement for the project. The spectrum can be used  as a sliding scale of public involvement
that starts with basic involvement that simply informs and goes up to empowering the public to
make decisions. A particular project will fall somewhere on this scale, and the team can "slide"
the outreach and participation activities to meet the needs of the project or initiative.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                     Page 8

                               Increasing  Level  of  Public   Impact
                  Inform     Consult     Involve   Collaborate  Empower
               To provide the public
                 with balanced
                 and objective
                information to assist
                    them in
                understanding the
               problem, alternatives.
                 and/or solutions.
             To obtain public
              feedback on
             and/or decisions.
            To work directly
             with the public
             the process to
            ensure that public
             concerns and
             aspirations are
            understood and
               To partner with
              the public in each
                aspect of the
              decision including
              the development
              of alternatives and
              the identification
               of the preferred
Web Sites

                To place final
                in the hands of
                 the public.
              Specific tools for Outreach and Participation are outlined in the Toolkit.

Figure 1. International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Public Participation Spectrum
                                                                                   International Association
                                                                                   for Public Participation

This public involvement plan process provides specific methods to reach out to and involve the
public in municipal actions. This engagement allows interested parties to learn about and
influence decisions that affect their community. Decision-makers can use the public involvement
process to gauge public sentiment and gather helpful input for current and proposed policies and
projects. The community has a better chance of reaching equitable outcomes when all parties are
involved, informed, and included in decision-making. By using this tool for decision-making, a
community can make decisions that balance economic vitality, equity among citizens, and
environmental stewardship. By honestly and earnestly seeking to incorporate public aspirations,
advice, concerns, and considerations, the city of Las Cruces creates  a great opportunity to move
forward in the best interest of all community members.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit
                                                                                    Page 9

 ,.'.',:'   ."'.: n

The toolkit contains outreach and participation tools the city could use in their involvement
process. Like any tool used to repair or build something, the tools described in this section are
designed to be used in concert with one another to accomplish the goals and objectives
established for a particular public involvement effort. The toolkit includes:

   •   Outreach tools to inform and engage all segments of the population, including those who
       may be affected by an initiative, the general population, and those who have traditionally
       been underrepresented.
   •   Participation tools to create and document useful input.

Certain tools will  prove widely useful and could be used frequently on multiple projects or on
iterative efforts. Other, more specialized tools may not get used as often but are available in this
toolkit should they be needed. As work moves forward, new tools may be needed to perform a
specific function.  These tools can be added to the toolkit using the New Tool Worksheet in
Appendix B.

Upon completion  of any public outreach or involvement effort, city staff should write a summary
memo that documents and analyzes comments received. The memo should also document the
tools used and the success of those tools in achieving the  effort's goals. Lessons learned will help
with subsequent outreach and involvement activities. To assist in evaluation efforts, the team can
use the Evaluation Worksheet in Appendix B.

Finally, staff availability is crucial to the success of any outreach and participation efforts. As
noted in Section III, a cross-departmental project team should be established at the beginning of
any effort. On that team should be a primary staff contact who responds to public inquiries and
forwards correspondence to the appropriate project team member for timely response.
         "h T
         i^ a l. ll

Outreach tools help connect staff and elected officials with audiences to develop awareness of
and participation in the project under consideration. These tools also provide basic project
information and direct interested parties to additional resources that give more information. In
general, implementing as many of these tools as possible will provide more information to the
community about a project and the opportunities to become involved. Outreach should be two-
pronged—focused outreach to specific residents and stakeholders whose input is needed for an

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 10

inclusive involvement and more general outreach to reach a broader audience. Focused outreach
involves city staff going out into the community—reaching the businesses, religious institutions,
schools, and social clubs of those residents who have, for any number of reasons, not been
engaged in city planning and policy efforts. Involvement strategies to reach a broader audience
include more traditional media campaigns (e.g., flyers, posters, websites, or radio spots) but also
social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Although the "more is better" approach may be
tempered by time and budget constraints, the city should go straight to the people to involve
A project announcement is a simple, one-page description of the effort that the city is
undertaking. It tells readers who is involved, what the project is, where and when it is happening,
and how the process will work. It is developed in print and digital formats and released to the
public, businesses, institutions, agencies, and members of the community who are targeted for
outreach. The announcement should be translated into the predominant languages of the
community. In print format, the announcement may take the form of a flyer, bulk mail piece, or
poster. The digital format can be an image file or a PDF that is uploaded to a relevant website,
used in social media, or sent by e-newsletter.  Costs may be higher if the city uses professional
graphic design, certain distribution methods, or multiple distribution methods.
Community-based organizations are groups that serve a broad range of community interests.
Organizations include senior centers; civic groups; business organizations; community
development corporations, churches and other faith-based organizations; service clubs; schools
that provide English as a second language programs; service providers for youths, families, and
persons with disabilities; and many others.

Community-based organizations provide the opportunity to connect with specific audiences and
are an integral part of identifying and reaching out to underrepresented groups. The city can
reach out to specific organizations to provide these groups with project information and
encourage them to become involved. Should these groups have specific needs that might affect
the involvement process, the city should clearly outline strategies to meet those needs. For
example, organizations that represent people whose first language is not English should be
invited to participate in exercises where they can receive information and provide input in the
language with which they are most comfortable. Often, the organization can provide the venue
and opportunity to meet with the group and perform a participation tool exercise, such as a
coffee circle (described in the Participation Tools section).

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                   Page 11

School administrations can publish information in school websites or newsletters or send email
to distribution lists to engage students and their parents. Outreach activities can also be
integrated into school curricula to inform students about a project through activities such as
learning games and field trips. In high school, educators can create modules for classes and clubs
involved in activities such as photography, computer science, art, civics, or creative writing. For
instance, if the city of Las Cruces is undertaking a planning effort for a particular neighborhood,
students of the local school could undertake a history project documenting the neighborhood. Or
a multimedia class could produce short films documenting a "day in the life" of neighborhood
A project-specific website gives detailed and extensive information and allows for two-way
communication. It should complement, not replace, other outreach and involvement efforts, since
many people do not have access to the Internet or do not use it frequently. The website can stand
alone or could be integrated into the city's existing website. If possible, the city should use an
intuitive URL, such as www.[project name].org or www.[city name].gov/[project name]. Websites
should be easy to access and to navigate and have translations available in Spanish or other
appropriate languages.
Social media and social networking websites include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs.
For any initiative, the city could create a social media strategy and invite target audiences
(identified using city email lists or previously interested groups) to participate. It is important to
choose the social media and networking platforms that have the best chance of reaching the
intended audience. If the medium allows for public commenting, the project team should
moderate those comments to ensure content is appropriate.
Email newsletters quickly and easily disseminate information to contact lists. While e-
newsletters can be inexpensive if sent electronically through a listserv, an e-newsletter service
may provide a more attractive-looking and engaging newsletter, but at an increased cost.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 12

A comprehensive regional media campaign often is the primary source of outreach to the broader
community. A media campaign might include press releases, public service announcements,
press conferences with community leaders, feature articles, or interviews, depending on the
nature of the project and the resources available. To ensure media exposure, the city could buy
advertisements but should do so strategically to keep costs low. Keeping a consistent media
message across all channels requires generating and distributing talking points to project team
Participation tools are designed to create a meaningful dialogue between city staff and the
community. Each participation tool is a structured activity that allows participants to learn about
the project, ask questions, and provide comments. The input that is generated in participation
activities can be used for analysis, and create buy-in for a project. Similar to outreach tools,
participation tools can be used in combination with one  another to elicit input from target
audiences through multiple avenues, which is especially useful when participation is desired
from several different groups in a community.

The first set of participation tools described in this section focus on face-to-face meetings, with a
particular emphasis on city staff going to places where a particular population already gathers.
This effort pays off by demonstrating that city staff is committed to hearing the concerns of those
groups who do not participate in more conventional public processes such as larger community
meeting and workshops. These tools include ones that help participants create a vision for their
community. Several of the visioning tools use pictures to tell a story. Using images is not only
more fun for participants, but also more inclusive and equitable in that it relies less on words to
express ideas and concerns. This technique is most helpful when working with community
members who might not speak or read English well or with children and young people who find
images more exciting than words.

The project website and social media described in the outreach section remain pertinent to
participation efforts. A project-specific website can be used to disseminate information and
gather comments. Additionally, social media websites can allow people to create and exchange
content about a specific topic. Again, a major caveat is that not everyone has access to or the
ability to use the Internet, so online tools should complement, nor replace, face-to-face
participation tools.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 13

The term "meeting with the public" is used deliberately to differentiate from "public meeting."
Meeting with the public means actively going into the community, talking with community
members about a particular city initiative, and most importantly, listening to their concerns.
Though potentially staff intensive, the time committed to informal meetings can build a
significant amount of trust with the community. Feedback is likely to be more candid since staff
is on the residents' "turf," and people can discuss their concerns in conversation rather than
having to speak in front of a large group, which many people find intimidating. Furthermore,
community members may feel more engaged in the process and thus be more willing to attend
larger, traditional-format community meetings and workshops.

Meetings with Community-Based Organizations - As described in Section III, community-
based organizations include senior centers, civic groups, business organizations, churches,
service clubs, and others. Community-based organizations often host meetings that provide an
opportunity for city staff to discuss particular city initiatives and projects. Meeting with groups at
their regularly scheduled meeting times and in their format demonstrates a willingness to work
with the group to listen and understand their position.

Coffee Circles - A coffee  circle is a small meeting with a specific group, generally in an
informal setting such as a person's home, a business, or a community center. To generate
conversation, the facilitator can start by asking engaging  questions such as "What was it like here
when you were growing up?" or "Where is your favorite  place in town to spend time, and why?"
Once the conversation is flowing, the facilitator can get into the specifics of the project.

World Cafe - A world cafe is a specialized technique using a leaderless dialogue that simulates
cafe-style conversation, where small groups engage in conversation to explore a given topic. To
set up the meeting space, tables are placed around the room, each one accommodating four to six
people. A host is stationed at each table to listen, take notes, and facilitate discussion, not to lead
the group discussion. Each group should discuss the topic, listen to each other's viewpoints, and
share their views. Participants switch tables periodically,  while each host remains, allowing ideas
to move around the room.

More conventional meeting formats are described below. At all meetings, staff should provide
sign-in sheets and comment cards. In addition to comment cards, participants could be asked to

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 14

fill out a card at the beginning of the meeting stating their concerns and motivation for attending
the meeting. This is their "declarative statement." These cards could be posted on a bulletin
board so others can read them. At the conclusion of the meeting, participants would be asked to
revisit the cards and fill out the other side with "what they heard" and if their opinion on issues
has changed. This before-and-after response will help city staff gauge how effective their
messaging has been and where there is room for improvement.

Community Meeting - The community meeting is a structured meeting with an agenda during
which the project team conveys information, listens to comments, and answers questions. It may
include a formal  presentation, a question-and-answer session, and an informal discussion period.

Open House Meeting - An open house meeting provides more opportunities for the project
team and public to interact informally. An open house uses information stations staffed by
project team members, allowing the public to talk with those involved in the project to learn
more and provide input.  This type of format is useful to gather input from participants who may
not feel comfortable speaking in front of a group. It is good practice to have two team members
at each station so one can focus on speaking with participants while the other records input.

Workshop - Workshops engage the public in interactive exercises to develop ideas and input.
Workshops provide a venue for discussions of goals and alternatives, as well as creative
problem-solving. Activities chosen for a workshop depend on the demographics of the group and
what kinds of responses  the staff hopes to elicit.

Design Charrette - A charrette is a collaborative design event that lasts multiple days. A
multidisciplinary charrette team, consisting of consultants and sponsor staff, produces the plan.
Stakeholders-those being anyone who can  approve, promote or block the project as well as
anyone directly affected by the outcomes-are involved through  a series of short feedback loops
or meetings. Most  stakeholders attend two  or three feedback meetings at critical decision-making
points during the charrette. These feedback loops provide the  charrette team with the information
necessary to create a feasible plan. Just as importantly, they allow the stakeholders to become co-
authors of the plan so that they are more likely to support and implement it.  Charrettes takes
place in a charrette studio situated on or near the project site. The charrette team first conducts an
open public meeting to solicit the values, vision, and needs of the stakeholders. The team then
breaks off to create alternative plans or scenarios, which are presented in a second public
meeting usually a day or two later. The team then synthesizes the best aspects of the alternatives
into a preferred plan that is developed in detail and tested for economic, design and political
feasibility. The charrette concludes with a comprehensive presentation at a final public meeting.

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 15

Expert Panels - An expert panel is a public meeting that mimics the "Meet the Press" format. A
panel of media representatives or a facilitator interviews experts to show an issue from different
perspectives. A neutral facilitator ensures a balanced discussion. The public can be involved in a
question-and answer-session following the panel.

Focus Groups - Focus groups are a message-testing forum with selected members of a target
audience. Testers show these individuals messages and interview them to gauge their reaction to
those messages.

Fishbowl - A fishbowl is a small group of people, generally between five to eight individuals,
seated in a circle, having a conversation in full view of a larger audience. The fishbowl is most
often an open discussion, with public officials, decision-makers, or stakeholders taking
"permanent" chairs at the table, with several chairs open to members of the audience who want
to sit down and discuss an issue. Audience members can move to the central table as issues are
discussed and when the discussion moves to another issue, that individual returns to the
audience, opening a chair for someone else. This format allows the public to participate in a
conversation that can answer questions and aid in understanding the decision-making process,
especially where controversial or "hot button" issues are concerned.  While significant
moderation is not needed, a facilitator may help the discussion progress smoothly.


Webinar - A webinar is a meeting that is presented online. Currently, technology allows for
public meeting "webcasting," or broadcasting via the Internet, and two-way electronic
communication. While webcasting can be relatively simple, participatory techniques are difficult
to implement in a webinar format. As technology improves, webinars may emerge as an
increasingly useful tool.


Visioning exercises can take several forms and can be incorporated into the meeting formats
previously listed. Visioning tools can be used to solicit public ideas in the initial stages or to help
shape components of the project as it evolves. At each stage, if the results of the visioning
process are shared with the public for ongoing feedback, the public is reassured that their input
shapes the community vision to the greatest degree possible. Visioning performed early and
throughout the life of the project helps ensure that the public vision is realized as the project
moves through the municipal decision-making process towards implementation. Material
gathered can be synthesized in various ways, which will depend largely on the anticipated use of
the  input when the exercise is designed. All input should be treated equally and collected in such
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 16

a way that the public involvement process moves forward and is informed by this input. The
input should include a detailed explanation of the visioning exercise that aided its development.

Shared Perspectives - A shared perspective exercise uses a photograph or image of an existing
condition and an overlay sheet of trace paper on which an artist can draw. The artist or another
member of the team talks with a participant about the particular issues illustrated in the photos
and elicits ideas about what the participant would like to see there instead. The artist captures
these ideas immediately and draws them on the trace paper on top of the photograph in front of
the participant.  In essence, the artist is serving as the hands for the participant. This type of
activity generates a lot of excitement, and participants can be invited to do their own drawings if
they want. The  result is a rich set of images that can be categorized according to common visions
that emerge and discussed afterwards in a meeting of all participants.

Mapping Exercise - A mapping exercise uses a map or aerial photograph to help develop input
regarding a specific geographic area, location, or corridor. The input can be free flowing and
cover a range of topics, or it can be targeted to gather input on a specific topic, idea, or issue. In
cases where a discussion of alternatives is part of the process, two alternative maps can be used
to develop input. Mapping exercises can be performed in various ways. One way involves
printing large maps and encouraging the public to draw or write their ideas on the maps
themselves. This input can then be scanned, photographed, or catalogued. A facilitator is present
to explain the map, answer questions, guide input gathering, and keep the discussion focused.
Some participants may have difficulty reading maps at first,  so it is helpful to have printed eye-
level photographs of places depicted in the map to help participants get their bearings.  Another
method is to ask participants to draw their own maps based on their knowledge of the area of
interest. These maps, though likely crudely drawn, can be valuable in highlighting how the
participant experiences the area.

Photovoice - Photovoice is a  participation tool developed at the University of Michigan. The
underlying principles are that  that images teach, and pictures can influence policy. It is a
facilitated process where participants use photographs to explain how they perceive their current
circumstances and also explain what they like and do not like. Pictures can be collected through
a variety of means; participants can bring their own photos to a workshop event or upload photos
to the project website prior to  an event for city staff to print.  Another method is distributing
disposable digital cameras before the event; staff can download the images at the meeting and
print the photos on site. Alternatively, staff could distribute cameras at the event and take
participants on  a tour of a project area, allowing them to note their likes and dislikes with
pictures rather than words. The "comments" gathered through Photovoice are  images that are
assembled by participants (with assistance from a facilitator) into collages. These images can be
presented as a public art display to generate community awareness of issues, to create a collage
or educational tool, or to generate a lively discussion.

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 17


Visual Preference Survey - In a visual preference survey, participants look at two pictures of a
similar place or element—e.g. a street with on-street parking versus a street without parking, or
an stream with a pathway along it versus one without a path that looks more natural. Participants
are then asked to select which image they prefer. Surveys can be taken on computers or using
display boards and a ballot sheet. Public feedback developed through the visual preference
survey is most helpful in determining public opinion related design aesthetics.

Computer Simulations - Computer simulations are an increasingly useful visioning tool in
helping the public understand choices, see possible future scenarios, or see how their input may
be used. At a basic level, a computer simulation is similar to the shared perspective exercise in
showing simple before-and-after representations of how a project might look when complete
based on participant comments. Simulations are developed by a professional graphic designer  or
architectural Tenderer and can be time-intensive, depending upon the desired quality of the final
image. The most basic image looks like a photographic collage. This exercise therefore is best
suited to a multi-day charrette where participants can see the image or images evolve over the
course of the event. Typically, the designer will take these images back to his or her office to
create a more realistic image.

Keypad Polling - Keypad polling is where participants use handheld remote devices that allow
them to vote on polling questions at a public meeting. The exercise is included  in the visioning
section because the results of the polling are shown immediately on a screen. The facilitator uses
the outcomes to guide discussion. Polling is anonymous so those who do not feel comfortable
publicly voicing their opinions can still share their thoughts.
Tours are facilitated group excursions that help participants familiarize themselves with a project
area. Audits are similar but involve developing inventories to provide quantifiable data regarding
the typical public experience. Both activities have city staff, designers, officials, and community
participants walking through their community to identify issues that affect the public. Although
participants may feel that they are already familiar with the study area, a facilitated tour or audit
helps them see the area with a new perspective. Walking tours are most helpful when a study
area is relatively compact or when a workshop's goal is assessing the pedestrian experience of a
street or neighborhood. For large study areas, vans or buses may be needed.
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 18

Simulation games are exercises that lay out a set of real or hypothetical conditions and ask
participants to simulate a decision based on those conditions. While these games may be
resource intensive to develop and test, simulation can be an effective participatory technique.

Budget Exercise - The budget exercise is a method to develop a vision while working with
budgetary constraints. The exercise gives participants hypothetical amount of money and asks
them to choose how to spend the money. This exercise encourages people to prioritize wants and
needs in a scenario that mimics what decision-makers face. The budget exercise can be
performed in various ways, generally dictated by the meeting and the initiative. When possible,
budgetary constraints and alternatives or choices should mimic the applicable scenario facing
decision-makers. The budget exercise can use a worksheet, or a Monopoly-style game,
representing budget dollars. The budgets created in this exercise will help project organizers
better understand public priorities and spending concerns. These conclusions should be
documented for later reference to substantiate decisions that might be made about the project.

Wikiplanning — Wikiplanning offers an integrated approach using technologies that are
increasingly available to the public. Using the Wikiplanning tools, residents are invited to log
into their community's project website and then are led through a series of activities throughout
the project life. These activities include a mix of project-specific, multimedia learning sessions,
online chats, message boards, surveys, and podcasts offering walking tours through the project's
principal sites. Although  some sessions, like chats, would occur in real-time, most activities  can
be arranged around participants'  schedules.

Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                                    Page 19

V.    Appendices

Appendix A - EPA's Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) Program

Appendix B - Picturing El Paseo Photobook

Appendix C- Worksheets
   •  Evaluation Worksheet
   •  New Tool Worksheet
Public Involvement Plan and Toolkit                                             Page 20

Appendix A

EPA's Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program (SGIA)
Communities around the country want to foster economic growth, protect environmental resources, and
plan for development. In many cases they need additional tools, resources or information to achieve these
goals. In response to this need the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable
Communities launched the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program in 2005 to provide
technical assistance through contractor services to selected communities. EPA assembles teams of
specialized consultants, bringing together expertise that meets a particular community's needs. While
working with community participants to understand their aspiration for development, the teams bring
experience from working in other parts of the country to provide best practices for consideration by the
assisted community. The goal of the program is to help participating communities attain their goals, while
also producing a resource (such as a report or set of guidelines) that can be useful to a broad range of
communities facing similar challenges.

The Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program is designed to help communities achieve growth
that supports economic, community and environmental goals. People in communities around the country
are frustrated by development that gives them no choice about driving long distances between where they
live, work and shop; that require costly expenditures to extend sewers, roads and public services to
support new development; that uses up natural areas and farmland for development while land and
buildings lie empty in already developed areas; and that makes it difficult for working people to rent or
buy a home because of development that focuses only on one or two costly housing types. Smart growth
strategies create new neighborhoods and maintain existing ones that are attractive, convenient, safe and
healthy. They foster design that encourages social, civic and physical activity. They protect the
environment while stimulating economic growth. Most of all, they create more choices for residents,
workers, visitors, children, families, single people, and older adults—choices in where to live, how to get
around, and how to interact with the people around them. When communities undertake this kind of
planning, they preserve the best of the past while creating a bright future for generations to come.

More information about the program, including information on how to apply and links to reports from
past recipients can be found at


   Visioning Workshop #1

        October 1 & October 2, 2010
           City of Las Cruces

     vision for t^ corridor


                  ^ .*•

                The first Picturing El Paseo Visioning Workshc
               was held October 1st and 2nd, 2010. The tw<
                 day workshop series featured four structure
               workshop sessions attended by representative
               of the community and community organization
                   The  focus of this workshop was to introdu<
                     and test public involvement techniques
                   involve  local residents, students, businesse
                   and organizations in the Picturing El Pase
                           project in preparation for a large
                               public workshop in Novembe

; v



                      The Visioning Workshop began with
                      •rief presentation on green infrastructui
                       give all participants ideas about ho1
                      water conservation, heat island effe<
                      litigation, and other green infrastructui
                         components could be considered
                                     their vision of El Pase<
I       I

iOre green infrastructure
ormation  was made availabl
i display boards, and attendees
ok a visual preference survey to
itermine what kind of
idscaping is appropriate for
? El Paseo Corridor.
          ---- |wwa u^yQ

      I dtm
       2. T>wPrci'
       looeotecv •
       3 ftieHefcna«revi
     ^m, v

                            People were encouraged to writ
                           and draw on maps of the corridc
                                area to spark problem-solvini
                              i nought processes and generat
                                    ideas through discussio

esults of these mapping sessions can help focus
le Picturing El Paseo vision within the corridor
,r shape how the vision is carried out.

,s part of the mapping exercise, perspective
rowings were created by a project team
ember. These drawings were overlaid on    |
hotographs of the El Paseo corridor.
                            The perspective drawings helpe>
                          participants see a possible outcom
                          of their visioning ideas. These visu<
                             exercises will be further explore
                          as Picturing El Paseo moves forwart

 Each workshop session provided th
 opportunity for people to visit the
      Paseo Road and Idaho Avenu>
intersection. Participants who wantei
  to get the feel for the walkability c
   the roadway were encouraged t
    safely walk along and across th
   street and record their feelings c
                 comfort and safeh

                      CICK Cession
                                   •^SSteSsiS"1 Sa""°">'»"««»

Each session included a feedback session,which was
recorded for further, more detailed study. Participants
learned about the Picturing El Paseo Photovoice exercise
and were encouraged to give feedback about how
photos can be used to create a community-based
snapshot of the El Paseo corridor to effectively guide
decision makers and redevelopment. This feedback is
currently being used to refine public involvement techniques
as Picturing El Paseo moves forward.

 Project Name:
 Public involvement goals:
 Did the plans meet the goals? Yes |   | No
 Please explain how:
 Expected outcomes:
 Did the project meet outcomes? Yes |   | No
 Please explain how:
 What lessons learned can be used on future projects?

 Tool Name:
 Tool overview and application:
 Comment gathering:
 Key points for using this tool:
 Tool benefits:
 Project(s) where tool has been used: