The Envision Utah Process
Envision Utah typically engages in the following steps when asked to facilitate a community process, whether the scale is a historic neighborhood, for example, or a multi-county transportation and land-use vision. Financial considerations obviously play a critical role in actual efforts.
Prior to the official start of the process, staff inform jurisdictions of the anticipated process and seek feedback from local officials. Staff also seek commitments to participate in good faith in the effort. A steering committee will be created representing public officials from local jurisdictions, development professionals, conservationists, media, and community leaders, among others. The steering committee will be witnesses to the process – ensuring that all steps are done in a transparent manner based on sound public input. They will also help ensure that the process represents local values, tests ideas that have some pragmatic grounding, and is communicated in a way that makes sense to residents.
Based on the interviews and briefings from task 1, a review of past planning efforts, and input from the steering committee, additional detail will be added to the scope of work. This task includes selecting consultants, if necessary, and defining roles and responsibilities.
3. Values Analysis
This task involves an in-depth analysis of what residents value about living in the area. Care is taken to ensure equal demographic representation. This task is important because it helps elected officials and planners understand how growth, transportation and environmental issues can be solved to respond to residents most fundamental values about quality of life. This analysis also helps local leaders communicate the benefits of growth planning more effectively with residents.
4. Coordinate with Jurisdictions
The most effective way to ensure a substantial turnout in a process is to have local jurisdictions personally invite residents, such as through an invitation signed by the mayor. This task coordinates each of the jurisdictions’ efforts to invite residents.
5. Establish “Baseline” Scenario
This baseline analysis provides a picture of the area’s projected fate if current development trends continue. This acts as the control – helping us to understand the relative advantages and disadvantages of each alternative scenario. The baseline analysis may include: projection of land development, anticipated housing characteristics, air quality, traffic congestion and water consumption. The baseline analysis may also include an estimate of the market demand for various housing types into the future.
6. Public Relations Campaign for Launch
This task entails development of a campaign to inform resident of the consequences of the baseline scenario and a call to get involved in the process. Letters, newspaper and radio advertisements, media coverage, public events, etc., are used to educate the public about pertinent issues and possible consequences. Educating residents is critical for informed public participation in the process.
During the public workshops, attendees learn of the area’s projected future (the Baseline Scenario) and its attendant impacts on transportation, air quality, infrastructure, etc. An educational presentation provides background information on issues to consider. Keypad polling—an interactive wireless survey technology—and on-line polling may be used to gather public input.
Workshop attendees may also engage in a mapping exercise. Through this exercise, groups of approximately ten interested citizens, appointed officials, business owners, and land owners brainstorm their preferred future for the area. Each group uses a map with an air-photo color-coded with information about the area, such as developed land, land uses (commercial, residential, industrial, parks and open space), extent of sensitive lands (e.g., hillsides, floodplains, areas of significant plant life), and key landmarks. On this map, each group negotiates among themselves areas to delineate for growth and for conservation, and they will represent the form they would like growth to take, using chips that represent different types of housing, commercial and mixed-use forms of development, etc. Each table aims to have a microcosm of all the parties interested in the long-term success of the area. Having participants who represent diverse opinions come together to brainstorm a long-term future tends to produce pragmatic yet often innovative solutions.
2. Summarize and Disseminate Results
The workshop mapping results are entered into a GIS system. This enables staff to develop scenarios in a transparent fashion, demonstrating how public responses were incorporated into scenario concepts. This task also involves disseminating through a newsletter the key public ideas gleaned from workshop results. The keypad polling results also shape the development of draft guiding principles as well as give a sense of residents’ values towards growth issues.
This task involves the development of scenario maps that project a variety of ideas of how private development, transportation investments and environmental conservation might occur in the future. This task involves a number of opportunities to refine the scenarios using feedback from local planners and the steering committee. Future quality of life is projected for each scenario, such as what will air quality be like?, how much traffic congestion?, how extensive will development be?, or what is the mix of housing that is pictured? These quality-of-life benchmark criteria help residents understand the consequences of the land-use and transportation strategies embodied in each scenario. This approach also allows the public to compare various quality-of-life measures among all scenarios, including the baseline scenario.
2. Evaluation of Scenarios
After alternative scenarios are developed and tested, community meetings are scheduled. Here, the scenarios are evaluated by residents and results are made know to the general community. The community meetings are opportunities to learn which elements within each scenario have the most public support. On-line surveys are another avenue for the public to evaluate the scenarios.
The Vision Scenario, the preferred picture of life in the future, is then drafted and modeled, based on public feedback and technical analysis. The Vision Scenario is presented to the Steering Committee for review and refinement.
2. Goals and Strategies
The Vision Scenario represents a broadly supported picture of region’s future. However, projections of the future change every few years as population growth changes, development trends shift, and economic conditions vary; none of these can ever accurately be predicted in a long-term vision of the future. Further, voluntary implementation of a vision at the local level does and should yield different results as elected officials have a dialogue with their community about the future of their city.
For these reasons, the visioning process culminates in a set of goals for the future and strategies to help achieve these goals. These goals and strategies are more enduring and can be used to understand how various implementation actions might help further the vision scenario. The values analysis, the project’s guiding principles, and the workshop results can be used as the basis for establishing the goals and strategies. The steering committee, in consultation with any appropriate partners and jurisdictions, can refine the goals and strategies.
3. Public Document
The Vision Document articulates the Vision Scenario as well as the goals and strategies. It may delineate a general framework for growth, associated land uses, transportation investments, urban design strategies, housing choices and potential open space, recreation, trails and conservation areas. A detailed GIS concept map is included. The document is a concise and readable product interspersed with photos, graphs, charts, and other illustrations to help explain the text.
Either as an appendix or as part of the final document, an action plan of strategic short-term implementation steps and model ordinances may be created. This could also seek to identify steps necessary to maintain momentum of the visioning process.
2. Developing an Implementation Organization and Process
Ideally, there is an on-going caretaker for the vision to make a difference over time. This task involves working to identify an organization, or the development of a coalition of interests, to continue the dialogue about growth decisions into the future and to keep the Vision alive. A process should be identified to keep the vision relevant, to share success stories across the area, and to highlight progress on the action plan.
3. Jurisdictional Meetings
Staff share the Vision, Goals and Strategies, and the action plan with local jurisdictions.