Friday, September 19, 2014

Fwd: Comprehensive Plan Survey

I filled out the Comprehensive plan  survey for the City of Bellingham whose notice  I received in my mailbox. I found the entire document limited in scope to planning and growth discussions I know little if anything about.  Nor did I feel qualified to discuss them. It might have been nice to have first introduced the reader to the all those planned urban village discussions in some type of forum where others have contributed their opinions and knowledge.  Here is what I wrote in the only text box that allowed for my "comprehensive plan" opinion:
"I would like to see *grand city projects* in the urban core and surrounding city like light electric rail to BC, a bridge over the rail to the waterfront from Broadway, downtown skyscrapers, high tech business parks off Hannegan, a brilliant, utilitarian but classic new library with meeting rooms and skybending architecture, a world class concert hall on the Waterfront, a wealthy enriched population engaged in mathematical and scientific research."
I think this survey is probably a misuse of sampling technique that will add little that is important to discussions about growth in Bellingham.  The internet could be used so much more thoroughly than a limited, handpicked sample of multi-choice opinion questions.  What cities should host are forums and mail lists about growth in a specific area to encourage communities to have lively discussions with frequent moderation and contributions by COB planners and Council members. Cities could develop online simulations of growth areas and development, allowing users to construct and design buildings and city amenities in their cloud space for competition or display of the most interesting designs.

Providing software that simulated the effect of growth on co-factors like traffic, accidents, air quality, park space,wildlife, child care, bicycle and pedestrian safety, crime, jobs would allow citizens to think about the impacts of their design decisions as our city grows increasingly complicated. A survey monkey is a cute idea, but what is really needed is something like a "Second Life meets Sim City meets Urban Big Data" with real live politicians, planners,economists, environmentalists of note invited/mandated to play the game with community members who can contribute their own visions of urban development. Like corporate world policy and shareholder meetings, web conferencing and q and a could be provided by city planners in the late evening hours via services like "Live Meeting" so that citizens could listen in live and send in opinions without leaving the comfort of their homes.

I don't think urban centers have figured out a way to engage their populations with all the communication tools available to them on the internet.  Maybe if they did, they could use these tools to their advantage to encourage lots of participation from many different users.   My guess is the first city to do this will find a way to increase civic pride and decrease civic resistance.

To top it all off, nothing seemed to prevent me from taking the survey over again which doesn't make this a very reliable poll. Any way I found the survey at this link.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Pool, Lisa A." <>
Date: Sep 19, 2014 2:33 PM
Subject: Comprehensive Plan Survey

Greetings -
The City of Bellingham is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan. As part of this process, we'd like to hear from you about where and how the city should grow over the next 20 years. Click this link to start the survey: Please forward this link to others who may be interested. Your opinions will help shape the priorities of the updated plan.
The survey closes on Monday, October 20, at 5 p.m. Results will be posted later this fall at
Thank you for your input into this important process.

Lisa Pool, AICP
Senior Planner
City of Bellingham, WA

My incoming and outgoing email messages are subject to public disclosure requirements per RCW 42.56.

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