Community-Based Planning Is Changing Regional Engagement Dynamics
Megaregion partners share how communities are designing their own solutions
During the March 17, 2022, board meeting, SACOG directors learned more about SACOG’s Engage, Empower, Implement (EEI) program, and how similar programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Joaquin regions have been successful in developing a pipeline of projects designed by the community, for the community.
EEI is a SACOG project that is now under development. SACOG staff will engage with community-based organizations (CBOs) to identify the needs of residents around the region. This community-designed strategy is a bottom-up approach to transportation and land use planning. The model is being executed by other metropolitan planning organizations and has led to successful transportation and land use solutions in historically disinvested communities.
Therese Trivedi, assistant planning director at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), shared several lessons learned from MTC’s Community-Based Transportation Planning program for SACOG’s consideration. Advice included ensuring that there is enough funding available for the time-intensive engagement process, making sure that cities are closely involved in the process since they often need to execute solutions, and ensuring that outreach is connected to related planning efforts in the organization so that communities don’t become fatigued with engagement.
Diane Nguyen, executive director of the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG), Christine Corrales, project manager with SJCOG, along with Jasmine Leek, founder and managing director of Third City Coalition, shared how their long-term efforts have paid off. SJCOG has been working with traditional and nontraditional planning partners for more than a decade, which has been a part of the “secret sauce” of their success. In addition to a dedicated team with strong community ties, the SJCOG minigrant program of $3,000–$5,000 for community-based organizations to engage with locals in SJCOG’s work has proved to be a valuable project. Having CBOs translate SJCOG’s work has been “a complete game changer for the planning process,” said Nguyen. The CBOs have helped connect why SJCOG’s efforts are important to community members to motivate them to be more involved. The funding comes from a California Air Resources Board $7.48 million grant from its Sustainable Transportation Equity Project to serve disadvantaged communities in Stockton.
Watch their presentations below and sign up for SACOG’s newsletter for more updates about EEI and other programs.