Good Public Participation Results In Better Decisions

IAP2 – the International Association for Public Participation – is the preeminent international organization advancing the practice of public participation.

So what do the residents of Riverside have to say about public participation? Read on and find out.

Hands Raised For Public Participation‘Public participation’ means to involve those who are affected by a decision in the decision-making process. It promotes sustainable decisions by providing participants with the information they need to be involved in a meaningful way, and it communicates to participants how their input affects the decision.

The practice of public participation might involve public meetings, surveys, open houses, workshops, polling, citizen’s advisory committees and other forms of direct involvement with the public.

IAP2’s mission is to advance and extend the practice of public participation.

IAP2 advocates on behalf of members and is building an international reputation for the public participation practice and profession. It supports international research and offers professional development training and services.

IAP2 members work in industry, civil society organizations, universities, government and more. They are involved in the public participation process by supporting clients, colleagues and citizens for improved decision-making.

See IAP2 Core Values Award Winners for successful examples of public participation in the decision-making process.

A number of Riverside neighborhood leaders have been meeting to discuss this. This group is called: NBT – Neighborhood Brain Trust  or, No Big Thing. Here is a draft of what we think the public engagement process should include.

Proposed Community Outreach Concept
for the City of Riverside Overview
Community stakeholders have identified a need for the City of Riverside to develop / enhance / clarify the procedure for Community outreach and engagement on projects and policies that impact City residents. The proposed concept outlined below is consistent with our Seizing our Destiny pillars, and the Riverside 2.0 Strategic Plan.
This concept advocates for an open, transparent outreach process focused on providing the highest level of customer service to all residents. This proposed policy outline is aligned with the Core Values for Public Participation developed by the International Association for Public Participation (
Concept Goals:
Thinking Ahead:
No Surprises:
All On Board:
Facilitate robust, timely communications between city and community
Enhance trust between government and residents
Fully engage community in city decision-making
Concept Principle
There tends to be 3 different modes of engagement to choose from by local government. Here they are in progression. We hope that we would aspire as a city/community to practice the most evolved of these three approaches
Active Participation.
We would like the opportunity to work with City Staff to develop an official process/policy that integrates active participation into the community development process and general mode of operation for the city
•  Provide timely and broad-based notifications of city plans for upcoming projects, using existing government and community communication networks
• Engage the community through direct communications, public meetings, social media, local print media (Press Enterprise), online surveys and portals (e.g., Engage Riverside, Survey Monkey, etc)
• Keep the community informed of all projects from beginning to end – from concept and design through all stages of implementation and post-completion evaluation
• For every project, follow up with the community on what worked and what didn’t
• Engage the community prior to finalization of a project’s concept, design, and scope to ensure consistency with the community’s vision and self-identity
• Ensure consultation with all community stakeholders, including neighborhood groups, the business community, and special interest and civic groups
•  Acknowledge that agreement / consensus of community members is not required for projects to move forward, but all views must be heard, understood, documented, and responded to by the City
•  Consult with all appropriate city and community organizations and groups, including city boards/commissions, neighborhood and civic groups, churches, HOAs, schools, PTAs, etc.
Active Participation
•  Facilitate ongoing community participation through all stages of project implementation, including regular updates and check-ins
•  Provide for an annual review of the implementation of this concept
•  Seek constructive feedback and criticism, and be willing to change direction when needed
• Challenge community groups to accept responsibility for participation and assisting in facilitation of public meetings.
• Support a civil and constructive process for community participation to insure all sides of the issue or a project are heard, debated, documented and communicated to all stakeholders
•  Encourage and empower residents to collaborate and participate in all aspects of city decision-making
•  Dedicate city resources to support the development of an informed, engaged, and participatory citizenry


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