Answers from the Margins: Participatory Planning with Disadvantaged Communities

Research Team: Sarah Rebolloso McCullough (lead) and Rebecca van Stokkum

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Public engagement in transportation planning processes can sometimes be hard to conduct in a meaningful way, particularly when engaging with disadvantaged communities. The reasons for this are numerous: meeting times conflict with work or caretaking responsibilities, lack of advertisement, weak connection with local community, difficulties in transportation, lack of resources within planning agency, and other logistical and resource related challenges. Additional barriers to equitable transportation may include the structure of planning processes, as well as the historical structural inequalities in the distribution of transportation resources.

Project Description: This study identified four successful engagement processes with historically marginalized communities in California by surveying transportation professionals. Stakeholders at each site were interviewed and public documents from the processes were reviewed to identify common themes for positive public inclusion. Interviewees included community leaders, transportation staff, and consultants. Interviews were coded and analysis was conducted using a mobility justice and critical race studies framework. Ten key themes of successful community engagement with historically marginalized communities were identified. These themes are:(1) trust is crucial; (2) treat community-based organizations as equal partners;(3) pay community partners fairly; (3) let community-based organizations decide what good community engagement is; (5) translate technical jargon; (6) engage in community concerns beyond the scope of the project; (7) address major community concerns such as displacement, policing, and youth development; (8) know local histories of transportation injustice; (9) include the community in the final reporting process; and (10) follow-up on planning with implementation in a timely manner.

Status: Completed

Budget: $26,100

Policy Brief(s):