1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Peter Strauss <pstrauss@igc.apc.org>
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:18:06 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Community Participation

I suggest adding another issue to your project: that is, what constitutes
community acceptance?  As communities gain power by being informed and
through advisory responsibilities, how does it make decisions that plans are
acceptable, or that there is disagreement within the community, or that the
community does not approve of the plan.  This issue is surely linked to how
to define the community.  I'm sure that one of the first things a developer
wants to know after it hears that a community is opposed or agrees with a
proposal, is how broad that opposition or support is. 
Long ago (it seems), when I was employed by a large corporation, one of the
first things we would do in the environmental department after a new
proposal had been made was to conduct a "fatal flaw" analysis.  This
involved looking at environmental factors such as the existence of
endangered or threatened species as well as the how community about felt
about the project.  If we identified a fatal flaw in the proposal, it would
either have to be modified or dropped. I say this because I expect that a
smart developer does not go into a community wearing blindfolds, nor would
it be prudent to do so.  However, as communities take on a responsible role
in "deciding" whether a proposal meets its test, it should not only have
some objective criteria (e.g., the project must meet specified cleanup
standards), but also have a way of deciding to agree/disagree with the
proposal.  So far, I haven't seen any studies that define the manner in
which community organizations provide advice regarding decisions such as
those expected in Brownfield developments.

Peter Strauss

At 02:05 PM 4/9/98 -0700, Arlene K. Wong wrote:
>The current discussion of community involvement in brownfields provides an
>opportunity to share a project we are conducting that speaks to a number of
>the issues raised. This project is just underway, so we don't have findings
>yet, but I thought it would be useful to inform you about issues we hope to
>address--many of the issues that have been raised in this recent discussion.
>Specifically, we are in the process of:
>1. Examining models of effective community participation and its common
>principles (including discussion of "who is the community");
>2. Identifying and describing points for community involvement in the
>redevelopment process;
>3. Assessing the current requirements and procedures for community
>participation in regulatory and other brownfield institutions (in
>California); and 
>4. Providing analysis and examples of effective community-government-private
>partnerships (i.e. look at the quality of community participation and its
>impact in various projects).
>Our primary focus is brownfields redevelopment in California, but we
>anticipate that the findings will have national relevance. To fully explore
>the issue and capture its complexity, we would welcome your suggestions of
>model projects (primarily, but not exclusively, in California) that we
>should examine. To maximize what we can learn from these cases, we are
>interested in examining cases at various stages of redevelopment. Also, if
>you have ideas and suggestions about issues we should explore, projects we
>should consider, people we should to contact, or if you want to find out
>more about this project, please feel free to contact Santos Gomez or Arlene
>Wong directly at:
>Pacific Institute
>654 13th Street
>Oakland, CA  94612
>Ph. 510-251-1600
>Fax 510-251-2203
>E-mail:  Arlene Wong at awong@pacinst.org
>   Santos Gomez at sgomez@ix.netcom.com
>The Pacific Institute is an independent, non-profit center created in 1987
>to do applied policy research to assist policymakers, communities, and
>activists with finding sustainable solutions to natural resource and
>community development problems. By design, our work draws links among a
>broad range of environmental, social, economic, and political problems.
>Through our work, we contribute to equitable and sound development, the
>reversal of environmental degradation, and empowerment of people and
>communities. Fundamental in our search for sustainable solutions is the need
>for democratic, participatory decision-making.
>Arlene K. Wong   >Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security  >654 13th Street   >Oakland, CA  94612
>Voice: 510-251-1600
>Fax:  510-251-2203
>Website:  www.pacinst.org/pacinst

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