Improving Public Participation in Transportation Planning

October 27, 2016

Following a TRRG Board vote to table discussion of the committee’s purpose statement, the TRRG-Trans committee ceased meeting until further notice.

October 26, 2016

TRRG-Trans Meeting – October 26, 2016 – 4:30 PM – Ward 6 – Agenda

Mark Homan brought the meeting to order with Don Ijams, JD Garcia, Oscar Gandy, Camille Kershner, Bob Cook, Ronni Kotwica, Alan Wood, Marc Fink and Margot Garcia in attendance.

Outcomes expected from the meeting were 1) approval of a purpose statement for submission to the TRRG board and 2) identification of possible starting points for future group attention. Notes from the last meeting were approved.

After some discussion and proposed alteration of the distributed draft purpose statement, Mark described ‘consensus’ which is the articulation of a decision and agreement to implement it (not blanket support). He thought the group should search for a consensus purpose statement, given that the group could return at a future time to reconsider the wording. The group agreed.

Three groups of wording changes were proposed and were incorporated by general agreement into the final version to be submitted at the October 27 TRRG board meeting.


Regarding starting points for future group focus, a wide range of suggestions were brainstormed and written on a white board for subsequent consideration. They included:

  • Where are we with regard to public participation? Where is there good participation, where is there poor participation?
  • Competition between jurisdictions and organizations, and city participants’ roles in jurisdictional issues
  • There is great complexity; people, influences move in and out.
  • Role of citizens in defining functionality in transportation planning processes
  • What is the question to discover? What is the problem to solve? What are its features? Who are the actors?
  • How to establish the evaluative dimensions of a project?
  • Inclusion of all elements of transportation in planning (alt modes)
  • Learning together, perhaps a course on citizen participation/collaboration with the city/UA
  • How is context sensitive design incorporated – not just roads, but places
  • Find out about RTA and Grant Road project? Equitable outcomes: how are they ensured?
  • What went wrong? Assessment of what does and doesn’t work? [number of recent current projects]
  • Study the lobbyists – identify the nature of the power system around the planning process
  • Look at other cities to see how they handle this planning process
  • Consider how promoting a power sharing stance would be productive
  • Examine the TDOT process for establishing roadway design guidelines – how it could be improved
  • Pick a project just beginning; collaborate with major stakeholders to “design a participation process.”
  • Establish an oversight board with the power and responsibility to manage the process.
  • How is climate change incorporated into transportation planning?

The meeting ended with some consensus forming around the idea of studying recent transportation projects to focus on what public engagement processes worked and what processes didn’t work, and why. Discussion to be continued.

September 26, 2016

TRRG-Trans Meeting Notes – September 26, 2016 – 4:30 PM – Ward 6 – Agenda

Mark Homan began the meeting with a review of intended outcomes for the meeting followed by a review of accomplishments from the previous meeting as outlined in the agenda. Eight people were in attendance (Judith Anderson, Oscar Gandy, Mark Homan, Marc Fink, Ronni Kotwica, Bill Ford,  Donald Ijams and guest Bob Cook), with several more having called in with scheduling conflicts.

There was discussion regarding leadership roles that needed to be filled:

1. Don Ijams has agreed to be interim chair. Mark and Don will, with input from the group, develop meeting agendas. Most often, Mark will facilitate meetings. Don will prepare and disseminate the final agenda, maintain email connections, post notes and convene meetings of the group.

2. Mark Homan, Bob Cook and Marc Fink agreed to take responsibility for various parts of monitoring and tracking the group’s progress towards its goals, as well as the development of strategic framing, tactics and actions of the group in support of those goals.

3. Oscar Gandy agreed to take notes for the group for this meeting, but Mark would ask Camille Kershner if she would assume this role for future meetings.

4. Discussion ensued with regard to the identification of a “point person” that would interact with non-TRRG members. Questions were raised about whether such a role would be in conflict with current TRRG Bylaws that appear to limit such a role to the TRRG Chairperson. Don Ijams will assume this role for the time being.

The focus of the meeting turned to a discussion of the purpose of the group. A great many “points of concern” were raised with regard to the operation of the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT):

1. Focus on small targets initially was suggested, in order to accumulate successes early.

2. Concerns related to jurisdictional sovereignty, such as between the City of Tucson (COT) and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) with regard to who should establish the meaning of “functionality” as it applied to aspects of the transit system. Similar concerns were expressed with regard to approaches to system design, such as “context sensitive design,” and its relations to context, vision, and goals.

3. An alternative framework focused on developing and applying evaluative standards for the planning process, one that would be “efficient, meaningful, and transparent.” Such an assessment might also rely upon commitments to process as outlined in Plan Tucson.

4. A key issue that was related to public participation was the extent to which the opinions and recommendations of the public (as stakeholders) had any weight or impact on the ultimate decisions implemented by TDOT, and what steps could be taken to increase the impact of public participation on ultimate decisions. The kinds of decisions taken in the case of the Broadway design process were seen as exemplary of the dysfunction of TDOT.

5. It was suggested that change in the culture of the organization needs to begin from within, where staff would call attention to departures from commitments to stakeholders. It was also suggested that changes in procedures involving routine performance check-offs, similar to those being implemented within the health care system might be introduced.

It was agreed that the group should meet again sometime after October 13th, and Don agreed to send out a Doodle to facilitate scheduling. Note was taken of the fact that the early start of the meeting might serve as a limitation on participation for individuals with structured employment.

August 24, 2016

TRRG-Trans Meeting Notes – August 24, 2016 – 4:30 PM – Ward 6 – Agenda

TRRG members in attendance: Judith Anderson, Oscar Gandy, Mark Homan, Margot Garcia, JD Garcia, Marc Fink, Ronni Kotwica, Lisa Jones, Laura Tabili and Donald Ijams. Guests: Bob Cook and Camille Kershner

Introductions/Why Are You Here?

Several in attendance had, and continue to have, negative experiences as public participants in planning for the Broadway Corridor Improvement Project. Others brought personal experiences to the table that confirmed difficulties with local transportation planning.

Many comments related to a perceived superiority attitude on the part of Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) personnel that became apparent over and over through recent planning processes, such that much of the time spent by public participants felt wasted and their input ignored. Much anger and frustration remain. Research on recent case examples was suggested as was using new technology to more rapidly gather community support behind enacting identified changes.

In addition to the Broadway Corridor project, transportation related examples mentioned in the discussion included the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation project in Winterhaven neighborhood and the redevelopment of Ronstadt Transit Center downtown. Examples of good interaction with TDOT are needed in order to provide a balanced view in possible TRRG-Trans studies.

The need to focus on a limited number of areas was highlighted as was the need to take a long term view on promoting change and on keeping TRRG’s focus on correct implementation of satisfactory planning processes. Several attendees made the important point that TRRG tends to focus on rational processes where other forces, such as power, politics and ego, play major roles in decision making.

Is transportation planning a meaningful arena for TRRG attention? Is engagement in this arena consistent with TRRG’s mission?

The vote was a unanimous Yes on whether TRRG could play a constructive role in attempting to influence changes in TDOT planning processes. It was also clear that the group thought TRRG should pursue such an effort. Leadership of the group was only given short attention – there was consensus that another meeting should be held, to further coalesce a purpose statement and to deal with operational matters including leadership.

July 2016

Initial Convening Meeting – Agenda

A meeting is being planned for Wednesday, August 24, 2016 to discuss whether and how TRRG should examine City of Tucson Transportation Planning processes and procedures as they relate to TRRG goals.

The meeting will be held starting at 4:30 PM in the West Meeting Room at the City of Tucson Ward 6 office at 3202 E. 1st St. TRRG board member Donald Ijams is convening the meeting. TRRG members are invited.