Regarding Recent Discussions: “…trying to figure out what people want.” And, “…demonstrate to me what “the people” want here.” And, “what is the consensus of the community and how did you determine that?”
Oakley Community Council’s current and historical impotence in land use, zoning and development matters is a direct result of its decades of attempting to operate without an adopted community plan (vision, goals, objectives, policies, priorities, timing) AND without rules for implementing plans!
The plan is the “public voice” that guides decision-making (zone map and text amendments, variances, PUDs, etc). The City Planning Commission shares this role IF the neighborhood has a master plan. WE DON’T.
Conversely, a community like Mariemont has been making decisions in accordance with a plan (it’s public voice; the public interest) for over 90 years. It makes a huge difference.
Fortunately (albeit belated), OCC’s ineffectiveness may be resolved in a few years with the current plan initiative but only if the current dilatory public engagement process is designed to be inclusive and authentic.
A fundamental and unique role of neighborhood or community councils is to be the “keeper of the vision”—identifying and administering the public interest while considering private interests. The public interest, however, is absent without an adopted plan. The plan (or vision, goals, etc.) becomes the public’s voice. The community council’s role is to assess and measure land use and development opportunities against this vision. This role is expected by the neighborhood, as well as the City Planning Commission and Council.
The residents of Oakley should be able to depend on its elected council (trustees) to represent their goals and should expect them to identify and consider the common good (as defined in an adopted plan, goals, etc.)—even without vast numbers of citizens attending individual public hearings on development proposals and other actions. That is, the public interest should be (and actually has to be) largely predefined in the community plan and engagement process—not at every monthly OCC meeting!
Authentic community engagement cannot be accomplished in the short time allocated for development review at monthly meetings—and shouldn’t. Instead, a plan must be adopted so that neighborhood stakeholders feel confident that the public interest has been identified and their elected representatives (community council and city officials) will consider it in decision-making—even if no one attends, or speaks at, the monthly OCC meeting. The community council must review and update its plan to remain current, defensible, and effective as a guide for the monthly decision-making function of the community council. Then, continuous monthly participation by large groups of people is unnecessary and OCC’s adherence to the community’s adopted plan minimizes the need for acrimonious and vitriolic discussion.
That’s how OCC can “…figure out what people want.”