The New Orleans Citizen Participation Project

 
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Jun 5, 2012

June 2012 Project Report

We are thrilled to report substantial progress and growing opportunities to build on it for the New Orleans Citizen Participation Project!

Working with the City of New Orleans Neighborhood Engagement Office and its director Lucas Diaz, we are engaged in several different projects to pilot -- within city entities -- various versions of civic engagement structures.  This includes the New Orleans Recreation Commission and the New Orleans Police Department, and will hopefully be followed by the development of a community input structure for the city's capital projects budget.  Mr. Diaz has shown great leadership and tenacity in working to advance the cause of meaningful civic engagement in New Orleans.

Another still-forming opportunity is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which is a joint venture between the city and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), which is currently under HUD receivership.  New Orleans was one of five cities nationally awarded federal funding via the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative; locally the project is focused on the redevelopment of the Iberville Housing project adjacent to the famous French Quarter.  However, the geographic scope of this project covers five or six additional neighborhoods and includes a large number of additional stakeholders.  Indeed, the total area is a significant portion of the core of old New Orleans, so this project is vitally important to the future of the city.

This project also involves working closely with Mr. Diaz as well as other of our partners, including the Neighborhoods Partnership Network.  As the project involves substantial federal funding, it comes with a civic engagement mandate.  Mr. Diaz has drawn heavily on the Citizen Participation Program (CPP) model designed by New Orleans community members to create the civic engagement program for this Initiative, including the groundbreaking "Communities of Interest" piece.  We are working on a Memorandum of Understanding with the city to formalize a working agreement to help manage the civic engagement component.  If we are able to bring all this together, it will both ensure meaningful community participation in a project that will have a huge impact on the future of New Orleans and provide an extraordinary opportunity to test the full CPP model in a complex setting.

Last but far from least, the New Orleans City Planning Commission just released the public draft of its Neighborhood Participation Plan.  While the name is a bit of a misnomer -- the document primarily describes new policies and procedures for the Planning Commission itself -- it includes a clear mandate that any new business or development proposal must be presented to the impacted neighborhood(s) before the applicant can proceed with the City Planning permitting process.  This mandate is a foundation for the entire CPP.  The Planning Commission document includes a section referencing the work done by CBNO and our community participants, which is a nice shout-out; but much more important, if this document is adopted this summer as anticipated, this will be the first major piece of the CPP to become official city policy.  This has been a long time coming, and we are very, very excited for all the community members who worked so hard for so long and kept the faith through every setback.

With various New Orleans agencies adopting community input structures, with the opportunity afforded by the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and with the Planning Commission formalizing a key piece of the CPP, we are enjoying progress and momentum like never before.  We are so appreciative of the support we have received from so many different sources; we hope that you also feel you a part of this progress.

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Organization

Project Leader

Keith Twitchell

President
New Orleans, LA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of The New Orleans Citizen Participation Project