The New Orleans Citizen Participation Project

by Committee for a Better New Orleans
Sep 5, 2012

September 2012 Project Report

First, we are happy to report that New Orleans survived Hurricane Isaac with little worse than a lot of downed trees and extensive power outages.  However, the situation once again pointed out the need for a structured Citizen Participation Program, including high-quality, multi-modal lines of communications.  The city's 311 number went out for a good while, and internet service, cell phone service and power were all out for various periods of time.  This left accurate and timely information difficult to come by for many citizens, especially the elderly and infirm and those with fewer communications methods at their fingertips to begin with.

On the plus side, in August the New Orleans City Planning Commission formally adopted what it calls its Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP).  While this name is a bit misleading, in that it is a document focused on Planning Commission policies and procedures, it does include the first major piece of the New Orleans Citizen Participation Program to be adopted by city government.  Specifically, it mandates that all significant projects proposed in the city must be presented to the neighborhood(s) that will be impacted first -- before any Planning Commission staff work is done and certainly before any permits, variances, etc. are provided.  This Early Notification System is the foundation upon which the entire CPP is based, so it is a major step forward.  One particularly pleasing development was that the Planning Commission's initial proposal would have made this requirement fall only on private sector developments; however, based on our strong recommendation, the final document also placed this mandate on city government projects.  Since these are often larger in scope, and therefore have greater impacts on the community, this was a vital improvement to the final document.

Also in August, Committee for a Better New Orleans teamed with the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development District and the Business Council of New Orleans to put on a breakfast briefing about the CPP for business leaders.  Approximately 70 leaders from a wide variety of businesses attended.  The presentation on the CPP was well-received, and the subsequent question and comment session went on for much longer than we anticipated, indicating the high level of interest in the project.  While Hurricane Isaac has interrupted our follow-up on this, we did receive many supportive comments at the briefing, and will be organizing a Business Advisory Council from interested attendees to continue building business community support for the project.

Next up is a series of public forums at which we will have a moderated debate on one key element of the New Orleans CPP, the concept of District Councils.  These are essentially coalitions of geographically proximate neighborhood associations, and virtually every CPP in the world has some version of them.  They have emerged organically in more than 75% of New Orleans, and they are utterly essential to ensuring equity and capacity-building throughout a citizen participation program.  This has not kept some loud voices from opposing them in New Orleans.  The purpose of the debates is to provide community members with a factual, balanced understanding of what District Councils are and will do, and to give people a chance to question both sides about their stances.

The bottom line for the NOLA CPP is that substantial progress is being made and that community information efforts are continuing; both in turn are building the support base for bringing the full-blown Citizen Participation Program across the finish line.  We're not there yet, but just like the last laps of the Olympic distance races, the pace is picking up!



About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Committee for a Better New Orleans

Location: New Orleans, LA - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Keith Twitchell
New Orleans, LA United States
$5,601 raised of $100,000 goal
79 donations
$94,399 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. Learn more.
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money for this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page for this project.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.