New guide to conducting equitable community engagement

Considerations for engagement in local comprehensive planning

PSRC has released new equitable engagement guidance to provide considerations for and information on engaging communities in the development of comprehensive plans.

While traditional outreach methods, such as online open houses, public hearings and online surveys often only reach a small subset of community members, PSRC’s guide provides local jurisdictions with recommendations for conducting engagement that is more inclusive of all communities. These include identifying communities that are the most impacted, developing public engagement goals and outcomes, establishing meaningful relationships, as well as removing barriers to engagement.

Planning decisions have had and continue to have disproportionate impacts on different communities based on geography, race, ability, and economic conditions. Using a racial equity lens can help a jurisdictional consider how different groups have faced, and continue to face, different barriers so the jurisdiction can ensure the engagement process engages those most impacted by planning decisions.

The recommendations provided in the document are intended to help local jurisdictions update their comprehensive plans in accordance with the priorities set by VISION 2050 to identify and address the diverse needs of the region’s residents and advance racial equity.

PSRC staff consulted the agency’s Equity Advisory Committee to provide  feedback on the document based on their experience working with public agencies and expertise in community engagement.

The 19-member Equity Advisory Committee is a workgroup consisting of residents as well as governmental and community-based organizations in the Puget Sound region representing Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities and other marginalized groups. The committee guides development of the Regional Equity Strategy, which includes data and best practices that PSRC and its member jurisdictions can use to incorporate racial equity more effectively in plans and policies for the central Puget Sound region.

The strategy asks agencies to analyze whether their current outreach methods are reflective of the diversity of their communities, or if steps can be taken to make outreach more inclusive.

The guide also provides agencies with strategies, tools and activities for conducting equitable engagement and provides examples throughout the guidance document and other resources that may be helpful.

PSRC is actively looking for examples of equitable engagement, and we would love to hear about them! Contact Senior Planner Maggie Moore at mmoore@psrc.org with information on any engagement activities you’re pursuing to involve more members of your community.