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New Orleans attempts crowd-influenced Zoning ordinance

On September 27, 2008, New Orleans residents were invited to participate in a yearlong process of creating a 20-year master plan for development. The master plan will create a citywide framework to guide decision-makers in promoting economic development, better housing, improved infrastructure, environmental quality and other goals while preserving the city’s architectural and cultural legacies.
The forum’s theme is “Creating a Vision for New Orleans’ Future Together.”  The yearlong forum seeks to engage residents such that the new ordinance reflects the values, aspirations, and priorities of the whole community.  A website has launched with information and to keep residents up to date on the progress.  Citizens can also participate through resident surveys, public meetings, community groups, and work groups.

While its great that the city is attempting to increase input from its residents, my guess is that this will still be a primarily top-down approach to overhauling the zoning. The City Planning Commission has hired Goody Clancy, a Boston planning and architectural firm, to lead the effort to create the master plan and will be paid at least $2 million for the job.

While tools like Policypitch.com use the internet to make crowd-sourcing public policy more effective, it begs the question: can a city zoning ordinance truly be developed by the crowds?  Don’t we need to use professional urban planners and lawyers to draft the plan?  So, while this is a good step in the right direction, is society at a stage yet where public policy can be developed by its individual residents?  Any ideas?

More info about the master plan at: www.nolamasterplans.org

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Filed under crowdsourcing, New Orleans, Politics, transparency, Uncategorized