If your planning commission truly makes decisions that affect the well-being of the entire community, it makes sense that its membership reflects that community.
Elaine Cogan, founding principal of the Portland, Oregon planning and communications firm of Cogan Owens Cogan, has consulted for more than 36 years with communities undertaking strategic planning and visioning processes. Elaine has been honored for her work on a variety of citizen involvement projects, including “Complete Communities for Clackamas County,” which received the American Planning Association’s 2002 Public Education Award.
Elaine has joined us as a contributing writer for PlannersWeb.com. Between 1991 and 2009, her “The Effective Planning Commissioner” column ran in the Planning Commissioners Journal. All of her past columns (along with her new ones) are available here.
In 2007, we were pleased to publish Elaine Cogan’s 52-page booklet, Now that You’re on Board: How to Survive … and Thrive … as a Planning Commissioner (out of print, but available online as a pdf to PlannersWeb members).
What can you, as a planner or planning commissioner, do about negative attitudes towards government? You can start by doing something as simple as examining the experience citizens have when they enter the planning department office.
Yes, planning your agendas and having structure to meetings are both important. But there’s also often good reason to have some flexibility in how you run your planning commission meetings.
How do we motivate commissioners to realize being on the planning commission requires a “commitment”? The more I thought about it, the more complex the answer seems to be.
Last month, we discussed how to handle planning commissioners who have little to say. This time, we are writing about the reverse … those who are often loud, obstreperous, interruptive, sometimes rude, boisterous — or simply garrulous.
How can a commission chair encourage shy members to speak up? They may be newcomers to the board reluctant to express an opinion; genuinely deep thinkers who need to know all the facts before saying anything; or disinterested or bored individuals.
As you begin to attend meetings, you will find that although many parts of the agenda are routine, there soon is likely to be a controversial or contentious matter. You may be uneasy having to discuss your points of view. But you want to be effective. What should you consider?
Eight of our regular contributing writers take a brief look at various challenges and opportunities facing planning commissions and their communities.
Communities throughout the country are see growing interest in sustainable development. Some ideas on how to take sustainability into account.
Planning commissioners can be of great service in speaking to community groups and organizations. Some tips to help you become a more effective speaker.
How can you do a better job as a planning commissioner? Long-time PCJ columnist Elaine Cogan offers some basic principles for your consideration.
By engaging in a true dialogue with the public, you may learn some useful information and actually enjoy the give-and-take.
As a planning commissioner, do you sometimes suffer from information overload? Some suggestions for relief.