Planning, Public Participation, and Money Politics in Santa Ana (CA).

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    • Abstract:
      Problem, research strategy, and findings: In this study, we analyze why a low-income community failed to meaningfully affect plans for the redevelopment of the Station District in Santa Ana (CA) although they used three avenues to do so: public participation, liberal democracy, and deliberative democracy. The city provided opportunities for public participation but controlled the agenda, effectively preventing residents from reframing the discussion. The liberal democratic electoral system failed residents because many were ineligible to vote, while city council members received campaign contributions from external business interests. Residents did develop extensive deliberative democratic processes that produced collaborative plans; however, these plans were not well incorporated into the official plan. In addition, the city refused to sign a community benefit agreement through which residents could hold the city and developer responsible for the redevelopment plan. Takeaway for practice: We suggest that planners have an obligation to improve the participatory process by empowering community residents to set the agenda and frame the issues at the local level while addressing the role of corporations in local politics and in campaign finance, and by seeking to achieve elections that more fairly represent spatially segregated public interests. Less-ambitious changes to the public planning process will fail to achieve a balance of power among low-income communities of color, city officials, and those representing private market interests. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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