Interested to comment on the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction project? If you’ve attended a community meeting or read the comments on a draft environmental document, you’ll know that off-topic, irrelevant and meandering opinions add unnecessary chaff to the wheat. Decision-makers have to sift through enough official information as it is. So present your feedback in a form that is useful. Here we provide some tips.
First Get Your Bearings
A bit of preparation will help shape your overall approach as well as sharpen your substantive points. To provide the most useful feedback we recommend that you:
- Read the project documents to understand project scope. The Psomas proposal was submitted in response to the city’s request-for-proposals. These documents outline the scope of the project. Preliminary conceptual design alternatives are referenced in the city’s staff report to Council too.
- Understand the larger policy context. The project might appear to be a straightforward repave job, but much more is at stake for transportation advocates. Read the Beverly Hills General Plan Circulation Element (2010) and the Sustainable City Plan (2009) to gain some insight into the city’s values and policy goals that should shape the boulevard reconstruction project.
- Know where we are in the process. Right now the blue-ribbon committee is deliberating on conceptual design options in a public process. We have recapped all of the key meetings, including where City Council provided direction to the consultant, Psomas; the city’s tour of the project site; and of course the first blue-ribbon committee meeting. (See all recaps.)
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the project particulars, submit your comments on the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction design options or mitigation concerns to the Blue-Ribbon Committee members. And of course the City Council will welcome your more general concerns about the project too.
Provide Focused Input
In general, decision-makers appreciate focused comments. Do the work for your reader: keep comments on-topic and well-organized. (Bullet points help!) Succinct thoughts and memorable observations are more likely to be brought into the discussion than points buried in a treatise.
- Make your comments relevant. Speak only to aspects of the project that are in the decision-makers’ wheelhouse. There’s no need to advise on issues beyond the scope of the project. “More frequent bus service” will not meaningfully help them because they don’t make transit service decisions.
- Highlight your experience or expertise. Are you speaking from a professional perspective? Let the decision-makers know because they value expertise. But you need not be a transportation planner or engineer to offer valuable insight. Talk about your experience on this corridor and enumerate specific measures that could make it better.
- Use visual aids or diagrams to make your point. The committee is asked to make design recommendations; this is not an environmental review process. So feel free to depart from textual comments with drawings or representative illustrations.
- Direct your comments to a specific committee member (if you like). We’re appointed to bring a variety of perspectives to our committee recommendations. If you feel a rapport with a committee member or want to take issue with a point made, indicate the recipient in your correspondence.
- Use whichever channel you like. Send an email directly to the committee or use the comments webform on the project website. Or send a snail mail letter or packet; it will make it to the committee.
- Plan ahead. Send your comments early!
- Contact city staff by email or by phone (310-285-1128) with specific questions about the project.
We on the blue-ribbon committee look forward to hearing from you!