Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
S-1 Presidential Executive Order 12898, âFederal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,â directs federal agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. Executive Order 13166, âImproving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,â requires federal agencies to improve access to federally conducted and assisted programs and activities for persons who, as a result of national origin, are limited in their English proficiency. Both executive orders are based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin by government agencies that receive federal funding. The number of U.S. residents for whom English is a second language is increasing, and the greatest proportion of these residents with limited English proficiency and low literacy fall within minority and low-income populations. Fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people and enforcement of all laws, regulations, and policies are essential principles to promote nondiscrimination, environ- mental justice, and the public health, safety, and welfare of all communities. Transporta- tion agenciesâstate departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, county and local governments, transit services, and tribal authoritiesâimplement many different approaches to meet the letter and spirit of federal laws, regulations, and executive orders. Effective transportation decisionmaking depends upon recognizing, responding to, and properly addressing the unique needs, cultural perspectives, and financial limitations of different socioeconomic groups. Developing an understanding of the value systems and viewpoints of these groups can be greatly aided by implementing a comprehensive and inclusive approach to engaging the public in transportation decision-making processes. Transportation agencies are finding that traditional public involvement techniques are often inadequate, effectively limiting meaningful involvement by traditionally underserved populations in the transportation decision-making process. Achieving meaningful involve- ment with the public means that potentially affected community stakeholders and residents have an opportunity to participate in decisions about a proposed activity that will affect their environment, safety, or health. It means that affected communities have an opening to influence government decisions and that all involved participants will be considered in the decision-making process. S u m m a r y Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking
S-2 Practical approaches for Involving Traditionally underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking There are times when agencies and practitioners despair that, despite their best efforts, the public is simply too busy with everyday lifeâat work, at home, at school, and at playâ to care about planning or other transportation-related decisions. This may be true in some cases, but practitioners and agencies can look at the results of their efforts and ask them- selves again whether they have done what they could to engage a sometimes distracted, but also sometimes distrustful public. Achieving meaningful involvement therefore may involve finding other creative ways to replace or augment traditional public meetings through the use of other kinds of events, other forums, other locations, other times, as well as with the right organizations, the right people, or the right incentivesâto reach and con- nect with the affected public, including traditionally underserved populations. Research Objective The objective of this research project is to develop an easy-to-use toolkit of practical approachesâa compendium of effective practices, tools and techniques, and data sourcesâ that agencies and practitioners can use to foster meaningful involvement of traditionally underserved populations, particularly minority, low-income, limited English proficiency, and low-literacy groups, in transportation decisionmaking. Transportation agencies need proven tools to identify, engage, and achieve a standard of meaningful involvement in the development of transportation solutions that are appropriate to each stage of decision- making and capable of being effective in an increasingly diverse society. Background Historically, transportation agencies defined their mission as the swift and effective com- pletion of projects to improve mobility and safety. The importance of the transportation problems that were faced by the nation led to the widespread acceptance of the mission as it was definedâa technical engineering problem to solve. Few questioned that their mission and its accomplishment could be anything but synonymous with the advancement of the public good. Agencies exercised their authority, to both define and meet the critical trans- portation needs of the society. Transportation practitioners and the public have developed a more comprehensive understanding of the impacts of transportation systems on the human environment in recent decades. The influence of transportation investment on urban form, economic competitiveness, and community quality of life is more apparent looking back at trans- portationâs legacy. Transportation systems deliver regional-scale benefits such as access to jobs and other lifeline opportunities or ensure that goods flow through our economy, but impose burdens to the public health, safety, and welfare when the operational or con- struction impacts are adverse and borne upon a particular community. Recognizing the potential threat to the livability of their neighborhood or place, community stakeholders do not want to be excluded from the siting and design of systems, services, and routes. Over the past 60 years, landmark legislation like the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1950 and the Federal Transit Laws originally enacted in 1964, gave important new opportunities for interested persons to voice their perspectives in the development of transportation solu- tions. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensured that individuals would not be denied an equal right to participate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all programs receiving federal-aid assistance. With the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the
Summary S-3 Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970, the opportunity for public involvement was decisively established throughout the location and design processes. In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) extended the opportunity for public involvement in the transportation planning process. The most recent reauthorization legislation for trans- portation, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005, emphasizes flexibility in solving transportation problems to improve community quality of life. The Challenge of Achieving Meaningful Involvement These landmark statutes brought transportation decision-making processes out into the open, but did not extend a guarantee to the public that meaningful involvement would be achieved. Reflecting upon the nationâs experience in the planning and building of transpor- tation infrastructure, it has been learned how inadequate and potentially confrontational public involvement processes can become when they are confined to taking comments at a public hearing, or are scheduled so late in the decision-making process, or framed so nar- rowly, that they preclude serious consideration of community needs or alternatives. The transportation agency practitionerâa department manager, a project manager, a community impact analyst, or a public involvement staff person or consultantâsets for- ward the strategies and agenda, the ground rules and basis for interactions between the transportation agency and the public. There are subtle and not-so-subtle cultural differ- ences evident in how this agenda-setting process unfolds, and this dynamic makes clear that the transportation agency and the public are not on equal footing in this relationship. Mistrust of the agency can be bred by this power imbalance when the public concludes that the transportation agency is only âgoing through the motionsâ and is not prepared to make a commitment to meaningful public involvement processes. This can occur when the goals of the agency practitioner or the promises that the agency is prepared to make with the affected community in the course of a project begin to clash with the concerns of the affected community on matters of importance. Our state-of-the-practice research suggests that it is only a growing minority of trans- portation agencies and practitioners that have come to recognize the necessity and benefits of fostering meaningful public involvement processes. There are still many barriers that constrain widespread achievement of this standard for public involvement. Budgetary and staffing limitations may constrain the scope of public involvement programs, leading agen- cies to be satisfied when they provide information to and meet with the publicâa standard well-below meaningful involvement. Barriers can also present themselves in many other forms, resulting in public involvement events that are more show than substance in build- ing a dialogue with affected communities. This can happen for many reasons. Political or agency organizational pressures may be felt by the project manager or the practitioner to reach pre-defined outcomes, preferred solutions, or satisfy favored interests. Political and agency leadership may also identify more with regional mobility interests over community stakeholder concerns. Underinvestment in professional training of agency staff responsible for project management, community impact assessment, or public involvement duties, among other agency activities, may also lead to complacency among practitioners or inad- equate understanding of the benefits and the strategies that are likely to be the most effective at building community support for programs and projects. Nowhere is the need for commitment to overcome barriers more evident than in the activities, manners, and preparedness with which the practitioner endeavors to âbridge the
S-4 Practical approaches for Involving Traditionally underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking gapâ between themselves and the âtraditionally underserved populations,â oftentimes peoples and cultures with whom neither the agency nor the practitioner may have real famil- iarity. Ideally, the effective practitioner will consider social and cultural gaps and how they may be overcome to foster opportunities for meaningful involvement in transporta- tion decisionmaking. The ability to work effectively across cultures requires skills and knowledge, which can broadly be defined as âcultural competency.â Culture can refer to an individualâs race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, immigration status, and religion, among other things. For most individuals, cultural competency is an approach committed to lifelong learning, communicating, and respect- fully working with people different from themselves. For organizations, cultural competency requires the establish- ment of policies and practices that will make the agencyâs services more accessible to diverse populations, provid- ing appropriate and effective services in cross-cultural situations. Developing sensitivities toward other cultures and adapting to the larger communityâs complex mosaic will materially aide practitioners in developing effective approaches to reach traditionally underserved populations. On this journey toward meaningful involve- ment, there remains a continuing need for implementation of effective methods to share information, explore needs and concerns, understand barriers, establish and strengthen relationships, maintain dialogue with underserved communities, and to assess and mitigate impacts throughout all stages of the transportation decision-making process. As the nation grows to accommodate nearly 440 million persons expected by 2050, there is no question that the natural and built environments will experience extraordinary devel- opment pressures and changes. New investments and innovations will be required to keep pace with this growth and change in all sectors, including education, energy, health care, food production, telecommunications, and housing. Transportation systems and services will also need investment and maintenance to avoid bottlenecks and congestion and to ensure access to opportunities for employment, education, health care, and other essential goods and services that ultimately define oneâs quality of life and the ability to care for one- self, oneâs families, and oneâs communities. But growth and change, as always, will be spa- tially uneven and in some places will suffer setbacks. Difficult challenges will exist in those areas of the country that have lost, or continue to lose, population, as many of those living in the downsizing areas lack the financial capacity to leave the area or lack the educational attainment or training to qualify for the next job. Despite a declining economic base, these regions and communities will still need to find ways to reinvest in their infrastructure, facili- ties, services, and human capital to attract investment, adapt their skills, and find sustainable solutions for the future. The demographic composition of the U.S. population is expected to undergo a significant transformation by 2050 driven by economic and social factors such as an aging population and workforce and the need for flows of students and skilled and unskilled immigrant work- ers to support the economy and maintain the nationâs social and physical infrastructure. Immigration and higher birth rates among minorities have put the United States on a path to become âmajorityâminority,â in which less than 50 percent of the population will be non-Hispanic White. Racial and ethnic minorities, which currently account for one-third Traditionally Underserved Populations The traditionally underserved can be defined as those specifically identified in the Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justiceâthat is, low-income populations and minority populations including Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans/ Blacks, Asian Americans, Native American/ Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islandersâas well as other populations recognized in Title VI and other civil rights legislation, executive orders, and transportation legislation, including those with limited English proficiency such as the foreign-born, low-literacy populations, seniors, persons with disabilities, and transit-dependent populations.
Summary S-5 of the U.S. population combined, are projected to reach 50 percent by 2050. In this future, multiple racial minorities reflecting multiple cultures will collectively become the majority of Americans. Public involvement will continue to be a critical means for discovering how populations and communities create demand for and view transportation systems and services and, thus, is vital for informing planning, prioritization-setting, and project development decisions. However, as populations grow and change, practitioners may find that the traditional public involvement techniques may need to be reevaluated and refined. Transportation agencies may also discover that their traditional policies and procedures at all stages of decisionmaking may be inadequate to address the current and changing demographic realities, effectively limiting meaningful participation by traditionally under- served populations. Agencies and practitioners, therefore, will need to consider their cul- tural competency and consider how their services and practices may need to be adapted or sensitized to other languages and other cultures. By doing so, they are acknowledging the core principles under the nationâs laws related to fair treatment, equal access, and equal protection. Beyond adhering to these core principles and laws, transportation agencies and practitio- ners that are capable of taking these actions are likely to build and strengthen relationships with an increasingly diverse society. These actions will foster greater trust through their good-faith actions. There are benefits from this to be enjoyed if the changing demographics are acknowledged and decision-making processes are allowed to evolve toward a standard of meaningful involvementâbetter recognition of needs and concerns will lead to transporta- tion decisions that have public support and will engender less controversy and less delay. Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations There are three main steps in involving traditionally underserved populations that are not routinely recognized, but are integral to the development of practical approaches that work: â¢â¢ Identify and locate underserved populations; â¢â¢ Foster participation by underserved populations; and â¢â¢ Create opportunities for meaningful public involvement. These three steps are interrelated and equally important in effectively engaging tradi- tionally underserved populations; however, our research suggests that the emphasis in the existing practice appears routinely to be on outreach strategies to promote attendance at events. Less consideration has been given to how traditionally underserved populations were identified or located to encourage their participation or strategies developed by which this participation can be engaged effectively in a continuing dialogue or process that may influence outcomes. That is, less consideration has been given to establishing opportunities to create meaningful public involvement. The range of practical approaches that can be implemented for meaningfully involving the traditionally underserved populations in transportation decisionmaking is extensive, extending beyond planning and project development and into all stages of decisionmaking. For example, transportation agency leadership and management have compelling respon- sibilities, as already suggested, to better adapt the dominant culture and practices of their organizations to emerging demographic realities. The obligations and promise of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and subsequent regulations and executive orders, make clear the need for transportation organizations to review their programs, plans, and
S-6 Practical approaches for Involving Traditionally underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking activities to ensure that the principles of nondiscrimination and access to services for all are advanced and protected. Practical ApproachesâOrganization of The Guidebook The Introduction (Chapter 1) explores the rationale for the guidebook, placing in an historical and regulatory context the need for fair treatment, meaningful involvement, and cultural competency in transportation decision-making processes. Patterns, Trends, and Factors Driving Change (Chapter 2) presents an overview of the changing demographics of the U.S. population with a focus on topics relevant to transporta- tion agencies and practitioners todayâto meet the letter and spirit of our current laws and policiesâand that promise to be of enduring importance when working to engage tradition- ally underserved populations in the future. The chapter presents definitions, trends and pat- terns, and data sources that can be accessed by community impact and public involvement practitioners, policy researchers, and advocates to better identify and understand the needs and concerns of traditionally underserved populations in their own workâa critical step in better preparing and training the agency and practitioner to develop processes that will create meaningful opportunities for involvement and deliver more equitable and just outcomes. Working with the public, including traditionally underserved populations, and ensuring that their needs, concerns, and issues are understood and addressed can take many differ- ent forms and be expressed in many different types of activities in transportation. What is âpracticalâ or âeffectiveâ will vary by stage of transportation decisionmaking. Many con- textual factors or attributes are closely linked to transportation decisions and are likely to influence the agency and the practitionerâs approach to interactions with the affected public and traditionally underserved populations, including: â¢â¢ Geographic scale of the transportation activity or decision; â¢â¢ Public or community attitude toward the agency and its history and treatment; â¢â¢ Understanding of the subject activities and the degree of controversy they engender; â¢â¢ Cultural, social, and economic composition of the populations affected; â¢â¢ Nature of input needed or sought; â¢â¢ Timeline for decision; and â¢â¢ Level of public involvement and type of engagement or collaboration desired by the agency. With so many contextual factors relevant to selecting the âright approachâ for involving the public, including those who are thought to be traditionally underserved populations, the transportation practitioner might take some comfort in recognizing that there is no âone- size-fits-allâ approach or a prescriptive series of steps or processes to be followed. What will prove to be a practical approach is context-specific; practitioners seeking to improve decision-making processes will adapt and customize their strategies and processes as the best means for achieving a standard of meaningful involvement. Practical approaches may be better characterized, not by prescription as to where and when they should be used, but as an outlook or perspective adopted by the agency or the practitioner as they orchestrate the creative use of various tools or techniques toward reach- ing a standard of meaningful involvement. For this guidebook, practical approaches have been categorized based on seven nonsequential, but often interrelated, task objectives: 1. Identify Populations. 2. Implement Public Involvement Plan.
Summary S-7 3. Provide Information. 4. Gather Feedback. 5. Build Relationships. 6. Mitigate Impacts, Deliver Benefits. 7. Overcome Institutional Barriers. These task objectives provide an organizing framework for presenting various effective practices and tools and techniques. How and why these practices are applied and why they are effective at reaching and engaging traditionally underserved populations is described, including examples of how they have been successfully applied by others. The task objectives framework reflects varying levels of public participation and engagement that are undertaken at various times as well as more tangible expressions of authentic commitment and beneficial impact extended to traditionally underserved populations by transportation agencies and practitioners at various decision-making stages. The scope of activities generally undertaken under each of these task objectives is described in greater detail in Chapter 3, Practical Approaches. Task objectives can broadly range from identifying the location or community characteristics of traditionally underserved popula- tions and informing persons of upcoming events to fostering meaningful opportunities for participation instituting agency reforms, or delivering programs and services to ensure access and benefit disadvantaged populations. More detailed descriptions of the specific contexts in which practitioners and agencies have successfully implemented these tools are included in subsequent chapters devoted to Effective Practices (Chapter 4) and Tools and Techniques (Chapter 5). Data Sources and Tools (Chapter 6) describes how various sources of data can be used to support practitioners as they prepare a profile of the existing social and economic character- istics of a community, identify potential partnering organizations, or conduct policy-related research or advocacy-based activities on behalf of traditionally underserved populations. Links to the data sources can be followed to learn more about the source and/or access datasets. The Bibliography contains reference materials and other research that informed the devel- opment of the guidebook. Several strands of academic, professional, legal, and community- and interest-based advocacy research and reports are brought together in the bibliography. This guidebook presents many practical approaches that agencies and practitioners can take. The critical factor in getting it rightâin bridging the gap between the agency and prac- titioner and traditionally underserved populationsâis developing well-trained practitioners. Even the best and shiniest toolbox is of no value without someone sufficiently prepared and trained to use it correctly.