Public Participation Plan
Policy on Public Participation and Comment
(Public Participation Plan)
Revised February 2016
A. Introduction & Policy Statement
The City of Santa Rosa is committed to providing an open and visible decision-making process to which Santa Rosa residents have equal access. As established in City Council Policy 000-20 ("Citizen Participation," dated August 18, 1987), it is the policy of the City Council to actively solicit the involvement of citizens in the public decision-making process, through public notification, media exposure, neighborhood meetings, and public hearings.
Further, it is the policy of the City of Santa Rosa Transit Division to offer early and continuous opportunities for the public to be involved in the identification of social, economic, and environmental impacts of proposed transportation decisions. This includes seeking out and considering the viewpoints of minority, low-income, and limited English proficiency (LEP) populations (as well as older adults and people with limited mobility) in the course of conducting public outreach activities, consistent with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Circular 4702.1B ("Title VI Requirements and Guidelines for Federal Transit Administration Recipients").
B. Public Involvement Plan
Per City Council Policy 000-20, when a project, program or issue may have identifiable impacts on a neighborhood or citizen group, a Public Involvement Plan shall be submitted to the City Manager's Office at the beginning of the project or program. The Plan shall be designed to:
Ensure responsiveness to the level of interest and concern expressed by the public;
Ensure visibility and understanding by the agencies, groups and individuals who may participate; and
Ensure that public involvement is carefully and systematically included as part of the decision-making process.
Per Council policy, Public Involvement Plans for City-initiated projects will be reviewed and approved by the City Manager's Office prior to implementation.
The Public Involvement Plan will be included as part of staff reports for Council.
C. Public Involvement Principles
The following principles will be used to develop the Public Involvement Plan for Transit Division projects and programs:
- When a project (e.g., construction activity) may affect a neighborhood, special neighborhood meetings will be scheduled early in the project planning process. Notices will be sent to organized neighborhood groups and any individual who has requested notification. (City Council Policy 000-20)
- All public hearing notices shall be written in clear, concise and understandable language and will incorporate graphics when it aids the message. The notices will clearly be identified as a City of Santa Rosa notice. (City Council Policy 000-20)
- The Public Involvement Plan will reflect the Transit Division's policy to provide early and continuous opportunities for the public to be involved in the identification of the impacts of proposed decisions. It will also reflect the Transit Division's policy to seek out the viewpoints of minority, low-income, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) populations, as well as older adults and people with limited mobility, in the course of conducting public outreach and involvement activities, consistent with the Transit Division's Title VI Program, Executive Order 13166 on access for individuals with Limited English Proficiency, and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) LEP Guidance.
- The Public Involvement Plan will be tailored to the populations affected and the type of plan, program, or service under consideration.
- Public meetings will be held in locations that are accessible to transit riders and people with disabilities, and will be scheduled at times that are convenient for members of the public.
- Public meetings and hearings will be broadly advertised in the community in both English and Spanish (e.g., through posters onboard buses and at major transit stops and facilities, the CityBus website, local print media, social media, and email notification to the Transit Division's outreach mailing list) and notification will be provided regarding the availability of language assistance.
E. Targeted Public Outreach to Minority & Limited English Proficient (LEP) Populations
During development of the Public Involvement Plan and/or planning for public engagement in general, the Transit Division will incorporate strategies intended to promote involvement of minority and LEP individuals in public participation activities, as appropriate for the plan, project, or service in question, and consistent with federal Title VI regulations, Executive Order 13166 on Limited English Proficiency, and the U.S. Department of Transportation LEP Guidance.
At a minimum, staff will implement the strategies identified in Section D, including holding public meetings in locations that are accessible to transit riders and people with disabilities, scheduling meetings at times that are convenient for members of the public, advertising meetings and hearings in English and Spanish, and providing notice of the availability of language assistance.
In addition, Transit Division staff should consider implementing the following public engagement strategies to complement the minimum requirements, as appropriate to the plan, project, or service:
- Using supplemental outreach strategies such as surveys regarding Transit Division projects or proposed service changes.
- Partnering with community organizations to engage members of the public who are less likely to attend traditional public meetings (including LEP populations) through means such as surveys and focus groups. The Transit Division maintains a list of current and potential future community partners.
- Attending community events and meetings of neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations, advocacy groups, and other groups to solicit feedback from diverse members of the public.
D. Public Comment for Fare Increases & Major Service Changes
Consistent City Council Policy 000-20 and FTA Circular 9030.1D, it is the policy of the Transit Division to solicit public opinion and consider public comment before raising fares or implementing a major service change.
A public hearing is required prior to implementation of a fare increase or a major service change. A "major" service change is defined as a modification that affects 25% or more of a single route, or 25% or more of all routes. Additional public involvement strategies, such as public meetings, neighborhood meetings, or other outreach to affected individuals will be implemented as appropriate to solicit public comment for consideration in advance of the public hearing. Public comments received will be compiled and considered prior to finalizing the Transit Division's recommendation to the City Council regarding a fare increase or major service change. A summary of the public comments received will be provided as part of the staff report submitted to City Council for the fare increase or major service reduction in question.
The public hearing will be scheduled as part of a regular Santa Rosa City Council meeting, and advertised broadly through the City's website, the Transit Division citywide outreach mailing list, and poster and flyers at the Santa Rosa Transit Mall, at major transfer centers, on buses, and at bus stops. The hearing will also be advertised through targeted outreach to neighborhood groups or other organizations and individuals, as appropriate to the proposed change. Notices regarding the public hearing will be provided in both English and Spanish. The Santa Rosa City Clerk will additionally post notice of the public hearing in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
The public hearing will consist of a staff report before the City Council, followed by public testimony.
Attachment 1 provides additional information on practices related to public comment.
Additional information on process for soliciting public comment on service changes
Proposed service changes are developed by Transit Division staff. Once proposals are finalized, printed information is created that explains the proposed changes. These informational materials (available in English and Spanish) are placed on the buses and used as handouts at public informational meetings and hearings. Flyers and posters that direct interested individuals to these materials are also posted on the buses, at Transit Division offices, at Transfer Centers, and are provided to facilities (libraries, senior communities, human service organizations, schools, etc.) which are likely to be impacted by the service changes.
Any interested individual is invited to make comments. Comments may be submitted in person at the public informational meetings and public hearings. They may also be submitted by mail and by Comment Card. In addition, comments may be submitted over the phone to Transit Division representatives, via email, and online via the City's website.
Information about scheduled public meetings is available via:
- Bus posters
- Bus stop posters
- City Council agenda
- Posters in Transit Division offices and transfer stations
- CityBus website
- Appropriate venues, such as senior communities, human service organizations, and schools
- Email notification and social media