Evaluating the Effectiveness of Public Participation: Comprehensive Planning in San Marcos, TX
Alix completed an undergraduate thesis in May 2013, fulfilling the requirements to graduate with a minor in Honors Studies. Her research addresses the effectiveness of public participation in the urban planning process, using the comprehensive plan update in San Marcos, Texas, as a case study. She presented the findings of this research at the Texas Geography Student Research Symposium (March 2013), as well as the Undergraduate Research Conference (May 2013).
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In the field of urban planning, there has been much discussion of the relative effectiveness of different participation methods; however, there is little research on the overall value contributed by the public. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of public participation in urban planning by exploring citizens’ perceptions of their impact on the process as well as the relationship between input and outcomes. The comprehensive plan update of the City of San Marcos, Texas, will be examined as a case study. Two surveys guide this analysis, supplemented by citizen feedback at comprehensive plan events and firsthand observation. This research evaluates the quality of participation using four benchmarks: (1) clearly defined goals and tasks, (2) equal stakeholder representation, (3) participant satisfaction, and (4) ability to influence policy outcomes.