Andrew Keats shares news of new demographic analysis of the community planning groups that provide feedback on planning processes in San Diego, finding membership that trends whiter, older, and more affluent than the city as a whole.
Staff at the San Diego Planning Department conducted a first-of-its-kind survey to produce the results, which won’t come as a surprise to the many advocates and observers who have spent decades pointing out the disparities in representation in planning processes.
“Nearly twice as many planning group members own a home as the city at large. The share of city residents between 20 and 29 is nearly five times greater than the share of planning group members. And white people make up nearly double the share of planning group members as they do San Diego residents,” explains Keats more specifically about the findings of the survey.
The city is covered by 42 group elected boards, which represent specific geographic areas and review city planning decisions and private development proposals.
“Late last year, a City Council committee passed a series of reforms to the city’s planning groups,” according to Keats. Though the Council adopted the policy outlining the groups in 1976, they’ve been under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with critical reports from the city auditor, county grand jury and a private housing advocacy group in 2018, and a legal memo from the city attorney last year that indicated the groups could be illegal as currently constituted.
In recent years, Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis have launched efforts to reform neighborhood planning organizations in response to similar disparities in those cities.