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Draft Municipal Public Participation Ordinance

This model ordinance was designed to be used and adapted by local governments, and to help local leaders begin to update and strengthen the legal framework for public participation. The ordinance was produced by the Working Group on Legal Frameworks for Public Participation. Matt Leighninger, executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, can be contacted with questions at mattl@deliberative-democracy.net.

The model ordinance, which consists of three sections (Definitions, Public Participation Policy, and Principles for Public Participation) describes “public participation” (inclusive of the terms public comment, public hearing, public engagement, and community engagement) as “any form of in-person, technology-aided, or online communication that provides for discussion, dialogue, or deliberation among participants, allowing residents to engage meaningfully in the policy process.”

The legal and policy framework for public participation in the United States is made up mostly of laws and ordinances that are over thirty years old. This framework does not match the expectations and capacities of 21st Century citizens, it pre-dates widespread use of the Internet, and it does not reflect the lessons learned in the last two decades about how to engage citizens productively in public life. Most of these laws mandate public hearings, open comment periods, and other passive, formulaic participation processes; these processes are rated poorly by both citizens and public servants, and often seem to have a negative impact on policymaking and trust in government. This new model ordinance and accompanying state amendment, both of which are available on the DDC Resource Page, are tools that will help local leaders begin to update and strengthen the legal framework for public participation.

Resource Link:  http://www.deliberative-democracy.net/index.php?option=com_docman&Itemid=93 (click on “Model Ordinance for Public Participation” to download the document)

Direct Link for Download: http://ncdd.org/rc/wp-content/uploads/MunicipalPubParticOrdinance-12-12.docx 

Also see the Draft State Public Participation Act: An Amendment to the State Administrative Procedure Act And Government in the Sunshine Act (click on State Public Participation Act on the DDC resources page)

  More Resources  

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