Chapter 6 | Involving Citizens in Making a Plan


People who live, work, and/or own property in a community should help to make the comprehensive plan for that community. This chapter discusses techniques for undertaking the complex process of involving citizens effectively in making a master plan or comprehensive plan.

Weblinks from Chapter


  1. Find a copy of the computer game Sim City (see ) and play it with a group. Test some alternative scenarios for the future of the “simulated city.”
  2. Attend a public hearing of your local planning commission. How much citizen participation is there? How useful is it? How effective is it? Do you think that the citizens participating are truly representative of the community? Do the members of the planning commission seem to understand that?
  3. If possible, attend an informal public meeting discussing a planning issue. Compare it to the public hearing. Which one do you think is the more effective vehicle for addressing a complex issue?
  4. Make a list of stakeholder groups in your community. If you interviewed all of the groups on your list, do you think it would give you a good cross-section of the views of the community?

Discussion Question

  1. Is there a collective vision for the future of your community? If not, could you help your community to develop some goals?


  • Modern technology provides excellent ways for communication with a citizens advisory group in a planning process. For a good example, see the website for the Ozaukee County, Wisconsin comprehensive planning process.
  • Iron County, Wisconsin, perhaps following the lead of the Extension Service, published a detailed public participation program for its comprehensive planning process.
  • Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has a webpage that sets out the state law regarding citizen participation in the planning process and explains how the city will implement that law.
  • Many final comprehensive plan reports include descriptions of the citizen participation process used in creating the plan (see Examples at end of Chapter 9 web materials). Bellevue, Washington’s plan includes an element entitled “citizen participation” that addresses how citizens participate in the development review process.
  • The Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City has published a guide for citizen participation in its regional transportation planning process, but it has suggestions that are appropriate to most communities. Similarly, the Baltimore Metro Council has published its participation program for the transportation planning process.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland, has established a formal process for the use of five- to seven-day charrettes in its local planning process.

Supplemental Resources

Common Search Terms

Use these terms in search engines to find additional examples and other resources:

Use “plan” or “planning” with “citizen participation” or “public participation”