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Public Outreach & Engagement


Bernadette Sullivan
Senior Management Analyst

Why Public Engagement Matters

Initiatives that incorporate community engagement tend to have a greater chance of success.

It’s important for government to be open, inclusive and transparent and we are committed to this in San Rafael. In 2015 the City Council adopted a Community Engagement Action Plan, with the goal of improving and updating the way we work with the community to make San Rafael an even better place.

No one likes to see a project derailed at the last hour. Involving the community early and in a meaningful way can create buy-in, bring issues to light in the beginning rather than the end, lead to better decisions and provide for an overall smoother process.

Our Guiding Principles

  1. Demystify Local Government
    • Use clear and concise language
    • Explain the city process in easy to understand steps
    • Create educational opportunities
    • In addition to the what and how, focus on the why
  2. Engage Early
    • Get the word out early on new projects and initiatives
    • Create a strategy for regular updates like a project webpage, blog or newsletter
    • Provide opportunities for early input like a quick survey
  3. Hable Español
    • Translate important documents and notifications into Spanish
    • Provide Spanish translation services at key meetings and workshops
    • Solicit input in Spanish
    • Work to increase Spanish-speaking voices in decision-making
  4. Use Technology
    • Provide easy-to-use online opportunities for input
    • Use social media to share information
    • Make it easy for people to find information fast
    • Release data sets to the public
  5. Close the Feedback Loop
    • Let people know about decisions and any follow-up actions or next steps
    • Include a summary of public input in reports
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