Approximately 125 community members, including 15 facilitators, participated in the first community forum, held on Saturday, April 25, 2009 at Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School. The forum was publicized in a General Plan newsletter sent to all residents and businesses in the city, as well as on the City’s website. The General Plan update process and the community forum were the subjects of an article in the Pacifica Tribune. General Plan Outreach Committee members were asked to bring friends and associates. The purpose of the first forum was to give participants an opportunity to consider what they valued about Pacifica today, what they felt were the city’s biggest issues, and what big goals they would like to see the city accomplish in the future.
The workshop was structured in a way that fostered open, unbiased sharing of ideas. As participants signed in, they were randomly assigned to tables that accommodated groups of up to 10 people. Each table was staffed with a neutral facilitator, either a member of City staff or the consulting team, whose job it was to moderate the discussions, record ideas, encourage equal participation, and report to the full group. There were a total of ten table discussion groups. The workshop agenda (included in Appendix A) consisted of three major components:
1. Background and Introduction. The forum opened with a welcome from Pacifica Mayor Julie Lancelle. Next, Leslie Gould of Dyett & Bhatia, the consulting firm retained by the City to lead the General Plan update process, gave a brief presentation. She outlined the planning process and the types of issues the General Plan will address, and described characteristics of Pacifica’s neighborhoods, commercial areas, recent development and public initiatives. She introduced maps showing the city’s land use pattern, its General Plan and zoning districts, its public parks and open spaces, and land in public ownership.
2. Discussion 1: Pacifica Today. For the first discussion, community members were asked what they like most about Pacifica and want to preserve, and about their main concerns and things they would like to see change. After reflecting on the questions individually, participants shared their responses with other members at the table. Facilitators recorded all of the ideas at each table, and helped groups identify similarities and prioritize responses that were most widely shared. Facilitators then shared their tables’ lists of valued qualities and major concerns with the full group. Using electronic keypads, participants then voted on their top five “things to preserve” and top ten “things to change,” from all the ideas generated by the discussion groups.
3. Pacifica in the Future. The second discussion was focused on imagining a better Pacifica in 20 years. Participants were asked to identify five accomplishments they want to see in Pacifica by the year 2030, and to come up with a title for a future magazine article on Pacifica. As in the first discussion, participants shared their ideas and headlines with their small group, and facilitators helped the tables decide on which accomplishments to report to the group at large.