Strategic Policy Development
In September 2005, the Focus on Longmont strategic plan effort entered the policy development phase. Throughout the month of October, the City Council, with input from the Strategic Plan Coordinating Team and delegates from the deliberative forums held this past summer, has been preparing a number of policy directions that are supported by the findings from the Phase 2 deliberative forums. These policy statements indicate specific strategic areas the City should be focusing on as it prepares to deal with the consequences of build-out of the Longmont Planning Area, and strategies or strategic actions that, if adopted and implemented by Council, will enable the City of Longmont to remain a distinct, viable community with adequate resources to sustain the kind of life residents want to enjoy for decades into the future.
On October 15, 2005, members of the Focus on Longmont Coordinating Team, City Council and representatives from the community deliberative forums met to discuss the following five draft policy directions:
1. Promote a Healthy Business Climate
a. Create opportunities for a continuum of appropriate jobs for all residents
b. Ensure that both private and public development and redevelopment activities are in alignment with the community’s vision and values
c. Emphasize a balance between local and non-local businesses at a range of sizes and scales in our economic development policies and strategies
2. Support Education as a Community-Wide Value
a. Promote and support community activities to support education
b. Promote partnerships between the school district and public and private sectors
c. Promote community support through volunteerism and mentoring programs
3. Enhance the Natural Environment
a. Improve the City’s trail system to strengthen community connections for non-recreational as well as recreational purposes
b. Promote usable open space by exploring multiple-use opportunities
c. Encourage “green” building standards
d. Encourage/enhance public transportation opportunities
4. Focus on Downtown
a. Promote the downtown area as a community-wide destination and gathering place for civic, retail, and entertainment uses
b. Encourage a mixed-use development pattern
c. Focus economic development opportunities that encourage economically viable businesses to locate and prosper in the downtown
d. Continue to strengthen downtown’s role as the civic center of the community
e. Focus downtown physical improvements to achieve a greater degree of accessibility and pedestrian orientation
5. Promote a Sense of Community Identity and Cultural Inclusion
a. Strengthen and connect existing neighborhood groups, and encourage the formation of new groups in additional neighborhoods
b. Revitalize and renew programs and activities for our youth
c. Continue to promote meaningful, purposeful citizen involvement and engagement opportunities to hear many voices in City programs and initiatives
d. Support and encourage culturally relevant community gatherings and events
A polling system, OptionPower, was used to gather information on participant opinions on the policies and strategies. Participants were asked to give basic demographic information, then were asked to rate their level of support for policies and their belief of the effectiveness of each policy towards building a sustainable Longmont. At that point, they met in small groups to discuss specific strategies and then the whole group chose their top two strategies. At the end, participants were asked which strategies they would be willing to help with in the future and a basic evaluation of the workshop.
Conclusions from Analysis
- All 5 policy areas were supported by participants and all policy areas were believed to be effective, although the numbers for effectiveness were lower than support for each policy
- None of the policies were deemed not effective or not supported
- There were no statistically significant results based on time living in Longmont or occupation – all trends were very slight deviations from the majority opinions
- The policies, in order of greatest support:
- Promote Healthy Business Climate and Education as a Community-Wide Value (Average Score = 1.27)
- Enhance the Natural Environment (Average Score = 1.5)
- Promote a Sense of Community Identity and Cultural Inclusion (Average Score = 1.77)
- Focus on Downtown (Average Score = 1.80)
- The policies, in order of greatest perceived effectiveness towards sustainability:
- Promote Healthy Business Climate (Average Score = 1.36)
- Education as a Community-Wide Value (Average Score = 1.86)
- Enhance the Natural Environment (Average Score = 2.07)
- Focus on Downtown (Average Score = 2.05)
- Promote a Sense of Community Identity and Cultural Inclusion (Average Score = 2.11)
Below is a more detailed analysis of the participant demographics as well as trends based on these demographics.
Of the 45 participants, there was a relatively equal distribution from three of the four quadrants of the City (32%, 30%, 27%), with the fourth quadrant, south of 9th Avenue and East of Main, having fewer representatives (7%). A minor group lives outside Longmont City limits (5%).
When asked how long they have lived in Longmont, the majority of participants have lived in Longmont less than 5 years and almost 70% of participants have lived in Longmont less than 10 years.
After polling of whether the participants went to school or worked in Longmont, occupation was polled. Approximately 20% of participants worked in the private sector, 18% were employed by government (note that only Council and 3 City staff members were included in polling) and 20% were classified as “Other”, which for most people polled, meant retired. In addition, almost all participants (93%) have been part of the Focus on Longmont prior to the workshop.
Policy Areas – Support and Effectiveness
Participants were asked to gauge on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 strong support or effectiveness and 5 being no support at all or not an effective strategy):
- Their personal support for these policies and
- How effective they believe these policies will be in moving Longmont towards being a more sustainable community
These were placed together in a comparative poll, with the first bar of each gauge showing effectiveness and the second showing support.
Policy 1 – Healthy Business Climate
The poll shows that most people strongly or somewhat support this as a policy area (98%) and believe that it is an effective strategy (91%). This strategy gained the strongest ratings amongst participants and there was very little difference based on how long participants lived in Longmont. Only one person felt this would not be effective, and that person has lived in Longmont over 30 years and is not employed outside of the home.
Based on employment, participants who were not employed in the home, students and classified as “Other” had slightly less support for this policy and believed it would be slightly less effective than others. Note that the “Student” category only has one participant. Those employed by private companies, government, non-profits and business owners rated this policy very high in both support and effectiveness.
Policy 2 – Education as a Community-wide Value
In this policy area, there was similar high or somewhat support (96%), but fewer believe that it is an effective strategy (79%). This strategy was difficult for participants to understand with respect to effectiveness and there was very little difference based on how long participants lived in Longmont. When asked why there was more support than belief in effectiveness, participants cited that the school district and other educational institutions would need to be on board and an integral part of the effort.
There is a trend with how participants who have lived in the City for less than 20 years felt about the effectiveness of education as a policy for sustainability, and then the disparity drops significantly for those who have lived in Longmont more than 20 years. The support for this policy is high and generally similar across all categories, but those who have lived here 0-20 years feel increasingly that this policy will be less effective.
By occupation, there seemed to be little difference in the average score for support and effectiveness, but participants in each category supported this policy more than they felt it would be effective in achieving sustainability.
Policy 3 – Enhance the Natural Environment
Support for this policy is still relatively high (93%) although more participants believe it they somewhat support this policy than in previous polls. This is the first policy where there are a small number of participants who believe it will somewhat not be effective or not at all effective. When asked why some supported it but didn’t find it effective, comments focused on the fact that the City does not have control of all factors (other agencies, such as CDOT, the State and County, the climatic conditions, etc…).
Based on the number of years living in Longmont, a similar trend to the education policy exists, where belief in effectiveness decreases steadily for residents living here for 0-20 years, and then drops for those who have lived here 21 years or more. Support is steady for this policy with a similar trend.
By occupation, participants that work for a private company and those not employed outside of the home had little disparity between support and effectiveness, with government, non-profit, business owner and student categories felt this would be less effective than supportive of this policy.
Policy 4 – Focus on Downtown
This policy area met with less support than previous policies (80%) and fewer people found this to be an effective measure (77%). This is the first policy that some participants did not support at all (10%) and did not find effective towards sustainability (16%).
Based on years living in Longmont, there is relatively no trend between category groups. An interesting note is what while most participants felt that they supported this policy more than they thought it would be an effective strategy, members who have lived in Longmont over 30 years thought it would be somewhat effective but supported it less, towards no opinion or neutral.
By occupation, the highest support for this policy was from the student and non-profit employees, although the only group who verged on neutral/no opinion on this policy were those not employed outside of the home, who on average found it to be more effective than they were able to support. The largest disparity between supporting the policy and not finding it as effective was evident in those employed by non-profits.
Policy 5 – Promote a Sense of Community Identity and Cultural Inclusion
This policy area garnered similar support to Enhancing the Natural Environment and received support from 82% of participants. 75% felt it would be an effective policy to work towards sustainability. There were a few respondents that did not support and did not find it effective somewhat (9%) and 5% felt that would not be effective at all.
Based on years living in Longmont, those who have lived in Longmont over 30 years had the least support for this policy and on average, were almost neutral on its effectiveness. These results were closely followed by those who have lived in Longmont 0-5 years. Those who don’t live in Longmont had the highest support and belief in its effectiveness as a policy.
Based on occupation, with the exception of the student, all categories had more support for this policy than believed in it as an effective policy. Those not employed outside of the home and in the “Other” category had the least support and belief in effectiveness from all categories.
Small Group Work
After the participants were polled on each topic, they worked in small groups to make strategies under each policy area more actionable. They returned to a large group and polled on top strategies in each area. Please note that in the notes that follow, the education workgroup had only one main strategy, and the larger group did not vote on this.
Participants were asked about future participation. There are 4 “participants” that voted to not participate in any strategy. Those participants had actually left the session at that point and their keypads were registered as “no future involvement”.
What Happens Next?
Comments from the community will be used in developing the final Policy Report for the Focus on Longmont project. The report will include refined policy directions coupled with an assessment of how each direction reflects what we learned from the community and how it will help Longmont be sustainable at build-out. Early in 2006, our consultants will conduct a fiscal impact analysis that will look at a range of potential economic scenarios at build-out. The results of this analysis will assist City Council in setting priorities for implementation of specific aspects of these strategic policies, which is scheduled to occur by the end of May, 2006.