Friday, May 3, 2019
Legal scholars who study cities and urban governance discuss participation in a number of ways, and at various moments in the legal process. Frequently, however, less attention is placed on anticipatory participation — forward-looking, flexible, and inclusive public engagement — and its role in promoting effective and legitimate policy. The emerging concept of anticipatory governance synthesizes different notions of improving participation and places focus on how residents can best participate in society’s most difficult decisions. At the local level, such matters are often those that address land use and economic development.
The recent climate change preparedness strategic plan in New York City, known as PlaNYC, is an example of a local anticipatory governance process addressing population growth as well as global climate change. Building on the PlaNYC case, this Article illustrates ways that cities can, and in fact already are, address participation early on in the planning process to improve the quality of resident engagement. This Article offers a frame-work for how local government can use anticipatory governance concepts to promote resident participation in influencing how projects are developed in the built environment. Residents, the primary users of public space, have unique expertise and can engage with professionals to plan accessible and equitable cities. Anticipatory participation may even assist in moving beyond difficult land use decisions where compromises appear most remote. An urban anticipatory governance approach addresses society’s most complex issues, in flexible ways, allowing residents and experts to work together, with enough time for that collaboration to have a meaningful impact on decisions.