Citizen Participation in the Unified New Orleans Plan

Rockefeller Foundation



Case Study Sector


Fifteen months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, on January 31, 2007, a team of planners submitted the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) to the City Planning Commission. Following the demise of earlier planning efforts, UNOP represents five months of intensive citizen engagement with expert planning teams, made possible through funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. From its inception, UNOP’s designers and implementers insisted on widespread public participation in the plan’s development. Such efforts included a citizen and leader liaison board with open biweekly sessions, four rounds of interactive meetings in 13 planning districts, and three citywide Community Congresses that brought together from 300 to 2500 residents of New Orleans and its hurricane diaspora. This report considers the extent to which these public participation processes, and particularly Community Congress II, influenced local leaders’ views of the credibility and substance of the Unified New Orleans Plan. In particular, I focus on evidence from 20 interviews with New Orleans community leaders, conducted primarily during the week leading up to Community Congress III, which took place on January 20, 2007.



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