Beaverton is one of the most diverse communities in the state of Oregon. One in four residents is foreign-born. For a time, this diversity was not reflected in local government or community involvement. Community members became disgruntled, and as a result, the four-term mayor was defeated when up for re-election. From there, the City began to understand the need to adapt its approach to public involvement.
Since its founding in 2009, the Beaverton Visioning Advisory Committee (VAC) has dedicated thousands of volunteer hours engaging with community members on what their vision of Beaverton should be. The Beaverton Community Visioning Plan, is a grassroots, community-lead and inspired road map of the future. The City helped recruit the VAC, hired a vision advisor, and launched an unprecedented public engagement program. The VAC reached over 5,000 people. Over 6,500 community ideas were collected in over six languages (English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Korean). Nearly 2,000 people participated in surveys to narrow down ideas and develop a concrete action plan.
Nearly 85 community members, including technical experts, served on action teams that subsequently combed through each of the ideas submitted to make sure shared goals and aspirations could be brought to life.
The teams were organized around five visioning plan goals:
The city council unanimously adopted the action plan in 2010, and over 60 community partners adopted new practices to see the plan through. The VAC was most recently updated in 2016. The Beaverton Advisory Committee, made up of 12 community members, meet once a month to discuss ways to enhance visioning partner relationships and expand awareness of the visioning process with the community.
Through the direct involvement of the community, the backbone of the plan was developed. The VAC tested those actions with the public through an open house and community survey. The survey was mailed to every household in Beaverton. In addition, VAC volunteers distributed the survey in 36 locations. The survey was posted on the City’s web site and translated into six languages. Through the responses of 1,833 people who completed surveys, the VAC narrowed the action plan to 118 actions that comprise the vision.
To ensure broad participation outreach was conducted in multiple languages, the group targeted community groups not traditionally seen at the table and creating an iterative process that allowed people to see their own ideas migrate forward.
Beaverton Community Vision is also a reminder that public involvement requires courage and commitment from elected leadership. People engage in and support implementation of plans where they feel ownership. In Beaverton, the shift to success occurred when the planning target shifted from “City Plan” to “Community Plan.” The broad-based public involvement of Beaverton Community Vision confirms that people have many goals and priorities in common. In return, elected officials have empirical evidence that they’re investing in and moving forward the greater public interest.
The process transformed the City-community member dynamic. It has also facilitated projects that seemed controversial just a few short years ago. The early accomplishment of vision actions speaks to the broad-based support earned through the project.
In 2016, the visioning action items were updated through additional outreach with plans for another update in 2020. To date, 84.6% of visioning action items are underway or on-going with 12.5% completed. From a renewed emphasis on small business development to community clean-up days, the severe weather shelter and expanded public art and community events, 2016 was a strong year for advancing the shared community goals.
Timeline of Project: 2009 – present
Beaverton Community Visioning Plan
Beaverton, OR– 2018 AAC Finalist: Presentation
City of Beaverton