Negotiating the Neighborhood: The Role of Neighborhood Associations in Urban Planning Processes


To promote collaborative urban planning, the United States Federal Government requires that city and regional governments consult communities affected by planning processes. Neighborhood associations were originally created to engage community members in local social justice issues in order to meet this mandate. Relying on these organizations raises questions about whether they fulfill their potential: what role do community members play in urban planning? Do neighborhood associations feel like they participate effectively in the urban planning process? How do these associations perceive the extent to which the government uses their input? To address these questions, this study examines perceptions of urban planning as held by residents of North Minneapolis. In-depth interviews with residents involved with neighborhood associations reveal that associations face three main difficulties in urban planning processes: neighborhood associations are unable to completely represent their communities, residents involved with associations mistrust government entities, and government entities are disengaged from community needs. These findings demonstrate that neighborhood associations encounter barriers that quiet their collective voice when communicating with urban planners about the wants and needs of their community

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