San Jose Goes to the People. Electronically.

You know what the city of San Jose, California, really needs? More street-level retail in the downtown area. And a convention center twice or three ...
by | August 11, 2009

You know what the city of San Jose, California, really needs? More street-level retail in the downtown area. And a convention center twice or three times its current size. And better bicycle access. Oh, and, how about improving traffic flow? And reinstating hospital services downtown?

Seem like a random list? That's because it is. San Jose has asked residents to answer this question: "If you could change ONE thing about San Jose, what would it be?"

And the city has gotten an earful. Which is great. The city set up a wiki planning site hoping for a huge response. It has set an ambitious goal of bringing 10,000 people to the Web site over the next two and a half months. That's about 1 percent of the population.

The focus of the wiki is San Jose's 20-year general plan. It's time for an update and while the city is working on its "Envision San Jose 2040," it would like input from the community. Especially from younger residents.

The wiki planning site asks residents to take a survey, answer questions, read and comment on a message board and post photos. If doing their civic duty is not enough for some people, maybe they'll do it in exchange for free stuff. By filling out the survey, they could win tickets to local theaters,  festivals and music venues.

Just launched this month, the wiki site will be up a total of three months, until October 30. We'll check back then and see how it went.

Btw, any other governments out there doing something similar? Or thinking about it? Please let us know.

Ellen Perlman
Ellen Perlman  |  Former columnist
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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