Land Use Public AffairsLand Use Public Affairs
The principals at Passantino Andersen have successfully waged more than 100 community outreach campaigns for residential, retail and energy projects. We have delivered success for companies like Walmart, Lowe’s, GE Energy, Lennar, KB Home, Pulte, The Garrett Group, Manatt Phelps, Latham & Watkins and many others. Because the land-use approval process is political in nature, our community outreach campaigns follow a political model that includes:
- Political Viability Assessment: Best conducted during your due-diligence phase, this assessment evaluates the political climate for project viability. The assessment includes background information on decision-makers, such as political party affiliation, time in office, professional background, community involvement, voting history on similar projects, voting history on projects located in proximity to yours, key political issues of importance and key members in their circle of influence. We interview decision-makers regarding your proposal to determine if there are any major issues of concern. We also analyze major political issues, individuals and groups in the area to determine how your project could be affected (positively or negatively). We conclude with recommendations on how to proceed in a manner that positions your project as a valuable political asset with great benefits to the community.
- Public Opinion Research: In a community that has been divided over growth-related issues, it helps to know who you can count on for support, and who will stand in your way, before you begin engaging the community. If this is the case, we will recommend that you conduct a public opinion poll. This telephone survey will help you identify levels of support and opposition, determine how to best frame the issues and help you develop the most persuasive messages for your audiences.
- Community Outreach: To make initial contact with your audiences, we will recommend that you reach them with a brochure-style mailer that describes the project, identifies the location, lists the community benefits and explains your desire to address concerns before the project reaches decision-makers. The communications effort that follows will include “living-room meetings” with area residents, briefings with community organizations and updates to decision-makers. Where possible, we will note expressions of support and secure commitments from people to advocate for the project at key benchmarks in the entitlements process. This outreach campaign will be supported with a toll free project hotline that people can call with questions and a promotional website, where people can view project exhibits/information and receive project updates.
- Media Relations: Most government officials follow the media very closely because they know the media wields enormous influence over public opinion. If we determine that a pro-active media relations effort is advisable, we will help select a spokesperson, provide media relations training and prep the spokesperson for media interviews. We may also recommend the use of guest editorials and letters to the editor to keep the project favorably positioned as your application moves through governmental reviews.
- Project Advocacy: Prior to public hearings, we will engage in various activities designed to reach decision-makers with expressions of support from the community. These activities will include circulating a petition, securing letters of support from area residents/community leaders/community organizations and securing commitments from people to testify in favor of the project at public hearings. Finally, we will develop a comprehensive community outreach report, which will be formally submitted to the decision-making bodies prior to public hearings.
- Public Hearings Prep: Prior to a public hearing, we will help you design your presentation to reflect our community outreach efforts. This section of the presentation will identify all community outreach activities, who was contacted, what they said about the project and efforts undertaken to address concerns. Additionally, we will recommend that you host a pre-hearing meal for your supporters, as an expression of gratitude for their willingness to sit through a lengthy public hearing. During the meal, we will review with our supporters the public hearing protocol. Upon arrival, we will help people submit their speaker slips and help them get comfortable in delivering their remarks.
- Additional Services: In addition to the services referenced above, we will advise you on local philanthropic causes that would be worthwhile to support and offer advice regarding political support.