Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 320–335 | Cite as

Public Participation in Local Government Review of Development Proposals in Hazardous Locations: Does it Matter, and What Do Local Government Planners Have to Do with It?

  • Mark R. StevensEmail author
  • Philip R. Berke
  • Yan Song


Natural hazard investigators recommend that local governments adopt mitigation plans to help reduce hazard losses. However, such plans are unlikely to be effective unless a wide range of public stakeholders is involved in their creation. Previous research shows that stakeholder participation levels in hazard mitigation planning tend to be low, though there may be particular choices that local government planners can make to foster participation. We examine the importance of planners’ choices and role orientations (i.e., beliefs regarding appropriate behavior in the workplace) for participation levels in site plan review, wherein local governments review site plans for proposed development projects to ensure compliance between project design and applicable plans and policies. Using a national sample of 65 development projects located in areas subject to natural hazards, and bivariate and multivariate analyses, we examine whether participation levels during site plan review depend upon planners’ choices and role orientations, and whether participation levels are correlated with the incorporation of hazard mitigation techniques into development projects. We find significant correlations between participation levels and planners’ choices, between participation levels and planner’s role orientations, and between participation levels and the incorporation of hazard mitigation techniques. We encourage local government planners to revisit their beliefs, choices, and behaviors regarding public participation in site plan review.


Natural hazard mitigation Public participation Land use planning Planners’ role orientations Implementation New Urbanism 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation [NSF Grant # CMS-0407720]. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We are grateful to three anonymous reviewers and the editor of this journal for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Community and Regional PlanningUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Institute for the Environment, Department of City and Regional PlanningUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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