Pilot

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Proposed pilot:  SF/BA Housing issues forum


we'll take a single defined problem space ("SF / Bay Area housing issues") and use an open wiki-style process to try mapping -- at some resolution, as resources allow -- the problem space: leading groups working on it, significant proposals/projects to address the issues, etc. Think of it as a super "explainer" such as a newspaper might do, except generally open and accumulating, like a wiki on the topic; and ideally involving the ongoing involvement of and contributions from parties involved in the topic. 
Funding/partner possibility: grant or contract from some (set of) organizations who would like to have such a resource for their own needs. Eg, housing/planning agencies, media outlets that cover housing issues.


Notes from "SF Housing Futures" proposal by Tim McCormick, Sept 2015. 

1. A good framing question
How can the city most effectively gather, and present for comparison, existing and new proposals/programs for addressing its housing issues? 

2. description of the project as we would like it to be,

An open, comprehensive, trusted online platform where anyone can easily survey, compare, and contribute to proposals for addressing San Francisco's housing issues. 

The platform would be convened and overseen by SF Department of Planning, but 
be designed as a public and inclusive space, encouraging diverse existing and new stakeholders/contributors to offer input. As with a voters' guide, the key goal is to present policy/action alternatives fairly and accurately, and in such a way as to facilitate effective public deliberation and participation. 

The platform would build on proven techniques for online civic engagement, particularly as developed in the Neighborland platform. The project would, however, be especially oriented towards mapping and gathering existing initiatives/stakeholders, as the housing-issues space is already highly examined and advocated around. 

Concretely, the platform migh be a site / subsite built upon Neighborland, LocalWiki, or other platform, with its own name (e.g. "SF Open Housing Forum, from SF Dept of Planning", or "SF Housing Futures Forum"). Initially, a project team including SF Planning (SFP) would survey current debates and create an mapping of current proposals (including e.g. Propositions in upcoming city election), and would use this to invite participation from relevant organizations and seed the initial entries on the platform. 

An entry on the platform would focus on a discrete proposal (e.g. Proposition I) or policy (e.g. current Rent Control ordinance), and may take a 'pro' or a 'con' position.  In some cases it might be a proposal factored out of a larger set when such a proposal could be independent and is more helpfully considered by itself. For example, individual items in CCHO [2014]  (see Bibliography/References section below).

 The suggested guidelines and incentives of the platform would be for maintainers of an entry to present the most effective, well-reasoned, and evidenced arguments supporting their proposal or position. 

A key issue is who represents and maintains a given entry/initiative on the platform. In some cases a proposal may have a clear originator or representative, but in others not. Even in the former case, the proposal originator may not be interested or able to actively maintain the project entry. So we may consider an approach where some proposal entries are maintained by our project team, or by someone invited or volunteering to do it. (e.g. entries for rent-control policy, or particular land-use policies, might be contributed/managed by a researcher or student in that field who was interested to help). 

The platform and project team would support an open and transparent contribution process, whereby anyone can submit a new proposal, or input/evaluation/supporting materials to an existing proposal, and know that it will be handled by a fair and clear process. 

Of course, it's a tricky problem to fairly represent diverse views in a highly complex and contentious issue space, with open participation. Our aim isn't perfection, but to promise and deliver a common forum that is at least sufficiently open, fair-minded, and useful that it builds growing trust and participation, and a trajectory towards being a broadly inclusive, constructive, and impactful hub -- to develop the best possible answers to SF's housing crisis. 



Some key sources to seed forum: 

CCHO [2014].  (Council of Community Housing Organizations / Fernando Martí). "Hacking San Francisco's Housing Crisis: A Response to the Supply Siders’ 'Solution.'" October 2014. 
[1].

Ruiz [2014]. "Developers Aren't Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco: The Definitive Response to Supply-side Solutionists."  by Dyan Ruiz & Joseph Smooke, [people. power. media] and Truthout.org. October 9, 2014.
[2]

SPUR (2014]. "8 Ways to Make San Francisco More Affordable." February 11, 2014.
[3].

Seattle HALA report.