Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An elevator speech about community development

The final speaker at last night's Area Commander meeting was a representative from Pomona's Community Development Department. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the heck we were suppose to get out this presentation, amorphously titled 2010-2011 Citizen Participation.

The speaker provided a hefty handout containing 19 PowerPoint slides (one whole page per slide; note to printer: next time consider using the 3-slides-per-page "handouts" format for printing). She then proceeded to walk us through slides with riveting titles (yes, that is sarcasm you detect) such as: "Statutory Spending Caps" and "CDBG Funding Comes with Rules." Yawn.

Finally, I raised my hand to ask why residents should care about this information. (Those of you who read the M-M-M-My Pomona blog may remember I asked a similar question of the Housing Division's Annual Report.)

With a little prodding, the answer became clear. So, to save you the bewilderment I navigated while listening to a poorly structured presentation that seems to have been prepared for a totally different audience, I present Pride's elevator speech [1] about why we should all give a damn:

"All of us benefit from Pomona's community development efforts. These efforts include improving code enforcement, public facilities, and neighborhood services; providing economic support to home owners, home buyers, and renters; and operating shelters for our city's homeless citizens.

"Pomona's community development efforts are largely supported by Federal funding. The amount of funding we receive is determined by residents' responses to the Census. We receive more funding when more people participate in the Census. Please encourage everyone you know to participate. Let's make sure all of Pomona's residents are counted!

"Once we receive Federal funding, we have to determine how to spend the funds. Your input helps the city determine how to spend the money. If you haven't already done so, complete and submit the Community Needs Survey; a copy appears in the Housing Division's Annual Report that arrived in your mailbox last month. If you don't have a copy of the survey, you can complete it online. Go to the city's homepage, then click on the featured link titled Community Needs Survey.

"The city mailed out 44,000 paper copies of the survey. Yet, only 1,200 surveys have been returned to date. Do the math: 2.7% of those who received the survey get to inform how the city spends its Federal funds.[2] The city needs input from as many residents as possible. Let your voice be heard!

"To summarize, I'll reiterate two points. First, participate in the Census so Pomona receives all the Federal funding it is entitled to. Second, complete the Community Needs Survey so the city knows how you think these funds should be spent. Thank you."

So that pretty much summarizes my understanding of what Tuesday evening's presentation intended to communicate. If others can help sharpen my understanding or representation of the issues, by all means, comment.

[1] Perhaps I could get this all in on the elevator ride down into the bowels of the Hoover Dam.

[2] Presumably the "1,200 surveys completed" estimate includes both paper and electronic responses. I'm not sure if 44,000 is the number of households in Pomona, or just a sampling of residences.


  1. Every household received the Annual Report, and every household received a survey. Unfortunately it looks like political literature or junk mail so I bet many thousands just threw it away.

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