CPO Re-envisioning Process
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 08, 2022
Process begins for re-envisioning Community Participation Organizations (CPOs)
Washington County has begun a multi-year process for re-envisioning Washington County’s 40-plus-year-old program of Community Participation Organizations (CPOs) and the Committee for Community Involvement (CCI), a group comprised of CPO leaders. The process received support and direction from the Board of County Commissioners in December 2021.
The CPOs and CCI have served as important public involvement venues for the county since the 1970s in support of Goal 1 Citizen Involvement under Oregon’s land use planning system. The program’s mission has expanded beyond this original scope to include other areas for engagement, but the framework documents supporting the structure and boundaries of the CPOs and the CCI have remained relatively unchanged since the late 1980s.
“We hear loud and clear the desire for greater programmatic support from the volunteers serving within the CPOs and CCI. We also know that the traditional pathways for the community to engage with their county government can feel more like obstacles. Our ongoing equity work involves building truly accessible platforms and pathways so that we include all voices in our community engagement programs, especially those who have been the least included over time,” said Chief Officer of Equity and Inclusion Latricia Tillman.
This challenge is not unique to Washington County. A Boston University study published in 2018 found that civic engagement structures have historically amplified the voices of those who are “older, male, longtime residents, voters in local elections, and homeowners” and may bias policy discussions in favor of an unrepresentative group of individuals.
“This re-envisioning process will help us better align the Community Engagement program with Washington County’s growing and diverse population. By working with the community to establish the foundation and shape of this process now, we can make the current Community Engagement Program even more welcoming to everyone in our Washington County community. We also seek to better align the Community Engagement program with the work to revise the organization’s decades-old community strategic plan,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Kathryn Harrington.
In presenting the proposed scope of re-envisioning work for the Community Engagement program, staff identified four work areas:
- Boundaries – Demographic change over the years and anticipated redistricting of county commissioner districts in 2022 are two important factors contributing to a need for re-examining CPO boundary lines, according to a staff analysis. The re-envisioning plan anticipates collaboration in the boundary-change process among cities and special districts whose service areas overlap with CPOs throughout the county.
- Community Strategic Planning Process – A re-examination of Washington County’s original community strategic plan, first adopted in the late 1980s, is planned to begin in 2022. Staff recommends aligning the community engagement portion of the CPO re-envisioning to this bigger planning process – centered on racial equity – to best support the board’s strategic planning goals.
- CPO Structure – Most local governments use a different structure for complying with Goal 1 of the statewide land use planning system. Staff recommends looking at other models throughout Oregon and what these different approaches toward community engagement could mean with respect to organization, budgeting and processes.
- Resolution and Order – The foundational document establishing the county’s community engagement program, Resolution and Order 86-56, has not be substantially revised since it was adopted by the board in 1986. Staff recommends updating the document to codify the outcomes of the re-envisioning project, especially as the program is strengthened to better support equity, diversity and inclusion in community engagement.
Next steps for the process will include developing a project team that consists of internal and external partners, conducting further demographic analysis of current CPO boundaries and creating a project plan and timeline for the process.
More information will be available soon. In the meantime, a brief overview of the process for re-envisioning can be found on this Washington County webpage.
Media Contact:Philip Bransford, Communications Officer