Photo Credits: JEREMY DANG / AGGIE
County Board of Supervisors seeks input from students, community members
This year Yolo County will develop a vision for the community’s future through the creation of the 2020 Strategic Plan. This plan “is a guiding document used by the County Board of Supervisors to set policies and prioritize resources for the organization for the next three to five years,” according to the Yolo County website.
The document will inform supervisors as they direct the county’s actions in governmental and safety net services, land use planning and environmental health efforts. It will identify broad goals for the county as well as how to achieve and measure them.
The 2016-2019 Strategic Plan presented four broad objectives: thriving residents — which included goals of homelessness reduction and community health improvement — safe communities, sustainable environment and flourishing agriculture. Part of creating the 2020 Strategic Plan will be deciding whether to keep or reword the existing goals or to include additional goals. The board has discussed adding operational excellence, “health in all” and economic activity.
The plan is currently in the engagement stage, which will be followed by plan development, a step involving workshops and workgroups of the board of supervisors. This will be followed by the last stage: approval, which is expected to happen Dec. 17.
Engagement efforts will consist of public meetings and workshops, pop-up booths at community events — there are plans to host one at the Davis Farmers Market on March 2 — and surveys for both advisory bodies and the public. All county community members, including students, are encouraged to participate in the public survey.
Don Saylor, the county board supervisor and board chair, explained that one of the plan’s ultimate goals is to engage county workers and residents.
“[W]e’re trying to have everybody who is involved with Yolo County have a sense of what we’re doing together for the people and the planet that we’re charged with serving,” Saylor said.
Saylor also explained how the planning process itself will affect community members.
“More important than the piece of paper is the work that goes into it and the degree of people investing themselves in it, because in the end, it only works if we have a bunch of people excited and committed and interested,” Saylor said. “Through the course of these public workshops and surveys, I hope that we engage people in ways that they haven’t been before.”
Already, public input has produced changes — community members who visited the pop-up booth at Woodland’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration expressed the need for the public survey to be in Korean and Chinese in addition to the original English, Spanish and Russian. Now, the survey is in all five languages.
Saylor looks forward to receiving feedback from UC Davis students and involving them in the strategic planning process.
“Having students have a sense of what the county does and having them participate in the decision-making processes of Yolo County is the right thing to do — it’s fair,” Saylor said. “At a time when we have so many people disenfranchised, we have every interest in involving folks.”
Jessica Jones, the assistant deputy to Saylor, also brought up the role of the county advisory bodies in the engagement efforts stage. She gave an example of what this engagement looks like.
“Health council, for instance [will discuss,] ‘What are the leading health issues that we should be thinking about?’” Jones said. “Do we want thriving residents or do we want a new way to phrase it? And what are the most leading policy issues that we’d like the board to think about? That’s just one example, but there’s many advisory bodies, so that’s the other kind of outreach.”
Carolyn Jhajj, a senior management analyst for the Yolo County administrator’s office, said that the 2020 Strategic Plan will be unique from previous plans because of these more intensive engagement efforts.
“We’re really trying to do a larger involvement from the public, trying to really outreach and get [as many] people’s thoughts and inputs as possible,” Jhajj said.
The new plan will also be formatted differently in order to increase measurability.
“As we have it now, when something’s completed, you can check it off, [but] it isn’t necessarily easily measurable in terms of data,” Jhajj said. “We’re looking to try to format it so that we have clear outcomes that we can try to associate with data, [so] that we can show progress every time we report it out.”
The county, according to Jhajj, is looking to keep the public involved throughout this data-driven process as well.
“We’re hoping to be able to connect that to kind of a dashboard that the public can see and they can check in on,” Jhajj said. “A dashboard that would be on our county website, that’s our vision.”
Written by: Anne Fey — firstname.lastname@example.org