Case Study - Public Participation in the Carmelite Project


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Case Study - Public Participation in the Carmelite Project

  1. 1. Technion – Israel Institute of TechnologyFaculty of Architecture and Town PlanningPublic Participation in Urban Planning ProcessesArza Churchman, Ph.D. The Carmelite Project By Daniel Louis BerkowitzIntroductionDeemed a model for future public involvement for Haifas planning projects, the Carmelite Project wasconsidered revolutionary at the time due to the founding of a special steering committee to create andmanage the participation process and involve the public at an early stage of the planning process.This study examines the public participation process of the Carmelite Project finding primarily that theprocess was flawed in execution and looks at areas for improvement in the planners’ model for publicinvolvement.Literature SurveyContemporary academics and planners in Israel and abroad have shown that the approach to publicparticipation used in the Carmelite Project does not necessarily produce the desired result of collaborationin strategy, design, and implementation.Deborah F. Shmueli, a planner and academic at Haifa University who has written about participation,cultural sensitivities, and planning throughout Israel, analyzes the implementation of participation in thestrategic master planning system. Shmueli examines two cases involving public participation as an inputinto the planning process and one that attempted a more collaborative approach. These projects weresimilar to the Carmelite plan because they all provided public involvement processes at stages before theplan was deposited to a planning commission, but lacked shared decision making with the participants. Inher analysis, she concludes that the framework fails to effectively integrate participatory processes due toa lack of “voice, transparency, or a balancing of power during negotiations” (Shmueli, 2005). She notesthat while participation existed in these public processes, it did not yield “even significant influence ondecision making.” While the Carmelite Project summarized and published the views of the public, inaddition to that which was done in Shmuelis examples, its results where wholly similar to the projectswhich she studied. The cases that she looked at were also firsts of their kind for public participationprocesses, involved the public using a variety of participation methods and successfully educated thepublic about the relevant project. Despite participants being involved on future development strategiesand in numerous stages throughout the process, because the public was not included at all stages of theprocess and werent assisted in giving developmental recommendations on the plan or the participationprocess, Shmueli describes the level of participation in Arnsteins words as “degrees of tokenism” andmore specifically as “consultation”.Nurit Alfasi, a senior lecturer at Ben Gurion University has written about planning theory, public policyand public participation in the Israeli context. In her article on democracy and planning in Israel, shesupports Shmuelis argument and suggests ways in which Israels planning system can be made moredemocratic. Her recommendations include more formalized, strictly adhered to and managed participationprocesses.
  2. 2. These findings are not unique to Israel. A report by the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of theUnited Kingdom, now known as the Department for Communities and Local Government, looks at howpublic participation has been unable to represent Englands diverse society. The report argues that top-down “Decide, Announce, Defend” planning models led by a planning authority act as a “barrier to newthinking and practices” (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2003). In addition to a breakdown ofcommunication within affected communities, this amplifies difficulties in resolving conflicts when thepublic takes issue with plans. The report finds that there is a greater need for negotiation with public,semi-public, and private bodies to promote collaboration and build consensus among key communitystakeholders. By stressing the need for this, particularly in areas with under-represented populations, thereport notes that participatory planning involves the unification of diverse groups, the mutual exchange ofinformation and the building of consensus through negotiations and identification of shared interests(Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2003).In Scotland, collaborative planning is similar to the participatory planning of the ODPM report, in that itinvolves all stakeholders in the planning process to reach mutually agreed upon policies. However,collaborative planning more narrowly defines the criteria of what it takes to be considered a projectstakeholder. Ashok Kumar and Ronan Paddison, professor and head of the department of physicalplanning at Indias School of Planning & Architecture and professor of geography at the University ofGlasgow, respectively, define a stakeholder as any individual, group, or organization that has an interest,concern or influence in a planning area, system, or outcome, shares risks, costs, or benefits and has theright to participate in the decision-making process to effect it both negatively or positively.They explain that collaborative planning includes:−An inclusive process for interaction in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.−Comprehensibility, sincerity, legitimacy, and truthfulness in participation and engagement.−Recognition of other stakeholders and realization that complete consensus on all issues may not bereached.−Respect and consideration for different perspectives.−Critique and evaluation of beliefs and values.−Policy documents which include discourses and systems of meaning of the stakeholders.Kumar and Paddison find that the cases in the new joint structure Scottish system have high levels of trustand then argue that trust and collaboration are mutually supportive. They define this high level of trust asincluding “networks of social exchange, reciprocity and [the] protection of the areas interests, full andfrank information sharing, meeting of expectations from the Joint Structure Plan, desirable behavior byplanning authorities, a lack feelings of vulnerability, no misuse of shared information, and shared valuesamongst the local authorities and the joint structure plan has proven successful in collaboration and trustbecause it has endured for four years”. They conclude that stakeholders have a large amount of trust ineach other that reinforces continued collaboration and that brings them to set up behavioral controlmechanisms to enable them to ensure continued desired behavior by all stakeholders. In relation to theCarmelite Project, treating all participating parties as respected and honored stakeholders would be a greatstart to developing and maintaining trust between the participants and the entrepreneur.While collaborative planning may have stricter guidelines for adherence than participatory planning, bothaim to turn the system of public involvement from an up-down system to a more laterally workingsystem, giving all interested parties decision-making powers.Now that a background of the literature on public involvement in the planning process has been laid, wemove on to the analysis of the Carmelite Projects public participation process.
  3. 3. The CarmelitesThe Carmelites, specifically known as the Discalced (or Teresian) Carmelites, are a Catholic mendicantorder established in 1593 ( They have 800monasteries in the world, 12,000 adherents, and their headquarter is located in Rome, Italy( The Stella Maris Monastery (orMonastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) was founded in 1892 on the northwestern top of the CarmelMountain ridge, currently overlooking Haifa’s northern neighborhoods and coast below( The order has a number of other sitesaround Haifa that, like the monastery, are in poor physical condition and have not been able to cater to theneeds of visiting pilgrims (D.Z. Czamanski, Personal communication, January 16, 2011).Land owned by the order in the area surrounding the monastery, had been previously leased to the IsraelDefense Forces until the mid-1990s when the lease was not renewed. This presented the Carmelites theopportunity to raise money in order to restore their properties and buildings. With the appointment ofBrother Ernesto Ferrera Nitza as the head of the order in Haifa, it was decided that developing this landwould be the best way to seize this opportunity. The order set up an international team to prepare aproposal consisting of architects, landscape architects and planners from the firms, HOK and Uzi GordonLtd., a legal adviser and a local economic adviser (D.Z. Czamanski, Personal communication, January 16,2011).The PlanThe plan consisted of 7 main development spaces:•a residential neighborhood and terraced apartments•assisted living housing and a sanatorium (convalescent home)•a hotel and vacation apartments•parking lots and a commercial area•landscaping of gardens and a promenade behind the monastery•an amphitheater•a landscaped public walking path going down the mountain to Elijah’s CaveThe image below shows the layout of the developer’s master plan for the project that was presented to thepublic during the participation process.
  4. 4. Source: M. Vogl and R. Barringer, Skype communication, January 19, 2011.Approval Process1999 The planning and rezoning approval process began with meetings in Haifa and Rome, a preliminary development of planning schemes and a presentation of those schemes to the Haifa Municipal Department of Planning.2000 A formal presentation was given before the planning department at the start of the year. Thereafter, negotiations were held with the department and the mayor’s office, and a formal public participation process coupled with continuous modifications to the plan began, lasting for approximately 9 months.2001 The participation process came to a conclusion in June 2001 with the publication of a booklet summarizing the participation process and a presentation of the final plan before the municipal government.2003 In June 2003, the plan was approved by the sub-committee of the local planning committee.2005 In August 2005, the plan was approved by the district planning committee. Following this approval, 17 months were spent on dealing with public reactions and district committee hearings.2007 The formal planning and rezoning was approved in early 2007. The plan has yet to be implemented due to internal problems amongst the Carmelite Order.(M. Vogl and R. Barringer, Skype communication, January 19, 2011)
  5. 5. Goals of the Providers and ParticipantsThe goals of the entrepreneurs to provide the participation were twofold, explicit and implicit.The explicit goal, as expressed by the summary book published by the steering committee, was to“provid[e] a response to the needs of the general public, without adversely affecting individuals anddifferent groups” and “ find a balance between the various interests” involved in the planning process.The implicit goal, as understood through interviews with the planners of the project, was to decreaseresistance to the plan and enable the approval process to go smoothly and speedily (M. Vogl and R.Barringer, Skype communication, January 19, 2011).Furthermore, through a second glance at the details of the participation process it became clear that theproviders wanted to receive informed views on the plan and the process from the public, and so, in orderto do so, they informed the participants and supplied forums to receive and record their views. Additionalgoals of the participation process were to resolve public concerns and while doing so, gain a supply ofsuggestions for changes to the plan that may be valuable and considered for implementation.The goals of the participants were never explicitly stated or published in the summarizing book and seemto have been formally disregarded in this process. However, it can be deduced from the concernsexpressed by the participants that their aim was to preserve and protect a status quo with regard toresidential property values, apartment vistas, and local traffic volumes. NGOs that participated alsodesired to preserve the status quo, however, with different emphases. The most noted NGO havingrepresentatives participating were environmental, and their goal was the protection and preservation ofnatural resources and land that, while being part of the Carmelites property, had never been built on. Animplicit goal of the participants, as deduced through their willingness to participate in the process, wasthat they wanted to have their voices be heard, their views understood and concerns taken into account bythe entrepreneurs and government as well as make a concrete impact on the plan. It is not apparent thatthese goals were met, however, this will be further discussed under: Power Relations Between Providersand Participants.ResourcesResources used by the entrepreneurs in the process were both physical and non-physical. The physicalitems included fliers, public posters, notices in newspapers, questionnaires, to-scale 3-dimensional modelof the plan, and a booklet summarizing the process and views of the public. The non-physical items wereadvertisements on television and radio stations, renting out halls and meeting rooms to hold publicmeetings and focus groups, and the recruitment of the members of the steering committee for publicparticipation.Participant CharacteristicsThe definition of the “public” was never clearly or explicitly defined, therefore, an implicit definition canbe deduced from analysis of the way in which the process was conducted. Having multiple targetaudiences, the process had a specific hierarchical priority:a.The Hebrew-literate residents living adjacent to the site, and were in their neighborhood during theperiod when fliers were distributed.b.Residents and passersby in the four neighborhoods in the area of the site.c.Passersby of announcements posted on public bulletin boards on numerous streets in Haifa.d.Hebrew-literate members of the public who are privy to local news media in Haifa.e.Visitors to Haifas community centers, public libraries, city hall and the city engineers office.
  6. 6. f.Readers with an interest in planning and development matters of Hebrew newspapers “Yediot Achronot”and “Ha’aretz”, and Arabic language, “Al Altichad” and Russian language, “Vesnik Haifa” newspapers inHaifa.g.Computer and Hebrew-literate members of the public at large with internet-access.Stages of the Public Participation ProcessAccording to the summary book of the public participation process, the process consisted of 6 stages.However, in terms of levels of participation, there were 3 stages (Public Meetings, Focus Groups andResponse of the Entrepreneur) to the process that involved a total of 9 sub-stages. The following is thestructure of the process: A.Creation of public awareness of the plan and public participation process. I.Publication in the local media, postings in public buildings, publication of a special informativewebsite, and distribution of fliers to community members. II.Announcements publicized through local and national newspapers, as well as one Arabic and oneRussian newspaper for the week before the public meetings (October 27 – November 3), and on localtelevision and radio stations. III.Fliers distributed by hand to residents of 4 nearby neighborhoods, to environmental organizations andposted inside local community centers, public libraries, on local bulletin boards and on local street posts. IV.In an attempt to inform a wider audience, announcements were posted in Haifas City Hall, in the CityEngineers office, and on a website created to publicize the project to the Hebrew-literate throughout theworld. B.Informing the public of the plans details, and reception and response to public feedback to the plan I.Two public meetings were held (November 4 and 5, 2000) with residents, representatives of theentrepreneurs, representatives of the municipal government, and members of the public participationcommittee. Each meeting was conducted in the same manner: a.Presentations of the views of the entrepreneur, government and committee. b.A guided discussion session consisting of questions and comments by the public to the representativesand answers, when possible, supplied in return c.Distribution to and returning of filled questionnaires by participants II.Five focus groups with 100 participants a.Creation of awareness of the groups to members of the academic, professional, and NGO communitiesas well as to youth activists and social workers. b.In-depth review together with stakeholders – participants included residents, members of NGOs,professionals, government representatives and academicians. The five discussion groups were in a location that the summary paper does not disclose and it is further assumed that they were held only in Hebrew, together with representatives of environmental organizations, professional planners, architects, and engineers, and relevant academicians. C.Analysis of public feedback A document summarizing the project, participation process, public positions and responses brought up during the public meetings, discussion groups and from the questionnaires was published in Hebrew, as well as partially in English.D. Response of the entrepreneur to public feedback I. Entrepreneur offers suggestions for revisions based on the public response that are publicized to the public II. A revised project gets presented to the Steering Committee and governmental bodies III. Significant revisions are publicized to the public
  7. 7. However, through interviews made with parties involved in the process, it is questionable whether thepublication of the entrepreneurs feedback to the public and any revisions made to the plan actuallyoccurred, since members of the steering committee had no such recollection or documents.Power RelationsThe power relations that existed between the entrepreneur and participants can be characterized asdecision-maker and those for whom decision are made. However, in addition to having the right to objectto the plan, as stipulated under Israeli law, the entrepreneur gave the participants the opportunity toeducate themselves in the details of the plan, form an organized voice and have that voice made clearthrough formal documentation.Nothing in the framework of the process gave the participants actual planning tools or required theentrepreneur to supply alternative plans based on the views of the participants. The summarizing booksaid this of what was expected of the entrepreneurs responsibility to the participants, “If it so desires, itwill prepare an answer and suggestions for amendments”. Because of this non-binding language, theparticipants remained wary of their efforts having had any significant impact on the plan. This can be seenfrom recorded comments and questions in the section of the book called “How much can the publicinfluence?” where participants voiced concern over the relation of power that they had with theentrepreneur, “its unclear to what extent they will consider the views of the residents”, and participantswere quoted as saying that they felt “helpless” when it came to making actual changes to the plan.Additionally, the question, “What are the teethe to our views as residents?” was asked by some of theparticipants. This means that it was not made clear to some of the participants to what extent their viewswould impact the planning process, if any. The reason for such sentiment among the participants wasbecause there really were no “teethe” given to make their views into concrete planning material.MethodThe model that was implemented as the method for this process consisted of four principles:1.Create transparency and clarity in the planning and decision-making process.2.Enable the reception of information by the public at an early stage in the process and have it easily andequally accessible to all.3.Enable interested parties to participate in the planning process.4.Emphasize planning authority accountability to citizens through explanation and clarification ofdecision-making rationale.ConclusionsNo longer considered an ideal form of public involvement, the Carmelite Project stands in the history ofIsraeli public involvement in planning as a step in the right direction towards a more collaborative publicinvolvement process. The real reason that this process seemed revolutionary was because it wasimplemented by a special committee that been established especially for the purpose of managing thepublic participation process and it involved the public at a relatively early stage in the planning process,informed them, asked for their views and offered to pass those views on to the entrepreneur. This made itseems as though the publics views were valuable and that the entrepreneur and government officialswanted to give them power to act as interested and respected parties to the planning process. However, inthe end, because there was nothing put into this framework forcing the entrepreneur to act on the publicsinput, all was for naught and the entrepreneur went about its way, as if the whole participation process had
  8. 8. been but a dream. In order for democracy and true egalitarianism to flourish within planning processes,not only must the public be given a proper education on the plan and process, but they must be givendecision-making power and their views must be considered as equally important as those employed tomanage the project. Furthermore, it is the author’s hope that this work can help shed light on how futurepublic participation processes should be defined and implemented.BibliographyAlfasi, N. (2003). Is public participation making urban planning more democratic - The Israeli experience. Planning Theory & Practice, 4 (2), 185–202.D.Z. Czamanski. (2011, January 16). Personal interview.Discalced Carmelites. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved January 15, 2012 from Carmel Holy Land. Retrieved January 15, 2012, from communities/haifa/history.html.Kumar, A. and Paddison, R. (2000). Trust and collaborative planning theory: the case of the Scottish planning system. International Planning Studies, 5 (2). 205-223.M. Vogl and R. Barringer. (2011, January 19). Skype interview.Mendicant orders. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved January 15, 2012 from of the Deputy Prime Minister. (2006) Participatory Planning for Sustainable Communities: International experience in mediation, negotiation and engagement in making plans. Retrieved January 15, 2012 from, D.F. (2005). Is Israel ready for Participatory Planning? Expectations and Obstacles. Planning Theory & Practice, 6 (4), 485-514.Steering Committee for Public Participation in Urban Planning in Haifa. (2001). Summary Document of the Public Participation Process in the Carmelite Project. Haifa, Israel.Teresian Carmelites. Carmel Holy Land. Retrieved January 15, 2012 from