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Montgomery County Releases Guidelines for Equity in Master Planning

by Nena Perry-Brown

Last year, the Montgomery County Council passed the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act, which requires departments countywide to implement an equity framework that informs policy-making.

The county's Planning Department recently released a draft action plan to guide how the Master Planning Process should take place moving forward.

Here are some of the highlights in the plan:

  • Apply an "equity lens" in planning efforts. This would entail an iterative process of community engagement and require planning staff to consider the historical context of how planning and development have been used to erect and perpetuate racism. The decision-making should address:
    • How community members have historically been advantaged or disadvantaged;
    • Whether community members typically excluded from the process are being included;
    • Whether distribution of resources, investments, and locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) have been disparate and how this can be corrected; and
    • Whether the project or policy will create a more equitable outcome.
  • "Develop Community Equity Emphasis Areas (CEEA)" that map the demographics of income, race, ethnicity, and "limited English language skills" to better target analysis of access and opportunities. This effort started in March and is expected to be completed in September.
  • Create an Equity Opportunity Index (EOI) that uses data and other analytical tools to set benchmarks and measure outcomes. This will be developed starting this month through July 2021.
  • Historic Preservation and Research & Special Projects staff is creating a historic timeline that will document important events related to racial equity and social justice in the county's history to ensure its lessons are incorporated in the planning process.
  • To put together an Equity Peer Review Group, including an environmental planner, a transportation planner, a Master Plan supervisor, and planning staff from the Legal, Historic Preservation and Research, and Special Projects Divisions, to provide feedback on policies and plans.

The plan will also require planning staff to complete racial equity training, review previous local and Census studies for additional hard and soft data points, and create community engagement strategies for each Master Plan moving forward. 

Planning staff presented the draft to the Planning Board on June 25th; implementation is ongoing.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/montgomery-county-releases-guidelines-for-equity-in-master-planning/17033

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