Web drive pushes city to alter plan

Web drive pushes city to alter plan

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“This says that the computer key is mightier than the sword,” said Phipps, 65, a retired lawyer. Last week, then-Mayor Jef Vander Borght decided to back down from a plan to realign Chandler from a twin two-way route to two one-way streets going in opposite directions on each side of a bike path. Vander Borght, who relinquished his title as the city’s mayor this week in a routine shuffling on the City Council, said he believes the Internet is a powerful new tool for residents to reach out to their elected officials. “Most people are able to use it at their convenience and are able to send these messages to all of their elected officials at the same time,” he said. “Not only just one, but every one of them, and in most cases, ask for a reply as well.” It’s a trend seen across the country. Neal Richman, director of UCLA’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, which specializes in using technology for planning decisions, said people are using the Web more and more in cities’ decision-making processes. BURBANK – Robert Phipps and Ilayne Lucas fought City Hall and won – through the Web. In a battle that years ago might have been fought through phone trees, paper fliers and meetings, the two used e-mails and a Web site they designed called Keeping Chandler Park Safe to rally 87 residents to stop the city from reconfiguring Chandler Boulevard. Phipps wrote press releases explaining how dangerous a realignment could be, researched city traffic data to chronicle crashes, bombarded city officials with e-mails and posted their responses in e-mail updates to residents. Lucas set up the Web site, helping spread the word. And in a matter of weeks, Phipps and his supporters changed City Hall’s mind, an effort made all that much easier with a few mouse clicks and Lucas’ tech savvy. “It evens out the playing field in a way they’ve never been able to do in the past,” said Richman, who affectionately calls these citizen netsters “digital natives.” “Just as you expect to walk the street, they expect to move digitally and get what they need.” Tom Mullens, chairman of the coordinating committee for another grass-roots Web site, SoCalGrassroots.org, which sets up campaign fund-raising efforts, said through his site he can reach more people and can more quickly organize efforts. “In the old days, you’d do a lot of phone trees, postcards and a lot more personal meetings,” said Mullens, an administrative analyst for University of California, Santa Barbara, who runs the site which has an e-mail list of 11,500 statewide. “Everybody is still kind of learning their way as to exactly how it all works and how it works best.” Phipps and Lucas said they will continue to keep their free site updated with news about the goings-on in the Chandler Park neighborhood. Phipps, whom City Manager Mary Alvord recently called “the Chandler dude,” plans to take on other community issues down the road. “We are in motion,” he said. “As long as we keep unified issues, we’re all together. We have let it be known who we are and what we want and we have forced the people in power to listen to us.” [email protected] (818) 546-3306160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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