I’m evaluating possible research avenues now that I have the Post-Doc world ahead of me. Given my thesis findings in Calabasas about community-wide perceptions regarding cell sites in neighborhoods, and the comments of my thesis review panel discussing my findings, I’m thinking about conducting a similar but more extensive and focused public opinion study in another one of the communities I work with in Southern California. It’s a community where new cell siting issues have been a particularly contentious and heated issue.
Like most cases in local government, those who show up to public meetings are often and commonly opposed to some issue or proposition. Those who feel that they are not affected (or even supportive) of the issue or proposition don’t typically attend public meetings. The result can be that a vocal minority can distort the perceptions of government decision makers leading to skewed decisions based on thin or no real evidence.
I’m not suggesting that a minority testifying against something at a public hearing is always wrong; only that a better basis for a community-impacting decisions by governments should be to base those decisions on broad community input, including those who don’t show up for meetings.