This blog post was written by Craig T. Olwert, PhD, Associate Professor, Urban Studies and Planning, California State University, Northridge
Resilient Northridge: A Plan for a Better Community & Campus is the outcome of much work by the California State University, Northridge Master of Urban Planning students to increase local resiliency and is part of the Climate Resilience in Urban Campuses + Communities (CRUX) initiative led by Second Nature. California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has around 40,000 students and is centrally located in Northridge, a neighborhood of around 80,000 residents located in the City of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.
The plan was developed over two semesters as part of the master students’ professional project. They chose and identified 15 indicators from the 100 Resilient Cities program that are most critical to the Northridge neighborhoods and the campus. The background data collected included quantitative and qualitative data, expert interviews and field research. Prepared with this information, the students were then ready to get public feedback on the largest concerns, so that recommendations could be developed.
To prepare for the public involvement, the students received training from The Nature Conservancy on September 9, 2017 with A Community Resilience Building Workshop Training. The first public meeting was held in November 2017 at a local restaurant to have the local residents consider hazards faced in Northridge and what indicators could be affected by those hazards. The students also hosted an on-line survey to further understand the importance of the indicators.
After considering the results of the first meeting and survey, the students continued getting more public input at the monthly Northridge Vision meetings. Northridge Vision brings together community leaders from neighborhood councils, the council member’s office, the chamber of commerce, and the university. At the February meeting a mapping exercise was performed to gain a better understanding of where resilience issues are physically located. The students presented 30 potential recommendations and through “dot democracy” the leaders identified Northridge resiliency priorities. At the April meeting, the students reviewed the revised prioritized recommendations. Finally during the May meeting, samples from the draft plan were presented.
Northridge Vision provided valuable feedback on revising and prioritizing community recommendations.
While this took care of many neighborhood concerns, a Student Open House was held on February 21, 2018, with over 80 students identifying the hazards and indicators most associated with the hazards faced by the student body. This feedback allowed the students to develop recommendations for CSUN resiliency. They worked with CSUN personnel who provided input and steps to successfully implement the recommendations.
The CSUN Student Open House hosted in CSUN’s new LEED Platinum certified Sustainability Center provided feedback on hazards and indicators that address the hazards.
In the final plan, 28 recommendations were made for Northridge and CSUN. They include recommendations that were grouped into Better Mobility, Better Community, and Better Environment. Each recommendation includes the stressors and shocks that they help ameliorate, a method to monitor implementation progress, a resilience indicator that should increase with implementation completion, and partners to help finalize the plan.
The students worked hard to create a plan to benefit the university and the neighborhood.