Democratic decision-making comes out of public debate and discussion. Advocates on all sides need to be engaged. I have been particularly active, during my life in the public arena, in debates about land use issues, and land use decisions do make a difference. If you let someone else make those decisions you will probably end up being dissatisfied.
Specifically, I do not think we can assume that our elected officials are going to do what the majority of the people they represent might think is the obvious, right thing. I first got involved in land use issues in the early 1970’s, because the Santa Cruz City Council was just positive that paving over Lighthouse Field, to build a massive convention center complex, was the right thing to do for the community. As it turns out, that wasn’t what everyone wanted, but the majority only got their way when the majority got organized. The current Santa Cruz City Council has a single‑minded commitment to building a desalination plant, and their attitude really takes me back. Is this what the community wants? I don’t know, but unless those who don’t want a $100‑million dollar desalination plant get organized, the Council is going to do what it wants, which, as I read it, is what the City’s water bureaucrats want.
Step One in any effective effort to build community participation is to “get organized.” That means, very simply, “getting together with your friends.” It worked in the 1970’s to remobilize community involvement in key community land use decisions then. It probably still works today!