Beta Launch!!!

Sorry we’ve been so quiet for so so long… we’ve been back in the toolshed working away and today we’re proud to announce we’re live with the City of Lakewood at https://lakewoodspeaks.org/!

You can check out the first two cases here:

High View Water District Major Variance (Planning Commission Case: VM-17-002)

SCM Major Variances (Planning Commission Case: VM-17-009 & VM-17-010)

We’ve been working with the City of Lakewood for over a year now and while we’re just launching publicly, we’ve already tackled a number of major milestones and risks.

Online Presentations

One of the biggest challenges we faced with bringing public hearings online is how can we replicate the presentations given to the city by staff or applicants? At the in-person public hearing, the audience listens to a detailed live presentation. While the obvious solution is simple–just have staff or applicants record themselves and upload a video file–whether that was realistic or not was a big question.

What if staff and applicants weren’t familiar with recording technology? What if they were good at delivering in-person presentations but would stumble trying to do a recording? We recognized that it is a different skill set and could be a deal breaker.

Fortunately, the staff at Lakewood found that using Microsoft Powerpoint made it a breeze: you can record audio over each slide individually. This reduces the challenge in recording a single take for an entire presentation (where if you make a mistake, you have to start all over or fix it in post-production).

Simple mic and computer setup used by staff in Lakewood.

Applicants also rose to the challenge creating phenomenal recorded video presentations and one of our biggest hurdles has been surpassed.

Timeline & Process

Another very major hurdle that we’ve managed to overcome is the changes required to the city’s procedures, both logistical and legal. In order to give citizens time to review and comment on cases before the hearing, all the information must be online weeks ahead of when it previously needed to be completed.

To do so, Lakewood Planning Commission changed their schedule and began requiring staff and applicants complete materials three weeks prior to the public hearing date. The legal department had to work to amend their policy to allow online comments to be part of the public record. It took some time to implement but now it’s working like a well oiled machine.

Pilot Test

So… here we go! Physical mailers have been sent out to citizens in the relevant areas inviting them to visit lakewoodspeaks.org (along with a handy QR code to make it easier to get to the site).

We’re just sitting around refreshing our analytics dashboards for the next couple of weeks to see if a Truly Public Hearing works!

If you live in Lakewood, we’d love for you to visit the site and let us know what you think.

Fingers crossed……..