The Visalia City Council wanted to over-expand retail development in an area of town that would pull from the urban corridors creating “leap frog development” which would have resulted in widespread urban blight. Carter & Co. was retained to quickly implement a crisis communications land use advocacy project that called for consensus building and involved intimate communication with regional developers, community leaders and government officials.
The problem was attacked through the creation and implementation of “Protect Visalia” a grassroots organization formed by Carter & Co to persuade the City Council to reevaluate their plans which had been in the works for over a decade. The vote was scheduled to take place two weeks from the time Carter & Co. was engaged.
Our solution included GOTV efforts and a robust social media campaign to reach hyper-targeted Visalia residents & business owners to inform them of the council’s plans and the impact the decision would have on the vibrant urban corridors. E-fliers and newspaper advertisements directed people to Protect Visalia’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where they were, in turn, directed to the group’s main website. The main website contained all of the information any reader needed to know about the council’s proposed retail expansion and the negative effects it would have on the community. Hard copy fliers were personally distributed, phone calls made to community and business leaders, and Protect Visalia stickers were distributed with a concentration of rallying community support on the day of the City Council vote.
As a result of our efforts, over 250 citizens and business owners attended the meeting, which the Mayor noted was the largest public attendance at such a meeting she had seen in her five years in office. The overwhelming turnout of opponents to the planned retail expansion was enough to convince the City Council to table to vote until they could do further research into the subject. This allowed the stakeholders additional time to work out a sensible plan that would accommodate future growth plans while protecting the urban corridors. The City was spared from a future growth plan that would have resulted in blight and financially devastated dozens of current landlords who had already invested millions of dollars into the City based upon the existing sensible growth plans.
Media Press Release