«A thesis submitted to the faculty of San Francisco State University In partial fulfillment of The requirements for The degree Master of Arts In ...»
Planning and implementing the flood control project generated a large number of linkages between elements, often creating additional problems. (Note: The number of linkages as detailed in Palm’s framework (Figures 2-4) increased noticeably from 1960 to the present day.) Each linkage increased the complexity of the project not only by involving a new element but also the policies and procedures of that element. The flood control project was at risk of stalling at several points due to the difficulties created by the many policies and regulations surrounding flood control, including the environmental impacts of a project. Ensuring that city staff understands these policies and regulations and the constraints they impose on hazard response before developing proposed solutions could speed up the cumbersome planning process. Another issue that plagued the flood control project was lack of or insufficient communication between elements.
This communication break in the linkage between elements sometimes put the entire
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 135
Meso-level elements are perhaps the most complicated level of elements to evaluate, and not just due to their many links to other elements. Holmes’ role in the implementation of the flood control plan also points to the complexity of meso-level elements where an individual is acting in a meso-level role. Individuals acting in a mesolevel role are usually required to interpret their role and/or the policies of their organization and in doing this their individual values, experiences, and goals can influence how they carry out their role. When Scott Holmes acts on behalf of the city, his actions may not always represent his meso-level role. By deciding not to consult all parties after deciding with the Corps to remove the pipe, Holmes may have disregarded requirements of his role, but at the same time may have acted in the best interest of the city and residents by keeping the project moving forward. In addition, Holmes was willing to consider methods outside of the standard flood control methods used by public works departments for decades, and was able to provide an amenable solution to the flood problem.
example of the important influence an individual’s experiences and goals can have on the meso-level element they represent. The role of the committee was not only to help the city develop a flood control project but presumably also to represent the residents.
Although the committee generally supported many of the concerns expressed by different residents including protecting the environment, as this project demonstrates relying on a citizens committee to speak for the all residents can create tensions between city staff and the residents whose concerns have not been addressed.
Committee members acted based on their experiences and values, and were unlikely to have represented the views of all residents. When city staff and the committee communicated directly with the residents, they were able to address residents’ concerns and residents were less confrontational about the project.
Although when describing her integrative framework, Risa Palm acknowledges the significant influence an individual’s values and experiences can have on the mesolevel element they represent, she does not make this linkage explicit in her actual framework. The influence of individuals acting in meso-level roles, most significantly Scott Holmes, on the hazard response culminating in the San Pedro Creek Flood Control Project suggests that this connection should be incorporated into Palm’s framework. A revised framework could include a new “Micro in Meso” sub-level straddling the micro and meso levels (Figure 5), to represent the importance of these micro-level individuals acting in meso-level roles.
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 137FIGURE 5. Revised Integrative Framework with New Sub-Level. Modified from Palm 1990.
additional insight into why the third project has succeeded (at least in part to date).
After the 1962 flood the citizens Drainage Committee proposed major drainage improvements requiring $2 million in bonds to implement. Given that the flood seemed like a once in a lifetime event to some and that the entire community would be asked to fund the project through the bonds, the project likely had little public support and was eventually dropped. After the 1972 flood another citizens committee researched potential solutions to the problem. The repeated experience with flooding creating broader support for addressing the problem; however, an increased desire to protect the environment was not accommodated in the largely traditional structural flood control methods proposed and the project was dropped. Why did the third attempt at a flood control project ultimately succeed where the others had failed? In 1982 after the third and worst major flood in Linda Mar, many residents had several experiences with flooding and a more accurate perception of the flood hazard. Some of those residents became part of the third citizens’ flood control committee and were determined to take action and see the project through to completion. The committee strengthened their linkage with micro-level residents by working with residents who opposed the project to incorporate their concerns and gain their approval. Some of these micro-level residents even joined the meso-level flood control committee.
Likewise, Scott Holmes stepped into the meso-level role for the city at a point when the project was stalled due to opposition to the proposed floodwall. By developing a
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 139solution that addressed the concerns of most micro-level residents while also meeting the requirements of the involved meso-level elements, Holmes allowed planning to continue. Holmes’ proposed flood control plan incorporating restoration also allowed the city to obtain funding from organizations interested in environmental restoration. In order to implement the project, Holmes also broke it into phases so that it could be funded in increments instead of all at once.
If this study had evaluated the flood hazard response from either the human ecology or the political economic perspectives, instead of using Palm’s integrative framework, many influences would have been overlooked. A focus on human ecology would likely have missed the impacts of the environmental movement, federal and state regulations, and the availability of funding on the project. Likewise, if this study had concentrated on the structures and constraints of the political economic perspective, the influence of individuals opposing the project and other individuals supporting or pushing the project might not have emerged. In addition, this study finds the meso-level elements often neglected in the human ecology and political economic perspectives can have a significant influence on hazard response. For example, the post-1982 flood control committee helped keep the project moving forward for several decades, even getting help from state and federal politicians when the Corps delayed the project.
Scott Holmes, representative from the city, joined in the committee’s efforts in 1989 by proposing a new alternative that met the requirements of the different interests involved in the flood control project.
hazard response to flooding along San Pedro Creek. Factors that might lend additional insight into the hazard response include the impact of the real estate market on decisions at the meso- and micro-levels and the impact of other hazards in the area, such as landslides and earthquakes. More research into the individuals and how they get their news and information would also help the meso-level better communicate with the residents (micro-level) in the future.
As the San Pedro Creek Flood Control Project demonstrates, understanding a hazard response requires understanding influences coming from all levels, macro, meso, and micro, their environment, and the linkages between and among them. This complex interaction is highlighted well when placed into an integrative framework developed by Risa Palm; however, Palm’s framework should be expanded to include a new “Micro in Meso” sub-level to elevate the significance of micro-level elements acting in meso-level roles.
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