In the winter of 2022/2023, Kounkuey Design Initiative, in partnership with Better World Group (BWG), engaged residents around the Salton Sea to understand their priorities for new community amenities throughout the region. Focusing on the shoreline communities in Imperial County and the Eastern Coachella Valley, the team engaged hundreds of residents - many for the first time - to produce a robust data set for the California Natural Resources Agency's community amenities strategy for the Salton Sea.
Understanding the need for greater investments in the communities around the Salton Sea, the California Natural Resources Agency partnered with the Salton Sea Authority and BWG. They began to develop a Community Amenities Strategy to complement the work already underway as part of their 10-Year Salton Sea Management Plan. In 2022, BWG brought KDI on board to lead the community engagement process. Our goal was to focus on amenities that could address equitable access to recreation, climate resiliency, public transportation, broadband access, public health, and workforce development.
KDI partnered with Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition (IVEJC), a local community group, to conduct a comprehensive engagement process across the Eastern Coachella Valley and the shoreline communities of the Imperial Valley.
We facilitated nine mobile engagements, held five community focus group workshops, and distributed a bilingual survey widely in just two months. In total, KDI and IVEJC surveyed over 500 community members, met with 55 focus group participants, and engaged approximately 225 individuals via mobile "obelisk" engagements across the region.
KDI produced a report on the findings of this extensive community engagement process to inform the State's Community Amenities Strategy (forthcoming summer 2023).
From our engagement work, we found that parks and walking paths were the highest-ranked amenities, while affordable housing and clean and reliable transportation were the two top infrastructure needs. Of the 508 surveys taken, more than 250 said they would like to see improvement to public transportation near their community and safety improvements on roads and vehicle access to the Salton Sea.
Our comprehensive report captures all the engagement outcomes in one document, serving as a data reference point for and ultimately guiding State investment in the region. This report will serve as a tool for the government and advocates to ensure infrastructure dollars are spent in ways the community prioritizes.