The residents of our neighborhood had multiple communications with the city bodies in the last few years, related to traffic, safety and proposed land use projects in the area. For my part, I had a chance to navigate multiple city processes that ought to empower the residents, and yet in many cases fall short of the declared goals. For example, as of today, land use application notices are sent to the residents within 500' of the project and that regardless of project scale. So many become aware of the project when it is already approved and the building starts.
There are ways to truly engage the community, that are working in the cities around us. These may include focus groups and targeted reviews of comprehensive plan goals, reviving the "neighborhood coordinator" role at the city, providing support to the residents groups.