The MPO’s planning process is conducted in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes. Any person or beneficiary who believes that within the MPO’s planning process they have been discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, or familial status may file a complaint by completing a Title VI Complaint Form with the Title VI/Nondiscrimination Program Coordinator, Danielle Bates at Danielle.Bates@colliercountyfl.gov or 239-252-5814 or by writing at 2885 South Horseshoe Drive, Naples, FL 34104.
TITLE VI NONDISCRIMINATION PROGRAM POLICY AND COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
The Collier MPO is a recipient of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation modal agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). All recipients of federal funding must comply with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination statutes, regulations and authorities. This Implementation Plan describes how the Department effectuates nondiscrimination in the delivery of its federally assisted programs, services and activities. The Plan includes the structure of the MPO’s Title VI/Nondiscrimination program as well as the policies, procedures and practices that the Department uses to comply with nondiscrimination requirements. The Plan is intended to be a living document, regularly policed and updated by the Department to meaningfully reflect the program as it changes and grows. Anyone wishing to provide input into the Department’s Title VI/Nondiscrimination Implementation Plan is encouraged to contact the Title VI/Nondiscrimination Program Coordinator, Danielle Bates at Danielle.Bates@colliercountyfl.gov or 239-252-5814 or by writing at 2885 South Horseshoe Drive, Naples, FL 34104.
It is the policy of the MPO to comply with all federal and state authorities requiring nondiscrimination, including but not limited to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and Executive Order 12898 (Environmental Justice) and 13166 (Limited English Proficiency). The MPO does not and will not exclude from participation in; deny the benefits of; or subject anyone to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability or income. In addition, the MPO complies with the Florida Civil Rights Act, and does not permit discrimination on the basis of religion or family status in its programs, services or activities.
The Collier MPO has adopted the Florida Department of Transportation’s (Department) Title VI/Nondiscrimination policy and ADA policy by reference. Topic No.:275-010-010-f–Title VI Program and Related Statutes-Implementation and Review Procedures.
The Department’s Title VI/Nondiscrimination policy and ADA policy statement may be found at: US DOJ Title VI Nondiscrimination Policy. Those requiring information in alternative formats or in a language subject to the Department’s Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan, should contact the Title VI/Nondiscrimination Coordinator.
MPO DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
Any person who believes that he or she, or any specific class of persons, has been subjected to discrimination or retaliation prohibited by the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and related statutes, under the MPO’s planning process may file a written complaint.
The MPO encourages the filing of a complaint in writing which includes a name, address, and other information so that you may be contacted in regard to the matter. Please see the Title VI Complaint Form. The MPO will investigate complaints received no more than 180 days after the alleged incident. The MPO will process complaints that are complete.
- All complaints will be investigated promptly. Reasonable measures will be undertaken to preserve any information that is confidential. The MPO’s Title VI Specialist will review every complaint to determine if our office has jurisdiction.
- Within ten (10) calendar days, the Title VI Specialist will acknowledge receipt of the allegation(s), inform the Complainant of action taken or proposed action to process the allegation(s), and advise the Complainant of other avenues of redress available, such as the FDOT’s Equal Opportunity Office (EOO).
- The MPO has sixty (60) calendar days to investigate the complaint. If more information is needed to resolve the complaint, the MPO’s Title VI Specialist will contact the complainant. The complainant has 10 business days from the date of the letter to send the requested information to the Title VI Specialist. If the Title VI Specialist is not contacted by the complainant or does not receive the additional information within 15 business days, the MPO may administratively close the case. A case can also be administratively closed if the complainant no longer wishes to pursue their case.
- At a minimum, the investigation will:
- Identify and review all relevant documents, practices, and procedures;
- Identify and interview persons with knowledge of the Title VI violation, including the person making the complaint, witnesses, or anyone identified by the complainant; anyone who may have been subject to similar activity or anyone with relevant information.
- Within ninety (90) calendar days of the complaint, the MPO’s Title VI Specialist will issue one of two letters to the complainant: a closure letter or a letter of finding (LOF). A closure letter summarizes the allegations and states that there was not a Title VI violation and that the case will be closed. An LOF summarizes the allegations and the interviews regarding the alleged incident, and explains whether any disciplinary action, additional training of the staff members or other action will occur.
- If no violation is found and the complainant wishes to appeal the decision, he/she has fourteen (14) days after the date of the letter or the LOF to do so.
- If the issue has not been satisfactorily resolved through the MPO’s investigation, or if at any time the person(s) request(s) to file a formal complaint, the recipient’s MPO Title VI Specialist shall refer the Complainant to the FDOT’s District One Title VI Coordinator for processing in accordance with approved State procedures.
- The MPO’s Title VI Specialist will advise the FDOT’s District One Title VI Coordinator within five (5) calendar days of the completed investigation. The following information will be included in every notification to the FDOT’s District One Title VI Coordinator:
- Name, address, and phone number of the Complainant.
- Name(s) and address(es) of Respondent.
- Basis of complaint (i.e., race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, familial status or retaliation).
- Date of alleged discriminatory act(s).
- Date of complaint received by the recipient.
- A statement of the complaint.
- Other agencies (state, local or Federal) where the complaint has been filed.
- An explanation of the actions the recipient has taken or proposed to resolve the allegation(s) raised in the complaint.
- The MPO’s Title VI Specialist will maintain a log of complaints received by the MPO. The log will include the following information:
- Name of Complainant
- Name of Respondent
- Basis of Complaint (i.e., race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, familial status or retaliation)
- Date complaint was received by the recipient
- Date that the MPO Title VI Specialist notified the FDOT’s District One Title VI Coordinator of the complaint
- Explanation of the actions the recipient has taken or proposed to resolve the issue raised in the complaint
LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY PLAN
The Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is responsible for a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process in Collier County (as well as a small portion of Lee County included in the MPO’s Planning Area). This planning process guides the use of federal and state dollars spent on existing and future transportation projects or programs, and the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan plays an integral role in this process. This document will detail the LEP Plan, developed in conjunction with best practice standards for public involvement.
On August 11, 2000, President William J. Clinton signed an executive order, Executive Order 13166: Improving Access to Service for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, to clarify Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its purpose was to ensure accessibility to programs and services to eligible persons who are not proficient in the English language.
This executive order stated that individuals who do not speak English well and who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English are entitled to language assistance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter. It reads in part,
- “Each Federal agency shall prepare a plan to improve access to its federally conducted programs and activities by eligible LEP persons. Each plan shall be consistent with the standards set forth in the LEP Guidance and shall include the steps the agency will take to ensure that eligible LEP persons can meaningfully access the agency’s programs and activities.”
Not only do all federal agencies have to develop LEP Plans, as a condition of receiving federal financial assistance, but also state and local recipients are required to comply with Title VI and LEP guidelines of the federal agency from which they receive funds.
Federal financial assistance includes grants, training, use of equipment, donations of surplus property and other assistance. Recipients of federal funds range from state and local agencies to nonprofits and other organizations. Title VI covers a recipient’s entire program or activity. This means all components of a recipient’s operations are covered. Simply put, any organization that receives federal financial assistance is required to follow this Executive Order.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) published: “Policy Guidance Concerning Recipients’ Responsibilities to Limited English Proficient Person” in the December 14, 2005 Federal Register. The guidance explicitly identifies MPOs as organizations that must follow this guidance:
- The guidance applies to all DOT funding recipients, which include state departments of transportation, state motor vehicle administrations, airport operators, metropolitan planning organizations, and regional, state, and local transit operators, among many others. Coverage extends to a recipient’s entire program or activity, i.e., to all parts of a recipient’s operations. This is true even if only one part of the recipient receives the Federal assistance. For example, if DOT provides assistance to a state department of transportation to rehabilitate a particular highway on the National Highway System, all of the operations of the entire state department of transportation—not just the particular highway program or project—are covered by the DOT guidance.
The intent of this Limited English Proficiency Plan is to ensure access to the planning process and information published by the MPO where it is determined that a substantial number of residents in the Collier MPO Planning Area do not speak or read English proficiently. The production of multilingual publications and documents and/or interpretation at meetings or events will be provided to the degree that funding permits based on current laws and regulations.
LAWS AND POLICIES GUIDING LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY PLANS
As part of Metropolitan Planning Organization certification by the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the LEP Plan will be assessed and evaluated. The following matrix illustrates these laws, policies and considerations:
|Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964||Limited English Proficiency Executive Order 13166|
|Federal Law||Federal Policy|
|Enacted in 1964||Enacted in August 2000|
|Considers all persons||Considers eligible population|
|Contains monitoring and oversight compliance review requirements||Contains monitoring and oversight compliance review requirements|
|Factor criteria is required, no numerical or percentage thresholds||Factor criteria is required, no numerical or percentage thresholds|
|Provides protection on the basis of race, color, and national origin||Provides protection on the basis of national origin|
|Focuses on eliminating discrimination in federally funded programs||Focuses on providing LEP persons with meaningful access to services using four factor criteria|
|Annual Accomplishment and Upcoming Goals Report to FHWA||Annual Accomplishment and Upcoming Goals Report to FHWA|
WHO IS AN LEP INDIVIDUAL?
As defined in the 2000 United States Census, it is any Individual who speaks a language at home other than English as his/her primary language, and who speaks or understands English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’
DETERMINING THE NEED
As a recipient of federal funding, the MPO must take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to the information and services it provides. As noticed in the Federal Register/ Volume 70, Number 239/ Wednesday, December 14, 2005/ Notices, there are four factors to consider in determining “reasonable steps”.
- Factor 1 – The number and proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service area;
- Factor 2 – The frequency with which LEP persons encounter MPO programs;
- Factor 3 – The importance of the service provided by MPO programs;
- Factor 4 – The resources available and overall cost to the MPO.
The DOT Policy Guidance gives recipients of federal funds substantial flexibility in determining what language assistance is appropriate based on a local assessment of the four factors listed above. The following is an assessment of need in Collier MPO’s Planning Area in relation to the four factors and the transportation planning process.
LEP ASSESSMENT FOR THE COLLIER MPO
FACTOR 1. THE NUMBER AND PROPORTION OF LEP PERSONS IN THE ELIGIBLE SERVICE AREA
The first step towards understanding the profile of individuals who could participate in the transportation planning process is a review of Census data. Tables 1 and 2 on the following pages display the primary language spoken and number of individuals that are LEP. In Collier County, between 2010 and 2016, the number of people who speak a language other than English at home increased by 16,000 while the number of people who speak English less than “very well” decreased by 1,000.
For our planning purposes, we are considering people that speak English ‘less than very well’ and only the top four language groups are included in the analysis.
Table 1, derived from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year Estimates conducted by the US Census, shows the number and percent of the population, with regard to their English language skills, for the cities and unincorporated portions of Collier County as well as for the County as a whole. In unincorporated Collier County, 15.7% of the population age 5 years or older speak English less than “very well”, compared to 14.5 for the entire County.
|Table 1: Limited English Proficient Persons in the MPO Planning area and local jurisdictions 2016 American Community Survey – US Census – 5-year estimates|
Table 2 shows the number and percent of LEP persons by language spoken at the individual’s home. Of the LEP persons within Collier County, 23.4% speak Spanish at home making this the most significant percentage of the area’s population. The second most common language at home is Other Indo-European languages at 7.8%; Asian and Pacific Islander languages represent 0.9% of the “other” languages spoken at home.
|Table 2: Language Spoken at Home by LEP Persons – Collier MPO Planning Area 2016 American Community Survey, 5-year Estimates, US Census|
FACTOR 2. THE FREQUENCY IN WHICH LEP PERSONS ENCOUNTER MPO PROGRAMS
The MPO documents phone inquiries, public meetings and office visits. To date, the MPO has had no requests for interpreters and no requests for translated program documents or publications by either individuals or groups.
FACTOR 3. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SERVICE PROVIDED BY THE MPO PROGRAM
MPO programs use federal funds to plan for future transportation projects, and therefore do not include any direct service or program that requires vital, immediate or emergency assistance, such as medical treatment or services for basic needs (like food or shelter). Further, the MPO does not conduct required activities such as applications, interviews or other activities prior to participation in its programs or events. Involvement by any citizen with the MPO or its committees is voluntary.
However, the MPO must ensure that all segments of the population, including LEP persons, have been involved or have had the opportunity to be involved in the transportation planning process to be consistent with the goal of the Federal Environmental Justice program and policy. The impact of proposed transportation investments on underserved and under-represented population groups is part of the evaluation process in use of federal funds in three major areas for the MPO:
- the biennial Unified Planning Work Program,
- the five-year Transportation Improvement Program,
- the Long-Range Transportation Plan, covering 20+ years.
Inclusive public participation is a priority consideration in other MPO plans, studies and programs as well. The impacts of transportation improvements resulting from these planning activities have an impact on all residents. Understanding and continued involvement are encouraged throughout the process. The MPO is concerned with input from all stakeholders and makes every effort to ensure that the planning process is as inclusive as possible.
As a result of the long range transportation planning process, selected projects receive approval for federal funding and progress towards project planning and construction under the responsibility of local jurisdictions or state transportation agencies. These state and local organizations have their own policies to ensure LEP individuals can participate in the process that shapes where, how and when a specific transportation project is implemented.
FACTOR 4. THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE AND OVERALL MPO COST
Given the size of the LEP population in the MPO area, the current financial constraints of the MPO and the expense of full multi-language translations of large transportation plan documents and maps which have frequent changes and are not often used by the public, translation of MPO documents is not considered to be warranted at this time.
The MPO will continue efforts to collaborate with state and local agencies to provide language translation and interpretation services when practical and funding is available. Spanish and other language outreach materials from organizations such as federal, state, and local transportation agencies will be used when possible. The MPO will monitor increases in the LEP population and adjust its LEP policy accordingly. If warranted in the future, the MPO will consider new techniques to reach the LEP population, such as (1) the translation of executive summaries for key MPO documents, such as the Long Range Transportation Plan, the Transportation Improvement Program, and the Public Involvement Plan, and (2) the translation of document summaries, brochures or newsletters, which are designed to capture significant points of the full document. Additionally, the MPO currently has an employee that is fluent in both English and Spanish. In addition, Collier County Growth Management Division and the Alternative Transportation Modes Department have employees fluent in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, and are available as interpreters as needed.
MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS
Engaging the diverse population within the MPO area is important. The MPO is committed to providing quality services to all citizens, including those with limited English proficiency. All language access activities detailed below will be coordinated in collaboration with the MPO Board and staff.
SAFE HARBOR STIPULATION
Federal law provides a ‘safe harbor’ stipulation so recipients of federal funding can ensure compliance with their obligation to provide written translations in languages other than English with greater certainty. A ‘safe harbor’ means that as long as a recipient (the MPO) has created a plan for the provision of written translations under a specific set of circumstances, such action will be considered strong evidence of compliance with written translation obligations under Title VI.
However, failure to provide written translations under the circumstances does not mean there is noncompliance, but rather provides for recipients a guide for greater certainty of compliance in accordance with the four-factor analysis. Evidence of compliance with the recipient’s written translation obligations under ‘safe harbor’ includes providing written translations of vital documents for each eligible LEP language group that constitutes 5% or 1,000 persons, whichever is less of eligible persons served or likely to be affected. (Note: At this time, data on area language groups indicates that this requirement does not apply.) Translation also can be provided orally. The ‘safe harbor’ provision applies to the translation of written documents only. It does not affect the requirement to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals through competent oral interpreters where oral language services are needed and reasonable to provide.
PROVIDING NOTICE TO LEP PERSONS
US DOT guidance indicates that once an agency has decided, based on the four factors, to provide language services, it is important that the recipient notify LEP persons of services available free of charge in a language the LEP persons would understand. Example methods for notification include:
- Signage that indicates when free language assistance is available with advance notice;
- Stating in outreach documents that language services are available;
- Working with community-based organizations and other stakeholders to inform LEP individuals of MPO services and the availability of language assistance;
- Using automated telephone voice mail or menu to provide information about available language assistance services;
- Including notices in local publications targeting Spanish-speaking and Haitian-Creole-speaking ng audiences in languages other than English;
- Providing notices on non-English-language radio and television about MPO services and the availability of language assistance; and
- Providing presentations and/or notices at schools and community-based organizations (CBO).
If deemed essential in the future in light of revised census data, the MPO will publicize the availability of interpreter services, free of charge, at least 7 days prior to MPO Board and committee meetings, workshops, forums or events which will be noticed on the MPO website, in meeting notices (packets), and using the following additional tools as appropriate:
- public outreach materials
- community-based organizations
- local publications as referenced above
- Non-English-language radio and television
The MPO defines an interpreter as a person who translates spoken language orally, as opposed to a translator, who translates written language and transfers the meaning of written text from one language into another. The MPO will request language interpreter services from Collier County staff, as needed, and will reciprocate by making MPO staff available as needed. As covered under Title VI requirements for nondiscrimination, at each meeting, the MPO will provide Title VI material and include this material in an alternative language when applicable.
A goal of the PPP is to provide user-friendly materials that will be appealing and easy to understand. The MPO will provide on an “as needed” basis, executive summaries in alternative formats, such as brochures or newsletters, depending on the work product.
MPO STAFF TRAINING
This LEP Plan is incorporated in the PIP to maintain meaningful access to information and services for LEP individuals, the MPO will properly train its employees to assist in person, and/or by telephone, LEP individuals who request assistance. MPO Board members will receive a briefing on the PIP & LEP Plan, assuring that they are aware of and understand how the PIP implements the LEP Plan.
EQUITY – IDENTIFYING TRADITIONALLY UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advised the MPO during the quadrennial Transportation Management Area (TMA) review in 2016 to incorporate an analysis of Environmental Justice Communities and issues in all new plans and studies. The FHWA advised MPO staff to include the type of analysis conducted for the MPO’s Transportation Disadvantaged Service Plan.
According to guidance published by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), it is important to see Environmental Justice as an opportunity to make better transportation decisions by doing the following:
- Making transportation decisions that meet the needs of all people
- Designing facilities that fit into communities
- Enhancing the public involvement process and strengthening community-based partnerships
- Improving the tools for analyzing the impacts of transportation decisions on minority and low-income communities
- Partnering with other public and private agencies to leverage resources and achieve a common vision for communities
MPO staff began by reviewing the MPO’s Transportation Disadvantaged Service Plan (TDSP), Major Update, adopted October 25, 2013 for maps showing Populations in Poverty, Households with No Vehicles and Identified Areas of Need as a starting point in identifying disadvantaged communities potentially underserved by transportation infrastructure and programs within Collier County.
FHWA advised using a variety of resources, and local knowledge to determine the location and needs of disadvantaged communities. MPO staff augmented the TDSP maps using the following sources:
- US Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS)
- American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP)
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Screening and Mapping Tool
- MPO Advisory Committee review of findings (for local knowledge)
To address the issue of equity in terms of providing equal access to bicycle and pedestrian facilities County-wide, the MPO’s previous identification of Environmental Justice (EJ) communities was updated for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (2019). The EJ criteria used for the BPMP were minority status, poverty, no access to a vehicle, and limited ability to speak English. EJ areas were defined as areas where the criteria were 10% greater than the County average. The map shows the results of the EJ analysis.