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Thread: Cost to prepare a comprehensive plan

  1. #1
    Jun 2008
    Surburban Chicago

    Cost to prepare a comprehensive plan

    We're in the process of updating our comprehensive plan and are trying to get a
    ballpark idea of how much it costs to hire a consultant to prepare/update a
    comprehensive plan. We are a suburb of Chicago with a population of around

    Does anyone who has updated their plan in the past ten years have a ballpark
    figure on what was spent? Please indicate the size of your town and if its a rural, suburban, or urban community.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
    Nov 2010
    Greater Los Angeles
    We spent approximately $850K for our consultant's work on our General Plan Update, including EIR. We had two dedicated planners on the project as well, over a 3-year time frame. This is for a suburban community in California with a population of roughly 150,000. My understanding is that this price tag is fairly moderate for an overall comprehensive update, since jurisdictions can easily spend over $1 mil, depending on the scope of work. Of course, planning in California can also be very different than other parts of the country, given various statutory requirements. For a small town, consider how much resources you have in-house, and perhaps reserve the technical tasks for the consultants.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Feb 2002
    Quote Originally posted by cng View post
    We spent approximately $850K for our consultant's work on our General Plan Update, including EIR.
    Holy smokes

    My former place of employment did a new plan in 2004 and that was about $45K. They are a small city of 10,500 in a rural county of 45,000.

    The City I came from put out an RFP about a year ago for a new plan, and that was about 100K. That city is a mid-size city of 45K in a county of 200,000.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Jul 2009
    Colo Front Range
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    Holy smokes

    My former place of employment did a new plan in 2004 and that was about $45K. They are a small city of 10,500 in a rural county of 45,000.

    The City I came from put out an RFP about a year ago for a new plan, and that was about 100K. That city is a mid-size city of 45K in a county of 200,000.
    Way far outlier. Mid-5 figures.

  5. #5
    Oct 2007
    San Diego, CA
    Small city, large town:

    CA: $800,000-$3,500,000 (OK that's San Marcos CA on the high end there and I have no idea why they spent that much)

    NY: $60,000-$150,000 (seriously, Albany's plan was done for $130,000 I think)

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    We're on the midst of one and have $35,000 budgeted for it. It's more a land use plan than a true comprehensive plan, but will get us what we need for the near future. We are a suburb in a third tier MSA with 38,000 population.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    May 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Last land use plan adopted in 2002 was contracted out for $34,000. 2008 update was contracted out for $64,000. The new land use planl, I'll probably have to do the whole damn thing by myself.

    Oh, suburban township, 25K population.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  8. #8
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    It really depends on how much detail is involved. cng's was expensive, but it also included a lot of things that you don't normally see, such as the EIR and of course California's unusual requirements.

    Around these parts, most Comprehensive Plans include a land use/form analysis, existing conditions, infrastructure & utility, public facilities & community services, parks/open space, mobility/transportation, housing, and urban/community design elements. The prices vary based on how detailed you get and how much you rely on consultants. If you are talking about just a land use plan, I'd hazard a guess somewhere in the $50k range.

    I can provide you three examples from Texas:

    City transitioning from rural to suburban with pop of 5,000: $60,000

    Partially outsourced. Was pretty weak on the transportation element as that budget did not allow for a lot in the way of transportation consultants. The recommendations were also a bit more general in nature. It was the city's first comprehensive plan, but was still pretty respectable.

    Classic college town with pop of 50,000: $450,000

    The plan was to be completely outsourced, or done in house with heavy use of subconsultants for certain aspects; it was really going to depend This amount was budgeted, but had not moved forward when I left. It was higher because it was going to involve a lot more specificity in regards to public facilities, utilities and transportation. Also, the nature of the city demanded a stronger citizen participation element that added cost. In addition, the budget envisioned actual ordinance language for some anticipated key recommendations regarding the city's development code.

    City transitioning from bedroom suburb to a more urbanized area with pop of 7,300: $180,000

    This is more typical of what I see in Texas, unless you are dealing with a politically-charged citizenry/interest groups (i.e. Austin) or are going a few steps further in terms of specificity and detail. It also tends to go higher if you are using a big national firm with a strong reputation (earned or not).

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  9. #9
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Dec 2008
    the delta
    We put out and RFP last week and are expecting bids somewhere between 50K and 90K. This was based on prior conversations with consultants and thus is what w have budgeted for it. This does not include any environmental planning because the water department just did one last month at a cost of roughly 50K. I think whoever gets our bid will just take that info.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    A pretty standard plan with no bells or whistles should run around $40,000 to $60,000. These are Chicago prices. Further out you might be able to drop $10,000 off that price.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Emerald Coast
    We completed our 2009 comp plan update in-house. No way to estimate how much it cost. I'm proud of the document but the gadfly is still challenging. Should receive a final order from the admin law judge in the next few weeks.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  12. #12
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Apr 1996
    New Hampshire
    Our 2004 Master Plan was more of a strategic plan, cost around $65,000.

    We're doing a more comprehensive update in 2012, and have a budget of $150,000.

    (Community population of just under 25,000)
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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