Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Modular comprehensive plan, any examples or feedback?

  1. #1

    Modular comprehensive plan, any examples or feedback?

    The City I work for is about to update its comprehensive plan. Our initial strategy was to just spend a quarter million on some consultant and have them do it for us, but thanks to issues with funding, that is off the table. (which frankly I am kind of glad)

    Our current plan dates back to 1999, every department in the city stopped paying attention to it years ago, the Future Land Use Map is a complete nightmare, and certain traumatic events in the late 2000s led to various planning processes that I think are pretty good but we need to tie into a comprehensive city plan.

    Anyways, in light of limited resources and all the shortcomings with Comp Plans that we all know about, I'm looking into alternative ways to shape the plan without it becoming stale after 2 years and without having to expend a bunch of energy once a decade to completely rewrite the document.

    The idea I've been floating, that has gained some traction with my director, is to have a short core document (15 or so pages of standard Comp Plan fluff) followed by an annual or semi-annually updated implementation section that is compiled from various element documents that are on a set update schedule. The actual comp plan would be a fairly short document (Vision Statement, Guiding Principles, standard “letter from the mayor” type stuff, and then a few pages of goals and objectives followed by an updated future land use map.)

    Each area of the plan would have an “Element” document that is semi-independent of the core plan and would be updated by staff on a set schedule. A staff person would be assigned to each element and would responsible for tracking implementation and interacting with the relevant departments and stakeholders. Each element would be updated about once every 2 years, with a batch of them updated annually or semi-annually by council resolution.

    Anyways, thoughts? Anyone know of cities that do anything like that? Any pitfalls? The one that comes to mind immediately is that it might be difficult to keep the big picture in mind when you’re constantly zeroing in on a different sections.

  2. #2
    Jul 2008
    My only concern would be if there are any state laws that would prohibit doing a comp plan in that manner. State law here dictates how the comprehensive plan is done and it must meet those standards in order for the jurisdiction to continue to receive some state funding. Admittedly we haven't done a comp plan since 1998... We're supposed to update it every 5 years and rewrite it every 10 but we've seen no consequences from the state for not doing this. We're essentially having the same issues as you though, just not enough resources to contract it out or do it ourselves.

    I think your idea definitely has merit though if you're able to keep up with all the changes spurred on by elected officials. It would be easier to pass a comp plan under a single council than it would be to try to do it under multiple ones.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    The challenge I see is that a comprehensive plan considers the elements in context with each other. Doing them piecemeal may present challenges to getting the goals, policies, and initiatives to "sync" with each other. A more common approach we have used is to prepare the plan over a longer time frame. For example, I recently did a plan for a community of 70,000. Year )ne we did the visioning and began to identify priority issues. Years Two and Three we did the various elements. In a sense we really did four years, since we did the downtown plan the year before.

    I do like your idea of updating each element on a two-year schedule, and think it would be very interesting to have an implementation and monitoring matrix as part of the process. Your consultant could set up a process and supporting applications to.... Hey, wait a minute. I may want to bid on this. Don't want to give away the good ideas....

    Depending on the size of your community I wonder if a budget of $250,000 is high, especially if there are not too many detailed elements you will be asking for in the plan.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Apr 2008
    A few blocks off of the Ohio...
    We're doing something similar here - 12 components that fit together into what we call "the three-ring binder approach" over time as each is completed. http://www.planpgh.com is the City's website for the Plan, and describes the various components and the process we're going through. There are definitely advantages and pitfalls to doing it this way, which is a discussion I'd be happy to have with you if you feel our process is similar to what you're thinking.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Zoning Comprehensive plan question
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 10
    Last post: 15 Jun 2009, 1:41 PM
  2. Replies: 3
    Last post: 05 Feb 2007, 6:22 PM
  3. Replies: 2
    Last post: 28 Dec 2006, 10:32 AM
  4. Replies: 9
    Last post: 14 Oct 2003, 1:43 PM