New Urbanism & Comprehensive Plans Progress Report

Thus far, the committee has developed a brief list of characteristics of new urban comp plans. These include:

♦ “Land Uses” that Incorporating Form and Character – The cornerstone of new urban comp plans is they go beyond traditional land use designations to include the form and character of the community. Urban design is typically included with design guidance provided for all or part of cities.
♦ Multi-jurisdictional, Multi-scale Planning – New urban comp plans address growth and change on a variety of scales from the region down to the building and block. The plans address the jurisdiction’s role, position and strategic advantage in the region and use this as the formative basis for developing the vision and guiding future growth, development and conservation.
♦ Visioning – The vision and the visioning process should be the foundation for comp plans. The vision is the springboard for innovation and should be developed with a community- and citizen driven process. This is critical to lead to the success of the plan once it is adopted. Additionally, the vision must match the specific content in the plan itself.
♦ Identification of the Typology of Place – New urban comp plans typically break the city into their component parts (for example, neighborhoods, districts and corridors) to better understand the structure of the community. During the comprehensive plan update process specific conditions and issues in each neighborhood, district and corridor are identified and policies for change developed. Other functional classification systems can be used or developed, such as using the Transect to identify similar types of places within a community.
♦ Understanding Change – Understanding where, when, how, and how much change will occur in a jurisdiction needs to be addressed so that the forces of growth can be harnessed to improve the quality of life without degrading the existing community. Maps representing the level and timing of change are developed to indicate the areas where the existing character will be preserved and the areas where change is desired in the short and long term.
♦ Public Involvement – Public involvement is critical to the success of a plan. Innovative involvement techniques, such as charrettes, can be used to supplement grassroots outreach and involvement. Ideally, during the process, jurisdictions go to great lengths seek out more than the usual cast of characters to be involved in the update process; major efforts are made to involve segments of the community who have not had a voice in the planning process.
♦ Land Use/Transportation Integration – Comprehensive plans typically develop goals and policies for land use and transportation. However, the two topics are rarely fully integrated in the comprehensive planning process and the result is transportation (particularly about the geometry of roadways) that is in conflict with the desired vision of the area. New urban comp plans integrate the land use and transportation decision-making process and result in streets that are sensitive to the land use and design context and desired vision.
♦ A Holistic Approach – New urban comp plans should address a wide range of social, environmental and economic issues including social justice, sustainable development, green buildings, natural resources conservation and preservation, public health, education, and economic conditions. These topics are integrated with the land use and transportation elements of the plan so that one holistic vision of betterment is created for the community.
♦ Implementation – A plan is no good unless it is implemented. As Rick Cole, the city manager of Ventura, CA says, “Plan is a verb.” New urban comp plans are structured to be implemented. Typically, the comp plan will be developed to set the stage for coding and include methods by which the community understands whether the plan is achieving its desired objectives.

For more information, please contact Matt Raimi, Co-Chair of the Environment Task Force or Heather Smith CNU Planning Director