Citywide Planning in Peer Cities

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The We Will Chicago team and its partners searched far and wide for examples of plans to shape the direction of Chicago’s first citywide plan since 1966. The following list highlights approaches and features that will inform the We Will Chicago plan:

OneNYC 2050: BUILDING A STRONG AND FAIR CITY (2019)

OneNYC is New York City’s overarching, long-term strategy for a strong and fair city. It looks 30 years ahead to the middle of the 21st century, and puts equity, inclusivity and critical challenges including climate change at its core. This plan is a strategy to secure New York’s future against the challenges of today and tomorrow. It includes eight volumes, each focusing on a specific goal, and an action plan that specifies lead agencies for each goal along with recommended short-term milestones.

Highlights to consider:

  • Organized around eight over-arching goals:
  1. A vibrant democracy
  2. An inclusive economy
  3. Thriving neighborhoods
  4. Healthy lives
  5. Equity and excellence in education
  6. A livable climate
  7. Efficient mobility
  8. Modern infrastructure
  • Set a standard for civic branding and report design. Makes complex information exciting and highlights a narrative of progress using a progressive visual system that highlights big ideas and scannable content that makes crucial data elements pop.
  • Included aggressive climate goals, such as ending the use of fossil fuels at government buildings by 2040, stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure (No power plant expansions, pipelines, fuel terminals, etc.), and committing to carbon neutrality by 2050 in a just transition that benefits all New Yorkers.
  • Addressed innovative mobility strategies including restricting vehicular access, creating safe pedestrian zones, prioritizing bus service, and introducing congestion pricing to manage vehicular traffic.


Denver Comprehensive Plan 2040 (2019)

A 20-year vision for Denver and its people, this plan reflects the voice of thousands who have shared their hopes, concerns, and dreams for the future. The outcome of a three-year planning process called “Denveright,” the plan’s community-driven recommendations build on existing plans and policies to guide city leaders, institutions, and community members in imagining Denver’s physical, economic, and social fabric into the future.

Highlights to consider:

  • Racial equity awareness training and quantitative analysis were core components of the planning process, including data visualizations to show equity impacts (Storymap).
  • Extensive and consistent commitment by municipal stakeholders, including 32 people on a mayoral task force meeting 20 times over a 3-year planning period.
  • Innovative community engagement such as an online board game (Grow a Better Denver), “Meetings in a box” toolkits that allowed other groups to use the same materials to host their own meetings, and Registered Neighborhood Organizations to leverage existing communication channels.
  • Implementation of demonstration projects while the planning process was still ongoing to show connection and immediate impacts.
  • Utilized Neighborhood Planning Initiatives to create grouped neighborhood plans (area plans and dashboards)
  • Identified performance metrics and created an easy-to-read scorecard (via StoryMap) to make the plan evaluation accessible to a wide range of participants.
  • Collected key displacement data and mapped areas at risk to support anti-displacement strategies.


OurLA 2040: The City of Los Angeles General Plan (2017)

This plan serves as a blueprint for the future, prescribing policy goals and objectives to shape and guide the physical development of Los Angeles.

It is a comprehensive policy document that provides the foundational guide for planning and informs future land use decisions. More than just the legal basis for all local land-use decisions, the General Plan is the vision for how L.A. will evolve, reflecting the values and priorities of its communities.

Highlights to consider:

  • Designated funding grants of $20 to $30 million for transformative projects tied to environmental justice and public health plan priorities and goals.
  • Created a set of Departmental Equity Officers, and established Chief Sustainability Officers in all 40 LA city departments, to work together to solve problems and coordinate resources.


Imagine Boston 2030 (2017)

This is Boston's first citywide plan in 50 years. The two-year planning process began with a deep understanding of demographic and economic changes that leveraged the city’s public and private physical assets, human and social capital, and regulatory and financial tools to achieve the city’s goals. The final plan creates a framework to preserve and enhance Boston, setting a vision for 2030 and identifying areas for economic growth and neighborhood enhancement to help the City achieve this vision.

Highlights to consider:

  • The plan harnessed a novel marketing campaign based on evocative questions, with advertising on buses, texts, hiring public participants to interview others, and postcards with municipal service communications, such as water and sewer bills.
  • All municipal departments were integrated into a public-facing engagement effort.
  • Created individual department implementation plans to align with the citywide plan.
  • Established performance management team to determine goals and metrics for the plan, discuss how goals are implemented, and implement reporting dashboards for each department (Imagine Boston Dashboard).


Minneapolis 2040: The City's Comprehensive Plan (2019)

The Twin Cities region requires its municipalities to provide an updated Comprehensive Plan every ten years, and this is the most recent update.

During more than two years of engagement, the planning process captured residents’ vision and hopes for a future Minneapolis and presented an opportunity to undo barriers and overcome inequities created by previous policies. The plan covers topics such as housing, job access, the design of new buildings, and how streets are used and will guide decision-making that affects the long-term future of our city as it relates to the built, natural, and economic environment.

Highlights to consider:

  • Regardless of the topic, the planning process centered equity throughout. Planning staff were assigned to reflect the racial mix and needs of the city.
  • Extensive civic engagement plan that identified target stakeholders and methods, evaluated the effectiveness of methods, and established implementation phases (Civic Engagement Plan).
  • Detailed engagement budget that included compensation for community members to host conversations in communities.
  • Engagement process that created space for difficult conversations to happen and facilitated historical reckoning and segregation/prejudice mapping.
  • An overlay of maps was created to illustrate how the past was implicated in current realities and to suggest policies that could address it (ex. Redlining / single-family zoning maps).
  • Multiple draft cycles for the community to engage with the plan see how their feedback was incorporated.


Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan (2018)

This is Seattle's Comprehensive Plan that plan provides long‐term guidance to help the City make decisions over the next 20 years about managing growth and providing services. The initial plan (1994) embraced the concept of sustainable growth, and the recent update (2018) makes race and social equity foundational core values. Led by the Department of Planning and Development, the main goal was to guide the physical development of the city. However, the plan also promoted better access to jobs, education, affordable housing, parks, community centers, and healthy food for all of Seattle’s residents. Seattle 2035’s goals and policies will influence the actions of other government agencies and private businesses, encouraging them to promote social justice and racial equity in their work.

Highlights to consider:

  • This 3+ year multi-departmental effort embeds 33 neighborhood plans and develops strategies to direct growth to existing urban centers and villages.
  • The plan creates a typology of urban villages (Urban Center, Manufacturing/Industrial Center, Hub Urban Village, Residential Urban Village, and Potential Urban Village) to reinforce the benefits of City investments and guide how the City will engage the public in future planning and decision making.
  • The plan’s equity analysis process includes a technical mapping of the City overlaid with neighborhood demographics and historical planning challenges, such as redlining.
  • Creates an Equitable Development Initiative Fund to support community capacity building and project development.
  • The Seatle 2035 Plan sought to engage with traditionally underrepresented groups, millennials, and parents of young children and provided resources to sponsor the participation of community organizations.


NashvilleNext: A General Plan for Nashville & Davidson County (2015)

The general plan for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, this plan was developed to make decisions about the future in response to new opportunities or unexpected problems.

NashvilleNext was led by the Planning Department and took an untraditional approach by starting with community surveys, assembling issue-specific teams of community leaders, and building upon the public's vision for the city's and region's future. It guides the physical development of the entire county and creates policies that guide how the City should grow for the next 25 years.

Highlights to consider:

  • The plan utilized a standardized engagement process that evaluated participation counts and demographic metrics on participation against regional demographics. Gaps in participation were identified and addressed through more focused, qualitative engagement.
  • Focused youth engagement through school curricula and public education events, harnessing scalable toolkits and processes (if 15 or more people, a planner would attend).
  • Planning was separated into five phases with one to two months between each phase to support reflective analysis and performance review.
  • A comprehensive process was tied to department-specific strategic planning.
  • Coordinated policy changes (zoning, land use, etc.) and capital improvements were connected to the NashvilleNext plan’s goals.
  • All local community area plans were translated and standardized during the process. Community plans created a common starting point for the countywide growth analysis and policy updates.

The We Will Chicago team and its partners searched far and wide for examples of plans to shape the direction of Chicago’s first citywide plan since 1966. The following list highlights approaches and features that will inform the We Will Chicago plan:

OneNYC 2050: BUILDING A STRONG AND FAIR CITY (2019)

OneNYC is New York City’s overarching, long-term strategy for a strong and fair city. It looks 30 years ahead to the middle of the 21st century, and puts equity, inclusivity and critical challenges including climate change at its core. This plan is a strategy to secure New York’s future against the challenges of today and tomorrow. It includes eight volumes, each focusing on a specific goal, and an action plan that specifies lead agencies for each goal along with recommended short-term milestones.

Highlights to consider:

  • Organized around eight over-arching goals:
  1. A vibrant democracy
  2. An inclusive economy
  3. Thriving neighborhoods
  4. Healthy lives
  5. Equity and excellence in education
  6. A livable climate
  7. Efficient mobility
  8. Modern infrastructure
  • Set a standard for civic branding and report design. Makes complex information exciting and highlights a narrative of progress using a progressive visual system that highlights big ideas and scannable content that makes crucial data elements pop.
  • Included aggressive climate goals, such as ending the use of fossil fuels at government buildings by 2040, stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure (No power plant expansions, pipelines, fuel terminals, etc.), and committing to carbon neutrality by 2050 in a just transition that benefits all New Yorkers.
  • Addressed innovative mobility strategies including restricting vehicular access, creating safe pedestrian zones, prioritizing bus service, and introducing congestion pricing to manage vehicular traffic.


Denver Comprehensive Plan 2040 (2019)

A 20-year vision for Denver and its people, this plan reflects the voice of thousands who have shared their hopes, concerns, and dreams for the future. The outcome of a three-year planning process called “Denveright,” the plan’s community-driven recommendations build on existing plans and policies to guide city leaders, institutions, and community members in imagining Denver’s physical, economic, and social fabric into the future.

Highlights to consider:

  • Racial equity awareness training and quantitative analysis were core components of the planning process, including data visualizations to show equity impacts (Storymap).
  • Extensive and consistent commitment by municipal stakeholders, including 32 people on a mayoral task force meeting 20 times over a 3-year planning period.
  • Innovative community engagement such as an online board game (Grow a Better Denver), “Meetings in a box” toolkits that allowed other groups to use the same materials to host their own meetings, and Registered Neighborhood Organizations to leverage existing communication channels.
  • Implementation of demonstration projects while the planning process was still ongoing to show connection and immediate impacts.
  • Utilized Neighborhood Planning Initiatives to create grouped neighborhood plans (area plans and dashboards)
  • Identified performance metrics and created an easy-to-read scorecard (via StoryMap) to make the plan evaluation accessible to a wide range of participants.
  • Collected key displacement data and mapped areas at risk to support anti-displacement strategies.


OurLA 2040: The City of Los Angeles General Plan (2017)

This plan serves as a blueprint for the future, prescribing policy goals and objectives to shape and guide the physical development of Los Angeles.

It is a comprehensive policy document that provides the foundational guide for planning and informs future land use decisions. More than just the legal basis for all local land-use decisions, the General Plan is the vision for how L.A. will evolve, reflecting the values and priorities of its communities.

Highlights to consider:

  • Designated funding grants of $20 to $30 million for transformative projects tied to environmental justice and public health plan priorities and goals.
  • Created a set of Departmental Equity Officers, and established Chief Sustainability Officers in all 40 LA city departments, to work together to solve problems and coordinate resources.


Imagine Boston 2030 (2017)

This is Boston's first citywide plan in 50 years. The two-year planning process began with a deep understanding of demographic and economic changes that leveraged the city’s public and private physical assets, human and social capital, and regulatory and financial tools to achieve the city’s goals. The final plan creates a framework to preserve and enhance Boston, setting a vision for 2030 and identifying areas for economic growth and neighborhood enhancement to help the City achieve this vision.

Highlights to consider:

  • The plan harnessed a novel marketing campaign based on evocative questions, with advertising on buses, texts, hiring public participants to interview others, and postcards with municipal service communications, such as water and sewer bills.
  • All municipal departments were integrated into a public-facing engagement effort.
  • Created individual department implementation plans to align with the citywide plan.
  • Established performance management team to determine goals and metrics for the plan, discuss how goals are implemented, and implement reporting dashboards for each department (Imagine Boston Dashboard).


Minneapolis 2040: The City's Comprehensive Plan (2019)

The Twin Cities region requires its municipalities to provide an updated Comprehensive Plan every ten years, and this is the most recent update.

During more than two years of engagement, the planning process captured residents’ vision and hopes for a future Minneapolis and presented an opportunity to undo barriers and overcome inequities created by previous policies. The plan covers topics such as housing, job access, the design of new buildings, and how streets are used and will guide decision-making that affects the long-term future of our city as it relates to the built, natural, and economic environment.

Highlights to consider:

  • Regardless of the topic, the planning process centered equity throughout. Planning staff were assigned to reflect the racial mix and needs of the city.
  • Extensive civic engagement plan that identified target stakeholders and methods, evaluated the effectiveness of methods, and established implementation phases (Civic Engagement Plan).
  • Detailed engagement budget that included compensation for community members to host conversations in communities.
  • Engagement process that created space for difficult conversations to happen and facilitated historical reckoning and segregation/prejudice mapping.
  • An overlay of maps was created to illustrate how the past was implicated in current realities and to suggest policies that could address it (ex. Redlining / single-family zoning maps).
  • Multiple draft cycles for the community to engage with the plan see how their feedback was incorporated.


Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan (2018)

This is Seattle's Comprehensive Plan that plan provides long‐term guidance to help the City make decisions over the next 20 years about managing growth and providing services. The initial plan (1994) embraced the concept of sustainable growth, and the recent update (2018) makes race and social equity foundational core values. Led by the Department of Planning and Development, the main goal was to guide the physical development of the city. However, the plan also promoted better access to jobs, education, affordable housing, parks, community centers, and healthy food for all of Seattle’s residents. Seattle 2035’s goals and policies will influence the actions of other government agencies and private businesses, encouraging them to promote social justice and racial equity in their work.

Highlights to consider:

  • This 3+ year multi-departmental effort embeds 33 neighborhood plans and develops strategies to direct growth to existing urban centers and villages.
  • The plan creates a typology of urban villages (Urban Center, Manufacturing/Industrial Center, Hub Urban Village, Residential Urban Village, and Potential Urban Village) to reinforce the benefits of City investments and guide how the City will engage the public in future planning and decision making.
  • The plan’s equity analysis process includes a technical mapping of the City overlaid with neighborhood demographics and historical planning challenges, such as redlining.
  • Creates an Equitable Development Initiative Fund to support community capacity building and project development.
  • The Seatle 2035 Plan sought to engage with traditionally underrepresented groups, millennials, and parents of young children and provided resources to sponsor the participation of community organizations.


NashvilleNext: A General Plan for Nashville & Davidson County (2015)

The general plan for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, this plan was developed to make decisions about the future in response to new opportunities or unexpected problems.

NashvilleNext was led by the Planning Department and took an untraditional approach by starting with community surveys, assembling issue-specific teams of community leaders, and building upon the public's vision for the city's and region's future. It guides the physical development of the entire county and creates policies that guide how the City should grow for the next 25 years.

Highlights to consider:

  • The plan utilized a standardized engagement process that evaluated participation counts and demographic metrics on participation against regional demographics. Gaps in participation were identified and addressed through more focused, qualitative engagement.
  • Focused youth engagement through school curricula and public education events, harnessing scalable toolkits and processes (if 15 or more people, a planner would attend).
  • Planning was separated into five phases with one to two months between each phase to support reflective analysis and performance review.
  • A comprehensive process was tied to department-specific strategic planning.
  • Coordinated policy changes (zoning, land use, etc.) and capital improvements were connected to the NashvilleNext plan’s goals.
  • All local community area plans were translated and standardized during the process. Community plans created a common starting point for the countywide growth analysis and policy updates.
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    Peer City Review

    about 2 months ago

    Take a moment to review the highlights of each plan, or the plan documents themselves. Which ideas, strategies and approaches resonate with you as something Chicago should consider?

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    Additional Plans

    about 2 months ago

    Do you have any suggestions for other citywide, regional, or comprehensive planning documents that the We Will team should review?

    To add your idea
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    Start by submitting an idea