Comprehensive Planning: Empowering Communities to Shape the Future
Author: Aaron Rogers
Contributor: Alex Campbell, AICP
Our goal at AHBL is to find creative solutions by working in close collaboration with local communities to solve real problems. Through years of engaging a variety of communities throughout Washington state, we have developed genuine and insightful relationships that allow us to have an impactful role on a wide range of projects spanning the state.
Our planners are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the communities where we live, work, and play. To follow through on these principles, it is critical that our comprehensive planning process is well-thought-out, strategic, and flexible to the evolving needs of the community. This process helps set the groundwork for sustainable growth, enables better land use, infrastructure, and resource management, and leads to more efficient use of space and reduced environmental impacts. Good comprehensive planning can also lead to better public services, increased economic opportunities, and enhanced social cohesion within the community. Effective comprehensive planning can facilitate increased social equity, better decision making, and greater flexibility in the face of change:
Increased Social Equity: Comprehensive plans are an especially powerful tool for promoting social equity and fostering prosperous futures in marginalized communities by addressing their unique needs and challenges. They can promote equitable development by ensuring that essential services, infrastructure, and resources are distributed fairly throughout a community. Utilizing targeted strategies, comprehensive plans can identify existing barriers to inclusive growth and establish a framework to create more affordable housing options, improved public transportation, more accessible healthcare facilities, and better educational opportunities.
Better Decision Making: Comprehensive plans give decision-makers a tool by which they can measure policy decisions to the values of the community. Maintaining a current comprehensive plan provides valuable data, analytics, and insights about the various aspects of the community, including demographics, land use trends, infrastructure demands, transportation network efficiency, and environmental considerations. By consolidating this information, comprehensive plans help decision-makers understand the impacts of their choices on the community. They also enable decision makers to prioritize, allocating resources efficiently, and making informed decisions in situations with competing needs.
Greater Flexibility: Comprehensive planning makes it easier for communities to anticipate future challenges and adapt to changes by providing a strategic and adaptable framework for development. They often include potential scenarios and projections for future growth and changes. By projecting shifts in economic trends and demographics changes, communities can implement policies that are appropriate for their unique needs. Additionally, ensuring a comprehensive plan stays updated over time enables communities to incorporate new data, insights, and feedback into their decision-making process.
Comprehensive planning is one of the primary tools that give communities the power to shape their future based on input from their residents. Providing a robust public process in association with the development of comprehensive plans ensures that our planners help communities envision, determine, and define their goals and aspirations for the future. The resulting comprehensive plan, once adopted, provides a community with a roadmap to reach goals and policies that are uniquely tailored for their community with the input of their residents.