The Future Is Ours: A Timeline of Austin's Comprehensive Plan

August-October 2009: Before there can be a plan, there must be a plan to plan: City completes a plan for public participation and throws a party.

November 2009-February 2010: Community forum series No. 1 begins. Participants name Austin's strengths and weaknesses, hazard guesses about what the city might look like in 2039. Also ongoing: an online survey, stakeholder interviews, and a Meeting in a Box program for go-getters who wish to host their own comp plan events. Altogether, 5,892 people participate.

March 2010: City staff, consultants (from Wallace Roberts & Todd), and a 34-member citizens advisory task force create draft vision statement based on seven prominent themes identified through public input process: livability, sustainability, accessibility, prosperity, respect, creativity, and education.

April 2010: Community forum series No. 2 begins. Participants comment on vision statement and create maps of future growth. Staff and volunteers interview people all around town during Speak Week. City gets mathematical with a "statistically valid survey" (randomly selected sample of 1,311 participants). Altogether, 4,211 people participate.

June 2010: City staff creates scenarios A-D using four common patterns of land use and transportation that emerged from the map exercise; they attempt to keep "the essence of the patterns ... while adjusting them to be as realistic as possible." Staff adds a "Trend Scenario" imagining a pattern of population and employment growth that could occur if current demographic, development, and investment trends continue.

June 24, 2010: City Council endorses the CreateAustin Cultural Master Plan requiring inclusion of "creative enterprises as a vital and economically beneficial component" of the comp plan.

July-August 2010: Planning Commission finalizes vision statement in July, followed by City Council's endorsement in August. Altogether, 8,968 people have been part of the effort to craft the vision statement, while more than 10,000 have participated in events related to the comp plan.

September-October 2010: Community forum series No. 3 begins (see the "Imagine Austin Community Forums" section in "Comp Plan Combo Platter"). Participants pick favorite scenarios or mix and match to create perfect future. Austin Futures Fair (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) turns civic participation into performance art.

The future: Draft plan is written. A fourth community forum series puts it to the test. Tweaking ensues. If all goes according to plan, the final Imagine Austin draft goes before City Council for a vote in early 2012. Future is unstoppable.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Austin, Austin Futures Fair

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