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Q: What is PlanCOS?

A: A long-term Comprehensive Plan for the City that will guide the physical development of the City to fulfill our vision for the future of Colorado Springs!  To make the Plan more high profile and relevant to the broader community, we’ve branded it as “PlanCOS”.    

On a more technical level, the current City Comprehensive Plan dates from 2001, and while it has some great elements, it needs a comprehensive refreshment and it is also missing a few things.  For example, while the City is home to five major military installations, the 2001  Plan is lacking in analysis of impacts to these military bases and their impacts on the City.   The City needs to have the tools necessary to make land-use based decisions that are reflective of our more current trends and development activity over the past 15+ years.

To update the 2001 City Comprehensive Plan, Mayor John Suthers and City Council supported the effort  by allocating special funding of $500,000, to bring our City Comprehensive Plan up-to-speed.  The update process started in Fall 2016 and will take two years to finalize a draft that will be presented to City Planning Commission and City Council for review and approval in 2018.  To see the September 1, 2016 PlanCOS Media Briefing, visit: https://vimeo.com/181109214.

Q: What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A: Ultimately, comprehensive plans serve as long-term guiding documents for cities to help guide decisions that fulfill their long-term vision for physical development.  Comprehensive plans come in all shapes and forms, some following state statutes while others have more flexibility in their design and process.  For the City of Colorado Springs, we are not required by Colorado State law to have mandated elements.  This means that it falls onto the City and its citizens, to determine much of the why, what, when, where, and how of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  The end goal is for us to have a plan that is a citizen-created vision and clear plan for the future of Colorado Springs.  To get there requires soliciting extensive input from the community including  as many diverse groups as possible.

Q: How does PlanCOS relate to the City strategic plan and other strategic plans?

A: PlanCOS is intended to be strategic in nature and inform parts of future City strategic plans but it should not be confused with the City strategic plan.  The biggest difference between the City Comprehensive Plan and the City Strategic Plan is the timeframe.  For instance, the City Comprehensive Plan is looking at the long-term, where we’re planning for the next 10, 20, even 30 years out.  Typical of strategic plans, the City Strategic Plan is a three to five year plan.   As such, comprehensive plans are longer-reaching whereas strategic plans are more “strategic”, reflective of more immediate needs and desires that can be worked on in the short-term. The City’s Strategic Plan also includes strategies and initiatives that extend beyond the typical land use and physical development focus of a typical Comprehensive Plan.  To view the current work of the City 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, visit: https://www.coloradosprings.gov/strategicplan.

Q: Why is the City updating its Comprehensive Plan?

A: The City has grown at a healthy rate but local leaders saw the need to update our road map to guide its growth, encourage revitalization in key areas, and plan for a city that will meet the expressed needs of its citizens. 

Q: How does this PlanCOS affect me?

A: Whether you enjoy Colorado Springs for its green space, downtown culture, mountain views or bike lanes, #PlanCOS will look at all of these elements and more as we create a map to the future of our City. Want more pedestrian streets? Let us know. Want to see more old buildings turned into work spaces? Tell us. Identify a neighborhood that could be revitalized? We are listening.

On a more technical level, a City’s Comprehensive Plan is the guiding document and lens through which policies, code changes, and project recommendations are based on for different types of decision-making processes.  In a nutshell, City Government makes three different types of decisions that impact the growth of the City: Administrative, Quasi-Judicial, and Legislative.  This means that the plan allows projects and proposals to be evaluated based on the different components of the plan, which are based on conformity to the City Comprehensive Plan. 

Q: How can I, a citizen, apply the City Comprehensive Plan?

A: As citizens, we can all utilize the City Comprehensive Plan as a lens and guide to provide intelligent feedback into the development process when projects are being reviewed by administrative, quasi-judicial, and legislative decision-making processes of local government.  The City Comprehensive Plan works both ways, to help staff and appointed and elected officials as well as the citizens for whom the plan was created for.  Get informed and involved in your local government!

Q: How can I engage in PlanCOS?

A: The primary pillar of the process is equitable citizen engagement, soliciting input from diverse age groups, ethnic populations, special interest groups and residents of all the City's quadrants. To accomplish this, the City has launched multiple high-and low-tech opportunities for data collection.

They include:

  • Textizen (SMS response campaign) – text us now what your vision for Colorado Springs is! 719-419-9615
  • Social media campaign via #PlanCOS on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook @goplancos
  • Oversized chalkboards placed at events
  • Dedicated phone line 719-385-PLAN (7526)
  • Town hall, open houses, and stakeholder meetings
  • Online survey’s and a dedicated web page: www.cosprings.gov/plancos
  • Co-Creators, which offers a deeper level of engagement for those who want to go beyond providing input. Co-Creators are tasked with convening groups, gathering input and serving as ambassadors for the PlanCOS effort.  To become a Co-Creator email: plancos@springsgov.com and check out our Co-Creator Resources at https://coloradosprings.gov/planning/page/co-creator-resources.

Q: What's next?

A: The Comprehensive Plan, PlanCOS, is a continual process with five different phases that will be taking place over a two-year period.  This process is extended over two years because it is intended to be thoughtful, deliberate, and based on an abundance of input from diverse areas, groups, and stakeholders.  Throughout that time, we’ll want to be hearing citizen input because this plan needs to reflect YOUR vision of the City’s, “roadmap to our future”.

Here are five phases of the planning process, see where we’re at now and get involved:

  • Summer/Fall 2016: Project Branding, Website Creation, Plan Audit, Existing Conditions, Survey #1, Outreach Launch
  • Fall 2016/Winter 2017: Vision Statements, Survey #2, COSTALKS
  • Winter/Spring 2017: Plan Framework + Attributes, SWOT Analysis, Draft Goals/ Policies Based on Opportunities  (Survey #2), Fiscal Analysis
  • Summer/Fall 2017: Preliminary Plan, Implementation/Monitoring Strategy, Neighborhood Plan Approach + Template, Survey #3, Draft Plan
  • Winter 2017/2018: Public Draft, COSTALKS The Plan, Adoption, Final Plan, Web-Based Plan

Once a draft plan is created, the final step is to present the document before the City Planning Commission and City Council for their review and adoption. 

Q: What happens when we’re done?

A: Once the plan is adopted by City Council, does that mean we’re done?  Absolutely not!  The plan will have an implementation and feedback component that will enable us to continually update the plan incrementally.  This means that he plan is intended to be a living plan, allowing us to monitor and adjust the adopted plan so that it’s always fresh and responsive to the needs and desires of our future generations.