What’s Happening?

How and Where to Grow? Shaping guidelines together.

Two big planning efforts going on simultaneously.

Collaborative efforts by Doña Ana County residents, businesses, staff and officials will shape both a County Comprehensive Plan and a Unified Development Code. In both cases, work builds on more than a year of planning and discussion in the overall Viva Doña Ana effort.

You can catch up on steps taken in the drafting of the UDC in these diary posts. They’re in reverse chronological order beginning with this one. The UDC effort has been paused to allow for the Comp Planning process to build the framework that will clarify and focus key elements of the UDC .

The Comp Plan goal is to create agreed-upon guidelines for directing growth and redevelopment for the next couple decades. What that means for communities is a set of principles for where to invest County resources, especially resources to build and maintain supportive infrastructure like roads, water access, sewer, storm water management systems, and broadband.

The Plan must recognize and complement the other components of Viva Doña Ana planning and provide a policy-making, priority-setting framework for more specific rules, like the ones likely to be in the new UDC.

Chief among the necessary components of long-range planning are active participation of the residents and businesses who’ll be most affected by policies and the commitment of elected officials to the plans’ implementation. Here’s Doña Ana Board of County Commissioners chairman Billy Garrett addressing both concerns:

So what difference does a Comp Plan make for families? For communities? For businesses?

More than anything, a good Comp Plan represents the aspirations of people who live in a region for how and where growth and redevelopment occurs. It’s a declaration of intentions specific enough for families and businesses to plan for the future and, at the same time, broad enough to allow for adjustments in ways to achieve aspirations when unforeseen opportunities and challenges emerge. None of us, after all, can predict the future.

Because the Plan is designed to guide decision-making even in an uncertain future, its foundation has to be a set of principles that still apply no matter what happens day-to-day or year-to-year. Over time, strategies for applying the principles may change; but the principles themselves hold.

So the starting point for shaping a good Comp Plan has to be that foundation of agreed-upon principles.

We have a great start on identifying a set of principles for guiding growth in Doña Ana County because of what’s already taken place in the Viva Doña Ana planning process. Residents attending workshops in their communities helped to customize six broad “Livability Principles” for Doña Ana County. The outreach effort for the Comp Plan itself was designed to, first of all, confirm agreement on the broad principles, then to explore more deeply the aspirations of families, communities and businesses. To get a taste for how residents in communities responded to the invitation to point out specific concerns, download this “Summary of Feedback” (1.2mb .pdf) from workshops in March of 2013.

Once we’re all confident we’ve identified guiding principles for growth, various scenarios can then be tested against the aspirations with “What if” questions: Are we likely to achieve our agreed-upon goals if we do this? How about this? Or this?

From those scenario planning exercises, the County-customized “Livability Principles” can be applied to County-specific approaches for topics of concern such as transportation and infrastructure planning, community affordability and economic development. And, of course, like every other step in the Viva Doña Ana planning process, all of this idea-testing will be done in collaboration with community members.

You can follow each step in both the Comp Plan and the UDC processes in the Process Diary posts in the left-hand column of our home page or via News Updates in the navigation above.

In our Process Timeline, you’ll see times and places for participation opportunities. Scroll left and right for past, present and future.

You can post comments and questions in the space below each posts. And if you want to speak directly with the Comp Plan team, go here for contact info.