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Mayor: Old plan ‘looks like it’s from another planet’

Replacement plans could cost $200K and be finished by early next year.

Daniel Biss.

Evanston’s City Council Monday night authorized staff to seek a consultant to prepare new versions of two major planning documents for the city.

The current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2000 and the strategic plan in 2006.

Mayor Daniel Biss said the comprehensive plan is so out of date that it looks like it’s from another planet, not just another decade.

Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson said a strategic plan is generally designed to be in effect for three to five years.

Comprehensive plans generally have a somewhat longer shelf life. Some sources suggest they should look ahead 20 years, but be updated at least every 10 years.

The existing comprehensive plan “perpetuates economic segregation to the detriment of lower-income residents,” Richardson said in a memo to aldermen, “by restricting the development of different housing types in neighborhoods zoned for single-family dwellings, and maintains historic inequities.”

She said it doesn’t address the deep need for housing affordable for middle income as well as lower-income residents, changing transportation options, evolving business models or evolving customer demands.

She said the staff plans to use a racial equity process in developing the new plans “to ensure the outcomes are transparent and create space for communities of color and underrepresented populations” to have greater participation in planning and development decisions.

Richardson suggested the new plans could cost the city as much as $200,000, but that doing both plans at the same time should result in some savings.

The staff now will prepare a request for proposals for the project. Assuming the Council is able to select a consultant for the project by September, the plans could be finished early next year.

Biss asked how the new plans would tie in with the policies that council members ran on to get elected.

Richardson said the shape of the new plans won’t be dictated by what people ran on, but what input the community provides during the planning process.

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