Decatur City Commission adopts 2030 strategic plan and wins award for planning process – Decaturish
Decatur, Georgia — The Decatur City Commission, at its October 18 meeting, unanimously adopted the Destination 2030 strategic plan, which will guide the planning of projects, policies and priorities over the next 10 years.
The strategic plan is the document the city will use as the basis for how Decatur views and responds to challenges and opportunities. The document serves as a guide for the City to plan its priorities, policies and projects. It is updated every 10 years, according to the City’s Strategic Plan website.
During the public participation process, there was generally strong support for all of the action items in the strategic plan, but many wanted more ambitious goals for clean energy targets and equity, according to consultants from the city.
To view the full strategic plan, click here.
The city has also won a few awards through the Georgia Planning Association related to the strategic plan.
The City of Decatur and TSW, the consultants who worked on the strategic plan, received the Outstanding Planning Process Award, which recognized the quality and comprehensiveness of the overall strategic plan planning process, said Angela Threadgill, director of planning and economic development.
“This award honors the most comprehensive and holistic overall planning process,” Threadgill said. “This includes completeness of technical and data analysis, stakeholder and community outreach, documentation and deliverables, and positioning for implementation.”
She added that the award recognizes the work of the city and the consultants, but also recognizes the commitment of the community to come together and achieve an exceptional and meaningful public process.
The Georgia Planning Association added a new award this year for outstanding leadership in equity, diversity and inclusion in recognition of GPA’s goal of ensuring community planning is a profession for everyone.
“The GPA recognized the Better Together Advisory Board and Sycamore Consulting for their important work in equity, diversity and inclusion. We see this accomplishment through their anti-racism speaker series, which we were able to incorporate into the strategic planning process through our community 202s,” Threadgill said.
The award is given to an individual, organization, project or practice that demonstrates a sustained commitment to advocacy by addressing the concerns of women, minorities and underrepresented groups through specific actions or contributions to the within the planning profession or through the planning process, she added.
The city is required by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the state Department of Community Affairs to update its strategic plan every 10 years in order to participate in, among other things, state transportation grant programs. The two agencies approved the city’s strategic plan last week.
The city simultaneously updated the City’s Liveable Centers Initiative plan and its overall plan during the strategic planning process, both of which are to be updated every five years.
Threadgill and TSW’s consulting team presented the draft strategic plan to the City Commission on 16 August. The team has made a few changes since then, including adding more data citations, adding information on land use categories, and adding historic and architectural preservation. character instead by making recommendations, which also includes the creation of a downtown master plan.
The community work plan has also been streamlined to be a five-year vision of action items focused on concrete projects that can be achieved in five years, said Sarah McColley, one of the TSW consultants who worked on the plan.
The community work program is a structure of the state Department of Community Affairs to put in place actionable items that have a specific date, to which the city can tie a budget, where those resources come from, and who will do the work. It is up to the city commission to prioritize those actions at its annual strategic planning retreat, Threadgill said.
The draft 2030 strategic plan focuses on six areas: equity and racial justice, climate action, civic trust, affordable housing, mobility and economic growth.
“Audiences have really rallied around the idea that many issues are interconnected and interdependent,” McColley said. “Fairness and racial justice were the overriding lenses through which we filtered everything.”
Recommendations throughout the plan are organized around themes. Many action items are also tied to specific plans – either implementing plans that have been completed, or recommending new or updated plans. Some actions from the previous strategic plan that are still ongoing or in progress have been carried over to the new plan.
Under the theme of equity and racial justice, the recommendations include the creation of a community-led reparations task force to examine Decatur’s history and what action to take. The plan further sets out a goal to develop a racial equity action plan that would outline specific actions on how city government can become more equitable, including the role of each city department.
“A number of other things relate to the tools the city can use to assess decision-making and its impact on different groups in the city and beyond, and also think about staffing and how different positions at City Hall can affect this and continue the conversation about this,” said Woody Giles, one of the TSW consultants who worked on the plan.
Climate change is another broader topic that emerged from the public engagement process. During the development of the strategic plan, city consultants and staff often heard the community’s desire to establish clean energy goals. The city is working on a clean energy plan. The plan was discussed earlier this month at a meeting of the Environmental Sustainability Council. But the city wanted to make sure that was included in the plan.
In terms of affordable housing recommendations, the strategic plan incorporates most of the official City policy recommendations from the Affordable Housing Task Force. The plan includes recommendations related to additional options for ongoing affordability and consideration of how transportation and other things relate to housing costs.
The strategic plan further indicates that Decatur has a unique brand and that the city should focus on this when it comes to economic growth. The city must develop businesses that are in the city, but also attract businesses that make sense, that integrate into the city.
“As part of this, we heard community concerns about taxes. It’s a really big step you can take towards diversifying the tax base, and honestly you’ve come a long way since the last strategic plan,” Giles said. “Because there are more commercial homes and fewer single-family homes, it’s just a little more diversified tax base.”
Commissioner Kelly Walsh said she found the plan more holistic than the previous strategic plan. She hopes the city will use the plan’s connectivity to prioritize and see where the city finds the most intersectionality, because that would have the most impact on the most people.
Some concerns were raised about the possibility of accomplishing all the action items of the strategic plan and not achieving a target that is in the plan, because not everything was achieved in the previous plan.
“Everything on this action list is important,” Commissioner Lesa Mayer said. “It really concerns me deeply that we might choose not to accomplish something in our plan that is more difficult or more painful because our definition of success is not 100%, A+.”
Mayer added that the equity tasks in the strategic plan are weak.
“I think they’re weak, and I think they’re a cop,” Mayer said. “I think even though it’s documented, the real effort has to come from a part of the job that’s going to be a little bit more difficult and involves a little more commitment to them. I like to see things like establish a reparations task force, but we have a reputation for forcing things to death.
She would prefer to see that goal be more of an action with an end result and some definition of what the working group would do.
“I love that we have equity goals listed here from the start of the plan, next year. It’s amazing,” Mayer said. “I just want to make sure that when we look at the tasks of this plan, we do not allow this to limit the progress we can make over the next few years, particularly on important equity-related work. ”
Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers said the things that are pressure points and near and dear to the community are the things that come up high on the list during the strategic planning retreat.
“Because that’s where all the action is,” Powers said. “All the money and all the effort that we want to put into these things, even though they may be painful, is something that is not deferred because I think it is the appropriate thing at this time- the.”
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