Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans

PAS Report 578

By David Godschalk, FAICP, David Rouse, FAICP

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In 2010, the American Planning Association launched a project with nothing less than the future of the planet at stake. The Sustaining Places Initiative looks at how cities, towns, and regions can meet today's needs without draining the next generation's resources.

Out of that initiative in 2012 came Sustaining Places: The Role of the Comprehensive Plan, a guide that makes the case for building sustainability into long-range planning. Now APA has gone further, explaining how to put those plans in place.

Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans offers a framework with standards for creating livable, healthy communities in harmony with nature — communities that have resilient economies, social equity, and strong regional ties. Four steps show how to turn those principles into a plan and score the results. Insights from 10 pilot communities add the real-world perspectives of big cities, small towns, and everything in between.

This report is not a recipe. It's a resource with principles, processes, and pointers communities can use to forge their own solutions as they meet the greatest planning challenge of our time.


Executive Summary (pdf)

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Jan. 1, 2015
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1:  Background of the Sustaining Places Initiative
Sustaining Places Task Force and Plan Standards Working Group
Pilot Communities
Report Framework

Chapter 2: Comprehensive Plan Standards for Sustaining Places
Required Principles
Required Processes
Required Attributes
Plan Scoring Procedure

Chapter 3: Applying the Standards
Plan Evaluation Process
Pilot Community Examples
Plan Evaluation: Next Steps

Chapter 4: The Future of Comprehensive Planning Practice
Lessons Learned from the Pilot Communities
The Twenty-First Century Comprehensive Plan

Appendix A: Links to Plan Documents and Updates and Sustainability Certification Systems

Appendix B: Best Practice Definitions

Appendix C: Plan Scoring Matrix

Appendix D: How A Comprehensive Plan Designation Program Would Work

Appendix E: Plan Designation Application Form