Long-Range Planning Performance Standards

Dear Management Doctor:

Good afternoon! The City of Kent is trying to come up with some performance standards that are relevant to long-range planning; we were wondering if in your travels you have come across some city's or county's website we might check out for ideas. It's easy to come up with permitting standards, but we're having a tough time on the long-range planning side of the aisle. Thanks much for any references you can provide!

Charlene Anderson
Kent, WA

Dear Charlene,

I don't have any website references, but I do have a few ideas. Sunnyvale, California has been the gurus of all types of performance standards. They came up with a very simple standard for long-range planning. They said that they would complete 100% of what they told the city council they were going to do in their work program I like it. This however addresses what many consider an intermediate outcome and not an end outcome. The end outcomes are much tougher and relate to your overall planning goals. For example, they might include:

  • What percent of the recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan have been implemented?
  • Is the Comprehensive Plan up to date?
  • Are the implementing ordinances in place and up to date?
  • Do the citizens of the community think it is a good place to work or do business?
  • You will also find many attempts to use Smart Growth or New Urbanism ideas and convert them to performance measures.

Let's see what our readers can add.

The Management Doctor


Reader Responses

There are various ways that I have seen communities address this issue in Florida and of course they come out of the approach that creates the long range plan. The one that I find intriguing is the City of Sarasota's that has guiding principles upon which the long range plan is developed and then assessed. State law requires evaluation of long range plans here every five to seven years and this is how the performance of the plan is assessed. Check out this website: www.sarasotagov.com/Planning/LongRange/LongRangeHP.html

Hope this is helpful.

Michele Ogilvie
Tampa, FL


The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, a long-range comprehensive planning agency serving four local governments and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, has been engaged in identifying and publishing performance standards for a number of years, dating back to the late 1980's/early 1990's.

One of the best things to do to enable performance measurement is to put measuring tools into place that the planning agency can later use to gauge actual performance against a standard, for example:

  • Have planners, who counsel the public, keep a count of clients assisted. Use the information to estimate number of clients counselled annually.
  • Create an electronic time tracking database tied to a work program (document that spells out services you provide), and have staff log hours on the plans, studies and projects undertaken during a fiscal year. Use the fiscal year-end results to measure actual staff full-time equivalents it took to perform each work program task against the estimated resources that were assigned to each task. Use the results to analyze the differences and to improve future estimates.
  • Create a client or citizen evaluation card that measures satisfaction with services and asks for suggestions on how service might be further improved (i.e., planners who provided land use counseling give each client a postcard-sized survey to complete that they may either mail postage-free or drop off at the front desk on their way out). Create a standard for level of satisfaction (i.e., percentage of customer surveys returned with a positive rating), and assess the overall satisfaction rates at least annually.
  • Create an annual quality-of-life survey in the community that tracks improvement or degeneration of quality-of-life factors over time.

Some of the long-range planning measures we have used are along the lines of what the Management Doctor has suggested:

  • Number of community/neighborhood plans completed and recommended for adoption that were not approved or adopted by elected body versus number of plans that were approved or adopted.
  • Percentage of proposed plan amendments, where clients counseled chose to proceed against the advice of staff.
  • Percentage of proposed plan amendments found consistent and in compliance during regional and state/agency review.
  • Comprehensive Plan Evaluation and Appraisal Report completed/public hearings held/report approved by elected body/and transmitted by state deadline.

Administrative-type planning agency measures we have used:

  • Percentage of meetings where a quorum of planning commissioners was present to conduct business.
  • Percentage of time that agenda packets were mailed out per the published standard of one week prior to the meeting.
  • Planning Commission bylaws and policies and staff procedures are published, accurate and current.

The Planning Commission website is www.theplanningcommission.org. I hope this will be of assistance, and I would be glad to answer any questions Ms. Anderson might have.

Barbara L. Leiby
Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission


EarthCAT, at www.earthcat.org/workbook.php provides links (in the appendices, page 197) to other community websites that focus on a) sustainability, b) indicators, and/or c) implementing the long-term vision of the community.

Redmond is working toward establishing a community indicators program, the purpose of which is to assess the extent to which Redmond is meeting its goals as laid out in its recently updated Comprehensive Plan, and as specified through Plan policies. The indicators are not relevant to only long-range planning, but to the city as a whole, although the Comprehensive Planning Division is taking the lead in developing the program. We are choosing indicators that will change over time and give a comprehensive snapshop of Redmond as time goes on. Draft examples include:

  • Streamwater quality (goal: protect and enhance the quality of the natural environment).
  • Access to parks (goal: abundance of parks, open space).
  • Innovative housing units created (goals: emphasize choices in housing, transportation, stores and services).
  • Employment growth (goals: maintain a strong and diverse ecomony).
  • Performing arts opportunities (goal: promote a variety of community gathering places and diverse cultural opportunities).
  • Sidewalk miles (goal: safe and environmentally friendly transportation connections).
  • Neighborhood Matching Fund grants (goal: remain a community of good neighbors).

Also see Kirkland's updated Comprehensive Plan for a listing of implementation items relevant to long-range planning.

Contact Lori Peckol (lpeckol@redmond. gov); 425-556-2411 or me for more information.

Jeff Churchill
Redmond, WA


I'd like to share some thoughts in regard to the question from Washington about long-range plan measures. In Florida, there is a requirement for what is called an Evaluation and Appraisal Report, or EAR, performed every five to seven years to evaluate if the long-range plan objectives are being implemented, if they reflect recent changes mandated by new legislation and if not, what needs to be changed, and other issues like tracking where development actually got approved versus where the plan was supposed to encourage the growth to occur, geographically speaking.

The EAR requirements are part of Ch. 163, Part II, Florida Statutes, which can be found online. The Florida Department of Community Affairs (FDCA) administers the review of EAR review and the EAR really acts as a platform for the planning agency to build upon for their next ten-year plan update, (i.e., with formal amendments to the plan usually due within a year or so after the EAR).

Aside from this periodic effort, measuring plan outcomes do need to be broken down into manageable pieces such as may be created in a Work Program, which our city has as part of its Certification Program (we are one of two communities in the State certified by the FDCA for comprehensive planning). One of your suggested measures about looking at if the implementing ordinances are in place and up-to-date is key. That is what we call our Land Development Regulations or Code, including zoning standards. If that code is not reflecting standards and regulations that are helping to implement the plan, the evaluation of the Code and what has to be added or changed can be as important or more than what you change in the long-range plan. Lastly, if the community has participated in and adopted a Vision Plan, very popular now in Florida, how well does the Comprehensive/Long-Range Plan reflect that vision? Where it falls short can help you establish the Work Program mentioned above.

Celeste Deardorff
Lakeland Coimmunity, FL

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