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How We Plan

Making Denver livable for its people now and in the future is the overarching vision that guides all planning efforts — whether they cover a small area, such as a transit station or neighborhood, or the entire city. Each plan is the result of a collaborative public process, led by city planners and involving residents, business owners, community groups and other stakeholders.

Plans represent a long-term, broad vision for a community and function as guides for future land use and urban design, ensuring orderly and appropriate neighborhood development, including such elements as buildings, streets, parks and public spaces. Although plans are not law, they do lay the foundation for city regulations like zoning and urban design standards. Whether creating plans on a small or citywide scale, our goal is always to achieve a balanced, multi-modal transportation system, land use that accommodates future growth, and open space throughout the city. 

Types of Plans

Citywide planning incorporates input from all areas of the city and involves multiple city departments and initiatives. These plans establish goals for the future of the city, analyze and improve internal processes, and provide policy guidance to achieve those goals.

Currently, two guiding documents—Comprehensive Plan 2040 and Blueprint Denver—provide the framework principles and policies to fulfill a vision for Denver’s future. Comprehensive Plan 2040 is a concise, high-level set of goals and recommendations to ensure that Denver is an inclusive, connected and healthy city. Blueprint Denver is a supplement to Comprehensive Plan 2040, focused on land use and transportation, that calls for growing an inclusive city through: complete neighborhoods and complete transportation networks; a measured, common-sense approach to new growth; and for the first time, land-use decisions through the lens of social equity.

Once they have been drafted, citywide plans are reviewed first by the Denver Planning Board for approval. Plans are then presented to the City Council committee that governs city planning and, lastly, reviewed and adopted by the full Council.

Other citywide initiatives, such as the Living Streets Initiative, the Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Plan and Discover Denver work in tandem with or complement adopted plans, often with a specific policy focus. Documents produced through these initiatives are often reviewed by the Denver Planning Board but not formally adopted by City Council.

Small area plans address the issues of a specific area of the city. Station area plans are examples of small area plans that guide public and private development around transit stations.

Like citywide plans, small area plans are reviewed first by the Denver Planning Board, which makes a recommendation to the Denver City Council. Plans are then presented to the City Council committee that governs city planning and, lastly, reviewed and adopted by the full Council.

Visit the Small Area Plans page for more information.

Other tools that support and inform the planning process include assessments and studies. Documents produced through these initiatives may be reviewed by the Denver Planning Board, but not go through the adoption process.

 

Diverse Neighborhoods

Denver includes a diverse array of neighborhoods that range from historic districts marked by architecture styles dating back to Denver’s founding, to rows of modern shimmering glass high rises in highly urban settings, to quiet residential streets dotted with single-family homes with backyards and garages. This diversity helps ensure that people of any age, income or physical ability can find a place to call home in our city.

Learn more:

  • Comprehensive Plan 2040 outlines a vision for Denver’s future as an inclusive, connected and healthy city.
  • Blueprint Denver calls for complete neighborhoods and complete transportation networks; a measured, common-sense approach to new growth; and for the first time, land-use decisions through the lens of social equity.
  • The Neighborhood Planning Initiative is a commitment to ensure every corner of the city can enjoy the benefits of an area plan, which calibrates citywide goals and initiative according to neighborhood-specific assets, needs and challenges.
  • Learn about current and adopted plans visiting Plans in progress and Completed plans.

Mixed-Use Communities

Photo of mixed-use communityAmerica’s first cities were built around walkable neighborhoods in which residential, retail and commercial uses all came together. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, these mixed-use urban centers gave way to more restricted development as single-use zoning became a more common planning tool. In Denver, our streetcar districts retain remnants of historic mixed-use development, and new infill projects and infrastructure investments—especially around transit stations—are helping to re-create communities where people can walk more frequently to their daily errands.

Learn more:


Multi-Modal Streets

Photo of multi-modal streetsStreets are not just for cars anymore. They are also places for Denver’s residents to walk, bike and use public transit, and they provide a public realm for our city’s neighborhoods and business corridors. Multi-modal streets accommodate more trips by more people by improving transit and providing better pedestrian and bicycle facilities, so that people of any physical ability feel safe using any mode of travel.

Learn more:

  • Blueprint Denver calls for complete multi-modal networks to connect Denver’s neighborhoods, and a transportation system that safely and efficiently moves people to preserve Denver’s quality of life.
  • Denver’s Living Streets Initiative is working to improve public access, community health and transportation capacity in our city.
  • Denver’s Strategic Parking Plan is finding new approaches and policies that make public parking more convenient and accessible.
  • Transit Oriented Development Initiative aligns community growth with new and expanding transit opportunities that maximize all modes of travel.

Sustainability

The idea that our use of resources today should not impair the quality of life of future generations is a central goal of Comprehensive Plan 2040 and Blueprint Denver. Additionally, Denver's Office of Sustainability developed the city's 2020 Sustainability Goals through robust outreach efforts to residents, business leaders, nonprofits, and city agencies. 

Learn more:

 

Denveright logo

Denver’s Comprehensive Plan 2040 and Blueprint Denver, the city's integrated land use and transportation plan, were recently updated as part of Denveright, a three-year community‐driven planning effort that established a 20-year vision for an inclusive, connected and healthy city, shaping how our community evolves through land use, mobility, parks and recreational resources.

To learn more about Denveright, visit DenverGov.org/denveright

Public Outreach

Community engagement and feedback is the foundation of our planning processes. Both on a citywide and neighborhood level, our plans lay out a vision for the city and its neighborhoods, station areas and corridors driven by community input. City planners share information with the public and invite the public to share their ideas, questions and concerns at various stages of the process with the ultimate goal of engaging as many citizens as possible in an efficient, effective and timely manner.  Outreach may include:

  • Public meetings, workshops and office hours in the community
  • Convening and meeting with public stakeholder groups or steering committees
  • Plan updates, meeting reminders and other key information posted on the city’s website and distributed via email  
  • Public hearings at Denver Planning Board and City Council