Comprehensive Plans

Comprehensive planning draws a “road map” for successful, sustainable communities, so it’s essential that plans mirror civic goals, needs, and objectives. Whether addressing mandated plan requirements like Washington's GMA or more proactive strategies, Studio Cascade is a leader in developing comprehensive plans that:

  • Enhance civic function and aesthetics 
  • Expand economic potential 
  • Increase the vitality and safety of neighborhoods 
  • Foster sustainability 
  • Protect property values 
  • Protect environmental resources

 Here's a few of our favorite efforts, led for some of our favorite clients.


ellensburg WA

Divided on big-box retail, the City of Ellensburg hired SCI to update its comprehensive plan and develop new policies to address the issue.

An aggressive outreach process - including interviews, an advisory committee, an all-inclusive website, event polling, mail-outs, display ads and circulars, workshops and meetings - helped the process propose and analyze a set of five growth strategies. 

A combined strategy based on common-ground ideals of downtown vitality and city walkability was ultimately selected, and a draft impact fee analysis was prepared to help sustain the new policies.

Independent polling indicated more than 14% of voting residents participated, with a full 57% of the populace considering themselves either "very" or "somewhat" familiar with the planning process.

The Ellensburg plan received a 2006 APA/PAW Award for outstanding public involvement in planning. 


southern Pines NC

Southern Pines had last adopted a long-range plan in 1988 – a plan focused almost exclusively on transportation and land use. In 2008, and in the wake of controversy for which the existing plan provided little guidance, the Town Council voted to commission a major long-range plan update.

Following a national search, Southern Pines hired Studio Cascade to rewrite its plan, and mindful of recent controversy, to involve the public in the process every step of the way.

Working with the Town and with a council-appointed advisory committee, SCI led a process including numerous cross-town meetings, a downtown plan headquarters, mailed and on-line questionnaires, a project website, citizen photo surveys and much more.

The resulting plan gave clear direction on the plan's initial focus, as well as on a wide range of issues found critical to community values. Due in part to SCI's outreach efforts, the plan was adopted by unanimous vote of both Planning Commission and Town Council. 


monroe WA

In 2013, the City of Monroe commisisoned Studio Cascade to lead major updates to its comprehensive plan, along with a new parks plan, transportation plan and economic development strategy. 

At stake were City policies to address expected growth surges in the wake of the great recession, setting the stage for Monroe's future role among Seattle-metro communities - as live-work city, a bedroom community, or retail hub, for instance. 

A set of differing growth strategies were prepared and vetted through an extensive outreach process including a downtown "storefront studio", an interactive Mind Mixer™ website, an advisory committee and much more. Ultimately, a hybrid strategy was developed to "maximize" Monroe's most valued qualities - a strategy the adopted plan expressed in policy and in an innovative, diagrammatic form. 

The Monroe plan received top honors for small cities planning at the 2016 Washington APA/PAW Awards. 

sub-area & neighborhood plans

Policies from comprehensive or long-range planning often require site-specific calibration and the development of more detailed policies, designs and implementing strategies. It's a type of planning we love to lead, often engaging other design disiplines in the process. Outcomes often lead to rapid implementation, with residents, landowners and community leaders equally excited about seeing results - long-term vision leading to real-world transformation. 


Port angeles WA

Beginning in 2010, SCI managed a conceptual redesign of the Port Angeles waterfront, leading a multi-disciplinary team to address a key stretch of the shoreline, create a city-wide wayfinding scheme, and develop transportation recommendations improving walkability. 

Recognizing that plans have little chance without resident buy-in, SCI carried outreach techniques to new levels - conducting hundreds of one-on-one and group interviews and using a downtown storefront as a working studio for a week's worth of public interaction. Beginning with an innovative "Art Slam" event, multiple concepts were developed and tested, from which residents established a preferred, far-reaching scheme. Representatives from the Klallam Tribe were engaged as well, providing insight and enthusiastic support for the restoration of a beach along the western-most third of the plan area.

The waterfront plan was adopted by unanimous Council vote, and received a 2011 Washington APA/PAW Award for outstanding physical plans. 

Subsequent work by SCI involved leading the design, permitting and construction of Phases I and II of the waterfront plan, including an urban esplenade and the restored beach where mill operations once took place. Those efforts received an 2013 Honor Award from AIA Washington. 


Fayetteville's previous downtown plan was a success by almost any measure, guiding more than $30 million of reinvestment over the decade following its adoption. But the plan needed updating to reflect new conditions, including shifting community attitudes about downtown's identity. 

Following a national RFQ process, Fayetteville hired Studio Cascade to update the plan, and mindful of recent controversies, to involve the public every step of the way. SCI worked closely with City staff to lead a process featuring a downtown storefront studio, a web-based survey and several well-attended workshops, generating broad consensus for downtown's strategic future and support for new directions in development.

The final plan called for increased attention to those neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the commercial core - a departure from the earlier, center-focused plan. And aided by heavy public involvement, the new plan was adopted by unanimous and enthusiastic vote of the City Council. 


Normandy park WA

Transfer of development rights (TDR) is a
hot topic in fast-growing King County. In support of its TDR efforts, the County and the Washington State Department of Commerce awarded the City of Normandy Park funds to plan for an opportunity site known as Manhattan Village, including a planned action ordinance and a TDR interlocal agreement with the County.

SCI, with partners LMN Architects, Leland Consulting Group and Fehr & Peers, was hired to prepare the plan, and to engage and educate a skeptical community on how City and TDR objectives might harmonize. Most agreed the current state of the area fell short of community image and need – offering opportunity for improvement. 

A strong public process to create, refine and winnow options led to a plan providing an intense mixed-use center – supported by form-based policies, transportation improvements and economic analysis. Regulatory updates cured structural and line-item inconsistencies while leaving the door open for the City to incorporate TDR separately, if desired. The plan received two honors: a 2013 APA/PAW Award for  Small Cities Physical Plans, and a 2013 Governor's "Smart Communities" Award.