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Outreach and engagement process

The public outreach and engagement process for PlanCOS is celebrated as an unprecedented undertaking by the City of Colorado Springs. Thousands of citizens participated in online surveys, Facebook live streams, and the many events held by the team. Sincere efforts were made to utilize several tools to make sure the process of creating PlanCOS was inviting, open, inclusive, and transparent.

Overall, PlanCOS held, attended, or participated in over 270 meetings and events with stakeholder groups ranging from just 1 person to over a few hundred. Groups consisted of public, private, and non-profit sectors, such as the City of Manitou Springs, representatives from the Colorado Springs Homebuilders Association, and the Homeless Advisory Council at Springs Rescue Mission. At these events and meetings, stakeholders provided input from their particular viewpoints and perspectives. This input was critical in developing and then fine tuning the content for PlanCOS.  

Intent and Highlights

The intent of PlanCOS public engagement was to be inviting, open, inclusive, and transparent. While PlanCOS achieved what could be considered remarkable numbers for public engagement, the real success is in that citizen comments were incorporated into drafting PlanCOS throughout the entire creation process. Efforts like Survey I, Survey II, online commenting public commenting, the plan being developed into a website, hosting of stand-alone and piggy-backed events, and meetings, PlanCOS was effectively able to engage citizens, stakeholders, interests groups, and more to talk about what they wanted for the future of Colorado Springs. It is this effort that was responsible for the ultimate end product of PlanCOS.

Who Was Involved

Steering Committee

Oversight for the PlanCOS effort was provided by a Comprehensive Plan Executive Steering Committee. This Committee consisted of representatives from the community that were selected by Mayor John Suthers. Committee members met beginning in June 2016 and concluded with the final endorsement of this Plan in September 2018. Their role in the creation of PlanCOS was critical, in that they were a bouncing board of ideas and conducted ultimate vetting of the plan’s content. The PlanCOS team provided the materials, analysis, and recommendations for PlanCOS but the Steering Committee was the final decision maker. Steering Committee members not only attended scheduled meetings to discuss PlanCOS, but also acted outside of these meetings as champions for PlanCOS. Many Steering Committee members participated in PlanCOS events with various degrees of involvement.

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The following table lists the Steering Committee members and their major affiliations and interest groups:

Members of the PlanCOS Steering Committee and their affiliation and interest group:

  • Merv Bennett, Chair, City Council
  • Jill Gaebler, Vice Chair, City Council
  • Rachel Beck, Council of Neighbors and Organizations (prior), PPACG (prior), Chamber/EDC
  • Max Cupp, Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO)
  • Susan Davies, Trails, Open Space, and Parks (TOPS)
  • Charles Deason, Northeast Colorado Springs
  • Kent Fortune, Military Affairs
  • Josh Green, Connect Colorado and Young Professionals
  • Maureen Juran, Urban Renewal Board and Land Use Law
  • Rhonda McDonald, City Planning Commission and Construction Industry
  • Hannah Parsons, Chamber/EDC (prior)and Exponential Impact
  • Eric Phillips, City Planning Commission (prior) and Small Businesses
  • Jim Raughton, City Planning Commission, CSURA (prior), and Philanthropic Community
  • Harry Salzman, Residential Realtor Community
  • Tim Seibert, HBA, Planning Consultants, and Nor’wood
  • Robert Shonkwiler, Southwest Colorado Springs, CUSRA, and City Planning Commission (prior)
  • Doug Stimple, Residential Development and Classic Communities

Taj Stokes, Southeast Colorado Springs and Related Community Initiatives
Steering Committee discussions involved hammering out ideas and synthesizing data. The committee was committed to delivering a product that represented the City of Colorado Springs at its best. This was accomplished by meeting twenty times through the process. Members were consistent in their attendance. Many members attended PlanCOS special events and some helped organize them. As such, dedication to the process by the Steering Committee speaks much to the community-relevant content found in the plan.

Meeting Dates

  • 6/28/2016 - SC Meeting #1
  • 8/19/2016 - SC Meeting #2
  • 10/21/2016 - SC Meeting #3
  • 12/16/2016 - SC Meeting #4
  • 2/10/2017 - SC Meeting #5
  • 5/12/2017 - SC Meeting #6
  • 6/15/2017 - SC Meeting #7
  • 8/11/2017 - SC Meeting #8
  • 9/28/2017 - SC Meeting #9
  • 3/2/2018 - SC Meeting #10
  • 4/13/2018 - SC Meeting #11
  • 4/27/2018 - SC Meeting #12
  • 5/11/2018 - SC Meeting #13
  • 5/18/2018 - SC Meeting #14
  • 6/1/2018 - SC Meeting #15
  • 6/15/2018 - SC Meeting #16
  • 8/10/2018 - SC Meeting #17
  • 8/30/2018 - SC Meeting #18
  • 9/14/2018 - Keystone Indicators
  • 9/20/2018 - SC Meeting #19
  • 9/27/2018 - SC Meeting #20

Technical Support Team

PlanCOS content was presented to and commented on by technical experts from City departments and external agencies. This group of experts composed the Technical Support Team (TST). TST membership was regularly updated to reflect changes in staffing. TST feedback and participation allowed facilitated discussion about how the plan would impact everyday professional practice, and also provided a high degree of alignment with ongoing plans and initiatives across the City and throughout the region. At times, the PlanCOS team would follow up with separately with TST members on specific areas of content for the draft Plan.

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Meeting Dates

  • 4/13/2017 - TST Meeting #1
  • 5/12/2017 - TST Meeting #2
  • 8/11/2017 - TST Meeting #3
  • 9/28/2017 - TST Meeting #4
  • 3/2/2018 - TST Meeting #5
  • 5/11/2018 - TST Meeting #6
  • 5/18/2018 - TST Meeting #7
  • 6/1/2018 - TST Meeting #8
  • 8/10/2018 - TST Meeting #9

Technical Support Team Members and Associations

  • Jacob Anderson, COS - Citizen Engagement Specialist
  • Jenny Bishop, Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Craig Blewitt, Mountain Metro Transit Authority
  • Kate Brady, COS - Public Works, Bicycle Planning
  • Beth Conklin, CSFD
  • Sabrina Cotta, COS - Office of Innovation and Sustainability
  • Aubrey Day, El Paso County Health
  • Catherine Duarte, COS - Community Development
  • Matthew Fitzsimmons, COS - Urban Planning, Downtown
  • Chelsea Gaylord, COS - Economic Development
  • Tim Geitner, COS - City Council 
  • Eileen Gonzalez, COS - City Council
  • Britt Haley, COS - Parks and Recreation
  • Mitchell Hammes, COS - Neighborhood Services
  • Meggan Herington, COS - Land Use Review
  • Carly Hoff, COS - City Council
  • Frank Kinder, Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Matt Mayberry, COS - Pioneers Museum
  • Mike McConnell, COS - Land Use Review
  • Richard Mulledy, COS - Stormwater
  • Kim Mutchler, Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Christian Nelson, Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Elena Nunez, Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Karen Palus, COS - Parks and Recreation
  • Connie Perry, COS - Parks and Recreation
  • Andy Phelps, COS - Homelessness Outreach Coordinator
  • Brian Potts, PPACG - Joint Land Use Study
  • James Ridgon, CSPD
  • Tim Roberts, COS - Public Works, Transportation Planning
  • Ryan Tefertiller, COS - Urban Planning, Downtown
  • Ryan Trujillo, COS - Office of Innovation and Sustainability
  • Jennifer Valentine, PPACG - Transportation Planning
  • Nina Vetter, COS - Strategic Planning
  • Steve Vigil, COS - Geographic Information Systems
  • Jariah Walker, Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority
  • Ann Werner, PPACG - Joint Land Use Study
  • Scott Winter, Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Vanessa Zink, COS - Communications

Practitioners Working Group

After an initial working draft of this Pan was created, a small Practitioner's Working Group (PWG) was convened to review and suggest detailed modifications to the language in the Plan from the perspective of the ultimate “users” of the document. The PWG included Steering Committee members as well as two additional community volunteers. The worked with staff to review  PlanCOS content on a l, from catching typos and grammatical errors to conceptual application of the Plans’ vision, goals, policies, and strategies to . Input from this group was provided with the understanding that PlanCOS was still to be a final product fully vetted and endorsed by the full Steering Committee.

Group Members and Affiliation

  • Jill Gaebler*, City Council
  • Megan Moore, Logan Simpson
  • Conrad Olmedo, COS
  • Amy Reid, Pikes Peak Realtors 
  • Mike Reubenson, La Plata Homes
  • Carl Schueler, COS
  • Tim Seibert*, Nor’wood Development
  • Doug Stimple*, Classic Homes
  • Peter Wysocki, COS

*Denotes Steering Committee Members

Meeting Dates

  • 1/31/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #1
  • 2/14/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #2
  • 2/23/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #3
  • 2/28/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #4
  • 3/7/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #5
  • 3/14/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #6
  • 3/19/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #7
  • 4/4/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #8
  • 4/11/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #9
  • 4/25/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #10
  • 5/4/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #11
  • 5/15/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #12
  • 6/6/2018 -  Practitioners Working Group Meeting #13


Although the Steering Committee, City Planning Commission, and City Council provided and diverse perspectives for the PlanCOS process, the PlanCOS team reached out to and supported citizen champions for the plan called Co-Creators in order to further broaden the reach of representation. This allowed PlanCOS to more directly engage representatives of demographic groups, organizations, disciplines or other interest groups, not directly included in the Steering Committee. 

Co-Creators met to talk about what the plan could offer the City of Colorado Springs. Their input and participation in the PlanCOS process could well be compared to that of a focus group. Online survey data and ideas from the Steering Committee and Technical Support Team was presented to Co-Creators. They were able to then respond to this information and provide on-the-ground observations and perspectives that may have otherwise been missed. 

Aside from participating in meetings with the PlanCOS team, they also participated in other ways. A citizen engagement tool, modeled after Imagine Boston, was created for the Co-Creators so that they could enter the community and host their own focus groups. Co-Creators also helped spread the word of PlanCOS to their own respective communities and interests groups, such as their places of work and church groups. They also provided essential staffing power at events like COSTALKS and EnvisionCOS. A few Co-Creators provide valuable specialized services such as professional photography, social media consulting, and creating actual content for major PlanCOS events and meetings. 

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Co-Creator Meetings Dates


  • 11/14/2016 - Co-Creators Meeting #1
  • 12/15/2016 - Co-Creators Meeting #2
  • 3/8/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #3
  • 4/13/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #4
  • 5/18/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #5
  • 6/21/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #6
  • 7/18/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #7
  • 8/23/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #8
  • 9/27/2017 - Co-Creators Meeting #9
  • 10/9/2018 - Co-Creators Meeting #10


PlanCOS incrementally checked in with the full Planning Commission and City Council as the entities that would ultimately be responsible for formal adoption of the Plan. In addition to periodic status updates and joint meetings, staff and the consultants provided opportunities for one-on-one briefings.

Joint City Council and City Planning Commission Meetings

  • 3/5/2018 - CC/CPC Meeting #1
  • 6/18/2018 - CC/CPC Meeting #2

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Stakeholder Interviews

Beginning in July thru August 2016, the PlanCOS team initiated a series of stakeholder interviews with members of the community. This was the first of the PlanCOS community outreach process. The interviews were intended to have an initial conversation with community representatives about current issues, opportunities, and how the city should change over the next 10 to 20 years.

PlanCOS Stakeholder Interviews, August 2016

Stakeholders and their affiliation at the time of interview:

  • Claire Anderson         Innovations in Aging
  • Tatiana Bailey         University of Colorado - Colorado Springs (UCCS) and Economic Forum
  • Allen Beauchamp, Cycling Community
  • Rachel Beck, Steering Committee, Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), and Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG)
  • Craig Casper, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG)
  • Welling Clark, Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN)
  • Stuart Coppedge, American Institute of Architects (AIA) and community
  • Tim Coutts, Central Bank & Trust
  • Aimee Cox, Homeless, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and affordable housing
  • Matt Craddock, Developer including SE
  • Lynette Crow-Iverson, Steering Committee
  • Susan Davies, Steering Committee and Trails and Open Spaces Coalition (TOSC)
  • Aubrey Day, YMCA and Infill Committee
  • Susan Edmondson, Downtown Partnership
  • Bill Fisher, American Institute of Architects (AIA), advocacy
  • Kent Fortune, USAA and Steering Committee
  • Jill Gaebler, Steering Committee and City Council
  • Chris Jenkins, Nor'wood, downtown etc.
  • Kevin Kratt, Steering Committee and commercial real estate
  • Rob MacDonald, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), Director
  • Laura Nelson, Apartment  Association
  • Hannah Parsons, Steering Committee and Regional Business Alliance (RBA)
  • Doug Price and Jim Cassidy, Colorado Springs Visitors Bureau (CVB)
  • Bruce Rau, Banning Lewis Ranch, Oakwood
  • Christy Riggs, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Chair
  • Harry Salzman, Steering Committee - Realtors
  • Larry Stebbins, Zac Chapman, and Chris Cipoletti, Local foods and public market
  • Doug Stimple, Steering Committee and Classic Homes
  • Taj Stokes, Steering Committee, Southeast, and religious community
  • Courtney Stone and Patricia Yeager, The Independence Center - Transit and disabilities
  • Janet Suthers, Various initiatives and Planning Commission (former)
  • Tom Taylor, Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC), Chair and developer
  • Mark Tremmel, Design community
  • Andy Vick, Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR)
  • Boyd Williams, YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, Director
  • Jason Wood, United Way, Director

Targeted Feedback from Interest Groups

Interest groups in the community partnered with PlanCOS to help spread the word of PlanCOS to their respective community members and participated in workshops. These groups have memberships that come from a vast array of backgrounds and professions. For example, the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA) has memberships that include local sports businesses and state and federal outdoor recreation agencies. The groups contributed extensively to the creation of PlanCOS content. This was particularly useful in drafting content for the Renowned Culture and Majestic Landscapes vision themes. The following is a list of interest groups who were engaged with PlanCOS:

List of PlanCOS Stakeholders and Partners

  1. 1 Million Cups Entrepreneurs Meetup
  2. AM 740 KVOR - Our Town
  3. Atlas Preparatory School
  4. Carmel Street Festival
  5. City of Colorado Springs Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC)
  6. City of Colorado Springs Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB)
  7. City of Colorado Springs Commission on Aging
  8. City of Colorado Springs Council
  9. City of Colorado Springs Downtown Review Board (DRB)
  10. City of Colorado Springs Human Resources Commission
  11. City of Colorado Springs New City Employee Orientation
  12. City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
  13. City of Colorado Springs Planning Commission
  14. City of Colorado Springs Sustainability Committee
  15. City of Manitou Springs
  16. Colorado College
  17. Colorado Photography Learning Group
  18. Colorado Springs Chamber & Economic Development Corporation
  19. Colorado Springs Housing Authority
  20. Colorado Springs Leadership Institute 
  21. Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority (CSURA)
  22. Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC)
  23. Colorado Springs Young Ambassadors
  24. Council of Neighbors and Organizations  (CONO)
  25. Deerfield Hills Community Center
  26. Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs
  27. Eco Cabins 
  28. El Paso Club
  29. El Paso County Planning Commission and Planning Staff
  30. El Pomar Black Advisory Council
  31. El Pomar Hispanic Advisory Council
  32. El Pomar Native American and Asian Advisory Council 
  33. Envision Shooks Run
  34. Food Policy Advisory Board (FPAB)
  35. Garden of the Gods Rotary Club
  36. Grace Be Unto You Church
  37. Harrison School District 2
  38. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  39. Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs
  40. Housing Provider Experts
  41. Hyperloop Entrepreneurs 
  42. Innovations in Aging
  43. Institute of Internal Auditors
  44. Joint Ballistic Missile Defense System Training and Education Centers (JBTEC) Facility
  45. Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) Policy Committee
  46. KCME 88.7 FM - The Culture Zone
  47. Kissing Camels Golf Men's Club
  48. Leadership Pikes Peak
  49. Lincoln Center - EnvisionCOS
  50. Local Relic
  51. Manitou Art Center
  52. North Colorado Springs Rotary Club
  53. Patty Jewett Neighborhood Association
  54. Pikes Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future
  55. Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments
  56. Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments - Citizens Advisory Committee
  57. Pikes Peak Association of Realtors
  58. Pikes Peak Community College - COSTALKS
  59. Pikes Peak Library District - Managers
  60. Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA)
  61. Regional Business Alliance (RBA) and Military Representatives
  62. RISE Coalition
  63. School District Superintendents
  64. Shades of Colorado Springs
  65. Southeast Armed Services YMCA
  66. Studio 809 Radio - Town Square
  67. The Springs Rescue Mission - Homeless Advisory Council
  68. Ticket to Success!
  69. Toastmasters #555, City Hall, Colorado Springs
  70. Transit Passenger Advisory Committee
  71. UCCS - Futuristic Cities event, Technical Writing Faculty and Students, other Students
  72. UCCS Regional Leadership Forum
  73. Unified Title Educational Power Series
  74. United States Air Force Academy
  75. Urban Land Institute, Colorado Springs
  76. Vectra Bank Economic Forum
  77. What If…? Festival

Community Events

PlanCOS recognized that the team needed to go into the community versus expecting the community to come to the team. The team planned its first community public event, COSTALKS, in March of 2017. Following Survey II, the team then conducted further engagement targeted toward the traditionally under-represented Southeast of Colorado Springs as well as the younger populations of Colorado Springs. In July 2017, events Heading Southeast and EnvisionCOS, respectively, were events that targeted these particular demographics and solicited their input. In the summer of 2018, the team then coordinated a series of open houses in each City Council District and one for At-Large members to showcase and solicit input on PlanCOS Draft 1.


Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) President Dr. Lance Bolton, and his staff provided a venue for and hosted the premier event for PlanCOS , COSTALKS on March 16, 2017. An incredible number of individuals helped to make this event a success, principally including the staff of PPCC, and the PlanCOS Co-Creators who volunteered to assist with seating and checking in attendees. The event was live streamed onto the PPCC network and Facebook page as well as recorded for later playback.


Discussions regarding how to engage the younger demographics of Colorado Springs were championed by Steering Committee member, Josh Green. Beginning in the Spring of 2017, he and Samuel T. Elliott, then UCCS Student Body President began working with Co-Creator Sean Holveck, City staff and PlanCOS consultants on an event, specifically targeted to younger folks in Colorado Springs. 

The event location was the Lincoln Center, in what was once an elementary school turned into a venue for multiple local businesses. The Cross fit gym, in what was once the school’s gymnasium, was where the event was held on July 19th, 2018 (7.19, which is also the regions telephone area code).

The intent of the event was to solicit input from stakeholders based on the plan’s vision themes. Josh Green moderated the discussion and solicited responses from the participants. With the Mayor, City Councilmembers, and Steering Committee members present, the discussions of the evening were able to be heard by the city’s leadership and PlanCOS decision-makers. The following shows top responses from texts:  

Textizen Summary Responses, July 2017

What is most important to you?Top Response
Majestic LandscapesNatural
Renowned CultureCulture and Arts
Vibrant NeighborhoodsNeighborhoods
Strong ConnectionsBike
Unique Urban PlacesDowntown
Thriving EconomyCity and Business
Theme that most resonates with you.Thriving Economy
What would you keep in COS?Community

The screen would project a word cloud of what was being provided by the audience. Josh would then solicit responses from the community based on what the word clouds were coming up with. As such, the participants would then be able to respond to the word clouds and take the conversation to another level.

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This event was also the first PlanCOS team’s Facebook Live stream.  The video of the event has had over 1,200 views and has reached over 2,500 persons (per Facebook logistics).  Having the event live streamed allowed persons unable to be at the event in person an opportunity to post as the event was occurring as well as watch it live or at a later time. Facebook Live Stream.

Heading Southeast

Survey II data included a field where a survey respondent could input their Zip Code. From this data, it was observed that responses from Southeast Colorado Springs were limited. To address this gap it was determined that the team should host an event in the Southeast community.

This event was held the day after EnvisionCOS, on July 20, 2018. The team partnered with the El Pomar Foundation and the Southeast Armed Services YMCA. The El Pomar Foundation assisted with staff personnel, payment for food, child care, and analysis of the event. The Southeast Armed Services YMCA was the venue location and provided necessary logistics to actualize the event.

The event and was moderated by Eric Phillips, and featured a panel that interacted with audience members. Keypads were provided to audience members and key questions were posed to the audience. Consultant staff compiled the answers to illustrate back to the audience, and prompted additional questions, comments and discussion with the panelist and audience. One of the more t surprising results was that 62% of audience members selected mixed use redevelopment as the type of land use projects they would be most excited about.

Panelists and their Affiliations

  • Yolanda Avila, City Councilwoman for District 4 - Southeast Colorado Springs
  • Bruce Meighen, Logan Simpson
  • Eric Phillips, Moderator and Steering Committee member
  • Robert Shonkwiler, Steering Committee and Southwest Representative
  • Taj Stokes, Steering Committee and Southeast Representative
  • Peter Wysocki, Planning and Development Department Director

Types of Involvement

Web-Based Public Involvement

SpeakUp! COS survey’s and discussions were used to solicit input on PlanCOS. In addition, over 1,500 emails were acquired and provided with updates on PlanCOS via Mailchimp. In March 2017, PlanCOS initiated its own City-based Facebook page, @goplancos, to encourage outreach into the community via social media. PlanCOS Draft 1 was also made into a website, where chapters and sections were broken down into individual pages. Each webpage of Draft 1 provided a direct link to a SpeakUp! COS survey, where the public could provide immediate input. At the PlanCOS landing page, a button was provided where citizens could ask to sign up for PlanCOS updates. Overall, through web-based public involvement, PlanCOS has been able to augment public participation of events and input solicitation beyond more traditional means of input gathered through public meetings. Rather, online and live inputs have complemented one another and provided an enhanced public engagement experience.

Survey I

Survey I Results

Utilizing the Speak Up! COS tool, Survey 1 was initiated on August 17, 2016 and ended on March 6, 2017. The survey collected 1,540 completed responses in a 6-month collection period. Survey I consisted of several open-ended questions that served as a basis from which the plan’s vision themes could be derived. Results were categorized and organized by topic and ranked by frequency of occurrence.
The following were Survey I’s questions:

  1. What do you love about Colorado Springs?
  2. What elements of the community would you like to see preserved for the future?
  3. What elements of the community would you like to see improved in the future?
  4. What areas of focus would you like this plan to address to improve Colorado Springs in the future?
  5. What neighborhood do you live in or identify with?
  6. What is your vision for Colorado Springs in 2036?
  7. How should we focus our efforts to reach the Colorado Springs community?
  8. Would you be willing to be a Co-Creator?
  9. Would you like to receive the #PlanCOS newsletter?
  10. (optional) Please provide your email if you would like to be included in future communication about the #PlanCOS effort. 

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Citizen Engagement Exercises

To supplement online surveys, the team also developed a Citizen Engagement Exercise toolkit modeled after Imagine Boston. The toolkit was designed so that Co-Creators could hold a meeting, conduct the exercise, and then submit results to the PlanCOS team. The entire toolkit was provided on the internet so that any citizen could download the content, follow directions, and hold a meeting. The toolkit was developed and refined throughout Spring 2017. Staff held seven meetings and one Co-Creator, Courtney Stone, held one meeting where the exercises were conducted.

Three exercises were created:

  1. Favorite Places
  2. Opportunities and Challenges
  3. Place Making

Citizen Engagement Exercise Groups

  • 3/3/17    Land Use Review Planners
  • 3/22/17    Very Interested Parents (VIP) - Harrison School District 2
  • 4/5/17    Urban Geography Students - University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  • 4/6/17    Library Managers - Pikes Peak Library District
  • 4/7/17    Affordable Housing Group
  • 4/11/17    Young Ambassadors
  • 4/14/17    Students - Colorado College
  • 5/11/17    Community Transit Coalition (Visually Impaired Adults) - done by Courtney Stone

Survey II

Survey 2 Results

Survey II was opened on February 24, 2017 with responses received until July 25, 2017. A total of 4,395 completed responses were received in a period of over 5 months. Survey II provided insight regarding potential goals, policies, and strategies to accomplish the vision themes of PlanCOS.

In addition to providing an opportunity for open-ended comments, Survey II asked the following questions:

1.     In order to represent your area of the community, please enter your zip code:

2.     Which vision theme would you most like to comment on?

3.     Which opportunities do you feel best address the above Vision? (select those most important to you) [repeated 6 times, 1 for each vision]

Results from Survey II were then ranked in order of opportunities having received the most responses as being able to fulfill each vision. Open-ended comments were also read and interpreted to provide further insight.

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Open Houses

Seven Open Houses were held in each of the six Council districts with one held for the three At-Large Council Members.  Open houses were scheduled to occur in July 2018 in order to run concurrent with the online commenting period occurring from June to August. Input gathered from the open houses supplemented and corresponded to input acquired through SpeakUp! COS to aid in the creation of Draft 1.

Data at the open houses was collected in the form of comment cards and post-its posted on boards by attendees. At the end of the open houses, a compiled synthesis of 142 Post-Its and 111 comment cards were processed by staff (examples below). Comments were organized by vision theme, recorded verbatim, and categorized accordingly. Comments were analyzed by staff conducting keyword searches and reading comments.

Staff conducted counts of attendees at each Open House every 15-minutes with the most persons counted at one time occurring at 6:15 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. Open houses began at 6:00 p.m. and were ended at 8:00 p.m. It is estimated that over 350 persons attended the seven open houses held throughout July 2018.

Draft PlanCOS Commenting

On June 25, 2018 PlanCOS Draft 1 was opened for online public commenting and closed on August 6th.  This period coincided with the July PlanCOS Open Houses to facilitate concurrent marketing of public engagement opportunities. At the close of online commenting, staff collected and analyzed 518 total responses emerging from a total of 24 different Zip Codes both within and outside of Colorado Springs. Geographic data of responders indicate that the most responses came from the 80907 Zip Code (87). Additionally, the most responses were found in the Vibrant Neighborhoods Chapter (168). The online commenting period asked three questions:

  1. Which section of [vision theme] are you commenting on?
  2. Please provide your enhancements, additions, what do you like or not like, on this chapter.
  3. To represent your community, what is your home ZIP code?

Staff conducted an analysis of received comments and synthesized the comments into thirteen top trends and themes found in the data. Overall, comments were interpreted to suggest that Draft 1 sufficiently fell within the bookends of polar opposite public sentiment, opinion, and value. This was seemingly accomplished while still maintaining a cohesive direction of fulfilling the intent to deliver a planning document that will guide the growth of the city as dictated through collective observation and analysis of the entire public process for the plan’s creation.

Top Trends and Themes of Draft 1 Public Comments

  1. Comments arguably validate the overall balanced and moderate tenor of the existing recommendations and content.
  2. Where will the funding will come from?
  3. Homelessness 
  4. Do not over-emphasize Downtown 
  5. Plan graphics should clearly demonstrate their use and purpose
  6. Concern about bicycle conflicts with automobiles 
  7. Affordable housing 
  8. Old North End and Nevada Avenue Concerns 
  9. Safety concerns including pedestrian safety, crime and homelessness
  10. Drake Power Plant Closure
  11. Elements of a neighborhood plan - not one size fits all
  12. Minority and disenfranchised populations 
  13. Sprawl

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Public Hearings

PlanCOS went through a formal process of ordinance adoption and was modified to include additional meetings. This allowed more time and consideration by the City Planning Commission and City Council to review and comment on PlanCOS. A total of six meetings were held to formally adopt PlanCOS. The only meetings without public comment were the City Council Work Sessions. Emails and social media posts were sent out to the community to encourage their attendance and participation in the formal public hearing processes. In addition to the meetings below, PlanCOS was presented to the Informal City Planning Commission on October 11, 2018.

Key Dates

Planning Commission
City Council
  • November 26, 2018, 1:00 p.m. at 107 N. Nevada Ave. - City Council work session, first presentation (no public comment)
  • December 10, 2018, 1:00 p.m. at 107 N. Nevada Ave. - City Council work session, second presentation (no public comment)
  • January 8, 2019, 1:00 p.m. at 107 N. Nevada Ave. - City Council, first reading (public comment)

January 22, 2019, 1:00 p.m. at 107 N. Nevada Ave. - City Council, second reading and Plan adoption (public comment

Other Events

In addition to making its own events, the PlanCOS team attended events that were sponsored by other organizations. This was effectively termed “piggy backing”. The PlanCOS team would attend the event, set up a table or booth, and be able to engage with attendees. The number of attendees, demographic, and geographic range varied widely in these events but consistently provided opportunities to expose and increase PlanCOS awareness. For example, PlanCOS reached about 700 individuals for the duration of the Downtown What If…? Festival in September 2017.

The PlanCOS team partnered with a local photography group, the Colorado Photography Learning Group (CLPG), the Manitou Art Center, and the Downtown Partnership to look into how to acquire community-based images for PlanCOS. 

The CLPG has held an annual photo scavenger hunt. In this partnership, it was expanded to occur along the West Colorado Avenue Creative Corridor. The group began the scavenger hunt at Manitou Springs, then to Old Colorado City, and ended at Downtown. At the end of the day, the group met at a local brewpub, Local Relic, and shared images in competition.

The purpose of this event both celebrated community and evaluated the possibility of acquiring imagery to complement PlanCOS online. Because the plan’s website will have flexibility in terms of imagery and video, it is highly possible to incorporate a reoccurring number of images. While much of this imagery could be acquired by staff, this event provided an opportunity for the community to directly contribute to PlanCOS content.

This event has initiated further discussions with the local arts community. 

Going Forward

Web-Based Plan

The American Planning Association (APA) awarded the City of Plano, TX the 2017 Daniel Burnham Award for an online Comprehensive Plan: and This inspired the PlanCOS team to expand upon the traditional document delivery of having a comprehensive plan product that is just printed or downloaded in multiple .pdf chapters. With the support of the consultant team and the City’s Communication’s Office, the intent to make a web-based plan for PlanCOS was established. The test run of having an online plan was the release of Draft 1, which while available as a complete .pdf download and in print, was also created as a website. As such, based on the success of Draft 1 as an online document, the final adopted plan is set to be easily incorporated into the already existing website template. Furthermore, having a web-based plan will allow incorporation of up-to-date images and videos to help communicate the plan’s contemporary relevance.

Images and Videos

Various forms of media for PlanCOS were acquired throughout the duration of the public engagement process. This media formed the basis from which future media could be incorporated into a web-based plan. In collaboration with Springs TV and community-based media production organizations, the possibility for digital media is limitless. Videos and imagery have already been used to showcase PlanCOS public processes, including Facebook live streaming of the EnvisionCOS and COSTALKS events. As such, the foundation and expectation to include more videos and imagery for PlanCOS has been laid. For example, upon the release of PlanCOS, the team is hoping to incorporate video introductions for the overall plan, each of the vision themes, and imagery that showcases and highlights the goals, policies, and strategies. 

On-Going Discussions

PlanCOS, since the initial stages, has had the pending question of what happens after the plans is adopted and approved. Will it sit on the shelf and collect dust? Absolutely not. PlanCOS will continue to utilize the latest and greatest means of communicating with the public and express the achievements of the plan on an annual basis. With tools that allow emails to large groups of citizens and social media, it will be very simple to continue the work laid during the creation process on through the plan’s implementation phase. Content communicated will change but engaging the public will remain. The goal is to continually let the community know that “We’re Listening”.