Purpose of the Project
About every ten years, the City of Aspen and Pitkin County collaborate on a character-based community plan for the
Aspen area to help guide the Aspen City Council and Pitkin County Commissioners in their decision-making. The unique
process that was undertaken has many elected officials, staff, and community members raving about its effectiveness and
successes months after completion.
From the beginning of the process, both staff and elected officials wanted to gather public input for a plan that would
be meaningful and address current issues, including sustainability. This resulted in two new chapter topics being added
to the document – Environmental Sustainability and Planning for the Lifelong Aspenite, in addition to Economics, Historic
Preservation, Housing, Growth Management, Parks Recreation and Open Space, Transportation, and Place-Based Plans
chapters. These chapters address both physical and social sustainability in the Aspen Area.
Role of the Landscap e Architect
For the 2010 Aspen Area Community Plan (AACP) update, the City and County were determined to design
a “bottom-up” process, driven by the general public from the beginning, rather than by a series of committees. The
last effort conducted from 1998-2000 used the traditional method of establishing a steering committee. While there
was initial excitement for the effort, attrition significantly reduced participation over an 18 month period. When the
work was done, critics described it as an “insider” process.
A challenging goal was established from the onset of the 2009 update processes- to create a plan that truly deserved the
name “community plan” that strove to reflect the entire community’s vision for the Aspen Area. Rather than establish
a variety of working committees that may or may not accurately represent the Aspen Area’s many constituencies — the
project team created a process and communication tools to efficiently and effectively engage a large number of citizens
in a meaningful way.
Si g n i f icance
The public process has so far engaged over 1,000 community members, including many who have never been involved
in planning before. This is nearly ten times the number involved in the 2000 AACP process and a significant number
for a population of approximately 7,000. When the meetings were over, 90% of the audience agreed or strongly agreed
that they “liked this method of public engagement.” The process is accredited with providing measurable and statistically
valid input from a broad cross-section of the population. The capture of this input provides a rare opportunity for officials
to adopt a highly informed and citizen-driven plan to serve as the over-arching guiding document for the next decade.
The process included fun and humor, non-traditional planning activities, and easy methods of engagement so that when
we announce our next public process people will be ready and willing to take part, providing a lasting value to the
community long after the conclusion of the project.
A SLA C o l o r a d o P r o f e s s i o n a l
D e s i g n A w a r d s P r o g r a m
Asheville Aspen Austin Denver Salt Lake City Tahoe
Planning Merit Award Winner
DW Legacy Design ®
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.