Vision 2020: Contribute your voice to the city’s comprehensive plan

Published 7:01 am Sunday, January 17, 2016

By Greg Siems

Vision 2020 director

As you might recall, the original inspiration for Vision 2020 was simple: improve Austin’s quality of life for the benefit of all. Our volunteer committees are still hard at work carrying out their missions, but we are, thankfully, by no means the only ones preparing for a brighter future. An important part of Vision 2020’s role is to support and celebrate others’ efforts, especially when it comes to the future of Austin beyond 2020.

Gregory Siems

Gregory Siems

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For example, our local government is currently putting together a comprehensive plan that will guide Austin’s development into the next decade and beyond. The planning process is very thorough and will require nearly a year to complete, and with good reason. Before we know where we’re going, we first have to understand where we are. We need to take stock of current economic conditions, demographic trends, and the community resources at our disposal. Doing so will help identify areas for improvement and critical needs we must address.

The most important part of that equation, though, will be input that comes directly from you, the citizen. When you think about Austin today, what comes to mind? What words or phrases might describe the future Austin you would like to see? Your answers to these questions are an essential element of the comprehensive planning process, and city officials want to hear from you. By logging on to or contacting Holly Wallace, Planning and Zoning administrator, you can access a short survey that addresses the above questions and more.

Allow me to further underscore the importance of this survey and the overall comprehensive planning process. It is, of course, impossible to predict the economic and demographic changes Austin will experience over the next few decades, but the comprehensive plan will serve to steer our community in the right direction. It will do so, in large part, by setting the priorities by which future policies will be judged.

Any future law, regulation, code, or project ought to measure up to the community vision set forth in the comprehensive plan. Without this beacon guiding our way we will be left scrambling, trying to set the right course amidst a storm of external circumstances. Wouldn’t it be nice to have our sights set ahead of time, and pursue those goals with focus and energy? We don’t have much control over the international, national, or even state factors that influence our lives, but we can choose how to respond to them and create, to the best of our ability, the type of community in which we all want to live.

I’m repeating myself again, but your opinion truly does matter. Our city officials recognize that not everyone has the time or inclination to attend a public meeting or know who to call to have an issue addressed. The survey mentioned above is a great first step to having your voice heard, and there will be plenty of other opportunities during the planning process for the community to provide input. Wallace is the point person for this effort, and she can be reached at 507-437-9952 or Please take a few moments to contribute your thoughts as this important planning process begins.