The Comprehensive Plan is used by City staff and private developers as a blueprint for future development. It is used to guide the expenditure of public funds, secure outside public funding, guide private investment, respond to trends, and inform policy decisions related to development, especially zoning actions. Community groups, development partners, housing and transportation providers, and other governmental agencies also use the Comprehensive Plan as a guide for their work in Saint Paul.
The Comprehensive Plan is made up of goals and policies. Goals are statements of desired outcomes by 2040. They are intended to state the plan's intent as clearly as possible, so that we as a city know what we are working to accomplish. Policies are high-level statements intended to guide city decision-making in a manner that achieves the Comprehensive Plan goals. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan includes more than 200 draft policies, each of which supports the city’s goals and values. Each chapter also has a series of maps, statistics, and other appendices that help support and explain the policies laid out in the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan’s policies will be used to (among other purposes):
- Inform zoning decisions. Zoning actions must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. For example, per guidance in the Land Use Chapter, is a parcel requested for rezoning from B3 General Business to T3 Traditional Neighborhood located along a transit-corridor or at a Neighborhood Node identified for strategic, higher-density, transit-oriented development?
- Guide the expenditure of public funds through such tools as the capital improvement budget, tax increment financing and STAR. For example, per guidance in the Parks chapter, will a proposed park improvement lead to more equitable access to city parks?
- Guide private investment. The Comprehensive Plan also establishes priorities for where the city wants privately funded development to occur, consistent with public investments in housing, transportation, public utilities, and parks. For example, the Land Use Chapter says that high-density multi-family construction should be concentrated at Neighborhood Nodes.
- Secure other public funding (e.g., grants). Regional, state and federal agencies often require projects they fund to be consistent with the applicant’s Comprehensive Plan. For example, a Transportation Chapter policy supporting the lessening of the impact of interstate freeways on adjacent neighborhoods would be the basis for pursuing federal funding for a “land bridge” over I-94 to reconnect neighborhoods torn apart by the construction of the freeway.
The comprehensive plan is a guidance document that lays out short-, medium- and long-term action steps to make the plan’s goals and policies a reality. Highlights of the action steps include:
- Complete planning studies for proposed stations along the Riverview Corridor.
- Conduct a zoning study of home occupation standards for start-up businesses.
- Adopt and implement a “Vision Zero” program, which aims to eliminate serious injuries involving road traffic.
- Surpass the Met Council’s goals for non-single-occupant vehicles trips – 25% walking, 20% public transit, 8% biking – by 2040.
- Support neighborhood revitalization and reinvestment using heritage preservation tools in African American, Asian, Latino and Native American communities.