1. What is ENGAGEDurham?
ENGAGEDurham is an engagement initiative to ensure all Durham voices are involved in City and County projects. It is a pilot to coordinate equitable engagement efforts on multiple City and County projects, informed by the City’s Equitable Community Engagement Blueprint. The primary focus of this coordinated effort are two major, multi-year projects: the new Durham Comprehensive Plan and the updated Durham County Transit Plan. Additional projects, from departments across the City and County, may be brought into this engagement initiative as they engage the community. We anticipate that the ENGAGEDurham pilot will continue coordinated engagement efforts beyond the scope of these specific projects in the future.
We are working to develop new engagement methods that prioritize racial equity and ensuring those who have been historically excluded from decision-making have a voice. As a pilot effort we recognize that we are trying new things and have much to learn along the way. We may not get it right the first time but we will keep listening, learning, and adapting our approach as we go. One opportunity to get involved is through ENGAGEDurham’s Comprehensive Plan process.
2. What is a Comprehensive Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan is Durham’s strategy for how we manage growth and development over the next 5, 10, 20 years. The Comprehensive Plan decides what can be built where in Durham. It decides what size and kind of homes can be built in what part of the City and County, where schools and businesses can be built, and where streets can run through. The plan will have strategies on where and how development can happen. It will also guide how the City and County should provide public buildings, amenities, and services to support future growth.
Since the development of our current Comprehensive Plan in 2005, Durham has added approximately 49,000 new jobs and 57,000 new residents. Over the next decade, we are projected to add an additional 19,000 jobs and 43,000 new residents. Durham is changing, and it is critical we have clear policies on a variety of issues for the future.
The City and County are undertaking this work using a racial equity lens. As a broad vision document, our Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated to address racial equity in our growth and development outcomes and to begin to address the historical inequities in past land use and transportation decisions. In order to do that we need to ensure that all voices are heard, in particular the voices of vulnerable communities, those that have been traditionally underrepresented or not been heard at all.
3. Why does Durham need to update its Comprehensive Plan? How will this process be different?
Our last Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2005. Our current plan is nearly 13 years old and Durham has seen a lot of change in that time. That change has benefited some residents, while others have been negatively impacted. Durham looks the way it does because the 2005 plan guided how it could grow and develop. In the past, government officials (usually white) have written this plan without hearing from or engaging folks from all parts of our community. This means the rules have been very unfair to residents of color. What we’re doing right now is writing a new plan. And this time, we want our residents, especially our residents of color, to help write this plan. The City and County are undertaking this work using a racial equity lens. As a broad vision document, the Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated to address racial equity in our growth and development outcomes and to begin to address the historical inequities in past land use and transportation decisions. There are important choices to be made about where and how we continue to grow and develop. Our new Comprehensive Plan will work to ensure that everyone benefits from future policy decisions.
4. Who is involved in the Comprehensive Plan process?
Everyone! The vision for Durham’s future needs to reflect the needs and wishes of the residents. Past plans have not intentionally brought in the voices of all of Durham’s residents and often residents of color and lower income residents were left out. As we begin writing a new plan, we want our residents, especially those left out in the past, to help write this plan.
5. Who is coordinating the Comprehensive Plan process?
Durham City-County Planning staff is coordinating this process with the support from the City of Durham Innovation Team and City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services.
6. How long will the Comprehensive Plan process take?
The entire Comprehensive Plan process was expected to take about three years with engagement happening throughout. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project timeline has been impacted. More on the project schedule can be found here and will be updated frequently. There will be more intensive engagement opportunities in the first year of the process to ensure that the diverse voices of Durham are heard from the very beginning to set a strong foundation.
7. Do I have to be an expert in planning to contribute ideas?
Absolutely not! We understand that residents are experts on Durham by living, working, owning a business, going to school or raising a family here. Your expertise on the needs and desires of this community is vital to the plan’s success.
8. How will the engagement process inform the Comprehensive Plan?
When you contribute an idea, you are contributing directly to the Comprehensive Plan. Your ideas will serve as the foundation of the plan’s goals and objectives, inform specific policies, and set the course for implementation. It is critical that community voices and feedback are reflected in the document’s policies. Each comment will be recorded, categorized, and analyzed for consideration by the planning team and then shared back with the community on the project website.
9. Where can I learn more?
10. How is the County Transit Plan related to the Comprehensive Plan process?
The County Transit Plan will determine how Durham’s ½ cent special transit sales tax will be spent. The transit tax revenues can be used for new services such as new bus routes, more frequent bus service, and bus stop improvements. As the Comprehensive Plan determines how the City and County grow for the next 30 years, how we get around will be critical to a sustainable future. Transportation policies will be incorporated in the Comprehensive Plan. Staff are coordinating engagement opportunities for the Comprehensive Plan and Transit Plan.