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Step 6: Selecting a Preferred Scenario

Step 6 Summary

View the full Scenario Planning Guidelines (PDF).

Step 6 involves the development and selection of a preferred scenario. The alternative scenarios will be presented to decision makers, stakeholders and the public to solicit feedback about the selection and design of a preferred scenario for the metropolitan area. The preferred scenario will consist of a package including: a concept map, a set of major programs, policies or general actions, and spatially distributed housing and employment forecasts.

  • The concept map shows future land use types and major transportation changes based on the major themes of the preferred scenario, but more general than comprehensive plans or zoning maps.
  • A set of major programs, policies or general actions that can achieve the preferred scenario.
  • Forecasts of future housing and employment, at the TAZ level, helps to inform and guide subsequent planning, such as RTP updates, subsequent plan updates, and other options available to local governments to accommodate growth consistent with a preferred scenario.
  • A narrative describes the map, programs, policies or actions, and forecasts of the preferred scenario.

Present Alternative Scenarios to the Public

In this phase of public engagement, the community reviews the results of the alternative scenario evaluations, gives their feedback and preferences, and helps identify effective policies or actions to achieve community goals. That public input, along with the evaluations of the alternative scenarios, will inform the development of the preferred scenario.

Some recommendations for engaging stakeholders and the public during the selection of a preferred scenario are listed below:
  • Design Easy-to-Read Alternative Scenario Maps: Maps should be simplified, easy to understand and supplemental with written descriptions.
  • Present Key Evaluation Criteria Choices in a Relevant Way: Use techniques described in Step 5 to communicate the criteria in understandable and relevant ways (e.g., annual fuel costs per family versus VMT per capita).
  • Use a Range of Methods for Informative Engagement:
    • Summary materials, such as brochures, newsletters, websites, forums, open houses and short videos are common formats for presenting alternative scenarios and their core strategies.
    • Forums and open houses are great for two-way communication with the public and stakeholders. Consider using guest speakers, discussions, table exercises and/or instant key-pad polling to help evaluate choices from different points of view and giving the public a chance to make recommendations.
    • A scientifically designed survey such as a random sample telephone survey can have value.
  • Consider a Focused Stakeholder Approach: Stakeholders familiar with the subject matter will be able to comprehend complex information and better advise the team on the details of the scenarios being tested. They may also have insight on approaches likely to be supported by policy makers.

Role of a Preferred Scenario

A preferred scenario represents the land use and transportation pattern that the region wants to achieve over the next 20-40 years. With agreement on the preferred scenario, local governments can take steps to amend plans, policies, and programs, along with other actions to make it a reality.

Develop a Preferred Scenario

The scenario analysis and selection process should result in an understanding of the public’s level of support for the elements of the scenarios. The goal of inviting community input is to identify areas of consensus, and consider compatibility and tradeoffs among various scenario elements and themes. The preferred scenario is not generally a selection of one of the initial scenarios as the best. Rather, it is a new scenario combining elements or strategies from various alternative scenarios and as such it may need to be adjusted to ensure that compatible elements are being used.

Model a Preferred Scenario

The preferred scenario will be evaluated through use of the sketch planning tool, Metropolitan GreenSTEP and any additional models, such as a travel demand model. Model results can be used as performance measures during future implementation efforts, for use in describing characteristics of the vision and for use in the final report.

Other Recommended Next Steps

A vision document captures the community goals expressed during the planning process, and describes the anticipated outcomes based on the selected scenario.