NEW! Citizens' Planning Academy

Participants will learn “city-building 101” from Activation to Zoning in Denver's first Citizens' Planning Academy


Local residents will get an inside look at how city planning works starting in September, when Denver Community Planning and Development launches the first-ever Citizens’ Planning Academy.  Hosted in partnership with Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC), the free, three-part Citizens’ Planning Academy curriculum will give 30 participants insight into the key aspects of citywide plans, neighborhood plans and zoning.

The goal of the academy is to empower residents, business owners and others with information so they can engage in and guide planning efforts effectively both in their own neighborhoods and for the whole city.  The academy will be held on three Wednesday evenings this fall: September 30, and October 14 and 28. The application deadline is August 14. 

Courses will be jointly taught by city planners, neighborhood representative and industry professionals, with interactive activities and group discussions.  They will cover:

  • Citywide Planning: How does a city of 650,000 set a vision for its future? Learn how to identify and prioritize transportation and land-use strategies to build sustainable and well-connected communities citywide. 

  • Neighborhood Planning:  What are your neighborhood’s best features? What would make it healthier, more livable, and better connected? Learn how neighbors have worked together to identify what character-defining features to preserve and enhance, while opening doors for appropriate reinvestment to keep their area vibrant.

  • Zoning:  Zoning can help translate a community’s broad vision into sticks and bricks.  Learn about Denver’s context- and form-based code and how it strives to improve the health, safety, prosperity and quality-of-life for all of Denver. Learn helpful tips about how to use the code, including online tools available at

    Cover photo by Coreen Zuniga

How We Plan

Making Denver livable for its people now and in the future is the overarching vision that guides all planning efforts — whether they cover a small area, such as a transit station or neighborhood, or the entire city. Each plan is the result of a collaborative public process, led by city planners and involving residents, business owners, community groups and other stakeholders.

Plans represent a long-term, broad vision for a community and function as guides for future land use and urban design, ensuring orderly and appropriate neighborhood development, including such elements as buildings, streets, parks and public spaces. Although plans are not law, they do lay the foundation for city regulations like zoning and urban design standards. Whether creating plans on a small or citywide scale, our goal is always to achieve a balanced, multi-modal transportation system, land use that accommodates future growth, and open space throughout the city. 

Types of Plans

  • Citywide plans and initiatives

Citywide planning incorporates input from all areas of the city and involves multiple city departments and initiatives. These plans establish goals for the future of the city, analyze and improve internal processes, and provide policy guidance to achieve those goals.

Currently, two guiding documents—Comprehensive Plan 2000 and Blueprint Denver—provide the framework principles and policies that help fulfill the vision for Denver’s future. Comprehensive Plan 2000 is a citywide plan establishing long-term strategies to ensure that Denver is livable for its people, now and in the future. Blueprint Denver is a supplement to Comprehensive Plan 2000, focused on land use and transportation.

Once they have been drafted, citywide plans are reviewed first by the Denver Planning Board, which makes a recommendation to the Denver City Council. Plans are then presented to the City Council committee that governs city planning and, lastly, reviewed and adopted by the full Council.

Other citywide initiatives, such as the Living Streets Initiative, the Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Plan and Discover Denver work in tandem with or complement adopted plans, often with a specific policy focus. Documents produced through these initiatives are reviewed by the Denver Planning Board but not formally adopted by City Council. 

  • Small area plans

Small area plans address the issues of a specific area of the city. Station area plans are examples of small area plans that guide public and private development around transit stations.

Like citywide plans, small area plans are reviewed first by the Denver Planning Board, which makes a recommendation to the Denver City Council. Plans are then presented to the City Council committee that governs city planning and, lastly, reviewed and adopted by the full Council.

Visit the Small Area Plans page for more information.

  • General development plans

General development plans (GDPs) establish a framework for large or phased projects in mixed-use zone districts. The GDP process, which begins with an application from the developer/property owner, provides a conceptual plan for integrating land uses with infrastructure. 

Like area plans, GDPs involve a public process. Once completed, they are reviewed by the Denver Planning Board, which makes a recommendation to the city’s Development Review Committee, which in turn reviews and gives final approval for GDPs. The committee is comprised of heads of city departments including Community Planning and Development, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Denver Fire and Denver Water.

Visit the General Development Plans page for more information.

  • Other planning initiatives

Other tools that support and inform the planning process include assessments and studies. Documents produced through these initiatives may be reviewed by the Denver Planning Board, but not go through the adoption process.

Planning Goals

Diverse Neighborhoods

Denver includes a diverse array of neighborhoods that range from historic districts marked by architecture styles dating back to Denver’s founding, to rows of modern shimmering glass high rises in highly urban settings, to quiet residential streets dotted with single-family homes with backyards and garages. This diversity helps ensure that people of any age, income or physical ability can find a place to call home in our city.  

Learn more:

  • Comprehensive Plan 2000 outlines Denver’s vision for a future that meets our economic and environmental needs by providing an equitable city that engages its stakeholders.
  • Blueprint Denver maps areas of stability and areas of change in Denver’s neighborhoods.
  • Plans in progess and completed plans detail the framework for development in your neighborhood or commercial corridor.

Mixed-Use Communities

Mixed-usesAmerica’s first cities were built around walkable neighborhoods in which residential, retail and commercial uses all came together. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, these mixed-use urban centers gave way to more restricted development as single-use zoning became a more common planning tool. In Denver, our streetcar districts retain remnants of historic mixed-use development, and new infill projects and infrastructure investments—especially around transit stations—are helping to re-create communities where people can walk more frequently to their daily errands. 

Learn more:

  • Blueprint Denver encourages and promotes the integration of land use and transportation to enhance the quality of life in our city.
  • Denver’s Transit Oriented Development Initiative leverages the public investment in transit to create new pedestrian-oriented communities.

Multi-Modal Streeets

Multi-modal streetsStreets are not just for cars anymore. They are also places for Denver’s residents to walk, bike and use public transit, and they provide a public realm for our city’s neighborhoods and business corridors. Multi-modal streets accommodate more trips by more people by improving transit and providing better pedestrian and bicycle facilities, so that people of any physical ability feel safe using any mode of travel. 

Learn more:


SustainabilityThe idea that our use of resources today should not impair the quality of life of future generations is a central goal of Comprehensive Plan 2000 and Blueprint Denver.  Additionally, Greenprint Denver was launched in 2005 to advance and further support the integration of environmental impact analysis into the city's programs and policies, alongside economic and social analysis.

Learn more:

  • Denver’s vision for a future that meets our economic and environmental needs by providing an equitable city that engages its stakeholders is laid out in Comprehensive Plan 2000.
  • Blueprint Denver encourages and promotes the integration of land use and transportation to make our city more sustainable.
  • Denver’s Transit Oriented Development Initiative brings transit goals and development goals together to create more sustainable communities.
  • The Greenprint Denver Initiative tracks and reports on the city’s progress on sustainability goals.

Public Outreach

Community outreach is built into the planning process in several ways. City planners share information with the public and invite the public to share their ideas, questions and concerns at various stages of the process with the ultimate goal of engaging as many citizens as possible in an efficient, effective and timely manner.  Outreach may include:

  • Public meetings in the community
  • Public hearings at Denver Planning Board and Denver City Council
  • Meetings with public stakeholder groups or steering committees
  • Plan updates, meeting reminders and other key information posted on the city’s website and distributed via email