The Baltimore City Department of Planning has drafted Baltimore’s first new Comprehensive Master Plan in over 30 years. The Department approached the Plan as Baltimore City’s business plan for coordinating and leveraging City investment, policy and programming to maximize economic opportunity and the quality of life for all citizens of Baltimore over the next 6 years.

The business plan format was selected to build on the tremendous effort in the late 1990s known as PlanBaltimore. Plan Baltimore involved thousands of residents in creating a vision for the future of Baltimore City. While PlanBaltimore was not formally adopted, it created the framework for what Baltimoreans want Baltimore to be. The Comprehensive Master Plan has updated the vision and focuses on implementation steps needed for the next 6 years to make that vision a reality.

The Plan focuses on four primary areas: LIVE, EARN, PLAY, and LEARN.

LIVE creates the business plan that guides Baltimore as it readjusts its residential land use to account for the change in population, aging housing stock, the critical need for moderately priced, quality housing to attract and retain the middle class, the growing market for providing homes for Washington DC commuters, the expanding market for condominiums, the opportunity to capture an increasing share of the expected 800,000 new residents who will settle in the region by 2020 and enhancing the wonderful mix of architecture, life styles and neighborhoods that make Baltimore a premier place to live. LIVE also sets forth an implementation strategy for how the City can capture that growth potential and increase investment above and beyond those neighborhoods that are already experiencing renovation, rehabbing and new development.

EARN creates a business plan to guide Baltimore's response to unemployment and underemployment. The strategy aims to capture and encourage biotech job opportunities, create larger tracts of land for commercial or industrial development near transportation centers and connect residents to available employment. Currently the health, medical, financial and construction sectors are large and growing. Education and tourism continue to be strong. EARN sets forth a strategy for how Baltimore can meet the job needs of its residents and the growth sectors. EARN also examines commercial zoning to determine whether it needs to be retooled to meet today’s market demands.

PLAY guides Baltimore as it expands and implements plans to enhance Baltimore’s cultural, entertainment and natural resource amenities to make them accessible to more of our residents and introduce these opportunities to increasing numbers of visitors from across the country and beyond. PLAY includes a proposal for enhanced parks funding and a strategy to tie together heritage tourism, trails, parks and other amenities.

LEARN creates a business plan to make our schools community resources and strengthen the connection between communities and their schools. It also seeks to “right size” the school system to today’s population so that we can use school dollars efficiently and to capitalize on the untapped potential that fourteen colleges and universities provide for Baltimore.

A series of stakeholder meetings were held this past Fall which provided residents, community organizations, businesses and others an opportunity to provide input for better land use in Baltimore.

Now that a draft business plan is complete, that Plan is scheduled to be released by the Planning Commission on February 2, 2006. This will kick-off three months of opportunities for public participation, comment and feedback.

The Plan will be revised to reflect the comments received. A final, amended version will be presented to the Planning Commission on April 20th and from there to City Council for adoption.