Working Papers
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Integrating Exploratory Scenario Planning into a Municipal General Plan Update

Joe Marlow, Hannah Oliver, Ray Quay, and Ralph Marra

December 2015, English

Exploratory scenario planning (XSP) is a creative, collaborative planning method that can be used within a community’s traditional planning processes to develop and implement plans, strategies, and actions that will help to build community resilience under uncertain future conditions. Exploratory scenario planning approaches have recently been introduced into city, town, and county planning processes. Western Land and Communities (WLC), a joint program of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute, is working to make the XSP approach more accessible to planning departments. The Town of Sahuarita, located in Arizona approximately 15 miles south of Tucson, began updating their General Plan in 2014 and was interested in using exploratory scenario planning to help the community prepare for unforeseen future conditions. WLC and the Town of Sahuarita collaborated to test the XSP approach in a General Plan update. This working paper describes the process and methods that were used, and the lessons learned that can be applied to future projects.


Intermountain West, Planning, Scenario Planning, Water