General Plan 2040 envisions how Tempe might look 25-plus years from today
By Chelsea Martin
A new breath of life is generating renewed
enthusiasm for Tempe’s future, thanks to a
recently adopted general plan that creates a
planning roadmap through 2040.
Nancy Ryan, project management coordinator
for Tempe’s General Plan 2040, unveiled the plan
at a recent Tempe Chamber event, thoroughly
describing its vision for the city.
State law requires Arizona’s cities regularly to
adopt a comprehensive, long-term General Plan to
guide the physical development of each community.
The plan contains the community’s vision for
the future and is an expression of how residents
would like their community to evolve over the next
The current iteration of the document, General
Plan 2030, is effective for up to 10 years from the
date it was initially adopted, December 2003, and
ratified by voters in March 2004.
On or before the 10th anniversary of the plan’s
most recent adoption, the city is required to either
re-adopt the existing plan or draft a new one, and
take the revisions to the ballot for public ratification
by majority vote.
Ryan explained the new adopted plan with an
optimistic look to the future, portraying it as it was
crafted by community stakeholders, council members
and public input.
In order to create a safe, healthy, pulsing and
accommodating center for development in Tempe,
the General Plan has been developed through a
13-month process of public input, said Ryan.
The city of Tempe is planning with the future
in mind to ensure the city’s sustainable growth,
economic prosperity and continual progress, Ryan
“This plan guides how our city looks at
development, land use, sustainability, transportation,
mass transit, economic development and historic
preservation,” she said. “This vision helps us shape
how the community will look.”
Through the coordination and input of a
23-person community group, various community
open houses, and a public review process, the
General Plan was developed and refined. On Dec. 12,
Tempe City Council adopted General Plan 2040.
There are plenty of people in the community
“We have outreached to residents and property
owners, the chamber, Rotary clubs, local businesses,
schools, neighboring communities, agencies and
others,” Ryan said.
Tempe’s vision for itself in the year 2040 is
a livable, engaged community that is safe, secure,
active and sustainable, Ryan says. The idea is to
create a social magnet for everyone to mobilize to
while supporting the community.
The focus was the concept of a 20-minute
city characterized by a vibrant mix of commercial
and residential establishments. That concept
would enable one to pick any point in the city and,
depending on choice of transportation, the maximum
time it will take to reach a destination is 20 minutes.
That’s because all the services, parks, schools and
various local businesses will all be interconnected
within a close proximity.
Other points that Ryan stressed involved ways
to revitalize neighborhoods; create more mixed-use
hubs; emphasize healthy living and conservation;
improve the use of walking paths and transportation
routes; plan for redevelopment, park-quality
improvements, increased use of art integration
into the community, ways to improve commercial
development and strengthen recreation programs.
Tempe’s projected population for 2040 is
217,000, an increase of 55,000; the projected
employment growth will be 244,000, an increase of
75,000 jobs, Ryan explained.
“The city is predominantly residential but we
have done a lot to make sure there is ample land for
employment,” Ryan said.
“We are trying to protect the ability to grow
employment and the residential portions. It was a
very important aspect in this plan.”
Some growth areas to keep an eye on, she noted,
Along light rail, Rio Salado Parkway, the
101/202 intersection, Baseline/Rural area, ASU
Research Park and the New Discovery center at Elliot
and the Price/101 freeway.
“The goal is for Tempe to successfully grow for
the future and emerge as the leader of urban living,”
“It’s not just about numbers; it’s about this
being a great place to live and work, and it’s about
Tempe’s ability to maintain a high quality of life.”
The public vote to legally ratify General Plan
2040 will occur ina Tempe Special Election on
Tuesday, May 20.
For additional election information including
voter registration, polling locations or any
other questions, visit the City Clerk’s Election
Information website, http://www.tempe.gov/index.
For additional information on General Plan
2040, contact Nancy Ryan at 480-350-8096 or