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Online City questionnaire asks residents what they want Auburn to be

State law requires that the City of Auburn update its comprehensive plan by June 2015.

Comprehensive plan? That dry bone?

Isn't that something only people called planners can ever gin up stray spots of warm fuzzies about, or work up mouths of froth about after hearing the words mentioned?

Well, it shouldn't be. Because such a plan comes down to what the people who actually live in Auburn want their city to look like and be when tomorrow comes around.

What housing types people want to see here, transportation priorities, the natural and physical environment, parks and recreation, and so on.

Things that should be everybody's concern.

City of Auburn officials, faced with such a major overhaul, aren't interested in doing things in isolation. No, they really want to know what Auburn residents want their city to be for the next 20-to-30 years.

Hence the priority-based questionnaire that recently showed up on the City of Auburn's Website at www.auburnwa.gov.

A spotlight on the City's home page takes the viewer and prospective filler-outer to the "Imagine Auburn" page. There, they'll learn just what this "Imagine Auburn" visioning stuff is all about, and why Auburn has to update its plan or face stiff consequences.

From the home page, it's a quick, tree-lined scroll to a section where readers may learn about getting involved.

Other sections allow people to share information that may not fit into the regular cache.

City officials created this online community questionnaire, hoping to hear from the most people possible out in the community.

"It's pretty easy to fill out," said Senior Planning Manager Elizabeth Chamberlain. "It's priority-based, so we'll have a series of questions. It takes about 20 minutes to fill out. "

The City is also sending out the information via Facebook and its Twitter page.

Chamberlain said the City is creating "tool kits" for "visioning workshops", and has sent out invitations via its list server. That is, it wants neighborhood groups and homeowners' associations to know they may invite the City to come out and conduct a workshop and learn all about what Auburnites want their city to be into the future.

The first such workshop was last Saturday.

The City issued a request for qualifications last August from consultants who specialize in comprehensive plan work and selected MIG Inc. Since then the City has worked on firming up its outreach effort.

City officials interviewed prospective stakeholders in December, among them: the mayor and deputy mayor; the chair of the Auburn Planning Commission; the director of the Auburn Downtown Association; the director of the Auburn-Area Chamber of Commerce' business leaders, residents; neighborhoods; the chair and vice chair of the Junior City Council; and members of the Human Service Commission.

"We're fairly on target, but we were a little bit behind on getting some of the outreach took kits developed, but we're back on track with that," Chamberlain said.

By the close of March or April, planners expect to have synthesized what they have learned and make a presentation to the full city council.

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