Comprehensive Plan

City of La Crosse

La Crosse, WI

The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to select a qualified comprehensive planning consultant for the preparation of a City Comprehensive Plan according to Wisconsin standards and procedures and the best management practices for comprehensive planning. Proposers shall submit a Proposal to the City which will be based on instructions and specifications provided herein.

The existing Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2002 and is the long-range planning document that has helped guide the City of La Crosse over the last nineteen years. The Comprehensive Plan is a policy document that assists decision-making and administrative actions to guide the City of La Crosse towards the community's desired future.

Geographically, the City of La Crosse is prominently located along the Mississippi River in western La Crosse County, Wisconsin, bordered by the City of Onalaska to the north, Vernon County to the south, Towns of Medary, and Shelby to the east, and the Mississippi River to the west. The prominent bluffs and La Crosse River Marsh create geographic barriers that have promoted a compact development pattern in the river valley

La Crosse has a Council-Mayor form of government. The Mayor is elected to implement the policies of the thirteen-member Common Council as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of the City government. The City Plan Commission has been appointed to take action on site plans, plats, and conditional use petitions, and makes recommendations to the Common Council regarding amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Zoning Map.

In the 21st Century, La Crosse has maintained a fairly consistent population and land area. La Crosse's population has shrunk slightly since the 2000 Census, from 51,700 citizens to 52,680 in 2020. The city of La Crosse covers roughly 24 square miles and is surrounded by a 3-mile extra-territorial jurisdiction.


The Consultant shall assist the City of La Crosse to develop and adopt an all-new 'Comprehensive Plan 2040' that meets or exceeds jurisdictional requirements and common standards for local comprehensive planning. Said Plan shall be transmitted to the City no later than April 2023, unless otherwise indicated by the City of La Crosse.

The consultant is not expected to be the face of the project, nor take the lead in stakeholder meetings, community meetings, or public presentations related to acquiring feedback from the public for the plan. The consultant will work with planning staff on presentations to the steering committee and City committees.


The following provides a 'Task by Task' outline of the key steps in the development of the Comprehensive Plan. The City of La Crosse's Comprehensive Plan 2040 needs to be developed by effectively hearing the City's population and understanding the community's desires related to each required element of the plan, and establishing and prioritizing diverse goals and objectives.

Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee

La Crosse planners shall establish a Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, made up of City Plan Commissioners. The Steering Committee will meet with the Consultant periodically to review draft materials, guide local preferences, and make recommendations regarding the various components of the Comprehensive Plan. Steering Committee meetings may occasionally occur remotely, via electronic means such as video conferencing, telephone conferencing, and/or internet-based call-in media.

Community input and visioning are core and critical elements of the Comprehensive Plan process. The offeror shall propose additional public engagement that will be effective in communicating the process and gathering input. La Crosse places a premium on multiple, in-person, public engagement activities that elicit raw data points from the community at large from which the policy of the Comprehensive Plan will be written. The consultant will work with the Planning Department staff and the marketing consultant in the preparation of a comprehensive Community Engagement Plan designed to reach out to all citizens of La Crosse for their participation and input in the planning process. This plan will include the utilization of all forms of public outreach including, but not limited to, the following: all forms of social media, radio, TV, static advertising, newspaper, website, text messages, surveys, and mailings.

The plan should take advantage of new and existing technologies to make it easy for the public to access information and promote participation by all segments of the community. The City of La Crosse is particularly interested in the firm's experience in successfully engaging the community through a variety of innovative methods. The consultant team must demonstrate extensive expertise and experience in the public participation and facilitation processes. Regarding public participation, the consultant team must have strong leadership and creativity to provide clear direction in participation techniques that result in inclusive yet timely decisions. Please note your experience in developing and managing visioning and public input.


Issues and Opportunities Element

The Consultant will review the current Issues and Opportunities list for the community and work with City staff and community stakeholders to make recommendations for additions, revisions, or deletions. The list must be reviewed by the Steering Committee with new or revised items going through the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) or similar analysis of the community and then prioritized as community objectives. Issues and Opportunities that the community identified as high priority must be followed up with corresponding implementation measures in the Implementation Element.

This element shall include background information on the city of La Crosse and a statement of overall objectives, policies, goals, and programs of the city to guide the future development and redevelopment of the city over a 20-year planning period. Background information shall include population, household, and employment forecasts that the city uses in developing its comprehensive plan, and demographic trends, age distribution, educational levels, income levels, and employment characteristics that exist within the city (Much of this data has been collected and is available here: ).

Housing Element

This element shall include a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs of the city to provide an adequate housing supply that meets existing and forecasted housing demand in the city of La Crosse. The element shall assess the age, structural, value, and occupancy characteristics of the city's housing stock. The element shall also identify specific policies and programs that promote the development of housing for residents of the city and provide a range of housing choices that meet the needs of persons of all income levels and of all age groups and persons with special needs. It shall identify policies and programs that promote the availability of land for the development or redevelopment of low-income and moderate-income housing and policies and programs to maintain or rehabilitate the city's existing housing stock.

Transportation Element

This element shall include a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs to guide the future development of all modes of transportation, including highways, transit, transportation systems for persons with disabilities, bicycles, electric scooters, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric and autonomous vehicles, walking, railroads, air transportation, trucking, and water transportation. The element shall compare the city's objectives, policies, goals, and programs to state and regional transportation plans. The element shall also identify highways within the city by function and incorporate state, regional, and other applicable transportation plans, including transportation corridor plans, county highway functional and jurisdictional studies, urban area and rural area transportation plans, airport master plans, and rail plans that apply in the city.

Utilities and Community Facilities Element

This element shall include a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs to guide the future development of utilities and community facilities in the city such as sanitary sewer service, stormwater management, water supply, solid waste disposal, on-site wastewater treatment technologies, recycling facilities, parks, telecommunications facilities, power-generating plants and transmission lines, cemeteries, health care facilities, child care facilities and other public facilities, such as police, fire, and rescue facilities, libraries, schools, and other governmental facilities. The element shall describe the location, use, and capacity of existing public utilities and community facilities that serve the city shall include an approximate timetable that forecasts the need in the city to expand or rehabilitate existing utilities and facilities or to create new utilities and facilities and shall assess future needs for government services in the city that are related to such utilities and facilities.

Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources Element

This element shall include a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs for the conservation, and promotion of the effective management, of natural resources such as groundwater, forests, productive agricultural areas, environmentally sensitive areas, threatened and endangered species, stream corridors, surface water, floodplains, wetlands, wildlife habitat, metallic and nonmetallic mineral resources consistent with zoning limitations under s. 295.20 (2), parks, open spaces, historical and cultural resources, community design, recreational resources, and other natural resources.

Economic Development Element

This element shall include a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs to promote the stabilization, retention or expansion, of the economic base and quality employment opportunities in the city, including an analysis of the labor force and economic base of the city. The element shall assess categories or particular types of new businesses and industries that are desired by the city. The element shall assess the city's strengths and weaknesses concerning attracting and retaining businesses and industries, and shall designate an adequate number of sites for such businesses and industries. The element shall also evaluate and promote the use of environmentally contaminated sites for commercial or industrial uses. The element shall also identify county, regional, and state economic development programs that apply to the city.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Element

This element shall include a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs for joint planning and decision making with other jurisdictions, including school districts, drainage districts, and adjacent cities, for siting and building public facilities and sharing public services. The element shall analyze the relationship of the city to school districts, drainage districts, and adjacent cities, and to the region, the state, and other governmental units. The element shall incorporate any plans or agreements to which the city is a party under s. 66.0301, 66.0307, or 66.0309. The element shall identify existing or potential conflicts between the city and other governmental units that are specified in this paragraph and describe processes to resolve such conflicts.

Land-use Element

A compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps, and programs to guide the future development and redevelopment of public and private property. The element shall contain a listing of the amount, type, intensity, and net density of existing uses of land in the city, such as agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and other public and private uses. The element shall analyze trends in the supply, demand, and price of land, opportunities for redevelopment, and existing and potential land-use conflicts. The element shall contain projections, based on the background information specified in Issues and Opportunities, for 20 years, in 5-year increments, of future residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial land uses including the assumptions of net densities or other spatial assumptions upon which the projections are based. The element shall also include a series of maps that shows current land uses and future land uses that indicate productive agricultural soils, natural limitations for building site development, floodplains, wetlands, and other environmentally sensitive lands, the boundaries of areas to which services of public utilities and community facilities will be provided in the future, consistent with the timetable in the Utilities and Community Facilities Element and the general location of future land uses by net density or other classifications.

Implementation Element

This element shall include a compilation of programs and specific actions to be completed in a stated sequence, including proposed changes to any applicable zoning ordinances, official maps, or subdivision ordinances, to implement the objectives, policies, plans, and programs contained in the above elements. This element shall describe how each of the elements of the comprehensive plan will be integrated and made consistent with the other elements of the comprehensive plan and shall include a mechanism to measure the city's progress toward achieving all aspects of the comprehensive plan. The element shall include a process for updating the comprehensive plan in 10 years or less.

Request Type
Monday, November 15, 2021