OWN president questions 2035 Small Area Forecast

       How much difference can five years make? The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) is trying to find out with its recent release of the Draft 2035 Small Area Forecast, for which the one-month public comment period started Feb. 14.
       When finalized, the forecast - which attempts to predict where people will live and work 30 years in the future - will be used by PPACG, the region's planning agency, in updating its long-range transportation plan.
       Although unadvertised except on the PPACG website and in announcements at PPACG meetings, the comment period is bringing in some citizen feedback. Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), raises several points in an 18-page PowerPoint document, including one that shows the Westside having more jobs in 2035 than a large portion of the upcoming Banning-Lewis subdivision between Colorado Springs and Falcon.
       The PPACG board, comprised of elected leaders from governments in the region, is scheduled to discuss the 2035 forecast issue at its monthly meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 14 in the downstairs meeting room at the agency offices at 15 S. Seventh St. “We will ask for a recommendation to approve the forecast,” said PPACG planner Aaron Klibaner in an interview this week. Once approved, about eight months would be needed to fully update the region's road network plans using the information, he said.
       Clark had raised similar concerns last year about the 2030 forecast projections which were then being used.
       According to Klibaner, the 2035 software is more “sophisticated” than that used for 2030, and allows better interaction with the data.
       To view the forecast data or to submit comments, call PPACG at 471-7080 or go to the website: ppacg.org. Klibaner said the agency is especially interested in analytical efforts, less so than comments to the effect that someone thinks the numbers sound too high or low.
       A specific project that will use the forecast is the Westside Highway 24 expansion planning effort by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). According to spokesman Kyle Blakely, the CDOT planning team has been holding off on finalizing what it calls its Preferred Alternative for the expansion until the forecast is finalized.
       Here are some of the issues Clark raised in his comments:
  • Westside vs. Banning-Lewis Ranch development - The latter, which would eventually increase city population by more than 100,000 people, is anticipated to get underway by at least 2015. The data for 2035 “indicates that the Westside will have more households and 400 percent more businesses than the area [of the ranch project] highlighted in the map. This cannot be true, as common sense tells us that the majority of growth will occur in the currently undeveloped portion of the Banning Lewis Ranch,” Clark writes.
  • Growth in the five older Westside elementary schools, all of which are shown with about 66 percent increases in 2035 - These projections “seem overly optimistic,” Clark writes, adding, “It is highly questionable for all five Westside schools to have identical growth.”
  • Westside population vs. school growth - The former is shown rising 11 to 20 percent while the schools are increasing 66 percent. In fact, 90 percent of the study area shows schools with 66 to 67 percent enrollment increases. “We need to know how this is possible,” he writes.
  • Job growth in the Midland area south of Bott Avenue - In a largely residential area that is “fully developed,” the 2035 forecast calls for the number of jobs to increase from 236 to 502. “This appears too high,” Clark writes.

    Westside Pioneer article