Baton Rouge making slow but steady progress on implementing FuturEBR master plan

In the four years since the adoption of FuturEBR, the city-parish’s updated master plan for land use and development, more than half of the 577 specific action items needed to fully implement the plan are currently under way, according to a recent report presented to the Planning Commission.

The progress report, completed earlier this summer by the Planning Commission staff, shows that more than 67% of the action items in FuturEBR are under way. Another 10.7% have been initiated, but no work has begun on them yet.

“I feel good about it overall,” says Planning Director Frank Duke.

While the progress is encouraging, only 4.4% of the action items have actually been completed, and nearly 15% haven’t begun at all. Another 2.6% have been reassigned from the agency that was originally tasked with implementing them.

The progress report looks at how far the city has come towards accomplishing the nine goals, implementing the four strategies and completing the 577 action items outlined in FuturEBR. Duke says he’s frustrated that one of the key strategies—aligning the city’s zonings laws with the goals in the plan—is only now getting under way.

“In 2011 when FuturEBR was adopted, it begins with ‘updating the zoning code,’ and we are only just now beginning to get going with that,” says Duke, who has only been at the helm of the Planning Commission since April 2014 and was not involved in the effort until last year.

Aligning the city’s zoning code with the goals in the plan is significant because it will give the plan legal teeth.

“It’s the part of the plan the Planning Commission really can control so in that sense it is easy,” Duke says. “But to do it right you are have to get a lot of input and talk to a lot of people so in that sense it’s hard.”

—Stephanie Riegel

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