Keystone Indicators and progress Monitoring

Plan monitoring and evaluation will involve a long term commitment to tracking progress in accomplishing plan objectives. Ongoing monitoring will also assist in determining appropriate and effective courses of action in response to experience with use of the Plan. Two primary monitoring techniques are proposed for PlanCOS:

  • Measure and report on a limited number of key indicators that focus on progress toward achieving the overall objectives of the Plan. These “Keystone Indicators” are specific measures that bear a direct or indirect relationship to accomplishing one or more of the primary goals and objectives of the Plan. By tracking selected indicators consistently over a number of years, benchmarks can be identified, trends evaluated, targets set, strategies reviewed, and policies adjusted as necessary to ensure that plan objectives are accomplished as intended.
  • Create a "progress matrix" that identifies key responsibilities and timeframes for accomplishment of Plan objectives. The progress matrix also serves as a checklist for monitoring progress toward accomplishing intangible or non-measurable objectives for which indicators could not be established.

Use and Application of Keystone Indicators

Keystone indicators are intended to be used primarily to measure citywide progress toward achieving the PlanCOS vision. In some cases, appropriate comparisons will be against other cites or state or national averages, but most often the best comparison will be between past and future performance specific for our city. Some indicators are especially useful in evaluating how new development and redevelopment is measuring up compared with city-wide averages. Others will lend themselves well to sub-area analysis. Major city-sponsored initiatives should be systematically evaluate for their expected correlation with these indicators. 

Some, but not all, of these indicators can and should be used, as appropriate and applicable, in the evaluation of major and discretionary land development applications. In this capacity, the intent is not to require a particular development proposal to demonstrate a positive correlation with every indicator, nor is there an expectation of detailed justifications or data analysis to be submitted by applicants. 

Keystone Indicators 

The following Keystone Indicators are established for the purpose of assessing the progress of PlanCOS over time and the potential alignment of major city decisions with the Plan. A more detailed description of the source, methodologies, expected use, potential limitations, and other key information about these indicators is included in Appendix F. 

Although many of these indicators have broad applicability across several of the themes in PlanCOS, many of them are especially significant for one or more particular themes. Within Chapters 2 through 7, the most applicable indicators are highlighted in order to underscore their special relevance to those themes.

These indicators will be tracked and showcased through an online dashboard accessible by the public on the City’s website. 

1. New Residential Net Density

This indicator will track the density of residential dwelling units added to the city each year compared with average net density of all existing residential areas in the city. This measure is important because it gets to the heart of the PlanCOS density vision by answering whether or not new developments are contributing positively to density with our overall added residential construction. This measure is intended to account for most types of added units including those in established and newly developing areas. Because only residential parcels are included in the analysis, this net measurement approach will largely avoid concerns with accounting for other uses of property including non-residential buildings, street right-of-way, and parks and open space. This indicator is intended primarily to be used as a citywide measure but may also be used to track activity and progress in priority areas identified by the City. It is also helpful to compare with the net density of all residential areas across the city.

2. Net City Lane Miles Added Compared with Development and Redevelopment

The total lane miles of streets maintained by the City are an important barometer of the efficiency of our land use patterns. By reducing the amount of new street pavement added to the city compared to the additional development activity the system serves, future street maintenance costs will be reduced because there will be less pavement to maintain per person. Environmental impacts (such as from stormwater) will become more manageable. Positively affected areas of the city should become more livable at a human scale. PlanCOS ideas and priorities that contribute to this indicator include increased density in targeted activity centers and corridors, infill and redevelopment, use of technology to enhance existing transportation capacity, and recommendations for narrow local street profiles. This indicator is intended primarily to be used as a citywide measure but may also be used to track activity and progress in sub-areas of the city.

3. Number of High Priority Neighborhood Plans Completed

High quality, targeted, responsive and representative neighborhood planning is acknowledged as essential to the success of PlanCOS because these plans provide the level of area-specific attention necessary to effectively apply the broad principles the Plan to the individual and unique neighborhoods throughout the city. Rather than keep track of how much of the city has an associated land use master plan, the recommended indicator is the level of progress being made on plans for only those neighborhoods identified through a community and city leadership process.

4. Infill and Redevelopment Activity

Infill and redevelopment activity is identified as a key indicator because it extends across many of the themes and ideas that are priorities for this Plan. This incorporates a combination of reduced vacant acreage in core areas of the city combined with evidence of increasing comparative development activity (i.e. building permit value) in these areas. In addition to being applied to the entire core area of the city, this combined indicator can also be used to evaluate sub-areas within the overall infill area as well as to support specific infill projects or initiatives. The detailed components of this indicator are described in Appendix F: Key Indicator Profiles. 

  • Remaining vacant acres in overall infill area
  • Total building permit value in infill area

5. Housing Attainability

Improving housing affordability over time is identified and addressed as one of the cornerstone challenges and priorities in PlanCOS. This recommended indicator combines overall median single-family and multifamily housing affordability along with total homeless population counts. Together this combination of measures is intended to provide an important and helpful general barometer for progress based on the broad averages and overall counts at different levels along the economic spectrum. It will be important to also be attentive to impacts on sub-groups of housing consumers, whose needs and experience may not be fully represented by measures that focus on overall median housing costs. Likewise, although changes in the overall homeless populations provide an important measure in that area, the status of sub-groups within that overall number will be important.

  • Single Family Home Ownership Affordability Index 
  • Apartment Rental Affordability Index 
  • Total Homeless Populations in El Paso County

6. Existing Downtown Measures 

Progress toward making Downtown an economic and cultural center of the region will be critical to the overall success of PlanCOS. In this case, the recommended indicators are those already in place and being measured by the organizations responsible for managing Downtown program, and funding initiatives (currently coordinated through the Downtown Partnership). 
Key measures at this time include:

  • New residential units added annually
  • Value of building permit activity compared with prior years and with the overall city

7. Economic Indicators 

The economic indicators for PlanCOS include the following measures, each of which are available from existing data sources and are easily comparable with other jurisdictions:

  • New residential units added annually
  • New jobs added that are at or above the median salary for the region
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Median Wages Compared with State

These measures are chosen because together they reflect a combination of the economic outcomes PlanCOS is intended to support as well as the economic activity that will be needed to allow many of the recommendations in the Plan to be fiscally sustainable with private and public sector resources. From another perspective, many of the other recommendations of PlanCOS are intended to encourage the conditions that will be necessary to attract the economic development and workforce that will contribute to a sustainably strong economy. Although the importance of these interrelationships between high quality and attractive physical development, and a strong economy are implicitly understood, we also recognize that it will be challenging to directly tie progress with economic indicators to progress related to physical development.

8. Renowned Culture Indicators

When considered together, these renowned culture indicators provide a measure of the ongoing activity that is indicative of a rich culture throughout the city. 

  • Creative Vitality Index
  • Number of Creative Jobs
  • Creative Industry Earnings


9. Majestic Landscapes Indicators

Percent of City Population, Area, and Employment Within ½ Mile of a Park, Trail, or Accessible Open Space Area
Per Capita Total Funding for Parks Operations and Maintenance 
Miles of Urban Trails
Miles of Park Trails
Although it is recognized that additional factors need to be evaluated as part of a more complete measurement of the progress made toward the City’s Majestic Landscapes goals, together these measures provide a good sense for the level of access residents and visitors have, along with how well we are taking care of our investment in green infrastructure.

10. Citywide Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Transit Infrastructure

Improving walkability throughout the city is a cornerstone goal of PlanCOS. Increasing bicycle infrastructure and safety is also a major objective, as is taking transit to the next level especially in key activity centers and corridors. Walkscore® and its related Bikescore® and Transitscore® are nationally recognized measures for walkability and bicycle and transit access in communities. These scores can be calculated citywide, or for areas of focus, and can be compared with other communities. However, because these measures are primarily based on a calculation of land use proximity, and do not account for the quality and design of walkable infrastructure, care should be taken in interpreting the results. This indicator can also be coupled with tracking the number of miles of bike lanes and bicycle infrastructure. 

Other Measures of Success

Not all evidence of the success of this Plan will come in the form of indicators that can be mathematically measured of over time. In some cases, evidence of success will come in other forms including the following:

  • Demonstrated progress toward key initiatives identified in this Plan, and the extent to which the results of the initiatives advance the PlanCOS vision, themes, goals, and policies;
  • Extent to which this Plan is referred to and used in the creation of other plans; and
  • Experience with the document in the development review process.
  • Progress in these areas should also be monitored and reported on. 

Annual Reporting

An annual report on PlanCOS performance and implementation is expected to be prepared and presented to the Planning Commission and City Council. This report will evaluate whether or not objectives are being achieved by reporting on Keystone Indicators, other measures of success, progress on recommended major city initiatives, experience with the development review process, and recommendations for realignment of strategic city priorities related to the Plan.