City of Somerville

SomerVision2040 Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is SomerVision? SomerVision is the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Somerville, MA. A comprehensive plan is a document that describes a vision and sets goals to guide the City and community.  The first version of SomerVision, SomerVision 2030, was created by the community over the course of three years—2009-2012. SomerVision 2030 calls for regular updates and, and SomerVision 2040 will be a substantial check in on our progress and our next steps.
  • Why are we updating SomerVision? SomerVision 2030 calls for regular updates, and although the City has released progress reports on the SomerVision Numbers over time, 2019 is the first time we will revisit the SomerVision Numbers, goals, policies, and actions in depth. A lot has changed since the community started working on SomerVision 2030 in 2009, but a lot of things—like our commitment to our values—have not changed. It’s a great opportunity to fine-tune how we will do what we want to do as a community.
  • How will SomerVision 2040 be different? That will depend on how the public process goes! Our hope is that we will build a document that is easier to read, available in multiple languages, and highlights immediate action steps for the next five years.
  • How does the City use SomerVision? SomerVision is enormously helpful to City staff because it provides guidance on what the community wants. A comprehensive plan is also actionable. It helps set measurable goals, identify high-priority strategies to meet those goals, and explores how different priorities can support each other.
  • How can I get involved in SomerVision? The first step is to sign up for our email list at We’ll keep you posted on events and other opportunities to participate in SomerVision 2040. In general, members of the public can host a SomerSupper, register for the SomerVision Conference, and participate in the different events we will be hosting throughout 2019.
  • How does SomerVision fit with other plans, like Somerville Climate Forward or Somerville Learning 2030? A comprehensive plan identifies future work to be done across a wide variety of subjects. Plans related to specific topics like sustainability, education, workforce development, and food systems are not going to be replicated in SomerVision 2040. We’ll be trying our best to incorporate the action items that these plans have already surfaced in their own processes rather than “reinvent the wheel” by having those conversations again. We may also find specific topics during SomerVision 2040 that may benefit from their own in-depth planning processes.
  • What’s a SomerSupper? SomerSuppers are conversations about Somerville’s past, present, and future hosted by community members. SomerSupper participants will submit notes from their conversation to be incorporated into the planning process. You can read the SomerSupper guide at
  • What’s a SomerStory? Despite our best efforts, we know that some people won’t be able to come to many meetings or may not be interested in discussing policy issues. However, it’s still helpful to hear from everyone. We’re inviting members of the public to submit their Somerville stories, either in writing or on video so that our SomerVision Committee members can hear about your perspective on Somerville and the issues our community faces.
  • How does this relate to the Somerville Zoning Overhaul? One of SomerVision 2030’s implementation priorities was to replace our existing zoning code. The Zoning Overhaul will generate a completely new zoning ordinance that will replace the existing Somerville Zoning Ordinance. The goal is to provide Somerville with an effective, responsive, fair, efficient, user-friendly, and predictable but flexible system to regulate development across the city. Based on the recommendations of SomerVision, the code will conserve our traditional residential housing while steering investment to enhance our squares and corridors and transform underutilized areas into vibrant, walkable neighborhoods. Zoning overhaul is on the Ciy Council’s agenda for spring 2019. If passed, zoning overhaul will accomplish over 60 action items in SomerVision 2030.
  • How will non-English speakers be included in SomerVision 2040? We are working closely with SomerViva to ensure that English language proficiency is not a barrier to sharing feedback and insights on the plan. In addition to translating documents and providing interpretation during events, we will also be working with specific communities and organizations to host special SomerSuppers in Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.

Do you have any other questions? Email them to

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