Indiana Chapter - American Planning Association

Planning 101

So, what exactly is City Planning?

According to the American Planning Association, “good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps communities to envision their future.  It helps them find the right balance of new development and essential services, environmental protection, and innovative change.”

City planners have the responsibility of administering the policies, programs, and regulations that manage a community’s physical environment.  Working closely with citizens and elected officials, planners help develop long-term goals, then work to implement those goals into action.  Some of the major focus areas that city planning touches on for communities include: improving  public health and safety, bolstering the vitality of its economic and cultural resources, protecting historic and natural resources, and improving the lives of all citizens.

Some examples of the typical daily tasks that planners may work on include:

  • Zoning and land use
  • Environmental and sustainability issues
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Grant administration
  • Economic development and urban redevelopment efforts
  • Transportation planning (can include: aviation, freight, vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians)
  • Planning for parks, greenways and other public facilities
  • Working closely with federal, state and city regulations
  • Preservation of historic homes, structures and sites
  • Comprehensive, downtown and neighborhood planning efforts
  • Working closely with citizens, elected officials, municipal managers and employees, neighborhood associations, interest groups, other government professionals and many, many others.

Where do City Planners work?

Planners can work in both the public, private and non-profit sectors.  In the public sector, planners often work for local governments, such as counties, cities and towns.   They also can work for the federal government (in both civilian and military agencies), plus state government too.  The State of Indiana employees a number of planning professionals in several departments, such as the Indiana Department of Transportation.  In the private sector, planners often work for planning/architecture/engineering consulting firms, as well as in real estate development companies.  Many non-profit organizations, plus educational institutions (universities, public school corporations and private schools), also utilize professional city planners to assist in a wide number of initiatives.