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What is Planning? 

Continue reading to learn about Land Use Planning, the role of Planners, and some Planning vocabulary!

The goal of planning is to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of residents in ways that reflect the unique needs, desires, and culture of those who live and work within the community.

-The American Planning Association (APA) 

A planner's job is to work with residents and elected officials to guide the layout of an entire community or region.

Planners take a broad viewpoint and look at how the pieces of a community — buildings, roads, and parks — fit together.

Planners also work to imagine what can and should happen to a community: how it should grow and change, and what it should offer residents 10, 15, or 20 years into the future.

Each community is divided into parcels, or pieces, of land. The use of each parcel of land is guided by the community's zoning code.


The zoning code is a set of rules that defines what each land parcel could or should be used for (such as housing, manufacturing or open space). Zoning codes try to keep different uses from being in conflict with one another.

Beyond trying to prevent land use conflicts, planning also entails providing community members with choices. Planning helps to ensure that you have choices when it comes to what type of home you want to live in, how you move around the community, and what is available nearby.

Beyond everyday risks, planners also look at larger hazards that could impact the safety of a community. Disasters such as floods and wildfires can devastate a community. Planners look at the potential risks a community might face.

Planners are always thinking about today, but also about what tomorrow might bring. A community plan must meet the needs of its residents today, but also keep the future in mind. A community plan, often called a comprehensive plan, is a kind of map or blueprint for what a community aims to achieve in the future. 


Bowen, Cynthia. “What Is Planning?” American Planning Association,

All images courtesy of Wix. 

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