Profile of a
Planning Department


What is the role of planners in the revitalization effort? They can be seen by some as one of the key roles in developing a relevant revitalization program, but others see them as largely irrelevant. This is the nature of what planners are and what they have to offer.

Planners bring a unique and necessary perspective to the problems of downtowns. Their role is to look at problems (1) comprehensively, (3) by considering the interrelatedness of decisions, and (3) over a long time frame. This is sometimes referred to as the 3 Cs of planning--it is Comprehensive, Coordinating, and Continuing.

It is these aspects that makes planning an activity that to some seem enigmatic, to others meddling, and to many a general waste of time. It comprehensiveness is both its strength and its weakness, but is essential to its purpose.

Various authors have tried to explicitly define the role of the planner. Peter Hall defines planning as "...an orderly sequence of action that will lead to the achievement of a stated goal or goals."1 Andreas Faludi says it is the art of making social decisions rationally. Friedmann explains, "Planning attempts to link scientific and technical knowledge to actions in the public domain."2 As defined by the Urban Land Institute,

Planning is a continuous process of: (1) describing existing and future patterns of development; (2) identifying the effects of development of the physical, social and economic environment: and (3) coordinating land management strategies, programs, policies, controls and incentives in order to attain community goals and objectives.

5 responsibilities of Planning Department

  1. Maintain/update the Master Plan and coordinate city planning efforts
  2. Provide planning recommendations to Planning Commission
  3. Provide info to City Council and public
  4. Prepare Capital Improvements budget
  5. Facilitate interdepartmental cooperation


1 Peter Hall. 1992. Urban and Regional Planning (3rd edition). New York: Routledge. p. 3.
2 John Friedmann. 1987. Planning in the Public Domain: From Knowledge to Action. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 38.

Suggested other pages...
"The Plan's the Thing"Reasons to Plan
The Downtown Master PlanPlanning Department
Organizational Structure

Read a general chapter on planning from the Tyler book on community planning.
Read a chapter on the comprehensive plan from the Tyler book on community planning.