What Is Planning?

It Takes A Planner to Create Stronger, More Equitable, and Resilient Communities

Planning is elected leaders' most effective tool for managing growth, navigating change, and making tough decisions facing communities, like where to invest in transportation, housing, and parks.

Powered by community planners' data-driven insights, expertise, and sense of residents' needs, the planning process helps communities define their goals and a path to achieving them.

A plan is a roadmap that helps leaders make informed decisions about what residents — and the local economy — need to thrive.

Why do communities need planners?

Long-term Vision

Planners see a broader view, understanding how policy decisions like reconnecting communities cut off from essential services by highways can impact a community now and into the future.


Planners are trained professionals with a deep knowledge of the field, best practices, and case studies. They provide elected leaders with forward-thinking insights to handle unforeseen opportunities and challenges like how to deploy a windfall of stimulus dollars or helping communities prepare for extreme heat.

Data-driven Approach

Planners' recommendations are backed by extensive research, community conversations, and deep analysis of data sets from across multiple sources. Planners distill this data, translating findings and revealing insights like which neighborhoods have too few housing options and transit connections.


It Takes a Planner to Increase Housing Supply and Choice

See how planners are reforming zoning to expand housing options in our communities.

  • Thumbnail to accompany MN story on the "What is Planning?" landing page. Photo provided by Avoq.
    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Legalizing Housing Options

    Minneapolis, Minnesota, used its 2040 comprehensive plan update as a catalyst for key zoning and housing funding and program reforms, creating 297 new homes since its passage in 2020 with more approved for development or under construction.
  • Thumbnail to accompany Idaho story on the "What is Planning?" landing page. Photo provided by Avoq.
    Sandpoint, Idaho

    Reducing Parking Minimums

    Sandpoint, Idaho, a resort town with less than 10,000 people, reduced citywide parking minimums to make redevelopment and building renovations less costly for small businesses.
  • Thumbnail to accompany the Chamblee story on the "What is Planning?" landing page. Photo provided by Avoq.
    Chamblee, Georgia

    Linking Housing With Transit Options

    Chamblee, Georgia, reformed its land use policies, based on planners' expert insights, to make it easier and more affordable for developers to build more housing near a regional transit station. Small businesses are choosing Chamblee and employees can live where they work.
Thumbnail to accompany the Arlington story on the "What is Planning?" landing page. Photo provided by Avoq.
Arlington, Virginia

Allowing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Arlington, Virginia, relaxed ADU development rules, informed by planners' data-driven analysis, meeting families where they are by allowing them to use ADUs to support their unique needs. Since the 2019 change, 100 new homes have been developed.