Planning During a Pandemic: 6 Resources for Planners

We know this is a trying time for everyone — not just professionally, but also personally.

Planners are on the front line of a lot of changes, especially those centered around community engagement: How do you hold public meetings in a time of social distancing? What are the best ways to engage with communities that may be focused on turning inward? What should planners consider when moving meetings and citizen participation online?

This week, Interact — APA's members-only weekly email newsletter — featured six resources to help planners adjust to a different way of working, gathering, and communicating. We gathered those links to make this information accessible and easy to share.

1. Public Meetings in a Time of COVID-19

Read this article from ICMA about how one Seattle-area community quickly transitioned critical public meetings to Zoom and YouTube.

2. Planning and the Digital Divide

Not all communities are equipped with the broadband infrastructure needed to support a shift to online community engagement, remote work, and digital-first public communications. This article from Planning outlines steps planners can take to help bridge the digital divide in rural communities.

3. Online Tools for Public Engagement

This PAS QuickNotes offers four recommendations to consider if you are looking to begin or expand your use of online community engagement tools. QuickNotes, available free for APA members, are easy-to-digest overviews of planning issues that are great for sharing with public officials and other non-planners.

4. Rethinking One-Size-Fits-All Public Engagement

Traci Sanders, director of civic impact for WXY Studio, and podcast host Courtney Kashima, AICP, share their thoughts on how certain urban planning spheres view public versus private backgrounds, the public dimension of design, and why the community engagement process should be tailored to each client.

5. Web-based Platform for Citizen Participation

Lakewood, Colorado, increased participation in planning commission meetings through a web-based platform, Residents can review materials, ask questions, and comment on proposed actions in advance of the in-person meetings.

6. Keep Those Kids Busy! Teach Children About Planning

People all over the country are adjusting to working remotely and juggling childcare at the same time. Metropolis is a curriculum developed by John Martoni, a planner and third-grade teacher in the Bay Area. Share with friends and family looking for activities for their children.

Some of the changes planners are instituting may be temporary, but many will have long-lasting impact and will permanently change the face of community engagement and the work planners do.

What's Next?

APA will continue to provide resources to help you navigate these changes and more yet to come, so together we can lead communities into the future.

What challenges are you facing right now? Reach out to APA at

Top image: Getty Images photo.

About the Author
Karen Kazmierczak is the senior marketing manager at APA.

March 20, 2020

By Karen Kazmierczak