Planning Directors Issue Racial Equity Statement and Call to Action

Planning directors of 20 U.S. cities have released a joint public statement to collectively address racial equity issues in their practices and policies, with a commitment to change their work toward the goal of racially equitable communities in the future. The statement acknowledges decisions that have undermined equity in the past that are directly and indirectly attributable to planners, noting that these policies and actions negatively impacted the quality of neighborhoods and communities of color, and are related to aspects of current planning work.

Cities Unite for Inclusive Planning Future

The intent is that the statement, and specifically the Commitment to Change, is a road map for correcting past harms and creating a more inclusive future. Each city will individually choose actions that best address the concerns and issues it is facing. All planning directors of cities, towns, and regions, large and small, are invited to join the commitment to change. The statement and commitment are being hosted by Philadelphia's City Planning Commission.

Noted at the end of the statement are recommendations for using specific data and other tools to measure success, including a link to APA's Social Equity KnowledgeBase Collection, a curated list of actionable resources for helping planners in this work.

This initiative is an outgrowth of a suggestion by APA member Eleanor Sharpe, AICP, deputy director of the Philadelphia Department of Planning and Development.

"Let's work together to create a planning profession of inclusion and equity," says Sharpe. "Let's reconcile with communities of color, and lift the burdens they have borne — because of us — for far too long."

City Planning Advances Racial Equity

NextCity wrote about the planning director's commitment to move forward. APA's strategic partner, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, explored the next steps in terms of achieving racial equity in a recent Land Matters podcast, speaking with Sharpe and Andrea Durbin, director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability for Portland, Oregon.

Planning professionals interested in advancing equity in their communities are invited to explore the following APA resources:

APA Resource Description
Planning for Equity Policy Guide Specific, actionable policy guidance through an equity lens on cross-cutting topics and areas of planning.
Equity in Zoning Policy Guide APA's Equity in Zoning Policy Guide positions planners to lead the way on zoning changes at the local, state, and federal levels.
Social Equity KnowledgeBase Collection

Resources that provide background, policy guidance, and examples of local plan recommendations and zoning standards for social equity from across the country.

Events and Education Centralized lists of upcoming events and EDI programming from across APA's many peer networks.
Voices of Equity in Planning Video Series First-person accounts from APA member planners who have been centering equity in their work to correct racial injustice, mitigate disparity, and improve the quality of life for marginalized people.
APA Reading List Research publications including materials from the PAS and Zoning Practice collection, as well as other APA resources.

Top image: The Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts in Vancouver (1970s). The Georgia viaduct destroyed a majority of Vancouver's Black community known as Hogan's Alley. In February 2018, the Northeast False Creek Plan was adopted by the Vancouver City Council. The plan started as an infrastructure project to replace the aging viaducts but turned into a reconcilitation and cultural redress opportunity for the city. Read more about the award-winning Northeast False Creek Plan. Image provided by the city.

About the author
Harriet Bogdanowicz is APA's Chief Strategy Officer.

September 29, 2021

By Harriet Bogdanowicz