The Ethical Planning Practitioner

By Jerry Weitz, FAICP

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Need a navigator through the ethical minefield? Here it is — a new guidebook based on the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. A valuable extra feature for AICP members is a multimedia, on-demand education package offering 1.5 CM Ethics credits. It’s included when you purchase The Ethical Planning Practitioner online from APA.

For practicing planners, potential ethics violations abound, and the eye of public scrutiny never blinks. The Ethical Planning Practitioner looks at everyday ethics the way planners need to see them, in black, white, and shades of gray — but most of all, clearly.

Author Jerry Weitz, FAICP, describes 76 real-life dilemmas and gives planners tools to explore the answers on their own, in a training session, or in a classroom. This book will not only instruct but also inspire planners to strengthen the public's trust.

The on-demand education package features the author and former AICP President Dwight Merriam, FAICP, as they review three short videos, discuss the ethical situations represented, and suggest the actions planners could take. A PowerPoint presentation makes the package a powerful teaching aid.


Introduction and 2 Scenarios (pdf)

About the Author

Jerry Weitz, FAICP, is principal of a planning and development consulting firm based in the Atlanta area. From 2010 to 2015, he was director of the urban and regional planning program at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. In a career spanning more than three decades, he has worked with cities, counties, state agencies, planning consulting firms, developers, attorneys, nonprofits, citizen advocacy groups, and universities. The issues he has confronted bring real-life contexts and sure guidance to The Ethical Planning Practitioner.

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Feb. 2, 2016
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents


The AICP Code and APA Ethical Principles in Planning
Principles to Which We Aspire

Rules of Conduct

The Ethical Conduct of Planners

Guidance for Ethical Decision Making

Scenarios: Introduction and Guidance

Number of Scenarios per Training Session
Selecting Scenarios
For Individual Planners
For Ethics Session Organizers


S 1. Disagreement With Supervisor's Recommendation
S 2. Conflict With Supervisor
S 3. Proposed Change to First Redraft of Official Zoning Map
S 4. Protection of Environmentally Sensitive Land from Development
S 5. Community Development Block Grant Program Project Work Scope
S 6. Politically Influenced Population Projections 1
S 7. Minority Planner Acts as Advocate for Minority Neighborhood
S 8. Planners Oppose Their Own Department Director at Public Hearing
S 9. Recommendation for Housing Trust Fund Disapproved by Board
S10. County Jail Proposal in City Center Neighborhood
S11. University Professor Subcontracts for Work Involving State or University Funds
S12. Junior Planner Assists Development Applicant
S13. Potential Conflict With Public and Nonprofit Roles
S14. Investment Opportunity in Jurisdiction of Work
S15. Planning Consultant Considers Planning Commission Appointment
S16. Public and Private Client Conflict
S17. Public Planner Connects With Development Community on LinkedIn
S18. Consistency in Zoning Administration
S19. Planning Consultant Buys Lunch for Public-Sector Clients
S20. Administrative Discretion: Recommending a Grant Recipient
S21. Politically Influenced Population Projections 2
S22. Consulting With Municipality Immediately After Quitting
S23. Contractual Requirements of State for Land-Use Planning Grant
S24. Recommendations Regarding Nearly Identical Rezoning Requests
S25. Accessory Apartments Recommended as Affordable Housing
S26. Disadvantaged Group Input
S27. Affordable Housing Neighborhood
S28. Urging a Modification of Exclusionary Zoning
S29. Preparing Estimates of Transit Ridership and Revenue
S30. Planner Chooses Between Planning Firm and Minority Student Intern
S31. Authority Director Evaluates Proposals
S32. Director Admonishes Planner for Excessive Volunteer Work
S33. Use of Technology in Citizen Participation
S34. Regional Agency Engaged in Multiple Planning Functions for County
S35. Planner Posts Statement on Social Media
S36. Disclosure of Potential Environmental Impacts
S37. Information Shared With Neighborhood Group
S38. Planning Director Excludes Junior Planners' Observations
S39. Reporter Requests All Information on Pending Development Project
S40. Utility Company Maintenance Facility
S41. Service on Consultant Proposal Review Committee
S42. Planner Asked to Recommend Professionals
S43. Use of One Firm's Product by Another Firm
S44. Planner Prevented from Speaking Publicly in Opposition to Transportation Plan
S45. Private Correspondence on Local Government Email System
S46. City Manager Urges Change of Planning Staff Recommendation
S47. Preparing Grant Applications for Free in Anticipation of Project Award for Fee
S48. Executive Director of Council of Government Has History of Suspect Practices
S49. Regional Planner Seeks Elected Position
S50. Part-Time Consultant and Full-Time City Planner Job
S51. Planning Director Opposes and Testifies in Court Against Rezoning Decision
S52. Property to Be Rezoned Touches Property Owned by Family Member
S53. Information Leaked Regarding Plans for Parking Deck Downtown
S54. Structure With Historical Value About to Be Demolished
S55. Council Member Shares Opinion Privately About Upcoming Rezoning
S56. Preapplication Meeting With Developer
S57. Archaeological Site Discovered in Environmental Impact Review
S58. Consultant Without Prior Experience Pursues Work on a Fiscal Impact Study
S59. Invoicing for Work Not Yet Performed
S60. Unrealistic Work Deadline in Request for Proposal
S61. Planner Writes Letter to the Editor
S62. City Attorney Conflict
S63. Use of Primary Employer's Equipment for Consulting Assignment
S64. Developer and Public-Sector Planner Have Lunch Together
S65. Valuables Found on Pending Development Site
S66. Publication of Client's Report
S67. Public Funds Used to Clean Clothing
S68. Proposal to Travel for Training
S69. Public Planners Offered Free, Hard-to-Get Tickets
S70. Consultant Invites Potential Clients to Dinner
S71. Real Estate Investment Along Proposed New Highway
S72. Influencing Land-Use Plan Designation for Real Property You Own
S73. Inspector/Planner Promotes His Own Inspection Company
S74. Planner Evaluates Prior Employee for Employment Elsewhere
S75. Planning Director Disciplines Junior Planner
S76. Planner Responds to AICP Ethics Charge of Misconduct

Interpretations and Conclusions

Suggested Interpretations of the Code

Accept an assignment
Adequate information
Authority to make a binding, final determination
Decision makers
Other professionals
Planning issues
Planning process
Solicit prospective clients or employment


The Ethical Planning Practitioner


Appendix A: AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
Appendix B: State Ethics Laws Applicable to Local Government Employees


Scenario Indexes



"Weitz is masterful at discussing the nuances and subtleties of ethics in actual practice. This one volume is essential for any AICP member or aspirant."
— Daniel J. Marcucci, AICP, PhD, Fellow and Instructor, Virginia Tech

"This handbook is a resource that can be used again and again to learn, argue, and discuss. Rather than simple answers to ethical challenges, it gives us questions worth considering."
— Martin Wachs, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UCLA

"To be effective, planners need a good understanding of how to apply the AICP Code of Ethics in their day-to-day work. Thank you, Jerry, for a valuable tool for all of us!"
— Sue Schwartz, FAICP, Planning Director, Greensboro, North Carolina