Picture this. You’re at a cocktail party. You are pushing the filberts around your glass with your straw. Someone strikes up a conversation with you. You, as is requisite, ask them what they do. “Oh, I’m a city planner,” they say. What comes to mind?
More than just figuring out where the streets go
Urban and regional planners actually have a lot of responsibility, even after the streets are all in place. A planner’s job can include collecting and analyzing data from market research, the census, and studies. A planner may conduct a field investigation and review developer plans. It’s typically the city planner’s job to assess the feasibility of the proposals that cross the city’s desk and make recommendations. A city planner needs to stay current on zoning and building codes and understand what impacts the environment and will be a legal or environmental violation.
A solutions-oriented approach
Above all, planners are focused on solutions. The goal is always to find ways to maintain, improve or revitalize the community they serve. City planners are responsible for envisioning the spaces a community needs; parks, homeless shelters, business centers and where people live. Planners often specialize in one area such as:
- Community development
- Historic maintenance and preservation
Most planners have a master’s degree and a background in economics, architecture, public policy, geography or political science. Planners have an interest in making communities work; they want to plan for and accommodate changes in population and make use of or revitalize a community’s structures. The outlook for city planning as far as a career is positive; an expected 11% job growth is projected for the next few years.
So, next time you rub elbows with a city planner, you can dismiss the idea of grids of streets and instead ask about their detailed vision for making your community work optimally.