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Planning practice 👔 Is what we really do planning?

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
Well, seeing the 2002 AICP Exam thread, and a recent conversation I had with my boss brought this question to mind:

How much of what we really do everyday is "planning"?

I'm curious if the people taking the exam who've posted a lot of "that's not a planning question!", and "what's that got to do with planning!" comments were surprised because much of what is called "planning" may not really be planning.

I'm not trying to ask the question, "what is planning".

What I'm trying to ask is, "However you define planning, how much of what you do in your job is planning?"

How much of what you do is administration, or code enforcement, or landscape architecture, or urban design, or politics, or bureaucratic stuff, or whatever?

Do you think the people where you work (city staff, elected officials, the public, and/or the media) call a lot things "planning" that really aren't?

Do you think it a waste of resources to have planners doing non-planning stuff, or can that be beneficial?

Just interested in your thoughts.
Thanks for sharing!


Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
I do what I call planning about 5% of the time, the rest of the time I do what you said, CE, design, yatta, yatta.

I think it is good to have a trained planner doing those things. We learn how to deal with folks in a more productive way than if, let's say a cop did the CE. I think we look at things more futuristically than others would, and that is good.
In a week, I would say that that I'm about 97% non-planning. However, we're gearing up for our first ever comp plan, which I get to spear head, so my P.Q. (Planning Quotient) will then sky rocket. Most of my week is CE and preparing for our weekly planning board.