illustration by Marc Hughes for the PlannersWeb

Planning Staff

Many towns, cities, and counties employ planners to manage — in partnership with the planning commission — the local planning effort. It is important that the planning commission and staff agree on ways to foster a mutually beneficial relationship. Clarity regarding roles, duties, and expectations should be viewed as a top priority.

While the planing commission typically focuses on the “bigger picture” associated with policy, direction, and goal setting, the chief responsibility of planning staff involves providing technical assistance and guidance — and managing the planning office’s many functions on a day-to-day basis. This requires communication and coordination As a result, it is not surprising that planning staff are frequently found whizzing through all corners of the planning universe.


apartments in Shaker Heights, Ohio

A Planner Should Be Flexible

“Flexibility … that’s the most important part of my job,” Shaker Heights Planning Director Joyce Braverman told me. She even carries a small reminder of this in her purse, the world famous — and very flexible — Gumby.

Otsego County planner Terry Bliss

A “Utility Player” Among Planners

In Cooperstown, New York, I met with Terry Bliss and heard about the job of a rural, small county planning director — who loves baseball (and is sure in the right place for that!)

Come In - We're Hiring sign

Who Hires Your Planning Director? Members Only Content

What attributes should you look for in a new planning director? Columnist Elaine Cogan describes what she learned from facilitating a series community forums as part of Portland, Oregon’s search for a new planning chief.

sign that says give respect

The “Riggins Rules” Members Only Content

Suggested do’s and don’ts for the conduct of public hearings, and the deportment of members of boards, commissions, and other bodies — reprinted as written by the late Fred Riggins.