photo of Elaine Cogan

Elaine Cogan

Elaine Cogan, founding principal of the Portland, Oregon planning and communications firm of Cogan Owens Cogan, has consulted for more than 36 years with communities undertaking strategic planning and visioning processes. Elaine has been honored for her work on a variety of citizen involvement projects, including “Complete Communities for Clackamas County,” which received the American Planning Association's 2002 Public Education Award.

Between 1991 and 2009, her “The Effective Planning Commissioner” column ran in the Planning Commissioners Journal. All of her past columns (along with her new ones) are available here on

On Commitment

On Commitment

How do we motivate commissioners to realize being on the planning commission requires a “commitment”? The more I thought about it, the more complex the answer seems to be.

Corner market and cafe. Illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb

New to a Planning Commission?

As you begin to attend meetings, you will find that although many parts of the agenda are routine, there soon is likely to be a controversial or contentious matter. You may be uneasy having to discuss your points of view. But you want to be effective. What should you consider?

image of road barrier that says "What's In Your Way?"

Challenges & Opportunities

Eight of our regular contributing writers take a brief look at various challenges and opportunities facing planning commissions and their communities.