January 31, 2008
Challenges and Opportunities of the Planning Profession
The challenges of the planning profession include providing for the entire spectrum of the citizenry as well as preserving the natural environment. The opportunities of the profession are numerous as planners hold in their hands the capability to shape the public and private spaces of the world. This power is tremendous and therefore entering into the planning process is a humble privilege.
The responsibility of provision is equally tremendous. Laying the groundwork for housing, transportation, health care, police, fire, education, commerce, and recreation is complicated in respect to just one segment of the population, not to mention doing so for each gender, age group, ethnicity, and religious sect. Compounded with the regulations of city, county, state, and federal governments, the multi-faceted nature of planning is dense and long-term, and benefits from an understanding, holistic perspective.
Housing is one critical aspect of planning that affects all citizens, as it is a basic human need. At this point in time many low-income renters, especially in metro areas, are subject to a shortage of affordable housing. Overcoming the present obstacles to affordable housing seems paramount as it is continually cited that at least one out of every seven American families is currently experiencing a serious housing need.
There are many presumed culprits contributing to this condition: the rising cost of living, an insufficient minimum wage, condo conversions, a lack of work ethic on the part of low-income earners, a surplus of luxury development, not enough government subsidy, the favoring of “conventional” site design, the enormous cost of high density development, and inappropriate land use regulation. Which are direct causes of the problem, and which are merely symptoms? What is an apposite solution? Is...