While most people associate urban planning with changes in the physical environment, the day-to-day work of planners focuses on people. Planners help communities identify their problems and central values, formulate goals and alternative approaches to achieving community objectives, and avoid undesired consequences of change.
This process results in frameworks for coping with change, such as:
- physical elements, including streets, roads, and sewer lines
- concepts that serve as guides to action, such as the goal of becoming a major distribution center or of encouraging investment in the city's core
- regulatory measures, reflecting the desires of the community to encourage good development and discourage bad development
Planning professionals help communities become more diverse, broadening the variety of employment, educational, cultural, entertainment, shopping, and housing opportunities and promoting a broad range of land uses, income levels, and types of people. To do this, planners will meet with people individually in their offices, in small groups around the community, and with the public at large formal meetings.
They also help communities deal with the clashes of interest produced by such variety and turn these differences into a positive force for constructive change.