The comprehensive plan constitutes the planner's central public role. As a planner, your commitment is to interdisciplinary problem solving that includes both the short and long-term. The comprehensive plan provides a frame of reference within which a city, town, county, or even a regional collection of such bodies can make decisions—decisions about how to spend public resources, where to encourage development and where to discourage it, where to invest in new infrastructure, and how to regulate private land use and development.
This concentration weaves together the process of physical analysis of the natural and human-made environments with the multiple goals of the many constituencies who inhabit and depend upon the community for which the plan is developed. Although the comprehensive plan itself typically emphasizes the physical and fiscal tools to be used by the community to implement it, the policies within the plan are guided by socioeconomic factors, social needs, and the physical context. Comprehensive planning draws broadly on many of the planning methods courses offered in the curriculum and is informed by a century of planning theory that has evolved with the practice in the United States. It also draws on specialized tools such as GIS (for analysis), modeling (for examining possible futures), survey techniques (for analysis of public needs and desires) and urban design in some contexts.
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