Planners Do What?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “what exactly is it that you do?” I would one rich lady! I’m an urban planning student, and at Cleveland State University the curriculum is mostly policy based. I learn a lot about intergovernmental affairs and how to create policies and procedures for development. Basically, in a nutshell, I create the city scape.

The way to create change in the urban environment is to create building and zoning regulations. These regulations will determine things like the density a building can take up on a lot, the number of parking spaces you can have, how far back the building can be, and the height of the structure, etc. There are traditional zoning codes, and there are form based codes. The latter is my favorite. Form based codes allow you to illustrate how you want the city to look. Instead of zoning uses for districts, form based code breaks the city into transects from urban to rural areas. As the city center holds the most density, the further you are removed from the city should feel less dense. If you’re still confused, keep reading.

*Quick fun fact; zoning was founded in Euclid, OH and it was called Euclidean zoning, which is what I meant by traditional. It is the practice of dividing uses into districts*


Guys, the struggle is real. 

Urban planning can be very generic. Most people think that urban planning jobs are only available with local governments, which isn’t true. Urban planners can work for architecture firms, development firms, corporate consulting, and due diligence support firms that specialize in real estate transactions – among many more! Let me put it like this…


#sorrynotsorry for the memes.

Anywhoozle, currently I work for a firm as a planning and zoning analyst. I write zoning compliance reports for law firms that specialize in property acquisition. Sounds fun, right? Not really. But I love my job for the experience I’m gaining and that it pays the bills, am I right on that one? Yeah buddy! I review surveys and site plans to make sure that the property is in conformance with the zoning code regulations of the applicable jurisdiction. My typical day consists of calling the “actual urban planners” within local governments to obtain property information. From there, I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing data. The final phase is to write a report based on the findings of fact and send it out for review and finalization. I get to help companies purchase restaurants, skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and industrial buildings. Best part of the job, the sites I deal with are everywhere! I don’t get to travel for my job, but I do use Google Maps and Google Earth, so I usually just pretend 🙂 Today I went to California!

If you’re thinking about becoming an urban planner, I highly recommend it. The field of urban planning is increasing as the trend towards city living has gained popularity among millennials. I recently took the plunge and moved to the big city of Cleveland, OH! It’s way bigger (and way scarier) than where I grew up in Akron, OH. However, I love it here. No matter the stigma Cleveland has, I’ll always be a fan – just not a Brown’s fan (please don’t hate me for this fam)!


I’ve been taking an urban design seminar this semester, and it’s been a blast. It’s basically art class for urban planners. I get to doodle with fancy pens and color with pricey markers… it’s awesome! I don’t know how I lucked out with this class, but I’m having a ton of fun. This class will really come in handy when you need to draw renderings for future developments or illustrate the urban landscape in the form based code documents your future boss will probably nag you about… I love it. It’s a long running joke too that if you love sim city, you’ll love urban planning.


Sorry, I couldn’t resist one more! 

If you need or want more information, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on social media. I would love to chit chat more about urban planning – I could do this all day, but I don’t have all day, sorry for realsies.

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