American Planning Association survey finds need, support for community planning
From the press release, Results from APA's National Poll: Community Planners Essential to Putting America on Road to Economic Recovery; Americans' Top Priorities: Jobs, Safety, Schools:
The top priorities:
- Job creation: 70 percent
- Safety: 69 percent
- Schools: 67 percent
- Protecting neighborhoods: 64 percent
- Water quality: 62 percent
APA President Mitchell Silver, AICP, said the association commissioned the poll to better understand what Americans think planners' priorities should be in light of several trends including local government budget tightening; a decline in private sector investment; significant new federal investment in planning grants to sustain communities; and attempts by a small but vocal minority of the country's electorate to obstruct local planning and community engagement activities.
Silver said that 67 percent of respondents believe that "engaging citizens through local planning is essential to rebuilding local economies, creating jobs, and improving people's lives."
A broad majority of poll respondents — 79 percent — agreed that their community could benefit from a plan. The desire for increased local planning for economic growth runs across the political spectrum with support among two-thirds of Republicans and Independents and three-quarters of Democrats.
Among the poll's other findings:
• Compared with five years ago, 84 percent of Americans believe their community is getting worse or staying the same.
• About two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) say both market forces and community planning are necessary for economic improvement and job creation. Just 14 percent believe that market forces alone will do the job.
• Asked what makes an ideal community, half or more of respondents said having locally-owned businesses nearby (55 percent); the ability to grow old in the same neighborhood (54 percent); availability of sidewalks (53 percent); energy-efficient homes (52 percent); and availability of transit (50 percent).
• The vast majority of Americans — 85 percent — do not know enough about United Nations Agenda 21 to have an opinion about it. Nine percent said they support the document, and 6 percent oppose it.
"Planners are at the forefront of building communities that foster economic growth and create jobs. We're working to add value to communities around the country, and this poll confirms that our expertise is aligned with the priorities of most Americans," Farmer said.
Full poll results are available in the report "Planning in America: Perceptions and Priorities."