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Study: Fail to Plan Communities, Plan for a Failed Recovery

As the economy flounders, Americans think community planners should play a large role in helping the country recover, according to a poll released Thursday by the ""American Planning Association"":http://www.planning.org/ (APA).

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The research study showed that two-thirds of Americans believe their communities need more planning to promote economic recovery, and 44 percent said they don't believe their community is doing enough to promote recovery.

The biggest task Americans want planners to undertake is job creation (with 70 percent of respondents saying it should be a priority), followed by safety (69 percent), education (67 percent), neighborhood protection (64 percent), and water quality (62 percent).

""Not only do Americans strongly believe community planning is critical to jump starting our nation's economy, but a majority want to be personally involved with community planning efforts, whether

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they live in a city, suburb, small town, or rural America,"" said Paul Farmer, FAICP, CEO of APA.

Fifty-one percent of respondents expressed an interest in participating in community planning efforts. Desire to take part in local planning was fairly equal across party lines, ethnicity, and type of community.

APA commissioned the poll to better understand what Americans think planners' priorities should be in light of trends like government budget tightening, a decline in private sector investment, federal investment in planning grants to sustain communities, and attempts by some of the country's electorate to obstruct local planning and community engagement.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said both market forces and community planning are necessary for economic improvement and job creation. When asked about the make-up of an ideal community, 55 percent of respondents said nearby locally-owned businesses are key, while 54 percent answered that the ability to grow old in the same neighborhood would be ideal. Other answers that attracted half or more of respondents: availability of sidewalks (53 percent), energy-efficient homes (52 percent), and availability of transit (50 percent).

Compared with five years ago, 84 percent of respondents believe their community is getting worse or staying the same. Community planning was advocated by 79 percent of those polled.

""Communities that plan for the future are stronger and more resilient than those that don't,"" said APA president Mitchell Silver, AICP. ""The country faces significant changes and challenges. Planners stand ready to work with local citizens to build this recovery, and a better future, one neighborhood at a time.""

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