WHO DOES SOCIAL PLANNING?
If one asks practicing planners whether there is a separate field of "social planning" one will get answers ranging from "Of course" to "What is it?" If a planner is doing something that is directly devoted to a social end (say, administering community development funds for a day care or an adult literacy program), clearly that planner is engaged in "social planning." The great majority of planners, however, do not spend most of their time on explicit social planning. But almost any decision that involves how sizable blocks of land will be used or how sizable sums of public money will be spent has social implications. In that sense, any planner who is conscientious and competent is engaged in social planning.
All planning decisions of significant size have social implications. For many planners and planning agencies, social issues present themselves most strongly in the realm of housing. This chapter presents some of the older housing issues such as how much variety of housing type is permitted, as well as the implications of the extremely rapid growth of private communities, both the open and the gated variety. It also notes some social issues in connection with economic development and environmental planning as well as other areas. Whether or not one recognizes a separate field of social planning, it is clear that the social side of what at first might appear to be purely physical or design questions should not be ignored.