What is Planning?

Division Mission

Planning is the process of creating long-term visions for places and communities as small as an intersection and as large as a region. Planning takes advantage of, and seeks to influence, the social, economic, physical, and natural factors affecting a community. In Boston, a city that contains a rich mix of distinctive neighborhoods, historic districts, universities, hospitals, and natural landforms, planning occurs at the streetscape, neighborhood, institutional, and waterfront scales. The Boston Planning & Development Agency Planning Division works closely with community members and other local stakeholders to create plans that create an appropriate context for new development while respecting the City of Boston's historic character and its future aspirations. The Division aims to create places that are livable, ecologically sensitive, and economically thriving.

Role at the Agency

Planning at the BPDA is an iterative process, which involves community engagement, expert consultants, and the input of experienced BPDA planning and design staff. Resulting plans are comprehensive documents, which articulate broad community goals as well as outline physical development opportunities and guidelines. The BPDA's current planning documents can be viewed on the Planning Initiatives page.

The Planning Division’s work influences many other departments across the BPDA, including Development Review. New planning initiatives may result in zoning changes and the BPDA Regulatory Planning & Zoning Department facilitates the codification of these changes into the zoning code. The staff of the Development Review Department works with developers to ensure that project proposals fit within these planning frameworks for neighborhood, institutional, or waterfront plans.

Outside the BPDA, Planning works closely with many other departments, including the Neighborhood Development and Transportation departments. The Transportation department, along with the MBTA, may initiate projects which inspire a plan or help to execute transportation improvements which support a neighborhood plan.

Organization

Within Planning, five departments collaborate closely. The Downtown & Neighborhood Planning Department works at the neighborhood level and assists communities with articulating and implementing local plans. The Regulatory Planning & Zoning Department develops zoning language to implement neighborhood and city-wide planning efforts put forth by the Planning Division. The Climate Change & Environmental Planning Department promotes the city-wide goal of increasing public access to the waterfront, and guides visions for waterfront development, and assists in the implementation of the City of Boston’s climate plans.  The Transportation Planning Department plans sustainable and reliable transportation and infrastructure systems while working collaboratively with communities, private sector groups, and other government agencies. The Urban Design Department's input helps determine appropriate heights, densities, setbacks, building styles, and public spaces to be outlined in plans.

Staff

Lauren Shurtleff, Director of Planning
James Fitzgerald, Interim Deputy Director for Transportation & Infrastructure Planning
Michael Cannizzo, Deputy Director for Urban Design
Meera Deean, Assistant Deputy Director for Urban Design
Kennan Rhyne, Deputy Director for Downtown & Neighborhood Planning
Bryan Glascock, Deputy Director for Regulatory Planning & Zoning
Richard McGuinness, Deputy Director for Climate Change & Environmental Planning
Chris Busch, Assistant Deputy Director for Climate Change & Environmental Planning

For more information about the Planning Division, please contact Yarisamar Cortez, Assistant to the Director of Planning

  • Boston Planning & Development Agency
  • One City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201
  • Tel: 617.722.4300  Fax: 617.248.1937
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