American Planning Association

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American Planning Association
Abbreviation APA
Formation 1978; 37 years ago (1978)
Merger of American Institute of Planners
American Society of Planning
Type Non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization
To provide leadership in the
development of vital communities
[citation needed]
Parent organization
Affiliations 47 member chapters (2014)

The American Planning Association (APA) is a professional organization representing the field of urban planning in the United States. The APA was formed in 1978 when two separate professional planning organizations, the American Institute of Planners and the American Society of Planning Officials, were merged into a single organization. The American Institute of Certified Planners is now the organization's professional branch.

The association also publishes the Journal of the American Planning Association ("JAPA", ISSN 0194-4363). JAPA was founded in 1935 as Planners' Journal, and was from 1943 known as Journal of the American Institute of Planners (ISSN 0002-8991).


Like many professional organizations, the American Planning Association's main function is to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas between people who work in the field of urban planning. The organization keeps track of the various improvement efforts underway around the country, which may include the improvement or construction of new parks, highways and roads, or residential developments.

The organization is also a starting point for people looking for employment.[1]

The association holds an annual conference which attracts planners and planning students from throughout the United States, Canada and the world. The 2014 conference was held in Atlanta, GA on April 26–30, 2014. Future conferences are planned for Seattle, WA (2015) and Phoenix, AZ (2016). Past conferences have been held in the following cities April 2013 - Chicago, IL;[2] April 13–17, 2012- Los Angeles, CA;[3] April 9–12, 2011 - Boston, MA;[4] 2010 - New Orleans, LA;[5] 2009 - Minneapolis, MN;[6] 2008 - Las Vegas, NV;[7] April 14–18, 2007 - Philadelphia, PA;[8] 2006 - San Antonio, TX;[9] 2005 - San Francisco, California;[10] 2004 - Washington, DC,[11]

The 2007 Conference was held in Philadelphia, PA, from April 14 to April 18; among the discussions were items on Hurricane Katrina, universal design, transit oriented development, protected open space, urban open space, land use, the development of Philadelphia itself (as well as the surrounding area) and other planning-related topics.[12]

The association is subdivided into 47 state/regional chapters, such as the NJAPA (New Jersey Chapter of the APA) [13] or the Western Central Chapter of the APA.[14]


APA members in the United States are required to belong to a local chapter. Many APA Chapters meet regularly, and most are a source for local conferences and education, networking. Each of 47 local chapters publishes a newsletter and maintains a presence on the web and on social media.


To manage the various interests of American planners, the APA has created 21 divisions.[15] APA divisions offer professional networking opportunities for planners. They also produce newsletters and special publications, develop conference sessions, collaborate with related organizations, and contribute to policy work. The divisions focus on planning strategies for professionals with focused interests.


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