The Planner: Travel Agent for the Public!

February 13, 2010 by  
Filed under City Updates and News

By Jonathan Lynn, Planning & Zoning Director, City of Tybee Island

Jonathan Lynn

There seems to be confusion many times about the process of city planning. I have to admit that when I first began my career in the planning field, I was as confused as anyone could possibly about the basic process of planning. It was one thing to read about the process and learn from a professor in college but being involved in the process on a daily basis made everything seem brand new. What I would like to share here is a guide to understanding the planning process through comparing to something that most of us do routinely: planning a trip. In this comparison, the planner takes the role of your travel agent.

When planning for a trip with your family or for yourself, the first thing that you must decide is coming up with a location, an ending point of some sort. The same goes with planning as you begin with an ending concept in mind for where you want to end up. Once you decide on where you want to go, that’s when the logistics of the trip come in to play such as how you get there, what you need to pack, how much is it going to cost, who is going to watch your pets, and what to do when you get there. I did leave out the most important question of all when planning a trip and that is will this trip be approved by your traveling companions, which may be friends, family, spouses, or children.

All of these questions in one fashion or another are involved with the planning process as well. Once you have the results in mind you will need to start the process for reaching the final goal and that can involve reviewing of project plans (trip itinerary), guiding applicants through the process of having their proverbial ducks in a row like drainage plans, parking calculations, permits, and licenses (travel means, lodging accommodations, and what to pack). Serving as your planner/travel agent, I provide aid through the process of planning your trip and getting the paperwork in order to ensure that you have every facet of your trip in line before presenting it to your travel companions, normally the decision makers. In the case of planning, the final decision makers, normally the City Council, will approve your trip as is, approve with a few adjustments to your itinerary/project, or encourage you to find another destination as where you decided to go would not be a place they would like to visit.

As a planner, or in this case a travel agent, it is our duty to work with the client to allow them to have appropriate measures in place to ensure that they are ready for their case to be heard before the elected officials. And just like any travel agent, if they are approved and take their trip, the planner is there with them during every step of their trip to ensure that they have the best possible experience that they can. I do hope that this comparison has helped with the general understanding of the planning profession and routinely takes place in this arena. If you have questions about any part of this article, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.


Planning & Zoning Director Jonathan Lynn may be reached at

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