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Equity Agenda for Planning


Montgomery Planning’s Equity Agenda for Planning is an ongoing commitment to systemically dismantle the institutional and structural racism that exists in and has long influenced planning and zoning processes and to prevent that influence in the future. We are committed to confronting the legacy of racism and its ongoing effects and to using this equity lens in all our plans, policies, practices, and other work—including to ensure that staff understand and practice social justice in their hiring practices and work to dismantle their own internalized biases.

As the American Planning Association states, “Planning for Equity means applying an equity lens—for just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential—to everything planners do. From the way planners work with community members creating a shared vision for their neighborhoods to advocating for policies that connect people to opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels, planning for equity is planning for all.”

Through these commitments—and with the community’s help—we will learn and begin to advance our efforts to create a Montgomery County where all people can thrive.

View the M-NCPPC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement.

Implementing an Equity Agenda for Planning

Montgomery Planning recognizes and acknowledges the role that our plans and policies have played in creating and perpetuating racial inequity in Montgomery County. We are committed to transforming how we work even as we seek to address, mitigate, and eliminate past and persistent inequities and to develop planning solutions that create equitable communities in the future.

While it will take time to fully develop a new methodology for equity in planning, both in our county and more broadly, we cannot delay applying an equity lens to our work now.

Montgomery Planning’s Equity in Agenda for Planning institutionalizes the department’s application of equity in all its work. This initiative provides direction, tools, and strategies to support Planning Department staff in incorporating racial equity and social justice considerations in its planning processes and in operating as a department.

The Planning Department developed its Equity in Master Planning Framework in 2020, and the Planning Board approved it that year. Since then, the Planning Department has been implementing its action items.

Ongoing efforts

Completed tools and initIatives

Context for Change

Montgomery County has a long history of land use decisions that created exclusionary neighborhoods and formed barriers to resources and opportunities for people of color and other disadvantaged persons. Today, we at Montgomery Planning recognize and acknowledge the role that our work has played in creating and perpetuating racial inequity, and we are thus committed to addressing, mitigating, and eliminating these inequities. As we change how we work, we are developing planning solutions to create equitable communities in the future.

Historically, equity has not been part of planning in America and change is long overdue, in Montgomery County and beyond. An encouraging positive shift in the national planning profession has begun, and Montgomery Planning embraces this necessary transformation as part of our responsibility to develop plans that benefit all community members and reduce or eliminate inequity. Our goal now is to address existing inequities and prevent the creation of new ones throughout all aspects of our plans, policies, practices, and other work.

To that end, Montgomery County is implementing the 2019 Racial Equity & Social Justice Act to advance “fair and just opportunities and outcomes for all people.” For the Planning Board, that means “consider[ing] the impact of the plan on racial equity and social justice in the county”. Beginning in September 2021, the law also requires that the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight produce racial equity and social justice impact statements for any new zoning text amendments (ZTAs).

Additional Resources

The American Planning Association’s (APA) 2019 Planning for Equity Policy Guide provided its first-ever recommendations for planners to advocate for more equitable planning policies.

The APA also published the 2023 Equity in Zoning Policy Guide, advocating for planning-led zoning reform that dismantles discriminatory barriers.

GARE (Government Alliance on Race & Equity), the national network of government agencies, is working to achieve racial equity and advancing opportunities for all.