Clarion Associates is a national land-use consulting firm with an unusual combination of talents in planning, design, law, and real estate economics. We specialize in developing creative solutions to difficult land use, design, and development questions. Clarion is particularly known for its expertise in plan implementation. We represent both public- and private-sector clients on a variety of planning and zoning matters.
Planning for a Better Future
Significant events and movements have taken place in our country this year. First, the youth-led Sunrise Movement called for action on the climate crisis. Then the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, causing widespread health and economic uncertainty which continues. Then George Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and called for major policy reforms to advance racial justice.
During these uncertain times, the act of community planning provides a path forward, and we must meet the moment by responding to calls for climate and equity justice with thoughtful consideration of whether current planning policies and land use regulations are leading us to the futures we want. The immediate challenges we face should not prevent our communities from looking and planning fora better tomorrow for all of us, and for future generations.
We take pride in making connections and creating synergies between our core practice areas. We leverage our team’s diversity and capitalize on our individual strengths to provide our clients deeper insights and better solutions to complex land use challenges. Our nimble size and flexible structure enables us to have firm principals directly involved in every project and to provide tailored solutions to each client. Although some firm members are lawyers, Clarion Associates is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice.
Since our founding in 1992, we have worked across the country with hundreds of communities across a broad spectrum of place types—from rural to suburban to urban. We understand that every community is unique and requires its own tailored set of planning and implementation tools. We bring an unparalleled depth of experience in helping to craft thoughtful solutions for our clients.
Innovation & Leadership
We are recognized nationwide as leaders in community planning and plan implementation. Driven by a passion for what we do and a desire to continually push for new approaches to old problems, we publish on a wide variety of topics and frequently speak at national and state conferences.
We have had repeated success in organizing and leading community-driven processes that yield results. We work hand-in-hand with elected and appointed officials, staff, citizens, and diverse groups of internal and external stakeholders to build trust in the planning process and widespread support for the ultimate recommendations.
While many communities face similar planning challenges, there are no simple solutions or common answers. We bring our depth of experience, our knowledge of best practices, and our sensitivity to local conditions to bear on each project—developing tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.
Sedona, AZ | Land Development Code Update
“[Clarion] was very responsive to the often times shifting priorities during this code re-write and were also great at diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of the old Code and assessing what was most needed. They were always willing to share their concerns if they felt we were on the wrong track. Since this project had a very significant public involvement component, the Clarion team was able to demonstrate great skill at facilitating meetings and focus groups, listening and extracting issues and addressing concerns. Clarion also identified and incorporated innovative new policies to address ongoing issues like affordable housing and sustainability, and established trust and respect in working with the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.”
“The Clarion Team as a whole [is] probably the best consulting group we have worked with in recent memory.”
Karen Osburn, Assistant City Manager
Columbia, SC | Columbia Compass Comprehensive Plan
“The City of Columbia Planning Division had the pleasure of working with a team from Clarion Associates, led by Leigh Anne King, on our ten-year update to the housing element of the comprehensive plan. As part of the larger comprehensive plan update, Leigh Anne and her team approached the task at hand in a collaborative manner, ensuring that their work on the housing element took an inclusive and comprehensive approach in tying to the rest of the plan elements, which were updated concurrently, both in-house and through contracts with other consultants. Throughout the planning process, we found their attention to detail, their willingness to help strategize with overall project management, their thoughtful approach to public and stakeholder input, their adherence to the overall schedule, and their comprehensive analysis to be critical to the success of Columbia Compass. The success of their approach and their ability to distill complicated data has already been reflected in discussion with the City’s Affordable Housing Task Force (prior to and concurrent with plan adoption), and we look forward to using the plan to build understanding of and collaboration toward meeting the housing needs of our community.”
Leigh DeForth, AICP, Comprehensive Planner
Carbondale, CO | Unified Development Ordinance
“[Clarion] was able to connect with our community members during the process. The process was well-thought out and the public was engaged at all times. Clarion demonstrated flexibility to revise the code based on feedback, or if not, to clearly explain why the code shouldn’t be revised. The result is a Unified Development Ordinance which is embraced by the community as it reflects the community’s values.”
Janet Buck, Planning Director
Mooresville, NC | OneMooresville Comprehensive Plan
“Clarion’s team went out of their way to make the planning process as comfortable as possible for the Town of Mooresville. Their commitment to providing best planning practice in their work, ensuring clear communication throughout the process, and making the project fun for all was second to none. They worked as outstanding professionals from plan kickoff to adoption. The Town of Mooresville is thoroughly pleased with our new OneMooresville Comprehensive Plan and would highly recommend them to anyone for their next planning project.
Rawls Howard, Director of Planning and Community Development
Philadelphia, PA | New Zoning Code
“Clarion Associates possesses an extremely deep and rich knowledge of land use, zoning, and regulatory issues. From our first interactions, the Clarion team has been an exemplary partner with City staff; our collaboration over the last four years has been the best experience I have had in my thirty-year career working with an outside consultant. The most valuable aspect of their consultancy was their deep appreciation for when and how to provide the professional advice of the consultant team, reflecting experience from many other cities and national standards and norms, while respecting Philadelphia’s traditions, context, and circumstances.”
Eva Gladstein, Deputy Executive Director
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