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Thread: Planner as Landlord

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Planner as Landlord

    I have seen several references on other threads for planners owning investment properties. I could not do this. I fear that some professional decisions (rezoning, redevelopment, whatever) would be percieved as enhancing/protecting my own properties. Is there an ethical line not to cross? Should a zoning enforcement officer be part owner of a portable sign company? A convenience store? Is owning a 4-plex OK, but not the largest apartment complex in the area? Should I buy the farm where a new interchange has been considered?

    Am I paranoid?...you betcha. I was even worried when I prepared a National Register distirct proposal that included my home. Remember that I have always been in the small city environment.

  2. #2

    no problem

    Mike, as long as you avoid the appearance of impropriety there should be no problem. As a board member, I am expected to recuse myself from any decision that I may have an interest in. As my family is in the grading business and also does some small scale development[father's "retirement" land], this could come up but as yet hasn't.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I know what you mean: I am a little hesitant to push my rail plan too hard while living in this apartment because I am concerned that it might look like I was trying to have my own, private rail station built for my personal convenience. I am thinking that it will be a little easier to write letters, blah blah blah, after I move out of this complex...whenever that is.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    I am both a planner and a landlord, however I work for a private consulting firm who does little planning work in the community in which my rental is locate. No real conflict of interest here.

    You do have a good point though.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I would not invest in the community that employed me. If a conflict did arise oterwise, full disclosure is always the best policy.

  6. #6
    Mike: I agree with Chet.

    I wonder: at what point does this question get absurd? Do I have to shop for everything I buy in the next town over? Patronizing our Target over say, Kohl's could be seen as having a preference. Should I then be compelled to recuse myself when Target applies for a variance? How do you remain absolutely impartial and still live in the city you serve?
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    I wonder: at what point does this question get absurd? Do I have to shop for everything I buy in the next town over? Patronizing our Target over say, Kohl's could be seen as having a preference. Should I then be compelled to recuse myself when Target applies for a variance? How do you remain absolutely impartial and still live in the city you serve?
    And then there is the flip-side of that: a lot of towns want their planners to live there and be part of the community. Are you a traitor if you shop in another town rather than investing that money into your community? Who better to invest in a town than the planners that live there? Presumably, planners have a better idea than most folks about how to make such things work. (Which does not, in any way, invalidate the "conflict of interest" issue.)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    And then there is the flip-side of that: a lot of towns want their planners to live there and be part of the community. Are you a traitor if you shop in another town rather than investing that money into your community? Who better to invest in a town than the planners that live there? Presumably, planners have a better idea than most folks about how to make such things work. (Which does not, in any way, invalidate the "conflict of interest" issue.)
    Precisely. By compelling me to live in the city for which I work, I must then decide where to live in that city. The personnel policy compels me to discriminate by choosing one neighborhood over all others. It gets kind of wacky when you take to extremes.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  9. #9
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Precisely. By compelling me to live in the city for which I work, I must then decide where to live in that city. The personnel policy compels me to discriminate by choosing one neighborhood over all others. It gets kind of wacky when you take to extremes.
    You need only worry about "conflict of interest" when your responsiblities as City Staff could directly benefit you. You shopping at Target and then having to review their site plan amendment isn't a conflict unless Target is giving you free products or trips to Wally World, etc. If you're worried that Mr. Local, Independent Store Owner is going to give you a hard time because of the aforementioned spurious relationship, then it's only your problem if you are taking the free products, or trips to Wally World, etc.

    Now, If you owned a rental property within your city and you needed a variation for the property, then you definitely should not be the staff member reviewing the proposal - definite conflict of interest in that situation.
    Last edited by mendelman; 08 Oct 2004 at 1:33 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  10. #10
    mendelman you mean people actually pay for stuff at Target?

    Our conflict of interest states that the appearance of a conflict is enough to compel me to recuse myself. This is a small city and I'm something of a public figure. I know it's absurd at some point, but I wrestle with it when I'm choosing a contractor to do work for me, as an example.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

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