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Thread: And today's most insane complaint from the public....

  1. #1
          Downtown's avatar
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    And today's most insane complaint from the public....

    Me: "Good morning - Planning and Economic Development. How can I help you."

    Whiny Resident: "Um yeah. There is this king of insect that is infesting my trees and killing them. What's the town going to do about this?"

    Me: "Excuse me?"

    WR: It isn't just my trees either - trees in the whole neighborhood having these bugs and they're killing everyone's trees! Who's problem is this?"

    Me: "Sir, I'm sorry, but I think this is your problem. Are the trees located on your property?

    WR: "Yes - but can't the town come out and spray or something?"

    Me: "No, sir, I'm sorry. I don't have the town spraying the aphids that are chewing on my roses. Take a piece of the tree down to your local nursery and they'll give you something to spray with"

    WR: (huffily) "Well, just fine then!" (hang up)


    grrrrr - I don't know who was worse. This guy, or the lady yesterday who wanted Highway to repave her road to cover up the UFPO locations DPW had spray painted on her road and looked, in her opinion "trashy". sigh.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I got one today from a resident who didn't know that he had moved in to an area across the street from a multifamily site or the fact that his lot backs up to an arterial road. He wanted to know how the City will be compensating him for his loss of property value. I asked him when he moved in... lo and behold, three years ago. The Area Structure Plan (like a Specific Plan for the neighborhood) was approved in the late 60s. So the arterial designation and the MF designations predated him by oh... 30 years!

    On the opposite spectrum, I had a guy call today to complain that his neighbor's house is too big. It's down the street from him, and I agree... the house (at 8500 s.f.) is huge. But he is complaining about his property values going down. I'm sorry if someone built a 1.5 million dollar house down the street from you, but it is very unlikely that your property value will go down!

    It's all about money here, and what type of renumeration residents will get due to their lack of research. As much as I love the weather here in the summer, I can't wait to get to the end of the season so that construction is over and I stop getting these innane calls. Sheesh!

  3. #3
    Someone should compile a list of all the crazy calls that Planners get....

    Some of my favorites...
    -Complaint that steam from neighbors hot tub comes into their yard
    - A guy who illegally bulit a garage, sunroom, fence, and shed for his girlfriend then called to report the illegal structures after she dumped him and kicked him out of her house

    and the Racist...
    -Lady who wanted basketball hoops banned from residential driveways because "gang bangers" came to her neighborhors house and played basketball. They didn't cause any problems, she just didn't want, in her words "those kind of people in her neighborhood"

    - Guy who wanted to have the city close all of the fast food restaurants because black people walked to them and littered all over the street.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  4. #4
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I think the weirdest question I ever had was this guy that came to the counter asking about a time door. I was thinking at the time that maybe he was talking about time locks on a door... like where after business hours it would automatically lock or something. But no... he was looking for some time travel portal, and he was told that it was in Davis and that the planning department would know about it. He was sent up to Davis from a buddy of his in Berkeley.

    And another good one is this guy that wanted to know what the zoning was underneath the city, because he wanted to start a new underground city. For lack of a better answer, I told him that the same zoning would apply... then I sent him to a friend of mine in Public Works... after all, there are all those utilities that would get in the way Boy she cursed me out for that stunt!

    Davis was definitely the wackiest experience... all kinds of interesting questions. And people wonder why our codes are so detailed... it's because there are some real loons out there!

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Strangely, I don't get the normal NIMBYs. I once had a public meeting where folks complained about a new subdivision, because it didn't provide enough connections to future subdivisions. "We want to see traffic distributed on all the streets, not funneled to one." Seriously. It's a good thing, IMHO. Folks don't complain much about the dirt roads, either, because it's "part of the charm" in their eyes.

    What do I get complaints about?

    Code enforcement -- the usual resonse when I send a violation notice to someone. "What about that property, and that property, and that property?" Now, my violations include an FAQ which actually answers that question!

    Upscale infill housing -- because it's part of some town plot to drive up property values, which would lead to gentrification of the "West Side," the old eight-block "quarters" that many Southern towns have. Pretty much, allowing folks to build $300,000 homes in the original town site is an act of ethnic cleansing. Residents of the West Side are descendants of freed slaves that followed their employers to town, but by custom they had to live in a certain defined area -- "the quarters." The old quarters neighborhoods of Winter Park and Windermere are gentrifying, and in my little town every few months a dilapidated house in the quarters will get torn down. The properties are usually donated to Habitat for Humanity.

    Someone last week accoused me of beating their two Basset Hounds with a surveyor's stake. They claim to have video. They won't show it to us. I have a bowl of dog biscuits in my office, and I'm known for stepping out of Town Hall to give the local pups some goodies.

    One north-south street, with a traffic count of about 10 vehicles an hour (really!), is considered "congested" by those living on and near it.

    Overall, though, my clients are level-headed, forward-thinking, pro-planning, and don't play the NIMBY card at the drop of a hat. It's a good environment in which to plan ... but the town's budget is miniscule, which makes it hard to implement projects the Town Commission and residents want.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Last Week's Gem

    Resident: "Can I build a retaining wall on my neighbor's property?"

    Zoning Administrator: "No. fences and walls can be directly on the lot line, however."

    Resident: [head spins around 360] "THEN WHY DID YOU LET MY NEIGHBOR DO IT!!!!!"

    Zoning Administrator: "Of course we wouldn't let your neighbor do that. Please tell us your addresses and we'll pull the file to see what was approved vs. what was constructed."

    Resident: "Oh yeah. So you can nail me for my shed too, right?"

    Zoning Administrator: "Your shed?"

    Resident: [head spins around 360] "OH JUST NEVER MIND!!!!"
    [STORMS OFF]


    Zoning Administrator: [mutters under breath something about wanting to go into sales]

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Re: And today's most insane complaint from the public....

    Originally posted by KMateja
    WR: It isn't just my trees either - trees in the whole neighborhood having these bugs and they're killing everyone's trees! Who's problem is this?"

    Me: "Sir, I'm sorry, but I think this is your problem. Are the trees located on your property?

    WR: "Yes - but can't the town come out and spray or something?"

    Me: "No, sir, I'm sorry. I don't have the town spraying the aphids that are chewing on my roses. Take a piece of the tree down to your local nursery and they'll give you something to spray with"
    Ummm, so, help me understand something here...

    So this was pretty much the tone of your conversation with this resident? And you are a public servant? Why the apparent "attitude"? I mean, maybe the resident is onto something: it probably wasn't a swarm of mosquitoes with the West Nile virus, but couldn't you have been a bit more helpful? Who knows what kind of weird insects could wreak havoc on our neighborhoods' trees... those could have been some weird introduced locust species that might devastate the shade-providers of your town. Couldn't you at least have referred him to the local Extension office or to the public health department? Maybe I'm mising something here, so feel free to clarify.

  8. #8
          Downtown's avatar
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    Beaner - that was just a snippet of our conversation - he'd already been referred to the Conservation Advisory Council, whom I'd recommended might be the organization to call. I even recommended a couple of local landscapers that he might contact that could help. So really, I only gave him a tiny bit of "attitude" and only after he pulled out the "I'm a tax paying citizen and I want someone from the Town to get down here and fix this problem for me" card. My little scenario was just a little dramatization. I'm sure the guy in bturks office didn't really have a head that spin around 360 degrees. But I have seen people's eyes almost pop out of their head (but that was in the building department where they actually are extremely mean and unhelpful).

  9. #9
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Yesterday...

    I had a developer working on a laundry facility meet me at 11:00 in our conference room to discuss their parking configuration. ODOT would only allow one curb cut between their property and the "coffee house" being developed next door.

    Guess what I got?

    Papers that were blank, aside from the building footprints and where the curb cut would be placed. Review? No... I was expected to DESIGN their parking lots! My boss really wants these projects to go, and I don't want some screwy configurations, so I did it.

    The worst part? The developer kept wanting to "help" me design. I assured her that engineering practice would not allow for her suggestions... *eye roll*

    The best part? The conference room is air conditioned, and my office isn't... And the developer was a very pretty young lady.

    So, a 3 hour meeting that was supposed to be 1/2 an hour.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  10. #10
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Crazy Lady: I have several thousand squirrels in my tree, what is the city going do about it.

    Me: Several Thousand? Is it a walnut, hickory ect?

    CL: No its a Maple

    Me: We cannot help you

    CL: I was going to put rat posion in the nuts

    Me: Don't do that, the DNR will object to killing squirrels

    CL: DNR?

    Me: Department of Natural Resources

    CL: Maybe I should call them?

    Me: Yes! That is a Great idea!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Back in the 1900's

    Way back before Y2K we had a guy dressed in a homemade milita uniform come into the office and ask me to draw on his map where the 100 meridian was. He and his friends wanted to ambush the bullet train that would be brining the Red Chinese/UN troops in to America's heartland. The rail line was going to go over the north pole and down the 100th meridian.

    This was in November of 1999. I told him that the Red Chinese/UN had yet to file for a zoning permit to lay the tracks for their railroad and that I would delay their application until May of 2001 to give his guys a chance to arm themselves sufficiently.

    Fighting Communism with Communism.

    True Story.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Re: Back in the 1900's

    Originally posted by El Guapo
    I told him that the Red Chinese/UN had yet to file for a zoning permit to lay the tracks for their railroad and that I would delay their application until May of 2001 to give his guys a chance to arm themselves sufficiently.
    I understand that due to logistical problems and permit delays, China has abandoned this plan. I have heard talk of a tunnel....

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Re: Re: Back in the 1900's

    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf

    I have heard talk of a tunnel....
    See the "underground zoning" post (I think from nerudite?) from the other day.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    A woman called the office where I used to work and asked me if I could tell her whether the herb growing in her yard was extinct. I conferred with the other staff, and we agreed to refer her to the Cooperative Extension Service to get the answer.

    You can't keep a good call like that to yourself!

  15. #15
          Downtown's avatar
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    KMS - maybe she was smoking some of that "herb" before she called!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by kms
    A woman called the office where I used to work and asked me if I could tell her whether the herb growing in her yard was extinct. I conferred with the other staff, and we agreed to refer her to the Cooperative Extension Service to get the answer.

    You can't keep a good call like that to yourself!
    if it was extinct...it's not anymore...
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  17. #17

    Registered
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    Westerly, Rhode Island
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    CIA Cameras

    This fellow comes into my office while I'm digitizing maps and we have a reasonable discussion about GIS for about 10 minutes. He then states that he's got a camera in his nose, planted there by the CIA, and that the CIA controls his movements. I cannot see this camera and say so, causing him to become quite animated. Something about me being part of the conspiracy. I want to run away but he's between me and the door. Fortunately, his mother comes by and leads him away. Turns out he lives at home and is on medication, but escaped from his mother when he accompanied her to town hall to pay taxes.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    It's shed week here!

    Interested Party: I want to buy a house at [address]. Can you tell me if the shed is legal.

    Planning Secretary. *pulls property file* "We don't have any record of a shed at that address. It's either very old, or they didn't get a permit.

    I.P.: "If they get a permit will it be legal where it is?"

    P.S.: "t's not shown on their survey. The survey submitted for the permit application will have to depict its location and the requirements are [blah blah blah]."

    I.P.: *blank stare* "So... if they get a permit it will be legal where it is."

    P.S. : "You still didn't tell me where it is. I'm just telling you where it can be."

    I.P.: "So you can't tell me if it's legal?"

    P.S. : "Not till you tell me where it is."

    I.P.: "I TOLD YOU. It's at [address]."

    P.S.: "Let me get our Zoning Administrator, Mr. Who."

    I.P.: "Who?"

    P.S. *giggles* "Yes"

  19. #19
          Downtown's avatar
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    wow - a Laurel and Hardy skit to boot!

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