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Thread: Why are developers buffoons?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Why are developers buffoons?

    Inspired by the "Why are Planners and Developers Rarely on the Same Page" thread, I find myself wondering about the personality profiles of developers. Have you ever heard of that study that found the average corporation, if read as an individual, would be considered sociopathic? All of the developers I've known I would consider jerks, of varying degree. Pushy, demanding, sexist, racist, misogynist, obtuse..those are some of the words that come to mind in describing the developers I've known. I met one who was well-traveled, and that was interesting to me, but other than that he was an arrogant, chain-smoking (yes, I'm afraid I use that pejoratively - sorry, smokers) sexist philistine.

    How would you characterize the personalities of the developers you've worked with?
    Seeing Christo's Gates in Central Park on Saturday got me thinking about all the planning funding, and effort that had to go to making it a reality. Why aren't more people, posessed of an artistic vision like him and his wife, creating real projects out there. Regardless of your opinion of the work, it proves that you can realize a large scale aesthetic idea in this country. I wondered if the approach could be applied to development.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  2. #2
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Developers are just like the society from which they are raised. Some are like you describe. Others have been a joy to work with. I wonder if on the developer message board they have a similar thread concerning planners?

    Maybe you're just decribing New Yorkers who happen to be developers

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I would have to say 98% of teh applicants I've delt with fit some portion of your description to a T. eG is also correct that they just reflect the environment they are brought up in. Dealing with primarily "mom and pops" it is ever so clear. Retirement, man needs a $, forgot my glasses at home will you read me teh form please....

    The few large / "real" developers I've delt were not much better.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    All of the developers I've known I would consider jerks, of varying degree. Pushy, demanding, sexist, racist, misogynist, obtuse..those are some of the words that come to mind in describing the developers I've known. I met one who was well-traveled, and that was interesting to me, but other than that he was an arrogant, chain-smoking sexist philistine.
    Part of it's just gotta be the fact that you are cast in adversarial roles by virtue of your jobs. You - want him to maintain a ten foot landscaped greenstrip in front of his bowling alley to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces and add some beauty. He - wonders why you would insist on imposing some silly code provision which only costs money, takes parking and customers away from his business, and contributes little by itself to any aesthetic or environmental benefit.

    My guess is that a planner might be more inclined to overlook these sort of pushy, demanding, or sexist attitudes if observed in a peer.

    Nah, come to think of it all developers are a-holes. Probably because a person who values money above all will necessarily have those personality flaws/characteristics.
    Last edited by Maister; 22 Feb 2005 at 10:30 AM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I have a very biased opinion, because all the developers I have seen/dealt with out here value their bottom line over the appearance of the construction. Mainly I deal with the guys who are building "something this city needs..." or "something that will look great in the area..." When all we get is a metal building, or a three story monstrosity infill project that is too dense...
    ..wait this is bringing up some issues of why WE allow this... which I don't want to get into now and has nothing to do with this thread....

    On the other hand I dealt with someone last week that was upset because the features he was adding onto his Duplex (see Z Man's Location) were going to look nice and he did value his appearance of not only his buildings themselves, but how they compared to the older neighborhood in which he was constructing. He was building into an easement, but instead of scrapping his features, he is revising his site plan! Something I thought was good.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I've encountered a few decent, easy to work with developers over the years. For example, one that wanted a much wider buffer along the road than required by code, because his realized the value of the view for both customers and employees. Unfortunately, the "good guys" seem to be few and far between.

    My favorite buffoon developer is a big fat guy in this area, who likes to describe all his projects as "sexy". Makes you want to barf every time he starts that line.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I thought of something else.

    I also have been dealing with two real estate agents who are trying to get into the development game, problem is they have selective hearing, only listening to the maximum densities of the land they are interested in, and not proper lot sizes.
    Meaning: they will try to cram 15 duplexes (30 units) on something small like 2 acres...
    I told them they needed the required 6,000 square foot lots, and that they need to scale back their proposal... I promptly get "Well, we won't make any money on this project unless we have 30 units!"
    I really hate that.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  8. #8
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Part of it's just gotta be the fact that you are cast in adversarial roles by virtue of your jobs.
    Actually, I work for the DARK SIDE, so maybe I'm experiencing some cognitive dissonance. Maybe I want to bite the hand that feeds me, and lead it like Marley's ghost to the promised land he should be building.

    Despite the teaser thread title, I didn't mean for this to be simply hurling darts at developers. I was hoping to get some insight into the psyches at work. I've noticed that developers who do something interesting, smart, and attractive often own the land outright, like Robert Davis with Seaside and Kiki Wallace with Prospect New Town in Colorado. Then there is that internet gazillionaire you can read about in Planetizen who is doing a New Urbanist project in Atlanta with his own money. I guess I'm wondering why more people who rail about sprawl don't do something about it in the form of building an alternative.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  9. #9
    I just spent an hour-and-a-half with a developer on two complex projects he is in the middle of and I took about 4 pages of notes. He didn't even bring a pad of paper; didn't ask for paper so he could jot things down; and, didn't ask for copies of my notes. All of which would be fine if he had a photographic memory with total recall. I'm giving 3:2 odds that he calls before 4:00pm Wednesday to ask a question about what we talked about today.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
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  10. #10
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    Despite the teaser thread title, I didn't mean for this to be simply hurling darts at developers. I was hoping to get some insight into the psyches at work.
    Actually, I was only half joking in my response too. Certain people really are drawn to the profession based on them possesing certain personality traits, which enable them to excel in the field (maybe someone familiar with Myers Briggs typology could provide us with a EPJT or whatever). Successful developers must be able to manage people (i.e. get others to agree to their wishes) first and foremost. My experiences have shown me that these very capable individuals are quite skilled at role playing. As planners we tend to see only one or two facets of this (acting forceful or obtuse), but this role playing manifests itself differently based on who they are weedling. They tend to wear one face for planners/bureaucracies, another for folks in the construction end, one for the media, and yet another for talking to bankers and financers.

    As a general rule I think successful developers must have a forceful will, an ability to read people and a commensurate skill at exuding charisma when necessary.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  11. #11
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    I guess I'm wondering why more people who rail about sprawl don't do something about it in the form of building an alternative.
    Well, I'm not there yet, but that's where I want to be. When I started college, I had an idea that I either wanted to be a planner or an architect. I want to change the world for the better, so I thought here is where I could make a difference. Well, after a bit I realized that both those professions really have little to no say in what gets built. Except for "starchitects", you are just the developer's b****, while conforming to any mandated quality standards in a particular locale. Then you have planners who have more of an impact but ultimately are subject to politics and developers' whims. So, here I am finishing up my Business Management/Finance degree, someday hoping to bring about positive change in my community. Even if it's a couple row houses at a time.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have worked with many of them from a slightly different angle than most planners. I would guess about half are decent people who want to build something, and are very willing to listen to suggestions and incorporate them into their plans. The rest simply do not listen. They want to cut corners and build what they want, not what the city wants.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  13. #13
         
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    Real estate development is a very male dominated world. Like other fields, it does skew toward the macho type. A lot of developers I've worked with are incredibly male chauvantistic.

  14. #14
    Developers look after their own interests and don't nesesarily subscribe to the stakeholder theory. There is also a huge amount of money at stake which explains why they may be uncooperative if they feel their margins are being squeezed unnecessary.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    This is really the dumbest thread yet here.

    You know there are plenty of planners who fit the descriptions offered--i just find them more passive agressive by comparison. And we all know plenty of planners who demonstrate the so called power of the position. Are their bad developers sure, but their are bad planners, accountants etc...

    The question we all need to answer is why is it always antagonistic? And how do we make it better, at least from understanding each others' perspectives. We need to move on from the developers are a$$$$s bit. Its mud the planning profession has been stuck in for way too long. I'm not suggesting rolling over or not advocating good, sound, fair public policy, but until the process becomes more partnered, planners will always be sent to the sidelines when push comes to shove as they are seen by those in the development business as myoptic, bureaucratic obstructionists, eager to say no, but never offering solutions...

    obviously I am not a public sector planner, but was once...Developers are typically agressive, results oriented--often because TIME and money in the development business can make or break a project and they are the onces taking on significant risk.

    sorry for the rant...but i really believe the discussion above is the reason planners are maginalized...

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    Inspired by the "Why are Planners and Developers Rarely on the Same Page" thread, I find myself wondering about the personality profiles of developers. Have you ever heard of that study that found the average corporation, if read as an individual, would be considered sociopathic? All of the developers I've known I would consider jerks, of varying degree. Pushy, demanding, sexist, racist, misogynist, obtuse..
    The typical developer in Toledo fits this profile well. "Environmental Terrorist" should be added to the description as well.

  17. #17
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Even though I'm a public sector planner, I think gkmo62u makes some pretty good points. We (public planners) know that we're the only game in town and too often don't understand that others forces are at play. For some time now, I've done my best to put myself in their shoes (even when they don't have the best proposal and I warned them early in the process that things might not go so well).
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  18. #18
    Anyone see this Vancouver thread?

    'new' urbanism in a big-city context: vancouver

    It's stunning. Looks like Vancouver may have found a way to balance the needs of the developer and community in the form of the urban design and review panel.

    The result is something which exceeded everyone's expectations: beauty.

    The only thing developers complain about every once in awhile is Vancouver's fully legitiment height limit to protect vistas of the mountains for future generations. Other than that, they seem to be very happy.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    So, here I am finishing up my Business Management/Finance degree, someday hoping to bring about positive change in my community. Even if it's a couple row houses at a time.
    May the force be with you, more power to you, best of luck, etc.

    This is really the dumbest thread yet here.
    WOW! To think with this one thread, my first ever, I have managed to propel myself into the stratosphere of dumbness! Does this mean I may get an award at the annual Cyburbia awards banquet? Its so great to have one's efforts recognized. I mean, having my work published in a regional publication pales in comparison to this honor! Thank you for choosing me to be this vessel! It will only spur me to work harder. I have other ideas for dumb threads, such as "Rennaissance Fair People and Sci-Fi Convention People: The Same Crowd?" and "How do you Answer the Telephone?" I look forward to creating more dumbness-provoking threads in the future!
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  20. #20
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    Developers are typically agressive, results oriented--often because TIME and money in the development business can make or break a project and they are the onces taking on significant risk.
    It would be nice once in a while, before taking that "risk" they attempt to familiarize themselves with what the regulations and ordinances of the community are. I've had mixed interaction with developers. Those that take the time to do their research first, meet with staff before spending lots of $ on engineering, do well, and are great to work with. Unfortunately, those developers that do this are in the vast minority. Those that don't do their homework beforehand, have a tough time in the process, since time and effort is wasted revising plans that never conformed to the desires of the community as expressed through the master/comprehensive plans and regulations.

    PS....we've had waaaay dumber threads than this one.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  21. #21
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    PS....we've had waaaay dumber threads than this one.
    Roger that! I should know, I've started several of them!
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  22. #22
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    My uncle and his engineer wife were major developers, as is my cousin's father in-law. They had no problems, and could laugh at dumb regulations. In small towns, the issue is that there are no land developers, just homebuilders looking for a quick way to create building lots.

    At least once in our careers, each public planner should try to get a building project through the process. Do a dry run test of your regulations if nothing else.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    May the force be with you, more power to you, best of luck, etc.



    WOW! To think with this one thread, my first ever, I have managed to propel myself into the stratosphere of dumbness! Does this mean I may get an award at the annual Cyburbia awards banquet? Its so great to have one's efforts recognized. I mean, having my work published in a regional publication pales in comparison to this honor! Thank you for choosing me to be this vessel! It will only spur me to work harder. I have other ideas for dumb threads, such as "Rennaissance Fair People and Sci-Fi Convention People: The Same Crowd?" and "How do you Answer the Telephone?" I look forward to creating more dumbness-provoking threads in the future!
    A little defensive there buddy. The thread title is also suspect.

    Is it just me or does the title Why are developers buffoons? sound kind of arrogant.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    and really i was being more critical of the posts and less the originator!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Well, its actually more of my inner wiseass than being defensive. I am from NJ, you realize. It is a necessary survival skill here.

    Maybe it is arrogant, but if I can't be arrogant on Cyburbia, where can I be? I have to pretend that what these guys say is wonderful IRL, when inside I am cringing.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

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