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Thread: What is the average day of a planner really like?

  1. #1

    What is the average day of a planner really like?

    Im really interested in this field but not exactly sure what really goes on... Can you folks clue me in?

  2. #2
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Re: So... what does a planner do on a typical day?

    Originally posted by OfficialPlanner
    Im really interested in this field but not exactly sure what really goes on... Can you folks clue me in?
    Post on cyburbia a lot... just ask Mugbub.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
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    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The Cheese State
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    The great thing about this job is its diversity. Mastiff is right - just look through the threads and see all of the different jobs we are not getting done. (Or maybe we are turning to our fellow Cyburbanites - even the Canadian ones - for advice.)

    Granted, I am more on the economic development side of things, but in the past week or so I have:

    * created a map of the city's aldermanic districts,
    * worked on a loan to an expanding business,
    * coordinated submittal of site disturbance forms to the DNR for an industrial building,
    * drew up a concept plan for a new entrance to a park,
    * had several meetings (businesses, technology zone, staff, etc.),
    * updated the profile used to market the city,
    * bought donuts,
    * collected and compiled photos and information on several businesses in town,

    and a whole lot more.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    South Milwaukee
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    Like Mike said, its always something new. Today:

    1. Met with a gent planning to redevelop a "brownfield" site in our downtown.
    2. Coordinated the "closing" of two new development projects (i.e. executing developers agreements, collecting fees, singing plats)
    3. Worked with my staff on a memorandum identifying blight conditions in a proposed Redevelopment District
    4. Attended and Presented the proposed Redevelopment Project Plan at Public Hearing.
    5. Completed staff reports for 5 items on next Tuesday's plan commission meeting, items ranging from sign approvals, to new development site plans, to park plan amendments.
    6. Completed the first draft of a developers agreement for a new 59 lot subdivision.
    7. Negotiated the value of a park dedication in lieu of fees.
    8. Updated our
    web site
    9. Reviewed a GIS data model prepared by my staff for monthly structure updates (gotta keep GIS current or its useless!)
    10. Prioritized code compliance inspections for my zoning adminsitrator
    11. Squelched rumors that Wal Mart is coming to town.
    12. Responded to about 1/2 dozen citizen inquiries

    Oh, by the way, today is a 15 hour work day. Not typical but not out of the realm of expectations too.

    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    The great thing about this job is its diversity.
    Hee. Mike, I just realized you've probably run across an old in-law of mine. I'll PM you.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 01 Aug 2006 at 1:44 PM.

  5. #5
    Very interest,

    I had no idea it was such a diverse field.
    I though it was simply reviewing site plans, traffic impacts and such.

    Do you spend alot of time in the field or is it just mainly office work?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Dispell rumors. I do a lot of that.

    Is it true that they are going to open up a Sam's Club out on the highway?

    No, that's in Muskogo.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    South Milwaukee
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    Originally posted by OfficialPlanner
    Do you spend alot of time in the field or is it just mainly office work?
    It's cyclical. Our Plan Commission meets twice monthly, so we're doing field reviews at least twice a month. A typical 40 hour week might me 3-4 hours on site(s). But ralre do I spend 8 hours in front of my computer either. It's always another meeting, another customer service contact, etc...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Location
    Edmonton
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    Today for me:

    Edited Municipal Planning Commission reports prepared by the two planners here;

    Researched sign codes;

    Developed development guidelines for CC&R's for a City-owned and developed business park;

    Sat in on a couple of meetings;

    Distributed new work to staff/set deadlines/etc;

    Put together an agenda for the next Land Use Bylaw Technical Committee and read over the minutes prepared by the office assistant;

    Responded to various inquiries throughout the day from adjacent municipalities and the public about a Municipal Development Plan amendment to move a future highway;

    Reviewed a proposal to do a major amendment to the City's Municipal Development Plan and wrote a memo to the director about how sucky it is (and now I have to meet with the developer tomorrow about said suckitude);

    Played cribbage with the engineers on break this morning;

    And uh....

    Posted on cyburbia.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
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    2,978
    The field/office time varies, and to a degree is up to what you want. In a large office, the entry level person is often given the glorious task of code enforcement, which is heavily field oriented. Planning for projects should involve quite a bit of field survey/observation (I don't do as much as I should). If you like getting out--you can. If you like the office--you can work that out as well by becoming known as the GIS, computer, or writing/editing expert. In other words, you should be able to find your niche and the mix that works best for you.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Mr. Cool Ice
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    I design grading and utilities in my spare time when not planning to pave over wetlands and destroy sensitive natural areas.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Sep 2001
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    skating on thin ice
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    My typical day involves

    1) Code Enforcement, my neighbour is doing something on hisland and won't tell me what, you had better stop him. True story.

    2) Answering questions about how property is zoned. "What I can't keep turkeys on my 60ft *100ft city lot?" True story.

    3) Reading other Zoning By-laws and Plans to see how to patch ours when I find errors.

    4) Helping other staff figure out how to make a plan of subdivision "work"

    5) Lots of private thought time on all of the above.

    6) Once in a while writing reports that will be acted upon, frequently writing reports to justify my existence/position that will never be acted upon.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  12. #12
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
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    3,175
    In addition to most everything else that was posted:
    * Working with the DDA Director on two different projects - trying to get a local historic district downtown, and upper story apartments downtown.
    *Planning Commission stuff - compile information, write recommendations, get notices published, letters sent, organize the meeting etc. etc. etc. Also do this for ZBA, Board of Appeals, Construction Board of Appeals, and City Council
    *Zoning questions and enforcement (writing lots nasty grams)
    *Administer an owner occupied housing grant for those between 60% and 80% of the ami.
    *I do my own budget/pay bills, etc. as I am technically my own department. My direct supervisor is the City Manager, and I am pretty much on my own, which gets me involved with a lot of different things.
    *Answer tons of phone calls
    *Compiling information on different zoning codes and fee's, since we need to redo ours.
    *Just got done redoing our master plan.

    That's one thing I like about my job - there's always something new! Like I said, I am the only planner, which lets me get involved in a lot of things. I don't think I would like to do 'just' site plan review, or planning commission, or zoning board. I've been here over three years and I learn something new almost daily.

  13. #13
    maudit anglais
    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Odd-a-wah
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    6,586

    A Day in the Life of a Transportation Planner

    I think I've gone through this before, but since you asked...

    6:00a.m. - alarm goes off.
    6:05a.m. - back up alarm (cat) goes off
    6:10a.m. - backup backup alarm (wife's cold feet on back) goes off. Get up.
    6:10-6:30a.m. - feed cat, shower/shave, dress.
    6:30am-6:40a.m. - breakfast
    6:50a.m. - out the door
    7:50a.m. - arrive at work. Plug kettle in.
    7:50-8:15a.m - make tea, read email, surf news, cyburbia.

    After that, it's down to business... Things I'm working on right now:

    * Functional planning for a new road link
    * Functional planning for future transit connections into a new development area
    * Reorganizing our development/project tracking/filing system (I like to consider myself the world's highest paid file clerk)
    * Review development applications and Traffic Impact Studies for the following: Background traffic growth, trip generation, trip distribution, transit impacts, pedestrian planning, Official Plan/Part II Plan issues. I co-ordinate transit agency comments on development applications as well.

    In additon, other things I do:
    * assist with area studies
    * provide travel demand forecasting services

    Hmmm...that's about it. It's an interesting job, most of the time.

  14. #14
    My typical day could involve any of these tasks:

    - Meeting with developers to discuss development proposals.
    - Meeting with residents, business owners, and others at our front counter and answering a wide array of inquiries
    - Making GIS or CAD maps for other departments or developers
    - Reviewing applications and writing staff reports for various proposals in the City
    - Drinking coffee
    - Checking on developments and other projects to see if they met all of the reuirements agreed to at the time of approval
    - Lots and lots of Neighborhood Planning (meetings, writing reports, data collection, etc)
    - Slowly implementing the City's GIS
    - Lots of phone calls, usually asking zoning or sign related questions.
    - Cyburbia
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  15. #15
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Apr 1996
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    New Hampshire
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    My days vary widely....depends on what's going on in town.

    Yesterday went something like:

    8:30 arrive at work, check e-mail and Cyburbia.

    Meet with public works department to verify conditions of approval were met for two project set to receive final planning board approval.

    Various phone inquiries.

    Prepare staff report on projects for that night's planning board meeting.

    11:30 Lunch

    prepare list of potential parcels to be included in an expansion of our performance overlay district (map, lot, owner, zoning, use....god I can't wait to have GIS again....a project that took 2/3 of my day could have been done in 20 minutes).

    5:00, take a break to eat some left over pizza.

    Continue preparing for planning board, generating a list of uses permitted in our conventional zoning vs. our performanc overlay, use ITE Trip generation Manual to list the trip generation rates for each use.

    7:00 Planning Board meeting starts.

    11:00 Planning Board meeting ends.

    11:45 Return home, kiss sleeping daughter and wife.

    11:47 Drink a Micheloeb Light, check scores on Sportscenter.

    12:15 Crawl into bed, trying not to wake up wife.
    "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

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 1998
    Location
    NOLA
    Posts
    4,468
    My days are rarely typical as they depend upon my clients' needs for that particular time. My agenda for today includes:

    **Check email...send responses, if necessary
    **Check Cyburbia posts
    **Continue editing a local jurisdiction's transportation draft plan
    **Send out a letter to a local parish president informing him of my firm's progress on his parish's land use plan
    **Continue working on that land use plan (final edits)
    **Contact sub-consultant re:brownfields projects
    **Lunch
    **Meet with local planners regarding the aforementioned transportation plan
    **End work day....begin real life again

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
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    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,829
    I have a fairly slow day today:

    Review development proposals for impacts to trail system
    Meet with engineers/landscape architect to draft 12-month plan for projects I'll be seeking grants for
    Meet with engineer to go over presentation on our trails system we give before a city council next week
    Continue research for strategic plan committee on corporate sponsorships and formation of non-profit entities
    Phone calls/citizen inquiries
    Register for upcoming conference
    In between...something will come up, it always does.

  18. #18
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Jul 1998
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    On the Mother River
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    4,598
    yesterday


    6:45 get out of bed
    6:50 Shower dress ect
    7:45 go to convieniance sore and get coffee
    8:00 arrive at office
    8:00-8:30 check email, cyburbia, freakhole( not recommended for work unless you happen to be the IT department)
    9:00 -11:00 Wrote minutes and reports agendas, ect for next weeks meetings
    11:00-12:30 Listened to old couple bitch about the parking ticket they got and how the parking meters are the ruination of the entire town.

    12:30-1:30 Lunch

    1:30-4:00 worked ongoing projects, interspersed with bouts of cyburbia

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The Cheese State
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    Do how much of your time goes into reading, research, seminars, etc. to keep up on legislation, practices, etc. I would guess I spend about 3-5 hours a week on this stuff, most of it outside of the office.

  20. #20
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Apr 1996
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    New Hampshire
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    7,684
    Originally posted by bturk
    8. Updated our
    web site
    Though obviously not this page....look at the upper left corner Brian.
    "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
    Hurray! I'm finally a student planner!

    6:00am alarming goes off, press the snooze button
    6:10am hit snooze button again.
    6:20am throw alarm clock accross the room.
    7:00am Wake up, jump in the shower.
    7:20am get ready for work
    7:45am catch the bus to the subway station
    8:00am - 8:45 am commuting time on the subway
    9am - Start work
    10am - Work on website
    11am - Discussions with developers
    12am Lunch break, meet with tranplanner
    1pm - Finding alternate access roads for infill development.
    5pm - Head home

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Dec 2001
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    Mr. Cool Ice
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    4,161
    Originally posted by OfficialPlanner
    Hurray! I'm finally a student planner!

    6:00am alarming goes off, press the snooze button
    6:10am hit snooze button again.
    6:20am throw alarm clock accross the room.
    7:00am Wake up, jump in the shower.
    7:20am get ready for work
    7:45am catch the bus to the subway station
    8:00am - 8:45 am commuting time on the subway
    9am - Start work
    10am - Work on website
    11am - Discussions with developers
    12am Lunch break, meet with tranplanner
    1pm - Finding alternate access roads for infill development.
    5pm - Head home
    Damn...if I could only be in school again...amazing how tough we thought we had it, huh?

    My current schedule:

    4:45 am...alarm
    5:00 am...treadmill
    6:00 am ....shower
    6:45 am....leave
    7:30 am....arrive
    12:30 pm ish....lunch....
    5:45 pm ish ... leave
    6:30 pm .... on the bike
    9:00 pm....off the bike
    9:15 pm .... home

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The Cheese State
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    6:50 - cardinal begins chirping, get up
    7:00 - shave, shower, dress
    7:40 - leave for work
    7:45 - arrive at work
    12:00 - work through lunch
    4:45 - CDA Board
    7:00 - Plan Board
    10:00 - get home, if I am lucky and the PB meeting is short

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    6:50 - cardinal begins chirping, get up
    7:00 - shave, shower, dress
    7:40 - leave for work
    7:45 - arrive at work
    12:00 - work through lunch
    4:45 - CDA Board
    7:00 - Plan Board
    10:00 - get home, if I am lucky and the PB meeting is short
    40 minutes to get ready for work?? Are you a chick?

    I can be up, shaved, showered, dressed and out the door in 15 minutes tops. Of course it helps to have a shaved head - low maintenance...

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    The Cheese State
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    10,040
    Originally posted by bturk


    40 minutes to get ready for work?? Are you a chick?

    I can be up, shaved, showered, dressed and out the door in 15 minutes tops. Of course it helps to have a shaved head - low maintenance...
    I've slowed down in my old age. I sometimes linger a little long in the shower, or eat a bowl of cereal, or iron a shirt, or shovel snow, or make up an excuse....

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