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Thread: Code enforcement vs. planning

  1. #1
    Mar 2007
    Los Angeles, CA

    Code enforcement vs. planning

    Hola all, I've been interviewing the past few months for various planning positions and have made it to second interviews, but haven't been offered a position. I was however offered a position as a community improvement coordinator for a local city...it's basically the code enforcement position, but the city is rather small and this position is the only one of it's kind...and answers to the director of planning. would this be a step back for my career as a planner? or would the experience be worth it when applying for positions as a city planner later? thanks!

  2. #2
    Feb 2002
    Its a fact of life for most planners that at some point code enforcement will be on your job description. And its also a necessary implementation tool.

    However, its a job that's not that easy.

    Planners (and most government employees) are not taught how to be "regulatory."

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
    Aug 2001
    Working in a Vulnerable Location
    I began my planning career in code enforcement. It was a foot in the door during an economic downturn when California planning jobs were few and far between. I bolted from it at my first opportunity.

    I say take the job, pay your dues, and start looking for something else right away.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  4. #4
    Dec 2006
    It depends on what you want to do as a planner. The majority of land use planning positions (as opposed to economic development, international planning, historic preservation planning, etc.) involves some element of code enforcement. In some communities, long range planning (planners who work with comprehensive planning, transportation studies, downtown plans) might be a notch up from the current planners. In this specific case, the long range planners already understand how the planning process works in their community and their experience helps guide them creating comprehensive plans and other plans.

    Code-enforcement accounts for about 60-70 percent of my workload. I do review work for 8 communities (and a few others once in a blue moon). However, about 90-95 percent of the reviews focus in landscape plan review. So I review project sites for parkway trees, buffer yards, foundation landscaping, parking lot landscaping, and stormwater woody plant landscaping. Instead of juggling a dozen or so project sites from beginning to end, I juggle over a hundred landscpape reviews from the 8+ communities at any given time.

    IMO, code enforcement can be extremely boring at times. However, I think it's important to understand how each community interprets the zoning ordinance standards and requirements. I am planning on going back to school in a few years to work on an LA degree, so I am gaining valuable experience with my knowledge of plant material. I hope when I re-enter the work force after grad school as an LA/planner, my site plans and landscape plans will hold up to greater scrutiny by the communities I am contracted by because I know what to look for within the zoning ordinance(s).

    Hope this helps-

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