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Thread: Understanding local government

  1. #1
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    Understanding local government

    Hello,

    I'm looking to apply to apply for jobs as a planner and I need a small basic overview. I graduated with a degree in history and sociology - so I understand projecting populations and some of the intracies of doing a consolidated or comprehensive plans, but I don't understand the larger concepts.

    I'm studying for civil service exams and I want to learn the basics of planning. Terms, history and how local government functions.

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Have you done any internships? Given the current job market, I'd recommend you think about looking into grad school. This will provide you with the basics and theoretical underpinnings you'll need. It's hard enough out there for planners who already have experience, let alone those who are trying to break into the field - so this is a prime time to be in school.

    Also, I wouldn't worry about the civil service exams at this point. You don't take them until after you're hired (and in my case, I'm still waiting for the exam to be offered this year).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Get a copy of the Green Book or the Job of the Practicing Planner from APA.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Get a copy of the Green Book or the Job of the Practicing Planner from APA.
    This is great advice. The specifics of local government change a lot depending on the state you're in. This book gives a good general overview.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    In addition to the Green Book of Planning, I would also add Planning and Urban Design Standards by Wiley. You can download one of the chapters for free from the publisher's website.

  6. #6
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    Thanks everyone, I'm sure to pick up the Green Book, as well as Planning and Urban Design.

    To give you a little more background, I'm currently an intern at a consulting firm and have done a lot of beginners work to projects (drafting narrative, creating tables, charts and facilitating visioning).

    A municipality recently listed a full time entry position with a civil servant test prerequsite. I've been studying for the test with a passbook and I'm not doing very well. While I can answer questions like "Which land use typically generates the least expenditure per dollar of revenue?" and "What is the definition of FAR?" I'm having trouble with questions like "In an ideal subdivision plan, what percent of land would be alotted to roadways?" or "Is four acres for an elementary school a suitable lot size?"

    Thank you again.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    If you're internship is with a planning/engineering consulting firm, they should be able to point you to some good resources for those type of basic design questions.

    For the entry level civil service exams in New York State, your best resources are found at the NYS Dept. of State publications website. Focus on the Coon Technical Series and the sections of the Local Goverment Handbook applicable to the type of municipal government (village, town, city or county).

    Relax - you'll do fine.

    Quote Originally posted by KangaroosRule View post
    To give you a little more background, I'm currently an intern at a consulting firm and have done a lot of beginners work to projects (drafting narrative, creating tables, charts and facilitating visioning).

    A municipality recently listed a full time entry position with a civil servant test prerequsite. I've been studying for the test with a passbook and I'm not doing very well. While I can answer questions like "Which land use typically generates the least expenditure per dollar of revenue?" and "What is the definition of FAR?" I'm having trouble with questions like "In an ideal subdivision plan, what percent of land would be alotted to roadways?" or "Is four acres for an elementary school a suitable lot size?"

    Thank you again.

  8. #8
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    Thanks SGB, I just printed the Local Government Handbook and some of the Coon's Technical Series.

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