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Thread: Ethics: can planners own businesses?

  1. #1
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    Ethics: can planners own businesses?

    I am a new planner and I've been reading some great financial independence books recently. I feel inspired to buy assets that will put money in my pockets. My question to the Cyburbian community is: Can a Planner own a Business? Is it ethical to own one in the city you work in or is it better to own property, etc. outside the city? Are nearby cities okay? What about home occupations?

    What are my ethical limits for entrepreneurial endeavors? Also, what is the law?

    Thanks!

    Edit: Whoa! I have a lot of reading to do: http://www.planning.org/ethics/ethicscode.htm

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Re-doing my initial reply (which linked to the AICP Code)...

    Read the code, draw your own conclusions, then see if you still have questions.
    "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

  3. #3
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    The City Manager's Ethics Code states that they will not have a direct financial interest in local any businesses (excluding public stock and the like) and if they want to own a business it should be outside their jurisdiction. That seems like a pretty straightforward answer to your question.

    As far a home based business - I'm sure you would have no problems offering taxidermy or a dance studio but a consulting office may pose more problems. If you want to own real estate and collect rent that shouldn't be a problem as long as you have someone other than yourself sign off on all permits (if necessary) for upgrades or a new garage or something. Also, don't conduct your Business at work or it could be seen as government time for your personal gain. Notice the capitalized "B".

    Edit - not matter what you do people will criticize it and you for doing it but don't let that stop you. I think the boundaries are pretty clear-cut and easily identifiable.

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    What do you mean with the Capital B?

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Don't do credit check of potential renters at work. Don't make sales calls at work. Etc.

  6. #6
    BWharrie's avatar
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    My outside work as multiple property owner has enormous advantages to my employer, because I can exhibit a higher degree of empathy to potential purchasers and developers as they head into the tiger's mouth of big or mega debt. It is easier to have an objective and more understanding approach when you understand the loan stresses the applicant or potential purchaser is experiencing. Whilst I know that a persons is responsible to their own responses to a given situation, the stresses associated with owing millions of dollars or potentially owing the bank a squillion for a potential purchase must be recognised and empathised with. It does not mean they get approval for anything, but a more educative and subsequently informative approach can lessen the stress levels of the client dealing with the "planning monster"
    I only have one property in my municipality, so whenever an application arrives that is neighbouring then it is handled by a colleague that is of equal or higher status. This has worked well in our office where several professional staff are involved in small time property investment or development.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Avulsion View post
    I am a new planner and I've been reading some great financial independence books recently. I feel inspired to buy assets that will put money in my pockets. My question to the Cyburbian community is: Can a Planner own a Business? Is it ethical to own one in the city you work in or is it better to own property, etc. outside the city? Are nearby cities okay? What about home occupations?

    What are my ethical limits for entrepreneurial endeavors? Also, what is the law?

    Thanks!

    Edit: Whoa! I have a lot of reading to do: http://www.planning.org/ethics/ethicscode.htm
    Are you a certified planner? If not, the AICP ethics don't necessarily (I say necessarily because you may choose to abide by these as a personal choice) apply to you. Are you a member of APA? APA also has some ethics guidelines. Does your municipality have a personnel manual that deals with this issue? If you're not certified or a member of APA, work within the framework of what your employer allows and your own morals.
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Besides AICP ethics your state and/or community may have additional ethics codes or laws for you to follow. Best to check with an attorney or a representative from a municipal association or association of counties who might know your area best.
    @GigCityPlanner

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