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Thread: Your canned responses to commonly asked (ignorant) questions

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Your canned responses to commonly asked (ignorant) questions

    Inspired by recent comments on RTDNTOTO...what are your stock replies to some of the more common ignorant questions we planners confront on a daily basis?

    Let's start with the ol' "my neighbor's fence/tree/Jenga tower etc. fell on my property - whose responsibility is it to correct this situation?"

    Feel free to add your own commonly asked (ignorant) questions and/or responses. I'm sure there are several we all encounter.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Q: Why do I have to follow all of these regulations and pay these fees when everybody else gets away with it?

    My favorite answer: Oh? Other people are getting away without following the rules? Here's a piece of paper: Write down their name, # and address and I'll contact them. Then I'll tell them YOU referred them to me, and make sure they meet compliance. By the way, you still have to pay the permit fee.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Let's start with the ol' "my neighbor's fence/tree/Jenga tower etc. fell on my property - whose responsibility is it to correct this situation?"

    Feel free to add your own commonly asked (ignorant) questions and/or responses. I'm sure there are several we all encounter.
    Have you talked to your neighbor about this issue? No, you don't know how to coherently have a friendly conversation with your neighbor? Ok. Seek legal advice.

    What! You limit fence heights in the front setback to only 3-feet! Can i get a variance for that?
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Unhappy Citizen: "Who was the idiot that let that vacant building be turned into another stupid, crappy, chinese restaurant?

    ursus: "Uhm. I guess technically....I was."

    This is my canned response because I have come to understand (after being asked about a billion times) that they aren't really asking a question so much as looking for someone to hate.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Stock answer #1: That's a civil matter between you and your neighbor.
    Stock answer #2: Talk to your lawyer.
    Stock answer #3: The City Council passed the ordinance. Talk to them if you want it changed.

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    they aren't really asking a question so much as looking for someone to hate.
    Our taxes help support many worthwhile public services, not least of which is this. Too bad they didn't tell us about this in planning skool.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    Stock answer #1: That's a civil matter between you and your neighbor.
    Stock answer #2: Talk to your lawyer.
    Stock answer #3: The City Council passed the ordinance. Talk to them if you want it changed.
    Ditto, ditto and ditto.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post


    Let's start with the ol' "my neighbor's fence/tree/Jenga tower etc. fell on my property - whose responsibility is it to correct this situation?"

    "Ma'am, Indiana law says that if it lands on your property it's yours unless the government wants it, in which case they'll come get it. The government doesn't want tree branches. Now, if a satellite fell on your lawn, it'd be a different story."

    Je suis Charlie

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    I'm sorry. I can't answer that question. Let me refer you to ___________ and they can help you. The phone number to their desk is __________. Have a great day.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    "Actually, what I do is call square dances. I don't offer classes in pole dancing. The Red Barn, an adult place on 28th street, offers pole dancing. Good luck."

    (factual transcription, just said it a couple minutes ago)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    Unhappy Citizen: "Who was the idiot that let that vacant building be turned into another stupid, crappy, chinese restaurant? . . .
    Next time I guess you'll have to tell the applicant that you only approve applications for fancier non-Chinese restaurants.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 14 Apr 2011 at 2:38 PM. Reason: fixed quote tag

  12. #12
    Cyburbian LTKS's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    Stock answer #1: That's a civil matter between you and your neighbor.
    Stock answer #2: Talk to your lawyer.
    Stock answer #3: The City Council passed the ordinance. Talk to them if you want it changed.
    #1 was definitely my go-to for about 99% of the stuff I was called about when I worked for a planning dept.

    Call me crazy but, as much as we loathe the public, now having been out of it for 4 years I kinda miss it. While annoying and sometimes frightening, the public is generally entertaining and provided me with a lot of humorous stories.

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by LTKS View post
    #1 was definitely my go-to for about 99% of the stuff I was called about when I worked for a planning dept.
    .
    Those of us who have worked in the public sector know that ursus was only half-joking when he said some people call not to ask questions but just to hate on someone. His observation rings disturbingly true.

    Similarly, I suspect any resident calling with a "question" that warrants a #1 response, is probably not asking a question at all, simply trying to get government to fight their battles for them.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian LTKS's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Those of us who have worked in the public sector know that ursus was only half-joking when he said some people call not to ask questions but just to hate on someone. His observation rings disturbingly true.

    Similarly, I suspect any resident calling with a "question" that warrants a #1 response, is probably not asking a question at all, simply trying to get government to fight their battles for them.
    Oh, absolutely. I was the outlet for the citizens of Yuppie City, CA to complain about whatever was going on. I felt more like a psychiatrist than a planner at times.

    And yes, one of the most important things I learned while working in the public sector is that most people on this planet cannot do anything themselves.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    Q: Why do I have to follow all of these regulations and pay these fees when everybody else gets away with it?

    My favorite answer: Oh? Other people are getting away without following the rules? Here's a piece of paper: Write down their name, # and address and I'll contact them. Then I'll tell them YOU referred them to me, and make sure they meet compliance. By the way, you still have to pay the permit fee.
    Love it!! I get this all the time in my historic districts, and I tell them to call Code Compliance, because they have the ability to write tickets. However, I think I'll do it this way from now on. I bet the residents will be thrilled with my new approach!!
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This sounds like a specialized variant of Mad Magazine's "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions." I loved those!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  17. #17
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    My exchanges tend to be more Pythonesque, reminiscent of the Argument Sketch:

    M: Ah. I'd like to have an argument, please.
    R: Certainly sir. Have you been here before?
    M: No, I haven't, this is my first time.
    R: I see. Well, do you want to have just one argument, or were you thinking of taking a course?
    M: Well, what is the cost?
    R: Well, It's one pound for a five minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten.
    M: Well, I think it would be best if I perhaps started off with just the one and then see how it goes.
    R: Fine. Well, I'll see who's free at the moment.
    Pause
    R: Mr. DeBakey's free, but he's a little bit conciliatory.
    Ahh yes, Try Mr. Barnard; room 12.
    M: Thank you.

    (Walks down the hall. Opens door.)

    Q: WHAT DO YOU WANT?
    M: Well, I was told outside that...
    Q: Don't give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!
    M: What?
    Q: Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, maloderous, pervert!!!
    M: Look, I CAME HERE FOR AN ARGUMENT, I'm not going to just stand...!!
    Q: OH, oh I'm sorry, but this is abuse.
    M: Oh, I see, well, that explains it.
    Q: Ah yes, you want room 12A, Just along the corridor.
    M: Oh, Thank you very much. Sorry.
    Q: Not at all.
    M: Thank You.
    (Under his breath) Stupid git!!

    (
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  18. #18
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Salmissra View post
    However, I think I'll do it this way from now on. I bet the residents will be thrilled with my new approach!!
    I've only started the new job about a month ago and being that this and "Because I said so" are my 2 most common responses....

    My boss's reaction:
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I've found that from working in planning my questioning and investigative techniques have improved vastly.

    Caller: Someone said I needed to call your department.
    Me: Ummm, ok. Who told you that?
    Caller: I don't remember. Somebody but they said YOU would help me.
    Me: oook, I'll try. What were you talking about with that person?
    Caller: You know, my property.
    Me: And what about your property?
    Caller: The guy said I need to get something from you.
    Me: What are you proposing to do to your property.
    etc.
    etc.
    etc.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    Stock answer #1: That's a civil matter between you and your neighbor.
    This was commonly used by me as well.

    Also...
    For people who think the city/village controls everything within the city/village:
    "That's the county/township/utility company's responsibility, not ours. Would you like their phone number?

    For people who always want to know the inside scoop on retail center tenant lineups:
    "No new tenants have been confirmed at this time"
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  21. #21
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Citizen/Developer: Are you purposefully trying to cost me money!!!!
    Me: Yes
    Citizen/Developer: What?
    Me: I mean no.
    Citizen/Developer: What's wrong with you boy?
    Me: I don't know.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Sometimes I just don't say anything. The silence kills them.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    "Who are you, someone's secretary? I was expecting to speak to a man!" (from both men and women...) There's really no good answer there.

    Sometimes it's a bitch to work in the south.

    "Everyone else on my street got a variance to build a pool! Why can't I?"

    "Sorry, the rules changed." (And you missed the notice, you jackass...)

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