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Thread: Planning in Florida

  1. #1
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Planning in Florida

    Aloha Cyburbanites,

    I am considering relocating back to the mainland in the next year or so. The most probable location will be somewhere in Florida. I was hoping to hear from my fellow planners currently or previously working in the planning field in Florida.

    Any information, opinions, suggestions, stories would be very much appreciated.

    Mahalo nui loa!

    TerraS.

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I moved to Florida in the middle of 2004 from…hummm….someplace in the Pacific northwest. It was during the boom times; lots of development, lots of job opportunities, state and local government budgets healthy. Oh, have the times changed. Some observations:

    - With our next budget, it will be two years since I’ve earned a merit raise or cost of living adjustment.
    - Like the environment nationally, the job market is either tight or non-existent. I recruited for an entry-level planner postion a little over a year ago (which I didn’t fill due to a hiring freeze), and received nearly 100 applications. Candidates included a PhD, applicants from all the big-named planning schools, from all over the United States.
    - Overall unemployment rate in Florida is currently over 10-percent.
    - Florida’s population decreased for the first time last year since the 1940’s.
    - Property values decreasing further hamper state and local budgets in providing basic services.
    - Salaries are lower than you would expect but no state income tax.
    - Strong state level planning agency but sometimes ineffective regional planning agencies.
    - State-level planning rules are more complex, generally, than other states, including California. Before I interviewed here, I received tutoring assistance from folks here on Cyburbia; to which I am eternally grateful. I offer you the same assistance.
    - And like Hawaii, you’re never more than a one hour drive from a beach.
    - It’s a good time to buy a house in Florida with low interest rates and reasonable housing prices.

    Hopefully, when the time comes for you to make a decision, the economy here will have turned around.

    Keep an eye here:

    http://www.floridaplanning.org/

    Gook luck.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  3. #3
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    RJ summed it up pretty well, state planning rules in Florida are very specific and specialized for Florida. Planning in Florida requires understanding these rules.

    As for the job market, its pretty bad, I left the state because there wasn't work and many of my planner friends are doing the same thing because they either can't find entry-level work or have been laid off. The private sector dried up quickly after the housing bust and the public sector followed. Hopefully things will turn around when you decide to make your move. Best of Luck!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  4. #4
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I know too many unemployed planners in FL.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  5. #5
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Hmm... well thank you for the cold, dry facts. I hope that Florida makes a swift recovery! Though times do indeed look bleak, I am a hopeless optimist. Perhaps in the rubble of a crumbling economy is my opportunity to shine.

    I was born in Florida, spent most of my childhood there, and both my mother and father were raised there - so I have sentimental reasons for wanting to return.

    Hawaii is, more or less, in the same boat. I am very grateful for my job, but I can no longer afford the housing costs and the taxes (which are going up again this year and next - a last desperate attempt of the state to balance the budget). Unlike the rest of the nation - home values here only dropped about 5% on average and have since recovered with the average time on the market somewhere around 3 months.

    Thank you all for your insight!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    so I have sentimental reasons for wanting to return.

    Hopefully you won't bring this up in an interview when you are asked why you want to work in Florida (which is a really hidden question gauging what you know about the job). I had a phone interview for a planning position in Florida about 5 years ago doing disaster relief planning. When the question came up, I played up my interest in Florida's concurrency laws instead.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 25 Mar 2010 at 3:36 PM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
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    "hopeless optimist" that's the best kind of oxymoron

    I've been looking nationally and there are a few jobs posted right now for Hawaii. They are all environmental planning jobs for large engineering firms.

    I haven't seen anything similar for Florida. I think there was one listing for the head of planning in a medium sized town. And I have seen some positions related to the recently-funded high speed rail line, but I think they were all engineering rather than planning positions.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Yes the new rail line is already creating a frenzy of economic activity - though it has barely started.

    The city and county of Honolulu has been posting requests for proposals for everything from TOD plans around the transit stops, to planning intersection exchanges, posting signs, etc. It has every local planning, architecture, and engineering firm in the state - as well as from the mainland - buzzing with excitement.

    It will be a great series of projects for the industry.

    LOL nrschmid! I wouldn't dream of bringing that up. My plan is talk about how great the Gators are!

    I'm not set on Florida yet... just exploring the options.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    ....My plan is talk about how great the Gators are!
    That's a good plan! says the gator planner
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    That's a good plan! says the gator planner
    TERRIBLE plan......says the Nole planner

    But as others have said, its a rough market here so good luck with your search

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    And let's not forget Hometown Democracy which may or may not pass. If it does then I'd say that the opportunities for land use attorneys is wide open.

    As far as what everyone else said about the planning field in FLA - I second it - it's awful.

    The public sector is laying off their employees left and right - planning is hard hit. The private sector is salivating figuring that with no planners on staff the field will be wide open for them to provide those services. The problem is that (1) competition is fierce (it's common for two huge firms to team up for proposals figuring a small piece of the pie is better than no piece at all and (2) there doesn't seem to be much planning work to do since the economy tanked.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
    (What Would Jimmy Durante Do?)

  12. #12
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    The job market here in South Florida is nonexistent. Lots of public planners I know have been downsized or shifted to non-planning work (if they are lucky). Many private planners have generally become unemployed or have been forced to work as hourly consultants without benefits.

    If anyone is considering moving TO Florida, I would think otherwise. There would probably be a lot of competition for the very few available jobs from unemployed local planners who are familiar with Florida's specific land development laws and that would work against you.

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