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Thread: Is small / limited government compatible with planning?

  1. #1

    Is small / limited government compatible with planning?

    It goes without saying that over the last year or two everybody's been touting the praises of smaller, limited government. Many Americans feel that government has gotten too big, too cumbersome, and most importantly too expensive. There's a growing right-wing sentiment in this country and it seems more and more plausible every day that in the foreseeable future, we will see government in America (at the federal, state, and local levels) trim the fat and cut spending, which of course they've already been doing for some time now, but it seems like this will happen even more so in the future than it is now.

    My thing is this - the more and more I think about the incredible debt that America is now facing, the more unrealistic it seems that America will give planning any sort of priority. There's stimulus money floating around that's going to support the planning and construction of a few highway and transit projects around the country, but that's only temporary. Stimuluses (or is that stimuli?) cannot continue forever, and at some point spending will have to be cut. It seems to be that most Americans (including those in government) regard planning as some sort of luxury, something that government does but is not necessary compared to say, police and fire departments. Obviously I don't agree with this but all I'm saying is that if this is the public perception, it looks like planning is in trouble. Most planners work in the public sector so this obviously poses a threat to their careers and opportunities. But even if a bunch of planners just made the shift to the private sector............who's to say that that's any better? After all, private consultants simply operate under contracts to local governments to do the same work that a local planning department would do. A municipality would still have to pay for planning services. My point is, in this economy, do people consider planning necessary and will a smaller, more limited government role in America mean that planning jobs will be cut and perhaps even eliminated altogether?

    Furthermore, I personally think that fiscal conservatism and responsibility is most certainly needed in America, but I'm afraid to voice support of the right-wing's attempt at smaller government frankly because I'm afraid that in essence I will be voicing support for the demise of the very field I worked five years to earn a degree in. Any thoughts on that?

    Let's get a good, serious, and most importantly honest, discussion here. Can planning survive (and more importantly, thrive) in an America with smaller, more limited government at the federal, state, and local levels? Can planning be shifted to the private sector in such a society? What if society becomes more libertarian and people begin asserting government ought to have limited rights in addition to having limited budgets?

    I'm enrolling in an MCRP program in the fall and have been contemplating getting a dual degree in Public Policy and/or GIS certification because to be honest, I don't have too much faith in the market to pick back up in two years. It doesn't look like things are going to bode well for planning at this point, at least in the foreseeable future. I would love for someone to prove me wrong, but this is just what I've been observing lately. Any feedback or criticism appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Small, limited government is not a new concept. It was a cornerstone to the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution. It is also a political word used to stir emotion. The federal bureacracy has significanty increased in size over the past 100 years. The Supreme Court used to be in a chamber in the US Capitol. The number of cabinet members has multiplied more than tenfold since the Civil War. We now have a US Trade Representative, the Administrator of the EPA, etc. What is argued by the lawmakers on the floor or the would-be lawmakers at town hall meetings, county fairs, and fundraisers bares little resemblance to the actual day-to-day workings of federal government. Past admiistrations, both democrat and republican, have vowed to chip away at the bureaucracy. Usually, this is restructuring an agency, creating a new department, etc. The existing federal infrastructure is one giant mess that has existed for decades. I heard horror stories about the mess in the Minerals Management Service years before the BP Oil Spill, so it came to me as no surprise.

    Despite promises, the federal government does not need to balance its budget. That is why we have a deficit and a national debt. We just print more money. This is very different from state and local governments who have to balance the budgets. Layoffs are not impossible in the federal government but I think it's far more difficult to cut people out than at the state and local levels.

    Planning is not a national priority. It never will be. That isn't good or bad, but it's high time that planners realize that they are NOT the most important workers in government. Our profession is fueled by new residential construction. We haven't seen that on a national scale since the middle of the last decade and it will several years before we even see growth on a modest scale. Because we are so dependent on an industry that swings back and forth, we will always be shortsighted. I don't really see a solution because there isn't one. Big government or small government, public or private, I think there are a few keys to success for planners: (1) willingness to learn new skills, regardless of their relation to planning (2) flexibility in relocation.

    The next decade will see more and more professionals entering the planning profession from other career paths. I think we will see steady growth in the number of planners entering the profession, but there will still be far fewer jobs, even as the planning industry recovers (which is AFTER everyone else recovers). Municipalities, counties, COGs are going to be very reluctant to build at the same scale prior to the bubble. Bond ratiings have been slashed making it harder for everyone to borrow. Yes, this means that there will be fewer jobs overall. Again, I don't think there is an easy solution. In the past three decades, plan commissions across the country were turning into money-making machines that processed permits, fueling new growth that led to a ton of money in property and commercial taxes for communities. As more and more permits were processed there was a greater demand for planners. If planners were too busy processing permits, then the long-range work and other projects would be handed off to consultants. So many of us saw dollar signs everywhere that we quickly forgot that plan commissions and other advisory bodies did not exist to make money. I think many of these bodies will return to more humble roots over the next decade.

    If there is any silver lining in small, limited government it is strengthening the property/individual rights of land owners at the expense of the communities. There may be more opportunities for planenrs to work for developers, not public sectors or consultants. However, developers are also the first to lay off workers and I think many planners, especially public sector, would have a very hard time adapting to the very different work environment of developers.

    As for me, I am very grateful to be working right now as a planner, but I predicted this mess back in the early 2000s and I don't think it's going to get much better for the next decade or so. I will probably work for a few more years in planning and then go back to school and do something entirely different (right now finance or accounting seems very good for me ). I would do law but that is too expensive and wayyyy to competitive. I just don't see too much stability in the profession long term.

    Hope this helps-
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    You ask the toughest question of all: do we vote for what is good for the country/state/city or what is good for us personally? I don't know the answer. I am more fiscal conservative than not and I also see the challenges you describe. As an example, if I personally disagree with the state borrowing money for unemployment benefits because it will cost more in the long run do my feelings change if I were to become unemployed?

    Planning is such a unique profession that unless we collectively go "out there" and show the public what we do they won't see a need for it. No one needs the person in the back office whom they never see; they need unlimited fire fighters to put out bimonthly fires (because people can SEE fire trucks driving around). The hidden part of planning is the economic and community development aspect that benefits the entire community. We need to hold public meetings about where we are and where we want to go, hold public meetings showing we do more than determining land use for a project 20 years down the road, etc.

    In short, I don't know the answer to your question. Everyone thinks their job is the most important and people start to put up walls when the axe man starts looking for victims. For the most part we can't change what happens so let's live with it and stay the course with a smile on our face.

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Small, limited government is not a new concept.
    I agree completely. I think that this is really just another way of saying that we are extremely good at finding ways to spend money. I think that it is probably a tough sell to tell anyone right now that a FAT, HUGE government is what is needed (except maybe Barney Frank...). I don't think that rational people (this is the HUGE caveat) really think that government needs to get smaller per se, but rather more efficient. This is why I completely disagree with this statement...

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Planning is not a national priority. It never will be. That isn't good or bad, but it's high time that planners realize that they are NOT the most important workers in government.
    Well I agree with the first part at least, but not the second part whatsoever. Maybe I am an optimist, but I do not believe that we will see the end of our lives before the United States realizes the benefits of organizing and planning out the future better. Many of the fiscal issues we have are related to poor future planning efforts. This also is part of the efficiency equation.

    My question would be, who is the most important worker in government? If you honestly believe that most governments can work without a planning department, then I have never worked where you have. Almost all dealings in the communities that I have been involved with goes through the Planning department or planners - Economic development, redevelopment, future planning, growth, and yes building permitting. But I would not say in the least that my work depends on residential construction at all. I would imagine that you would find that many city, township, and country administrators are either planners in background, or have once been a planner.

    I see cities in the future looking inward, as growth becomes less of a priority and quality of life issues take a more forward seat. This is where planners will become much more successful. I think there will be much less niche planners, and much more do this and that planners (kind of like going back to 1970). We will be asked to create a sense of place in our communities, and work to keep the area viable through economic development practices and creative financing. The streamlining of the new "Smaller" government will be painful to the GIS people, specific niche planners, and other similar parts of government that may make sense in a time saving sense, but not an economic savings sense.

    In the end, I think we will go back to how were have always been - this is just another phase. In 10 years we will be living like we were in the 1990's and there will be very little of the effects of what Obama or Bush did. Little or Big government goes in waves... just my opinion.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    If there is any silver lining in small, limited government it is strengthening the property/individual rights of land owners at the expense of the communities. There may be more opportunities for planenrs to work for developers, not public sectors or consultants. However, developers are also the first to lay off workers and I think many planners, especially public sector, would have a very hard time adapting to the very different work environment of developers.
    I will echo nrschmid's sentiments above. True private sector planning will become more important (i.e. working for developers or non-profits as opposed to what is in essence being government contractors). However, even with the limited-government mentality, it's hard to argue against working utilities, transportation networks (even if it's less transit, more roadways, what-have-you), and emergency management planning. Those are just as essential as police and fire departments. Federal, state, and local planning will still exist, it will just shift back to these fundamentals. In essence, the public sector will be working more with civil engineers and administrators, and the private sector will be working more with architects, structural engineers, and investors/businessmen. This sort of divide is already somewhat apparent, but the divide would become even stronger in a limited-government environment.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    My question would be, who is the most important worker in government? If you honestly believe that most governments can work without a planning department, then I have never worked where you have.

    Probably defense, security, and emergency (military, police, fire, US Marshalls, prison guards, customs officials, FEMA). I would probably also place physicians and medical staff, especially for emergency response and staffing government-funded behavioral health facilities and nursing homes either at the same level or right beneath it.

    There are tens of thousands, if not more, local governments who can function without a planning department AND many of them do some sort of planning, whether it is processing permits, updating a zoning ordinance (with assistance from their contracted city attorney), or plan commissions who write their comprehensive plans themselves. Granted, many of these are rural communities but planning is NOT a necessity in the same way police or fire are.


    But I would not say in the least that my work depends on residential construction at all. I would imagine that you would find that many city, township, and country administrators are either planners in background, or have once been a planner.

    I should have rephrased. Planning at-large is primarily fueled by new construction. Yes, there are plenty of planners who do not directly work on projects driven by new construction, but I think the health of residential construction is one of the more important indicators that measures the health of several planning specialities, even if indirectly. For example, smaller growth or no growth of residential construction in a region leads to a significant drop in property taxes. With fewer people moving into a growing area (non-landlocked) there is less of a demand for other amenities/services (commercial, office, retail). As a result, commercial and non-residential revenue will then drop off. Less property taxes means less money for schools. Fewer commercial and non-residential demand leads to greater challenges for economic development workers. Fewer building permits processed by cities leads to less revenue for municipalities. General operating funds decreases, making it more challenging to pay back general obligation bonds or seek new bonds for new CIPs. It is very cylical.

    Our country is seeing very slow but steady growth and this will continue for the next few years. However, recovery at the national, state, and regional levels does not equate to recovery for planners. We recover at the very tail end of the recovery. Businesses expand by hiring more workers. We still haven't seen many companies doing this yet. Once more companies are confident in hiring full time employees for the long-term, staffs will grow. Keep in mind, companies are more likely to use existing capital (existing office space or telecommuniting) to keep overhead down. It will be a very long time before these businesses are bursting at the seems that they need to actually BUILD new commercial buildings. Once more and more commercial and office buildings are built and workers have to travel greater distances for their jobs, there will be a renewed demand for new residential construction. New homes lead to new property taxes, greater demand for new school construction, new strip mall and regional commerical to support these new homes, etc., and THEN more a demand for more planners to review new development proposals. I don't see this happening in many areas for at least 2-4 years at the very least.

    No, I don't think we will be more sustainable or get rid of strip malls amd large lot residential. Yes, it is nice arguing about the merits of other living patterns, but I think we are just going to return to the old way of doing things, but that isn't bad either
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Small, limited government is not a new concept. It was a cornerstone to the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution. It is also a political word used to stir emotion. The federal bureacracy has significanty increased in size over the past 100 years. The Supreme Court used to be in a chamber in the US Capitol. The number of cabinet members has multiplied more than tenfold since the Civil War. We now have a US Trade Representative, the Administrator of the EPA, etc. What is argued by the lawmakers on the floor or the would-be lawmakers at town hall meetings, county fairs, and fundraisers bares little resemblance to the actual day-to-day workings of federal government. Past admiistrations, both democrat and republican, have vowed to chip away at the bureaucracy. Usually, this is restructuring an agency, creating a new department, etc. The existing federal infrastructure is one giant mess that has existed for decades. I heard horror stories about the mess in the Minerals Management Service years before the BP Oil Spill, so it came to me as no surprise.

    I would argue that government has gotten bigger out of NECESSITY because society has become more complex and industrialized. The more people live near each other, the more their actions affect others. Since it's only natural for a free-market society to become urbanized since cities themselves are devices used to maximize the efficiency of an economy and its composite industries, it's only natural that planning would exist in the 20th and 21st century, and not in agarian, 18th century, primitive America. So I personally think that while government certainly needs to spend less, it cannot ever revert back to the truly tiny government of our early days. There's a need for laws, rules, and regulations today that wasn't there 200 + years ago. Some of this is because of greater awareness about very real issues that affect us that we didn't care about back then (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency) and some of this is based upon the civil rights for people that didn't exist 200 + years ago (Department of Justice and its adamant defense of civil rights issues, etc). So again, I don't think America ever CAN go back to being the simple, small government society it was at its founding, however, it can certainly learn to be more efficient as you said. It can certainly learn to spend less. And when the movers and shakers of government (politicians, lobby groups, etc) decide what will be cut, yes it seems like planning will be one of the first things to be cut, even though it shouldn't be. Stroksey made a good point - it seems like planning is a profession in which people have to constantly justify its existence, not because it shouldn't exist but because the general public is just that uneducated and ignorant about what it is that planners do.


    Despite promises, the federal government does not need to balance its budget. That is why we have a deficit and a national debt. We just print more money.

    I'm not an economist, but wouldn't printing more money simply make the currency less valuable? Isn't this what caused the extreme inflation in Germany in the 1920s in the wake of World War I? I know some say that federal government does not need to turn a profit; Keynes argued that when private sector spending is down, the public sector actually should pick up the slack and *increase* spending, thus justifying the need for economic stimulus (or stimuli, whatever). But can the federal government really just spend an unlimited or infinite amount of money? Just asking questions here, and I don't mean to get off topic but this is an important point I'd like to address.


    Quote Originally posted by Hink Planner
    The streamlining of the new "Smaller" government will be painful to the GIS people, specific niche planners, and other similar parts of government that may make sense in a time saving sense, but not an economic savings sense.

    How will it be painful to the GIS industry? This is an alternate career path that I'm seriously considering but since GIS is used for many different uses that have nothing to do with planning, it seems to me that it'd be a lucrative field to go into. The demand for data to be conveyed spatially and geographically seems to be fairly constant and looks like it will only grow in the future. Please elaborate.

  8. #8
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Probably defense, security, and emergency (military, police, fire, US Marshalls, prison guards, customs officials, FEMA). I would probably also place physicians and medical staff, especially for emergency response and staffing government-funded behavioral health facilities and nursing homes either at the same level or right beneath it.

    Granted, many of these are rural communities but planning is NOT a necessity in the same way police or fire are.
    I agree with emergency services - I guess I just consider these necessities, not in any way negotiable. But I am sure some people do, so you are correct.

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I should have rephrased. Planning at-large is primarily fueled by new construction.
    There are many parts of planning that are, and many that have gotten quite large because of it, but I still believe that at the core planning is not fueled by construction, but more by the development and formulation of policy and plans to guide whatever might come.

    Quote Originally posted by jazzman View post
    How will it be painful to the GIS industry? This is an alternate career path that I'm seriously considering but since GIS is used for many different uses that have nothing to do with planning, it seems to me that it'd be a lucrative field to go into. The demand for data to be conveyed spatially and geographically seems to be fairly constant and looks like it will only grow in the future. Please elaborate.
    I think that many of the niches like GIS will be much lower on the budget. Government would rather take someone who has knowledge in GIS, but can also multi-task in other fields. I am not speaking about people who do GIS with other tasks, more so those who ONLY do GIS. Who knows though, I am sure some communities would keep on a GIS person, to keep having maps faster than a planner or engineer could make it.
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  9. #9
    I may be repeating someone else, but I just wanted to throw in that many times government is forced to get bigger to take advantage of economies of scale to cut costs.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I may be repeating someone else, but I just wanted to throw in that many times government is forced to get bigger to take advantage of economies of scale to cut costs.
    I can easily see municipalities within metro areas amalgamating into smaller numbers of larger munis, but that does not at all equal 'bigger government' in the sense that the new cities' city councils might choose to provide a lower level of overall services. For example, in the planning office, they might decide to do away with nit-pikky levels of PUD and design review (how many pine tress vs how many maple trees and so forth), instead just seeing that they comply with a basic concept of 'Does it fit in?' and to make sure that the streets in the adjacent developments properly connect with each other and into the larger overall grid. They would also combine police and fire stations and patrol districts into more efficient units, combine administrative staffs, lay off redundant and/or unneeded unionized employees and so forth.

    It will be lean times ahead for non-essential public service fields.

    I also agree that the current spending is totally unsustainable, even at the Federal level (IMHO, Keynesian economics is a 100% total fraud and *NEVER* works) and that draconian cuts are inevitable. 'Printing money' (AKA 'inflation') is nothing but a confiscatory tax on ALL cash-based assets, regardless of ones' wealth level, income level or any other factor - it transfers the amount of value from the private holders to the government (the very definition of a 'tax') equal to the amount of 'new' money that was 'printed'.

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  11. #11
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    .

    In this day and age, there are virtually no means of controlling the "downstream" impacts of development, especially pollution, under a limited federal AND independent local government approach. When the runoff controls on abandoned surface coal mines in West Virginia fail, the pollution impacts might be felt hundreds of miles away. What are Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee supposed to do under such circumstances, go to war with West Virginia?

    The same question of "downstream" impacts applies at all levels. No court has the authority to simply order one municipality to stop development that draws business away from, or even increases traffic in, another. A strong government "overhand" is sadly about all that works, given people's fundamental interest in making money.

    .

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Except in the truley rural area, I see planning still being around. Every place I have worked, and these have been small government places, have wanted planning. The agruments primarily centered around how much power it had. Beyond this, they all realized the need for it. Further land use planning always has stormwater and floodplain management grouped in with it. Since these are federally mandated programs, local planning will always be around.

    As for libertarian land use control, in places not named Houston, Texas, it has not worked. At the end of the day, people will do what is best for their own property. They become concerned about the impact on the neighboring properties when the neighbors come at them with a shot gun. Land Use Planning ends up being the arbitrator for the conflcting land uses. People would rather have the big, bad government fight the battle for them.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I still believe that at the core planning is not fueled by construction, but more by the development and formulation of policy and plans to guide whatever might come.

    Yeah, but dusty plans don't pay the bills! It's still permits and property taxes, even if we don't directly work for them.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post

    As for libertarian land use control, in places not named Houston, Texas, it has not worked. At the end of the day, people will do what is best for their own property. They become concerned about the impact on the neighboring properties when the neighbors come at them with a shot gun. Land Use Planning ends up being the arbitrator for the conflcting land uses. People would rather have the big, bad government fight the battle for them.

    Yeah I'm actually kind of afraid that the rest of the country will become like Houston and say the hell with all the "Commie planners" and their "Commie zoning ordinances". Hopefully it will never be taken to that extreme.

    I once heard a planner from Montgomery (AL) say that "planners are the superheroes that nobody ever gives credit to", meaning that people hardly know that planners exist and yet if it weren't for planning, nothing would stop that sulfur plant from being built next to your $300,000 house. Nothing would stop developers from having free reign over a community, building whatever ugly monstrosity they wanted with little or no community say-so in the matter. So his point was well taken. No we may not be quite as important as the cop who's out there putting his life on the line to protect the public every day, or the neurosurgeon who saves someone's life during surgery, but we do matter and we definitely do our part to make our communities a better place, especially in an increasingly urbanized world.

    And Mike you make a good point, federal laws are in place that do mandate planning, on top of state regulations in most if not all states so I suppose planning will always be around in some capacity, it's just a matter of how much, to what magnitude will it exist. How much of a role will it play in a society seeking to cut back on government "excesses".

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    If you want to be valued, don't waste your time holding public meetings to convince the public. That's not going to happen. In private industry, employees are valued according to their ability to generate revenue. Overhead employees (non-revenue generators) are always the first to be let go. The economic role of government is to be a consumer and, while revenue generation is appreciated internally, the public doesn't give points for consuming with their fees, fines, or tax dollars. Planning/planners will continued to be needed because they help satisfy other government roles such as providing order and public protection but don't hold your breath waiting for the Hot Planners calendar to come out and be a big seller.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  16. #16
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    don't hold your breath waiting for the Hot Planners calendar to come out and be a big seller.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I think you made my point but perhaps I should have called it the Planner Hunks calendar along the lines of the buff firefighter/gendarme photo works.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    If you want to be valued, don't waste your time holding public meetings to convince the public. That's not going to happen. In private industry, employees are valued according to their ability to generate revenue. Overhead employees (non-revenue generators) are always the first to be let go. The economic role of government is to be a consumer and, while revenue generation is appreciated internally, the public doesn't give points for consuming with their fees, fines, or tax dollars. Planning/planners will continued to be needed because they help satisfy other government roles such as providing order and public protection but don't hold your breath waiting for the Hot Planners calendar to come out and be a big seller.
    I agree. Government has only so much money and power. As long as you have health, safety, and security isses taking priority, planning is always going to be lower on the list. Yes, you might raise public awareness of planning, but that's not always going to keep us planners employed indefinetely. Every 10-15 years another recession comes and wipes us out. However, it definetely helps if those in positions of authority (elected and appointed officials) either have planning backgrounds themselves or a stronger appreciation for planning. The landscape architects on land8lounge constantly debate raising awareness of LA, but there are the few of us (myself included) who argue that it doesn't matter when no one has any money!
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    [QUOTE=nrschmid;543511]Government has only so much money and power. As long as you have health, safety, and security isses taking priority, planning is always going to be lower on the list. QUOTE]

    I have always marketed planning in terms of health, safety and security.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    In the future, technology will increase safety, security, thru-put, and cut operating costs in half.

    Government welfare for the unemployed will swell with their growing ranks.

    This is the bargain gained by small/limited government.

    Some may not be happy, but so it goes.
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  21. #21
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jswanek View post
    .

    In this day and age, there are virtually no means of controlling the "downstream" impacts of development, especially pollution, under a limited federal AND independent local government approach. When the runoff controls on abandoned surface coal mines in West Virginia fail, the pollution impacts might be felt hundreds of miles away. What are Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee supposed to do under such circumstances, go to war with West Virginia?

    The same question of "downstream" impacts applies at all levels. No court has the authority to simply order one municipality to stop development that draws business away from, or even increases traffic in, another. A strong government "overhand" is sadly about all that works, given people's fundamental interest in making money.

    .
    This is why I don't think planning is really going anywhere--planning appeals to both big government supporters and libertarians; motivations may differ, but everyone except anarchists have a reason to support planning. From a libertarian perspective, the sole reason for government to exist is to prevent force & fraud between citizens. Land use regulation fundamentally exists to prevent neighbors from forcing negative impacts on one another and creating a predictable environment to protect individual investments (in addition to our health/safety/welfare mantra). Also, people avoid conflict and look to government as the arbiter of neighbor conflicts and setting policies to avoid the conflicts.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  22. #22
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Interesting topic. But I think that planning (I'm generalizing most government lands use regulations and planning actions as planning) has already gone way too far. We have FEMA demanding local governments and property owners do one thing, NMFS demanding an opposing action, Army corp demaning a third action that is incompatible with the previous two. Local fire departments and cities demanding other actions that complicate the ability to meet the other conflicting requirements. It is ridiculous. There is certainly a need for planning, and as one whose employment is tied to planning I sort of shoot myself for saying this- but we need to gtet rid of alot of the beauracracy.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Interesting topic. But I think that planning (I'm generalizing most government lands use regulations and planning actions as planning) has already gone way too far. We have FEMA demanding local governments and property owners do one thing, NMFS demanding an opposing action, Army corp demaning a third action that is incompatible with the previous two. Local fire departments and cities demanding other actions that complicate the ability to meet the other conflicting requirements. It is ridiculous. There is certainly a need for planning, and as one whose employment is tied to planning I sort of shoot myself for saying this- but we need to gtet rid of alot of the beauracracy.
    Don't get to nervous, it sorts itself out in the wash. It just takes a while.

    Besides, do you really want some inbred hick who never had a family member with disabilities unfettered by the disabilities act, deciding that local sports facilities don't need handicap facilities of any kind because there were no rules about it?

    The disabilities act worked itself out as most due. It applies to new buildings while allowing for some existing realities to continue. easy.

    As many bureaucratic issues as you can find wrong, you will also find very good regulations.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  24. #24
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    Don't get to nervous, it sorts itself out in the wash. It just takes a while.

    Besides, do you really want some inbred hick who never had a family member with disabilities unfettered by the disabilities act, deciding that local sports facilities don't need handicap facilities of any kind because there were no rules about it?

    The disabilities act worked itself out as most due. It applies to new buildings while allowing for some existing realities to continue. easy.

    As many bureaucratic issues as you can find wrong, you will also find very good regulations.
    .

    ADA is a great way to get rid of the old bars, since they also are required to comply the minute they change owners.

    .
    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Interesting topic. But I think that planning (I'm generalizing most government lands use regulations and planning actions as planning) has already gone way too far. We have FEMA demanding local governments and property owners do one thing, NMFS demanding an opposing action, Army corp demaning a third action that is incompatible with the previous two. Local fire departments and cities demanding other actions that complicate the ability to meet the other conflicting requirements. It is ridiculous. There is certainly a need for planning, and as one whose employment is tied to planning I sort of shoot myself for saying this- but we need to gtet rid of alot of the beauracracy.
    .

    Sounds like ur havin' sum coastal "runup area" issues...and wha' happened to the F&WS?

    .

  25. #25
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    My question would be, who is the most important worker in government? If you honestly believe that most governments can work without a planning department, then I have never worked where you have.
    Probably defense, security, and emergency (military, police, fire, US Marshalls, prison guards, customs officials, FEMA). I would probably also place physicians and medical staff, especially for emergency response and staffing government-funded behavioral health facilities and nursing homes either at the same level or right beneath it.
    I'm not a planner, just a student, but it seems like good planning could make policing easier, reduce proximity to pollution and things like getting rid of asthma-producing housing (saving the doctors some work) and make it easier for emergency vehicles to do their job. Aren't these important?

    And the comparison to national agencies is unfair. When you are saying that the military, US Marshal system, FEMA and customs are more important than urban planning all you are saying is that national safety is more important than the workings of a single town or city, which is obvious. However a national urban policy body, which is more on equal footing with these agencies, would probably affect more people directly than ridiculously massive military might (although that is a good thing to have). I am NOT advocating such a body, just saying.

    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    I once heard a planner from Montgomery (AL) say that "planners are the superheroes that nobody ever gives credit to", meaning that people hardly know that planners exist and yet if it weren't for planning, nothing would stop that sulfur plant from being built next to your $300,000 house. Nothing would stop developers from having free reign over a community, building whatever ugly monstrosity they wanted with little or no community say-so in the matter. So his point was well taken. No we may not be quite as important as the cop who's out there putting his life on the line to protect the public every day, or the neurosurgeon who saves someone's life during surgery, but we do matter and we definitely do our part to make our communities a better place, especially in an increasingly urbanized world.
    My half cent is to say that if planning is effective in what it is trying to do (and that must be a hard goal to accomplish with hands tied by the government and capitalism itself), it can be an extremely valuable aid to a city's wellbeing. If in the wake of this aid CREDIT IS GIVEN TO URBAN PLANNERS FOR THE DIFFERENCE, planning would probably be highly regarded within government ranks. If planning is ineffective or even revolted against as it was in Houston, or its positive effects get no recognition, then the odds are infinitely better that it will slip onto the back burner.

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