I make a big difference between the generalist planner and the jack-of-all trades planner (see previous post). I think both of them are still in jeopardy.
"This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
"M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."
You keep ripping local government planners but your claims are baseless. Municipal planners have to provide recommendations to boards and electeds, deal with high-stakes project issues, negotiate constantly, and have to have a grasp of all facets of planning (even some engineering, architecture, and law). On top of that, they actually have to deal with the public unlike consultants and specialists. This is hardly just clerical work.
Sorry, but you are wrong. I wouldn't be in business if all I did was cut-and-paste. While there are portions of CEQA compliance that does involve cut-and-paste, the majority of my time is spent in conducting site-specific analyses that are never cut-and-paste.
The very notion of CEQA compliance being conducted solely by in-house agency staff is laughable at best (except for CEQA compliance for agency-initiated projects, that is). Agencies require the developer to indemnify them from legal challenge. So to have the agency then write the CEQA document, do it poorly (as they would), then require the developer to deal with the resulting lawsuit would be anything but fair.
Also, if you think what consultants charge is criminal, wait until you see what the agency would charge for doing the same. In the private sector, we give a budget and live within that. If the agency were to draft the document, they would charge whatever it took, cost estimates be damned.
That's not to say that I agree with the "ripping" of public agency employees. They play a critical (albeit, different) role. Rather, I refuse to stand idly by while my profession is being ripped
Environmental planners are planners. Anyone who says differently works for the APA.
As far as local government planners, they are forced to be generalists, to have their hands in a lot of different projects at the same time, are at the mercy of the whims of their decision makers, subject to the politicization of the council-manager system of government, and generally get the short end of the stick on everything. I understand. But you still do mostly clerical bullshit. This isn't to say "specialists" don't do a lot of clerical bullshit, but generalists do more of it than others.
You are a glorified TECHNICAL WRITER, but if it makes you feel better to call yourself a "specialist" feel free to do so. I won't call you on it anymore.
I was going to write a detailed response to this, but it would be entirely off-topic for this thread.
Suffice it to say that you have a very poor understanding of CEQA, the CEQA process, what the role of the planner is in that process (both public sector and private sector planners), and what that means for planning in general (in CA anyways).
Proof that you work for the APA
Whoa, heated conversation! Just wanted to share and finally stop lurking.
After doing some hard thinking, I see nrschmid's point. In tough economic times, some firms or jurisdictions will cut costs by axing the planners and have the planning work done by the architects, CEs, or LAs. Sure, those people have some idea of planning but not the complete picture that we have been trained with; what it really boils down to is saving money. And when the economy does pick up, well... maybe the planners won't get rehired.
Maybe then, the CE, architecture, and LA programs will add to their curriculum a significant amount of planning education. I have already seen this with my grad school: I took a traffic engineering class, which was basically geared to teach the engineers how to write and make presentations. Only a couple of them acted like planners and were really successful, while the rest remained stereotypical engineers. Will it be these well-read engineers who will eventually take the planning jobs away from the planners?
Also, I've been doing transportation planning for only a couple of years in the public sector, but I do feel like a worthless bureaucrat because I move papers around on a daily basis. Only recently have I done some real "planning", but only because of some collaboration with private sector planners. Is my job relevant? Probably not, even though I'm considered a "specialty" planner. Although maybe that's because I work for a regional agency without doing any of the hands-on practice everyone wants.