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Thread: So we can't be negative, err honest, about the planning profession?

  1. #126
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I would like to argue for the generalist planner. As public funds dry up and downsizing hits all of us, would not the generalist be able to take on the tasks of the former specialists? Some detail work the specialist used to do has to go away as there are no funds to cover them.
    I tend to agree. A planner who can cover 80-90 percent of the possible needs, bringing in the specialists for detail work, is the best option for most communities with their own staff.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  2. #127
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I tend to agree. A planner who can cover 80-90 percent of the possible needs, bringing in the specialists for detail work, is the best option for most communities with their own staff.
    Except when the budget gets to that critical point where people start wondering if anything done by that generalist planner is really critical. The work by the specialists is critical and will always need to be done (e.g. CEQA compliance), whereas the generalist planning work is--hate to say it--mostly glorified clerical bullshit.

  3. #128
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Except when the budget gets to that critical point where people start wondering if anything done by that generalist planner is really critical. The work by the specialists is critical and will always need to be done (e.g. CEQA compliance), whereas the generalist planning work is--hate to say it--mostly glorified clerical bullshit.
    I guess you are entitled to your opinion. Just one thought: what does CEQA compliance have to do with planning cities?

  4. #129
    Cyburbian
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    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?"
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  5. #130
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Just wondering, do planners ever consider going into law as a land use attorney? I don't really see this discussed on this thread but it seems like another option to consider. (All kidding aside about attorneys in general.) I do think there's a need for competent land use attorneys since it seems like we only have one competent one in our area that everyone uses.
    I've been contemplation it for awhile. I was thinking of doing land use law or use a JD and relate it to another side of development. I think the problem, like most other professions right now, is that it's a big chunk of change to invest. 3 years of law school just seems like alot of debt, then you have to find a way to market yourself in a flooded job market. After all, planning isn't the only profession impacted by the 8-9 million less jobs. If you're development based, it'll be tough for awhile.

  6. #131
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I guess you are entitled to your opinion. Just one thought: what does CEQA compliance have to do with planning cities?

    In CA, CEQA has everything to do with planning.

  7. #132
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    In CA, CEQA has everything to do with planning.
    Which is why it costs an arm and a leg to permit anything in this state
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  8. #133
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Which is why it costs an arm and a leg to permit anything in this state

    Only an arm and a leg?

    You must work in the inland areas :P

  9. #134
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Except when the budget gets to that critical point where people start wondering if anything done by that generalist planner is really critical. The work by the specialists is critical and will always need to be done (e.g. CEQA compliance), whereas the generalist planning work is--hate to say it--mostly glorified clerical bullshit.
    I'm guessing most generalists worth their salt can handle the CEQA compliance stuff. And I wouldn't call someone who writes cut-and-paste environmental impact statements a specialist by any means. In fact, this is probably something that should be done in-house in order to cut costs. You and I both know that what consultants charge for this crap is borderline criminal.

    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.

  10. #135
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I'm guessing most generalists worth their salt can handle the CEQA compliance stuff. And I wouldn't call someone who writes cut-and-paste environmental impact statements a specialist by any means. In fact, this is probably something that should be done in-house in order to cut costs. You and I both know that what consultants charge for this crap is borderline criminal..

    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.

  11. #136
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I'm guessing most generalists worth their salt can handle the CEQA compliance stuff. And I wouldn't call someone who writes cut-and-paste environmental impact statements a specialist by any means. In fact, this is probably something that should be done in-house in order to cut costs. You and I both know that what consultants charge for this crap is borderline criminal.

    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.
    No, generalist planners cannot handle CEQA compliance. CEQA is a very large realm of planning and law, with specific requirements for each area of the environment, with standards of analysis and precedences that change weekly (a good example is GHG analysis). An in-house EIR/EIS? If anything is going to be cut and paste, that surely will. You simply do not have the time or the expertise to do it. It's not as simple as typing up an agenda for your council meeting. And what consultants charge is between the consultant and their client. As far as dealing with the public, who says consultants don't? Depending on the job, they could be doing all the public stuff. Depends on the type of work. As a "CEQA specialist," I took direct calls from the public during what they call the PUBLIC REVIEW PERIOD.

    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.

  12. #137
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    No, generalist planners cannot handle CEQA compliance. CEQA is a very large realm of planning and law, with specific requirements for each area of the environment, with standards of analysis and precedences that change weekly (a good example is GHG analysis). An in-house EIR/EIS? If anything is going to be cut and paste, that surely will. You simply do not have the time or the expertise to do it. It's not as simple as typing up an agenda for your council meeting. And what consultants charge is between the consultant and their client. As far as dealing with the public, who says consultants don't? Depending on the job, they could be doing all the public stuff. Depends on the type of work. As a "CEQA specialist," I took direct calls from the public during what they call the PUBLIC REVIEW PERIOD.
    The generalists must understand CEQA and interpret the EIS documentation in order to advise the boards/electeds on projects, no? why couldn't they write the reports if provided with the resources to do so (although apparently there are conflict of interest issues according to tarf)? I've written this stuff (although not in CA) and it's really just an exercise in box-checking and cut-and-paste. The only difficult work is done by the engineers who feed you guys the data. And don't act like the environmental rules in CA are too complicated that only the "specialists"/consultants can figure them out, that's bullshit.

    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.

  13. #138
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    The generalists must understand CEQA and interpret the EIS documentation in order to advise the boards/electeds on projects, no? why couldn't they write the reports if provided with the resources to do so (although apparently there are conflict of interest issues according to tarf)? I've written this stuff (although not in CA) and it's really just an exercise in box-checking and cut-and-paste. The only difficult work is done by the engineers who feed you guys the data. And don't act like the environmental rules in CA are too complicated that only the "specialists"/consultants can figure them out, that's bullshit.

    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.

    *sigh*

    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

  14. #139
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    The generalists must understand CEQA and interpret the EIS documentation in order to advise the boards/electeds on projects, no? why couldn't they write the reports if provided with the resources to do so (although apparently there are conflict of interest issues according to tarf)? I've written this stuff (although not in CA) and it's really just an exercise in box-checking and cut-and-paste. The only difficult work is done by the engineers who feed you guys the data. And don't act like the environmental rules in CA are too complicated that only the "specialists"/consultants can figure them out, that's bullshit.

    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.
    No response necessary. Your ignorance is self-evident.

  15. #140
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    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.

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