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Thread: Would I fit in in California?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Would I fit in in California?

    Hi, I've been looking at two jobs in CA. One is in the north LA suburb of Duarte and the other is for Napa County. I'm born and raised in the Midwest, married but no children. Does anyone here have any experience working in CA (I know that's such a broad question)? Is it really competitive and would they shun someone with credentials only from the Midwest? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    First, you'll never know until you apply to the positions, so please don't be discouraged from doing so if you want to work in California.

    That said, you would be at a disadvantage relative to planners with experience in the state. And yes, the job market is competitive, especially now. California also has a lot of regulations that require planners - notably CEQA - so jobs are a bit more available here than in some other states. However, in this economy there aren't really jobs anywhere at the moment (and California was one of the hardest hit by the housing crash), so no matter where you apply it's going to be competitive.

    When the economy gets better, it will be a different story. There were times before the recession began that we couldn't find anyone to hire other than entry level. In that environment, unlike at present, I would have considered interviewing someone from the Midwest if they had qualifications beyond just entry level. We're probably still a few years away from returning to that kind of environment, though.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks. I have 5 years experience and thinking maybe it's time to try something new.

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    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    Hi there, I've met plenty of transplanted Midwestern planners over the years (I'm kind of from there myself, but started in planning out here). I agree with the previous poster about the current competition for job openings, it's been tough over the past couple of years. But it's always worth a try. My only advice is to make sure you are comfortable with the increased cost of living (depending on where you are coming from in the Midwest). I know that employers here in the Central Coast sometimes prefer to hire locals, thinking that they know how much it costs to buy a house here and are ok with that. They try to avoid hiring people who might move away in a couple of years to find cheaper housing or be closer to family. But good luck!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    What TARF said. Unless these are public sector gigs, then i am just going to be blunt, you are at a serve disadvantage unless you have previous NEPA/EIS experience. If this is for a private sector gig, than not knowing CEQA isn't bad, but you need to have a stellar portfolio to compensate. Cost of living is significantly higher, and the two places you have chosen to apply to are 2 very different locations. Napa County (assuming located in the City of Napa, is quaint, but very touristy with expensive housing and not a lot of amenities, but close to the Bay Area. Durate is a burb of Los Angles, vastly different city with totally different state of mind. This is 2nd time they advertised this job in less than 18 months. I applied back in 2010. That is telling. Good luck.
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  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    If you got the Napa job, you'd have to live in either Fairfield or Vallejo to find affordable housing.

    If you had more experience and wanted to go crunchy, Berkeley is also recruiting.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    Hi, I've been looking at two jobs in CA. One is in the north LA suburb of Duarte and the other is for Napa County. I'm born and raised in the Midwest, married but no children. Does anyone here have any experience working in CA (I know that's such a broad question)? Is it really competitive and would they shun someone with credentials only from the Midwest? Thanks!
    Yes, it's competitive... but no, I don't think you'll be shunned just because of where you're from. It depends on what the employer is looking for, and what you have to offer. From what I've browsed, the Napa position is supervisory, as opposed to the more mid-level position of the Duarte position. Just judging you from your years of experience, you would be more competitive for the latter position. Is CEQA knowledge crucial? Not necessarily, but do obtain at least a basic understanding of it... grunt CEQA work for a public planner would involve preparation of initial studies, notices, etc... Don't think you'll be jumping into heavy EIR analysis right away, especially for a mostly built-out LA suburb. They'll look for "current planning" experience... familiarity with General Plans, zoning ordinances, implementation of the ordinance, ability to interpret different uses, ability to do a site plan review and analysis, write a staff report and prepare presentations, ability to make findings against goals and policies, negotiate with applicants, provide good customer service, etc. etc. "Advance planning" experience would be a plus... Experience with drafting plans, writing ordinances, familiarity with Housing Element requirements... Be well-rounded, enthusiastic... show your knowledge, be personable, practical... all that good stuff you probably already know. Come for a visit. Give it your best shot. CA is enjoyable... good weather... stuff to do. There are many different faces to CA, but the diversity is part of its appeal. Good luck!

  8. #8
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I'm from California and worked there for a long time Review the comments above. I'm going to be blunt with you: in this economy and considering your competition, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell. That's just the way it is in the Golden State at this time.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    I'm from California and worked there for a long time Review the comments above. I'm going to be blunt with you: in this economy and considering your competition, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell. That's just the way it is in the Golden State at this time.
    I moved away almost a decade now for several reasons, this being one of them. In addition to there being 20M too many people there for the ecosystems and human comfort.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    I'm from California and worked there for a long time Review the comments above. I'm going to be blunt with you: in this economy and considering your competition, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell. That's just the way it is in the Golden State at this time.
    Plenty of people have successfully gotten planning jobs in CA, even in this recession.

    As a native Californian of many generations, I would politely ask those complaining that there are too many people to kindly leave. We'd love to have our state back. I'm sure you'll all enjoy Fargo and Omaha.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post

    As a native Californian of many generations, I would politely ask those complaining that there are too many people to kindly leave.
    The ecosystems can't ask people to leave. Who speaks for the trees that haven't been cut down for vineyard production or McMansions (or, in my family's case, the few remaining avocados for Martini Ranches)?



    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Plenty of people have successfully gotten planning jobs in CA, even in this recession.
    Were these planning jobs, and if so, were they public sector gigs? Just saying, those a very competitive to begin with. It is one thing if it is a private sector, or you have moved from the golden state and want to come back, but for someone to apply for a public sector job with no previous state planning experience or CEQA educational experience as an undergrad/grad, the chances are slim to none with such a great applicant pool out there. On the other hand it might be easier to break into this state with a private sector side job and go from there. Just trying to keep it real. I don't want to discourage applying at all, but keep expectations low and grounded in reality. This really goes for most out of state applicants. It is just tough to prove you will stick around.

    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post



    You would be my daughter's hero

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  13. #13
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post

    Off-topic:

    You would be my daughter's hero

    ;o)

    I used to have it mostly memorized when I used to read it to my daughter 3x/week. That picture got good response at a conference in FL last week, so folks remember!
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    I worked in CA from 1990 to 2010, for cities, consulting firms and as an independent consultant. After '08 things got rough; it will be awhile before they improve. CPSURaf implies that it might be easier to get a public sector job from out of state but in my experience on job panels for various municipalities over the years, even when times were flush, applicants from out of state had a major disadvantage. In addition to a basic knowledge of CEQA, in-state planners had a better handle on state housing policies, the mandated General Plan, and some of the aspects of planning that seem more prominent in CA than other places (such as the emphasis on design review). That doesn't mean it would be impossible.

    Regardubg Cismontane's comment: my roots go back a couple of generations in the state but that has absolutely nothing to do with the current state of the planning economy in CA, nor is it a reason to be pollyanish about the existing situation, which due to state and national problems that have been outlined in this forum extensively, is particularly grim in California. Good luck though, CA can be a great place to live if you can find work.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    The ecosystems can't ask people to leave. Who speaks for the trees
    In that case, maybe we should just make them leave. . And impose visa requirements ...

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    In that case, maybe we should just make them leave. . And impose visa requirements ...
    No one will pick all those crops, though, in those conditions. And I'm talking many more millions than just farm workers.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    No one will pick all those crops, though, in those conditions. And I'm talking many more millions than just farm workers.
    fine.. We'll provide an exception for agricultural guest workers. Hehe. Btw, My original comment was directed at those émigrés from other parts of the US who come to Cali to complain about us. I don't have any such problem with foreign immigrants, who generally love this place.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    On the other hand it might be easier to break into this state with a private sector side job and go from there. Just trying to keep it real.
    Quote Originally posted by buckarooster View post
    I worked in CA from 1990 to 2010, for cities, consulting firms and as an independent consultant. After '08 things got rough; it will be awhile before they improve. CPSURaf implies that it might be easier to get a public sector job from out of state ...
    Umm.. i said it would be easier for a private sector gig... just clarifying and solidifying my point
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Umm.. i said it would be easier for a private sector gig... just clarifying and solidifying my point
    I think that's right. All kidding aside, I do know quite a few people who've managed to find consulting jobs in San Francisco, primarily. Calgreen, CEQA and private climate change specialisits seem to be in demand, but a technical bent seems to be favored.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Calgreen, CEQA and private climate change specialisits seem to be in demand, but a technical bent seems to be favored.
    Yes, yet again CA leads the way and if I were to go back home there for some reason, it would be in the climate change area. CA will set the pace and folks will disperse out to the rest of the country from there. Good to get in on the ground floor if you can & do the analysis.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Yes, yet again CA leads the way and if I were to go back home there for some reason, it would be in the climate change area. CA will set the pace and folks will disperse out to the rest of the country from there. Good to get in on the ground floor if you can & do the analysis.

    There really isn't much work to be done in climate change, unless you work for an MPO (i.e., creating SB 375 plans). That is, there aren't many jobs at all in that area (for planners). For the most part, climate change simply means a new (often complicated) chapter in the EIR.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

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