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Thread: Where is planning valued and encouraged?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Where is planning valued and encouraged?

    What are the best states or cities for planning jobs?Which states and cities encourage planning the most? Whether it be in mindset or actually by law. Cities are more obvious to me (growing cities, large cities). I'm most interested in transportation planning but this could change. My fiance is in med school and is applying to residency programs so I would like to also evaluate how the location of the program will impact my job prospects. Disclaimer: We've already ruled out every state in the south (Texas - N. Carolina). No offence!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally posted by RealStreets View post
    Disclaimer: We've already ruled out every state in the south (Texas - N. Carolina). No offence!
    I've been living in Texas a little over a year now, and I have to say that I'm surprised at the number of planning jobs there are out here. As is evident on the job board there are an abundance of openings at a fair salary. I had a lot of pre-conceived notions before moving here. Partly due to several anti-planning stories coming out of Houston, but it's not that way at all based on my experiences here thus far.

    Since Texas is ruled out, there were many public and private sector jobs in Illinois in the boom years, although I don't remember seeing too many entry-level. Things have definitely changed since then, but the Chicago area may be worth a look. I know a few people who have relocated to Chicago recently to work as consultants on the high-speed rail plan. I suspect public sector would be suffering up there though.

    I'm most interested in transportation planning but this could change.
    I feel that most people end up working in a different field than the one they specialized in grad school.

    Good luck on the job hunt!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I am a Chicago native who lives in Texas and I have worked in planning in both states (as well as a little over a year in Kansas). There are very few planning jobs to go around. Texas has a few more planning jobs than many states, but then again we have 4 metro areas within 200 miles of each other. Chicagoland is hyper-competitive no matter what the economy and I think it will stay that way (which is a big reason why I got the heck out when I did as there was no growth).
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RealStreets View post
    What are the best states or cities for planning jobs?Which states and cities encourage planning the most? Whether it be in mindset or actually by law. Cities are more obvious to me (growing cities, large cities). I'm most interested in transportation planning but this could change. My fiance is in med school and is applying to residency programs so I would like to also evaluate how the location of the program will impact my job prospects. Disclaimer: We've already ruled out every state in the south (Texas - N. Carolina). No offence!
    Washington State has a Growth Management Act and manages from top-down and bottom-up. Budget FUBAR makes it difficult on the ground, tho. As far as job prospects, there are hundreds of applicants for every opening, and will be for years, especially if either of these two presidential candidates gets elected and the crazy political party continues to act insane...
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for all your input. I went to grad school at UIC and had the pleasure of graduating during the worst years of this depression. I definitely know how competitive is there, too. Since then I've worked as a planner for a state DOT but that's about it and that sort of experience is most valuable in the same state and I'm no longer living there. Although the current Fed. transportation bill is an abomination, I still believe places and people will demand better transportation option and improved public streets. However, without the Feds footing most of the bill things might not get done. That's why I'm trying to find states or cities that seem to really want new transportation projects and be able to deliver them in the current economy (viaduct in Seattle or light rail in Minneapolis). Whether some of these projects are actaully worth it is a discussion for another thread...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I recently relocated from Illinois to Texas. The main reason was because of the economy in Illinois, with Illinois $15 billion in the hole planning is way down on the list of priorities. Texas is unique because of the huge amount of growth in the state. While Texas is a very pro-property rights state, there is some good planning going on down here. Some of the burbs in Dallas/Ft. Worth have really embraced planning, TOD, etc. The Houston area is home to many planned communities and some of the burbs are doing some good planning. I have been surprised in the acceptance of planning, at least in the metro areas in Texas.

    Since you have ruled out the south, the first place that comes to mind is Minnesota. I got my planning degree in Minnesota and until the late 90's the state had statewide planning. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area there is a very strong MPO/Regional Planning Agency, the Metropolitan Council, which has a lot control over growth in the metro area.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I'm going to be the dissenter regarding Texas. There's plenty of planning jobs at great salaries, considering the cost of living, and some amazing work going on. However, I found the built environment to be bipolar; while NU/TND/FBCs are increasingly embraced, Texas still has a love affair with their overbuilt V/C 0.1 / LOS A roads and high-rise signs and billboards. In the third- and fourth-tier cities -- places like Abilene, Longview, Laredo, Waco and the like -- you're not going to see much enthusiasm for embracing contemporary best practices. Also, in my experience with interviews for employers in the state, and working there for a little bit, there's an odd obsession with "leadership" that I didn't encounter in other places. Maybe it's the strong military influence spilling over?

    So, back to your original question: where is planning valued and encouraged? My vote goes to Colorado. Why? Someone else on Cyburbia said it in a post I can't find - it's a state where elected and appointed officials listen to their planners, and usually follow their recommendations and advice. Outside of Pueblo and the towns on the eastern plains, most communities will have very strict zoning codes, design regulations, sign regulations, and so on. NU/TND is everywhere. There can be a downside, though; many communities seem "overplanned", and have a 1970s/1980s new town feel that can appear too manicured and sterile to some - Aurora, Parker, Louisville, Lafayette, Broomfield, Arvada, and more. Colorado also has high housing costs, but rents are relatively affordable.

    Really, I'd recommend most Rocky Mountain states, except for Wyoming.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I'm going to be the dissenter regarding Texas. There's plenty of planning jobs at great salaries, considering the cost of living, and some amazing work going on. However, I found the built environment to be bipolar; while NU/TND/FBCs are increasingly embraced, Texas still has a love affair with their overbuilt V/C 0.1 / LOS A roads and high-rise signs and billboards. In the third- and fourth-tier cities -- places like Abilene, Longview, Laredo, Waco and the like -- you're not going to see much enthusiasm for embracing contemporary best practices. Also, in my experience with interviews for employers in the state, and working there for a little bit, there's an odd obsession with "leadership" that I didn't encounter in other places. Maybe it's the strong military influence spilling over?
    Dan, I was thinking more along the lines of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and Austin for places that value planners. Some of the metro area cities are doing some impressive things, ranging from new streetcar lines to revitalizing downtowns. Then that are cities like Houston that are embracing NU in parts of the city, while sprawling on the fringes. Land use is mostly regulated through subdivision regulations rather than zoning. It's different, yes. Lastly, there are an abundance of smaller towns and rural counties that offer yet another experience. The beauty of Texas is that it's a huge state with much to offer. Before I moved here, I had a mostly negative opinion of the state. But after living here are year, my I discovered that my opinion was unfounded, or at least not representative of the entire state.

    I mainly post this just to point out how silly it is to turn down the opportunity for a decent job in this economy just because it's located in Texas. There is fulfilling work to be found here. It nothing less, there is no harm for applying for jobs that are of interest and seeing what they have to say. you just might find something, somewhere you like.

    Off-topic:
    I didn't realize there were so many Chicago/Illinois transplants living here. I lived in Edgewater for a couple years on the north side.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I'm going to be the dissenter regarding Texas. ... My vote goes to Colorado. Why? ...most communities will have very strict zoning codes, design regulations, sign regulations, and so on. NU/TND is everywhere. There can be a downside, though; many communities seem "overplanned", and have a 1970s/1980s new town feel that can appear too manicured and sterile to some - Aurora, Parker, Louisville, Lafayette, Broomfield, Arvada, and more. Colorado also has high housing costs, but rents are relatively affordable.

    Really, I'd recommend most Rocky Mountain states, except for Wyoming.
    Well, I don't care for most of the built environment here, altho I'll admit there is some good new (scattered, high-profile) development going on. Denver's FBC is a joke, even though it got much publicity. I recall in grad school some time ago one of my professors thought if you wanted a real challenge, you'd go to Colo. Still that way, as the pols decide what gets funded (ridiculous destination resorts get hundreds of millions in tax breaks in Aurora city limits, water infra in Denver gets patched every time it erupts, Special Districts divert money from schools, TABOR, ticket-splitting, Denver administration turn-over every election, pols caving to fracking at every turn...and so on and on). I lived in DFW area in the 80s and visited recently and not much changed, still mostly cr*ptacular with scattered really nice areas, but only where the elites pay for it.

    That is: Colo has mountains but the built environment needs a lot of work.
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