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Thread: UK planner looking to move to the US (California) - advice needed

  1. #1
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    UK planner looking to move to the US (California) - advice needed

    Hi there,
    I am a chartered Town Planner in the UK with around 10 years of post-qualification experience. I have a masters degree in Urban Planning from a UK university.

    My wife and I are looking to move to California, and I wondered if anyone could point me in the direction of any useful resources in terms of developing an understanding of the planning system in the US.

    Any advice would be gratefully received!

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UK Planner View post
    Hi there,
    I am a chartered Town Planner in the UK with around 10 years of post-qualification experience. I have a masters degree in Urban Planning from a UK university.

    My wife and I are looking to move to California, and I wondered if anyone could point me in the direction of any useful resources in terms of developing an understanding of the planning system in the US.

    Any advice would be gratefully received!

    Thanks
    What type of planning do you want to do in this state? Do you have your immigration papers in order? Do you want to work private or public?

    The biggest question is immigration... you can't work in the US without either a) H1B Visa (job sponsored) or b) you have a green card. A is really hard to get unless you are in the tech sector so B is your only bet.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  3. #3
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    My wife and I are looking to move to California, and I wondered if anyone could point me in the direction of any useful resources in terms of developing an understanding of the planning system in the US.
    Hey mate! I would start off by saying planning in California is different than anywhere else in the country. Mainly due to a unique law we got here called the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/. Sure, you'll be tested in general planning theory stuff, but this law and its application are a real day-to-day practical aspect of planning in California. Other states in the union may not have such an environmental law. So, they default to what is called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/. However, since California has CEQA, which tends to be a more "comprehensive" and "rigorous" analysis what not, there is no need for most entitlements to go under NEPA review (less they seek federal government review and approval). Nonetheless, all California planners are well versed in CEQA and deal with it on a daily basis. A basic rundown of CEQA is that there are projects which are exempt, get negative declarations, mitigated negative declarations, or environmental impact reports. There's a basic flow chart of how the law works and it's due process on the state's website http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/flowchart/. Anyways, I don't want to overwhelm you but in reality, if you've already got the basic planning fundamentals from your practice and schooling, it's just a matter of getting familiar with CEQA that will help you get a head start when you're hunting for a job here.


    P.S. - You may want to check in with the American Planning Association California Chapter http://www.calapa.org/.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies.

    what type of planning do you want to do in this state? Do you have your immigration papers in order? Do you want to work private or public?
    I'm not really sure on what type of planning I want to do as I don't yet know about the American system yet. Not got immigration resolved yet - I thought looking into the employment situation would be the first step. I guess my preference would be for private sector but would not rule out a public role.

    Thanks for the info on CEQA. We have a similar process in the UK which is as a result of European Law, although it appears that the responsibility for assessment lies with the public agency rather than the developer (as it is in the UK, with the assessment then reviewed by the relevant public bodies. Is that correct - is there a requirement for developers to submit an assessment in California?

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by UK Planner View post
    Thanks for the replies.



    I'm not really sure on what type of planning I want to do as I don't yet know about the American system yet. Not got immigration resolved yet - I thought looking into the employment situation would be the first step. I guess my preference would be for private sector but would not rule out a public role.

    Thanks for the info on CEQA. We have a similar process in the UK which is as a result of European Law, although it appears that the responsibility for assessment lies with the public agency rather than the developer (as it is in the UK, with the assessment then reviewed by the relevant public bodies. Is that correct - is there a requirement for developers to submit an assessment in California?

    Thanks
    The developer will often be the entity paying for the study, but it is the "lead agency's" responsibility to make it happen. The Lead Agency is the one that has primary permit approval responsibility over the project.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I understand that most employers require AICP membership. I wondered how I would go about joining. I have looked on the APA website and know I need to pass the exam but I am not sure whether I have to be employed as a planner (and resident) in the US or can I join before emigrating.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by UK Planner View post
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I understand that most employers require AICP membership. I wondered how I would go about joining. I have looked on the APA website and know I need to pass the exam but I am not sure whether I have to be employed as a planner (and resident) in the US or can I join before emigrating.
    Most employers do not require AICP membership. Some employers will look favorably on it. In California, it's really not a big deal.

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