Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Work/family balance in municipal planning

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2010
    Location
    So. Cal
    Posts
    24

    Work/family balance in municipal planning

    Hi all -

    I am wondering if anyone can speak to the work/life balance of a typical municipal planner? I have a child on the way and as I consider municipal planning positions that call for attending multiple evening meetings with several boards, councils and/or commissions, I wonder if a municipal setting is right for me? Don't get me wrong, I don't shun hard work or an occasionally hectic schedule, but family is something that I want to ensure does not get left in the wake of too much work at odd hours. Any thoughts about this are much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Wherever
    Posts
    1,181
    I think this one really depends on where you work and what your responsibilities are. Not every planner has an obligation to attend planning commission or council meetings. Also some jurisdictions have more meetings than others. So your best bet is to just do a bit of research on the position.

    At least where I work, the planning director is really the only one obligated to show up to all those meetings. The rest of the staff works 8:30 to 5 unless a certain project requires otherwise (which is seldom).

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,344
    How much those night meetings really affect your home life is really dependent on the particular municipality and responsibilities of the particular position you hold. Remember, many of the board members are also parents in many cases and may be motivated to keeps things on track. The time of day/evening for the meetings also plays a role. For example, do you live close enough that you can go home for lunch, or go home for dinner between the end of your work day and the meeting time? Do you get compensatory time so you can leave work early other days or take extra days off? Are you an exempt or non-exempt employment status, as that can affect comp time policies? Does your significant other work and if so, what is his/her schedule like?

    Some things to remember in municipal work: you typically get a good holiday & vacation package--one that is typically far superior to private sector. This can have a significant positive effect on your home life as well. Also, depending on the type of private sector work you do as a planner, you can end up at just as many evening meetings each week plus travel overnight frequently.

    Generally speaking, any position that is 8-5 at least most of the time will work well for family life. A couple of night meetings a week won't kill you, particularly if you get some flexibility on other days to take off or leave early. Couple that with the fact that the private sector often isn't much different as far as evening commitments and the typically good leave benefits that come with municipal employment, and I think you've got a professional position that is about as good as it gets these days as far as work-life balance goes. Plus, evening meetings usually occur on a regular schedule for a municipality, allowing you to plan accordingly and also avoiding a grumpy significant other because of a "surprise" meeting.
    Last edited by Suburb Repairman; 27 Dec 2012 at 1:41 PM.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,802
    There are few options outside of a public sector planning jobs that offer anything close to a work/family balance. Private sector time commitments are usually greater with fewer benefits/PTO, although the compensation is generally higher. However, there are some companies that are more likely to offer flex time BUT you might have to work longer hours on other days. Bottom line, attending public meetings (which often but not always meet at night) are part of the job responsibilities of most planners.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,470
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Bottom line, attending public meetings (which often but not always meet at night) are part of the job responsibilities of most planners.
    As long as it isn't 3x/week, it is doable, especially if you know well in advance to schedule ahead so the other parent can juggle. That's just the deal in this and some other public service professions. If you can't deal or figure out how to juggle, switch jobs.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,962
    The places I have worked were no more than 2 night meetings a month, 4 as director.

  7. #7
    Anyone past their twenties (broad generalization, I know) is going to have a family and be in the same boat you're in. And entry level planners won't be going to every board/commission meeting, if at all.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Illinois as of 1/1/09
    Posts
    193
    I am the only planner in my office and I attend 6 planning (planning commission, ZBA, and historic district commission) meetings per month plus council if there is a planning-related agenda item (so sometimes up to 10 meetings per month). So yes, there are instances where you will have to attend A LOT of meetings.

    Not much you can do to get around it, though.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,602
    Negotiate comp time - oh how I miss that - it saved me when I had my first child!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,470
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Negotiate comp time - oh how I miss that - it saved me when I had my first child!
    Only if you are fortunate enuf to work in a locality that provides it.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,602
    Yes that was the only town in now 4 that did that but it doesn't hurt to ask

  12. #12
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    1,121
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Anyone past their twenties (broad generalization, I know) is going to have a family and be in the same boat you're in. And entry level planners won't be going to every board/commission meeting, if at all.
    This. Yes, there are a number of different meetings that occur within a municipality. However, these different meetings may begin at different times and you may or may not be required to attend. Plus, these meetings are fairly consistent (ex: Planning Commission is the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month at 6:00 pm), so you can plan your schedule around it.

    This profession is certainly not a 9-5 job, but the schedule isn't too odd.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  13. #13
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,470
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Yes that was the only town in now 4 that did that but it doesn't hurt to ask
    When I left WA I cashed in a lot of comp time - minimum 6 nights a month. Next place maybe .75x/month, no comp time. But much more planning happened in WA. Just to reiterate above observations: it depends. But you should know well enough in advance to schedule.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Remote command post at local bar
    Posts
    4,610
    I think it's like any job, you have to know what the schedule demands. I've worked for private companies where the schedule was regular untill a deadline hit, then it was overtime and weekends. I've worked as a planning tech and didn't attend any meetings. I've seen some places where only senior planners attend meetings. I've also worked places where I had to attend a meeting every week. I'm lucky to be working for a county where I only have 1 late meeting a month.

    As far as family life, it's great for me. I know my weekends and holidays are free. I don't do overtime except meetings. The meetings and project deadlines are so regulated or regular that I can schedule vacation with no problems.
    And my kids love when I go to meetings, they can talk my wife into cooking the things they love and I can't eat like steak and french fries (stupid diet). Also, most places are good about using some type of flex time so you can drop off the kids or pick them up. I think it just gets hard when you're a single parent, but then everything is harder not just work.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,420
    It's important to have an understanding spouse. My situation is also helped because my wife will occasionally have to work out of town for a few days at a time, and I'm the sole caregiver. For us, it all evens out.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Work, Home, Family....
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 67
    Last post: 13 Nov 2013, 12:30 PM
  2. Replies: 2
    Last post: 02 Jan 2008, 10:10 AM
  3. Replies: 1
    Last post: 18 Sep 2006, 2:05 PM
  4. Replies: 7
    Last post: 12 May 2004, 5:35 PM
  5. Replies: 3
    Last post: 10 Oct 2001, 4:30 PM