• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Are planning jobs always contentious? (AIB Chet)

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,689
Points
53
Chet said:
You must have the luxury of having all planners on your board or council. Some day when you get a real planning job, and your board is full of farmers, anti-government types, and high school educated master plumbers, maybe you'll understand the challenges faced by planners.
The above quote is from this thread.

I may have a better or more 'planning oriented' ZBA/PC/VB, and this is my first planning job, but are planning staff positiions always contentious or does it vary?

What is everyone's experience with the various boards you have worked for/with?
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
In my time as a planner almost 9 years now, yes its a hard ass job and your always getting sniped at by various boards.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,374
Points
38
I tend to agree fully with Chet (and wonder whether some of his members are related to some of mine) in that most lay people appointed to commissions/boards have zero undertanding of state planning/redevelopment statutes (or the constitution, for that matter) and for some damn reason insist on displaying their ingorance.

We have done "citizen planner" training for members without any great success -- it's like teaching a pig to sing: it wastes your time and annoys the pig :-D

So when we get a decent (or, heaven forbid! good member) we really try to work them into positions of leadership (but usually not chair/vice-chair so we have someone to make intelligent motions).
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
The problem is that these people are appointed to the Plan Commission. Many of them don't even have a clue what their role is. Some think they are all-powerful. An example I can think of was one cell company rep. had a proposal before the City and he was getting angry with one of the Commissioners because he kept asking questions that were unrelated to his routine cell tower co-location proposal. So the Commissioner goes "You know we don't have to approve anything if you have that attitude." and the cell guy says "Oh really? Have you ever heard of the Telecommunications act? Have you read your own odrinance, which we meet all requirements for?" The commissioner just sat there dumbfounded. We have some commissioners that encourge applicants to withdraw their applications because they know that if they denied a particular item, any lawyer could get it reversed.

I fully support any type of state mandate that would require all Plan Commissioner's take a class.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
Its almost a catch 22 really. I mean we say we want citizen planners on the commission or board who may be house wives or dr's or retired persons will no understanding of the "land" business. But then when engineers or developers or architects get on, its hard to get away from conflicts sometimes or they are seen as in the developers pockets.

I think contentiousness is inherent . We are dealing with elected officials who appoint their own commissioers or planning board members. Add that to trying to balance a constitutional right to property held by individuals in its truest sense with the community which by definition has its own diverse interests.

Oh, and the stakes are really really high. Land is a pretty expensive commodity and there is no greater risk than trying to create more value for it.

As an aside I do agree that elected and appointeds should take a clase on planning etc...but public sector Staff should also take a class on Real Estate and Development 101. My experience on both sides is that public sector planners have little clue as what it actually take to put a project together, get it financed, and then design and build it.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
I agree gkmo62u, more planners should take ULI type classes and see what goes into some of these projects, but developers also should spend a day in the life of a planner.

wheee everyone switch for a day!

Sounds cute but having been places where this was done the level of understanding went way up and bridges were built.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
We had one planner almost in tears and off looking for another job after he was harangued mercilessly by the planning commision chair (during the planner's first big case). I have been called an "idiot" in a public hearing by a current county commissioner. Copies of the latest county commission meeting are circulating so everyone can revisit the shredding of the planning director by that same commissioner (I find it highly amusing because the PD is an idiot). I'd never seen anything like it.

Anyplace I've worked, such things are common.

We've found that when we try to educate appointed commission members, or tried to upgrade presentations/processes, they get really nasty. And of course the big ugly: telling them what they can and can't do.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
In my experience, it is a mixed bag. At times the quality of the commission members is poor, and you can go nuts trying to convince them of something that seems very logical to anyone with experience. At other times you can have well-informed and thoughtful people who can make the job very satisfying.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I know I've told these ones before

1) Table thrown at me in a council meeting;
2) Followed home and then safety of my animals threatened; (local politician)
3) Liquid manure threats; (local Politician)
4) Gun threats; (public)
5) Leaked documents. (council member)

For the most part the commission memebrs I report directly to are an ok bunch of guys. They miss some of the nuances of planning, but seem to generally care about their communities. The politicians and the public on the other hand..... (see above)
 
Top