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What is the least favorite portion of your planning job?

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Listening to my fellow planners:

1. Discussing in mind-numbing detail whether a particular specific use fits under the "Regional Commercial" Zoning Category or should be limited to "Community Commercial" Zoning Districts.

2. Obsess about whether the fake stone or fake brick trim on a tract home extends far enough down the side of the house. Meanwhile, our City doesn't seem to build many neighborhood parks, because it spends all of its limited parks and rec budget (largely collected from new homebuyers)on a gold-plated golf course that is used by 10% of the population (We have TWO of these babies, by the way).
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,408
Points
32
I hate assigning addresses the worst. Luckily I don't do it too often
 

biha

Cyburbian
Messages
25
Points
2
The two sweating, trembling, middle-aged males who at different times came into to my office and angrily confronted me with issues beyond the control or authority of the planning department to address. Some months later, I read in the newspaper that one of these individuals has been arrested for assulting a government official, and that the other has killed his family, kids and all. Then I look at the isolated location of my township office up on a second floor, decide there is no easy exit, polish up my resume, and take a higher paying planning job in the private sector where I deal with clients, not the public at large.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
Dealing with an angry, half-cocked citizen (especially in person) who has his/her facts wrong to begin with, and is so angry they don't want to see how misinformed they are by hearing what is really the truth.
 

Linden Smith

Cyburbian
Messages
141
Points
6
I don't have any real problems with urbanist design, it's the new urbanists and other landscape architects that I dread having to talk to.

Having a conversation with a really wacked out citizen is often the high point of my day. All the receptionists know that I get the "angry" calls.

Having to deal with an entrenched bureaucracy is my least fav part of the job. Nothing is more embarassing than being criticised by a developer, and realizing he is right.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,890
Points
38
Dealing with an "overreactionary" town council that calls for development moratoria at the whims of an exclusionary public.
 

kbm

Member
Messages
15
Points
1
Ultimate pet peeve:
When a proposal for a subdivision comes to planning board with full intentions of utilizing the paper street that was approved 30 years ago in the adjacent subdivision's plan, but the neighbors have all planted trees in the paper street, totally encroaching on it, and once it is learned that an additional 11 lots will be built and feeding into their subdivision, the neighbors become hysterical about the welfare of all the neighborhood children who will have to forgo their god given right to play in the street, and the planning board totally caves and all the lots are funnelled out on to an already over curb cut-ed major road, creating a cul-de-sac much too close to a major intersection.

sigh.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,848
Points
59
I love the rush I get from dealing with angry people.
 

Linden Smith

Cyburbian
Messages
141
Points
6
I'm with Dan, angry people are fun to watch. As for those who call over and over trying to get the answer they want, try using different accents.

I agree with planning fool about realtors who have no sense when it comes to the basics of zoning. My mom has been a realtor for 30 years and she thinks good location is the end of the cul de sac.

My biggest peeve is the lazy planner though; I've seen them, I work with them, and I fear I'm becoming one of them. So I quit. My last day here in my cushy government job is this friday, appropriately friday the thirteenth!
 

Louise

Member
Messages
3
Points
0
Having to stand with my back to the public in the commission chambers when I'm presenting a hugely unpopular case. I always wonder when one of the nut cases is gonna start shooting.

And having to wear a name tag! Do I really want all those angry people to know who I am??

Oh, and people who think I'm a bad planner because I have the gall to actually accept a development application that the neighbors don't like; hey, they pay their fees, they get a hearing!
 

cobus

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
In my last job....

(1) The Planning Commissioner who didn't bother to read the report or look at the plans until he got to the meeting.

(2) The Director that would make a speech at the end of my report on one particular aspect of the report in order to make sure everyone new he was behind it all.

(3) The developer/arch./eng. that would show up at the PC meeting and try to totally redesign the site at the meeting and expect approval.

(4) My work area, which was called the bunker because instead of cubical dividers, it was cheaper to move some filing cabinents to make four walls.

(5) The elected official who brings in a "friend" just to introduce them to you. "By the way, Joe smoe is looking to develop that piece over by the lake. You know the piece in the watershed protection area, by the wetlands and heron rookery."

(6) The person who you said "no" to on Tuesday shows up on Wednesday with 2 more people that have to hear the "no".

(7) The person who knows somebody. I told a resident that they would be unable to expand their house due to lot coverage requirements. They fussed, I offered my card and said "Here, this has my number on it and please....." Resident "Don't you worry, I GOT YOU'RE NUMBER" Stomp, stomp, stomp to the Supervisor's office.

etc., etc., etc.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
I think KBM's narrative wins the prize!

Mine is the resident who phones to complain that the lot next door has been vacant ever since they moved in 35 years ago, and now the new house going in next door is going to block their view of the {fill in something pretty}.

Damn it people, how many times do I have to say "If you want the view, BUY IT".
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
The least favorite part of my job is all the backstabbing from the people who are supposed to be on the same team as me. There's the head of the community redevelopment agency who can never make time to go over the new zoning that this person is pushing me to hurry! write! present to the advisory board yesterday! -- and then, when the City Attorney asks if the agency head is familiar with it, claims I wrote it without touching base, and I'M the one pushing it out to the advisory board. There's the planning manager who tells the public that I'm in charge of a project -- then keeps sending me out on other projects, allows me no access to mapping or support staff -- and responds to my reports that I'm falling behind by telling me to work later. There are my "fellow" planners who sneer that I'm making excuses when I try to explain that state law for local government planning in Florida is not the same as state law for school planning, so no matter how many times I provide info to the school district staff on our new developments, the school district isn't going to use our data.

If I had GIS training and could do mapping, I'd prefer to just be a staff of one and never have to deal with anyone else. I'll take my chances with the angry public -- at least their anger comes from lack of information. There is no excuse for the backstabbing from people who have the same information I do, and either refuse to use it, or are just looking for scapegoats when projects don't go the way we'd hoped.
 

Plannerific

Member
Messages
9
Points
0
For those of us in the Private Sector working with several communities: What about the Attorneys of communities that never read the regulations until two days before public hearing and decide that everything needs to be changed and why didn't I get this to him/her sooner (as if 6 months in advance isn't enough time to review)Or the attorneys of communities that do not have a clue about land use law!!
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,848
Points
59
I'm surprised nobody's chimed in with this ... the person or entity who feels that, in some way, they're "special," and this exempt from certain requirements of the zoning code or development review process.

"I'm a woman ... that should count for something. It should be easier for me to start a business in my home. Why do I need a special use permit?"

"Why can't I put my trailer on my lot for my Mom? I fought in 'Nam ... can't you do anything?"

"My family's been in the valley for six generations, and nobody cares more about it than us. Can't you let us put just a few signs on the highway, to draw traffic our way?"

"Whatdya' mean we can't fight game in our yard?Cockfights are a part of our heritage! You're picking on us because we're Hispanic! Can you make an exception?"

I'm sorry, but the zoning code doesn't make any exceptions for women, ethnic minorities, veterans, long-time residents, name-droppers, or others. There's no special setbacks for African-Americans, no uses permitted only by those who have lived in the municipality for 25 years or more. Believe it or not, most folks really don't seem to understand this.
 

Linden Smith

Cyburbian
Messages
141
Points
6
Now that is one angle that I never really got. I did however have one guy who kept asking if there wasen't some, you know, special fee, wink wink, in which he could file late, not show up for the meeting and get approved.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I agree with Dan overall. Maybe this is another thread, but if we are really concerned about affordable housing, maybe the trailer in the back yard is something we should be more flexible about. Heavily subsidized units built by well-meaning non-profits to middle class standards that cost $95,000/unit are not going to solve our low cost housing problem.
 
Messages
17
Points
1
Being a county manager and having to do the planning because the county is too tight to hire a planning staff (unless I return exclusively to planning, I will keep AICP off the resume).

Also, arguing with the dumb ass building inspector who had no business doing the planning work before me. If he wasn't near retirement I'd whack him. He still can't get the hang of one principal structure per lot in a single family residential neighborhood. ^&*%*%$$&!!!!
 

WA Planner

Member
Messages
11
Points
1
I hate lazy planners and staff that surf the internet and talk on the phone for half the day, then daydream (some long-rangers call this visioning) the rest of the day. You gotta love a planner though for creating job security by working on one ZC amendment per year...hmmmm, maybe this year RV parking restrictions, maybe next year a sign inventory...
 

Vlaude

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
DITTO with FLPLANNER, what hacks me is when someone calls and they dont get the answer they want, so they just go up or down the ladder trying to get someone to say something different... I guess thats the way the world works though... If you dont get want you want (and u want it bad enough) you will try try try again...
 

Planning Fool

Cyburbian
Messages
241
Points
9
The guy who leaves a voice mail that says "this land use plan you want to pass is crap!" and hangs up leaving no name or phone number.

The real estate agent who knows NOTHING about zoning and isn't interested in learning. What exactly are those hefty commissions for?

The planning commissioner who knows more than you and loves to show you up in public meetings with his/her so-called knowledge that is grossly inaccurate.

The developer who must have his/her item on the next agenda despite lacking a complete submittal.

The architects who think you have no business commenting on design issues because you aren't an architect.

Any firm that references "planning services" but has no planner on staff--just really bad civil engineers who have never bothered to read the zoning ordinance.

Any agent at a public meeting who lies about previous discussions with staff or misrepresents or leaves out pertinent facts. Lawyers are the worst!

Anybody representing a celluar communications firm. Of all applicants, these people seem to think they are doing the community some huge favor by sticking up a monopole in the most inappropriate location.

The property owner who spreads incorrect information throughout the neighborhood to try to derail a neighborhood wide rezoning, land use plan, etc. because he/she is threatened by the possible action.

Being at the whim of public officials who request silly studies.

What makes up for it is the person/neighborhood that is truly grateful for your help and glad that you are looking out for them. It makes it all better--at least until the next zoning ordinance-challenged engineer comes along.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,600
Points
41
"can't you zone this as parkland?" uh, no, no, I cannot do that...

Ultimate pet peeve:
When a proposal for a subdivision comes to planning board with full intentions of utilizing the paper street that was approved 30 years ago in the adjacent subdivision's plan, but the neighbors have all planted trees in the paper street, totally encroaching on it, and once it is learned that an additional 11 lots will be built and feeding into their subdivision, the neighbors become hysterical about the welfare of all the neighborhood children who will have to forgo their god given right to play in the street, and the planning board totally caves and all the lots are funnelled out on to an already over curb cut-ed major road, creating a cul-de-sac much too close to a major intersection.

sigh.
I think KBM's narrative wins the prize!

Mine is the resident who phones to complain that the lot next door has been vacant ever since they moved in 35 years ago, and now the new house going in next door is going to block their view of the {fill in something pretty}.

Damn it people, how many times do I have to say "If you want the view, BUY IT".
And when you become a division or depratment head, add personnel issues.

all of the above!

but I really love my job, I really do, especially when I can do that visioning thing by looking out the window, yep...
 

Jen

Cyburbian
Messages
1,704
Points
25
a relevant question

You gotta love a planner though for creating job security by working on one ZC amendment per year...hmmmm, maybe this year RV parking restrictions, maybe next year a sign inventory...
My last place of employment was like that, the planner was asked what has been your biggest project this year?He answers researching a homeless shelter, but he goes on to say, I found nothing during my research that we can use to help in our decison making. I think the issue should be tabled until we get more research done. :r:

Angry customers I can take but the backstabbers and evil overlords who run the show, cant take it!
 

jonnyrotten

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
Least Favorite? No question - the public. I worked in an area with a LOT of retired military folks who felt they had served their country, and now their local government should serve THEM. I spent 17 years listening to their tirades against "gubmint" intrusion and bitching about the fact their underpaid school teachers should just "suck it up or leave". As it stands, that town - Fairfield, California (omigish, I just named an actual place to be I'D'd!!!) has digressed into a high-crime area that now spends exhorbitant amounts of money trying to reverse the neglected city environment enabled by its previous city fathers of 25-35 years ago. I can't believe it when I sit at my girlfriend's house at 10 PM and hear gunfire. It is even more distressing when I read about more than four murders a week in its's local newspapar (who charges you $4.95 to read it online - because they know the Police rely on it for evidence!!). This town has become such as Gawd-forsaken basket case you wouldn't believe!!. My last memory ther is from a shopping trip at Solano Mall one week ago - I watched three folks taken into custody outside JC Penny - "welcome to the Sh&^tty side of the Bay Area". - XOXOXO - JH
 

TOFB

Cyburbian
Messages
2,157
Points
22
Crazy people. Especially crazy staff. Seriously crazy staff. As in mentally ill.
 
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