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What they didn't tell you in planner school

Hink

OH....IO
Moderator
Messages
14,594
Points
38
When I went to planning school they never told me that I would have to deal with trash cans.

*I'm looking at you ivory tower :cursing:
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Moderator
Messages
12,267
Points
37
When I went to planning school they never told me that I would have to deal with trash cans.

*I'm looking at you ivory tower :cursing:
Yep.

At my first professional planning job, I was informed by a Plan Commissioner that I had to enforce the retrieval and proper organization of shopping carts at a local chain grocery store as this operational activity was a specific condition of the Site Plan approval for the development.

I was told by my supervisor to ignore it. :)

Also...

 
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DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,301
Points
34
When I went to planning school they never told me that I would have to deal with trash cans.

*I'm looking at you ivory tower :cursing:
I am also dealing with trash cans. Will this apartment complex get individual can service - no. How about tilt bins, dumpsters, or roll offs? What about truck access. This whole project is being killed because of trash service. The ivory tower has failed me!
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Messages
26,385
Points
52
Anyone ever tell you that you'd have to deal with dog poo complaints? No?
 

dandy_warhol

Cyburbian
Messages
8,931
Points
28
Anyone ever tell you that you'd have to deal with dog poo complaints? No?
I remember a public meeting where I spent a good portion of time discussing dog poop and pee and how a small dog park wouldn't result is groundwater contamination. 🐶⛲
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
I wasn't prepared for citizens who view screwing with local government officials as a their sport of choice.
I wasn't prepared for an abandoned house literally full of tons of low-grade pron.
I wasn't prepared for the fact that about 15% of my customer interactions would involve people who were significantly mentally ill.
I wasn't prepared to deal with people who campaigned for elected office in order to blatantly enrich themselves.
I wasn't prepared to deal with an HR system that actively sheltered truly horrible employees from the consequences of their actions.
I wasn't prepared for the high volume of lies proffered in public meetings.
I wasn't prepared for people who would make personal attacks on city staff in order to further their personal agenda.
I wasn't prepared for the lack of energy, integrity, and vision some of my fellow government employees practiced.

But, that is all behind me now! :)
 
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DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,301
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34
No one talks about septic systems and the fact that I'll be in charge of permitting them. Past that now.

How about the amount of horse manure going into residential trash collection. Not me, friend in a nearby town.

No one tells you how to answer the question of fishing in a lake that is fed by a septic lagoon.

They never taught me to smile as I deliver bad news or just repeat the same bland answer to the angry person across from me. I learned that on my own.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,106
Points
42
I was very lucky with the program that graduated from. The professors were former Planning Directors and alternated on who would serve on the City’s Planning Commission. They told us how it really was from day one.

There has been a ton that I learned since graduation in terms of the technical aspects, but overall I am blessed to have gone through the program that I did. It is a shame that it is not offered anymore.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,295
Points
31
I wasn't prepared for citizens who view screwing with local government officials as a their sport of choice.
I wasn't prepared for an abandoned house literally full of tons of low-grade pron.
I wasn't prepared for the fact that about 15% of my customer interactions would involve people who were significantly mentally ill.
I wasn't prepared to deal with people who campaigned for elected office in order to blatantly enrich themselves.
I wasn't prepared to deal with an HR system that actively sheltered truly horrible employees from the consequences of their actions.
I wasn't prepared for the high volume of lies proffered in public meetings.
I wasn't prepared for people who would make personal attacks on city staff in order to further their personal agenda.
I wasn't prepared for the lack of energy, integrity, and vision some of my fellow government employees practiced.

But, that is all behind me now! :)
Is that why your are so anti government?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,301
Points
34
I was very lucky with the program that graduated from. The professors were former Planning Directors and alternated on who would serve on the City’s Planning Commission. They told us how it really was from day one.

There has been a ton that I learned since graduation in terms of the technical aspects, but overall I am blessed to have gone through the program that I did. It is a shame that it is not offered anymore.
My undergrad planning program was not that. It was all professors talking about the theory of super cool new urbanist next door projects with road diets and elevated bike lanes.

My public admin grad program was like yours. All ex city managers that made this community what it is today. They told the actual how they got the deal done and the weird stories of things that happened along the way. Most of our test questions related to real world problems they had like Do you put your money into solving problem A or B. What are the consequences. Why did you pick that one. How will you present your choice.

The planning program did not tell me I would be working with people who argue over every little code thing because they want to pick and choose what they do. Like using setback table X instead of Y. No, you use Y because you have single-family product. You only get to use X is you have multifamily or attached product.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Is that why your are so anti government?
I'm not "anti government."

I'm for a limited government. One which follows our Constitution. One where the rule of law is fairly and equitably applied. I'm for a government which leaves me - and you - alone unless there is a Constitutionally compelling government interest in interfering in my life. I'm for a government where I am not progressively punished for my success at tax time. I'm for a government which polices itself and puts government officials who lie cheat or steal in jail on a daily basis. I'm for a government which isn't a front for the massive ponzi scheme where entitlements are promised for votes. I'm for a government that doesn't use the tax code and law for social engineering. I'm for a government that is transparent and responds to FOIA requests proactively. I'm for a government that stays out of the business of funding the media, arts, and other people's hobbies and special interests. I'm for a government that stays out of the business of other nations and which is a great friend to those who reciprocate. l'm for a government which holds the means to destroy those who act aggressively towards us and our allies. I'm for a government that provides a basic social safety net for the deserving. I'm for a government that has strong borders and a welcoming, but tough, immigration policy. I'm for a government much like the founders created.

So, I guess I'm very likely anti government from your perspective.24325
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,295
Points
31
I'm not "anti government."

I'm for a limited government. One which follows our Constitution. One where the rule of law is fairly and equitably applied. I'm for a government which leaves me - and you - alone unless there is a Constitutionally compelling government interest in interfering in my life. I'm for a government where I am not progressively punished for my success at tax time. I'm for a government which polices itself and puts government officials who lie cheat or steal in jail on a daily basis. I'm for a government which isn't a front for the massive ponzi scheme where entitlements are promised for votes. I'm for a government that doesn't use the tax code and law for social engineering. I'm for a government that is transparent and responds to FOIA requests proactively. I'm for a government that stays out of the business of funding the media, arts, and other people's hobbies and special interests. I'm for a government that stays out of the business of other nations and which is a great friend to those who reciprocate. l'm for a government which holds the means to destroy those who act aggressively towards us and our allies. I'm for a government that provides a basic social safety net for the deserving. I'm for a government that has strong borders and a welcoming, but tough, immigration policy. I'm for a government much like the founders created.

So, I guess I'm very likely anti government from your perspective.View attachment 24325
No, different perspectives, experiences and life goals. I went into government out of a sense of service and desire to help people. Plus, my family's long, long history of service and working in government in one capacity or another. You and I have different perspectives on government and it's role, that is all.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
No, different perspectives, experiences and life goals. I went into government out of a sense of service and desire to help people. Plus, my family's long, long history of service and working in government in one capacity or another. You and I have different perspectives on government and it's role, that is all.
Those are the same reasons I entered the sausage factory. But what I saw made me reexamine my assumptions. Government will always be a place of corruption. So instead of brewing up a big batch, let's try to get by with the bare minimum.
 
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Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,295
Points
31
Those are the same reasons I entered the sausage factory. But what I saw made me reexamine my assumptions. Government will always be a place of corruption. So instead of brewing up a big batch, let's tey ro get by with the bare minimum.
The system is imperfect. However, it is the system that we are given. The referees may miss calls. However, it is better than chaos without the refs. I have seen way too much of what my fellow man is capable of doing when left to his or her own devices. As the Bible says. There is a which seemeth right to a man. However, it is the path to destruction. Again, I followed my family's path toward service. I remain convinced that the best way to help people on the most basic levels is through government, however imperfect it may be. Again, different perspectives and different family histories..
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
199
Points
7
I came "up through the hawsepipe," as they say. No expectations to be ruined by experience, I guess. But from my earlier experiences to now, 20 years in, I used to view myself (working on the government side) as a problem-solver, really working with applicants to figure out how what they wanted to do could maneuver through whatever regulations they had in their way. That can lead you to be perceived as really helpful to applicants, but those same applicants can turn on you when the local board votes their proposal down because it would take one-too-many findings or conditions to approve. Nowadays, I try more to encourage straightforward proposals that make sense to the letter and the overall intent of the rules I'm administering. I've been through enough denials and appeals to know it isn't doing anybody any good to give them what may very well be false hope. I've evolved into doing more long-range than current planning at this point, but I work in a small enough place that I still am the enforcer. I let more things slide than I would have 10 years ago. It's triage. You want to grind it out for half a day with a pissed-off business owner over an illegal adver-sail on the lawn, be my guest, but maybe it's more important to get that Complete Street that's going to stand for 50 years designed correctly.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,301
Points
34
No one said I would be arguing pointless details and arguing for less work/easier ways of getting things done. At what point does something go from site plan required to let's just review it in the building permit. I'm sorry, but a fence around a restaurant patio goes to building permit to make sure we have ADA and other garbage. Why would we make someone submit a set of plans to show the site works just to submit the same exact set of plans to physically build the thing.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
199
Points
7
Nobody told me that as a supervisor in planning I'd be dealing with near-constant jailhouse-lawyering of the personnel policy by the staff.

Smart, assertive people + ragged old personnel policy that doesn't make sense in 2019 (and probably didn't in 1999 either) = headaches.
 

bentobox34

Cyburbian
Messages
61
Points
4
No one told me that after busting my butt to get a graduate degree, my most important job skill would be writing staff reports targeted to a 6th grade reading level.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Moderator
Messages
12,267
Points
37
No one told me that after busting my butt to get a graduate degree, my most important job skill would be writing staff reports targeted to a 6th grade reading level.
One year into my first planning job, I used 'bucolic' in a staff report and the Senior Planner laughed, enjoying it, but also telling me 'let's see if the Board understands that word'.

I had also recieved my MUP about 1.5 years earlier from a major State university.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
4,598
Points
26
One year into my first planning job, I used 'bucolic' in a staff report and the Senior Planner laughed, enjoying it, but also telling me 'let's see if the Board understands that word'.
That's always been a fun one with internal QA/QC folks on Section 106 reports and cultural resources content for NEPA documents.

Reviewer: "As a lay person, I don't understand this - you need to dumb it down."
Me: "That's technical language, and both the federal agency and SHPO staff will understand it. Go away and leave me alone."
 

azplanner1

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
I retired after about 37 years mostly in public practice. I now teach as an adjunct at a major university, giving enough theory to cover the topics, but focusing on how things work in practice in the real world, which is not always bad. I teach not to write in "plannerese", just as I don't want to try to make sense of technical report in another field I've never studied. You want to show you can communicate , not that you know big words that most people don't. And a technocrat planner without political acumen is as helpful as a planner with lousy customer service.

We all have dealt with issues we never thought we would deal with....that's what keeps this field entertaining. A planner without a sense of humor or a collector of war stories must be a pretty unhappy planner...or ex-planner. Just as an example, one of my favorites from a former student and colleague was her answering the phone call about what zoning one needed for a UFO landing site. A personal favorite was, after a site visit years ago with two colleagues, was being asked, after we had technically trespassed to get to the site in question "how many No Trespassing signs does one need to erect before you could legally shoot someone". My quick answer was to shake his hand, and say that I didn't know, but I'll get back to them right quickly. After we got back into the truck and commenced breathing again, the one colleague who had NOT peed his pants came up with "I'm pretty sure you need one more than you have."

Enjoy the ride.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Messages
26,385
Points
52
...one of my favorites from a former student and colleague was her answering the phone call about what zoning one needed for a UFO landing site. ...
As it happens, we have a whole thread here dedicated to that very topic. Useful practical stuff. And I agree a certain sense of humor is helpful to survive this profession.
 

zurbanist

Member
Messages
8
Points
0
I wasn't told how to work in a political environment. I knew working for a city would have political interactions, but dealing with the short-sightedness of some City Council members blows my mind. They are more concerned with the short term savings than the long term investment.

I wasn't told that some of my direct coworkers would not know how to do "planning"

I wasn't told that cities do not place planning and land use as the top priority in a City (is silly to me that its not most important but shrug)

There are plenty more, however, I wouldn't have chosen another career. Planning is fun, and when I am able to change someone's mind about something it is very rewarding.
 

SMKPlanner

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
No one told me that after busting my butt to get a graduate degree, my most important job skill would be writing staff reports targeted to a 6th grade reading level.
Same. Told my writing was too esoteric. That planning commissioners would not understand what I was saying. PLANNING COMMISSIONERS!! SMH
 
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