PROTECT YOUR TURF!
State and local regulations can have a serious impact on
practice, so political engagement is part of the cost of practicing landscape
By Linda McIntyre
Photo Courtesy of James Yang/Images.com
If you’re like most landscape architects, you think politics
has little impact on your day-to-day life. You’ve got more important things to
do, such as managing your business, meeting deadlines, accruing continuing
education units, and watching your kids’ soccer games. You can’t be expected to
keep up with everything that happens in the statehouse or the county
Think again. Landscape architecture is a heavily regulated
business, and the rules governing practice can change at a moment’s notice.
Sometimes the authorities on whom landscape architects depend for permit
approvals misconstrue laws and regulations, even when they haven’t changed.
Seemingly small machinations by state, regional, and local
governments—adoption of a model ordinance, an amendment to a building code, a
sunset review—can have a devastating impact on a practice, and it’s best not to
find out about them when your plan doesn’t get approved and you have to find an
engineer, any engineer, to stamp your documents. It’s better yet if landscape
architects can stop these actions from happening in the first place, or at
least have some say in the process.
talked to landscape architects around the country about their experiences in
the hope of encouraging discussion among practitioners, highlighting some strategies
for success, and driving home the necessity of sustained political engagement.
It’s time-consuming and expensive, and it has to be done over the long haul to
be most effective. It’s often thankless for the people leading the charge, who
are sometimes showered with complaints about costs rather than plaudits for
results (or a lack of bad results). But political engagement can make the
difference between landscape architects’ ability to practice to the full extent
of their training and skills or being relegated, as Matt Langston, ASLA, puts
it, to "planting bushes for the rest of your career."
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