Month: September 2015

Conference Mobile App

Conference Mobile App


Heading to the 2015 APA California Conference? Make sure you show up prepared with the conference mobile app. You’ll get the full conference schedule including speakers, maps, session details as well as the ability for AICP members to complete the CM conference evaluation form digitally; create your own personalized “My Schedule” containing events, mobile workshops, and sessions that you wish to attend; and, receive updates and news from the Conference Host Committee – all in the palm of your hand!

After you download the mobile app, log in with the email address provided during your conference registration. The password is “apacaconf15”.





Apple iOS Devices – APA California 2015 Conference







Google Android Device – APA California 2015 Conference



Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and web enabled devices



NEW Global Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

NEWS–The World Has New SD Goals

Historic Event. The Global Goals For Sustainable Development. “This weekend (Sept. 26-27, 2015) 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things over the next 15 years: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and fix climate change – in all countries, for all people.”

See Bioregional’s role and story (5 min vid) securing the Sustainable Production/Consumption Goal. It’s an inspiring example of:

  • A small group that worked for a long time to add their ideas to the SDGs.
  • A message to communicate, inspire, and motivate (text + vid)
  • The big effect one small sustainability initiative can have, bioregionalism, an old concept, and the One Planet Living sustainability framework.

SD Goal 11 — Sustainable Cities & Communities

And then, of course, they include SDG 11, just for us! The objectives stake out quite an ambitious agenda, even if not entirely concrete. Accomplishing this goal and its objectives by 2030 will require inventing the spatial manifestation of a regenerative economy, as in regenerative city-regions, on the fly, as we build one new city of 1M per week and reweave the existing urban fabric to achieve sustainable cities and communities, all within a generation. As local community sustainability planners, we have a new context in which to do our work.


This commitment to a new set of global goals for sustainable development is a “huge” deal. The Goals become the international sustainability baseline, touchstone, and driver of all UN related resources, programs, etc. ushering in an institutional change.

As great as these new goals are on one level, the discourse about them is often framed in “old school” concepts such as efficiency, mitigation, and a win/lose relationship between the economy and environment.

Yet, maybe the audacious goals of “ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and fixing climate change – in all countries, for all people” will push the creativity to the source challenges and transformational solutions, such as creating within one generation by 2030 the material basis for a sustainable society (and requirement for “fixing” climate change):

  • a regenerative ecological economy, including
    • 100% renewable energy
    • 100% materials cycling
    • 100% water reuse
    • with 10x the current economy’s productivity
  • and compliance with the 4 Sustainability Principles of the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD)

Regardless, the new goals are a huge sustainability accomplishment 23 years after Rio, and a big step forward. They are the new international conceptual foundation for creating a sustainable world.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

October 2015

  • Green infrastructure requirements for Bay Area. Laura Prickett, AICP. 76 Bay Area jurisdictions must adopt green infrastructure plans in 2019. Page 1
  • Director’s note. Andrea Ouse, AICP. Welcome to Oakland and the 2015 APA California planning conference! Page 3
  • Why planners make good hackers. James Castañeda, AICP. Planners and hackers can gain knowledge and resources from each other. Page 5
  • A region-wide concern, a rushed decision. Whither ABAG if MTC assumes its planning and housing functions? Page 6

To read or download the PDF, click here.

Available Board Positions

The Board of APA California – Northern is seeking interested individuals for two positions:

  • Communications Director
  • Planning Commissioner Representative
  • Associate Newsletter Editor
  • San Francisco Reginal Activity Coordinator (RAC)

Please review the Northern Section By-Laws for a description of each position. If interested in one of these positions please contact Erik S. Balsley, AICP, Section Director-Elect, at by October 21, 2015.

Sustainability at the APA California Conference 2015

The October 2015 Northern News, Plan-it sustainably Column summarizes the conferences sessions in terms of an emerging sustainability “pivot” from mitigation to regeneration. (see page 10)

One of our blog posts expands on the Emerging Sustainability “Pivot” Column.

Another blog post lists the Conference’s sustainability offerings:

In addition, these two PDFs of the two blog posts can be printed or downloaded.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

Too Late for 2 Degrees? The latest from the IPCC

. . . There is a lot of pressure to reduce greenhouse gases now, or else in 20 years we may have reached a point where scientists are not sure whether the conditions for life on Earth would be feasible.

“Dr. Thomas Stocker, Co- Chair of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)  Working Group 1 and candidate for the IPCC Presidency, visited Costa Rica to meet with Government officials and gave a public presentation on 14 August 2015 at the Costa Rican Lawyers Bar Association.

Dr. Stocker is a physicist and head of the department of Climate and Environmental Physics at the University of Bern, Switzerland. The focus of Dr. Stocker’s research is the development of models of climate change based on, among others, the analysis of ice cores from the polar regions.

In his presentation, Dr. Stocker shared the latest findings on the global climate change situation, which are incorporated in the synthesis report that the IPCC publishes for policy makers. He mentioned that there was an effort to include simple and easy to understand statements about the current situation, showing that global warming is unequivocally occurring and that it is due mainly to burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.” (click here for rest of article).

An Interpretation

Part of the problem with the exceptional science of the IPCC is that it is so “accurate” and consistent with scientific method that it presents a false sense of possibility, and therefore underestimates and undermines effective lay understanding and public policy for the required response.

First, 2 degrees is presented as a safe limit, when in fact, 2 degrees is the borderline between possible safety and likely catastrophe, a limit to be avoided at all costs. The calculation of the remaining “budget” for GHG production, that is subtracting current cumulative emissions from the limit to achieve only a 2-degree warming, is a false budget. We don’t actually want to achieve production at the 2-degree level; we want to avoid it by as large a margin as possible. In addition, there is substantial disagreement over whether one or two degrees is the “safe” limit.  Ten years ago, the IPCC and discussion was focused on 1-degree. Because even reversing 1- or 2-degrees will take 150-300 years because of the long lag times and “stickiness” in the climate system, even avoidance will incur associated pain, suffering, and costs of temporary “adaptation” during the “mitigation” period, and thus, somehow been subsumed into an acceptable” level.  Finally, there is a wide margin of uncertainty in forecasting the behavior of complex systems. We may “hold” 2-degrees, or 1-degree, as the “safe” limit, but there are many catastrophic surprises possible even within those scenarios.

Second, that the “solution” and effective response is simply a “reduction” in GHGs. Based on current technology, “reducing” GHGs means a real decrease in economic production. If we were only speaking of reduction in luxury and excessive consumption among the “made” elite, the issue would be trivial and goal possible.  However, the global economy can only now support approximately 30% of the population of the planet at what can be characterized as a “restorative” standard, with the rest living in various states of deprivation.

The “reduction” needed to “solve” the climate crisis is not simply a “cut back” in excessive luxury production/consumption, BUT a transformation of the global-local economy that decouples human economic production from effects that compromise and ultimately destroy the regenerative life support capacity of the biosphere. Such a transformation involves the redesign of economic production, processes, and consumption that dramatically increases productivity (x10+) and substitutes materials that are rare in the biosphere with those that are common and plentiful (aluminum for lead, for instance). In addition, for processes where such benevolent substitutions are not possible, it would be necessary to create closed-loop production/consumption/disposal circuits to insulate the toxic human economy from the life generating biospheric system for the duration of the use of those toxic processes. Simple reduction, or doing less damage, is not longer a solution path. The pursuit of transformative paths that lead to net positive, restorative, and regenerative impacts is the solution path. This would include entering, reinforcing, and amplifying the generation and cyclic flows of materials through through the living system of the biosphere.

Third, time is of the essence, and therefore a massive global campaign of socio-economic transformation is essential for success.

Planning has a critical role to play in society’s effective response as follows:

1. Translating the “accurate scientific” understanding into an accurate basis for public policy and action under extreme conditions of uncertainty and dire consequences.

2. Convening the conversation that leads to effective action.

3. Illuminating the settlement pattern and performance parameters of urban and regional systems in a sustainable society in the biosphere (2D land use, 3D urban form, and multimodal transportation system).

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]