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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Director’s note: Planning Positivity

By Florentina Craciun, May 13, 2021

In a year-plus that has felt like the world is im­plod­ing or ex­plod­ing, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that there’s still plenty of good around us. Last year, our holiday party centered on Plan­ning Positivity. We en­cour­aged plan­ners every­where to share their “plan­ning positivity” stories. Well, what can be more positive than the amazing planning efforts recognized in our annual Northern Section Awards program?

You can browse the list of our 2021 winners, but I want to highlight two efforts that overcame the pandemic’s challenges to produce innovative and beneficial results for communities.

  • The “Academic Award” of Excellence went to the Alum Rock Avenue Community Assessment, undertaken by graduate students in the San Jose State University Master of Urban Planning Program, Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters.

You’ll find a cogent description of this capstone project in Translating business and customer perspectives into recommendations for change,” in this issue of Northern News.

  • In the category of “Innovation in Green Community Planning,” the Award of Excellence went to the Lower Russian River Trail Feasibility Study, prepared by a team that included Sonoma County Regional Parks, Alta Planning + Design, W-Trans, Green Valley Consulting Engineers, Miller Pacific Engineering Group, Alta Archeology, Peter Baye, and Rachel Kamman.

The Lower Russian River Trail Feasibility Study “combines robust rural bilingual public engagement; excellent storytelling including historical context-setting, user profiles, and case studies; technical analyses including benefit-cost, route, and alignment; and a context-sensitive implementation plan that includes partnering with the local unhoused population to address multiple operations and maintenance concerns. The result is a visually compelling, public-facing plan that lays out [both the vision for the trail and] the next steps. In order to engage community members living in towns ranging in population from 90 to 5,000, the Sonoma County Regional Parks team hosted multiple community meetings totaling more than 100 in-person participants, solicited feedback via an online survey and interactive map with over 800 responses, and met with 15 community organizations representing stakeholders from the recreation, environmental stewardship, schools, health, business, bicycling, and trails sectors.”

Our 2021 Section Awards represent the positive future of planning. Send me your comments and thoughts at

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