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Listening Sessions: APA and CPR want to hear from you

The housing crisis is worsening and getting more complex. How can planners lead effectively while preventing the displacement of our neighbors?

The California Planning Roundtable and APA California want to hear from the state’s APA members, via the California Chapter’s Sections, about how the last few years of legislative land-use efforts have affected them personally and in their professional settings. Ultimately, Cal Chapter and the Roundtable will also seek strategies to realize housing affordability and prevent or mitigate displacement, including concerns about, and ideas for, implementing recent housing bills. CPR hopes to synthesize information from across the state to share at the Chapter’s conference in the fall; to use that data to inform the Chapter’s stance on housing and land use legislation; and potentially to create agency for the Chapter to assist the legislative process. The current effort is to learn how the legislation and its implementation are affecting professionals and their workplaces statewide.

Listening sessions on Providing Homes for People

In an effort to address California’s tremendous housing crisis and the effects of historically low housing production and continuing high housing demand, California’s political response over the last several years has been to enact numerous bills. These include SB 35, SB 330, AB 2162, SB 8, SB 9, SB 10, and increasing opportunities for ADUs. In general, the legislation has required local agencies to alter their traditional processes and discretionary project review for single-family zoning and environmental review, potentially decreasing development fees. While these bills work toward addressing supply and fast-tracking housing (especially those projects with affordable components), they do not sufficiently address (except through longer-term supply pipelines) concerns about housing affordability and security, gentrification and displacement, and equitable community benefits. In addition, entrenched bureaucratic and political perspectives continue to challenge affordable housing development, not to mention market speculation.

California’s planners are at the center of ensuring that implementing these bills will deliver real results, even in the face of local political opposition to the changes in process dictated by state mandates. This presents a challenge to and an opportunity for California’s planners to help rethink local government systems and processes in light of the state’s tremendous need for affordable housing, but it has come at a cost for practicing planners.

CPR’s series of listening sessions is designed to ask, and to learn from, planners throughout California about how these pieces of legislation are affecting them, their workplaces, and their concerns and hopes as we implement these bills.

The Roundtable and Cal Chapter hope to ask:

  1. As a planner, how do you feel about the fact that the state is in a housing crisis? As leaders in land use, what can APA California do to support you in addressing this crisis?
  2. How has the new state housing legislation affected your workplace and the agencies you staff?
  3. What challenges do you face, and what opportunities do you see in your professional work when you try to address housing and equity issues?
  4. How can we as planners ensure that this new legislation will prevent displacement to the extent possible and will be implemented in a way that directly advances APA’s goals for affordability and equity, while also improving infrastructure and sustainability?
  5. How can the planning profession learn and respond in a way that highlights our relevance and ability to solve local, regional, and statewide land use and housing problems?  

In order to broadly identify the opportunities and challenges in implementing the last several years of housing and land use bills, the California Planning Roundtable is co-sponsoring this effort with APA California and each of its local sections to collect, synthesize, and distribute the comments received during the listening sessions. The Roundtable will then work with APA California leadership to look at ways to use the information in both legislation and implementation.

Proposed agenda for the listening sessions

The following is a proposed agenda for each Section to follow. Remember that the point of these sessions is specifically to solicit planners’ thoughts and in a consistent approach across all sections. We anticipate sessions lasting two hours. The comments should be recorded and consolidated by the hosts and shared after the meetings.

  1. Introduction of topic and facilitators. Discuss intent to share at conference. 15 minutes.
  2. Overview of legislation (“Lite.” This is not a presentation of or on the legislation, rather we are soliciting attitudes about the legislation). Create presentation handout for this. 20 minutes.
  3. Facilitated discussion to go through the questions one at a time. Let silence fall if needed. Don’t fill in blanks. Let folks think. If a section has a large number of participants (more than 10-15), break into discussion “rooms” to report back to the whole group. Allow 20 minutes for the first two questions, then report back to the group. Allow 15 minutes for the second set of questions, then report back. Keep 10 minutes solely for the last question, then report back. 75 minutes total.
  4. Any last remarks and questions can be sent via email. Thank you and adjourn.


Interested Northern Section planners should contact Director-elect Michael Cass. General questions should be directed to Miguel A. Vazquez, AICP.

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