Tag: 2020-11-nn-norcal

Northern Section leadership election results

Northern Section leadership election results

By Sajuti Rahman Haque, associate editor 

The results are in from the Northern Section election held in November 2020. 

On January 1, 2021, Michael Cass moves up to Director-Elect. Veronica Flores will continue as Administrative Director for a two-year term ending December 31, 2022.  

As Director-elect, Cass plans to focus on sup­porting the new Section Director, Florentina Craciun, and guiding the Section Board as we tra­verse an unprecedented health crisis and political and social unrest to a post-pandemic world. He also hopes to assist the Board in cap­italiz­ing on the Section’s successes in 2020, including increased virtual presence, region­al col­labora­tion, and expanded emphasis on di­vers­ity, equity, and inclusion. Cass has been Northern Section Treasurer since March 2019 and was the East Bay Regional Activity Co-coordina­tor (RAC) in 2018 and 2019. A public sector planner for more than 16 years, Cass is principal planner for the City of Dublin. He previously worked as a planner for Lafayette and Concord. Separately, he serves as an advisory board member for Sustainable Contra Costa. Cass holds a BA in communications from St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, and a certificate in land use and environmental planning from UC Davis Extension. 

Flores, who has been the Section’s Admin­istra­tive Direc­tor since November 2019, hopes to build on organiza­tional chan­ges made in 2020 to fur­ther Nor­thern Sec­tion’s efficiency and effect­ive­nessAmong her ob­jec­tives are enhancing the Board’s account­abil­ity to Northern Section mem­bers and refining resources for new and veteran board members — all while con­tinu­ing to focus on event plan­ning and in­forma­tion sharing. Previously, Flores served as SJSU Student Rep­resenta­tive to the Board and Co-director of the Young and Emerging Planners Group (formerly Young Planners Group). She also as­sist­ed with Northern Section’s Mentorship Program, Awards Gala, and state and national conference planning. Flores is a senior planner in the Legisla­tive Af­fairs Sec­tion of the San Fran­cis­co Plan­ning Depart­ment. She holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University and a BA in sociology from UC Berkeley. 

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2021 Planning Leadership Academy, February 5

2021 Planning Leadership Academy, February 5

Co-hosted by the California Planning Roundtable and APA California

Friday, February 5, 2021, from 8:30–10:30 am

The California Planning Roundtable has launched the 2021 Leadership Academy. Registration is now open until December 27, 2020

This professional development program is targeted to mid-career professionals interested in leadership roles in their organizations. The program was developed to help planners make an impact by learning directly from fellow change-makers from across California who are advancing best practices and important causes and leading others through transformative changes.

For more information, please visit the Leadership Academy webpage.

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Planners must care, especially now

Planners must care, especially now

By James Rojas, November 14, 2020

Community engagement is a big business. It can be part of a formal planning process every few years when formal, adopted plans are updated. But community engagement happens all the time through organizing. If we are to build trust between our communities and the governments that provide their services, we planners need to learn how to bridge the gap between our formal, infrequent engagement and the ongoing community organizing.

As a Latino, I find traditional urban planning community meetings disingenuous at best, confusing or contentious at worst. I believe community engagement needs to celebrate people, lift their spirits, and remove any doubt the participants, especially Latinos, might have about government and planning.

Most of my collaborators are women of color who have a genuine concern for the wellbeing of their community. They want a social, collaborative approach to planning. Some want what we call community visioning. Others want to organize around environmental issues in the community. 

Many of these people have been left out of the formal planning processes of municipal governments and private consulting firms. In too many places, their issues, concerns, and voices have never been heard. 

If we, as planners, want these communities to trust us in what we propose, we have to share our planning power or concede it. We need to be there, in and with the communities we represent and serve. That means we cannot appear every five to seven years. Instead, we have to build the planning capacity of our communities, lift them up, and encourage their interest and involvement, if not self-determination.

I argue that solely using words is a very limited way of understanding place and planning for communities. We need to expand our toolkit beyond words to feel the essence of communities and capture the nuances that create great places.

To sum up, as Al Zelinka, the Riverside City Manager and a colleague on the California Planning Roundtable stated, “Civic engagement should be a conduit for community building through shared vision, shared responsibility, and shared benefits.”

We also need to trust communities to undertake their own community engagement, and share problem solving with community members. 

An example of power-sharing is the East Oakland Neighborhoods Initiative, a partnership between the City of Oakland Planning Bureau and 12 community-based organizations focused on equity-based planning for deep East Oakland. The community organizations conducted a year of outreach to identify the primary concerns, goals, and priorities of East Oakland residents and stakeholders.

James Rojas is an urban planner, community outreach specialist, and artist with Place It! He holds an MCP from MIT and a B.S. in interior design from Woodbury University. You can reach him at jamestrojas@gmail.com.





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California’s approach to housing crisis is ineffective, Auditor says

California’s approach to housing crisis is ineffective, Auditor says

By Jared Brey, Next City, November 20, 2020 

California State Auditor Elaine Howle issued a report  saying that the state has failed to create a comprehensive approach to ad­dressing hous­ing issues and has left $2.7 billion in potential hous­ing funding on the table, according to a report in Bloomberg. The audit says that the state’s four agencies that issue funding for housing pro­grams are “mis­aligned,” and that the state fails to compel cities to provide their own share of affordable housing, according to the report. According to Bloomberg, the report recommends eliminating the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, which is chaired by the state treasurer, and is responsible for allocating debt and bond authority for various projects with a public benefit. The committee could do more to address the housing crisis if it would dedicate more bond funding to affordable-housing projects, rather than to other projects like proposed rail lines and waste and recycling plants, the report found, according to Bloomberg. 

“California is failing to build enough affordable homes for lower income residents in part because the state lacks an effective approach to planning and financing development of affordable housing at both the state and local levels,” the auditor found, according to the report. “The state needs to improve its statewide housing plan, harmonize its funding programs, and strengthen its oversight of cities and counties.” 

Read the full column here. 

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Who’s where

Who’s where

Haeseo (Hazel) Choi has joined the Northern Section team as associate editor, Northern News. For two years, she was a manager at the Seoul Digital Foundation, fostering urban startups addressing transportation problems and implementing research cooperation among cities and entrepreneurs. Choi completed coursework in policy science from Ewha Women’s University and holds a bachelor’s degree from Dongduk Women’s University (both in Seoul). She is a master in urban planning candidate at San Jose State University and was awarded a California Planning Foundation scholarship for 2020-2021.

Christopher Dacumos joined Good City Company in October as a Senior Planner and Proj­ect Man­ag­er, bring­ing nearly 10 years of local govern­ment ex­peri­ence with small to mid-range local governments and trans­portation districts. Previously the community development management analyst for Redwood City, he also worked as the management analyst for the Town of Hills­borough and as budget and grants planner for SamTrans. Dacumos holds an MPA in public policy from Princeton University and a BA in social welfare from UC Berkeley.  

After 17 years in the Bay Area, Shannon Fiala, who had been coastal program manager for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Com­mis­sion, is relocating to Los Angeles to rejoin the California Coastal Com­mis­sion. (She was a CCC senior coastal planner in 2017.) As South­ern California Coast­al Program Manager, Fiala will supervise long-range plan updates and permits in collaboration with Caltrans Districts 7, 11, and 12 covering five counties from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Her previous positions include senior coastal planner at California Coastal Commission, Ocean Beach deputy program manager at SPUR, and restoration project manager for Napa County Resource Conservation District. She holds an MCP and MLA from UC Berkeley and a BS in resource ecology and management from the University of Michigan. Fiala served on the APA California–Northern Section Board, 2014-2016. 

Sanhita Ghosal, AICP, recently joined the APA California-Northern Section board as Distance Education Coordinator, a post created in September 2018. The coordinator plans, organizes, and hosts the many work­shops, lectures, and training sessions Nor­thern Section offers online — streaming and as webinars — and expects to offer in-person as well, post-pandemic. Ghosal has been with the City of San Jose for more than 16 years, most recently as a planner III. She holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University, a master of en­gineer­ing/archi­tecture from the University of Tokyo, and a BA in architecture from the Bengal Engineering and Science University. Ghosal believes that training and development are two pillars of success and is excited to contribute to the professional growth of the planning community.

Leila Hakimizadeh, AICP, LEED AP ND, has joined the Northern Section team as associate editor, Nor­thern News. She has co-authored several articles featured in Northern News (2014, 2020). Hakimi­zadeh has over 14 years’ experience in land use and transportation planning, urban design, and housing for the public and private sectors in Canada and the US. Since 2014, she has been with the City of San José as a supervising urban planner. Hakimizadeh holds master’s degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design and a graduate certificate in GIS. 

Julia Hoffman recently joined Good City Com­pany and will start as a contracted Planning Technician for the City of San Carlos. Hoffman recently graduated from UC Davis with a BS in environmental policy analysis and planning. Previous ex­per­iences include part-time project manager at Repower Yolo, policy intern at UPSTREAM, and social science and sustain­ability intern at UC Davis. Hoffman is looking forward to being a planner in her own hometown.  

Sailesh Mehra, who had been with the City of South San Francisco for more than five years — most recently as planning manager — is now the City Planning Manager for the City of San Mateo. Earlier positions included associate city planner for Redwood City and city planner for the City and County of San Francisco. Mehra holds a BA in ur­ban studies from San Francisco State University.  

Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, who joined Facebook in March 2017 as Campus Con­nectiv­ity Manager has been pro­moted to Man­ager of Trans­porta­tion Plan­ning and Optimiza­tion. In his new role, he over­sees plan­ning, analysis, and project management for the Transporta­tion team. Before join­ing Facebook, Schuppert had been a planning associate with Alta Planning + Design and a lecturer at San Jose State University. He has been active on the Northern Section Board since 2013, serving as South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator, Professional Development Director, Treasurer, Director-elect, Director, and Immediate Past Director as of January 1, 2021. Schuppert holds a BS in city and regional planning from Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, photography, bicycling, food, and coffee.

Darcy Smith, AICP, is now Community De­velop­ment Director for the City of Millbrae. Previously she was the community and economic development director for the City of San Bruno. Before that, Smith was with the city of San Mateo for more than 15 years, most recently as principal planner–zoning administrator. Earlier positions included associate planner for the city of Campbell and urban planner at Dyett & Bhatia, San Francisco. Smith holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University and a BS in earth systems from Stanford University. 

Rachael A. Tanner has been appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the San Francisco Plan­ning Com­mis­sion. She will serve out the remainder of a term that ends on June 30, 2022. Tanner is the Assistant Director of Planning and Development Services for the City of Palo Alto. Before that, she was a senior planner for the City and County of San Francisco and legislative aide to District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai. She holds a master of city planning from MIT and a BA in political science from the University of Michigan. 

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Call for nominations, Northern Section Treasurer

Call for nominations, Northern Section Treasurer

Do you want to be more involved with APA? Do you want to serve your fellow Northern Section members? Consider joining your Northern Section Board as Treasurer!

In general, the Treasurer’s duties include preparing an annual budget, keeping track of all Section accounts and funds, submitting financial reports to the Section Board, and submitting a year-end financial report to the Chapter. As a Section member, you may nominate yourself or another Section member by providing a candidate’s statement (max. 500 words) and a résumé by Sunday, January 3, 2021.

Treasurer candidates should have a working knowledge of accounting procedures, including posting debits and credits into accounting software, balancing accounts, and reconciling statements. The Treasurer shall (1) Prepare an annual Section budget for submittal to the Section Director; (2) Receive and be held accountable for all Section accounts and funds and properly authorize the disbursement of said funds, including those received through an electronic transfer website; (3) Collect or designate a person responsible to collect money at events that require a fee; (4) Work with any bookkeeper or other finance professional hired to assist with prescribed financial duties, such as tax and annual reporting requirements; (5) Submit financial reports to the Section Board; and (6) Submit quarterly financial reports, including an end-of-year financial report, to the Chapter.

Upon election, the Section Treasurer will complete the remainder of a term that concludes on December 31, 2021. Candidates must be an APA member current in dues and reside and practice planning within the Northern Section.

Submit a candidate’s statement summarizing qualifications (maximum 500 words) and a résumé to Section Director-Elect Florentina Craciun, AICP, at directorelect@norcalapa.org by Sunday, January 3, 2021. Questions? Contact directorelect@norcalapa.org or treasurer@norcalapa.org.

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Director’s note: Nearing the end of the longest year

Director’s note: Nearing the end of the longest year

By Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, December 8, 2020

As what feels like one of the long­est years of my life winds down and I near the end of my term as Sec­tion Di­rec­tor, I can’t help but think — what a year this has been! I start­ed 2020 — what was sup­posed to be my sec­ond year as Di­rec­tor-Elect — with news that our then Sec­tion Di­rec­tor, James Castañeda, AICP, was step­ping down and mov­ing out of the region.

My ex­pedited transi­tion into the role of Section Director was quickly followed by the growing concerns of Covid-19 and a life of shelter­ing-in-place. This change-on-top-of-change reminds me of the need to be flexible and to follow through on what I stated in my first Director’s note: “Commit to being a little terrified every day.”

I have indeed been “a little terrified every day,” but I have also been thankful for, and amazed at, the willingness of folks to help, come together, and find meaningful solutions. I saw that in the world around me, including with our amazing board members.

I feel honored to serve (virtually, of course) with board members who consistently rise to the challenge and push the envelope to serve our members and advance our profession. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and creative group, and I couldn’t be prouder of the resilience they showed in these challenging times.

While we’ve had to change the format of our events and how we communicate with each other, we’ve adapted. We continue to provide quality programming and we’ve expanded our reach.

We paused some events — or course-corrected — to adapt to the “new normal”: We helped plan the Chapter’s first virtual conference, which highlighted issues around diversity, housing, and the future of our profession. And we’re planning our first virtual holiday party, celebrating #PlanningPositivity to focus on the many great things that happened this year.

Our incoming Section Director, Florentina Craciun, AICP, has served on the Board since 2012 in a number of capacities, including Membership Director, East Bay Regional Activities Coordinator, and Awards Program Co-Director. She has big things planned for our Section in the coming two years and will guide us into our “newer normal” post-pandemic. Joining her are incoming Director-Elect Michael Cass, and continuing Administrative Director Veronica Flores, who were elected to two-year terms beginning January 1, 2021. All will serve through December 31, 2022, as will I, as Immediate Past Director.

We want YOU to join the Board

Do you want to be more involved with APA in the coming year? Are you ready to use your skills to benefit our Northern Section? Consider joining the Board. We need a treasurer to serve out the remainder of Michael’s term (through 2021). We also have several vacant board and committee positions waiting for you. For additional information on these positions and how to apply, please contact Florentina Craciun, AICP, at directorelect@norcalapa.org.

Happy Holidays!

I hope to see you at our first virtual holiday celebration, where you can reconnect with your peers and have some fun as we embrace #PlanningPositivity!

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Share your #PlanningPositivity story and join us December 16th!

Share your #PlanningPositivity story and join us December 16th!

While November typically brings us together for a holiday celebration, this year we’re connecting in a different way for our annual gathering. In addition to a night of (virtual) celebration, we are asking each of you, and all of our members, to share what made this year special for you and your teams, your families, your communities.

Share your stories of #PlanningPositivity on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Then join us on December 16th at 6:30 pm for a virtual event with fun games and conversation to celebrate and wrap up our month-long #PlanningPositivity campaign!

Log on NOW or follow our social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram to share your #PlanningPositivity photos, memes, videos, news, and stories using the hashtag — positive, wholesome, radically amazing, or just plain good planning-related events, experiences, projects, or ideas that occurred in 2020 that you want to celebrate together. Together we will bring to light the good in our lives to share with others and spread the joy we still know exists in the world. So…

  • Share your stories of #PlanningPositivity using the hashtag.
  • Tag others and share with your own networks to spread the light farther.

We know this year has been difficult. Let’s celebrate what’s made it special.

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