Tag: 2021-08-nn-norcal

You are the Ace in the Hole; don’t count on anyone else
Career Advice

You are the Ace in the Hole; don’t count on anyone else

By Steve Matarazzo, August 1, 2021

I have been a practicing urban planner in California since 1972. Most of that time I’ve been in the public sector — the last seven years as adjunct staff to public agencies. Although I have been continuously employed, with only a few breaks for vacations and occasional illness, there have been times when my unbroken chain of employment was threatened. Those included (1) a major fiscal disruption in local government revenue caused by Proposition 13 (1978); (2) a major recession in the early 1980s which also reduced local government revenues; (3) the last major recession before the Pandemic (2009); (4) the dissolution of Redevelopment in 2011; and (5) the current Covid pandemic.

At one particular time during one of those crises, I was anxiously pondering my next employment move because budgets were being cut and I held a relatively low rank in the executive order. Some of my anxiety eased when I remembered something one of my previous bosses said to me when I left his employ. As I departed that former agency, he said to me (and I am paraphrasing only a little), “Steve, if you ever need a job, there will always be an opening for you here, for as long as I’m around.” Since that time, I felt I had an ace in the hole should the need arise.

Fast-forward a few years following that grand gesture to when I expeditiously needed a job. I phoned my “sure thing” and stated my dilemma. In the kindest of terms, he said to me, “Steve, I would truly like to help you, but there are no openings, and the budget is very tight right now. I wish you only the best.” I understood, of course, and realized there was nothing he could do.

I also realized that in employment and in life in general, there is no ace in the hole, other than you yourself. The only ace is you: Only your personal, educational, and professional qualities will advance your career and fulfill your life.

Steve Matarazzo is Chief of Planning at 4-LEAF, Inc., and lives in Aptos, California. He holds a master’s in urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara. You can reach him at matarazzos423@gmail.com.



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Locals win state and national APA Awards

Locals win state and national APA Awards

As they have every year, northern California planning programs and projects have again been recognized for their excellence. Here’s a rundown of who won state and national awards in 2021.


Award of Excellence

Transportation Planning Award – Richmond Ferry to Bridge to Greenway Complete Streets Plan, City of Richmond

Academic Award – Community Priorities for the Alum Rock Avenue Corridor, Department of Urban & Regional Planning, San Jose State University

Award of Merit

Grassroots Initiative Award – Rebuilding our Downtown, a Community Led Initiative to Rebuild Santa Clara Downtown, Reclaiming Our Downtown

Public Outreach Award – La Honda Public Access Working Group – Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Urban Design Award – The Balboa Reservoir Design Standards and Guidelines, Van Meter Williams Pollack Architecture | Urban Design

Hard-Won Victories Award – City of Half Moon Bay Local Coastal Land Use Plan Update, City of Half Moon Bay


From Planning magazine

“The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency won APA National’s award for Advancing Diversity and Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff for [its] dedication to reaching underrepresented communities through the Bayview Community Based Transportation Plan (Bayview CBTP).

“To ensure that trusted community partners were not tokenized during the process, planners worked directly with staff from each organization at every step of public outreach. Their input led to recommendations [such as] offering interpreters, full meals, and childcare at all stand-alone workshops. Innovative engagement techniques also included a Youth Transportation Summit, a documentary film developed by Bayview youth, and community recalibration of a GIS-based Equity Index tool.

“ ‘The value of planning,’ said project planner and engineer Ariel Ward, ‘is building relationships with people. It is serving people. …The heart of any good planning effort should be people.’ ”

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Snapshots of APA ethnicity and gender

Snapshots of APA ethnicity and gender

From APA National, July 6, 2021

“To support development of equity, diversity, and inclusion-related initiatives,” APA has provided “demographic breakdowns … of our [section’s] membership compared to APA’s overall membership.”

These two images are among five provided in APA’s PowerPoint, which is intended for easy presentation to any chapter members who might benefit from the information.

Among the notable demographic differences between national and our section, Northern Section’s membership is more female, Chinese, and Asian than the national APA membership, but is less Black and less White.

National plans to provide updates on a regular basis to help us understand who our members are as “a step toward promoting diversity and inclusion in the planning profession.”

Note: The categories used in this survey are consistent with those used by the U.S. Census.

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Northern Section congratulates our 24 successful May 2021 AICP Examinees

Northern Section congratulates our 24 successful May 2021 AICP Examinees

From APA Interact

“APA congratulates the 543 dedicated planners who passed the rigorous AICP Certification Exam in May. We now welcome (so far) 277 new AICP members and 119 AICP Candidates from this exam cycle.”

Kudos to all for your hard work and commitment to the planning profession.


Here are the names of our 18 new AICP members and six AICP Candidates. If you see an error or omission, please let us know at news@norcalapa.org.

Alexander Barton, AICP
Joshua Bevan, AICP
Lyne-Marie Bouvet, AICP
Paola Boylan, AICP
Erik Calloway, AICP
Beibei Chen, AICP
Annelise Dohrer, AICP
Claudia Garcia, AICP
Douglas Moody, AICP
Lu Pang, AICP
Alene Pearson, AICP
Allison Riemer, AICP
Emily Schwimmer, AICP
Samantha Suter, AICP
Caroline Swinehart, AICP
Andrew Trippel, AICP
Angela Xiong, AICP
Kaitlin Zitelli, AICP


Emilio Flamenco, AICP Candidate
Dhawal Kataria, AICP Candidate
Shu Pan, AICP Candidate
Gavin Lohry, AICP Candidate
Allison Quach, AICP Candidate
Quinn Wallace, AICP Candidate

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Who’s where

Who’s where

By Haeseo (Hazel) Choi

Larissa Alchin is now an Assistant Planner with M-Group. Before joining the firm, she worked for the City of Sausalito as an assistant planner. Alchin also had been an intern at the City of Hercules and Sonoma State University’s Center for Sustainable Communities. She has a BA in environmental studies with a concentration in Planning from Sonoma State University.



Sarah Allen, AICPhas been promoted to Assistant Planning Director at the City of Lafayette, where she has worked since 2007. She leads the General Plan and Housing Element Update for the city. Whether processing a subdivision, taking a multifamily residential project through the entitlement process, presenting a policy to City Council, or mentoring junior staff, Allen’s passion for planning comes through. She has a master of urban planning and real estate development from the University of Southern California and a BA in sociology from CSU Sacramento. In her free time, you can expect to see her globetrotting or backpacking. She recently completed the John Muir Trail in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Kelly Beggs has been promoted to Principal Planner and Planning Manager at Good City Company. She has more than 10 years experience in land use planning, environmental planning, GIS analysis, and public outreach. Beggs previously worked as an associate planner at Urban Planning Partners and as an environmental planner at Panorama Environmental. She holds a master’s in city and regional planning from Rutgers and a BA in English from Davidson College (North Carolina). 



Ethan Bin­der­nagel, AICPhas ac­cepted the role of As­sis­tant City Man­ager / Com­munity De­velop­ment Director with the City of Pleasant Hill, ef­fec­tive August 16. He pre­vious­ly worked for the City of Wal­nut Creek for more than 13 years, most re­cent­ly as plan­ning manager. Binder­nagel was an aide to then-US Rep. Bernie Sanders (2000-2003) and a community planner in Greenbelt, MD, 2005-2006. He holds a master’s in community planning from the University of Maryland–College Park, a BA in public policy from the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, and studied public policy analysis during a year at the Università di Bologna. Bindernagel lives in Lafayette with his wife and two children.  

Mike Camp­bell, AICP, is now at MIG in their San Jose Office as Di­­rec­tor of Envi­ron­mental Analy­sis. He has more than 30 years’ ex­­pe­ri­ence in local land use plan­ning, en­vi­ron­mental con­sult­ing, and storm­water manage­ment with public agencies and private industry. Camp­bell previously was a project manager at David J. Powers & Associates and a senior planner and stormwater compliance manager at HMH Engineers before that (2004-2016). He also had been the director of current planning with RBF Consulting for five years and planner and urban runoff coordinator at the City of San Jose for 11 years. He holds a BS in natural resource planning and interpretation from Humboldt State University. 

 Emily Carroll is now As­sis­tant Plan­ner with the City of Pleas­anton. She pre­viously worked for the City of Rich­mond, most re­cent­ly as Plan­ner II, 2018-2021, and she was a plan­ning tech­nician with the City of Lafayette before that. Carroll holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Smith College. When not in the office, you can find her trail running in Redwood Regional Park. She is the North Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC) for APA California – Northern Section.


Karen Chap­ple, Pro­fessor Emerita of City and Regional Plan­ning at UC Berkeley, has been named the new Director of the School of Cities at the Uni­versity of Toronto, where she is Pro­fessor of Geography and Plan­ning. She joined the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley in 2001 and was most recently professor and chair of the department. Chapple remains a Faculty Research Affiliate at Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. She holds a PhD from UC Berkeley, a master of science in city and regional planning from the Pratt Institute, and a bachelor of arts in urban studies (Phi Beta Kappa) from Columbia University. Her great-grandfather Henry Chapple graduated from the University of Toronto’s Trinity College with a medical degree in the mid-1880s. 

Emilio Fla­menco, AICP Can­di­date, is an As­sis­tant Plan­ner at Good City Company, and is currently contracted to the City of San Carlos Planning Division. Prior to joining Good City, Flamenco worked for Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).  He has interned with the City of Brisbane, San Mateo County Transit District, and San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Flamenco has a master’s in urban planning from Columbia University-GSAPP and a BA in history from UC Berkeley. In his free time, he enjoys long-distance running, backpacking, and traveling. 


Jonathan Fox has been promoted to As­so­ci­ate Plan­ner at the City of Lafay­ette. Before join­ing the city in 2019, he was a plan­ning tech­nician at San Benito County. Fox holds a BA in urban studies and plan­ning from CSU Northridge. 



Adam Garcia is now an Assistant Project Manager at David J. Powers & As­so­ci­ates. Pre­viously, he worked for M-Group as an environ­mental plan­ner, and before that he was plan­ning and re­search manager at Greenbelt Alliance for more than nine years and helped develop the Bay Area Greenprint. Garcia holds an MA in urban planning from UCLA and a BS in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara.



Jessica Gon­zalez has been pro­mo­ted to an As­sociate Planner at the City of Walnut Creek where she has worked since 2019 as an assistant planner. Gonzalez had also worked for the City of Concord’s Planning Division for four years and was a project manager at AEI Consultants (Walnut Creek) prior to her planning career. She holds a BS in environmental policy analysis and planning from UC Davis. 



Ellen Green­berg, FAICP, an il­lus­tri­ous mul­ti­dis­ci­plin­ary plan­ner, retired July 15 as Cal­trans Deputy Director for Sus­tain­ability, a post she held in Sacra­mento for nearly five years. Green­berg was ap­pointed to her Cal­trans position in November 2016 following six years at Arup, where she held leadership roles in the firm’s San Francisco and London offices. As Greenberg ends full-time work, she looks forward to using her time and mental energy very differently. She holds an MCP, an MA in civil engineering and transportation, and a BA in geography (highest honors), all from UC Berkeley. Greenberg has written for Northern News. She is the author of Brexit: A planner’s view from London, July-August 2016, http://bit.ly/2a2SI9V, and John Blayney, FAICP, 1927-2013: An appreciation, October 2013, http://bit.ly/BlayneyNN, page 4.

Nicholas Hamilton has joined Good City Company as a Senior Planner. He most recently was a con­sul­tant to es­tab­lish multiple collaborative initiatives for the revitalization of disinvested communities across the U.S. at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2018-2021. Hamilton also had directed the legacy cities partnership and urban policy work of the American Assembly at Columbia University, 2012-2018. He holds a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a BA in architecture from UC Berkeley. He serves on the board of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization.

Andrew Hatt, who has been University Liaison to the APA Cali­fornia-North­ern Sec­tion Board for the past year, has left to at­tend grad­u­ate school at the Uni­versity of Washing­ton. He was a sustain­ability plan­ner at Rincon Consultants, where he coordinated with project managers on climate action plan measures, development, and public outreach efforts. Hatt holds a BA in environmental studies from the University of Michigan. 



Izanie LoveNed, a Com­mu­ni­ty En­gage­ment In­tern with the San Francisco Plan­ning Depart­ment and a former North­ern Sec­tion Student Rep­resenta­tive from San Jose State University, has returned to the North­ern Section Board as Uni­versity Liaison. In 2019, she was a Research Fellow with APA’s Planning in the Black Com­munity Division, which ad­dresses plan­ning issues of significance to the Black com­munity. LoveNed holds a master’s in urban and regional planning from San Jose State University, a BS in community and regional development from UC Davis, and an AS in mathematics and science from City College of San Francisco. She lives in Antioch, where she enjoys crafting using her Cricut machine in her free time. 

Linda Meckel, who had been a senior planner with the San Francisco County Trans­porta­tion Authority, is now Senior Trans­porta­tion Plan­ner with WSP. She also worked at Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Tran­sit, 2011-2017, most re­cently as a senior plan­ner. Meckel holds a master’s in city plan­ning from the University of Pennsyl­vania and a BA in anthro­pology and biology from the University of Washington. Her many hob­bies include Squaw Valley Ski Patrol, Oakland Women’s Water Polo, and jewelry and other crafts. During the pandemic, she sewed many masks, including a transportation themed mask that was featured by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter on Twitter. 

Jane Riley, AICP, has been pro­moted from Princi­pal Plan­ner at 4LEAF, Inc., to Di­rector of Hous­ing Policy. Before join­ing 4LEAF, she worked for Sonoma County for 18 years, most recently as compre­hensive plan­ning manager. Riley holds a master’s in interdisciplinary studies (housing and community development) and a BA in environmental studies and planning, both from Sonoma State University. 



Ralph Robinson is now an As­sis­tant Plan­ner with Good City Com­pany, work­ing prin­cipally in Atherton and Portola Valley. He pre­viously worked as a re­search as­so­ci­ate at the Mineta Trans­porta­tion Institute and as a project co­ordinator at Comm­UniverCity. He has a master’s in urban plan­ning, with a focus in trans­porta­tion and land use plan­ning, from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s in geography from the University of Richmond (Virginia). 



Anne Wong, AICP, is now As­so­ci­ate Plan­ner with the City of San Le­andro. She previously worked for the City of Wal­nut Creek and the City of Dublin. Wong has master’s and bachelor’s in urban and regional plan­ning from UCLA. 





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Get on Board!

Get on Board!

We have room for you on our APA California Northern Section Board. To see the board vacancies and how to apply, go here.

What do you get out of it?

  • Meaningfully give back to the planning profession
  • Have an impact on the strategic direction of the Section
  • Collaborate with your peers
  • Mentor future generations of planners or become a mentee of experienced Board Members
  • Build up and celebrate leaders in the industry
  • Build your skillset and enrich your résumé
  • Grow your network of local planning professionals
  • Have fun and make new friends!

There’s a catch.

You must be an APA member with a current, paid-up membership, and live or practice planning within the Northern Section (Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma counties).

What’s in it for us?

We get to benefit from your point of view about what we should be doing for your colleague planners in northern California. Face it: We need all the help we can get.


Just email Section Director-Elect Michael P. Cass at directorelect@norcalapa.org.

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Northern Section Treasurer Nominations due Sept 30

Northern Section Treasurer Nominations due Sept 30

The Treasurer will serve a two-year term, commencing January 1, 2022. As described in the Section’s Bylaws, Section 4.6.5, the responsibilities of the position include:

Working knowledge of profit and loss statements, balance sheets, reconciliation procedures, Quicken, or other accounting computer software programs as specified by APA California. The Treasurer:

  • Prepares an annual budget for the Section;
  • Receives and is held accountable for all Section accounts and funds;
  • Authorizes disbursement of funds, including through electronic transfers;
  • Collects or designates a responsible person to collect money at events that require a fee;
  • Submits financial reports to the Section Board; and
  • Submits quarterly and year-end financial reports to the Chapter.

Interested Northern Section members in good standing (including incumbent Board members) should submit by September 30, 2021, a complete nomination petition that includes name, address of membership, email, work or daytime phone number, signatures of support from five current Northern Section members, and a brief statement of candidacy (not to exceed 500 words) to the Nomination Committee Chair, Section Director-Elect Michael Cass, directorelect@norcalapa.org.

Electronic ballots will be sent to Section members on October 19, and they will be due November 9, 2021. The Nomination Committee will publish qualifying candidate statements in the November edition of Northern News (online on October 19) and will include on the election ballot all candidates who meet the minimum qualifications as described in the Section Bylaws (Section 4.2.2) which can be found at http://bit.ly/O0dLMo.

Please submit completed nomination petitions to the Nomination Committee Chair, Section Director-Elect Michael Cass, directorelect@norcalapa.org.

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APA California Conference update

APA California Conference update

The 2021 State Conference will be held virtually, September 13-15.

Early bird registration has been extended to August 30.

State Conference organizers are looking for seasoned professionals to assist at the Zoom sessions for the Students and Emerging Planners Network table on Tuesday, September 14. Volunteers will be offered a FREE registration for the conference. See the flyer here.

The conference will feature three “big conversations” and keynote speakers.

Big Conversation #1: The Homeless Crisis in California

Big Conversation #2: Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation in California

Big Conversation #3: The Future of Community Infrastructure

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New AICP Credit Maintenance reporting and requirements take effect in January

New AICP Credit Maintenance reporting and requirements take effect in January

Beginning January 1, 2022, the American Planning Association’s CM reporting will place every AICP member on the same two-year reporting cycle.

“Equity” and “Sustainability and Resilience” are being added as mandatory credits

As part of the ongoing evolution of AICP to ensure that certification remains relevant to the needs of today’s planners and communities, the Certification Maintenance program is being updated.

The update prioritizes two new mandatory topics identified by the AICP Commission as critical knowledge areas planners need to best serve their communities.

The criteria for education that meet the new topics were developed by subject matter expert task forces and are being shared with CM Providers to ensure education will be available on the new topics.

Beginning January 1, 2022, AICP members will be able to start logging two new mandatory credits in addition to Law and Ethics: Equity, and Sustainability and Resilience.

The Equity classes and new mandatory credits are aimed at helping planners build their skillsets in this area of pressing concern to communities across the country.

The other new mandatory credit is a targeted (rotating) topic to allow the AICP Commission to select an issue appropriate to the professional development needs of planners in this rapidly changing world. The inaugural topic for this targeted credit will be Sustainability and Resilience, which recognizes the growing need for planners to help their communities prepare for issues like climate change, sustainable development, and hazard resilience.

Click here for more information on the updates. 

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Housing element information booth, Menlo Park Farmers’ Market
Menlo Park Farmers market popup for housing element update

Housing element information booth, Menlo Park Farmers’ Market

A young woman with a clipboard stands next to an easel with a poster about how and where to participate in the upcoming housing element update
Lesley Feldman staffs an information booth at the Menlo Park Farmers’ Market, August 1st. She is a member of the Menlo Park Housing Element Community Engagement and Outreach Committee, formed specifically for this 6th Cycle update of mandated housing elements. Photo: Geoff Bradley, AICP. GBradley@m-group.us

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