Jim Bergdoll, AICP, who had been a senior planner for housing at the City of Dublin, is now Senior Associate at Raimi + Associates. He has a passion for more equitable and sustainable cities, neighborhoods, and housing developments. Over the course of his career, he was a housing and urban planning consultant, a director of real estate development and government programs with Habitat for Humanity, and an urban designer/planner with the San Francisco Planning Department. Bergdoll holds a master of city planning from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in architecture from the University of Virginia. He has resided primarily in Oakland for the past 30 years and enjoys biking on the regional park trails and in the city.
Danae Hall, AICP, has been appointed as Awards Program Director for the Northern Section Board. She previously served as the Young and Emerging Planners Director. Hall is a Project Manager with Kimley-Horn where she leads CEQA/NEPA efforts for a variety of projects around the Bay Area. She holds an M.S. in environmental management from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. in environmental economics from California State University, Chico.
Dhawal Kataria, AICP, joined Kittelson & Associates in Oakland as a Transportation Planner after two years with TJKM Transportation Consultants. In addition to a master’s degree in city and regional planning and a GIS certification from the University of Texas at Arlington, Kataria earned a bachelor’s in planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada. He is experienced in transportation safety, long-range transportation plans, streetscape improvements, complete streets design, and transportation funding projects in California, Texas, and Illinois. Kataria is passionate about multimodal transportation and creating healthy, sustainable, and safe communities. When not wondering about how to plan great communities, he enjoys hiking, biking, playing chess, taking road trips, and trying adventure sports.
Prathna Maharaj, AICP, has been appointed the new Young and Emerging Planners Group Director on the Northern Section Board. She is an Environmental Planning Analyst at Kimley-Horn who has worked as a teacher in Irvine and San Mateo assisting college-bound students to develop reading skills, clarify ambitions, and prep for standardized testing. Maharaj has a master’s in urban planning from UC Irvine, and a B.S. in environmental science and management from UC Davis. She previously was the UCI Student Liaison for the APA and AEP Orange Section. Maharaj has built her career in sustainable development, with an emphasis on climate adaptation and mitigation, and urban resiliency.
Sonja Caldwell Kos, AICP, is now Diversity Co-Director on the Northern Section Board. She has been a planner for the City of San Carlos and the City and County of San Francisco, a lecturer for San Jose State University, and a mediator. During her eight years as a code enforcement planner with the City and County of San Francisco, Kos worked proactively with the departments of Building, Health, Police and Fire as well as the office of the City Attorney and the District Attorney’s Office as a representative of the Mayor’s Bayview Neighborhood Rescue Team. She has a BArch. from Hampton University (Virginia) and a master of regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Ramon Meraz recently returned from several years in Hawaii as an Americorps VISTA member and separately as a Tobacco Health Education Manager for the Malama Pono Health Services. Meraz is now working with Generation Housing in Santa Rosa as their Community Engagement Director. He is excited to be working to increase the political and community will for increased housing, educating elected and appointed officials and the community about the link between housing and quality of life in Sonoma County.
James M. Moore is also back on the mainland as Community Development Director for the City of Sausalito. He had been a senior planner at the County of Maui. Before that he consulted on land use, environmental planning, urban design, and mixed-use infill development strategies for private clients and Bay Area municipalities from 2017 to 2021. Moore served as director of planning and building services for the Town of Fairfax from 2009 to 2016. He holds an MCP and a BA in political science from UC Berkeley.
Kohar Kojayan, AICP, has joined the Sares Regis Group of Northern California as Vice President after working with Theravance Biopharma US, Inc. as head of real estate strategy and workplace planning. Kojayan is a former Community Development Director for the City of San Mateo, with over 16 years of public sector experience in land use planning and development. She is known for providing innovative solutions for real estate, workplace strategy, and master planning projects. Her passion is to add value to the built environment and bridge the gap in the public and private sectors through collaborative problem solving, negotiation, and consensus-building to provide innovative solutions for real estate development and workplace projects of all sizes, types, and complexities.
Garrison Rees, AICP, is now a member of the Northern Section Board as Redwood Coast Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC). He is a Senior Planner and Project Manager for SHN in Arcata, California. Rees has a bachelor of science degree in natural resource planning from Humboldt State University, and has 14 years of experience assisting public and private clients with planning, permitting, and environmental review services. His primary focus has been as a project manager overseeing CEQA/NEPA work and he also serves as the contract planner for the City of Blue Lake. Rees is an active member of both APA and AEP and has helped organize programs and social events for planners in Humboldt County over the last several years.
Carlina Rose is a graduate student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University. In addition to her MUP, she is working on certificates in environmental planning, transportation and land use planning, and GIS. Rose’s current experience includes internships with the Department of Transportation for the City of San Jose and the Office of Sustainability at San Jose State. She is most concerned with low-income and underserved communities taking the brunt of climate change impacts. Among many other endeavors, Rose sees her degree in urban planning as a tool that can be used to promote accessibility, update infrastructure, and build more resilient communities.
Laura Simpson has begun an Interim Community Development Director position at the City of Los Altos starting December 2021, after retiring from the City of Hayward as Development Services Director. Simpson is managing the Planning, Building, and Sustainability staff for the City and leading the Housing Element update for 2022-2031 together with Lisa Wise Consulting. Together they are working toward providing a public draft of the Housing Element in April. Simpson holds a a master of city planning from UC Berkeley and a BA in urban studies from Vassar College. She has worked for more than 30 years in planning, housing, and community development in Bay Area cities. After this interim position, she plans to travel around Portugal.
Antara Tandon is now a Senior Planner/Designer at Raimi + Associates. An architect and an urban planner, she is passionate about creating sustainable and inclusive communities. She has worked in social, non-profit, private consulting, with international organizations and as an urban planner for UN-Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya. Tandon’s strong design sensibilities, with a social conscience, have led to responsive and innovative design solutions. She holds a master’s in urban planning from Harvard University and a bachelor’s of architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
Benjamin Ulrey is a Planning Technician for the City of Concord, the main person in the Planning Division providing front line customer service and processing building permits, business licenses, and other approvals. Prior to this, Ulrey was an intern at Concord Planning providing support to the city’s Housing Element Update, SolSmart application, and several other projects. He hails from Alameda and has a diverse professional background having worked for a BART Board Director, the Alameda County Complete Count Committee, and the Measure RR campaign. Ulrey has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in international security and conflict resolution from San Diego State University.
Ami Upadhyay is joining Interwest Consulting Group as a Senior Planner, having worked as a planning consultant for several Bay Area communities in current and long-range planning. With 12 years of experience in urban planning and architecture, she will be working with the City of San Jose assisting with the Citywide Rezoning and General Plan Alignment Initiative. Upadhyay’s experience with local government planning was instrumental in the approval of large-scale residential and office developments in the Bay Area, specific plans/urban design, and active transportation plans. She has a master’s degree in urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Central Lancaster.
Savannah Van Akin has been promoted to Assistant Planner in the Community Development Department, Town of Los Gatos. She worked as a transportation intern in the Parks and Public Works Department from April 2020 to November 2021, and as a planning intern for the Community Development Department from November 2021 to December 2021. Van Akin holds a master’s in urban planning, with a focus in community development and technology in planning, from San Jose State University. For her BA, she double-majored in sociology and geography and minored in earth science at UC Santa Barbara. In her free time, Van Akin enjoys hiking, baking, and exploring urban environments.
By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, Northern News editor, February 17, 2022
Northern California’s Hing Wong has been elected to the AICP College of Fellows (FAICP), the highest honor the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) bestows upon a member.
“Fellows of AICP are nominated and selected by their peers to recognize and honor their outstanding contributions as professional planners,” according to APA, the American Planning Association. “The outcomes of their individual efforts left demonstrably significant and transformational improvements to the field of planning and the communities they served. All Fellows are long-time members of AICP who have achieved excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, and community service and leadership.”
The FAICP Induction Ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 1, during the APA National Planning Conference (NPC22) in San Diego. You can see the complete list of AICP Fellows for 2022 here.
People who have encountered Hing, in any setting, know he is always pleasant and gentle in appearance and manner; yet he is formidable, on behalf of urban planning and APA, in encouraging people to organize, plan, and implement.
As editor of Northern News, I worked closely with him when he was Northern Section’s Director, 2003-2006. I saw firsthand how he conducted our Board meetings — listening to people, eliciting their views, and moving us toward decisions.
He saw the 2005 APA National Conference in San Francisco, which our Section hosted, as one of the biggest achievements of his four years as Northern Section Director. More than 6,000 planners came to Moscone Center in San Francisco for that conference.
Northern News profiled Wong in “Meet a local planner,” November 2014, page 4. Since that interview, he has been president of APA California (2015-2016), retired from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in 2017 after 33 years as senior regional planner, and served for another year as senior regional planner at MTC, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Hing is president of the California Planning Foundation, chair of national APA’s Asian and Pacific Islander Interest Group, and Co-International Director for APA California-Northern Section.
Among the many congratulatory comments on LinkedIn were these:
- From John Cook, AICP, Environmental Planning Principal at ICF Management Consulting: “Your unwavering decades of dedication to APA have been inspiring.”
- From Bruce Stiftel, FAICP, Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Institute of Technology: “Thank you for your long devotion to our profession and your leadership.”
- From Jennifer Carman, AICP, Community Development Director, City of Morgan Hill: “You have provided so much to APA over the years. Well deserved!!”
Hing Wong, FAICP, holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s in geography from UC Berkeley. You can reach him at email@example.com.
By Mary McGee, February 14, 2022
More than 25 planning students from universities around California recently heard from experts about what to expect from their first jobs and how to manage themselves.
The January 28th event — a virtual discussion where seven Bay Area planners shared job-finding tips and discussed career paths after graduate school — was hosted by APA California–Northern Section’s departing Student Representatives (Mari Hsu from San Jose State and Stephanie Steinbrecher from UC Berkeley) and Izanie LoveNed, Northern Section’s University Liaison. The panelists were Della Acosta, AICP (Rincon Consultants), Josie Ahrens (OakDOT), Rucha Dande, AICP (City of San Carlos), Veronica Flores (San Francisco Planning Department), Danae Hall, AICP (Kimley-Horn), Brendan Hurley, AICP Candidate (Dyett & Bhatia), and Leslie Trejo (Rincon Consultants).
After a facilitated Q&A, participants broke into virtual small-group conversations where individual panelists shared their LinkedIn profiles, résumés, and specific suggestions for students.
The panelists also provided a number of helpful answers to student questions in the “chat” during the event. Here is a lightly edited version of the chat transcript.
How long should a student expect to work as an intern before looking into full-time work? Is it reasonable to start applying before graduating?
My firm hires interns in the winter (December-January) for the following summer. If it’s a great fit, we look to extend offers to our interns for full-time positions at the end of the summer so that they start full-time once they graduate. I began my career as a full-time paid intern and was converted to a full-time planner after two to three months.
How do you know you’ll like working for someone? What kinds of questions should you ask?
It’s tough to know if someone will be a good manager or colleague from a one-hour interview. However, asking about their management style, how they delegate, and their communication style is a good way to probe how they operate.
Should we submit a writing sample even if it’s not requested in the job application?
Yes! Even when it’s not asked, demonstrating your writing skills is important, since they’ll be required in almost any job.
Do you know of any internships that offer flexible scheduling, or ways to ask about that accommodation? Like many students, I am working full time while in grad school, and I hesitate to give up the security and benefits offered by my current job, which is a 9 to 5.
I think most internships would be willing to accommodate a flexible schedule since there is an understanding that it is an internship and not a job. My internship was about 15 hours a week and I worked when I could.
Should résumés reflect school work (if relevant to the job description)?
Absolutely. Focus on specific projects, what you led, what you learned, and what you accomplished.
Yes! A great report you have done, or a senior-year project, are great examples to share with potential employers.
We love to see some classes listed if they’re relevant. If you had a capstone project that’s relevant, list that. For example, my capstone undergrad project analyzed the California high-speed rail project, and the job I was interviewing for had just won a high-speed rail contract, so they were very interested in my school project research and writing.
Photos on résumés? I got mixed reviews from the recruiters. But if you’re going to use one, make sure it’s a professional-looking headshot. The same goes for your LinkedIn profile photo.
As a supervisor directly hiring my staff, I’m not a fan of including photos. We do include them on our résumés for project proposals, but it seems odd to me to include them on position résumés.
Recruiters may look for slightly different things than those who directly hire their own staff, so try to learn those differences and figure out which type of company or jurisdiction you’re applying to.
What does a Plan Check entail, and how would I prepare for it? What sorts of jobs would this be asked for?
You will often be provided a set of plans and asked to conduct a plan check. Generally, this involves commenting on:
- What is the proposed land use?
- Is it compatible with the neighborhood context?
- How are the massing and design?
- What does the circulation and access look like?
- Any improvements?
- Any other information you’d need to review?
The goal isn’t to perfectly state all the code requirements, but to see how you approach the plan set. This was the last question I had for entry-level planning positions in the public sector.
WHAT’S UP NEXT
Keep an eye out for information about the next virtual panel discussion planned by the student reps, “Nontraditional paths in planning,” coming in April.
Mary McGee is the UC Berkeley Student Representative to the Northern Section Board. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental economics and geography from Colgate University. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, February 18, 2022.
Northern News has received one review copy of Dream Play Build: Hands-On Community Engagement for Enduring Spaces and Places, by James Rojas and John Kamp. (Island Press, 2022. Paperback 6 x 9, 216 pp. ISBN 9781642831498.)
James Rojas is a globe-trotting planner who developed a visualization method to engage the community in the urban planning process. John Kamp is an urban and landscape designer and a licensed landscape contractor. In Dream Play Build, Rojas and Kamp “share their insights into building common ground and inviting active participation” in community planning “among diverse groups. Their approach draws on-site exploration using the senses and interactive model-building” in a “playful method that is remarkably effective at teasing out community dreams and desires.”
“While much of [their] process was developed through in-person meetings, the book translates the experience to online engagement.”
If you would like me to send you a copy of this book, you need only commit to writing a review for the May 2022 issue of Northern News (deadline April 13). Please contact me, Northern News editor, at email@example.com, and a copy of the book will be mailed to you. First come, first serve.
Rojas, who lives in Alhambra, California, is an emeritus member of the California Planning Roundtable and a founder and member of the Latino Urban Forum. I first ran across him when he was invited by a group called StreetUtopia to help assist in their campaign to “reimage” San Francisco’s Columbus Avenue. (Rojas and SFUFF’s Fay Darmawi wrote an article about that effort. It led the November 2013 Northern News.)
You may also be interested in an article Rojas wrote for the December 2018-January 2019 issue of Northern News, “To understand urban planning, CivicSpark Fellows build childhood memories.”
By Michael Cass, Director-elect, Northern Section, February 19, 2022
What are bylaws, and why are they important?
A bylaw is a rule or law established by an organization or community to regulate itself. APA California – Northern Section is governed by bylaws, which must be consistent with the policies and procedures in the California Chapter Bylaws.
The Section Bylaws are adopted by our Section Board of Directors. They set forth the duties of elected and appointed board members and important procedures related to decision-making and voting. Bylaws help to ensure that, even as officers and directors come and go, we maintain a consistent process and procedures.
Our current bylaws were adopted in 2013. Recognizing they were in need of a comprehensive update to address legal issues and procedural changes, a committee comprising James Castañeda, AICP; Jonathan Schuppert, AICP; Stephen Velyvis, Florentina Craciun, Greg Holisko, AICP; and Michael Cass, began more than two years ago to draft revisions. The final draft proposes a number of changes, including:
- Specifying the requirements for independent contractors, interns, and speakers;
- Updating committees and their responsibilities;
- Updating Board positions and duties;
- Clarifying the requirements to run for an elected position;
- Updating the voting and election procedures and schedule;
- Adding an uncontested election process (elected by acclamation);
- Clarifying what constitutes a quorum;
- Updating financial policies;
- Correcting minor inconsistencies and errors; and
- Addressing other minor legal updates.
The proposed Bylaws can be read or downloaded here. If you have any recommendations for revisions, please notify Director-Elect Michael Cass by March 8, 2022. The Section Board of Directors is tentatively scheduled to consider the proposed bylaws for adoption at their regular Board meeting on March 17, 2022.
By Michael Cass, Director-elect, Northern Section
Do you want to be more involved with APA? Do you want to serve your fellow Northern Section members? If you are ready to build your professional skills, consider joining your Northern Section Board in one of our vacant positions:
- Communications Director
- Distance Education Coordinator
- Events Program Manager
- Marketing and Sponsorship Manager
- Mid-Career Planners Group Director
- Northern News Associate Editors
What’s in it for you?
- Have a strategic impact on the Section’s direction
- Collaborate with your peers
- Grow your network of local planning professionals
- Build your skillset
- Enrich your résumé
- Meaningfully give back to the planning profession
- Have fun
- Make new friends
- Mentor future generations of planners
- Celebrate leaders in the industry.
Click here to read more about these positions and how to apply.
A special note: Help build our Communications Team
This is a pivotal time with our communications. Northern Section is about to launch a new logo and website, we are working with a consultant on new branding guidelines, and we are executing a strategy for the next generation of Northern News — our signature communication that each month connects with our 1,700 Section members and more than 4,300 other planners and related professionals across the country. This will be a rewarding time to have a significant impact to help shape the Section’s communications.
We hope to build a stellar communications team. And to lead the team, we’re looking for a Communications Director to develop a robust, informative, and engaging experience for our members. We’re also looking for additional associate editors for Northern News to be part of the team.
We’re interested in people who are quick learners, comfortable online, and organized. Familiarity with social media and understanding how to leverage the various platforms are crucial. Working with Constant Contact and WordPress is a plus, but certainly something we can help with. On average, our Communication Director will typically spend three to four hours a week for Northern Section, but the time commitment will depend on your experience and availability. We can assure you that the Communications Director is supported; duties can be shared so tasks are manageable.
According to our Section’s bylaws, your duties will be to:
- Develop and oversee the communication program for the Section, including coordinating with Section Board Members to publicize Section activities and programs via Northern News, our website, social media, and other forms of communication;
- Assist Section Board Members and event coordinators in notifying the local press of Section activities and programs;
- Oversee the preparation, editing, and publishing of the eNews to members and the public; and
- Assist the editor in preparing and publicizing Northern News. Coordinate with the Social Media Coordinator and others to ensure the dissemination of information about professional development programs and other Section events on the Section’s social media channels.
If you are interested, send your résumé to me, Michael Cass, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me why you’d be a great fit. Feel free to include examples. If you have any questions before applying, I’ll be glad to answer them.