In this section, the Chapter’s 2021-2022 President, Ashley Atkinson, AICP, reflects on the year and shares a message as she concludes her term. You’ll also see highlights of Chapter activities for 2022, and an overview of our year-end income and expenses reflecting sources and uses.
Across all our work, APA California strives to make an impact for members and the profession. In 2022, we focused on representing planners in the State legislature, preparing to celebrate our 75th anniversary, and achieving record levels of student support through our foundation.
APA California maintains close partnership with our affiliated organizations, the Planner Emeritus Network (PEN) and California Planning Roundtable (CPR), supporting their work to advance the practice of planning, support future leaders, and recognize outstanding planning careers.
Although COVID continued to present challenges in 2022, the year also offered opportunities for APA California to embrace progress. Early in the year, we approved our first-ever four-year Strategic Plan, which reflects months of research, discussion, and evaluation of our values and goals as an organization and as planning. We strove to better align our work with our values, including a revision to our financial strategy that ensures our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our investments. We added new advisory positions focused on supporting our equity initiatives and engaging members in legislative activity. We made improvements to the way we do our work, including updates to policies and contracts to ensure stability as our long-term executive director planned for retirement. Our first in-person conference since 2019 was a great success, bringing nearly 2,000 planners to Anaheim to renew their professional skills and networks.
Looking ahead to 2023, we will continue implementing our strategic plan with a renewed focus on supporting planners across the state; enhancing legislative advocacy and communications; increasing the diversity of our membership; and investing in leadership development. We are grateful for your membership and engagement in California’s planning community!
Ashley Atkinson, AICP
Chapter President, 2021 – 2022
Highlights of 2022 included a conference in Anaheim that broke attendance records, and marked the first time that conference sessions were offered both in person and online. The year also brought another active legislative session, preparation for APA California’s 75th anniversary in 2023, and a continued focus on diversity through Chapter programs and scholarships. In preparation for the retirement of our longtime executive director, Sande Stefan, at the end of 2022, board members and staff began to transition to a new full-service association management firm. Compass Management Solutions, which came under contract in spring 2022, will take on the executive director role in 2023.
- More than 800 student members brought into the profession
- A record 1,956 attendees at the 2022 Conference in Anaheim
- 759 planning-related bills tracked in the California legislature
- 40 eNews promoting programs, training, and opportunities to members
- 46 award winners and honorees in the field of planning
- 52 student scholarships totaling more than $80,000
Services to the Chapter’s more than 5,000 members include Professional Development, Policy and Legislation, Public Information, Diversity and Equity, Conferences, and other support functions. The Chapter’s revenue primarily derives from a portion of member dues collected by APA at the national level, in addition to conference profits, online job ads, and participation in programs. The Chapter invested heavily in infrastructure in 2022 and finished the year with expenses exceeding income by a de minimis amount.
Throughout 2022, APA California continued to be a voice for planners in Sacramento as the State legislature completed its two-year legislative session. The Senate and Assembly continued to act with a focus on housing production, addressing homelessness, and CEQA reform. APA California’s member-based Legislative Review Team helped develop the Chapter’s positions on major reforms including residential development in commercial zones and the elimination of mandatory parking requirements near transit stops, along with refinements to laws around Density Bonus, ADUs, Housing Element Annual Progress Reports, Circulation Element standards, and other planning-related legislation.
APA California supported three major land use reforms: AB 2011 (Wicks) and SB 6 (Caballero), which will provide streamlining to allow housing development on commercial properties beginning on July 1, 2023; and AB 2097 (Friedman), which will eliminate minimum parking requirements on qualifying developments. All three of these bills reflect hours of APA California input as we worked closely with the authors and sponsors to ensure that the State’s legislative priorities would reflect planners’ perspectives.
In addition to these key achievements, APA California took the following actions:
- Actively lobbied on 14 high-priority bills, including AB 2011 and SB 6
- Testified to the Legislature regarding APA California positions on dozens of additional bills
- Expanded the Legislative Review Team membership to 125 participants
- Presented to more than 800 APA California members about legislative updates at the APA California conference and via webinars
- Released monthly updates to keep members informed as the Legislative session progressed
- Deepened partnerships with peer organizations working on legislation, including: CalCities, CSAC, RCSC, the AIA, CA Yimby, the Council of Infill Builders, the Housing Action Coalition, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
In 2022, the Chapter continued the three-year process of planning for APA California’s 75th anniversary in 2023. The Chapter Historians and an Anniversary Steering Committee oversaw the development of a digital history exhibit, in partnership with the Chapter archives at CSU Northridge; a commemorative history; and an interactive historical timeline, among other projects that will be highlighted in 2023. In addition to the planning process, APA California’s Historians:
- Conducted the third annual Betty Croly Memorial Lecture, featuring Pike Oliver and Michael Stockstill, on the history of the Irvine Ranch in the development of Orange County
- Presented the annual Historians’ exhibit at the conference, highlighting the Chapter’s history programs, archives, and a historical exhibit based on the Croly lecture
- Oversaw the APA California Archives at California State University, Northridge. This year CSUN staff completed a 275-page finding guide for the APA California collection, including 245 boxes of processed archival materials and other large-format documents. More than 3,600 pages of chapter publications have been digitized.
- Worked closely with the Planner Emeritus Network (PEN) on historical projects and planner memorials.
Support for Students
The California Planning Foundation (CPF) is a nonprofit, charitable organization furthering the professional practice of planning in California, serving as APA California’s foundation arm since its inception in 1970. CPF achieves this goal primarily by providing scholarships to planning students attending California colleges and universities. As of 2022, CPF has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships.
CPF continues to work on establishing new scholarships. In addition to Chapter-funded scholarships, APA California’s eight local sections also provide funding for CPF scholarships within their areas. As of 2022, almost half of the scholarships are supported by the local sections.
In 2022, the CPF scholarship program established new records for the number of scholarships and the total amount awarded: 52 scholarships totaling more than $80,000. Scholarship recipients came from 12 different colleges and universities in California.
Additionally, the CPF Board has increased the number of California schools and programs eligible to apply for CPF scholarships, thus allowing for a more diverse range of applicants. As a result, 37 colleges and universities with planning or planning-related programs are now on the CPF scholarship eligibility list.
An endowment fundraising effort is in place for an additional Diversity Scholarship to enhance ongoing efforts to foster diversity and inclusion in the profession and be responsive to the increasing needs of California planning students. This endowment is expected to be completed with the 2023 scholarship and you can donate to help the future leaders of our planning profession!
CPF Scholarship Recipients at the APA California 2022 Conference
Photo credit: California Planning Foundation
Planner Emeritus Network (PEN)
The Planner Emeritus Network (PEN) is an ancillary and resource support group for APA California that focuses on recognizing outstanding individuals in the planning field and coordinating with the Chapter Historian to gather and retain the history of planning in California. Accomplishments in 2022 include the following:
- Planner Remembrance: PEN led the Chapter’s program to honor planners that passed away, remembering four California planners at the 2022 APA California Conference.
- PEN Honor Awards: PEN led an annual awards program to recognize accomplished California planners and induct them into PEN.
- PEN Session at the Annual Conference: PEN presented and moderated a well-received Diversity Summit at the 2022 conference on the topic of California’s “sundown towns.”
- Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT): CPAT provided communities with planning expertise for individual projects on an ad-hoc basis. PEN connected with several communities that were interested in planning assistance, including Marina and Saticoy.
- Planner Exchange: In partnership with CPF, PEN held an interactive virtual event on career development for planning students.
Twelve planners were inducted into the Planner Emeritus Network at the 2022 conference.
Photo credit: APA California
California Planning Roundtable
The California Planning Roundtable (CPR) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the practice of urban planning in California through innovation and leadership. In 2022, CPR devoted its time to a focused set of initiatives including:
- Housing Listening Sessions: To address the challenges of the housing crisis, in partnership with the Chapter, CPR members organized listening sessions with each local section across the state. Discussions focused on the challenges of implementing recent housing legislation. In the coming year, CPR will work with the Chapter to use the information in legislative and implementation contexts.
- CPR/APA California Leadership Academy: In partnership with the Chapter, CPR continued its six-month virtual program designed to uplift the next generation of planning leaders. In the past two years, more than 200 planners from across the state participated in the program.
- Infrastructure for Infill Report: In April, CPR released a new white paper focused on the infrastructure needed to support the State’s infill development goals.
- Short Film Release: In June, CPR released a new film entitled Voices of Impact. The film shares the perspectives of individuals from urban, suburban and rural communities impacted by housing and land use policies enacted by federal, state, and local governments.
- APA California Conference: CPR organized 20 sessions for the annual conference, more than any other organization across the state. The sessions focused on equity, leadership, and facilitating positive change.