APA California’s Planning Awards program provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the great planning work occurring throughout California. The purpose of the program is to encourage quality in planning and increase the public’s awareness of the planning profession by recognizing outstanding achievement in the field. The program honors innovative plans and projects, distinguished APA members, lay contributors to planning, and the achievements of APA California’s Sections.

Please see the Awards Program Policies for complete guidance and criteria for each of the award categories.

Call For Jury

Each year, around April or May, APA California issues a Call for Jury which requests members to serve as volunteers for the APA CA Chapter Award Jury. Jurors review and evaluate some of the finest planning work in California and have an important role in the APA California Awards Program. The 2024 Call for Jury has concluded. Please visit this page in early 2025 for more information on next year’s award program.

Award Nominations

The Chapter Awards Nomination process opens April 16, 2024 and closes May 16, 2024. The nomination period for 2024 has concluded. Chapter award applicants must first apply at the Section level where the project, plan, or work occurred in order to be eligible for a Chapter award, unless the project is of significance in multiple sections or of statewide significance. The Section Awards application process, typically from January to March of each year, has concluded for 2024. Please visit the Awards page of APA California’s Sections for more information on nominating plans and projects, distinguished APA members, and lay contributors to planning and achievements of APA California sections.

Award Categories

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Opportunity and Empowerment Award

Comprehensive Plan Award

Implementation Award

Resilience and Sustainability Award

Economic Planning and Development Award

Transportation Planning Award

Best Practices Award

Grassroots Initiative Award

Public Outreach Award

Urban Design Award

Planning Advocate Award

Planning Firm Award

Planning Agency Award

Emerging Planning and Design Firm Award

Advancing Diversity and Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff Award

Academic Award

Communications Initiative Award

Hard-Won Victories Award

Planning Landmark and Pioneer Awards

Nominations for Planning Landmark and Pioneer Awards must be submitted to the Chapter for review by the Chapter Historian and the Chapter Board. Special criteria have been established for these two award categories. If the Chapter Historian determines that a nomination does not meet the criteria for either a Planning Landmark or Planning Pioneer Award, the Awards Coordinator shall have the option to submit the nomination for a different Award category.

The Planning Landmark Award is for a planning project, initiative, or endeavor that are at least 25 years old that are historically significant, initiated a new direction in planning or impacted California planning, cities, or regions over a broad range of time or space.

Presented to pioneers of the profession who have made personal and direct innovations in California planning that have significantly and positively redirected planning practices, education or theory with long-term results.

Special Chapter Awards

Any person including a member of the APA California Board, or the Sections can make nominations for these awards. Self-nominations are allowed for these award categories. Nominations for these categories will be submitted through the awards application portal, then provided to the Chapter President for review and selection of the winner. If no nominations are received, the Chapter President may, at their discretion, select a winner.

To an APA California member who has made a substantial contribution to the development and objectives of APA California over a sustained period.

Recognizing an APA California member who has contributed to the goals and objectives of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association and to its strategic plan through an extraordinary effort over a short period of time.

Section Activity Awards

The APA California Section Activity Award recognizes the outstanding work of a Section that has established or implemented an activity or program of unusually high merit within the past two years. Section Activity Award winners are only eligible to receive the award once every three years. Any person including a member of the APA California Board or the Sections can make nominations for this award. Self-nominations are allowed for this award category.

Planner Emeritus (PEN) Awards

The PEN Honor Awards are presented to persons for their outstanding contribution to the planning profession or for a significant accomplishment which enhanced the recognition of planning. PEN represents a body of long-tenured members of APA who are available to provide to the APA California Board and to other APA California groups substantial knowledge of the profession as it has matured in California, in particular. Nominations must be submitted to the PEN President or a member of the PEN Board of Directors.

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