APA California - Making Great Communities Happen...

Email Signup



The Planning Academy provides an engaging opportunity for citizens to learn about community planning, public involvement, governmental organization, and other related land use and environmental issues. Planning Academy speakers are knowledgeable planners and expert practitioners. 

The Central Coast Section of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association hosts its Planning Academy, a 8-week course in local land use planning, annually. The Planning Academy is open to all residents and is expected to be attended by engaged community members, government officials, real estate and design professionals, land use planners, and city and county planning commissioners.

The Planning Academy is designed to provide an overview of local government, how it is financed, and the impact of State and Federal laws, environmental policy, and planning issues facing the host County and its cities today. The program typically includes several meetings to help participants become more informed, confident and comfortable in participating in local land use planning decisions.

In a mix of lecture, panel discussion and group interaction, Planning Academy topics cover a range of planning issues such as zoning history and legal context; environmental review laws and procedures; natural resource management; redevelopment, government and real estate economics; regional government; transportation and infrastructure; urban design; water and utility planning and constraints, affordable housing, ethics and civic engagement. Each evening will cover a different topic.


Background Information

Courses include two 75-minute courses each evening that the Planning Academy meetings. Weeks 1 - 4 are foundation to the topics that follow in Weeks 5 - 7. The curricullum is intended to ratchet up a level during the final three weeks of the Planning Academy with more technical and geographically centric subjects. The course topics are tentatively scheduled as shown below, but subject to change based on the interest and availability of instructors.


#1 Land Use 101 - Our Historic Milestones

#9 Cannabis Regulations and Taxation

#2 Transportation History and Trends

#10 Regulatory Reaction to the Debris Flow

#3 Environmental Review and CEQA

#11 Tajiguas Landfill - Coastal Regionalism?

#4 Climate Change: Impacts and Regulations

#12 Montecito Rebuild: How and What's Next?

#5 Local Water Supply - Constrains and Choices

#13 Wildland Fire Management

#6 Housing Economics, Local Programs

#14 Property Rights vs. Coastal Access: Gaviota

#7 Our Energy Platform - Pending Choices


#8 Municipal Finance and Land Use Economics













 Course Dates, Time and Location

All sessions will be conducted at the Louise Lowery Center (1232 De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara) from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - Sessions 1 and 2
  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 - Sessions 3 and 4
  • Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - Sessions 5 and 6
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - Sessions 7 and 8
  • Thursday, November 1, 2018 - Sessions 9 and 10
  • Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - Sessions 11 and 12
  • Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - Sessions 13 and 14

Typically, the first session of a given evening begins at 5:30 PM and ends at 6:45 PM, with the second session of the evening beginning at 7:15 PM and ending at 8:30 PM. Particpants are provided with a light dinner break between the night's sessions. 


REgistration includes a nominal fee or 'tuition' to cover course expenses with remaining proceeds going to the American Planning Association. Online registration is not currently available but will be available shortly for interested residents.

Objectives and Organization

This event is sponsored by the American Planning Association. The American Planning Association is a nonprofit educational trade organization whose mission is to provide members and constituents with services and information to advance planning in the Central Coast and beyond. Santa Barbara is the backdrop to the APA's Statewide Conference in October 2018 where the local section of the American Planning Assocaition will host more than 1,500 practicing land use planners from all over California. The conference is hosted on the Central Coast once every 8 years. Session in this Planning Academy course series will be considered for inclusion in the State Conference in 2019.

Planning Academy Organizers


The purpose of the APA's California Awards Program is to encourage quality in planning and increase the public's awareness of the planning profession through recognizing outstanding achievement in the planning field. APA California annually presents numerous Planning Awards to honor the most outstanding efforts in planning in California. The program honors innovative plans and projects, distinguished APA members, contributors to planning, and the achievements of APA California Sections.

The APA California Awards Program encourages quality in planning and increases the public's awareness of the planning profession by recognizing outstanding achievements in the planning field. The Central Coast APA California Awards Program annually presents numerous Central Coast Planning Awards to honor and recognize outstanding efforts and achievements in planning in the Central Coast Section. The Central Coast Planning Awards Event is a chance for APA Members, colleagues, and friends to gather for a splendid evening of cocktails, dinner, entertainment and a planning showcase of awards. This is the Central Coast Section's one event that all three counties can meet and greet each other and we can see colleagues we haven't seen in a while and we always have an opportunity to meet new ones!

Click here to access the 2018 Nomination Form or learn more about the Central Coast Section's Annual Awards Program


Learn more about the the Central Coast Section's sponsorship program and the benefits of support your local section of the American Planning Association.

Click here to learn more about Sponsorships

Our Sponsors