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Students Join Free, First-Timers Save Big
July 23, 2017

APA membership is now free to all full- and part-time students actively enrolled or matriculated in any university or college degree program (not just planning) for the duration of their studies. And, when students complete their studies, they are entitled to two years of reduced dues to bridge the gap between learning and earning. 

First-time members also qualify for discounted introductory dues. Please pass the news about our special offer for new members to friends and colleagues who have never joined APA but would benefit from membership. 

APA designed this new membership structure to encourage students and other new members — from both planning and non-planning backgrounds — to join and stay with APA, making us a stronger and more diverse association.

Learn more about student opportunities at planning.org/join/students/

Learn more about the special offer for new APA members at planning.org/join/specialoffer/

LEED Lab | Innovating Green Development at UCSB
June 27, 2017

Written by Student Emma Carrico and Theresa Do, Chad Plunkett, and Nancy Robles. Emmma Carrico is a Student Ambassador and Theresa Do is a Student Representative for the APA’s Central Coast Section.

In 2014 UC Santa Barbara initiated a new class and project called LEED Living Lab. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program run by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to promote and recognize green building and planning practices. For the past three years, UCSB has offered LEED Living Lab as a way to include students in the process of sustainable development on the UCSB campus. LEED Lab is one of very few yearlong courses offered at UCSB; throughout the year students primarily work on the LEED certification or re-certification of a building at UCSB. This project gives students the opportunity to learn about LEED and green development practices in a hands-on self-driven format. At the end of the year students are given the option to take an examination testing their LEED proficiency, students who pass the exam earn their accreditation as a Green Associate. Since the advent of LEED lab, students have run re-certification projects for the Student Resource Building and the Santa Rosa Residence Hall. This year students are working to achieve LEED Platinum re-certification for Donald Bren Hall. 

Bren Hall is the home of the UCSB Environmental Studies department and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. The building has a historic legacy with the LEED program; it was the first LEED Certified building in the University of California system and the first Laboratory facility in the United States to earn Platinum certification. This year’s LEED Lab project will be the third Platinum certification for the building.

There are four rating levels a building can receive, determined by how many points a project earns, Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. LEED also has rating systems for many types of projects: Operations and Maintenance applies to existing buildings to certify their ongoing building management practices, Building Design and Construction applies to new construction or existing buildings going through major renovation, the Interior Design and Construction rating system certifies projects going through complete interior redesign, Neighborhood Development applies to land development or redevelopment projects for residential or community use, and the Homes system applies to single and multi-family homes. These different ranking systems provide opportunity for a broad range of projects to be included in the LEED system and the growing international movement of environmental design.

To re-certify Donald Bren Hall, LEED Lab followed the Operations and Maintenance system. The primary portion of the re-certification process is the performance period. Over the course of approximately three months LEED Lab students and faculty performed a series of data collections, audits, and improvement implementations. For the Alternative Transportation credit category students executed a randomized in–person survey to categorize the transportation methods used by faculty, staff, students, and visitors to Bren Hall. This survey determined that over seventy percent of Bren Hall occupants use alternative transportation methods to travel to work or school. Other credit categories such as Water Efficiency and Energy and Atmosphere required analysis of building water and energy meters. For the Materials and Resources credit category students completed an audit of waste produced at Bren Hall and waste diversion methods such as recycling and composting. This audit found that over sixty six percent of ongoing consumables and one hundred percent of durable goods disposed of at Bren Hall are diverted from landfills through recycling and composting. Other permanent improvements were also implemented during the performance period. For the Light Pollution credit students organized the installation of energy efficient shielded light fixtures, which deflect light down to prevent light pollution. Through LEED Lab students completed these efforts rather than a contract team.

Since the birth of the LEED program in 1994, over 83,452 projects around the world have been certified.  The main tenant of certification is a standard called the Triple Bottom Line. This concept aims to ensure that the LEED program is having a broad and balanced positive impact by incorporating three aspects of evaluating success: people or social capital, planet or natural capital, and profit or economic capital. In essence, the Triple Bottom Line is a way to ensure that LEED projects are not only environmentally friendly, but that they also enhance public health, and help save money.

In the United States, operation and maintenance of buildings accounts for approximately 41 percent of national energy consumption, more than the industrial and transportation sectors combined. Buildings with LEED certification consume on average 25 percent less energy, emit 34 percent less carbon dioxide, and use 11 percent less water than buildings built and maintained with standard practices. In addition, LEED buildings have helped divert over 80 million tons of trash from landfills. These accomplishments are obviously valuable environmental successes, but there is a common misconception that this type of environmentally friendly development is more expensive than traditional building and maintenance practices. On the contrary, LEED certified buildings report almost 20 percent lower maintenance costs and green building retrofit projects typically decrease operation costs by almost 10 percent in just one year. In addition, green building practices make properties more valuable. In fact, green retrofit projects are usually expected to pay for themselves within seven years.

The LEED Lab course provides the opportunity for UCSB students interested in sustainable architecture and planning to gain applied experience in the LEED system, team collaboration, and project management. This course and the LEED program are dispelling the myths that green development is expensive and impractical. Through LEED the next generation of planners, designers, builders, and managers, is discovering new solutions for sustainable development. 

Student Planners In the Field | Environmental Planning Educational Event At Isla Vista Elementary School
June 2, 2017

Submission by Sydney Bartone, Student Representative for the Central Coast Section of APA California. May 18th, 2017.

This past week myself and three other UCSB Central Coast Chapter APA Student Representatives held an educational event at the Isla Vista Elementary School. Luis Martinez, Theresa Do, Janel Ancayan and myself wanted to teach the kids about the fundamentals of environmental planning and its importance.

To do this we explained to the kids, who were in 1st  through 5th grade, that it was someone’s job to plan out where all the buildings, roads, schools, movie theaters etc. are placed within a city. We explained that environmental planners have a very important job because without them our houses may be too far from our schools, or hotels may accidently get built in our backyards! We encouraged the students to be environmental planners and design the most creative town they could. This activity produced great results with most towns including numerous water parks and candy stores!

Next, we stressed the importance of waste management, the less appealing side of the environmental planning job. We explained how access to recycling and trashcans, as well as facilities to process the waste, was important to the health of a town.  Following this we had the kids participate in a recycling relay where they were instructed to put assorted trash and recycling into the correct bins, and which they really enjoyed!

My fellow group members and myself discussed how we had not heard of planning until college, which was a shame. As a result, we were happy to start educating such young learners about such an important profession! 

Student Perspective | Planning A (Non-)Retirement Party
June 2, 2017

Written by Heather Carr, a Student Representative for the American Planning Association’s Central Coast Section

On April 29th, renowned university professor and active community volunteer Paul Wack, an ardent participant in affairs regarding environmental planning/landscaping within the tri-county area, was honored at a reception hosted at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion Center in downtown Santa Barbara in debut of his plans to retire teaching at a college level within several years.

Many tributary speakers cited Wack as an influential leader in the field that night. He began his career in the 1970’s as a planning trainee with the County of Ventura, and after achieving his Master of Arts degree in urban geography at the California-State University Northridge (1974) and Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California (1976), continued to lead a distinguished career within the planning field that included a position on the Santa Barbara Environmental Planning Commission, lecturer at the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management in environmental planning and film and the environment, and lecturer at California-State University San Luis Obispo in city and regional planning.

Wack, in his “farewell” speech, insisted that the event marked not an end to his career as an environmental planner for the area, but was rather a momentary “vacation,” in which he still planned to be involved as a volunteer within the local area for a subject that, according to one speaker, was pure “fun” to him. In all, Wack’s status as a legendary figure in planning will undoubtedly continue to be maintained in the future as having a positive impact upon the region and as well as upon various individuals yet to have such an influence in the planning field in the years ahead.







Students In The Field | Earth Day Tree Planting Re-Cap
May 29, 2017

Written by Janel Ancayan, a student representative for the American Planning Association’s Central Coast Section

 On Saturday, April 22nd about 30 volunteers came out and volunteered for a special Earth Day tree planting with Your Children's Trees. Volunteers spent about three hours planting 13 Coast Live Oak Trees near Ellwood Grove. It was a very successful day in planting a future forest for future generations to enjoy.

APA Tree Planting on Earth Day

Student Perspective | SLO County Passes Oak Tree Ordinance
May 29, 2017

Written by Jessica Black, a student representative for the American Planning Association's Central Coast Section

Due to the addition of a new ordinance, landowners in San Luis Obispo County must now seek consultation with local planners before clear-cutting 1 continuous acre, or more, of oak trees.  This new rule takes into effect on May 11th, 2017 and was passed in hopes to obstruct massive oak tree clear-cutting, as some perceive the oak tree as a symbol of SLO County. There was tension among the community in constructing the new rule. However, the Board of Supervisors crafted a compromise in order to appease both parties. 



Student Perspective | Environmental Planning Through a Bird’s Eye View
May 29, 2017

Written by Heather Carr, Student Representative of the American Planning Association’s Central Coast Section

In the field of environmental planning, it is undoubtedly critical to think of landscaping/management in terms of human interactions with wildlife, especially while considering any development occurring within or near areas of habitual importance.

Such a statement could arguably be applied to the current issues facing the California condor. A species whose range once stretched from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf of Mexico, it now lies within only several regions of northern Arizona, Central California, and northern Baja California outside of zoos and wildlife shelters. While the condor claims the title as the largest bird in North America, it is also be recognized as one of it’s most critically threatened animals, and this status can be attributed to dozens of causes which include habitat loss, oil and drilling practices, and collisions with power lines1.

In much of southern California, urban sprawl has remained a considerable threat against condor rehabilitation efforts when attempting to release any captured animals back into the wild. There condors, when released onto public lands, continually face the challenge of foraging for food due to the any existing or ongoing development within what was once their historic range. Additionally, oil and drilling practices, including in Los Padres National Forest, have proved detrimental to the survival of many animals, with more than one bird reporting have been “oiled”, or having been covered in oil, after having come into contact with equipment1. Additionally, collisions with power lines have also proved fatal for multiple birds, with many having confronted risks such as electrocution and blunt trauma as a result of flying in close proximity to such structures2.

Although the obstacles facing these birds have proved formidable at times, various efforts by a wide range of national and local organizations, such as the Santa Barbara Zoo4 and the Peregrine Fund5, have led the way for improved survival rates amongst the species through nest management, recovery, and conservation efforts. Therefore, although the status of these birds has remained uncertain in regards to historic planning efforts, adjustments in policy, increased public education initiatives, and further research regarding the status of these animals has provided a positive outlook for their survival for the future.


1 http://lpfw.org/our-region/wildlife/california-condor/

2 https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_8/NWRS/Zone_1/Hopper_Mountain_Complex/Hopper_Mountain/Sections/News/News_Items/PDFs/_California%20Condor%20Five%20Year%20Review_2013%20Final%20Published.pdf (P.22)

3 https://www.sbzoo.org/animals/conservation/

4 https://www.peregrinefund.org/projects/california-condor

Student Perspective | Venoco Bankruptcy
May 7, 2017

Submission by Sydney Bartone, Student Representative for the Central Coast Section of APA California

The sensitive Gaviota Coastline is in need of protection from urban development. However this is not the only threat it faces, oil production off the coast and its frequent spills has also had detrimental effects. One of the companies most responsible for oil production off the coast of Santa Barbara also happens to be one of the largest oil producing companies in California, a company called Venoco LLC.  To many people’s surprise it was recently released that Venoco has filed for bankruptcy. This means that the portion of the oil-rich Santa Barbara Channel that has long been a source of revenue for the state and county will see production stop now that the California State Lands Commission is taking over Venoco LLC's interest in the South Ellwood Field leases (located near UCSB).  The bankruptcy is said to be caused by a persistent slump in crude markets as well as a significant spill at Refugio Beach State Park in 2015 due to a pipeline rupture. Venoco is known for its ability to successfully drill for oil in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Santa Barbara Coast. However, the company filed for bankruptcy listing with as much as 1 billion dollars in debt. Noteworthy is the fact that Venoco is not alone. Over 50 oil and gas producers have gone bankrupt in the last two years owing a total of more than 17 billion dollars. Though a sad situation for the Venoco company, environmentalists may view this as a feat as oil production off the Santa Barbara coast will at least temporarily decrease. 

Student Perspective | Local Storms With Local Effects
March 26, 2017 to April 30, 2017

Although the recent storms have been improving local reservoirs and reducing drought conditions, the increase in storm water unfortunately resulted in the contamination of San Luis Obispo Creek, as 3,000 gallons of sewage water was released in the creek Friday afternoon.  Fortunately, the storm water infiltration system should prevent the contamination from becoming a public safety threat. However, as the Southern California coasts continue to be berated by heavy storms, incidents such as these needed to be proactively prevented to ensure the safety of residents and the environment.

Written by Jessie Black, an APA Student Ambassador studying at University of California Santa Barbara 



Opinion Article | Environmental Justice
December 17, 2016


Written by Heather Carr, a student representative for the Central Coast Section of the American Planning Association and student at the University of California Santa Barbara. 

Injustice in Environmental Planning: From Santa Barbara County to South Dakota

Environmental justice is oftentimes defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies is perhaps one of the most controversial themes in the field of environmental planning and consulting today. Currently, its status as an illustration of social and cultural viewpoints is relevant from various case studies, including water mistreatment within the low-income neighborhood of Flint, Michigan1 to the construction of an oil pipeline through sacred Native American sites within the grasslands of North and South Dakota2. Both which are themes which suggest a widespread cultural stance against those given the shorter end of the stick regarding political influence, financial benefits, etc. Such a theme is arguably present within ongoing plans to construct the Alisal Ranch Agricultural Reservoir within the Santa Ynez mountains, where claims from a local Chumash tribe regarding the area’s status as a religious shrine have conflicted with plans for development.

The presence of environmental injustice within this case study is suggested by environmental consultant/archaeologist Thomas F. King who, through a public commentary concerning the project’s Environmental Impact Report3, emphasizes the tribe’s right to access to the area (called Napamu’) as a sacred site. This right, which is supported by a report conducted by Albion Environment Inc.4, views the sacrality of the place in the eyes of the Chumash people as the dominant factor for it being recognized as an area of cultural significance. King noted that such recognition should undoubtedly ensure the tribe’s access to the site in spite of corporate plans which may interfere with spiritual proceedings and also stated that the tribe’s access to the site has been largely restricted due to the social stigmatization and governmental restrictions that have developed over centuries of colonization and development.

King’s critical commentary did not stand out from the rest of the public remarks mentioned in the document; in fact, many had also assumed a similar negative tone against what they believed was a project that would threaten the spiritual livelihoods of tribal members. As a result, plans for development were postponed, and the document is currently being revised for further speculation due to the nature and scope of the comments received. What may be interpreted as appeals for justice for Native Americans and other arguably marginalized groups exist not only regionally, however, but nationally; one case study which can be held as a prime example of these appeals can be cited by the ongoing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North and South Dakota upon Native American lands, despite protests of potential water contamination from regional Sioux tribes. Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II made a passionate appeal for the rights of indigenous people who have been abridged upon by what many claim to be the actions of state police5:

“We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources. We won't step down from this fight. As peoples of this earth, we all need water. This is about our water, our rights, and our dignity as human beings." 

While Archambault primarily remarks upon threats to the tribe’s water supply, a kinship between both the Standing Rock Sioux and Santa Ynez Chumash tribes is also evident by their share of destroyed (or potentially destroyed) areas of spiritual significance; according to an article in the Atlantic Monthly6, it was stated that documents collected by the tribe’s legal team found that the project may result in the destruction of various newly-discovered sacred sites. However, within hours after the proceedings, such sites were eventually nonexistent after the Dakota Access company began construction upon those areas in spite of any recently-furnished evidence of their cultural significance.

Environmental justice, while encompassing our rights to clean water, air, and access to healthy foods, also provides a window upon social conditions that may speak to conflicts concerning not only policy management or mismanagement, but to the cultural values which have shaped us to who we are. While environmental planning may be a seemingly less-than-controversial career field, the aspects of our daily lives which are included in its designs--from the dew-covered trees outside our front yards to the neighborhood creeks which provide a cool summertime relief all consist of some degree of intrinsic value whose existence has shaped our perceptions of the world around us and whose meanings range far beyond those of financial matters. These little, seemingly “commonplace” symbols of what forms the foundation for the setting where we grow, speak, breathe, and learn are recognized in various ways from one community to the next; from the water which flows out of our kitchen spouts, to the coyotes which scavenge in parking lot dumpsters, to the trees which grow alongside our neighborhood sidewalks, etc. Each of these factors, when altered in one form or another, have the potential to invoke necessary procedural change, or they may result in what may be interpreted as the unfair treatment or representation in regards to the development, implementation, and enforcement of such laws or regulations (also known as environmental injustice). It is obvious that environmental justice is an increasingly-emerging theme on both a national and regional level, and as the environment and society changes throughout the 21st Century, fields concerning the environment, especially those in regards to planning/development, will continue to be a mirror of social and cultural values which we will grow to adopt, discard, or develop over the next few decades.


1 http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-went-wrong-in-flint-water-crisis-michigan/

2 http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/standing-rock-sioux-tribe-reasserts-dapl-destroyed-sacred-places/

3 http://sbcountyplanning.org/projects/10CUP-00018Alisal/Documents/DEIR/Public_Comments_DEIR.pdf

4 http://sbcountyplanning.org/projects/10CUP-00018Alisal/Documents/DEIR/4.7 C-7 Ethnographic Study 5.12.14.pdf




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