Beginning February 2021, the APA’sCentral Coast Section brought back another popular Planning Academy series, but with a more enthusiastic turnout than has been seen in the series’ 10+ year history.

One of the 2021 Planning Academy organizers, Rachel Raynor, AICP, noted that “This first ever virtual sectionwide APA Central Coast Section Planning Academy was a success! We had over 300 participants register for the event, with numerous jurisdictions and organizations represented throughout the State. Our speakers added great value to Academy and we are very appreciative of the time and effort they spent to make for such a beneficial event series”

The Planning Academy highlighted emerging and core topical areas in the planning profession such as environmental justice, affordable housing, climate action planning and adaptation, public space planning, emerging technology, and transportation planning. “For me, one of the strongest features of the Planning Academy was the diverse and experienced speakers that helped our attendees dive into new or complex topics from the principlesof geodesign and new GIS technology to understanding some of the newest issues related to housing law in the State” said Clay Downing, another 2021 Planning Academy organizer. The series featured more than 20 different guest speakers who shared their expertise during each of the Planning Academy sessions.

The 2021 Planning Academy was provided by APA Central Coast as an 8-week virtual course geared toward professional planners, but designed to include other attendees such as planning commissioners, community advocates, development professionals, academics, and students. The series also offered CM credits for each of the eight sessions for participants interested in maintaining their AICP certification.

As an added bonus, APA Central Coast’s Young and Emerging Planners (YEP) Program hosted special networking sessions called Planning Academy After Hours following four of eight sessions. During each of these optional After Hours events, participants were invited to remain in the session’s virtual space to network, connect with fellow attendees, share their thoughts on the evening’s topic, and dive deeper into that topic with their fellow Planning Academy attendees. YEP hosted these sessions following the Social Equity, Climate Action Planning, Housing, and Technology in Planning sessions.

The event series was organized by APA Central Coast Executive Board Members Rachel Raynor, AICP (Section Director), Tess Harris (Santa Barbara Sub-Section Director), Matthew Wilkins (Webmaster), and Clay Downing (Ventura Sub-Section. Details from the 2021 Planning Academy are available online at