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Central Coast Section News

Urban Design in a Post-Covid World Presentation Available
May 29, 2020

If you missed Kobus Mentz great talk "Urban Design in a Post-Covid World", the cloud recording is now available at:

Password: 9L@5!e%U

 Although this was this spring's last talk in CRP's Zoom International Series, be alert for more in the fall!

Cloud Recording of Joao Freire's Talk
May 26, 2020

The Zoom cloud recording of Joao Freire's talk on Place Marketing and Destination Branding is now available at:



Password: 1f^$Y=Bt

Looking forward to seeing you all on Thursday, May 28, at 11:00 AM, for urbanist Kobus Mentz talk on Urban Design in a Post Covid-19 Era


APA California 2020 Awards Program
May 14, 2020

Nominations for this year’s APA California Awards Program are now being accepted. The Awards Committee encourages you to submit your outstanding project, program, plan or person for this year’s program. Nominations are due by Friday, May 29, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Some nominations require a win at the Section level to be eligible for a Chapter award and many other award categories need not win a Section award to qualify. Nominations for a Chapter Award must have first applied at the local Section level where the project, plan or work occurred, unless the award is not offered at the Section level or the project is of significance in multiple Sections.


To find more, please visit the APA California Chapter website page regarding the 2020 Program (link below). 



California Planning Foundation (CPF) 2020 Scholarship Update
May 14, 2020

The California Planning Foundation (CPF) is pleased to announce its 2020 scholarship program for outstanding planning students enrolled at eligible professional planning degree programs in the state of California. Scholarships are awarded to students seeking to enter the planning profession based on an application and selection process.

These scholarships are designed for continuing students entering their final year of an eligible undergraduate or graduate degree program. Criteria for the scholarships include academic performance, financial need, increasing diversity in the planning profession, and a commitment to serve the planning profession in California after graduation. A list of eligible degree programs can be found below.

The deadline to apply for 2020 CPF Scholarships has been extended to Sunday, May 31, 2020. 

Find out more at CPF's website page regarding scholarships (link below).


The Urban Land and Affordable Housing Global Crisis
May 7, 2020

Today's Zoom international presentation was a success! We had 36 people "attending", between faculty, students, and external guests.

Drawing from his vast experience as an international consultant, Geoffrey Payne's offered us a lot of food for thought about the necessary steps to improve access to affordable housing, and our role as planners in a world where the largest percentage of the urban population survive in terrible housing and environmental conditions.

To access the recording of Geoff's Zoom presentation, click in the link below and type in the password: 0w$^&9*4


I look forward to seeing you all again on Thursday, May 21 for the presentation on "Branding, City Marketing, and Planning" by Joao Freire, PhD, from IPAN University in Lisbon.

Stay home, stay healthy!


Vicente del Rio, PhD

Professor, City and Regional Planning

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Director's Message
May 5, 2020


On behalf of the APA Central Coast Section, I hope you are doing well and not burning out from Zoom (other platform) video meeting fatigue! This is just a quick little message, to gain traction and gather input on when our first virtual Section ‘mixer’ should be held. We’ve created a quick < 1-minute poll for you to fill out and list your preference on night of the week for an upcoming mixer.


Feel free to reach out / connect with me over LinkedIn or email. I’d love to hear any ideas you have for virtual events for the Central Coast Section to keep us connected and our minds intrigued. We would love to hear from you!

Stay well and healthy!

All the best,

Rachel Raynor | APA Central Coast Director

e: rcraynor@rrmdesign.com or connect with me on LinkedIn

2020 Planning Awards
April 22, 2020

The 2020 Central Coast APACA Planning Awards Program has announced the award winners for this year. To find out who won and more about the program, see the Awards page on the Central Coast APA's website (link below). 



Annual APA California Conference Survey
March 26, 2020

Help Shape the Future of the
Annual APA California Conferences!


The deadline to take the survey is March 31!


We all have ideas for improving our annual conferences, so here is your opportunity. The APA California Board has formed an Ad Hoc Committee to evaluate our current conference program and to explore ways to best serve the diverse professional development and networking needs of our members. Please take about 10-15 minutes to complete this easy survey. You do not need to have attended a past conference to complete the survey. We also highly encourage feedback from non-APA members that have attended our conference. Your input will greatly assist the Committee in formulating its recommendations to the APA California Board. All responses will be kept confidential and we will post the survey results on the Chapter’s website.

Planner in the Field: Oaxaca City (Mexico) with Clay Downing
March 24, 2020

As I am stuck at home as a result of the coronavirus and its resulting stay-at-home order, I have been able to reflect on what I want for the community I live In and work for. In January of this year, I was fortunate enough to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico with my spouse and friends. A large portion of the trip was spent with our friends who, like my wife and I, were excited to explore Oaxaca City which has made a name for itself as a cultural destination where food, history, and art are the centerpieces of any visitor experience as well as the city’s fabric.

As a traveler and planner interested in seeing how the city and its residents wove it all together, this city did not disappoint. For planners and the many topics that we tend to love, I want to share a few of the highlights and what I think Oaxaca City did really well:

Public Gathering Places: More than just its well-known Zócalo*, Oaxaca City invites people to walk, explore and wander. An easy to navigate city grid included numerous churches with plazas of varying sizes. Additionally, both small and large parks of varying styles abounded. My wife and I found ourselves fascinated by one such plaza entirely surrounded by small, open-air ice cream shops where you could find shade, pick out a favorite flavor (dulce de leche and cactus fruit for us), and listen to a mandolin-playing musician. Add markets, a vibrant array of street vendors, numerous residents and out-of-town foot traffic, and plenty of shade trees and you have an incredibly inviting experience. Part of what I observed was that the experience was also incredibly authentic in its feel, Oaxacan variations on cafes, ice cream, food, artwork and more were on display with a diversity that I have experienced in few other places.

As a planner, it left me asking, how can our communities in the U.S. not only allow but encourage this sort of grassroots creativity and shared public space to occur?

Oaxaca City, Plaza Oaxaca City, Helado Oaxaca City, Viajera

Plazas as gathering and recreation spaces accessible to all throughout the City. 

Oaxacan ice cream is unique, existing somewhere between shaved ice and gelato. 

Plaza near one of the city’s many churches and cathedrals played host to public activities including neighborhood soccer games.

*What is a Zócalo? Defined as a public square of a Mexican city or town, the name has come to embody a central gathering place for a community. 

On the Central Coast, the City of Oxnard is creating plans for the development of its of zócalo as to revitalize and enliven an existing commercial space. 





Owning Local Identity: Not every aspect of unique Oaxacan is easy for non-Oaxacans to enjoy. But doesn’t that make it seem that much more authentic? Artwork, botanical gardens, smoky mezcal, nearly bitter dark chocolate, fried crickets, museums small and large. The variety of opportunities to get to know Oaxaca were very much a process of understanding the City’s identify, and through that process developing a better understanding of the people who live there. For example, the city abounds with museums large and small. From a museum focused on textiles or stamps (both smaller), to the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca which is a cultural and historical museum housed in the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman, one of the largest cathedrals in the City. The Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca told numerous pre-Christian stories of Oaxacan history in a way that seemed more celebratory and respectful of that non-Christian history than I would have expected from within a catholic church that still holds masses. However, I later saw this as a reflection of the strong indigenous communities that make up and influence the populace of the city. In this region of Mexico, many residents identify with their Mixtec and Zapotec heritage which is highlighted throughout the city. The city, together with the archeological site of Monte Albán, was named a World Heritage Site in 1987.

I left the City feeling that anyone could enjoy this experience even though I understand that it is unlikely that every piece of Oaxacan culture is going to be a highlight for each traveler or resident. However, it is not dumbed down, and that those ingredients create a blend of elements which leads to a unique and complex identity.

From a planner perspective on cities and their identities, is that not attainable for any given city? If we encourage our residents and provide opportunities to express what is most compelling to them, could we not expect similar outcomes for our communities? Perhaps not necessarily a World Heritage Site designation for every community but finding ways to celebrate their local history and cultural element. I would argue that we already see that in some places, but as planners we have to ensure that we are listening to community interests wholeheartedly rather than trying to import successes from other locations without adequately adapting them.

 Oaxaca City, Chocolate Oaxaca City, Artistas

Some chocolaterías specialize in coffee drinks blended with strong mexican chocolate.

Street art murals are a common sight in many areas throughout Oaxaca City.

People on the Streets: People everywhere. People in the streets, plazas, restaurants and cafes, museums and galleries, and shops. There were people walking in all directions. There was a regular number of cars, but one of the impressions that I got from Oaxaca City was the limited number of parked cars in public areas. Despite this, the commercial and public spaces were thriving. We called cabs and used ride hailing services a number of times during our visit without incident – it was simply how getting around was conducted.

The experience came across as easy, relatively inexpensive, and reliable. I still don’t know exactly where cars were parked, but it was certainly not in within the gathering spaces.

More than once, I asked myself, what would happen if we tried this back in our communities on the Central Coast. What would happen if we severely reduced parking requirements? Or instituted parking maximums in some of the Central Coast’s urban core and downtown areas like Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, or San Luis Obispo? In the U.S., when I think of larger cities with limited parking and higher densities, my mind jumps to cities such as Chicago, Oakland, Washington D.C. or NYC. Oaxaca City has a population of approximately 255,000 people – not a small city, but not a giant either.

With a mid-sized city in mind, what would happen if our cities gutted parking requirements in a substantial way, taking those parking minimums to a fraction of what they are now? What would the ripple effects be? I still don’t know the answer to that question but exploring a city the size and shape of Oaxaca City made it seem much more plausible and made the beneficial side of that equation visible to a typical traveler.

Oaxaca CIty, Parque Escondido Oaxaca City, Musica
Pocket park between commercial area and small chocolatería. Evening street filled with onlookers as band plays from balcony.

Thank you for reading these observations from my travels. In the future, I sincerely hope that other APA members and planners from throughout the Central Coast will share their experiences, both near and far. What did you see that made you think “Can we do that in my town? In our agency? On the Central Coast?”

Written by Clay Downing

Clay Downing is the Ventura County Sub-Section Director for the American Planning Association’s Central Coast Section, works as an Associate Planner for the County of Ventura’s Planning Division, and lives in Oxnard.

Director's Message #4
March 24, 2020

Hi all! I know there has been a bit of time that has passed since I last left a message with you. First and foremost, on behalf of the Central Coast APA Executive Board, we hope that each of you and your families are healthy during this uncertain time.


I wanted to turn the tables slightly in this edition – we want to hear from you! Use our Section’s Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or email (use my email below) to share strategies and actions that you have utilized to support colleagues, teams, clients, and/or agencies in adapting to the COVID-19 response. Everything from tools, to team management strategies, to project management – our goal would be to collect and share these ideas, resources, and tips throughout the Central Coast to help our region adapt and respond as resiliently as we can to the situation at hand. We miss seeing and connecting with you all and know that this is only a temporary bit of time. That being said, in the interim, please do not hesitate to reach out with ideas for virtual events for the Central Coast Section to keep us connected and our minds intrigued. We would love to hear from you!

Stay well and healthy!


All the best,

Rachel Raynor | APA Central Coast Director

e: rcraynor@rrmdesign.com or connect with me on LinkedIn


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