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Central Coast Section News

Annual APA California Conferences 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


APA California Call for Board Nominations
March 24, 2020

APA California Call for Board Nominations

APA California needs your leadership! We’re seeking planners dedicated to the profession for statewide Board positions. The deadline to submit your candidacy is April 13.

Open positions for 2021 are Vice President for Conferences, Vice President for Policy & Legislation, Vice President for Professional Development, Commission & Board Representative, and California Planning Foundation Board Member. Learn more at apacalifornia.org.

March 15, 2020

We enjoy honoring planning projects and individuals every year from throughout the American Planning Association's Central Coast Section with our annual Central Coast Planning Awards Program. However, in the past days and weeks the State of California and local governments have declared a public health emergency and issued advisories for group gatherings until the end of March in order to address the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and support social distancing. Although our annual Planning Awards Program was planned for April 11th, the Central Coast Section's Executive Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Central Coast Planning Awards Program this year. 

The jurors for the 2020 Planning Awards Program will still meet to judge and make decisions on this year's Awards nominees. After the jurors' decisions have been made, the Central Coast Section will notify award winners of their award status so that they may move on to the California State Awards nomination process if eligible. Actual awards and plaques will be sent to award recipients accordingly. Additionally, a newsletter article on the projects will be included in our membership e-blast in order to recognize the projects awarded and share them with the Central Coast Section. 

We apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment that this cancellation will create for our Section's members and other supporters, but the Board feels that this is the most responsible course of action of those available in the current public health emergency. Thank you for your patience and continued support of communities along the Central Coast,


Executive Board of Directors, Central Coast SectionAmerican Planning Association, California Chapter

2020 Scholarship Program from California Planning Foundation
March 8, 2020 to September 12, 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.  CPF is excited to offer over 40 scholarships – for a total of over $67,000 – to students attending eligible degree programs at 32 colleges and universities in California.

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 colleges and universities by Section is provided at the end of this email.  A list of eligible degree programs from those colleges and universities can be found on the CPF website at https://californiaplanningfoundation.org/scholarships.

The deadline to apply for 2020 CPF scholarships is Thursday, April 30, 2020.  Applicants will need to apply only once.  Applicants will be reviewed for all scholarships for which they are eligible.  Scholarship awards will be announced during the summer.  Scholarship winners will be honored at the annual CPF Scholarship Luncheon on Saturday, September 12, 2020 in Riverside, California in conjunction with the APA California Annual Conference https://www.apacalifornia-conference.org/. The Chapter’s 2020 Conference will be held September 12-15 at the Riverside Convention Center.

Interested  students and faculty should visit https://californiaplanningfoundation.org/scholarships/ for the CPF scholarship application process.  Students can apply at: https://tinyurl.com/cpf2020apply.

Important dates:

  • April 30, 2020: CPF scholarships application submittal deadline
  • May-June 2020: CPF Scholarship Committee review application submittals
  • July-August 2020: Announcement of CPF scholarship recipients
  • September 12, 2020: Celebrate CPF scholarship recipients at the CPF Scholarship Awards and Professional Networking Luncheon during the APA California Conference in Riverside                                           

For questions, please contact Hilary Nixon.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

For the eligible degree programs at these colleges and universities, please go to the CPF website https://californiaplanningfoundation.org/scholarships/.



  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • CSU Channel Islands
  • UC Santa Barbara
CENSUS 2020 | Everyone Deserves to be Counted
March 7, 2020

The 2020 Census is officially underway, marking an important milestone for the nation's once-in-a-decade headcount. With government distrust on the rise, planners are poised to play a significant role — working to ensure that all people living in local communities are counted.

Timothy Olson, Associate Director for Field Operations at the U.S. Census Bureau, offers ways for planners to support a complete and accurate 2020 Census, which informs local land use decisions and determines the amount of federal funding communities receive for implementing local plans.

APA recently supported a bipartisan Senate-passed resolution, encouraging individuals, families, and households across the country to take part in the Census.

Learn more at planning.org/blog/9179833/a-planners-call-to-action-2020-census/

Census 2020


Bringing the "Strong Towns" Movement to Ventura County
February 25, 2020

I'm a believer that the everyday design choices we make in our cities have exponential power to either transform or keep us stuck in our bad habits. When a developer proposes to build an affordable housing development in a location without access to transit, they are effectively requiring everyone who will live in it to take on the burden of car ownership. When city codes require an arterial street wide enough to accommodate 45mph near a new school, or large parking minimums around a shopping center, they are saying to residents, you will need to drive your kids to school or drive to this center. The results of these decisions have added up over the last few decades, keeping us in unsustainable growth patterns, resulting in places that are increasingly difficult to make prosperous and affordable for cities to maintain.

The old phrase here is true:  the best time to plant a tree was 20 years, ago, but the next best time to plant one is today. Every week, city councils and planning commissions meet; planning staff, developers, engineers and local advocates all gather to discuss and debate the pros and cons of these decisions. From NIMBY's to YIMBY's, each local municipality has its own local cadre of passionate residents looking for ways either keep things from changing or break out of this cycle.

In December, Charles L Marhon Jr., founder of the Strong Towns movement,made a stop in Camarillo as part of his national book tour promoting his book, Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. Strong Towns is described as a book of "forward-thinking ideas that breaks with modern wisdom to present a new vision of urban development in the United States." At the Camarillo event, Charles Marhon explained why cities of all sizes continue to struggle to meet their basic needs, and challenged us each to think about the small things we can to do incrementally change them.

If this is the first time you are hearing about Strong Towns, you should know it's not just a book. It's a MOVEMENT. Its website is filled with inspiring articles, podcasts and resources that engaged citizens can use in their communities. At the Strong Towns stop in Camarillo, he challenged us with a simple question: What is one small thing you can do now to incrementally make our towns stronger? What a relief it was to be reminded that it's the little decisions we make each week that will over time get us there. My goal this week is to share this message with the engaged Livable Communities reader! I hope the articles "Why Design Matters In Times Of A Housing Crisis," and "What's Up with All Those Empty Commercial Storefronts in New Mixed-Use Developments?" will help "connects the dots" between design choices and our Livable Communities.

See More About Strong Towns


Written by Vanessa Rauschenberger and initially published by the Ventura County Civic Alliance. Vanessa is the Director of Planning and Marketing at Gold Coast Transit District in Oxnard, CA.

Santa Barbara Housing Conference
January 24, 2020 to May 2, 2020

The Coastal Housing Coalition invites you to sponsor or register to attend the 6th Annual Santa Barbara Housing Conference on Friday, May 1-8:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the historic Carrillo Recreation Center. This is Santa Barbara County's ONLY housing conference!

Keynote speaker is journalist, author, and California political expert Dan Walters from Sacramento. "Gimme Shelter" podcasters Liam Dillon and Matt Levin will also present. Breakfast, lunch, and post conference wine & beer reception is included.

Conference registration is $110 until April 1 and $150 after and at the door. Register now for sponsorships that start at $500. Exclusive Title Sponsorship is $10,000. Conference description and sponsorship flyer is available on our website www.coastalhousingcoalition.org. 

Register or sponsor now at CONFERENCE.

2020 APA California Conference: Call for Sessions
January 21, 2020 to February 21, 2020

APA California Conference: Call for Sessions is Open!

Deadline to submit is Friday, February 21, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

The 2020 APA California Chapter Conference will be held in Riverside on September 12-15, 2020. The Conference Host Committee (CHC) issued a Call for Topics in December 2019, and membership delivered over 200 ideas were sent in!

Now is the opportunity to submit proposals for Sessions/Moderators/Speakers that respond to the topics that California planners want to learn about. The CHC is releasing the complete list of submittals from the Call for Topics to facilitate collaboration between like-minded submitters – or to encourage differentiation from similar ideas to provide a broader range of content. The CHC encourages submitters to respond with a complete session with all participants identified. The Call is open to all APA Members, planners, and allied professionals, and one need not have submitted an idea in the Call for Topics in order to submit. Proposals can also address topics not explicitly included in the Tracks and Topics Matrix but that are relevant to one of the categories.

The Riverside CHC looks forward to receiving your proposals and is counting on you to help us to bring together the experts – YOU - to deliver top notch educational and networking opportunities for our colleagues and allied professionals with no two sessions alike!

Please contact Programs Co-Chairs Christine Saunders (csaunders@sagecrestplanning.com) and Matt Burris (matt.burris@cityofrc.us) with questions, thank you!

PDF icon Call_for_Sessions_FINAL.pdf

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