2016 American Planning Association Conference Recap

Alicia Brown

Project Coordinator
Local Government Commission


This year’s California state American Planning Association conference, held in Pasadena, was themed around “the Art of Planning”, which was apparent through the focus on innovative engagement, partnership, and implementation strategies that cut across all sessions and sectors. Sessions included a discussion of lessons learned for siting and stakeholder involvement around utility scale solar, as well as success stories from projects with high community engagement that have positive impacts on health and public safety. Stakeholder and community engagement is a vital piece of all planning efforts, and case studies encouraged capitalizing on innovative techniques and partnerships to ensure fair and transparent processes.

There were also detailed data modeling and visualization sessions that highlighted tools for energy, land use, and water use trends. Stephanie Pincetl from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability discussed the LA Energy Atlas and the current data gaps and lack of baselines that serve as barriers to unlocking full potential of the tool. The LA County Parks and Recreation department described how their park needs assessment was developed using clear metrics, self-reporting from cities in the county, and validation of the self-reporting process through public meetings to create a map of priority locations.

Finally, the significance of strong and innovative partnerships remained a key theme of the conference. Robert Egger, founder of LA Kitchen, provided an inspiring keynote that focused not on his work to open career paths to the homeless, but rather on the under-utilized opportunity local governments have to partner with nonprofit agencies to provide real, tangible benefits to their communities.