Planners are tasked with many challenges within their field of expertise. And some planners go the extra mile to be involved in planning efforts and initiatives not only locally, but also throughout the state and beyond. Our very own Coleen Clementson, Principal Regional Planner at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), is serving as the President of the California Planning Roundtable (CPR).

The CPR is an organization of experienced planning professionals who act as a resource for California Planners, bridge the gap between policy and innovation, and conduct research on pressing issues in the state. Membership in the CPR is balanced between Northern and Southern, and private and public planning professionals. The goal for this structural balance is to achieve professional diversity among its members. As President of the CPR, Coleen is responsible for managing the day to day operations of the CPR, coordinating quarterly meetings, preparing meeting agendas, and providing general oversight of the organization and its projects. The CPR is tasked with providing guidance and enhancing essential planning skills for California planning professionals. To achieve this goal, the CPR will be holding leadership sessions and workshops, including sponsoring a panel on Senate Bill 1000, at the California APA Conference this fall.

During her tenure at the CPR, Coleen has acted as co-chair of the CPR Healthy Communities Work Group which spearheaded the preparation and publication of the working paper “The Social Determinants of Health for Planners: Live, Work, Play, Learn!” and prepared and submitted a successful Planners4Health grant application to the California APA. The grant provides funding for the CPR to work with the APA on an initiative to promote collaboration between planning professionals and public health professionals (see the SD Planning Journal article by Miguel Vazquez, published in September 2017). Additionally, Coleen has most recently led efforts and provided oversight on the publication of the policy paper “Financing Infill Development in a Post-Redevelopment World”. Other projects Coleen has been involved with while at the CPR include the project to reinvent the General Plan, an undertaking to revitalize the General Plan as an essential tool to tackle twenty-first century issues, and the planning for changing demographics project, which seeks to adopt new planning strategies to address our state’s rapidly changing demographics.

What is Coleen most proud of as the President of the CPR? In her words, “The diversity of people, backgrounds and type of work is expanding in the planning profession, and the membership of the California Planning Roundtable reflects that.”

As a Principal Regional Planner at SANDAG, Coleen’s work reflects the range of topics at the CPR. More specifically, her work includes better connecting local land use plans with regional transportation investments. Coleen provides oversight and implementation of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, which serves as the blueprint for the San Diego region; the Regional Housing Needs Assessment; military and tribal planning work; short-term and long-term transit planning efforts; and several grant programs including the SANDAG TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program and Active Transportation Grant Program. In addition, Coleen led efforts to complete the region’s first Sustainable Communities Strategy, in accordance with California’s climate change legislation, Senate Bill 375, for the SANDAG 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS), adopted by the SANDAG Board of Directors in 2011 (the precursor to San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan).

Coleen’s career highlights include working on the General Plan Update at the City of San Diego, which included public outreach in San Ysidro and other communities of concern, where she learned the importance of tailoring presentations to get meaningful participation by low-income, minority populations, and working on the RTP/SCS at SANDAG, which was the first Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to comply with Senate Bill 375.

Outside of her work at SANDAG, Coleen has a long history of involvement in the planning community as an active member of the San Diego section of the American Planning Association (APA) since the mid-90s and as a member of the California Planning Roundtable (CPR) since 2012. We congratulate Coleen on her involvement in local and state APA activities, and wish her the best during her tenure as President!

For more information on SANDAG, visit For more information on the CPR, visit


This article was authored by Andrea Schlientz, SANDAG Intern, SDSU MCP Student, and Participant in SDAPA Mentorship Program