At this time of year I often reflect on what it means to be a planner, our unique role as professionals, challenges and opportunities, and why it’s important to support planning and our profession. Our aspirations to enhance neighborhoods and communities, to protect our environment and improve quality of life are not trivial. We may not have a lot of political power and we certainly didn’t get into the field for the money. But we are given, at least in some small measure, an opportunity to address some of the most challenging urban and environmental problems of our day. Not everyone can say that.

As another year begins, I want to thank our Board and volunteers for making 2013 an exceptional year for SDAPA. Guest attendance across all events totaled nearly 1,400. SDAPA sponsored events offered 16.25 CM credits (including 1.5 Ethics and 1.5 law). Collaborating partners offered another 12.0 CM credits. Among the highlights was a four week AICP training course (Asha Bleier), a spirited awards program at UCSD (Theresa Millette), six luncheon programs (Renee Yarmy and Darin Neufeld), three Planners’ Night Out Mixers (Alex Hempton) plus a Planner’s Night at the Padres Game (Darin Neufeld), a “Power of Streets” workshop (Matt Gelbman) and our 2013 Holiday Party at Stone Brewery (Alex Hempton).

2014 promises to be just as busy as we welcome: Gary Halbert, our incoming Section Director-Elect and Carolina Gregor and Nick Ferracone our new Marketing and Membership Co-Directors. Gary, who is Assistant City Manager and Director of Development Services for the City of Chula Vista, brings a wealth of management experience to SDAPA. Carolina and Nick also enrich the level of planning experience on the Board. We were also delighted that Alex Hempton, last year’s Marketing and Membership Co-Director was elected Treasurer. Alex not only organized every PNO event and the Holiday party, he was the mastermind behind our streamlined online ticketing and payment system. Many thanks go to our outgoing Treasurer Elisa Marone who stepped in at a very critical time and did an excellent job balancing our books.

Our YPG group led by Natalia Clark grows larger every year providing a full range of activities including mentorships, meet-ups, community service events, educational programs, and international events. If you have the time please consider becoming a mentor to one of our young planners. You can read all about it in Natalia’s article: A Look at the SDAPA Young Planners Group Mentorship Program 2014.

SDAPA has a strong tradition of support for local planning students. Students, in turn, support SDAPA by volunteering to help out at many of our events. Jane Clough is continuing on as our Student Liaison. Our student representatives are Maya Rosas (SDSU) and Dustin Khuu (UCSD).

SDAPA Winning Gift Basket

An important source of SDAPA student support is scholarship money raised through raffle events at our annual awards program. SDAPA also contributes to the California Planning Foundation (CPF) scholarship fund. At last year’s state conference in Visalia, SDAPA won the CPF live auction, raising $1,350 for our “Mid-City San Diego Hipster Weekend” themed gift basket. Surprisingly, SDAPA is one of three sections in the state whose planning students are not eligible to compete for general CPF scholarship funds.  This year SDAPA is working to expand CPF scholarship eligibility to at least one planning program in each section. If we are successful, students enrolled in a designated local planning program would be eligible to compete for a share of the state-wide CPF general scholarship funds.

And if you haven’t heard already, this years’ awards program will be held at the new downtown library. We will also be offering a library tour (with CM credits) led by none other than the building’s architect Rob Wellington Quigley. Now is the time to get involved in the nomination process and make sure no worthy effort goes unrecognized. Special thanks for securing the venue go Theresa Millette, SDAPA Awards Chair and Betsy McCullough, APA California Vice President of Professional Development and recent Planners Emeritus Network (PEN) honoree.

All-in-all we have a very exciting program planned for 2014, including something for planners and future planners in every stage of their careers. So keep reading our e-blasts, lend a helping hand if you can, and get ready for another exceptional year!