Pint with a Planner is a new, semi-annual event hosted by the Young Planners Group.  In planning this new event, the YPG committee members wanted to create an event to engage other young planners by providing an outlet to meet influencers and shapers in the San Diego region. To achieve this, and to set the bar high for the first event, the YPG committee decided to search for their planning unicorn. Someone who would bring energy and grand ideas (and a crowd) to pave the way for future events.

Hasan Ikhrata was that unicorn. SANDAG’s newest Executive Director kicked off the first ever Pint with a Planner event at Mission Brewery on March 13th. With over 60 planners and young professionals in attendance, Hasan joined YPG members for a beverage and a discussion about the challenges, opportunities, and vision for San Diego’s transportation system.

Though only in his 97th day as the SANDAG leading man, Hasan made it clear that he is committed to turning the San Diego region into one rich with transportation options; where every person has the option between at least two modes for any trip they may need to take. To achieve this vision, Hasan noted that it would be expensive…but that it would all pay for itself years down the road when the region is no longer car dependent. With future challenges such as climate change, Hasan made it clear that reshaping the way we think about transportation NOW is imperative to building a resilient region later. San Diego is a politically diverse region, and it will require reshaping the way EVERYONE thinks of transportation to achieve the goals of a fair, balanced, and equitable transportation system.

Throughout the night, many questions arose related to what many consider “pie-in-the-sky” ideas. These ideas are ones that young planners often admire and respect as guiding the future of planning, urbanism, and transportation. Such ideas include hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, carbon taxing, and much more. Hasan noted that many of these ideas seemed far off now, but without “pie-in-the-sky” concepts, what do we have to aspire too? He noted that he loved these ideas and wants all planners, young and old, to continue thinking of these “pie-in-the-sky” ideas to constantly reset the bar for what can be considered the future of planning.

In his final note to YPG and attendees at the first ever Pint with a Planner, Hasan described his growth when he was a young planner. He found that he required a lot of help and advice from more established planners to learn, grow, and ultimately be successful in the industry. He encouraged all planners in attendance to reach out to him directly if they ever want help finding their way as professionals. It is our role as planners to continue cultivating new planners and encourage growth and support within the profession.

YPG is incredibly thankful to Hasan Ikhrata for taking the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to join us for a night of drinks and discourse. In honor of the event, and to send everyone off in proper fashion, Pint with a Planner was closed with a toast: “Here’s to pie-in-the-sky thinking, let us create big visions to set new norms.”