Happy New Year! On behalf of the Board of the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association, best wishes for 2018! The entire Board is looking forward to events and activities that are engaging and fun, and strongly encourage you to fully participate in the SDAPA offerings that we’re planning for this year.

The San Diego Section had a productive and successful 2017. I hope you had the opportunity to participate in at least a few of the events and educational sessions.  Here are some highlights:

Our annual holiday party in December, organized by Board Member Renee Yarmy was literally over the top this year – on a roof deck at Belmont Park. Co-hosted with the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) again this year, the party was a blast!  Our food drive competition spurred a donation of 840 pounds of food to the San Diego Food Bank, which will provide many meals for the neediest in our communities.

We celebrated several new Board members this year, who have brought new ideas and energy to the activities of our Section. Tara Lieberman, Naomi Siodmok, Howard Lee, Bill Figge, Mike Strong, Lorena Cordova, and Mike Fellows have all joined the Board this past year. We’ll be saying goodbye to long time Board members Stan Donn and Matt Gelbman, former Section Director Gary Halbert and Treasurer Alex Hempton. Alex was recognized for his tireless commitment to the Section as Treasurer with a special proclamation at the holiday party. We are excited that Dahvia Lynch was elected to succeed Alex as Treasurer and Nancy Graham was elected to be Section Director in 2019. Nancy has served the Section in various capacities on the Board, most recently as webmaster, and in that role, managed a complete overhaul of the SDAPA Section website. Check it out at www.sdapa.org.

The Section’s 2017 awards event was held in the Convoy District of Kearny Mesa, and featured Asian food culture and entertainment. Sixteen awards were presented and two of those award winners, the Planning Advocate Award which went to Vickie Granowitz, and the Comprehensive Plan Award – Large Jurisdiction, which was awarded to SANDAG for San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, went on to receive awards at the State level. Three $1,000 student scholarships were also presented at the Awards ceremony. The call for nominations for this year’s awards program will be out soon, so please take the opportunity to highlight the excellent work you’ve been doing at your firm or agency by submitting for a local APA award once the call for nominations is open.  We’re eager to celebrate our planning successes at an exciting new location in 2018.

A wide variety of excellent programs were offered in 2017, including sessions on Design and Density, Green Streets, Ecology of San Diego Bay (our first kayaking tour ever!), Recycling, and Land Use Law. These and other educational events provided opportunities for over 24 hours of Certification Maintenance credits – more than double what was offered last year – for our many members who are recognized by American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). The Board is planning to offer more opportunities for training including hiking, biking, movie nights, and lunch seminars this year.

This past year’s AICP training resulted in three new Certified Planners following the May exam. The results of the November exam will be announced soon! Lorena Cordova, our AICP training officer, is working to maintain the high-quality content of our AICP Training Sessions.  SDAPA is pleased to offer this intensive training which will begin in March.  Look for an announcement to sign up soon.

Our noteworthy Young Planner’s Group (YPG) program held eight events this year, including another robust Mentorship program. This year will be the eighth year that YPG has offered the Mentorship program, and recruitment is already in full swing.  If you haven’t already, I urge you to consider participating in this rewarding experience as a volunteer mentor.

Our university connections with SDSU and UCSD were strengthened this year due to efforts of our Board student representatives and academic liaison and renewed interest on the part of school administration and student organizations. Our student scholarship program was revamped, which resulted in triple the number of applicants this year. Four scholarships were awarded at the holiday party. We intend to continue to forge strong relationships within the student and academic community this year.

Last, but not least, the Section held several membership socials including the ever-popular Planners Night Out (PNO) events and a night at the Padres game. Two of this year’s PNOs were held on Friday nights, which provided for increased student participation and record turnout. Our Section’s membership has increased, this past year, in part because students are taking advantage of the new free student membership. Outreach via the National APA Ambassador Program was also initiated this year, and will continue next year.

We’re off to an exciting year, which will begin with a movie night in January. I hope you will join us for professional development, training, and networking in 2018! And if you want to highlight a special project you’re working on, send us an article to publish in the Planning Journal.

One last note… in September 2018, the SDAPA is hosting the California APA conference! There will be many volunteer opportunities, and we encourage our members to participate in a variety of ways and take advantage of this great opportunity to help showcase the amazing planning efforts happening in our region.