On Thursday evening, May 25th, the San Diego Section held our Annual Awards Event. It was a spectacular event – just as you have come to expect – where we highlight the best of the San Diego region.  The 170 attendees also had some fun!  Starting the event was a walking tour through the Convoy District in Kearny Mesa where attendees had a chance to participate in planning efforts that are transitioning the Convoy area into a vibrant cultural, dining, and innovative economic hub.  Attendees assembled at Jasmine Seafood Restaurant to mingle and buy raffle tickets before dinner. The evening program started with the Lucky Lions Dancers threading through the crowd and with welcoming remarks by leaders of the Convoy District. Our Master of Ceremonies announcing the awards was Lara Gates, current City of San Diego Council District 9 Chief of Policy, and 2016 Paul Davidoff Advancing Diversity and Social Change California Chapter awardee.  Following the awards, the crowd was entertained by a Taiko Drums exhibition, highlighting the talents of sometimes-reluctant audience members brought to the stage to ‘assist’ the drummers. The evening concluded with the awarding of three $1000 scholarships to local university planning students, and the announcing of the raffle winners. The planning students were identified through a competitive selection process, and as the descriptions at the end of this article indicate, they are a talented group. The Section Awards Jury gave 16 awards – including 3 Honorable Mentions – to projects and individuals who make contributions to planning in San Diego. A standing ovation accompanied the award for Vicki Granowitz for Planning Advocate! Most of the awarded projects and individuals are eligible to compete at the California Chapter level in those awards categories. Many thanks and a huge “shout-out” from our local Section to Mike Strong, Awards Chair, and his Committee, and to the Awards Jury members. And the Section’s continued thanks to our event sponsors who are not only capable professionals providing quality services to local jurisdictions, but who also enable us to provide scholarships to local university students. Congratulations San Diego Awards Winners!



















2017 San Diego Section APA Award Recipients

Advancing Diversity and Social Change Award – City of Chula Vista for the Cultural Arts Master Plan

The City of Chula Vista is recognized for their work on the Cultural Arts Master Plan and how it serves as a roadmap for a strong connected community. Early in the Cultural Arts Master Plan’s development, the City recognized the need for collaboration, communication, and leadership in programming and events. To develop the Master Plan work program, City staff worked diligently with stakeholders throughout the community to better understand the City’s cultural arts strengths, weaknesses and needs.  The result was a Master Plan that encourages and facilitates opportunities for empowerment and supports cultural diversity.

The jury noted the Master Plan’s strong commitment to seeking opportunities to grow and strengthen artists and arts organizations, and initiatives and strategies for cultural equity both in access and programming opportunities. It is this year’s clear cut winner in advancing social diversity.  Increasing social equity, diversity, and minority participation must occur in order to better serve our entire population.

Best Practice Award – HUD and KTU+A for Creating Walkable and Bike-able Communities

The Best Practice award goes to a set of guidelines for elected officials, planning staff, community organizations and the public can use to promote and create bicycle and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods and communities. It includes solutions tailored to small and mid-sized cities, particularly those with a high percentage of low and moderate income individuals. This Project makes the case for the importance of the link among community planning, street design and the addition of specific walking and biking facilities.  Key components include a discussion of the benefits and barriers of walking and biking; a community self-assessment tool; a planning process guide; design guidelines; an implementation guide; and case studies.

The jury spoke very highly of the guidelines and their ability to be used in different situations by different people. The document is graphically-rich and easy to follow, which simplifies complex transportation planning concepts.  It seems that everyone can use the menu that allows users to select and apply strategies based on certain parameters.  A great case study and a great way to demonstrate best practices.

Best Practice Award – Honorable Mention– Naval Base of San Diego and HDR and Jacobs for the Smart Shore Master Plan

Receiving an Honorable Mention is the work by the Naval Base of San Diego, HDR, and Jacobs for the Smart Shore Master Plan.   In response to potential natural disasters and man-made threats, the Navy launched the Smart Shore program to increase opportunities for Installations to increase resiliency in the face of these challenges. Smart Shore leverages technology to provide military installation operations, facilities, and communications departments with a common operating picture for near real time monitoring and controls for emergency operations, facility management and energy management.

The jury noted the effort’s response to energy mandates and net zero goals. The work program selected buildings that represented the top 75 percent of Base energy consumption and sorted those buildings from highest to lowest consumers to prioritize return on investment.  The jury also spoke highly of the project team’s engagement with industry leaders in communications, cyber-security and building management system technologies in developing the Master Plan.

Planning Firm Award – M.W. Steele Group

Founded in 1983 by Mark W. Steele, this 16-person architecture and planning firm consistently creates innovative, context sensitive designs in projects such as the Southeastern San Diego and Encanto Community Plans, the University of San Diego Master Plan Update, and the Otay Central Village Specific Plan. Their innovative and context sensitive approach is also evident in past signature projects including Naval Training Center Reuse Plan (Liberty Station), the Carlsbad Village Grand Avenue Station Focus Area Plan, the Urban Design Element for the Golden Hill Community Plan, and the City of San Diego Street Design Manual. Many of these projects have received local and national awards for their creativity, adaptive re-use, and ability to be implemented.

The jury felt it important to acknowledge M.W. Steele and their collective efforts in the field, which is underscored by years of winning awards. M.W. Steele Group consistently demonstrates quality and passion for engaging the community throughout the planning and architecture process.

Comprehensive Plan Award – Large Jurisdiction – SANDAG for San Diego Forward: the Regional Plan

The Regional Plan responds to changes in local land use plans and, as a result of these changes, provides a wide array of mobility options to meet existing and future travel needs. The Regional Plan includes an environmental mitigation program to offset biological impacts of future transportation improvements, while at the same time reducing overall costs and accelerating the delivery of projects.

The jury felt that this project highlights what long range planning can effectively do in terms of establishing a vision.  The plan is unique in its incorporation of infrastructure assessments, market analysis, the economic development framework, and a detailed capital improvements plan, while considering public health, equity, and new topics such as complete streets. The public outreach component of the Plan was significant and reached people both far and wide across the San Diego Region who actively participated in the development of the Plan.

Note: San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan also won the “Best of the Best” Transportation Planning Excellence Award (TPEA) at the National Planning Conference in New York City. This is an award bestowed by the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the National APA once every two years. More information about this prestigious award is available at fhwa.dot.gov/planning/tpea.

Comprehensive Plan Award – Large Jurisdiction – Honorable Mention – City of Carlsbad and Dyett & Bhatia for the Carlsbad General Plan

The City of Carlsbad received an Honorable Mention for its new General Plan. In 2008, the City of Carlsbad initiated Envision Carlsbad to engage the entire community in the process of planning for the future. It was the start of a successful work program, which is deserving of our recognition.  The Envision Carlsbad process involved extensive community outreach and resulted in the Carlsbad Community Vision and a new General Plan adopted in 2015.  The Carlsbad General Plan is replete with innovative strategies, from a new multi-modal street system, to promoting smart growth, preservation of open space, and sustainable resources for future generations of Carlsbad.

The jury felt that the General Plan is written and illustrated with attention to simplicity, organization, and clarity for its users. Although it is easily understood and interpreted, the Plan goes well beyond basic general plan components, and addresses community character; livability; walkability; sustainability; arts, history and culture; and economic vitality and business diversity.

Economic Development Planning Award – City of Chula Vista for the Western Chula Vista Community Facilities District

In March, 2016, the City of Chula Vista City Council created the Western Chula Vista Community Facilities District to seek ways to revitalize and encourage redevelopment. The CFD allows deferral of development impact fees for commercial, industrial and high density residential projects within Western Chula Vista. The deferral of certain impact fees reduces the additional equity burden by an amount equal to such fees or about half of the overall impact fees assessed on a residential project. Utilizing the CFD program, two market rate residential developments are under construction and eight more projects are in the entitlement process.

The jury felt that the project was a fantastic case study. It addressed a need that prompted its initiation. And the results are making a very clear difference, with even more to come.

Hard Won Victories Award – City of Chula Vista for the Kids Choice Program

The City of Chula Vista recently established the Healthy Chula Vista Initiative, which supports creating a thriving, healthy community by creating policies and programs to improve the City’s physical and social environments, promote awareness and access to services, and build community partnerships. The program seeks to address long-term impacts of sugar consumption and ultimately reduce diseases including diabetes, heart attacks and high blood pressure by providing healthier options for our children.  This voluntary program seeks cooperation of food establishments where a children’s meal includes a beverage to change their default beverage options to water, milk and/or smaller servings of 100% fruit juice.  It wasn’t an easy path.  But with the help and support of local business leaders, and community health providers, the Healthy Chula Vista team has been able to garner community support and develop support from additional interested restaurants throughout the City.

The jury commented on the success of the program and its ability to overcome challenges. This program was met with skepticism and hostility, however through community collaboration and persistence, the Kids Choice Chula Vista Program prevailed as a Hard Won Victory.  And it will make healthier beverage choices an easier option for the 250,000+ people that live in Chula Vista.

Academic Award – Bob Stark

Mr. Stark, of Michael Baker International, has 20 years of experience in the preparation and management of environmental review documents pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act. His expertise in guiding high profile and controversial development projects through the rigors of state and federal environmental review and permitting makes him a trusted advisor to public agencies throughout California.  The award nomination was submitted by his students in order to acknowledge his expertise in the field and to recognize him for bringing his professional knowledge into a classroom setting thereby educating the next generation of CEQA analysts and planners.

The jury noted that CEQA is a complex area of law and land use application. It is helpful to have someone of his pedigree be involved in a classroom setting.  His broad base of knowledge serves both the profession and his students well.

Environmental Planning Award – County of Imperial, MBI, and RICK Community Planning and Sustainable Development for the County of Imperial Conservation and Open Space Element

In 2016, the County of Imperial adopted the Conservation and Open Space Element of its General Plan. The County of Imperial and its consultant team worked together, through a $400,000 California Energy Commission’s Renewable Energy Grant, to create a policy document guide preservation of natural and cultural resources for future generations in Imperial County. The policy framework includes conservation of environmental resources, biological resources, protection of air quality, climate change, cultural resources, and conservation and restoration of the Salton Sea. The element’s goals and policies were developed based on extensive community input and collaboration with key regional stakeholders, identification of environmental issues, and a thoughtful balancing of economic interests including agriculture, tourism, renewable energy production, and mineral extraction.

The jury indicated that this project showcases how an agency can develop a policy framework to create more sustainable and greener communities that reduce the impact of development on the natural environment and improve environmental quality.

Planning Advocate Award – Vicki Granowitz

Vicki Granowitz is a long-time participant in planning in the City of San Diego. She has been appointed to many boards and committees by City of San Diego Mayors, Councilpersons, or a City Council subcommittees. Her leadership has led to major accomplishments in the San Diego area. She was elected to her planning group many times by the citizens of North Park to represent them to the City and other jurisdictions because of her expertise and credibility.  In addition to her planning group experience – and her recent appointment to the City of San Diego Planning Commission – those committees Vicki has worked tirelessly with addressed issues and controversy related to parks and recreation, public facilities, historical districts, mobility, libraries, and the City of San Diego General Plan among others.  Through her tenure, she has collaborated with planning staff, and has recognized, and been a supporter of, planning staff’s efforts.

The jury just simply could not keep up with the list of accomplishments and areas of service in Vicki’s resume. Her track record shows how she has dedicated her life to creating a better quality of life in our community; and the progress in North Park and in San Diego area shows how successful she has been at it.  And now she is a Planning Commissioner!

Emerging Planning & Design Firm Award – Chen Ryan Associates

In a little over five years, Chen Ryan Associates has grown into a reliable, active, local mobility firm. They have the ability to handle large and small projects, fulfill grant program requirements on tight deadlines, and develop innovative techniques that can withstand scrutiny. This is incredibly valuable during a time when traffic and multi-modal analysis plays a key role in evaluating projects. Chen Ryan is standing out as a leader in creating plans that provide transportation options and make a difference in communities.

The jury members agreed that Chen Ryan’s current work demonstrates the potential of having a continual influence on the planning profession for years to come. They are already have developed a stellar reputation in their short existence.

Public Outreach Award – City of San Diego for Pure Water San Diego

Pure Water San Diego is a potable reuse program that will use proven technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. Due to the misconceptions about potable reuse and the “toilet to tap” terminology popularized in the mid-1990s, a comprehensive public outreach and education program was launched as part of the City’s Water Purification Demonstration Project and has remained a crucial part of the Pure Water Program. The goal of Pure Water San Diego’s outreach program is to inform San Diegans about Pure Water San Diego and how it addresses San Diego’s water and wastewater challenges. Pure Water’s extensive public outreach and education program has resulted in a 50 percent increase in public support for potable reuse in San Diego.

In consideration of the outreach program’s effort, and the stigma of wastewater, and the program’s success, the jury felt that the City of San Diego was able to facilitate an awareness and engagement process, which has allowed the City of San Diego to move forward with implementing the Pure Water Program, creating a safe, reliable and local source of water for decades to come.

Transportation Planning Award – SANDAG, City Heights CDC, and IBI Group for Mobility Solutions for Environmental Justice Communities

Enabled by a Caltrans grant, the Mobility Solutions project focused on the City Heights in San Diego as a case study and was designed for replicability and use by environmental justice communities throughout California. The goal of the project was to educate residents and stakeholders about mobility barriers and possible solutions. With this knowledge, residents can improve the livability and sustainability of their neighborhoods, contribute to urban diversity, and address their social, economic, and environmental goals. The project addresses community engagement strategies; capital improvements, such as sidewalks, repairs, bike lanes, and transit stop amenities; programs, such as bike programs, ridesharing, and carsharing; other possible mobility barrier solutions, such as mobility hubs and community safety strategies.

The jury spoke very highly of the way that the project broke down complex planning concepts and presented information in a digestible format through what’s called a Mobility Solutions Toolkit and a Mobility Solutions Playbook. The jury felt these were useful deliverables to encourage continued public education and engagement.   It also did a good job demonstrating how community-led and affordable best practices can enhance mobility within a community.

Transportation Planning Award – Honorable Mention – City of San Diego and MBI for the Linda Vista Comprehensive Active Transportation Strategy

The jury awarded an Honorable Mention to the Linda Vista Comprehensive Active Transportation Strategy [CATS]. With an objective to blend the pedestrian and bicycle planning processes into one cohesive effort, the CATS methodology developed for Linda Vista is intended to be replicated in other City of San Diego neighborhoods as each community plan is updated. An Active Transportation Toolbox was also developed that details potential treatment for various applications. Focusing on GIS modelling and public outreach to arrive at data- and community-driven active transportation improvements, the process included pedestrian and bicycle models that were overlaid with existing and planned transit routes to determine the high demand areas for active transportation propensities.

The jury spoke very highly of how the project integrated transportation planning into community planning. The recommended concepts are intended to serve the Linda Vista community and better support and promote walking and biking.  The selection of project improvements were based on data or public input; land use attractors; and locations where conflicts have higher potential.  The jury also noted that the project had strong community outreach.  Stakeholders and local groups were instrumental in developing the plan to be both functional in serving the community and feasible for the pursuit of implementation.

Urban Design Award –CIVIC San Diego and MIG for the 14th Street Promenade Master Plan

The 14th Street Master Plan establishes the vision for a north/south linear park and pedestrian promenade in the heart of East Village, connecting City College to the north with Barrio Logan to the south. The Master Plan establishes the overall design for the corridor, guides future public and private improvements, and serves as the basis from which all future segments of the Master Plan will be implemented.  Three distinct districts along the corridor – the Urban Discovery and Play District, the Park District, and the Entertainment & Innovation District – emphasize different concepts appealable to a wide range of users.

The jury stated that this is a prime example of the re-purposing of excess public rights-of-way for the creation of public open space and is an excellent showcase of urban design concept planning. The project emphasizes walkability and pedestrian safety by providing pedestrian amenities such as improved sidewalks, new accessible bulb-outs and crosswalks, seating, public art and new lighting.  Design features include flexible spaces that can be programmed to complement adjacent land uses, and promotes an integration of historical artifacts and interpretive elements in creative and functional ways.

2017 San Diego Section Scholarship Recipients

Isabel Ignacio

Isabel Ignacio was born and raised in San Diego in the Paradise Hills neighborhood. In 2013, she graduated from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, continuing to UC San Diego where she will be graduating this June with honors and will be receiving a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning. Isabel hopes to become an attorney in the future and will be moving towards this path by serving next year as a fellow in the San Diego JusticeCorps Fellowship Program. She plans to save her scholarship money for her law school applications.

Vincent Page

Vincent Page has lived in Washington State, Lithuania, the Cayman Islands, and Riverside County, CA, but he spent most of his childhood in Temecula. He is majoring in Urban Studies and Planning at UC San Diego, and after graduation he hopes to pursue a graduate degree in architecture. He is excited to say that the scholarship money awarded to him by the San Diego Section of the APA will be used to help pay for classes this summer, and he is especially looking forward to taking the UCSD Extension course in AutoCAD. Vincent’s extracurricular interests include playing the piano, baking, and exploring new cities.

Mark Anderberg

Mark Anderberg is a recent transfer student to UC San Diego where he is completing his junior year as an Urban Studies and Planning major. His primary areas of interest are design and sustainability. Mark grew up in San Francisco and moved to Stockholm, Sweden for high school. While in Stockholm, Mark was inspired by Scandinavian transportation and planning and he hopes to find ways to creatively combat sprawl in the U.S. Mark is honored to receive an SDAPA scholarship and will be using the funds to support his upcoming six-month long study abroad program at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. During his time in Germany, Mark hopes to acquire new skills in practical design so that upon his return to the U.S. he can bring new perspectives to the way we plan and develop cities in California.