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Welcome to the American Planning Association Podcast. This is your source for discussions, interviews, and lectures on a multitude of planning topics.

American Planning Association American Planning Association

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Welcome to the American Planning Association Podcast. This is your source for discussions, interviews, and lectures on a multitude of planning topics.

    Resilience Roundtable: Ivis Garcia Zambrana, AICP, PhD

    Resilience Roundtable: Ivis Garcia Zambrana, AICP, PhD

    Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. Maria, the more destructive of the two, devastated the island in myriad ways. It wiped out Puerto Rico's electrical grid, leaving 3 million people without power — the biggest outage in U.S. history. It caused $100 billion in damage, and recent estimates from Harvard University, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, put the number of fatalities at 2,975. After the disaster, Professor Ivis Garcia Zambrana, AICP, PhD, went back to the island she grew up on to help create long-term planning partnerships that would lead to a more resilient Puerto Rico. In this episode of Resilience Roundtable, she sits down with host Jim Schwab, FAICP, to provide a context for how vulnerable Puerto Rico was before the storms: its government was more than $70 billion in debt and its failing electrical grid was already causing blackouts. Garcia Zambrana details the aftermath of the storm, but she also tells Schwab about the planning work that happened — and continues to happen — post-Maria. Several plans were culled into one, and a fiscal plan was put together. The two planners discuss the positive developments happening on the ground, such as how the community resilience program strengthens towns by granting funds to local planning organizations, but also where work still needs to be done to get into step with the new economic and disaster recovery plan. Their nuanced discussion paints a portrait of a complex situation: one in which great strides in rebuilding and recovery have been made, but great strides in hazard mitigation still need to happen.

    • 1 Std. 1 Min.
    Resilience Roundtable: After the Camp Fire, Part 2

    Resilience Roundtable: After the Camp Fire, Part 2

    In a two-part episode, Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, talks with Butte County, California, planning staff about the aftermath of the 2018 Camp Fire — one of the deadliest and costliest wildfires in the state's history, with 85 casualties and more than 50,000 people evacuated from their homes. Part II of these conversations features Tim Snellings, director of development services for Butte County. Tim details the logistics of the cleanup process, and the two planners discuss how the town of Paradise, which was hardest hit by the disaster, might replan their community. Tim outlines some of the ways county staff might get creative with incentives and programs as they make updates to their general plan. He also underscores the challenges facing communities in the area and how urgent the need is for every jurisdiction facing these realities to update their plan now. [It's] essential that you be prepared for the disaster that's coming, that you don't shortcut on your general plan ... You're thinking that, “Oh, we'll get to it someday.” You need to get to it now. You need to find funding now to update your safety elements and do your hazard mitigation planning now. — Tim Snellings, Director of Development Services, Butte County (California) Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, is professor of city and regional planning at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

    • 27 Min.
    Resilience Roundtable: After the Camp Fire, Part 1

    Resilience Roundtable: After the Camp Fire, Part 1

    In a two-part episode, Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, talks with Butte County, California, planning staff about the aftermath of the 2018 Camp Fire — one of the deadliest and costliest wildfires in the state's history, with 85 casualties and more than 50,000 people evacuated from their homes. Part I of these conversations features Dan Breedon, AICP, principal planner for Butte County. Dan describes how people throughout the county had a dire need for temporary housing the very day the fire began on November 8, 2018; he also talks about how the creation of an urgency ordinance became paramount. Dan explains why the specific topography of the area added to their challenges, as well as what the most critical land-use issues are now that the disaster has occurred. Ultimately, listeners learn about how, in the wake of this disaster, local agencies are focusing on improving resilience and adopting better land-use policies, not simply on maintaining a swift response strategy. Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, is professor of city and regional planning at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

    • 41 Min.
    People Behind the Plans: Kelwin Harris

    People Behind the Plans: Kelwin Harris

    Certain concepts in the planning sphere can be hard to make tangible for residents, but property taxes is not one of them. Kelwin Harris knows this reality well. As the director of outreach and engagement for the Office of the Cook County Assessor — which is responsible for valuing 1.8 million properties for tax purposes in and around Chicago — he and his team have been eagerly getting out the word that the the office, with all its political baggage, is changing. It’s committed to transparency and efficiency, including seeking better, more accurate data through SB1379, or the Data Modernization Bill, which would eventually reduce the backlog of appeals currently burdening the system. Before he went to work for the Office of the Assessor, Kelwin worked in various capacities at the city and regional levels and in grassroots neighborhood economic development. He is a former senior outreach planner for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and prior to CMAP, he worked on Chicago’s South Side in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood as director of social services with St. Sabina Church and Catholic Charities. He held numerous roles in this community, directing programs and interventions to improve job skills, address food insecurity, combat violence, expose youth to colleges, and provide financial assistance for thousands of residents. He even served the City of Chicago as assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and acting chief of human infrastructure. Many lessons he learned in his previous roles and through his previous experiences make their way into his conversation with podcast host Courtney Kashima, AICP: how communities get the development they actually want, why the South Side of Chicago is far more multifaceted than its media portrayal, and how the Wu-Tang Clan helped a young Kelwin plug in to the world beyond his window.

    People Behind the Plans: Todd Vanadilok, AICP

    People Behind the Plans: Todd Vanadilok, AICP

    What do you do when you’re an urban planner who loves comics? If you’re Todd Vanadilok, AICP, you create your own planning-themed comic series. The small-business owner launched an online comic this spring that explores issues of social justice through a planning lens. His central characters — Emie, an egret, and Ollie, an ox — come from his firm’s name, Egret+Ox Planning. The two animals spoke to Todd because of their symbiotic relationship — one that resembles the ideal planning process, wherein seemingly disparate groups or individuals work together to achieve a common goal. Todd and People Behind the Plans series host Courtney Kashima, AICP, take a detailed look at Todd’s background: He majored in engineering at Northwestern University but decided that he wanted to study urban planning, so he attended graduate school at the University of Michigan. After 16 years working at Teska Associates in Evanston, Illinois, he and his family moved to Colorado, where the communities he plans for are as unique as the ones he knew in and around Chicago. Courtney and Todd discuss how planning processes cannot be “one size fits all” but must be well-tailored to the specific community — urban or rural — a planner is working in. They talk about giving back to the profession and even the legacy of Roberto Clemente, the late baseball legend who also made strides in the realm of social justice.

    People Behind thePlans: Enessa Janes, AICP

    People Behind thePlans: Enessa Janes, AICP

    How well do the people in your area know their neighbors? Enessa Janes, AICP, PhD, considers it one of the most important questions for communities to ask when preparing for a disaster. The community resilience coordinator for the City of Arvada, Colorado, explains that during large events, police officers and fire departments may not be able to get to residents quickly. Knowing those who live nearby ensures that residents have a bigger safety net. Janes and host Courtney Kashima, AICP, break down some of the terms that resilience officers use to describe hazards, like "shocks" and "stresses." They explore the important work taking place at the City of Arvada around resilience, including its Resilience Neighborhoods program and the way staff have woven concepts of resilience throughout the new six-year strategic plan. Janes shares her educational and professional background and describes what motivated her to become involved in resilience work: a passion for the environment, conservation, and social equity.

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