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This year’s annual conference of California’s Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA California) brought together members of the planning community to share best practices and recognize award-winning projects that are changing the landscape of California’s communities.

With the recent loss of redevelopment in California, local communities must plan for the reuse of public properties without having access to many tools that were formerly available to facilitate development. In addition, members of the planning community find themselves having to assume economic development responsibilities that were previously assigned to their redevelopment agencies. The session "Brave New World: Developing Public Property Without Redevelopment” explored strategies being used by California communities to successfully develop public properties in a manner consistent with local planning goals. Session panelists Barbara Kautz and Rafael Yaquian (Goldfarb & Lipman), Kevin Keller (City of Los Angeles) and Libby Seifel presented proven techniques that local agencies can use to maximize their ability to redevelop these properties while examining the legal constraints on their use. (Click here for full presentation, including the handout "Top Ten Best Practice Tips for Development Deals".)

California communities are also approaching development and neighborhood revitalization in ways that can enhance local cultural heritage. The session "When Property Values Attack: A Planning Tool for Combating the Loss of Intangible Heritage" showcased the Japantown Cultural Heritage and Economic Sustainability Strategy (known as JCHESS, full report available here), which came out of a collaborative effort among San Francisco’s Japantown community, the City of San Francisco and local non-profits. JCHESS outlines strategies for preserving and enhancing Japantown’s cultural heritage and all that makes Japantown unique. The session featured Ruth Todd and Christina Dikas (Page & Turnbull), Shelley Caltagirone (San Francisco Planning Department), Desiree Smith (of San Francisco Heritage), and Libby Seifel, all of whom contributed to JCHESS. The session examined how the elements of Japantown’s heritage were documented (through the development of a Social Heritage Inventory Form) and contributed to the development of an economic incentives toolkit to help identify, prioritize, and incentivize the preservation of cultural and social heritage. (Click here for full presentation.)