2009 National Planning Conference

2009 APA/AICP Annual Meeting

By Timothy Mennel
Senior Editor and Acquisitions Manager, Planners Press and PAS Reports

The APA/AICP Annual Meeting offers members an opportunity to hear about the association's highlights over the past year and the direction the organization will take in the coming year. This year's meeting also saw the inauguration of new leadership.

Executive Director Paul Farmer, FAICP, began the Wednesday meeting by recognizing the centennial of the planning movement in America. He noted that while attendance at the National Planning Conference was lower than in 2008, it was still very strong, considering the troubled times and the tightening of budgets in planning departments nationwide. He drew particular attention to the large number of international attendees and students present this year.

He then offered a recap of APA's progress over the past year. Farmer noted that after the gains of recent years, APA membership rates have begun to soften, though AICP membership has still been increasing. He reviewed how APA had cut conference costs and other costs. He stressed, however, that the advancing of the profession was more critical than ever, especially through outreach and professional development. He mentioned recent steps forward in the AICP Certification Maintenance program and the upcoming Advanced Specialty Certification program. Other APA programs that Farmer singled out for attention were Great Places in America, with its extensive media coverage; Rebuilding America and its innovative use of social media; and advocacy work related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Student, Chapter, and Division Awards

Farmer acknowledged the work of the local host committee and the award juries. He was joined by outgoing AICP President Graham Billingsley, AICP, for the presentation of the 2009 AICP Student Project Awards. These recognized innovative and important work done by students at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington–Seattle, and the University of Oregon. Kent Hurst, chair of the Student Representatives Council, stood with Farmer to present the three 2009 APA Outstanding Planning Student Organization Awards to the Urban Planning Student Association of New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; the APA Colorado Student Chapter of the University of Colorado, Denver; and the Planning Student Organization of the University of California–Irvine.

Farmer and Andy Epple, the APA Chapter Presidents Council chair-elect, presented the Karen B. Smith Awards. Recipients included the APA California Chapter, for its overall accomplishments and achievements; the APA Wisconsin Chapter for its outstanding services to members; the APA Virginia Chapter for its innovations, programs, and new or improved services that involve members of the community. In addition, Chapter Presidents Council Awards, which recognize individual chapter leadership, went to Stephen D. Villavaso of the APA Louisiana Chapter; Michael Sutherland, AICP, of the APA Colorado Chapter; and, in absentia, Edward J. Sullivan of the APA Oregon Chapter.

Alongside Terry Holzheimer, chair of the APA Divisions Council, Farmer presented four Divisions Council Awards. The Latinos and Planning Division was recognized for its program "Dialogos: National Agenda for Latinos and Planning." The City Planning and Management Division was praised for its newsletter, "Strategies." The Award for Education Excellence went to the International Division for its recent webinar series. Last, the New Urbanism Division was recognized for its Central Florida New Urbanism Bus Tour.

PAB, Journalism, and AICP Awards

A new award, recognizing the Planning Accreditation Board's Outstanding Site Visitors, was then introduced. As part of the accreditation process for undergraduate and graduate planning programs, PAB site visitors conduct on-site evaluations. Isaac Heard, vice chair of the PAB, joined Farmer to honor Summer Sharpe, FAICP, a consultant based in Portland, Oregon.

The APA Journalism Awards are given each year to recognize outstanding coverage of city and regional planning issues by newspapers. This year's first winner was the Dallas Morning News, for its series of editorials that brought attention to the long-neglected south side of the city. The second award went to the Casper Star Tribune for its series "Taking Root: Can Wyoming Keep Its Newcomers?" The Journal of American Planning Association Best Article Award was given by Farmer and JAPA editor David Sawicki to Dowell Myers and Sungho Ryu for "Aging Baby Boomers and the Generational Housing Bubble: Foresight and Mitigation of an Epic Transition," which explores what may happen to housing markets when 77 million baby boomers retire.

Billingsley took the podium to deliver the AICP President's Award for Exceptional Practice to the mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker Jr., FAICP.

Thanks to Outgoing Board Members

Farmer, joined by outgoing President Robert B. Hunter, FAICP, returned to thank the outgoing Advisors to the Board: Michael Blue, FAICP, and Kent Hurst. Hurst has been reelected to his position.

Farmer described the longtime service of Hunter, who then offered some thanks and brief retrospective remarks. Farmer presented Hunter with a plaque. Hunter then turned over the President's gavel to incoming president Bruce A. Knight, FAICP. Hunter wished Knight well.

Knight thanked Hunter and then outlined some of the structural challenges that planners nationwide will face in the years ahead. He declared that planners must become key players and leaders in empowering and motivating their communities. He acknowledged the help of his staff, colleagues, friends, and family.

Farmer welcomed Knight to his new post and then described Graham Billingsley's longtime service before presenting him with a plaque. Billingsley thanked his fellow commissioners, APA staff, and others for their support in the development of the Certification Maintenance program. Billingsley was succeeded by incoming AICP President Paul Inghram, AICP, who asked attendees to encourage their peers to participate more fully in CM and other APA activities. He described some of the many different ways that members can accumulate credits, as well as the need to broadcast the value of planning credentials to students and to people outside the profession. He was joined by AICP Commission members to present a map of AICP membership to Graham Billingsley.

The leadership joined Farmer as the floor was then opened to questions. Farmer read two questions that had been submitted by members via e-mail — the first about the price of the conference. Knight acknowledged the need to adjust menu and pricing options. Farmer mentioned a recent member survey about the conference. The second question had to do with the geographic availability of CM providers, and the online options were again mentioned. Attendees had no additional questions for leadership.

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