Central Coast APA award winners qualify for next round of California Accolades
by Dave Ward, Section Director
Wine, wild magic and “WACK” accolades were the highlight of a fun evening celebrating the best of our Central Coast plans and planners. Over 50 attendees from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties converged on the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach. Hollee King, AICP, our Section Events Officer/Awards Chair in her 10th year, once again did a great job with the venue, food and entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, we had a “two for one” as Shawn McMaster, a master magician, was doing tricks for the mingling crowd as they feasted on appetizers and wine before dinner and then he became the main act for entertainment after dinner. Magician or comedian? It was hard to tell at times but everyone was laughing throughout, participating, and enjoying the show, even when McMaster lost his shirt and the rest of that story is best told by unauthorized photos…
The event offered another great opportunity to catch up with old colleagues, hear about the latest student projects and their plans post-graduation, and meet new people from all three counties. I had interesting conversations regarding Chinese undercutting not only from solar companies but also wind companies, the pricing out of the turbine manufacturing, we discussed the latest RHNA count on our housing element cycle hitting Ventura County, Coastal Commission struggles with various agencies (my favorite topic), and we discussed better ways to engage more Cal Poly and UCSB faculty in our innovative planning practices throughout California.
Our award winners spanned the tri-counties with kudos on circulation elements, farm-worker housing, energy planning, specific plans, a septic to sewer program and a “development capacity” best practice. The Central Coast Section Planning Academy was the favorite nomination by the jurors so we spent additional presentation time highlighting its successes, including the behind-the-scenes effort by Marilyn Miller, AICP, and Teresa Purrington and other key team members—Kim Prillhart, AICP, Jeff Lambert, AICP, and Sandy Smith— to pull the event off. As an Award of Excellence winner, the Planning Academy will move on for a submission to the State for a APACA Award and we believe the innovative program will be a good contender. The Section Board hopes to implement the Planning Academy next in SLO County and then SB County.
But by far, the crowd pleaser was the Distinguished Leadership Award to Paul Wack, AICP. Chuck Stevenson, AICP, presented the award, naming a long list of accomplishments and the remarkable service that Paul continues to provide to the planning profession, and the presentation closed with a standing ovation from the entire room honoring Paul Wack. Not surprising to anyone, Paul made it to the dinner after completing yet another day of service with the California Planning Foundation (CPF). In the Central Coast and beyond, Paul’s impact on planning students, young professionals and long standing colleagues is incomparable. Thank you Paul for all you do!
In, 2013 our Awards Event shifts south to Ventura and amazingly Hollee is already thinking about logistics. We’ll be looking for feedback and suggestions on the awards programs so watch for a survey monkey in the near future.