Planning Commissioners Academy

March 16-18, 2022

Marriott San Ramon

2600 Bishop Drive, San Ramon, CA

Thank you for joining the League of California Cities for three days of educational content and networking at the 2022 Planning Commissioners Academy in San Ramon!

The academy took place Wednesday, Mar. 16 - Friday, Mar. 18 at the San Ramon Marriott, where planning commissioners from across the state explored current topics of importance and engaged in various networking opportunities.

Designed for planning commissioners and staff members of all tenures from throughout the state, the Planning Commissioners Academy expands an individual’s knowledge on a wide range of topics relevant to the planning commissioner’s role within their city and fosters relationships and communication with peers. Now more than ever, the opportunity for planning commissioners to learn from and network with each other provides invaluable support. We hope you join us March 29-31, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove for our next Planning Commissioners Academy!

For questions about the March 2022 conference, please contact Education and Events Manager, Christina George.

 

Please see our event and meeting policies.

Academy Information

Schedule
2022 Planning Commissioners Academy Program (PDF)

Wednesday, March 16

Registration Open

9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Pre-Conference: City Center Walking Tour

10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Explore San Ramon’s new downtown area on this guided group tour and get an inside look at the latest developments since the 2016 Planning Commissioners Academy. Experience the new 300,000 square foot City Center, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which opened in the fall of 2018 and offers a range of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Learn about planned updates to the Bishop Ranch Business Park with the recently approved CityWalk Master Plan which will guide the development of residential and commercial uses, along with public amenities within the Master Plan area, to complement and support City Center Bishop Ranch. The buildout of the Master Plan envisions the addition of up to 4,500 dwelling units over 25 years; a 169-key hotel; 166,000 square feet of commercial uses, and more than 38 acres of parkland. 

Walking Tour Leads
Lauren Barr, Planning Manager, San Ramon
Jeff Dodd, Senior Vice President, Retail, Sunset Development Company
Jerry Engen, Senior Vice President, Development and Construction, Sunset Development

 

Pre-Conference Workshop: Understanding Public Service Ethics Laws and Principles (AB 1234)

10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

State law requires elected and appointed officials to receive two hours of training in specified ethics laws and principles every two years. Newly elected and appointed officials must receive this training within one year of becoming a public servant. Join us to learn from an expert on how to navigate ethics laws and principles.

Speaker
Nicholaus Norvell, Partner, Best Best & Krieger LLP


Pre-Conference Workshop: Harassment Prevention Training for Supervisors and Officials (AB 1661)

10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

This informational and interactive workplace harassment prevention training will focus on current and emerging issues resulting from the #MeToo movement, and teach officials and supervisors how to identify, prevent, and properly respond to workplace harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and abusive conduct in order to avoid personal and agency liability in compliance with AB 1825, AB 2053, AB 1661 and SB 396.

Speaker
Heather R. Coffman, Associate, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore


Opening General Session

1:00-2:30 p.m.

Creating a City Where People Want to Live: Why Working Together is so Important
Great places and great cities don’t happen by accident, they are purposeful. Full of examples and anecdotes, this keynote shares the important role that planning staff and planning commissioners play in improving the quality of life of their communities. Building relationships, listening, and establishing expectations are important components of an effective planning process that can lead to a meaningful experience for all involved.

Welcoming Remarks

Debbie Chamberlain, President, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Community Development Director, San Ramon

David Hudson, Mayor, San Ramon

 

Keynote Speaker
Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City, 2004-2018


Concurrent Sessions

2:45-4:00 p.m.

Planning Commission 101: The Nuts and Bolts of Planning
Fundamentals Session

Commissioners will learn the basics about planning laws, typical planning documents, and how they fit together. Speakers who have worked as planning staff, planning commissioners, and consultants will introduce the nuts and bolts of general plans, housing elements, specific plans, zoning codes, subdivision ordinances, design review, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Understand the typical project review and decision-making processes that commissioners need to be successful. Participants will also learn how plans, codes, and regulations can be written to ensure that principles of sustainability, equity, and community-building are incorporated in new development.   

Presider and Speaker
David Early, Senior Advisor, PlaceWorks

Speakers
Anders Hauge, Planning Commission Member, Placer County
Marc Roberts, City Manager, Livermore

An Irregular Meeting of the City of Dysfunction Junction Planning Commission
Emerging Issues Session

Enjoy a popular depiction of a planning commission meeting gone awry and learn from its mistakes. 

Speakers
Christi Hogin, City Attorney, Best Best & Krieger, LLP
Michael Jenkins, Of Counsel, Best Best & Krieger, LLP

Concurrent Sessions

4:15-5:30 p.m.

CEQA: An Introduction
Fundamentals Session

Hear an introduction about the role of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the planning process, as we cover the basics in this dynamic session. Join us as we pull back the curtain on parts of the process, including the types of documents you will see, how environmental decisions are made, and the responsibilities of staff and the commission at each stage in the process. The tools and approaches taken by those who prepare the documents for your review will also be discussed, with an opportunity to ask questions throughout the session.

Presider and Speaker

Mark Teague, Managing Principal, PlaceWorks

Speaker 
Shannon George, Vice President/Principal, David J. Powers & Associates

Tools for the Trade: New Resources for Planning Commissioners
Emerging Issues Session

Planning commissioners must balance the needs of their city, the vision of their community members, and state and local regulations while making decisions that are in the best interest of all they serve. To effectively do this, planning commissioners must be fast learners and seek out resources to become more effective leaders. Join a panel of planning experts to hear about emerging issues and trends in the planning field and new resources that can help you do your job better and with more confidence.    

Moderator
Melissa Kuehne, Senior Program Manager, Institute for Local Government


Speaker

Eric Nelson, Department Director, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Planning Commissioner, Dana Point
Jenni Byers, Community Development Director, Lakeport



Peer-to-Peer Connections

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Take this opportunity to network with your peers from throughout the state after a full afternoon of educational sessions.

 

Thursday, March 17

Registration Open

7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Networking Breakfast

7:45-8:45 a.m.

Understanding and Navigating SB 9 (Atkins, 2021) in Your City

9:00-10:15 a.m.
Joint Session

SB 9 (Atkins, 2021) allows “upzoning” of single-family neighborhoods irrespective of zoning codes, community input, and environmental review. As planning commissioners, you may have questions: Does SB 9 override Common Interest Development or Homeowner Association restrictions? How can municipalities preserve local control? How does SB 9 interface with Accessory Dwelling Unit laws? Must a city approve eight units on a single-family lot (a duplex and two granny units on each parcel after a lot split)? Or may cities approve only four of those units? Discover the answers to these questions and more as we assist planning commissioners in navigating the intricacies of implementing SB 9.   

Moderator
Eric Nelson, Department Director, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Planning Commissioner, Dana Point

Speakers
Joan Cox, Partner, Burke Williams & Sorensen
Barbara Kautz, Partner, Goldfarb & Lipman LLP


Concurrent Sessions

10:30-11:45 a.m.

Relationship Between Planning Commission, City Council, and Planning Staff
Fundamentals Session

As a city official, there will be various competing values and priorities that drive you and your colleagues within your city. Your success on the planning commission requires an effective relationship with your planning staff and city council, where everyone’s values are respected and represented. Learn how to work together while cultivating each of your diverse roles.

Moderator
Meghan McKelvey, Department and Member Services Manager, League of California Cities

Speakers
Debbie Chamberlain, President, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Community Development Director, San Ramon

Eric Nelson, Department Director, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Planning Commissioner, Dana Point

David Sander, Council Member, Rancho Cordova

CEQA: Advanced
Emerging Issues Session

This session assumes some familiarity with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Hear an in-depth discussion on the process of crafting mitigation measures, long- and short-term impacts, and how the CEQA landscape changes with legislation, court decisions, and agency preferences. Dive into why CEQA documents look the way they do, the role of findings, and what to do with late-hit letters. Finally, some of the more technical sections of the document will be demystified.

Presider and Speaker
Mark Teague, Managing Principal, PlaceWorks

Speaker 
Shannon George, Vice President/Principal, David J. Powers & Associates

 

Networking Lunch

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Streamlined Housing Laws and New Housing Legislation

1:15-2:30 p.m.
Joint Session

Learn about the recently adopted laws SB 35 (Weiner, 2017) and SB 330 (Skinner, 2019) that provide for expedited processing and approval of qualifying housing projects, review recent court cases interpreting SB 35 and the Housing Accountability Act, and provide an update on new pro-housing legislation signed by Governor Newsom, including SB 9 (Atkins, 2021) and SB 10 (Weiner, 2021). Planning commissioners are tasked with understanding how to consider and process streamlining applications. Speakers will review whether planning commissioners have the authority to approve or deny such projects and the findings that need to be made if they deny a project. Lastly, understand how the legislature has limited decision-making roles in making decisions on streamlining applications.

Moderator
Debbie Chamberlain, President, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Community Development Director, San Ramon


Speakers
Amara Morrison, Partner, Wendel Rosen LLP

Patricia Curtin, Attorney, Wendel Rosen LLP

Coffee Chat

2:30-2:45 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

2:45-4:00 p.m.

How to Prepare Findings and Conditions of Approval
Fundamentals Session

As a planning commissioner, your decision to approve an application is based on whether you can make the required findings and draft conditions of approval that can be implemented. Learn the reasons why findings are so important in rendering a decision on a project and what conditions of approval are and how to prepare them.

Moderator
Joel Rojas, Immediate Past President, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speakers
Patricia Curtin, Attorney, Wendel Rosen LLP


Speed Sessions

Moderator
Meghan McKelvey, Department and Member Services Manager, League of California Cities

Post-COVID-19 Zoning Playbook: Value Capture Meets Quality of Life
Emerging Issues

The post-COVID-19 world’s economy is being driven by consumer preferences and online retail, private sector investment has shifted from retail and office to residential and industrial. Urban is moving to suburban, and rooftops (housing) now yield more economic impact given work and consumer buying activity. To counter losses, sales tax, zoning, and entitlements can generate currency when used to capture value via entitlement agreements that use density and financing tools in exchange for amenities and infrastructure. Learn about the “development currency and value capture” tools that cities can use to reset local economies and maximize community and fiscal benefits through land use, zoning, and entitlement tools.    

Speaker
Larry Kosmont, Chairman and CEO, Kosmont Companies

 

Wildfire Planning in the General Plan
Emerging Issues

Senate Bill 1234 (Kehoe, 2012) revised the safety element provisions in California state law which requires all cities and counties whose planning area is within the State Responsibility Area or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones to address and incorporate specific information regarding wildfire hazards. This includes the risk, policies, and programs to address and reduce unreasonable risks associated with wildfire. The specific requirements are codified in GC § 65302(g)(3) and 65302.5(b). Learn about this important law before a wildfire occurs in your city.     

Speaker
Brian Barkley, Fire Captain, CAL FIRE

 

Burning Questions, No Judgement
Emerging Issues

Have a question that you are afraid to ask in a public meeting, or feel that you should already know the answer to? Join us in a safe environment to receive answers to your most burning questions and hear questions from your colleagues.

Speakers
Debbie Chamberlain, President, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Community Development Director, San Ramon
Robert Combs, Planning Commissioner, Danville

What Planners Need to Know About City Finance Today

4:15-5:30 p.m.
Joint Session

Learn the essentials and the latest hot topics in city finances in a session specially geared to city planners and planning commissioners. Hear about the rules and trends in taxes, fees, and other city revenues; the relationship with the state budget; and problems and prospects for reform. Explore the valid relationship of city finances with land use planning, and get your questions answered about the most pressing fiscal issues facing cities.    

Speaker
Michael Coleman, CaliforniaCityFinance.com

Friday, March 18

Registration Open

7:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Networking Breakfast

7:45-8:45 a.m.

Legislative Update

9:00-10:15 a.m.
Joint Session

Learn about recent bills that have passed, as well as top issues that are trending in the legislature, and their significance for planning commissioners.

Speaker
Jason Rhine, Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs, League of California Cities

Closing General Session

10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

How Planning Commissioners Can Be Leaders for Equitable and Engaged Communities
Fogbreak will share how Planning Commissioners can promote equity and be inclusive leaders. In this one-and-a-half-hour talk, organizational change and leadership expert, Berké Brown, will present a research-based and human-centered approach to meaningful leadership. Equity, diversity, and inclusion have become words that are used so often that sometimes the meaning behind them loses their power. If we dig deeper and understand that it is truly about being humane and empathetic, we can turn the tide from “checking off boxes” to making small but impactful actions that create equitable communities. Berké Brown will share and lead a workshop about the tools and strategies — derived from the model of procedural justice — leaders can use in everyday interactions with community members to make this vision a reality.

Closing Remarks
Cindy Silva, President, League of California Cities and Mayor Pro Tem, Walnut Creek
Debbie Chamberlain, President, Planning and Community Development Department, League of California Cities and Community Development Director, San Ramon

Keynote Speaker
Berké Brown, Partner, Fogbreak Justice

Adjourn

12:00 p.m.

*Schedule subject to change

 

 

Session Materials
Explore Previous Academies

2021 Academy Session Descriptions

Thursday, March 25

You Can't Quarantine Laughter

9-10:15 a.m.

In a hilarious, interactive virtual keynote, Greg Schwem, dubbed “your boss’ favorite comedian” by HuffPost, discusses the role humor can, and should, play as Americans enter a new post-pandemic world. Greg provides real-world examples of companies which have used humor to improve their bottom lines and fend off problems before they became full-blown crises. Greg will also candidly discuss why he feels humor has been disappearing from the corporate world, and why it should return. Prepare to make full use of the chat box. Greg encourages (a little) virtual heckling.

Welcome and Introductions: Joel Rojas, President, Planning and Community Development Department, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speaker: Greg Schwem, Business Humorist, Corporate Entertainer, Author

 

Planning Commission 101: The Nuts and Bolts of Planning

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

Learn the basics about planning laws, typical planning documents, and how they fit together. The nuts and bolts of general plans, housing elements, specific plans, zoning codes, subdivision ordinances, design review and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will be discussed. Presenters will walk attendees through typical project review and decision-making processes. Learn how plans, codes, and regulations can be written to ensure that principles of sustainability, equity and community-building are incorporated in new development.

Moderator & Speaker: David Early, Senior Advisor, PlaceWorks

Speakers: William Anderson, FAICP | Marc Roberts, City Manager, Livermore

 

You Got Your RHNA – Now What?

1:30-2:45 p.m.

Cal Cities, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will discuss different zoning strategies to accommodate your RHNA. This presentation will include an overview of different strategies for the site identification process, common mistakes HCD is seeing, and debunking myths. The presentation will then be followed by a discussion about specific RHNA scenarios and brainstorming through solutions.

Moderator and Speaker: Jason Rhine, Assistant Legislative Director, League of California Cities

Speakers: Paul McDougall, Housing Policy Manager, CA Department of Housing and Community Development | Sohab Mehmood, Housing Policy Specialist, CA Department of Housing and Community Development

 

CEQA, From the Beginning

3:15-4:30 p.m.

Hear an introduction to the role of CEQA in the planning process, as we cover the basics in this dynamic session. Join us as we pull back the curtain on parts of the process, including the types of documents you will see, how environmental decisions are made, and the responsibilities of staff and the commission at each stage in the process. The tools and approaches taken by those who prepare the documents for your review will also be discussed, with an opportunity to ask questions throughout the session.

Moderator: Eric Nelson, Director, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point

Speakers: Shannon George, Vice President/Principal, David J. Powers & Associates | Mark Teague, Principal, PlaceWorks

Friday, March 26

Speed Sessions

9-10:20 a.m.

Moderator: Ernie Schmidt, Immediate Past President, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Redwood City

 

In the Trenches with Your General Plan

9–9:40 a.m.

The general plan is more than the legal underpinning for land use decisions; it is a vision about how a community will grow, reflecting community priorities and values while shaping the future. It is critical for planning commissioners to understand the purpose and role of general plans. This session will provide an overview of general plan history, content and legal requirements, relationship to regional plans and programs, and current policy trends. This session will also discuss the importance of the general plan and how planning commissioners use the document regularly to make land use decisions and environmental determinations.

Speaker: Dan Amsden, AICP, Director of Planning Services, MIG

 

Value Capture: Zoning and Entitlements as "Currency" Generators for Cities

9:40–10:20 a.m.

In a post COVID-19 digital economy private sector, land use preferences are shifting from retail and hotel to residential and industrial. Many cities have monetized land use by approving projects that emphasized sales tax and TOT. Post-COVID, the private sector will submit projects less accretive to a city’s economic sustainability. How can cities capture sufficient value from future applications? This session focuses on “development currency “tools cities can use to reset local economies including examples of how to maximize community and fiscal benefits through land use, zoning and entitlement policies that capture value and improve quality of life.

Speaker: Larry Kosmont, Chairman & CEO, Kosmont Companies

 

How to Prepare Findings and Conditions of Approval

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

As a planning commissioner, your decision to approve an application is based on whether you can make the required findings and draft conditions of approval that can be implemented. Learn the reasons why findings are so important in rendering a decision on a project and what conditions of approval are and how to prepare them.

Moderator: Debbie Chamberlain, First Vice President, Planning and Community Development Department, Community Development Director, San Ramon

Speaker: Patricia Curtin, Partner, Wendel Rosen LLP

Wednesday, March 31

City of Dysfunction Junction: How to Conduct an Effective and Respectful Planning Commission Meeting

9-10:15 a.m.

Enjoy a mock planning meeting skit, where you will learn some do’s and don’ts for when you are seated on the dais.

Moderator: Caitlin Cole, Conference Program Manager, League of California Cities

Facilitators: Christi Hogin, Attorney, Best Best & Krieger | Michael Jenkins, Of Counsel, Best Best & Krieger

 

CEQA, In the Weeds

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

This session assumes some familiarity with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Hear an in-depth discussion on the process of crafting mitigation measures, long and short-term impacts, and how the CEQA landscape changes with legislation, court decisions, and agency preferences. We will delve more into why CEQA documents look the way they do, the role of findings, and what to do with late-hit letters. Presenters will seek to demystify some of the more technical sections of the document.

Moderator: Eric Nelson, Director, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point

Speakers: Shannon George, Vice President/Principal, David J. Powers & Associates | Mark Teague, Principal, PlaceWorks

 

Relationship Between Planning Commission, City Council, and Planning Staff

1:30-2:45 p.m.

As a city official there will be various competing values and priorities that drive you and your colleagues within your city. Your success on the planning commission requires an effective relationship with your planning staff and city council, where everyone’s values are respected and represented. Learn how to work together while cultivating each of your diverse roles.

Moderator: Meghan McKelvey, Manager, Department and Member Services, League of California Cities

Speakers: Debbie Chamberlain, First Vice President, Planning and Community Development Department, Community Development Director, San Ramon | Eric Nelson, Director, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point | David Sander, Council Member, Rancho Cordova

 

The Planning Commission's Role and State Limits on Its Discretion

3:15-4:30 p.m.

The Planning Commission, implementing the City’s General Plan and Zoning Code, decides which projects are built in the city. The Commission’s decision to approve or deny a use permit or variance is often an exercise of discretion. The State Legislature recently limited the Planning Commission’s discretion through both the Housing Accountability Act and Housing Crisis Act as to certain kinds of housing projects. This presentation will explore the bounds of the Planning Commission’s discretion and the limits of State law, with a particular focus on new state legislation.

Moderator: Joel Rojas, President, Planning and Community Development Department, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speakers: Aleks Giragosian, Senior Counsel, Colantuono Highsmith & Whatley, PC | Matthew Summers, City Attorney, Ojai and Barstow, Colantuono Highsmith & Whatley, PC

Thursday, April 1

Legislative Update

9-10:15 a.m.

Learn about recent bills that have passed, as well as top issues that are trending in the legislature, and the significance for city planning commissioners.

Moderator and Speaker: Jason Rhine, Assistant Legislative Director, League of California Cities

Speakers: Nicole Enright, Senior Program Manager, Institute for Local Government | Melissa Kuehne, Senior Program Manager, Institute for Local Government

 

From Dangerous Discourse to Extraordinary Engagement: Changing the Conversation on Inclusion

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice. If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that it is important to take a good, hard, long look at how we are doing business and truthfully examine how to do business better. Inclusion has moved beyond a buzzword and is now an expectation of our communities, our organizations, and our teammates. It is incumbent upon us to ask and effectively answer two questions: "Who else needs to be included in our conversations?" and "How can we effectively engage them?" This session will give you a new personal lens into conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it will equip you with specific strategies for changing how you do business to be more inclusive.

Closing Comments: Joel Rojas, Department President, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speakers: Eric Bailey, Managing Partner, Extraordinary Balance | Nicole Lance, Managing Partner, Extraordinary Balance

 

2021 Academy Session Materials

 

2021 Academy Access for Registered Attendees

In addition to access to all live sessions, session materials, and virtual networking opportunities, registering for the conference grants you access to all session recordings for later viewing for a limited time. View the session recordings.

 

Previous Academy Session Materials

2020 Session Materials
2019 Session Materials