Planning Commissioners Academy

March 5-7, 2025

Hyatt Regency Sonoma

170 Railroad St, Santa Rosa, CA

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.

Save the date for the next academy, March 5-7, 2025 at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma in Santa Rosa.

For questions about the conference, please contact Associate Manager, Event Program, Kayla Boutros

Please see our event and meeting policies.

Academy Information




Explore Previous Academies

2024 Academy Session Materials


Previous Academy Session Materials

2023 Session Materials

Thank You Sponsors

Speaker Center

In the Speaker Center, you can find resources for all speaker-related details including deadlines, presentation guidelines, layout, and structure, speaker agreements, and presentation submission directions.  

Should you have any questions, please contact the education department. 


Speaker Agreements and Important Deadlines
Below are key presenter deadlines and directions on how to complete the Speaker Agreement Form. Providing your digital signature allows Cal Cities to move forward in planning and promoting your session, as well as publish your name and affiliation on our website and in marketing materials. Your contact information will remain strictly confidential. 

Important deadlines 

Nov. 17: Complete your Speaker Agreement Form through your MyCalCities Portal and note any specific audiovisual requests. Instructions on how to access your portal can be found at this link.

Nov.-Feb.: To ensure each speaker is comfortable with their responsibilities during the presentation, please hold at least one conference call with all of the panelists in your session. The session planning chair, typically the person who submitted the proposal for the conference, is responsible for connecting with the other speakers to hold a session planning call.

Feb. 21: Submit your final presentation to Cal Cities within the “My Speaking Session” of your MyCalCities Portal.

Feb. 28: Deadline for advance conference registration. Speakers receive complimentary one-day registration or 30% off full conference registration. Please contact Megan Dunn by Feb. 28 for more information. Once that is complete, you will be prompted to book a hotel room. NOTE: Feb. 3 is the discounted hotel rate cut-off. However, hotels are subject to sell out prior to the deadline – reserve early!   

Presentation Guidelines

Our goal is to provide exceptional educational experiences, networking opportunities, and innovative tools that will make attendees and their cities more successful. Studies show that adults learn best when they are actively involved in the process rather than passively listening or watching. Most academy attendees are knowledgeable about the subject, and therefore are interested in hearing what others know and what their experiences have been. Accordingly, we urge you to plan your presentation with these suggestions in mind.

The most common complaints on session evaluations from prior academies are:

  • "The presentation was a 'sales' pitch for a particular product or service."
  • "I couldn't read the slides."
  • "One speaker took so much time that the others were not able to give their full presentations."
  • "I'd like more practical knowledge."

Please consider the following as you prepare for your presentation:

  • Relevant content for experienced audiences that stretches thinking and provides new approaches.
  • Content that is delivered in an engaging way and draws on the experience of the attendees.
  • Examples and case studies of real success (and successful failures).
  • Try to add stories, anecdotes, testimonials, or demonstrations that emphasize your point. We all remember a good story, and thus more easily the lesson with it.
  • Provide tools and information that the audience can implement.
  • If there are other speakers in your session, coordinate with them in advance to decide your speaking order and ensure that all presentations fit into the assigned time allotment. If you do not have the contact information for your co-presenters, please contact us at
  • Selling from the podium creates conflict of interest problems. Education sessions at the Planning Commissioners Academy should never be an advertisement. Therefore, presentations may not include any commercialism for specific products or consulting services.
Session Layout and Structure

The League of California Cities encourages our presenters to use the most engaging educational platform possible when speaking at the Planning Commissioners Academy. We recognize that each session has a unique format and presentation style based on the preferences of the speaker(s) and content being presented, but the following examples are provided as a general guideline in planning your session. 

Panel Discussions: 75 minutes, with up to 3 speakers

Presider (5 minutes)     

  • Welcome
  • Frame session
  • Introduce speakers

Speaker(s) #1, #2 and #3 (20 minutes)   

  • Summary of relevant experience
  • Learning objectives
  • Core session content
  • Summary of key points

Presider (10 minutes)   

  • Facilitate Q&A
  • Final comments

Concurrent Session: 75 minutes, 1 speaker

Presider (5 minutes)     

  • Welcome
  • Frame session
  • Introduce speaker

Speaker #1 (60 minutes)            

  • Summary of relevant experience
  • Learning objectives
  • Core session content
  • Summary of key points

Presider (10 minutes)   

  • Facilitate Q&A
  • Final comments

    As a reminder, sessions may not include any product/service demonstrations or commercial presentations for specific products or consulting services. Please contact the education department with any questions, concerns or assistance needs you may have.