Spring 2021 | Planning for Children

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FLORIDA PLANNING A publication of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association



SCHOOL PLANNERS A NICHE WITH A TWIST By: Amber K. Dickerson, AICP, and Matthew Pleasant

Not long ago, a local elected official made a suggestion during a meeting we think you’ll agree with: You know what? The school district should hire a planner. Luckily, a school planner was in attendance.


chool districts should hire planners, and they do, for good reason. Schools impact every facet of our communities. They are often among the largest land owners and top employers in a community. The yellow buses in your neighborhood may make them your area’s largest provider of public transit. School districts are significant sources of walk and bike trips for children—our most vulnerable travelers—and vehicles pack roads twice each day to reach schools. In addition to the core goal of education, school districts provide children with much more, including meals. It’s no wonder many homebuyers ask themselves the same question while looking for a new neighborhood: What are the schools like? Despite that, school planning is still somewhat of an outlier in the profession and faces several challenges. Rather than neatly fitting into a core planning discipline like land use, housing, or transportation, schools involve each (and are impacted by siloed decisionmaking in all of them). School planners may find themselves initiating long-needed dialogue with these other disciplines and pushing for a greater voice in community-wide planning efforts. Additionally, school planners must navigate within an agency where the main mission is education, not planning. continued on page 13




Tapping K-12


Box City Empowers Kids


Washington Park: A Narrative


City is Your Sandbox


Super Troopers


Generational Planning Influencers


Largo Highland Playground


FPC21 Updates

President’s Message - p. 3 Section Happenings - p. 15 Planners on the Move - p. 16 Member Spotlight p. 17 Working for You - p. 18 Consultants Directory - p. 19 Events - back page

The Florida Chapter of APA provides statewide leadership in the development of sustainable communities by advocating excellence in planning, providing professional development for its members, and working to protect and enhance the natural and built environments.



APA Florida Executive Committee President Wiatt Bowers, AICP

Phone E-mail 904-363-8488


Immediate Past President

Laura Everitt, AICP, Esq., LEED GA


pastpresident@floridaplanning.org fx


Whit Blanton, FAICP



Treasure Coast Section

Kori Benton, AICP



VP-Professional Development

Henry Bittaker, FAICP


profdevelopment@floridaplanning.org f


Lara Bouck, AICP, PE



San Felasco Section

Terry Clark, AICP, PMP



VP Membership/Outreach

Ennis Davis, AICP



University Liaison

Laura Dedenbach, AICP, Ph.D.



VP Communications

Melissa Dickens, AICP



Student Representative

Erin Fowler


students@floridaplanning.org t

Capital Area Section

Macy Fricke, AICP



EPG Representative

Sofia Garantiva



Promised Lands Section

Jason Green, AICP


Sun Coast Section

Stefanie McQueen, AICP




Allara Mills Gutcher, AICP



Gold Coast Section

Juan Mullerat



Orlando Metro Section

Luis Nieves-Ruiz, AICP



Broward Section

Kristen Nowicki, AICP



VP Section Affairs

Tony Palermo, AICP



Atlantic Coast Section

Brad Parrish, AICP



VP Certification Maintenance

Jill Quigley, AICP



First Coast Section

Ray Spofford, AICP



VP Conference Services

Thuy Turner, AICP, LEED AP BD+C



Heart of Florida Section

Tom Wodrich, AICP, MPA



Emerald Coast Section

Randy Woodruff, AICP



Executive Director

Julia “Alex“ Magee



Ad. Assistant/Bookkeeper

Jessica Groce



Communications Coordinator Patti Shea




Kylie Pope



Legislative Representative

Lester Abberger



Graphic Design (Consultant) Summer Taylor



All other inquiries, contact APA Florida at 850-201-3272 or e-mail fapa@floridaplanning.org.

2 Spring 2021 / Florida Planning

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE In the last issue I wrote that I was looking forward to some semblance of normalcy returning in the coming months. As we get into May, I’m happy to report that we are on our way. While the pandemic isn’t over yet, there are some encouraging signs coming out of our state, our country, and as far away as Israel. Your APA Florida leadership team has been working for months on a staged process that allows for the resumption of our regular activities. I’d like to highlight a few of these efforts: LOCAL IN-PERSON EVENTS: I realize that many local sections did not hold as many events in 2020 as they had in recent years. We also have heard from many of our members that Zoom-fatigue is real! As such, our Executive Committee adopted a policy in February allowing sections the flexibility to hold outdoor events with safety procedures in place. We will be reviewing the policy in the coming weeks, with an eye toward allowing indoor events once again. Our Vice-President of Section Affairs, Tony Palermo, AICP, has been working with local leaders on potential events for this spring, summer, and fall. Further, the chapter provides grant funding for innovative programs, and most of our sections applied this year.

Your APA Florida leadership team has been working for months on a staged process that allows for the resumption of our regular activities. FLORIDA PLANNING CONFERENCE: Hopefully by now you all have seen and participated in our brief conference survey. Our local host committee and Vice-President of Conference Services, Thuy Turner, AICP, have been working for months on producing a diverse and engaging conference program. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, deep-dive seminars, and potential mobile workshops have been identified. The team has also been in communications with the conference hotel regularly, and are meeting with them again in mid-May to discuss updated protocols and flexibility in conference events and spaces. We had not yet reviewed the results of the survey (at the time this article was written) but are optimistic we can gather safely in Miami in a few months. That said, we are prepared to pivot to a full virtual conference again this year if necessary, and are exploring limited virtual experience options for those who may be unable to attend in person. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE RETREAT: Every two years, chapter leadership meets to develop priorities and strategies to enhance our organization. This year, we moved the retreat from its usual wintertime slot to spring in the hope that we would be able to meet in-person. I am happy to report that we will be meeting May 21-22 in Lakeland. While the agenda has not been determined yet, much attention will be given to approaches that expand local section offerings. If you have any ideas or initiatives you’d like to see us engage in, please reach out to me before the retreat and I’ll make sure we discuss them. LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND UPDATES: One final note, the 2021 Florida Legislature has just finished their 60-day session. In February, our legislative leadership team put together another great Public Policy Workshop that for the first time we held the event virtually. This allowed more members to attend than ever before. APA Florida Executive Director Alex Magee and Legislative Advocate Lester Abberger tracked and weighed in on numerous bills throughout the session. If you missed them, Chapter Office puts out a legislative update every Friday during session which includes a tracking of all the bills APA Florida has followed throughout the session. I realize there’s a lot to follow and things often change rapidly as the session closes, but I encourage you to watch the APA Florida Legislative Wrap-Up webinar. Alex, Lester, and President-Elect Whit Blanton, FAICP, will be providing us a concise rundown on key bills that passed (and those that didn’t). And while the 2021 session just ended, Whit and our Legislative Policy Committee are already working on our top priorities for 2022 and the return of Planners Month in the Districts!

Wiatt Bowers, AICP Spring 2021 / Spring Planning 3

Creativity Through Planning By Leslie McLendon, AICP During October 2019, members from the San Felasco Section, Christine Berish, Angeline Jacobs, Kathleen Pagan, Leslie McLendon and Lauren Yeatter used the APA Florida K-12 Grade Teaching Guides to help foster a community planning discussion with two 2nd grade classrooms at Williams Elementary School in Gainesville. The students were introduced to future land use and their representative colors, a map of Gainesville, basics of scale, city grids and a memory device for remembering cardinal directions (“Never Eat Soggy Waffles”). The students individually developed their own communities using land use clip art that could be placed either on a grid that represented blocks or their own hand drawn map. They had to think through their place making decisions and consider the impacts of uses. Some discussions during this activity had students questioning whether airports should be at the edge of town, where stores should be located, and if it would be helpful to be able to walk to a park from home. The students had to choose at least one use from the different types of uses that can make up a community (commercial, industrial, institutional, residential) and consider their placement. And, of course, students were very creative with town amenities – many had a beach, large aquarium, one even had a teleporter. These discussions highlighted what planners do and think about every day. The planners learned a lot too, and enjoyed seeing the creative ways children designed their cities. continued on page 5

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The K-12 Grade Teaching Guides were developed by APA Florida in order to help teach kindergarten through high school students about what a planner does and to foster understanding about how communities are planned. Using Common Core Standards, the guides provide materials that help facilitate discussions for different grades. The guides provide templates for reaching out to educators, as well as step-by-step curriculum and a facilitator guide. The guides were easily modified to fit the needs of the activity.

This was the second year of outreach of this type at Williams Elementary, and the team hopes to be able to continue in additional schools post pandemic. Leslie McLendon, AICP, is a planner with Alachua County. She can be reached at lmclendon@alachuacounty.us.

Box City Empowering Kids The Florida State University Department of Urban and Regional Planning’s Box City program connects urban planning graduate students with elementary school students in underserved communities in Leon County. FSU’s Box City Program is tailored to the local land use planning context in Florida and the specific educational needs of Leon County children. Through the program, children gain hands-on experience in building and designing their own “box city” by first learning what urban, land use, and transportation planners do; the impact of voting on shaping the local community; land use planning and zoning designations; and the various modes (or ways) in which we travel around our cities and towns. Kids are invited to think about safety, health, and happiness in determining the location of residential, commercial, and industrial uses, as well as public facilities and green spaces. Children also learn about the significance of land use as it relates to transportation, particularly the way modes are used to get where we need to

By: Dara Osher, AICP-C

go and how roadway space is divided to accommodate people walking and biking and to slow traffic down. Often, urban planning graduate students can attest that they had little to no previous exposure to the urban and regional planning field prior to taking a class or meeting someone from the department at FSU. Inviting children to imagine themselves as land use and transportation planners of their own city empowers younger generations from all walks of life to think about the ways in which the existing built environment does and does not serve the needs of themselves, their families, and their community. As is often recommended with public involvement, early and continuous engagement can encourage greater participation and, therefore, help shape a world that is better for everyone. Dara Osher, AICP-C, is a transportation planner for Michael Baker International. She can be reached at dara.osher@mbakerintl.com.

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WASHINGTON PARK A NARRATIVE By: Jared Beck, AICP Known as the Gateway to the Florida Keys and Everglades, Florida City boasts the distinction of the southernmost U.S. city that is not an island. Originally envisioned by the Miami Land Development Co. in the early 20th century as an agricultural and retirement community it was initially referred to as Detroit – a result of many early community leaders having come from Detroit, Michigan.

In 1914 the community was incorporated with its official name, Florida City, and in 1916 the town plat was recorded with Dade County. Over the decades it would achieve modest growth and work to attract new development along with its neighbor, the City of Homestead. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida as a category 5 storm and Florida City, Homestead, and surrounding communities bore the brunt of Andrew. This storm remains the most destructive hurricane to hit Florida in terms of structures damaged or destroyed, and until Hurricane Irma in 2017 had been the costliest in financial terms. The destruction to homes, businesses, infrastructure, and economy was devastating to these communities, and equally crushed the local tax base. When the damage was fully assessed, 82,000 businesses in south Dade County were destroyed or damaged, and 100,000 residents permanently left the area. In 1995 the Florida City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) was established and has since generated and spent millions of dollars to rebuild the City with a primary focus on infrastructure, housing, and business improvement programs. It has also invested in the things that make a community feel like home, including parks. This year the CRA is continuing its effort in the reconstruction of Washington Park, which was originally built decades ago on land owned by the county. With some equipment still in place that local seniors remember playing on when they were kids, the park has long lacked any of the excitement and energy a neighborhood park should bring. Especially in a community that is still so many years later, working hard to catch up to other South Florida cities. With a focus on creating an age-inclusive, accessible, safe and welcoming neighborhood gathering place, a new park has been designed for residents and especially neighborhood kids. When complete the +/- 1.5-acre park continued on page 7

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will have two (2) dedicated playground areas. One area will be for toddlers between the ages of 2-5 and a separate area for kids 6-years and older. The park will feature a large open play area for activities such as informal ball, active sports, and passive recreation. It will also be surrounded by wide, meandering multiuse paths that may be used for activities such as learning how to ride a bike or roller skate, or running and walking. Existing mature canopy trees will be preserved to provide natural shade, and picnic pavilions and colorful shade structures added to protect park-goers from the sun. Significant new landscape will be added to create a quality greenspace in an area where this is limited. To maximize available funding for the parks’ interior and expansive playground equipment, adjacent streetscape improvements will be expanded to include the park perimeter including sidewalks, limited parking, drainage, and curbing. When completed, the new Washington Park will strengthen community pride, bring people of all ages and abilities together, increase sense of belonging and provide a safe and fun place for children to improve their physical health and mental well-being.

The current Washington Park.

Jared Beck is an associate planner of community development with Stantec. He can be reached at jared.beck@stantec.com.

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THE PLAYGROUND CITY GANG: A creative group stoked about play!

The City is Your

SANDBOX By: Carmen Rasnick

Cities can be a challenging place for children for many reasons, most notably due to the absence of open space/playgrounds. However, public spaces in the built environment offer a vast amount of potential to engage children. So much so that international organizations like the Brookings Institute are publishing reports such as the Urban Play Framework to highlight the need for more interactive experiences for children in the built environment. Guidance from groups like the Brookings Institute is very helpful for drafting policies and initiatives centered around play in our cities on a national level. But chances are if you look in your backyard you may find there are grassroots groups who are already using the city as their sandbox. Meet Playground City – a non-profit collective of playmakers based in Orlando. I sat down with Kelsey Kerce and Wes Shaffer, two of Playground City’s founders, to talk more about their efforts to activate Orlando’s built environment using play and to ask what advice they have for both kids and urban planners. 8 Spring 2021 / Florida Planning

The non-profit’s founders believe the ingredients of meaningful learning are unlocking passion, curiosity, imagination, and possibility. In their experience, they found that play is a universally recognized technique used to access the ingredients of meaningful learning. The group’s programming uses play to design experiences that are also educational. Wes and Kelsey shared examples of successful past projects and also pandemic-friendly future projects the group is currently working on. continued on page 9


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The Cycles and Sprouts program blends urban farming and bicycle mechanics to empower youth with skills and knowledge that support healthy habits!

A popup 1980s sitcom TV set filmed and broadcasted live on Pine Street. People of all ages young and old let their imaginations run wild on set, filming over 7 hours of role play!

BARBERSHOP TALK In collaboration with New Image Youth Center, Playground City designed a curriculum about non-violent communication infused into a playful experience at the neighborhood barbershop. This activity taught area youth about non-violent communication while also picking up rad skills in hair craft. ‘KNOW YOUR RIGHTS CARD GAME’ Teaming up with Florida ACLU, The Paul C. Perkins Bar Association, the Orlando Game Space, and youth artists, Playmaker Jasmine Reese created the ‘Know Your Rights Card Game’ designed to educate adolescents about their constitutional rights featuring incredible card art by youth artists. VIRTUAL PLAY EXPERIENCES Playground City is working with Orlando Day Care and the Parramore Education Innovation District (PEID) to pilot a series of Zoom-based virtual play experiences designed to empower parents and guardians to lead playful learning with their 0- to 5-year-olds, a new area of design for Playground City since the pandemic began. In 2022 Playground City is pursuing their most ambitious project yet, teaming up with PEID to design and implement “pop-up playgrounds” in unexpected places around Orlando to enhance everyday access to play spaces. As you can see, my interview with Playground City was a blast! Much of their beliefs and programming centered around play and kinesthetic learning really resonated with how I learn as a professional. Playmaker and Co-Founder Kelsey Kerce explains: “In our experience, the young people we work with teach us more about

THE RISE AND COLORFUL FALL OF DESATURO, 2017: Children and their families became comic book heroes at Immerse 2017. Playground City designed four pop-up experiences inviting families to join “the color force” to foil DeSaturo’s plans to desaturate the world.

their community than we teach them. At Playground we are intentional in the way we talk to youth about their neighborhood by maintaining focus on the assets of the community, sometimes highlighting spaces or resources that youth may not know about. Youth have a unique experience of their environment and adults, especially those who work in community development and city planning, would be wise to glean as much information as they can from them.” Carmen Rasnick is an urban planning/real estate professional working in

Orlando. You can contact her on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/CarmenRasnick.

Spring 2021 / Spring Planning 9

girl scouts

Across the Country Advance Their City Planning Skills with Jacobs Women’s Network

By: Katie Habgood, AICP

For the third time since the pandemic have less of an impact on our environment and changed how we engage with our one that would be stronger and better able to communities and how students are learning, weather future storms – in other words, both Jacobs Women’s Network (JWN) led a series sustainable and resilient. of virtual workshops for Girl Scouts across The Scouts then tried their hands at the country, building an existing partnership resilient city planning by using mapping with JWN Tampa and the Girl Scouts of West materials developed by the American Planning Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador Girl Scouts used Central Florida. The workshops allowed Girl Association Florida Chapter. The K-12 Grade MURAL to collaborate their resilient city planning. They placed icons representing infrastructure, Scouts to learn how city planning is a tool that Teaching Guides were specifically designed to amenities, and land use on a virtual map. can lead to more sustainable and resilient get students involved in the field of planning. cities, get hands-on with a map-based design Girls in 6th through 12th grades (at the challenge, and explore planning careers. Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador level) used Girl Scouts in 2nd through 12th grades the materials through an app called MURAL focused on a real-world example of a that allowed them to collaborate online community devastated by a storm event and the exactly like a public engagement planning work that has gone into planning its resilient tool during a pandemic. They also participated and sustainable reconstruction. in a panel discussion and were able to ask In October 2018, Hurricane Michael directly A career panel featured women who work in questions of the planners, learn about their planning at different stages of their careers and struck Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida’s educational and career paths, and hear what with different disciplines from transportation panhandle. The category-5 storm had sustained it’s like to work as a woman in planning field. planning to resiliency planning, master site winds of 155 mph, a 14-foot storm surge, and it Katie Habgood, AICP, is a senior planning, and environmental planning. transportation planner with Jacobs and is a damaged 100 percent of the assets (buildings, Tampa Chapter lead for the Jacobs Women’s Network. She can be planes, infrastructure) at the base, rendering the base inoperable. The reached at katie.habgood@jacobs.com. girls learned about the planning of the new Tyndall AFB, one that would 10 Spring 2021 / Florida Planning

How will the

NEXT GENERATION of planners influence

THE FUTURE? By Susan Swift, AICP

By its very nature, planning deals with change – how to predict it and how to navigate it. Just over a century old, planning as a profession, changes and evolves. So, what do emerging planners think are the most important planning issues? And what how do they think the profession should change and improve itself? We posed these questions to some new and emerging planners – and found nearly identical thoughts and recurring themes: Equity, Education and Engagement.

The most important issue facing planning and planners is equity. This was the immediate answer from almost every person interviewed. How do we make our public sector policies, infrastructure investments and development decisions more equitable within our communities and across our nation and state? Equity, and specifically health equity, says Caitlin Murphy, Health Planner and HiAP Program Coordinator for the Pinellas County Housing and Community Development Department. She notes how we are finally hearing the terms “vulnerability and disparity” from the general public – and how the timing is right to leverage the unfortunate awareness that the pandemic has brought. Her measure of success, says Murphy, would be to “routinely and methodically assess the health impacts of new state or local laws or ordinances.” By way of example, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review of federally-funded project mentions continued on page 13

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The City of Largo recently partnered with REP Services/ Land-

scape Structures to install the first Hedra playground system in Florida and only the fourth in the entire United States. As one enthusiastic 9-year-old said at the grand opening: “This is the playground of the future!” His comments were undoubtedly inspired by the futuristic looking structures that remind one of a space station. With its unique geometric configuration and built in LED lighting the playground at night looks ready to launch! The playground, installed at the city’s Highland Recreation Complex, was completed in February 2021. It has been an incredibly popular spot ever since, with visitors coming from throughout Pinellas County and beyond to enjoy this unique playground. With a variety of configurations needed to both fit within the heavily treed playground area and the desire for a structure with height and multiple play events, the Hedra layout proved to be both flexible and adaptable. The hexagonal pods and continuous circuits create a hive of evolving play that encourages exploration. Kids always enjoy new play experiences, and something is always new at this playground as kids find creative ways to interact with the structures. Kids! They just want to have fun. But as play professionals know, playgrounds are a place where multiple developmental skills are honed. The Highland playground is divided between areas for ages 2-5 12 Spring 2021 / Florida Planning

and for ages 5-12 with challenges in each area. And it is ADA compliant. It has multiple entry points and interconnected experiences. It is ideal for developing upper body strength, agility, balance and flexibility. But it is equally good at developing cognitive skills such as problem solving and strategic thinking as children learn various ways to tackle the equipment and reach the summit. Play is the “work” of children and playgrounds are the “work tools.” Children learn and grow through the exploration and social interaction provided by the play structures. One of the truly exciting features of this new playground is the challenge it presents even for older children. It represents the perfect mix of “risk” and safety. It is the hallmark of a well-designed playground to keep kids away from genuine hazards while encouraging them to test their limits and learn to overcome challenges. That is certainly accomplished in Largo’s newest playground. At its highest point the playground soars to 29 feet with two slides coming from the platform –– one a corkscrew and the other a speed slide. With multiple climbing possibilities and surfaces, children are introduced to the many benefits of dynamic play. The Largo Highland playground is packed with play value to give every child every opportunity to play from every angle. Joan Byrne, CPRE, is the director of the City of Largo, Recreation Parks and Arts. She can be reached at jbyrne@largo.com.


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health but there are no standards. Planners work in the world of “health, safety and welfare” on a daily basis and perhaps, more metrics are needed. Equity means locating future housing, food sources, recreation amenities and facilities so all parts of the community are served – as well as undoing the burdensome and negative impacts of urban renewal-type decisions of the past. The second question posed to our emerging planners was: What can the planning profession do to improve, to evolve as a profession? Education and engagement were the recurring answers. The planning profession needs to educate the public on these topics: • How local government works • Economics • What is planning and what planners do In order to improve the efficacy of public engagement, we need to educate the public on our role, the role of government and the economics of the issue at hand. Austin Bejin, a planner with Colliers Engineering & Design, says we need public engagement methods “beyond typical public meetings.” He suggests that if more people understood what planning is, we could generate more ideas and solutions from the public. Gisla Augustin, a planner for the City of Pompano Beach, agrees that explaining and promoting our role as planners is crucial to gain the trust of the public we work with and thereby, more meaningful conversation. “Proper representation and relevancy means planners should correlate to the demographics of the community,” says Augustin. With her side hustle, GigiThePlanner.com, she continues to work tirelessly to attract youth of color to the planning profession. She has been an APA Ambassador and created her own youth planning workshops and participated in career fairs with 500 attendees. Gigi is now developing a curriculum for an after-school program on planning as a career. Murphy notes: “Government doesn’t have a good reputation – and planners need to improve our messaging” in order to get meaningful input on tough issues. And so, we’ve come full circle ... equity, education and engagement are intrinsically intertwined – and our emerging planners are aware and focused. Our profession is in good hands.

Susan Swift, AICP, is a planning discipline leader with Colliers Engineering & Design (dba Maser Consulting). She can be reached at SSwift@maserconsulting.com.


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That might deter some, but, as school planners, we see the glass as half full. If you’re resilient and resourceful, the lack of a playbook means finding ways to innovate. Here are some examples: • Absent a tool to track development to plan for future schools, we made one ourselves. Our current tool, ARIA, is a cloud-based system developed over the past decade that is unique in the planning profession. It allows us to track the amount of students generated by each development to inform our five-year work plan, conduct boundary changes, and analyze student data to highlight equity issues. • The Hillsborough MPO kicked off an initiative to address the transportation-school connection with their School Transportation Working Group. Taking the baton, we started a multiagency group to collaborate on how to resolve related issues. These efforts have led to better-designed school circulation, sidewalks, and crosswalks that benefit the greater community. School planning is also uniquely positioned to address pressing contemporary concerns around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Hundreds of years of racism, classism, and sexism are reflected in school-related issues, including segregation, funding inequities, school choice options, antiquated attendance boundaries, lack of access to transportation, and state legislation that directly impedes the progress of closing the equity gaps. School planning offers an opportunity to address these legacy issues and emerging challenges, and school planners have the tools, resilience, and grit to help close gaps in equity that can no longer be ignored. We believe the real planning happens when siloes fall and we come together to solve society’s pressing problems. In addition to land use, transportation, housing, environmental, and other core areas of planning, it is important to make sure school planning has a seat at the table when communities look to the future. So spread the word – school planners do exist, and have a role to play in solving the biggest issues facing communities today. Amber K. Dickerson, AICP, is the general manager of Growth Management for Hillsborough County Public Schools. She can be reached at amber.dickerson@hcps.net. Matthew Pleasant, is a planner with the Department Manager of Planning and Siting for Hillsborough County Public Schools. He can be reached at matthew.pleasant@hcps.net.

The July issue of Florida Planning will focus on

PLANNING FOR SUMMER. Have a story idea? Please contact Patti in the chapter office. Spring 2021 / Spring Planning 13



2021 florida planning conference rida miami, flo

Miami is a land of enchantment, a place where history beckons

and cultures meld to create a distinct identity in the gateway to Latin America. When people think of Miami, they often visualize tourists, beaches, sun, and fun. Maybe they recall bad drivers and traffic congestion. Perhaps they are even able to conjure up the vibrant and colorful urban life of our downtown; and our history of development pioneering and of Cuban exile.

We are all of that, but we’re also much more than that. South Florida’s many layers –– ecological, developmental, jurisdictional, ethnic and cultural, etc. –– offer an opportunity for exploration, lessons learned, and a glimpse of a future that integrates, preserves and celebrates the most essential and desirable qualities of people and place. It is in this vein that we invite you to Savor Diversity with us at this year’s Florida Planning Conference, Aug. 31 – Sept. 3, 2021. Miami is a diverse city in a diverse section of the United States. Underneath the “obvious Miami planning” issues of coastal management, sea level rise and resiliency (and traffic) is a multifaceted megaregion that acts as a microcosm of our country. Like many communities, we face urban, suburban, and rural issues compounded by the challenge of aging infrastructure in need of expensive retrofitting and enhancement. Importantly, racial considerations which have been longstanding should be considered here, understanding the need for discussion on the future of equitable outcomes that goes hand in hand with the celebration of diversity. The “layers of the Medianoche” create the narrative of South Florida: stories of inspiration, innovation, imagination and exploration of the future city. We are excited to share these stories, and have found two engaging narrators who will help guide your journey.

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By Edward Ng, AICP Our opening keynote speaker, Emmynominated documentarian, director, and producer Akisa Omulepu, is the founder of Emerge Omnimedia. Emerge’s mission is to create and tell stories that explore, investigate, and celebrate the experiences of people from the African Diaspora. Most recently she directed and produced a documentary short for PBS. ‘A Dream Deferred, The Broken Promise of New York City Public Housing’ was nominated for two Emmys. Ms. Omulepu will speak to how diversity and the experiences of people play a profound role in our collective experience, and how we can better embrace this diversity in our profession and daily lives. She will also be presenting a documentary on planning issues in South Florida. Our lunch plenary will feature Gerdo Aquino, the firmwide CEO of SWA, an award-winning global practice operating on the leading edge of landscape architecture, urban design and planning. Mr. Aquino is a big thinker, designer, author and educator based in Los Angeles and is known for his research interests in reimagining the public realm as a means to improve quality of life within the densifying urban fabric of our cities and towns. Issues of urban ecology, resiliency, mobility, air and water quality, programming and access to open space frames much of his work and serves as the foundation of public lectures around the world. A licensed architect and a graduate of the University of Florida and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Mr. Aquino will speak on the influence of the public realm’s current challenges and opportunities in incorporating new ideas that enhance the urban fabric and quality of life. Our speakers will be supplemented by a robust program that will highlight planning trends and challenge your thoughts, and when you come to this conference, you will add to our diversity in one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. We look forward to the opportunity to Savor Diversity with you, here in our home where culture and history simmers and blends in the land of enchantment. Edward Ng is the technical vice president of planning for The Corradino Group. He can be reached at eng@corradino.com.

APA Florida

SECTION HAPPENINGS PLANNERS PIVOT IN THE PANDEMIC Planners and local governments throughout the state pivoted in their day-to-day operations. Here are here are two examples from Orlando Metro and the Promised Lands sections: PROMISED LANDS FPZA Calusa Chapter hosted a webinar on Hybrid Public Input Meetings. The presentation included current practices from Collier County and the City of Fort Myers. Additionally, we have reached out to surrounding municipalities to gain insight on how their approach has changed so far. Below is a quick summary of current practices from our local communities. Collier County accommodates virtual and in-person attendance for Board of County Commissioner and Hearing Examiner public Meetings. Additionally, agents are permitted to host Neighborhood Informational Meetings virtually upon signing a waiver. Collier County has encouraged online application submittal for several years now. The Lee County Department of Community Development is transitioning to a fully electronic submittal process beginning April 19 for building permit, zoning, planning and development review applications. The City of Fort Myers accommodates virtual and in-person attendance for City Council, Planning Board, Board of Adjustments and Historic Preservation Commission to name a few. The City of Fort Myers now accommodates online application submittals. The City of Naples Building Department will no longer accept paper submittals for any existing paper permits. Permit submittals are requested via email in a pdf format. ORLANDO METRO SECTION Osceola County Planning, Development Review, and Transpiration continue to provide excellent customer service and continued progression of our work programs all while keeping out citizens and ourselves as safe as possible. • Our Board of County Commissioner’s Meeting are hybrid (inperson) and broadcast virtually. • All of our staff meetings involving more than a few members are also held virtually, even though most of the office has returned to working in the office. • Where there are in-person meetings, the commissioners are partitioned off from each other via plexiglass • There is plexiglass partition around the podium for members of the public and staff presetting are these meetings, and the podium is cleaned between each use.

• Our Transportation and Transit Department public outreach and stakeholder meetings, as well as public hearings for specific projects have been a mix of in-person and live virtual meetings using several different formats such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex to name a few. We typically also allow for a call-in number to residents that might not have internet and can’t attend in-person can still participate. These have worked pretty well, especially when there is one team working the in-person meeting and another team running the virtual meeting. Through the assistance of out IT Department, we have also been able to successfully hold in-person/ virtual meetings successfully with the same team operating both meetings, and IT working in the background letting calls in one at a time to be answered and responded to on the spot as applicable. • Our planning department is experimenting with an officesharing scenario (alternating time in an office, not occupying offices at the same time), with many employees working parttime at home, part-time at work. • This allows for more efficient use of office space, and reduces vehicle miles traveled for those staff that are working from home with direct connection to the county’s network. • Our development review department has streamlined the process to allow temporary out door dinning. All the applicant has to do is submit a request with basic site plan (it can be hand drawn) showing the location and numbers of the outdoor dining to be provided, show any barriers needed for customer protection (as in if they are placing it in the parking areas) via pdf, and email it to our Senior Development Coordinator. She will review, approve, and send them an approval for the temporary outdoor seating. It is usually a one-day turnaround. • In general, the planning department experience has been that adjusting to staff meetings/working with staff on Teams has been relatively seamless. Public meetings have been more complex. Depending on the type of meeting it goes pretty well, and can be more convenient for all concerned. For general information meetings, even with Q&A, they run pretty smoothly. For meetings that are designed for public participation, have upcoming meetings where we will start with a virtual meeting to provide information and give the participants “homework” – things to think about – which will be followed by a modified open house, where people sign up for time slots so we don’t have too many people there at the same time.

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APA Florida

PLANNERS ON THE MOVE GARANTIVA HEADS TO HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY AS SENIOR PLANNER Sofia Garantiva, AICP has recently joined the Hillsborough County Planning Commission as a Senior Planner. Her responsibilities will include special area studies and project management. She currently serves as APA Florida’s Emerging Planners Group Chair. Sofia holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida Atlantic University. LEVESQUE MOVES TO JOHNSTON GROUP DEVELOPMENT Elizabeth Levesque, AICP, hopped from the City of West Palm Beach to the Jupiter-based Johnston Group Development & Construction, where she will serve as the firm’s Development Associate. ROBIN JOINS STANTEC'S FORT MYERS OFFICE Lindsay Robin is the newest Urban Planner in Stantec's Fort Myers office. The Boynton Beach native left a private practice where she focused on public land use planning for seven years. Lindsay moved to Fort Myers in 2007 to attend Florida Gulf Coast University where she completed her bachelor and master degrees and also received a Certificate in Land Use Planning.

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In her new role at Stantec, Lindsay will be involved in various local planning and policy projects as well as pursuing initiatives to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety. Lindsay is currently the Chair of the City of Bonita Springs Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee and is always looking for ways to get involved and make a difference. MCMICHAEL NAMED VP OF PLANNING FOR HOLE MONTES Paula McMichael, AICP, has been named vice president of planning for Hole Montes. She joined Hole Montes in 2013 as director of planning and became a shareholder in 2020. Paula has 18 years of experience in the public and private sectors as a planner in Florida. Some of Paula’s signature projects include a workforce housing study for the City of Bonita Springs, master plan revision for the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency, redesign of Marine Max’s deep lagoon marina commercial planned development and rezoning for the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track’s redevelopment. McMichael has prepared special planning studies on a range of topics, such as workforce housing, redevelopment and sustainability, while also updating comprehensive plans and land development codes for projects of regional significance. McMichael earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Smith College and Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Florida Atlantic University, where she graduated with honors and was named an environmental growth management fellow.

Member Spotlight Q&A: Dagmarie Segarra Would you like to share anything about your family? I’m the youngest of five children. We are a very interesting group of siblings, lol. The oldest brother is 14 years older than me and served in the Navy for more than 20 years. My only sister is a homemaker, with the heart of a social worker that a year ago moved back to Puerto Rico to take care of our mom, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. My third sibling works as groundkeeper with the Volusia School District and my fourth sibling, after performing as a stand-up comedian for more than 30 years, is about to graduate with an Associate Degree in Theology with the Salvation Army, yeah, that was a surprise! As you can see, we were all very influenced by our parents and we are all involved with some kind of service.

Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Moved to Central Florida at the age of 21 What college/university did you attend? I started my college education at the University of Puerto Rico, but finished my degree in Florida at the University of Phoenix What is your current position? Currently I’m the Senior Planner of the Long Range section in Seminole County. What is your current and any past positions in APA Florida and/or APA National? I’m part of the LAP (Latinos and Planning) National Division. I’m also member of the EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) Committee in APA Florida as well as the Orlando Metro Section group for APA Women & Planning Division. What would you be doing now if you hadn’t chosen the planning profession? Wow, that’s a question which I haven’t thought about in a while. I love what I do, helping the community and being part of something bigger than me. But if I wouldn’t be a planner, I guess I would still be doing something related to service, helping others, like social worker or therapist. You see both of my parents were passionate about service, my mom was a history teacher and a librarian for more than 25 years and my dad was a VA Hospital administrator, phycologist and theology professor at the Universidad Mundial in Puerto Rico. Also, on top of all that, both of them were pastors for more than 35 years. From an early age, both of them inspired in me the love of teaching and serving others. Are you a member in other planning or non-planning boards, committees or organizations? I’m a member of the Diversity Council of Seminole County, and a collaborator with the Florida Rising Latinx Division.

What are your hobbies and interests? Nowadays I spend most of my time exercising and reading. Those two hobbies have helped me cope with the pandemic. Ever had your 15 minutes of fame? Well, I think this is it! Unless you count my public hearing presentations which are televised, lol. Do you have any advice to new graduates in your field/career tips? My dad used to tell us constantly “Déjate ver en medio de la multitud” (Let yourself be seen in the middle of the crowd). I try to live my life through that motto. Don’t eliminate yourself from opportunities, let others see you and what you can do. Find a way to be seen in your own light. Try everything, what’s the worst that could happen? , that you don’t get that job? , promotion? At the end of the day you are the one that have to live with the decisions you make. Make sure, you can live with them and not with the “what ifs.” Be patience, get the experience. There’s value in experience, your time will come. Seek mentors and listen to what they have to say. Humbleness will take you farther. And finally, networking, networking, networking…. What have you gained or learned by being a member in APA Florida? That there’s a lot more to be learned. Being part of the APA Florida has provided me with resources and tools to improve my community that otherwise I wouldn’t have had access to. It has also helped further developed my skills as a professional planner by keeping me informed on the latest trends, studies, and policies. Is there a particular state planning topic you’d like to comment on or feel fellow planners need to follow? As many of us know, this legislative session has many preemptive policies that will affect the future of our state and even our county. It is our responsibility to be advocates of our communities and speak on behalf of those that have no voice. Be informed by joining the APA Planner’s Advocacy Network and don’t continued on page 18 hesitate to speak up. Spring 2021 / Spring Planning 17

APA FLORIDA WORKING FOR YOU VIRTUAL PUBLIC POLICY WORKSHOP The chapter hosted its 19th APA Florida Annual Public Policy Workshop as a virtual event for the first time on Feb. 24 - 25. The chapter hosted more than 250 registrants, eight panels, and 19 guest speakers. The panel topics included pertinent policy changes that may impact the planning community at the national, state, and local levels and planning-related topics of resiliency and the economy. You can download PowerPoints presentation from the workshop here.


The APA Florida Orlando Metro Section, APA Florida’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Orlando Metro Section Women and Planning Group and AIA Orlando Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force hosted this webinar to explore organizational roles and responsibilities needed to engage and sustain inclusive dialogue. The session included an open discussion with Black professionals about their experiences and practices. You can watch the webinar here. The Orlando Section and the APA Florida EDI Committee along with CREW Orlando and NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association hosted a webinar to recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Sisters Susan P. Ajoc, AICP, FCP, community services director for the City of St. Petersburg, and Stephanie A. Thoburn, AICP, assistant director of planning and zoning for the Town of Jupiter, discuss their experiences with equity, diversity and inclusion in the planning field as well as in the communities in which they work. Watch this lovely discussion here.

2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND APA FLORIDA ADVOCACY On the heels of a successful Public Policy Workshop, the Legislative & Policy Committee (LPC) met twice during the Legislative Session to discuss relevant bills and develop legislative and policy priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session. APA Florida tracked some 200 bills that would affect the work of planners, their communities, and the planning profession, with a particular focus on more than a dozen bills that made progress in the legislature. Many of these bills are pre-emptions of local deci18 Spring 2021 / Florida Planning

sions or policies that communities use to maintain their character, protect the environment, manage growth and improve safety and accessibility. While some of the worst bills either did not pass or were amended to lessen our concerns, the Legislature passed several unnecessary or onerous bills, and APA Florida is seeking vetoes by the governor. APA Florida is hosting a free Legislative Wrap-Up webinar on Friday, May 14 at noon ET to review session outcomes. This webinar and the work of the LPC will set the stage for member advocacy later this year as legislative committee meetings begin prior to the start of next year’s Legislative Session in January 2022. The LPC is planning a another “Planners Day in the District” for members to connect with their legislative representatives, armed with talking points about APA Florida priorities. Our goal this year is to provide a proactive foundation for advocacy by focusing on unsuccessful bills that will likely return in some form next year. The goal is to build relationships and make the legislature more aware of the critical role that planners and planning play in shaping the future of our diverse state and its communities.


continued from page 17

Do you have a planning or personal achievement to discuss? I’m very proud to be part of the Seminole County Diversity Council. After the tragic events of last summer, the county took initiative by creating the council to evaluate diversity within the organization and I’m very excited to be part of the potential changes and improvements that the council may bring. I can’t wait to be part of this positive change for my county. Anything else you would like us to know about you? Thank you so much for this opportunity. Thank you to APA Florida for being vocal and involved in matters of equity, diversity and inclusion. As an American Citizen that immigrated to the United States almost 25 years ago, I’m proud to say that, though slow, change is happening and I can’t wait to see and be part of that change.

[CONSULTANTS] DIRECTORY Advertise in the Consultants Directory The Consultant Directory is a fitting place to showcase your firm. $250 buys space for a year in the newsletter (five issues) plus inclusion in our webbased consultant directory. Display ads to promote your business, conference, projects and more are available. Contact the Chapter office at 850-2013272 for rates and details. East Central Florida Regional Planning Council 455 N. Garland Avenue, Suite 414

In a Livable Community, people of all ages can make their town or city a lifelong home. Learn about what’s happening in Florida. Contact Laura Cantwell at lcantwell@aarp.org.

Orlando, Florida 32801 www.ecfrpc.org Phone: 407.245.0300 Serving Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties

Fax: 407.245.0285

Planning | Urban Design Landscape Architecture Economics | Real Estate

Creating great community places. gaiconsultants.com/communitysolutions

THANK YOU TO OUR EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Chair - Melissa Dickens, AICP Gisla Augustin Lara Bouck, AICP, PE Melissa Hege, AICP Dara Osher, AICP-C Carmen Rasnick Susan Swift, AICP

Spring 2021 / Spring Planning 19

[FLORIDA] PLANNING Published by the Florida Chapter, American Planning Association, the Florida Planning newsletter has a current circulation of 3,200 members, subscribers and other readers. Four issues are published a year.

CHANGES OF ADDRESS For APA members, Send to: Member Records Department American Planning Association 205 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1200 Chicago, IL 60601 Fax: 312-786-6700 or log onto www.planning.org/myapa

ARTICLES Florida Planning welcomes articles, announcements, letters, pictures and advertising. Call 850-201-3272 regarding articles. The next issue will be published July 2021.

DEADLINES Article deadlines are generally four weeks prior to publication. Ad deadlines are generally two weeks prior to publication. Consult the editor for any exception to this schedule.

ABOUT THE CHAPTER APA Florida is a non-profit organization funded through membership dues and fees. Contributions are also welcomed for general purposes and earmarked programs. Please note that contributions are not tax deductible. For news and information on Chapter concerns, visit the APA Florida website at florida planning.org. APA Florida 2017 Delta Boulevard, Suite 201 Tallahassee, FL 32303 Phone: 850-201-3272 Fax: 850-807-2576


[UPCOMING] EVENTS May 20: Women in Planning: Working with Remote or Hybrid Teams Webinar. A part of the Sun Coast Section’s on-going Women in Planning webinar series. This session will explore working and delivering high-quality planning services in remote or hybrid teams and what that means for our professional lives. This session also will cover career developmentrelated topics of work-life balance, management of remote personnel, and project management of teams that may include remote members. Additionally, the panel will discuss innovative planning techniques used to work through typical planning projects and public engagement with the new wrinkle of having staff, elected/appointed officials, and members of the public involved in those processes virtually. Information here. Free. 1 CM May 27: Implementing Equity in Transportation Planning and Public Education Webinar. Participants will also be introduced to resources made available by the Broward MPO to apply the same equity concepts within their own planning activities. To expand beyond the realm of transportation, this event will also include discussion of equity considerations from a public education perspective through Broward County Schools’ Equity & Diversity Department. Information here. Free. 1 CM. June 2, 10, 23: Regulatory and Land Use Issues Affecting Affordable Housing Series Webinar. The Florida Housing Coalition hosts this webinar three-part series focused on how to create a regulatory and land use planning environment that encourages and facilitates the production of affordable housing. Topics include best practices for land use planning for affordable housing, how to implement statutory changes from the past several Legislative sessions, how to best utilize the local Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC), and how local governments can incorporate resiliency strategies in their affordable housing plans. This in-depth training for planners and housing administrators addresses how local government can be a catalyst for resilient and affordable housing development. In each session, practitioners will offer on-the-ground experiences and best practices for implementation. Information on part 1 | part 2 | part 3. June 11: Lessons in New Ruralism Webinar. This session is aimed at planners interested in leading grassroots volunteer efforts in small towns and rural areas. Without the population density or professional staff of urban areas, small communities are often dependent on creative grassroots solutions for providing basic necessities such as food systems, support for those aging in place, children’s programs, jobs and energy conservation. These solutions often bring together long-time residents with newer residents, generating new problem-solving ideas. Information here. Free. 1.5 CM when viewed live. For more information on these and other APA Florida events, please visit florida.planning.org/calendar/