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League of California Cities
Educational sessions at the Planning Commissioners Academy offer professional development, focusing on workable solutions through current and timely topics. Targeting a broad audience, sessions address innovative, thought/discussion provoking, evidence based, trends, tools, and best practices. Connecting professional experience and collective understanding, these sessions aim to provide attendees the opportunity to gain practical skills and useful resources.

Preliminary Sessions

Opening General Session

Join us for the official opening session of the conference. Watch for details on speakers in the near future!

Planning Commission 101: The Nuts and Bolts of Planning

Learn the basics about planning laws, typical planning documents, and how they fit together. 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 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.

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

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

CEQA, Understanding the Basics

Hear an overview of the role of CEQA in the planning process. Join us as we pull back the curtain on parts of the process, and learn tips on what to do with all of the information. Learn about some of the terms, timelines, and hear testimony, with an opportunity to ask questions.

Economic Development and Downtown Revitalization

Developing session. Watch for details and speaker information in the near future!

Your Legal Powers and Obligations

Learn the breadth, as well as the limitations, of your powers as a planning commissioner. Acquire a basic understanding of the legal authorities and restrictions under which cities and city officials operate, with a focus on the Brown Act.

CEQA, Beyond the Basics

Hear an in-depth discussion of some of the trending issues in CEQA, and more about why CEQA documents look the way they do. The role of findings, and what to do with late-hit letters will also be discussed. Presenters will demystify some of the more technical sections of the document.

Relationship Between Planning Commission, City Council, and Planning Staff

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.

Understanding Density and Development Intensity

As density is essential in shaping communities, the state is mandating higher density development in response to California’s housing affordability crisis. While the compact nature of higher densities can provide more equitable access to services and amenities, often the perceptions of how high densities look when built is misguided. In reality, how dense a building looks varies greatly according to unit mix, building height, unit sizes, parking requirements, and other regulatory requirements. Panelists will discuss how to understand differences such as density vs intensity, FAR vs Lot Coverage and share examples and creative approaches to limit the impact of higher density development in built communities.

What Happens Before Project Approval?

You have minutes to distill down years of work that includes public meetings, community concerns, design modifications, and more. Join us on a journey from first preliminary applications to project approval, through the eyes of a planner, planning commissioner and a developer. Gain valuable insight and information about the plan review process, how planning departments and planning commissions play a role in shaping development, and how developers address challenges that come up during review. Walk away with a comprehensive understanding of everything that goes on before the vote.

Making Findings that Stand Legal Challenge

As a planning commissioner, your decision to approve an application is based on whether you can make the required findings. Learn how to articulate your response to findings from a seasoned practitioner.

What Planners Need to Know About City Finance Today

Learn the essentials and the latest hot topics in city finances in this 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, 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.

Burning Questions, No Judgment

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.

Legislative Update

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.

The New Normal: Land Use and Emergency Preparedness

Previously considered a public safety issue, preparing for emergencies has become a citywide responsibility. The recent deadly and destructive wildfire seasons have spurred legislative consideration and action on emergency response, emergency planning and land use. Join state policy leaders as they discuss these issues, recent state actions, and proposals for the future. Return to your cities prepared to help your city make the right land use decisions for your community.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Take this opportunity to complete one of your mandatory state trainings before the conference officially kicks off. Sign-in begins at 9:30 a.m., and you must be present for the full two hours to receive the certification of attendance at 12:00 p.m. (Planned with the Institute for Local Government).

How to Build and Maintain the Public's Trust: Practical Ethics and the Law (AB 1234)

State law requires elected and appointed officials to receive 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. This lively, example-laden, two hours will make this mandatory training more tolerable – if not outright enjoyable.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (AB 1661)

Local agency officials must receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention training and education within the first six months of taking office and every two years thereafter if the agency provides any type of compensation, salary, or stipend to those officials. This training will teach officials and staff how to identify, prevent and respond to workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation. This training will fulfill training requirements for AB 1661/1825/2053.


Is your city ready for SB 35?

Is your city ready for an SB 35 project? The state is becoming increasingly involved in local land use planning. One example of that is the 2017 bill SB 35 which requires fast-tracked ministerial approval of qualifying housing projects, with no CEQA review. Hear from an expert, and learn what your city needs to do to prepare for a new way of handling development projects.

You Are What You Tweet: An Official Survival Guide

Use of Social Media by government officials continues to raise questions more rapidly than courts can provide answers. Presented by a specialist in social media and the law, this cutting edge session will cover: the first amendment and privacy; Brown Act and public records concerns; avoiding the appearance of conflict and bias; use of social media in litigation; and social media policies and practices for public entities and local agency officials.

VMT – New Requirements for Traffic Impacts

Developing Session. Watch for details and speaker information in the near future!

Your League and How To Use It

As a city official, you are the League. Its success, along with your own, depends on your involvement and leadership. Receive an introduction to the services of the League of California Cities, how you can access them, and how you can become involved.

Homelessness Emergency Aid Program

Funding is needed to address California’s homelessness crisis. Cities are eligible to apply for a Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) grant through the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC). Learn how cities, big and small, can utilize the $500 million block grant program designed to provide direct assistance to cities and counties to address the homelessness crisis.

High Hopes with Cannabis Regulations

In 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in California. While Cities were granted the authority under Proposition 64 to regulate cannabis at the local level, the Cannabis industry has claimed that cities and the dual licensing structure have slowed the roll-out of legalized cannabis operations, creating a backlog of licensing applications. Serving at the time as Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom was at the forefront of California’s cannabis legalization effort. Hear how Governor Newsom, along with a renewed super majority of democratic lawmakers could now impact California cannabis policy, and the effect it could have on cities’ regulation authority.

Sessions and speakers are subject to change.

Conference App

The League of California Cities® mobile application is a great organization and conference tool. The app provides full access to the conference in the palm of your hand. You can see the schedule of events, build your own custom schedule, import your selected events into your calendar, access session materials, speaker bios, all exhibitor information, and the list goes on. The League’s mobile app is available for download through your device’s app store by searching “League of CA Cities”, “League of California Cities” or “CACities.”
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