Urban Planning Projects Receive Praise from Area Professionals

Urban Planning Projects Receive Praise from Area Professionals
Cal Poly Pomona received awards for two student projects from the American Planning Association.
Students designed a transit center for Arcadia's downtown.
The Arcadia City Center proposal includes an arts district.

Two student community planning projects have been recognized by the Los Angeles section of the American Planning Association (APA).  The “Arcadia City Center: Reinventing Place” project won the 2008 Academic Award and the “Vermont Avenue Environmental & Community Opportunities” project received the 2008 Special Merit Award at the Planning Awards ceremony.

The APA is the primary professional organization for planners throughout the nation and includes more than 1,000 members in its Los Angeles section. The June 17 awards ceremony was held at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in downtown Los Angeles.

“This is the first time that Cal Poly Pomona has been awarded both the first place Academic Award and honorable mention. This honor is certainly long overdue in recognizing the university's 'learn by doing' educational philosophy,” said associate professor Dr. Julianna Delgado, AICP, who oversaw the Arcadia City Center project. “Cal Poly Pomona's commitment to community service learning enables students to acquire firsthand experience while providing much-needed assistance to our community partners of professional quality.”

For the City Center project, about 30 graduating seniors studied downtown Arcadia and envisioned different ways to improve its “vitality, walkability and sustainability.” Students were enrolled in the Community Planning Studio, the capstone service-learning course in the College of Environmental Science.

Students surveyed the city's land use, development, pedestrian activity, parking and community vision during the summer of 2007. By the end of fall quarter 2007, they had created four design schemes, including an Arts District and mixed-use residential and commercial areas, as well as an array of recommendations. Students presented their recommendations to Arcadia's Planning Commission on Nov. 27, 2007.

Arcadia's development services director Jason Kruckeberg thought the project raised some excellent ideas the city may further develop into its downtown plan.

“The work produced by the students has been professional and of a very high quality,” Kruckeberg said. “More importantly, we are actively using the data and recommendations provided by the students in our planning efforts.”

For the Vermont Avenue project, students developed a plan to rejuvenate a 6.9-mile portion of Vermont Avenue that runs through the cities of Los Angeles and Gardena and unincorporated county areas. Working with the Compton Watershed Management Program and the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, students proposed creating a wetlands area and building a pedestrian and bike trail. They also recommended adding a dedicated busway to connect three Metro Rail lines. Their recommendations would not only introduce much-needed open space and green areas, it would also reduce traffic and enhance the community's economic base.

“As a studio class, the work was done entirely by students from beginning to end. This award rightly is for the students. They deserved it and are properly recognized for it,” Zimmer said.