UTSA Urban Planning students attend 2019 National Planning Conference in San Francisco
A reflection on the 2019 National Planning Conference written by UTSA's URP students who attended.
(May 1, 2019) -- The American Planning Association’s 2019 National Conference (NPC19) was an outstanding learning experience for the UTSA students who travelled to San Francisco, CA to attend. The conference, held April 13-16, was an opportunity to experience a multitude of planning perspectives through various seminars, which students attended based on each student’s individual planning interests. In addition to seminars, the students also partook in GIS workshops and were given the opportunity to interact with numerous new planning technologies. The learning experiences did not end at the conference seminars, as several networking mixers allowed UTSA students to develop national networking connections with professional planners, mentors, APA leaders, and planning students, and promoted the UTSA planning program on a national level.
NPC19 provided UTSA students insight into all the leadership opportunities available within APA, its divisions, and regional chapters. Throughout the conference there were several opportunities to join divisions of each student’s interest and attend associated business meetings. Students also learned of upcoming elections for their respective divisions of interest and regional chapters. As a result, Marco Hinojosa was nominated Secretary of the Southwest Texas Chapter of APA and Jana Punelli was nominated Treasurer of the Southwest Texas Chapter of APA (election results pending for both nominations), Veronica Escalera-Ibarra was appointed Southern Region Student Representative of the Latinos in Planning Division of APA, and many students were able to select their divisions of interest for the following year.
In addition to the conference, NPC19 gave the UTSA students an opportunity to experience the planning and development of the City of San Francisco. Students walked San Francisco districts and neighborhoods and experienced the city’s street system, marveled at the architecture and historic preservation, contemplated neighborhood density and mixed-use development, and explored the City’s open space networks in Golden Gate Park, Yerba Gardens, Land’s End, and Alamo Plaza.
Traveling through San Francisco, the students were true urbanists as they utilized the BART system, city buses, bicycles, scooters, and trolleys. Students also engaged with San Francisco residents about homelessness, displacement, and affordable housing issues affecting the city and learned of city initiatives to combat these issues. San Francisco welcomed students into its cultural districts, Japan Town, China Town, the Mission District, and the Castro District, and impressed the students with how the city had made efforts to retain its cultural identity.
NPC19 and the City of San Francisco provided a unique planning experience for UTSA planning students, allowed the students to develop strong connections amongst themselves, and exhibited the varying planning careers the students will continue to pursue.