Top Rated Program

Jan 28, 2015

CRP is again a top planning program in North America. For the past 12 years Cal Poly has consistently ranked near the top of programs for planning in the country according to the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs.  According to the 2019 guide, the program is the #9 small program in the country and the #25 overall program in the country according to planning educators. More information about the Planetizen guide can be found here:

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ARCH Alum Sponsors CRP Studio and Downtown Monterey Revision Plan

Feb 21, 2024


by Caroline Roistacher

This past spring, city and regional planning (CRP) students had the opportunity to enroll in a studio course where they formulated ideas for the downtown area of Monterey, CA. 30 students came up with urban design visions and later traveled to Monterey to visit the site. There, the students met with City and Planning Commission members, business owners and city planners. The meeting between stakeholders allowed the CRP students and faculty to gain insight into the community’s concerns, goals and strengths.

Wallace Gordon, an architecture alum, introduced the project to the CRP Department. As a native of Monterey, Gordon chose to fund and help facilitate this project, donating $25,000 to provide students with the resources necessary for this project. Since Gordon grew up in Monterey, he provided extensive knowledge to the students completing the project by helping explain the historical situation and overall idea.

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Wallace Gordon giving a fun and insightful tour of Monterey to CRP students

Students drove up to Monterey in a charter bus and stayed overnight in a hotel. They walked around Monterey and got to know the area, then later met with the City Council to discuss their plan. The trip was made possible due to Gordon’s generous donation.

Since students spent the night in Monterey, they had more time to work on the project in person.

“They didn’t have to do it in one day,” CRP Department Head Amir Hajrasouliha said. “Students could visit Monterey, but also the surrounding areas, to have a better understanding of the context, and then spend a day visiting downtown and talking to the business owners.”

Left: CRP students during their site visit in Monterey
Right: City staff inform CRP students about downtown Monterey's challenges and opportunities

Students experience a wide range of benefits from participating in studio courses. They learn to deal with the essential and critical challenges of urban design planning and consider factors such as housing availability, transportation, tourism, safety, rising sea levels, and more.

“I think some of the most fruitful experiences I have were how we interacted off-campus in conjunction with how we were educated on-campus,” Gordon said. “Getting off-campus and seeing and working in the real world is essentially the essence of Cal Poly: Learn by Doing.”

For now-senior CRP student Leslie Rivera, being part of the Monterey studio project gave her first-hand experience working with a real-world client. She thought the project was valuable because it helped her learn how a project starts, how to develop a project, and how to work with people who have stakes in the project, both financially and within the needs of their community.

Another value is that students get the chance to work with real stakeholders. They met with business owners, planning commissioners and staff for the city to see this project come to life.

“Working with a real client and with people having stakes in this project was good experience to learn how to start and develop a project,” Rivera said.

This type of work from Cal Poly students benefits them and the communities involved.

"The community appreciated working with an emerging generation of planners to discover their perspectives on urban spaces. The City Planning Commission is interested in having students return and discuss implementation options," said Kimberly Cole, community development director at the City of Monterey.

Although the course occurred in the spring, the project continued into the summer. With the funds received from Gordon, three students could continue working on the project to revise and edit the plan. Rivera was among the three students who continued working on the project.

CRP students' plan for part of downtown Monterey

“It’s been a unique opportunity and a really good experience being able to have this project fully funded,” Rivera said.

Gordon believes community-based studio projects are an incredible asset to students and communities and would benefit from ongoing sponsorship or donations.

“I think the investment in it, from whoever wishes to invest, is a spectacular dividends, both to the school and the community. I would highly, highly encourage people to sustain this and get it to grow,” he said.

Gordon believes it is important to give back and help students start their journeys and learn about being a part of the built environment and all the different aspects it takes to come together.

“It’s truly a great benefit and joy for somebody who spent their life in design and improving the environment. For me, it’s part of continuing the joy of being an architect,” he said.

To support students and help them participate in enriching community-based studios such as this one, please consider donating by clicking Give Now.


CRP Professor Vicente del Rio Has Published a New Book

Jan 23, 2024

Professor Vicente del Rio's new book (his tenth!), City Fragments - Reflections on Urbanism and Urban Design, was published in 2023. Organized in two parts (Thoughts and Actions), it includes 15 solo and co-authored essays selected from his 40-plus years career. Published by KDP/Rio Books, the book is available on Amazon.In Rio de Janeiro, the book signing event was at the Brazilian Institute of Architects on December 19, and included a round table with Vicente,  Luis Carlos Toledo (former associate and award-winning planner), Edson Mahfuz (professor of architecture and urbanism, author of the foreword), and chapter co-authors Denise Alcantara, Cristiane Duarte, and Nara Iwata. More than 50 friends, local faculty, and professionals came to the event and enjoyed a glass of a good Portuguese red (appropriately called "Urbanista"!).

CRP Students Work to Shape California Communities

Jul 12, 2023

Over the past several months, the graduate Community and Regional Planning Studio (CRP 552/554) and the undergraduate Community Planning Lab (CRP 410/411) have immersed themselves in the communities of Desert Hot Springs and King City. 

Under the direction of faculty member Dr. Dave Amos, 15 second-year graduate students worked closely with the City of Desert Hot Springs to create a rehabilitation plan for the downtown core. Their plans have emphasized economic development and improving the pedestrian landscape.

Click here to read the full article.

CRP Faculty Member and YouTube Influencer Dave Amos Brings Urban Planning to the People

Jul 10, 2023

The planner and professor explains how social media can be an informal classroom, how San Luis Obispo uses Instagram effectively, and how his video about Gary, Indiana, went viral.

Click here to read the full article on the American Planning Association website.


Student Receives U.S. Department of Transportation Student of the Year Award

Feb 22, 2023

Graduate student Peyton Ratto was honored with the Student of the Year award by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Santa Clarita, California, resident was among 34 students nationwide to receive the title. The award was presented in January by U.S. DOT’s University Transportation Centers Program. Each Outstanding Student of the Year honoree is selected based on accomplishments such as technical merit and research, academic performance, professionalism and leadership. Ratto, who is pursuing dual masters’ degrees in civil engineering and city and regional planning, was nominated by civil engineering Professor Anurag Pande, who recognized her exemplary work on the book Pande was writing. Ratto added a section to help non-engineering students succeed in their math, physics and statistics prerequisite courses.


Read full article here

CRP Symposium - The Future of Planning

Feb 13, 2023


The Cal Poly City and Regional Planning Department hosted a Symposium on “The Future of Planning” as part of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design’s Series of 75th Anniversary Celebrations. The symposium event took place on Friday, April 21, 2023 on the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo campus.   

Symposium attendees heard from speakers on the forefront of planning related to:

  • The Future of Planning and Cities 
  • Ensuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Planning 
  • Homes, Health, and Social Justice for Everyone 
  • Creating Low-Carbon, Resilient Communities 
  • Advancing the Transportation Revolution

Attendees enjoyed opportunities to discuss and share their ideas on the future of planning with colleagues, friends, faculty, and students during the symposium.







CRP faculty research to design an innovative wildfire mitigation solution

Jan 30, 2023

City and Regional Planning faculty are involved in creating new planning tool for address the wildfire hazard. This is what they are doing.

The problem at hand. Between 2003 and 2021, the top 10 costliest wildland fires in the United States all occurred in California, where  one  in four people live in an area considered high risk for wildfires.  Given the impact of catastrophic fires in western states the need exists for increasing Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) fire resilience through assessing and managing local land use, mitigation and adaptation plans.  Most California jurisdictions produce, and utilize many different types of plans (e.g.  Safety Element of the General Plan, Hazard Mitigation Plan, and Community Wildfire and Protection Plan)  each with its own set of policies, and implementation scheme; generally lacking integration. This is especially true when speaking about hazards, particularly the wildland urban interface fire hazard (WUI) that is usually addressed by several agencies but lacks collaboration and spatial understanding of the heterogenous effects of different policies across a community. 

A proposed solution . This research project focuses on applying the Plan Integration Resilience Scorecard (PIRS) method to jurisdictions that are subject to the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) hazard.  PIRS is a methodology that spatially evaluates networks of plans to help reduce vulnerability to hazards. It provides a pathway to adjust multiple policies to improve and strengthen resiliency at the spatial level. Plan integration is the process of harmonizing a jurisdictions network of plans to support community priorities. With support from the Department of Homeland Security(DHS), and a focus on floods, it was first piloted in several East Coast Cities and the Netherlands. Then NOAA provided support for urban heat island hazard using the PIRS method for a pilot in several cities. FEMA has evaluated vulnerability in the Southern usual this method.

WUI however, presents a special challenge in that the hazard itself stems from the dynamics of fuel variables  (natural and built) interacting with climate, and human variables. The WUI+PIRS method seeks to strengthen mitigation policy at the local jurisdictional level, improving integration of policies by scoring their influence as mitigation actions and by identifying them spatially. 

PIRS+WUI is  a three part process.   First, hazard zones are defined and mapped creating neighborhood scale units for improved analysis.  For PIRS+WUI a combination of CA Fire Hazard Severity maps is combined with census block groups and parcel data. Second,  content analysis is used on documents from the jurisdictions “network of plans” to organize a “policy set” related to the hazard that is scored relative to impact on vulnerability, and influences on land use.  Finally, physical and social vulnerability are determined for each of the districts and compared to the policy scores. The phases to a PIRS include: creating the scorecard, analyzing the scorecard, analyzing scorecard results, and advancing resilience.  The scorecard shows which policies contribute most to building WUI resilience for the jurisdiction.

This  project will work with four CA jurisdictions (Atascadero, Temecula, Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties) over a two year periods using a multidisciplinary team of faculty associated with  the Cal Poly WUI Fire Institute and the Texas A&M Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center.  The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provides funding support for this effort. 

The Cal Poly team, working the WUI Fire Institute includes: William Siembieda, (Principal Investigator). and Cornelius Norworsoo from City and Regional Planning,, Margot McDonald from Architecture, Andrew Fricker from Geography, Chris Dicus from Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences, and Dan Turner from the Firesafe Council. Cal Poly students are involved in developing the GIS maps to use in the analysis phase.

Alumni Profile: Jaime Jaramillo

Aug 31, 2022

By Rylee Rodriguez, MCRP ’22


Through making a difference by means of real estate ownership and helping people in need gain individual and familial wealth in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, MCRP Alum Jaime Jaramillo credits her Cal Poly education as the reason for where she is today.

Jaime was first inspired to study urban planning after learning about the sustainability tactics utilized in Curitiba, Brazil by its Mayor, Jaime Lerner. After getting her undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of New Mexico and working in an internship where she had to analyze different academic planning programs, Jaime fell in love with Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing education and campus.

While at Cal Poly, Jaime balanced her academic life and her internship with Lisa Wise Consulting, a local firm that actively supports many CRP and MCRP students. After graduating Cal Poly with a Master’s in City and Regional Planning in 2015, Jaime went on to get a full-time position with Lisa Wise Consulting, where she remained for a little while before getting the opportunity to move back home to New Mexico with a firm focused on long-range planning for communities throughout the state and within the city of Albuquerque. Here, she was introduced to a network of engineers, home builders, and developers that opened her eyes to what else planning had an influence on.

These relationships and experiences gave Jaime an itch to learn more about the process surrounding development and real estate, and how planning plays a vital role in it all. This newfound hankering pushed Jaime to peruse a career in real estate planning that eventually led her to a planning manager role with Homewise.

Homewise is a nonprofit organization and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) focused on empowering individuals through real estate ownership and education. Its mission is to help create successful homeowners and strengthen neighborhoods so families can improve their long-term financial wellbeing and quality of life. The organization is involved in several projects that range from affordable housing to mixed-use and small-scale commercial developments. It also works to educate clients on building individual, family, and small businesses wealth, as well as provides financial lending support. However, the most meaningful aspect of this organization to Jaime is how Homewise places a particular emphasis on improving neighborhoods of need in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Being proactive in the communities where she grew up, Jaime feels excited about how she can be a part of the process that makes a positive impact for future generations there.

Acting as a Real Estate Planning Manager, Jaime leads several Homewise teams on the entitlements, acquisitions, and designs for future community projects, sometimes 25 at a time. Her favorite part of her role is getting to be involved in all the different phases, such as working with the different agencies and independent units, as well as touching various realms of the development process.

One of Jaime’s proudest moments as a planner was when there was a groundbreaking for an infill project of 16 townhomes in Downtown Albuquerque, the neighborhood where she grew up in. “It was a really amazing coming together of all these different influences throughout the state to recognize Homewise as making an investment in Downtown Albuquerque, especially as it relates to affordable housing… and bringing in more housing units to Downtown Albuquerque.”

Jaime feels indebted to Cal Poly, as well as extremely lucky to be able to bring the skills she learned from her experiences there to her hometown where she not only can connect to her own roots, but also be able to really understand the people and help in the neighborhoods where it matters most.

When asked about her time at Cal Poly, Jaime promptly noted that “I would not be where I am today without having the experiences I had at Cal Poly. I loved my studios and the hands-on experience working with communities there… The learn by doing mantra of Cal Poly is not just a mantra, it is really a way of life and I owe so much of my abilities to that way of life… The internship I got and then went on to work full time with in SLO, Lisa Wise Consulting, really gave me my foot in the door and introduced me to what professional level planning is really about. It’s so much more than the experience you can get in the classroom. The reason why Cal Poly pushes so hard on learn by doing is because real life experience is taught outside of the classroom.” Jaime went on to joke that, “dedicating long hours in the computer lab definitely prepared me for the real world too!”

Just as readily answered when asked about her time at Cal Poly, Jaime excitedly remarked about her fondest memory in the program. “The trip Mike [Boswell] took us on to Los Angeles to visit the planning department and some of the development projects taking place in Santa Monica comes to mind first!” That trip was a highlight of her time at Cal Poly because of the knowledge she gained about planning, but also the relationships she strengthened with her cohort and the opportunity to extend her network across state lines. “It played a critical role in solidifying those personal friendships and professional relationships for a lifetime.”

If Jaime had to give one word of advice for current and future CRP/MCRP students, she suggests making sure to get involved and be active in the program, and to especially create a strong bond with your cohort. She recommends taking time outside of the classroom to do activities together and to try to stay in contact with each other long after graduation.

When inquired about why be a planner? Jaime effortlessly explains, “because planning is related to everything that we do. There’s so much in everyday life that happens because of planning, good and bad. Being involved in the planning of or public process for a project that surrounds you or is near you or in your neighborhood is so important to making those projects better. Even for those who go through the MCRP/CRP program but decide to not stay in the field of planning, it is [still] so important to your neighborhoods and communities that you stay involved. I feel fortunate for the opportunities that have been presented to me and what I have been exposed to.”

Jaime’s passion for her work and advocacy in improving the cities she grew up in can be heard full heartedly in every word she speaks. Jaime is grateful for her experiences at Cal Poly and the Learn by Doing education she feels made a visible difference in her life and career post-graduation, as well as the friendships, memories, and connections she made. As a word of career advice, Jaime encourages anyone to leave their comfort zone as often as they can, and “learn a new skill, teach yourself a new program or a new discipline, just to strengthen your planning knowledge. You may find something that piques your interest even more!” Planning is a dynamic field full of different avenues, and Jaime is a prime example of how planning can lead to a completely different path that still actively utilizes planning tactics to make an impact in our communities.

Jaime identifies herself as a planner, urbanist, and photographer on the side with a love for traveling. She is happily married and recently grew her family with the addition of a healthy, beautiful baby girl in August 2022. We wish her and her family nothing but happiness in this next phase of her life!

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Alumni Profile: Audrey Harris

Aug 31, 2022

By Rylee Rodriguez, MCRP ’22


“Stick to your core values and live as the person you want to be in this world” is the guide MCRP alum Audrey Harris, class of 2013, lives by every day in her career as a transportation planner for the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT).  

In her current position, Audrey plays many roles in advocating for the disadvantaged communities that reside in the East Bay city, specifically by being on the planning and project development team focused on corridor and neighborhood level planning and land use development review. In her position, she manages the review of proposed major development projects, their environmental analyses and site designs; as well as coordinates with current policies and plans to ensure future projects contribute to the overall mission of the City of Oakland in making sure they don’t generate adverse impacts on the current residents and neighborhoods.

Audrey studied engineering as an undergraduate at UC Irvine and graduated with a degree in urban studies. This influenced her to pursue a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly. However, when Professor Dr. Cornelius Nuworsoo reached out to her and encouraged her to try out the dual degree transportation program based on her past experiences, she opted for the switch. Originally thinking she was no longer interested in engineering, Professor Nuworsoo became the catalyst in her career change and supported her in applying for the dual degree program. She feels fortunate, too, that she was joined by an all-female cohort as it became an extremely empowering experience.

Being able to do both programs—planning and transportation—afforded her the background and foundation needed to help her tap into all the different realms of planning, Audrey remarks. “Transportation is related to so many other aspects in planning, including but not limited to land use planning, urban design, providing mobility options for communities, visioning, environmental reviews and CEQA, and so on.”

Taking all the different courses offered in the dual program supported Audrey in being able to tackle the roles she took on throughout her career thus far. Also a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, which has continued to shape her activism throughout her profession, Audrey feels “Cal Poly was a rich experience that has had a major contribution in shaping my career and who I get to serve today.”

During her time in the program, she got an internship in the City of Los Angeles’ planning department; and though it was an unpaid position, Audrey notes “that it was worth it in the long run” due to the experiences and knowledge she gained— though hopes it was the last of the unpaid internship positions!

After graduating with the dual degree, Audrey applied to jobs in cities she favored, one of which was San Francisco. Though she didn’t get her first-choice position, she was put on a list for other eligible roles where she was hired as a planner in a data and analysis team in the San Francisco planning department. Here, Audrey started off doing data analysis, graphic design, and later working on a team that was responsible for updating the housing element. In this team, Audrey says she owes a lot to her manager at the time, a leading and passionate Filipina woman who wanted to “shake up the industry” to be more representative of San Francisco and to better understand and reflect the communities they served. “Having her as a mentor has greatly influenced and shaped the work I choose to do, along with who it’s for.”

After building a strong cohort group and wanting to rediscover her initial interest, she gave transportation planning another try. Audrey first worked on the “Connect SF” project, a long-range planning project that was a collaboration between the San Francisco Planning Department, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA). Eventually, she managed the San Francisco Transportation Demand Management Program (TDM). This program’s primary purpose is to reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMT) generated by new development projects. After seven years with the City and County of San Francisco, Audrey moved into the new opportunity with OakDOT in the City of Oakland.

Audrey feels proud of the work she is doing with the City of Oakland, such as changing and shifting how they operate as an institution, through her involvement on their Racial Equity Team, where they invest their funds, and who they plan for (click here and here to learn more). “Since Oakland is resourced differently than a lot of other Bay Area cities, a lot of their projects are grant funded,” Audrey explains. This circumstance has prompted her to get into the grant writing herself, as well as help coordinate project developments to go after [grant] funding that specifically focuses on providing solutions and services to communities that have and are experiencing the most disparate life outcomes.

One of her proudest moments as a planner includes being on an implementation committee for the West Oakland community through the West Oakland Community Action Plan, where the strategies developed are focused on reducing air quality burdens for the residents. Originally a large West Coast jazz scene, the predominant African American community was redlined and pulverized by highways in 1985, obliterating the neighborhoods and homes in the area (Oakland Connect, n.d.). As a new planner at the time, Audrey mentions she went to a lot of working group meetings with the community; and one of her proudest moments was being able to break bread with those community members and have honest conversations with them about what they wanted and needed. She soon discovered a great new funding opportunity with the Sustainable Transportation Equity Projects Grant hosted by the California Air Resource Board that was a perfect chance to implement prioritized strategies that improve this community.

Audrey admits, without ego, that she didn’t really know what she was doing with the grant writing process, but she simply relied on her core values— listening first and working with community members to find solutions. She worked a lot of hours outside of her normal workday because she was so passionate about this opportunity and project. Despite not originally getting the funding, she was extremely proud that she was able to do this for the community without any prior grant writing experience. As fate may have it though, a couple of months after getting a rejection notice, the California Air Resource Board reached out to say they loved the project and wanted to fund it as well. You can read more about this project here.

When asked how she was able to do this grant with no experience, she mentioned that “the justification was there. I felt like nobody could refuse that this community needed these resources, and that all the funding that would go into this grant should be a catalyst for breaking down undue burdens of policy decisions made in the past that harmed our Black communities and neighborhoods in West Oakland especially. However, it really goes back to my core values of serving people and especially those who need it the most that have been harmed by our governmental institutions and decisions, such as redlining or tearing down homes to build freeways. So, it’s a small act in hopefully a sea of future acts. I am very hopeful to see government opening opportunities to specifically focus on addressing institutional harm.”

In being inquired about “why be a planner?” Audrey inspirationally tackles the question with the simple answer “the biggest benefit of being a planner is being a part of planning for a better future, and to help others, especially those who need it most.” She goes on to say a great advantaged in the field of planning is its level of diversity of focus. “For instance, you could be a transportation planner, but more specifically, you can be an environmental justice specialist within the field of mobility. Working for and with a community to ensure that their quality of life is, first and foremost, sustained and improved by having access to the services in life that they need and want… that is the beauty of being a planner; and being able to help people live their lives through the built environment.” She goes on to further encourage the mindset of future planners to be “working for and with the people, often going in with a listen-first approach to learn and understand a community’s needs and demands.”

As for career advice, Audrey prefaces her response with the fact that she finds many young people are often anxious about finding the exact right opportunity to the exact passion that they have, but it’s more important to “first and foremost think about your core values; and with whatever career you enter, always center yourself in your core values.” For herself, she finds purpose and passion in living through her values of serving people. Also, she says, “to just try! Don’t be afraid to step into a new role. If it ends up not being for you, that’s okay! You can always find another role. Just make sure to hold true to your core values as a person and who you want to be in this world, and the careers will come.”

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