Alumni Profile: Claire Fliesler, BSCRP '10

Nov 13, 2019

Alumni Profile: Claire Fliesler, BSCRP ‘10

By Josie Buchanan, MCRP ‘21


“Do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and let the decision-makers be the ones to say no. Be brave enough to have the conversation.” This is the best career advice that Claire Fliesler has ever been given. Now a Transportation Planner for the City of Santa Cruz, Claire Fliesler graduated with a Bachelor of Science in City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly in 2010. After her time at Cal Poly, Claire immediately pursued her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Transportation and Land Use at San Jose State, balancing this program with a part-time position at the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transportation District doing public transportation work that included: transit planning, grant writing, legislative analysis, and land surveyance.


Claire accredits Cal Poly’s emphasis on a ‘learn-by-doing model’ that enabled her to immediately jump in and work alongside other seasoned planners to represent the $55 Million agency. Claire also gives a lot of credit to her professor and mentor Dr. Cornelius Nuworsoo, who was responsible for her attending her first transportation planning conference which led to her first internship at Fehr and Peers, things that solidified her passion for the field of transportation planning. After earning two planning degrees and with over ten years of active planning experience, Claire is passionate to the point of giddiness to work for the City of Santa Cruz, which is the city she grew up in. Claire moved into her current role as a transportation planner for the city after working with the Santa Cruz Metropolitan District for almost five years.


Claire has made significant contributions to the small coastal city in the realm of active and multimodal transportation. Her self-declared proudest accomplishment as a planner was the implementation of a bike-share program; a partnership between the city and JUMP Bikes. The program, which costs the city nothing to implement, was an incredible feat facing obstacles of neighborhood opposition and the fact the company had never signed on a city so small. Claire persevered standing firmly in her belief that “These are a public benefit, they can improve the public's experience in the public realm. This isn’t about the individual, this is about the entire community.” Signing on to a bike-share system levels the playing field of mobility for everyone in the community, something that is stated directly in the City’s general plan and climate action plan. 


The implementation of e-transportation has been incredibly successful in Santa Cruz. In the city JUMP bikes are ridden an average of 5 times a day and have clocked over half a million miles ridden in the last 18 months - numbers that challenge cities with populations that dwarf the coastal college town. The success of this program and others led to the launch of a Transit Demand Management (TDM) program for downtown employees--a district that includes 4,000 employers and a known parking shortage. The TDM Program includes things like discounted JUMP bike memberships, free bus passes, and subsidized bike locker cards. With Claire Fliesler steering the way, the City of Santa Cruz is challenging its residents to rethink their commute. Claire’s next goal? Reduce Santa Cruz’s drive-alone rate from the existing 56% to below 50% an achievement that would bring them closer to America’s #1 bicycle commuter city - they are currently second behind Davis, CA. 

So, Why be a planner? “Because every day is interesting.” Claire’s passion for her work comes through in every word she says, but never more than this: “You’re never doing the same things, every day there’s something different, projects to work on, areas to improve, and new and emerging tools. It’s exciting, fun, not monotonous, and always keeps you curious.” Claire is grateful for her time at Cal Poly, she cites that it was this program that oriented and engaged her in what it is to build good cities, and is especially grateful for the studios and practical experience she received, as well as the network and lifelong friendships she made along the way. A proud Mustang, Claire Fliesler would urge any member of the Cal Poly City and Regional Planning Department to consider Transportation Planning and to reach out to her anytime.


Joe Horwedel Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser

Oct 24, 2019

The Cal Poly City and Regional Planning Advisory Council is hosting a fundraising event on Thursday, November 7, to benefit the Joe Horwedel Memorial Scholarship. In honor of his memory, the family created the scholarship fund to provide educational assistance for Cal Poly students. Click here for more details and to RSVP.

CRP Professors Publish Books

Sep 26, 2019

Professors from the City and Regional Planning Department have recently published books.

Climate Action Planning: A Guide to Creating Low-Carbon, Resilient Communities

Authors: CRP Professor Michael R. Boswell, CRP Professor Adrienne I. Greve, and Tammy L. Seale

Climate change continues to impact our health and safety, the economy, and natural systems.  With climate-related protections and programs under attack at the federal level, it is critical for cities to address climate impacts locally. Every day there are new examples of cities approaching the challenge of climate change in creative and innovative ways—from rethinking transportation, to greening city buildings, to protecting against sea-level rise.   
Climate Action Planning is designed to help planners, municipal staff and officials, citizens and others working at local levels to develop and implement plans to mitigate a community's greenhouse gas emissions and increase the resilience of communities against climate change impacts. This fully revised and expanded edition goes well beyond climate action plans to examine the mix of policy and planning instruments available to every community. Boswell, Greve, and Seale also look at process and communication: How does a community bring diverse voices to the table? What do recent examples and research tell us about successful communication strategies?

Click here to read more about this book.

The Planner's Use of Information

Author: Professor Hemalata C. Dandekar

This completely revised and updated third edition of this popular book will serve the new generation of planners who work in a world where social media, cell phones, community embedded development, and a changing population have revolutionized the practice of planning. Edited again by Hemalata C. Dandekar, with chapters by leading experts in data collection, analysis, presentation, and management, The Planner's Use of Information empowers practitioners to use and address the impacts of twenty-first century technologies. The Planner's Use of Information offers a range of methods for addressing many kinds of information needs in myriad situations.

Click here to read more about this book.


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Dr. Nuworsoo Advocates for Railway Development in Ghana

Sep 26, 2019


Dr. Nuworsoo, Professor of City and Regional Planning, presented ideas about “rail as a catalyst for change” in Ghana at the invitation of the Minister of Railways Development 

By Josie Buchanan, MCRP ‘21

(San Luis Obispo, California, December 2019) – California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Professor Cornelius Nuworsoo served as the keynote speaker at a Railway Dialogue in Ghana at the invitation of the Minister of Railways Development, Joe Ghartey. His keynote address was part of a new monthly dialogue program created by Minister Ghartey to ensure local stakeholders are actively participating in the development of the railway sector.

This interest in rail development comes from the recent $440 million investment into the 99-kilometer Tema-Mpakadan railway project in Ghana. Professor Nuworsoo’s subject, ‘The Rail Sector as a Catalyst for Growth: the Role of Station Area Development and Other Associated Infrastructure,’ centers around the concept that rail transport enhances productivity and efficiency, facilitates human activity, and promotes growth and development. Professor Nuworsoo conducted extensive research, synthesis, and comparative analysis of the networks of intercity rail and intercity express roads in the US, Europe, and Asia. He also documented success stories of station area development in those regions. From these findings, Professor Nuworsoo confirmed the case for a national railway network, the advantages of rail in nation-building, and lessons from successful station area developments to guide Ghana in its quest to deploy a national railway network as a catalyst for economic development. 

Professor Nuworsoo believes that expansion in infrastructure growth is essential for Ghana’s future economic growth. In most developed nations, Professor Nuworsoo noted, there are complementary centerline mileage between rail and road infrastructure, a structure that is important because transporting freight and heavy or bulky goods by train can cut the transportation cost as much as three times. 

“A developed rail station area can improve economic activities to generate revenue for the nation and investing in it could significantly reduce the negative environmental impacts both locally and beyond,” said Professor Nuworsoo on the potential significance of rail investment in Ghana.

Cal Poly’s City and Regional Planning Department is proud to represent and share the work and research of our staff. You can learn more about Professor Nuworsoo’s speech and work in the region here.

Image Source: Dr. Cornelius Nuworsoo


Cal Poly Students Draft General Plan for Oceano

Mar 7, 2019

A group of Cal Poly graduate students is helping draft Oceano’s new general development plan.

One Cal Poly professor says Oceano hasn’t updated its general plan since the 1990s. General plans guide how and where communities should develop. They are required by state law.

“It’s supposed to be based on broad community support, not to be influenced by one person or a group of people. What is the aspiration of the broad mass of the people? said Cornelius Nuworsoo, a Cal Poly professor.

Students are drafting a plan for Oceano for their yearly project.

See the complete story and video on KSBY TV.

Student Project Wins Award of Excellence

Aug 28, 2018

These are findings from a ten-week concept design effort to develop pre-planning insight, urban design concepts and development strategy for the City of Newark's Old Town. The design concepts focus on the Thornton Avenue Corridor between Cherry Street to the East and Ash Street to the West organized into five blocks integrated by street-scape design.

The investigative and design work was completed in three phases of discovery and visioning:

Phase one involved the review and detailed investigation of existing regulatory and design factors underlying the site area including analysis of planning documents and the implications of regulations for site development, individual lot survey and documentation of lot conditions, and interviews and surveys of community members and business related individuals in the area.

Phase two involved development of concept plans that were organized around three discrete design themes and priorities:
   1. The Historic theme featuring concepts that reinforced the underlying historic significance and character of the site.
   2. The Design theme featuring investigation of architectural styles and mix that would complement the existing buildings on the site.
   3. The Housing theme featuring investigation of optimal capacity in the project area to develop a mix of housing unit types to address housing demand.

All three concepts plans were accompanied by a redesign of Thornton Avenue streets-cape to accommodate multi-modal traffic, implement a road diet to bring down vehicle speeds and to create a “bikable” and pedestrian friendly environment. These concept plans were presented to the community. Comments and suggestions that were received informed the final concepts.

Phase three involved envisioning urban design futures for five discrete block-segments of Thornton Avenue. The five segments focused on: 1. Developing a rich and diverse housing mix; 2. Creating a central plaza and performance space for community events as the center of Old Town surrounded by commercial retail with housing above; 3. Designing a Hispanic-themed Mercado complex to support a diversity of retail and services; 4. Outlining a courtyard residential block at an urban scale, and; 5. Designating a civic area gateway to Old Town featuring a library, outdoor recreational spaces, patio and dining areas, housing and gateway features on the street-scape.

View Full Report (pdf)

CRP Student Involved in Award Winning Project

Feb 22, 2018

Two CAED students (one from Landscape Architecture and one from City and Regional Planning) were involved in an award-winning project through Walt Disney Imagineering.

Click here to see the project

Symposium on Resilient Design

Jan 22, 2018

Thursday, February 22 and Friday, February 23, 2018
Cal Poly University

Resilient design and resiliency directed design is becoming part of local, regional and global professional practice. While definitions are still emerging, a working statement by the Resilient Design Institute provides a starting point by stating that “it is the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in order to respond to natural and manmade disasters and disturbances—as well as long-term changes resulting from climate change…” We seek to improve on this statement through understanding by examining state of the art practice and its outcomes.

Click here to view full article, download the Symposium Program, and Register for the event.

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Award-Winning Design Visions for Milpitas

Nov 22, 2017

Students in a city and regional planning studio course created award-winning land use and urban design proposals for two sites in the city of Milpitas, California. Praised for innovation, creativity and feasibility, the plans blended historical and existing structures in Milpitas with the city's multicultural population and added elements of walkability and commerce yielding a youthful design that is attractive to young professionals and families alike. This case study illustrates how students' on-the-ground work helped solidify theoretical planning concepts learned in other classes.

Click here to read the full story.

Cal Poly CRP and the City of SLO Downtown Concept Plan

Nov 7, 2017

On September 5, 2017, the City Council unanimously adopted the new Downtown Concept Plan to replace the existing plan. The project is replete with members of the Cal Poly City & Regional Planning (CRP) family.

The original 1993 plan was prepared by five notable local architects and planners. One of these was former city council member and the first director of the Cal Poly CRP program, Professor Ken Schwartz. Ken was involved in the update as a member of the Creative Vision Team for the project.

The update of the Downtown Concept Plan was lead by the City’s Community Development Department, headed by Michael Codron (MCRP ’98). The city appointed a Creative Vision Team that included Chuck Stevenson (BSCRP ’74), Jaime Hill (MCRP ‘06), Annie Rendler (BSCRP ‘04), and faculty member Dr. Vicente del Rio.

The city hired Michael Baker International (MBI) to support the project. The MBI team was lead by Loreli Cappel (BSCRP ’00) with Amy Sinsheimer (MCRP ‘04) and Chris Read (MCRP ‘11).

Faculty members Dr. Michael R. Boswell and Dr. Billy Riggs also worked with the City and a group of CRP students to assist on public engagement with their tool.

The Downtown Concept Plan was reviewed by the City Council and several city advisory bodies including the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission includes faculty member Dr, Hema Dandekar.

We are very proud of all the Cal Poly alumni, faculty, and students who worked to make the City of San Luis Obsipo and even more wonderful and well-planned city.

View the plan here:


Dr. Vicente del Rio working with the public to imagine downtown SLO  Dr. Vicente del Rio working with the public to imagine dowtown SLO

Jaime Hill (MCRP '06), member of the Creative Vision Team, supporting public workshops Jaime Hill (MCRP '06), member of the Creative Vision Team, supporting public workshops

CRP students assisting Mayor Jan Marx redesign Higuera Street with



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