From Plan Making to Implementation: Weed Gets Needed Housing

Oct 31, 2017

The town of Weed, CA lost many of its affordable homes in the 2014 Boles wildland urban interface (WUI) fire. Faced with economic and recovery challenges, this town of 3,000 people in Siskiyou County needed help. It needed a plan and a vision to recover. In 2017, new housing was designed and prototypes were built by students in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Townspeople now look forward to workforce homes they can afford.  How did all of this come about? In 2015, the City and Regional Planning Department’s graduate community planning studio partnered with the town of Weed to prepare a General Plan (GP) update. Eleven students from the master of city and regional planning class, under the guidance of Professor Cornelius Norwursoo, prepared the plan. This update helped Weed apply for state and federal funds, but most importantly it established a vision for the future, and a path to recovery and reconstruction. A set of focused project plans (e.g. trails, main street design, local hazard mitigation) were also prepared in 2016 as part of an advanced studio taught by Professor William Siembieda. Along with the GP a separate Resiliency Plan (RP) was prepared with the support of Great Northern Services (GNS), a local NGO, and Thomas Brandeberry from the Rural Community Development Corporation of California. The RP was a first for a small California town.

Housing for townspeople is an important need for Weed. So how then does Weed get new housing for working class people? The answer was to continue to use expertise in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design for the design and building of housing.  Using the work completed by the planning studio and the local network it established, a CAED integrated project delivery (IPD) studio was organized in 2017. The students designed a seven lot subdivision and built prototype housing at Cal Poly, which can be replicated at the subdivision. GNS is the project client.  An added component of this effort is that the local College of the Siskiyous in Weed could use its construction students to build the houses locally. The IPD studio is run by Professors Greg Starzk from Construction Management, Maggie Kirk from Architecture, and Dennis Bashaw from Architectural Engineering. Some 40 students get hands on experience through participation in this course.  This CAED-Weed partnership is a model of applying learning in the classroom to the practice of improving the lives of people.


CRP Professor Dr. Amir Hajrasouliha Publishes Article on Master Planning the American Campus

Oct 26, 2017

This research identified common goals, actions, and design strategies of university campus master plans in the USA, by analyzing 50 randomly selected master plans. Four design strategies were distilled, based on the top goals and actions: transition from (1) a deficient campus to a complete campus, (2) an isolated campus to a contextual campus, (3) a fragmented campus to a cohesive campus, and (4) a brown campus to an ecological campus. In addition, seven campus form dimensions were distilled: (1) land use organization (arrangement of space and facilities), (2) compactness, (3) connectivity, (4) spatial configuration, (6) campus living, (7) greenness, and (8) context. These seven dimensions can provide a theoretical framework for analyzing campus form and guide future empirical research in this area.

Click here to view the full article.

Dr. Kelly Main Wins Award

Oct 1, 2017

Dr. Kelly Main received the 2016 Ally of the Year Award for last year from the Pride Center. This is a student nominated award given at the Lavender Commencement held each year.  
Kudos to Kelly for her tireless work to ensure all students feel welcomed and valued at Cal Poly and in CRP.
The award reads:
"In recognition of an amazing staff or faculty member who has shown exceptional support and advocacy for queer students and communities at Cal Poly."


Continue reading Dr. Kelly Main Wins Award...

William Siembieda is Recognized for Disaster Science in Chile

Apr 27, 2017

This past April 12th, the Chilean Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Research (CIGIDEN) recognized William Simbieda’s contribution to the advancement of Disaster Science in Chile. CIGIDEN is Chile's leading center of excellence related to multidisciplinary disaster research. This award reflects William’s service as an International Advisor to CIGIDEN as well as his mentorship of Investigators working in the area of urban management, planning and public policy.

Part of the work in Chile, focused on coastal city recovery planning, was completed as a Fulbright Specialist. A couple of his other contributions include working on disaster recovery, and helping a local university create an urban planning program within the architecture college. This work with CIGIDEN is an extension of his overall research focus making the built environment safer, which was the basis for the 2016 Cal Poly Distinguished Scholar Award.

CRP 553 Studio: Ventura Wellness District Urban Design Plan Wins Award

Apr 14, 2017

A concept plan for a special wellness district in Ventura has earned Cal Poly city and regional planning graduate students accolades from the American Planning Association’s (APA) California Chapter.

The City and Regional Planning (CRP) Department’s graduate studio received the State Academic Award of Excellence on Sept. 24 at the APA’s state conference in Sacramento. The Wellness District Urban Design Concept Plan was also chosen in April for the Best Student Project Award from the APA’s Central Coast Section.

The city of Ventura’s Planning Department hired Cal Poly’s spring 2016 graduate project planning studio to explore the potential for a special district anchored by the expansion of two important hospital campuses located in proximity to each other: the Community Memorial Hospital and the Ventura County Medical Center. The Wellness District concept plan recognizes the critical link between the built environment and public health, and aims to change land uses, transportation options and physical design in order to reverse downward trends in people’s overall wellness and life span.

The graduate studio’s work included a report, several posters, visual presentations and a presentation to the community depicting the plan development process and final proposal. Based on in-depth field studies and surveys, the project included a higher-density mixed-use core to act as a catalyst for neighborhood development, redesigned sidewalks and intersections, a new roundabout, more ground-level uses, and other improvements to enhance walkability and a sense of community, all consistent with Ventura’s General Plan and the city’s economic strategy. The studio instructors were Professor Vicente del Rio and Assistant Professor Amir Hajrasouliha.

“I’m very proud of our faculty members and students and delighted they are recognized by the planning professionals of California for the quality of their work,” said CRP Professor and Department Head Michael Boswell. “Their creativity and expertise is evident in this plan to enhance the wellness of the people of Ventura.”

Read the full report at

Paul Wack Retirement

Apr 14, 2017

The American Planning Association has awarded Professor Emeritus Paul Wack, AICP (CRP) the inaugural 2017 Central Coast Section Impact Award for his dedication and commitment to the planning profession as a professor, colleague, professional, mentor, volunteer, contributor, and friend.  In the future, this new award will be known as the “Paul Wack Impact Award” and will be given to recipients, as warranted, that have demonstrated an extraordinary impact to the Central Coast APACA Section.

Paul Wack was a CRP faculty member at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from 1979-2011.

Continue reading Paul Wack Retirement...

Students Complete Work in Lemon Grove

Oct 14, 2015

This Fall and Winter quarter, 14 masters students in the City and Regional Planning program will be working with the City of Lemon Grove to update the City's General Plan and work with community members in Lemon Grove to envision and create a healthier, safer, and thriving community. The students, under the direction of Professor Kelly Main, come from diverse backgrounds and educational disciplines, and are excited to develop a General Plan document that will help shape the future of Lemon Grove.

Advocacy Banner for a Two-Way Street Conversion

CRP Research Featured in National News

Jul 23, 2015

Over the past 3 months City & Regional Planning faculty member William Riggs has had his research featured in over 20 news outlets including Planetizen, Curbed, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic / CityLab.  Dr. Riggs' work focuses on the potential urban regeneration benefits of converting multi-lane, one-way street corridors to two-way.  His full publication is available for download from the Journal of Planning Education and Research.

Cal Poly Grad Students Present to President Armstrong

CRP Students Present to President on Master Plan

May 29, 2015

Master's students in the Cal Poly, City and Regional Planning program recently presented their studio work on the campus Master Plan to Cal Poly President Armstrong.  The students worked on the plan as a part of their 2nd year studio sequence 552-554.  President Armstrong spent over an hour with the team going over the Master Plan policy proposals developed in the studio, in a robust discussion.   The project  demonstrates the capacity of both CRP students and faculty to make a difference on campus, and to use education to influence policy. Congratulations team!


CRP Research Featured in The Atlantic

May 28, 2015

Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning William Riggs recently had his work featured in an article in The Atlantic by Richard Florida.  The article focused on Riggs' work to evaluate the inclusivity of the most walkable areas in cities, using a case study of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Riggs found that areas with the fewest concentration of black residents, are some of the least walkable in the Bay Area - a factor not wholly tied to housing values when controlling for price.  

The article underscored Dr. Riggs' findings that there were many push and pull factors other than walkability influencing residential choice other than neighborhood, and that more research was needed to understand and address the equity issues in access to walkable areas.  The full paper is available open access at:


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