This is the season for most APA state chapter conferences, and Florida APA held their conference in Orlando last week. Personally, I was happy to see the attendance numbers almost back to normal with about 900 in attendance. Ben McCrary, an Esri account manager for south Florida and former planning director, joined me in the Esri booth. For those that couldn’t attend or those that are just curious as to how other state chapter conferences are, I wanted to provide some thoughts on FPC 2022:
- It is no surprise that housing, from sustainability to affordability to equitable access, was a focus of many sessions. There was a session on converting commercial properties to missing middle housing options, which I think is a repeatable process. The missing middle housing is not a silver bullet to the housing crisis, per se, but it certainly provides the best path forward for cities and counties to help get the housing availability and affordability issue under control.
- The City of Lakeland’s approach to their comprehensive plan was a more modern one, in that the focus was making the plan leaner, easier to consume for the public, and to not embrace the legacy theory that “more is better” when it comes to comp plans.
- As is usually the case for the Florida Planning Conference, resilience planning was again a big topic. Planning in Florida provides a unique set of challenges that planners must deal with annually, from hurricanes to floods to occasional droughts, and increasing pressure to accommodate more and more growth.
- FPC had a few sessions focusing on the personal and professional development within planning, from managing personal wellness to a session devoted to insight into the roles of women in planning. Sessions like these have to be very welcoming for attendees.
- The reception at Wonderworks was a very good one. Of particular note was the punching bag on the third floor that would measure the power of your punch. Mannnnny attendees tried their luck at this, and I couldn’t help but think how useful one of those machines might be following a planning commission meeting. I’m just spit-balling here.
- It was more than a little rewarding to hear nearly every person that came up to our booth start out with, “Oh, we use your software all the time in our office!” I love these shows, because it’s an opportunity for me to learn how our users, from the novice to the seasoned GIS professional, find interesting ways to use GIS to design better communities…and that they’re almost always looking for new ways to use GIS going forward.
- Finally, APA conferences are unique in that they usually have a strong representation from students. FPC was no exception. Many universities and their respective students were there, as well, including the University of Florida, Florida State, Florida Atlantic and Central Florida.
Looking forward to next year’s conference in Jacksonville. If you were there, or if you have questions, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts.