Santa Paula Times

City Council learns Planning honored with prestigious award

May 27, 2016
Santa Paula News

The Council learned at the May 16 meeting that the City of Santa Paula and its Planning Director received a prestigious honor: the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Award of Excellence from the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Central Coast Section for the Harvest at Limoneira development plan.

The plan will now move on for consideration in the APA California Chapter state awards to be held this October in Pasadena.

The purpose of the APA California Awards Program is to encourage quality in planning as well as increase the public’s awareness of the planning profession through recognizing outstanding achievement in the often-misunderstood planning field. 

Mayor Martin Hernandez as well as Harold Edwards, Limoneira CEO, Mike Penrod, Founding Partner of Parkstone Companies, Tony Locacciato, AICP, Partner, Meridian Consultants and David Sargent, President, Sargent Town Planning were on hand to receive the award.

“The city of Santa Paula received an award of excellence in recognition of the comprehensive plan in the small jurisdictions category,” Hernandez told the council.

The specific plan for the 500 acre East Area 1, now known as Heritage at Limoneira, calls for 1,500 homes, sports parks, an elementary school and open space, a plan that Hernandez said resulted from a development planning process and charettes that included community members that later voted to approve the proposed development.

He noted the contributions of the Limoneira team as well as, “Our very own Janna Minsk, the city’s planning director and the project manager…”

“Yes, it is an honor and recognition for all participants,” said Minsk, who cradled the crystal award. 

She noted that planning for and implementation of the project has taken “A number of years…it’s an honor to be nominated and win at the local level and now we’re nominated for the state award. 

“The reason Tony Locacciato and I wanted to nominate Harvest at Limoneira,” is the unique partnership the development represents between the use of “public engagement” through charettes and the work of planners, engineers, designers and others.

“It was a multi-year process that was voted on by the community and accepted for annexation into the city…now the city is working with the applicants to development the site, hopefully in the next couple of years.”

The Harvest at Limoneira development process “keep city staff and various departments very busy, and we’re very excited to see it finally come to fruition…”

Minsk said the award was “wonderful recognition” for those in the city Planning Department as well as for the community that was involved in the process.

“I was not able to attend but thankfully the mayor accepted on our behalf,” the award that Minsk noted is displayed on the public service counter in the Community Development building.

Said Hernandez, “It is not only the largest development in our community in our lifetime,” but the first one to receive such recognition.

“I look forward to seeing the sticks in the ground and see the results,” of the development.

Such awards from “reputable” groups are rare said Jaime Fontes, city manager. “It is well deserved for Janna and the team she but together…I am very appreciative of the good work.”

Councilman John Procter noted Minsk “Also had recognition on the state and national level…we’re very proud of that and we’re very lucky to have you.”