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APA Los Angeles Membership Survey Report

Written by Darnell Parker II, Vice Director of Membership, 2018

Written by Darnell Parker II

APA Los Angeles recently conducted our bi-annual Membership Survey — administered every two years, the survey gives us an opportunity to check in with our members, learn about their needs, and evaluate our organization to ensure that we are serving both members and the greater planning community. The survey was open to members and non-members for three weeks, and 128 responses were received. The Board has reviewed the responses in detail, and will use them guide our activities in 2019 and beyond.

Each member of our Board analyzed the results and extracted information that pertains to their respective roles – programs, communications, professional development, member support, and more. Based on the responses, we identified tasks and next steps to better serve our members. For instance, as Vice Director of Membership for 2018, I led a committee focused on ways to recruit, retain, and expand membership. With the survey results as our guide, the Membership Committee formulated ways to create awareness of the organization, stay relevant, and inspire others to join. We conducted workshops on revamping our logo and updating swag items, hosted an open house in October, and created a one-minute video. The Board is also using the survey results to inform goals and strategies in its forthcoming 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.


Highlighted Survey Results

Demographics: APA Los Angeles has almost 1,700 members, and nearly 700 of them are students. 75% of those students are pursuing a graduate degree. Of our working members, almost 60% are employed in the public sector — by one of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County, or in other public agencies. 20% are working in the private sector, while members in academia and non-profits make up just 6%. The expertise of our members is concentrated in these top five fields: land use & current planning, long range planning, community & economic development, policy & planning, transportation & mobility, and long range planning. We have close parity between male and female members, with 52% male and 47% female. With regard to ethnicity, our respondents were 8% Black or African-American, 16% Asian or Asian-American, 25% Hispanic or Latino, and 43% White or Caucasian. 

Education & Diversity: Three-quarters of our members have obtained a Master’s degree. We are proud to support education in all its forms in order to build a stronger planning community, and in 2018 we expanded our university outreach program to include non-planning programs and non-accredited schools.

Dues: A bright note – employers pay for attendance at the APA California Conference for 56% of our members. For 41%, employers are also willing to pay APA dues. A smaller proportion receive support for national conferences (28%) and AICP exams (16%). However, most of our members pay out-of-pocket for dues or share costs with their employers. Recognizing this, we’re committed to providing value for membership at the local level. This includes offering free and low-cost opportunities for professional development, skills training, CM credits, and networking in Los Angeles.

AICP Certification: The large majority of respondents are either AICP certified, or considering AICP certification, but for 40% it’s not supported by employers in any way. Recognizing the obstacle this presents to obtaining and maintaining certification, we’ll begin working more closely with employers to communicate the value of AICP employees, and to develop stronger employer support programs.

“It is our pleasure to serve you in our ongoing journey to making Los Angeles a strong, diverse, and more vibrant community. Thank you for the opportunity.”

Collaboration & Partnership: We know our members’ time and budgets are limited, and we appreciate that many of you are also members of allied organizations. The most popular are the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Women in Transportation (WTS), the Association of Environmental Planners (AEP), and Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT). We’ll continue to partner with these organizations and others to offer programs and initiatives that maximize value and meet cross-sectoral needs.

Overall, our members are happy with our efforts and would recommend that others join APA Los Angeles. Members love our social and networking opportunity events. That said, as with any organization, there is always room for improvement. We must continue to work on finding that happy medium in event locations and times that are convenient to members all across Los Angeles County. Members expressed that professional development is the primary reason they maintain membership, and that practical and technical training would be valuable to them and their organizations. Going forward, we will turn our focus to skills training & workshops, speakers & panel events, and guided tours & site visits. These insights are invaluable as we develop our programs and Strategic Plan for the coming years, and we will continue to welcome your feedback.

On behalf of the Board, it is our pleasure to serve you in our ongoing journey to making Los Angeles a strong, diverse, and more vibrant community. Thank you for the opportunity.


Darnell Parker II served as Vice Director of Membership for APA Los Angeles in 2018. He has a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the College of Architecture + Urban Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and is a return U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer with experience in community organizational development. He is most passionate about the impact of urban design in urban communities because of his background in architecture.