Our Professional Development Co-Director Richard Rojas serves as a Senior Planner at the City of Carson, having previously worked in Riverside County; Henderson, NV; and San Luis Obispo. He is experienced in development review, preparation and maintenance of comprehensive plans and development of design and land use regulations. In addition to his role in APA Los Angeles, Richard is an active member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
Please provide a brief overview of your current work in planning.
As a Senior Planner, my primary responsibility is to supervise the team of planners responsible for current and advanced planning. This includes overseeing planning entitlements, meeting with developers, community members and stakeholders, preparing decisions and recommendations for the Planning Commission and City Council, and monitoring the division’s work plans.
What brought you into planning?
An undergrad course at UCSB entitled Intro to Environmental Planning, taught by Paul Wack, a wonderful professor who inspired a number of practicing planners. This was the first time I could see the connection between urban and natural communities and the positive impact I could make on both.
Where did you go to school for planning and why?
After UCSB, I was determined to find work as a planner. Unfortunately, the job market was not cooperative. After a year-long internship at the California Coastal Commission, I committed to Cal Poly SLO’s Masters Program in City and Regional Planning. I was drawn to the small classes, comprehensive training in planning theory as well as practical skills, low in-state tuition rates, and great job placement of grads.
Why do you love Los Angeles?
In a word: family. My wife and I have a large extensive families across LA and Orange County. We wanted to raise our daughters to be close to their family. I feel very fortunate to live close to so many loved ones that help us, celebrate occasions, and otherwise be with us to enjoy all that LA has to offer.
What’s something that’s happening in LA that excites you?
The extensive reimagining and repurposing of infill areas and the pace of change happening in LA. Planners are needed more than ever to help communities consider what to do with themselves over the next 10-30-50-100 years. It feels like we are in the midst of an era where we have to think hard about the way that our communities function.
What’s your favorite LA recreation activity?
As a parent, I love discovering family-friendly places to entertain my young daughters – parks, playgrounds, museums, creeks, trails, beaches, bike paths. At least once a month though, I like to head to the mountains for a challenging hike.
Tell us about a good book for planners.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. So much about becoming an effective planner is refining your ability to adapt and respond to adversity. According to this author, the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” I enjoyed this book so much that I have included it as part of the new Leadership Training Program that will launch in 2017.