Kendra Deutsche

Cal Poly city and regional planning students applied their expertise by proposing a community plan for the Saticoy-Wells area in eastern Ventura that is expected to be submitted to the city council for adoption by the end of the year.

“This is the capstone class in our program,” said Zeljka Howard, the project’s faculty adviser. As part of a class project during the fall and winter quarters, students worked on forming the plan that was presented to the city council on Feb. 27.

The program was designed to give students the opportunity to work on an actual project to help them get first-hand experience and gain knowledge in their prospective careers.

“The students prepared a community plan and did a lot of research on what there is now by talking to community members and developing ideas – about what the community may look like in the future,” Howard said.

In preparation for the project, they attended several public meetings and workshops to develop an effective plan for the community.

“This was a very successful project,” Howard said. “The students were able to engage the community, and the community warmed up to the city.”

Additionally, students worked with “state-of-the-art” methods of planning development this year as they worked with professional consultants at Crawford, Multari and Clark Associates of San Luis Obispo, Howard said.

“We learned just practical knowledge,” said Katherine Pelton, a city and regional planning senior.

Pelton explained that it was helpful to obtain such practical knowledge with help from the city, citizens and industry professionals.

“When we go out into the field, we will be going through this exact same process,” she said. “It was a very good experience. Knowing that we are working on something that will impact the future, (it is) exciting to see some of our decisions being shaped in the future.”

“You work a lot with the public in trying to find out what the city and the citizens want,” said city and regional planning senior Jonathan Schuppert, explaining the need for strong people skills in the business.

“It was a challenge in that we were working with a local firm and trying to combine everything together (to please) the city, citizens and the firm,” he added.

“Even though it was challenging, I still had fun,” he said.

The first-hand experience often leads to job opportunities since students have researched proposals to show prospective employers, Howard said.

Schuppert was offered a job that he attributes largely to his contributions to the Ventura proposal.

Although the class officially ended last quarter, students are still finalizing plans. The professional consultants will use this information to finalize a draft plan, which will be submitted for review by the city council and for adoption later this year.

Next year, the program is looking to help another community in Ventura who requested their involvement in developing their community plan. Howard explained that communities often seek the help of students in the program after seeing their work in other communities.

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