APA PA Chapter News: March

The Latest News from PA Chapter of APA…

The national planning conference in Philadelphia will be held this weekend, and major themes in the conference include equity and housing attainability. Reflecting these topics, this month’s newsletter highlights equity data, a great place in a revitalizing borough, and new and startling housing data. Enjoy!

APA National Conference 

Have you registered for Pennsylvania Chapter’s social event during NPC23? The social will be Saturday, April 1 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia. Tickets are available at the door.

APA will be holding their National Conference in Philadelphia April 1-4, 2023, if you forgot to register for it you can still register for APA’s virtual event: April 26-28, 2023.

You can now register for the NPC23 virtual conference here

Planning Webcast Series

Earn over 50 CM credits each year online – at no cost to members of participating organizations that support the Planning Webcast Series. Webcasts take place live on Fridays from 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET and are worth 1.5 CM credits (for live viewing only) unless otherwise noted. The first series is scheduled for January 20, 2023. More information online.

For APA members that need CM credit for on-demand education sessions are available. The Planning Webcast Series, sponsored by APA Chapters & Divisions, are offering credit till the end of the year (12/31/2023). More information online.


The Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute (PMPEI) courses are here for you if you are a local planning commissioner, zoning board member, zoning administrator, elected official or municipal planning staff. PMPEI, established in 1992, is the Chapter’s primary outreach to the planning community and is a collaboration between the PA Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA/APA) and the PA State Association of Boroughs (PSAB). PMPEI offers four, 10-hour in-depth courses, and four 90-minute online courses dealing with the Municipalities Planning Code and Community Planning, Zoning and Zoning Administration, and Subdivision and Land Development Review. Classes are kept small, are within reasonable distances, low cost, team-taught by experienced instructors, and include lots of hands-on instruction. Course listings and descriptions may be viewed at PMPEI’s website, pmpei.org. Contact Terri Dickow at tdickow@boroughs.org (or 1-800-232-7722 ext 1042) to find out how you can be part of the Chapter’s planning education outreach!

Mid-Atlantic Planning Collaboration

Are you going to the National Planning Conference in Philadelphia? Come see the Mid-Atlantic Planning Collaboration in the Exhibit Hall at booth 921. Staff from the Chesapeake Bay Program will be on hand to provide expert advice on the many tools the Bay Program has to offer, such as the Chesapeake Assessment Scenario Tool (CAST), and the Healthy Watersheds Assessment Tool. Even better, you can make an appointment with the Bay staff on Monday, April 3rd for one-on-one advice. Just contact Laura Bachle at laura.bachle@erg.com to set up an appointment.

Members of the collaboration will be delighted to tell you more about their programming, as well as listen to your ideas on what they should offer for Continuing Education in the year ahead. They’ve already had an amazing number of trainings you can access here.

Communication and Membership Committee

The Communication and Membership Committee is looking for volunteers to contribute articles for our monthly E-News. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Amy Evans or Amy McKinney.

Opportunities for Giving

Each year the Chapter offers a scholarship to support individuals seeking funds for academic degree programs, internships, and professional development activities.  If anyone would like to contribute to the Chapter’s Scholarship fund, donations can be made here. We accept all major credit cards, or you can send a check. Please make your check payable to “PA Chapter of APA Scholarship Fund” and mail it to P.O. Box 4680, Harrisburg PA 17111.

FEMA Region 3 Coffee Breaks Webinar Series

FEMA Region 3 hosts a webinar series for anyone who wants to reduce risk in their community. These hour-long “Coffee Breaks” are held every other month. FEMA staff share mitigation best practices and highlight the work happening at the federal, regional, state and community levels to reduce risk in Region 3. Coffee Break webinars are open to anyone in the hazard mitigation, resiliency, or risk reduction planning fields. This work can be in the public or private sectors. Community planners, emergency and floodplain managers, GIS technicians, government officials, and contractors – or anyone interested – is welcome to attend. You can find more information here

Equity and Planning
By Betsy Logan

Equity, planning, and zoning have a complicated history in the U.S.  Both overt and unintended planning practices have resulted in biases and exclusions of many people in our communities. A person’s gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, race, mobility, and ability are affected by policies implemented based on best planning practices. County Planning Commissions are working on tools that provide Equity Analysis. In addition to changing the mindset, these tools can be used to address social equity when applying for grants.

Chester County Planning Commission recently launched its Social Equity website. An interactive mapping feature visually represents demographics, households, economy, education, environment, housing, and transportation and infrastructure needs.  Additional detail on these equity issues is provided, along with recommendations to address these issues and links to more information. In addition, the America Planning Association recently released two Policy Guides – Equity in Zoning (2023) and Equity in Planning (2019) related to equity. Throughout the Commonwealth, various agencies are working to provide resources for equity planning. Interested in learning more? The following organizations have equity data and analysis available for their communities:

Great Places Spotlight: Etna Riverfront Trail and Park
By Kate McMahon, AICP

The Etna Riverfront Trail and Park was a Great Places recipient in 2022 in the Great Public Spaces category. Located in Etna Borough in Allegheny County, the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park is a 470-foot linear park and outdoor community space. Historically, the riverfront in Etna was utilized by industry, limiting the public’s access to the Allegheny River. Recently, the borough has undertaken an effort to revitalize this area and provide a space for community events and recreation. The development of the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park included a robust community engagement process and was constructed in three phases over seven years.

Completed in 2021, the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park includes a stage and tilted lawn amphitheater that hosts concerts, performances, outdoor yoga and other community events. The location, design, and access of the park take into account the American Disabilities Act design standards which allow users of all socioeconomic classes and ability levels to use the park.

The public space is the terminus of the Little Pine Creek Connector Trail, a 4-mile long bicycle and pedestrian trail that runs through Shaler Township and Etna. In addition, completion of the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail works towards closing a significant gap in the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and ultimately the 125-mile Erie to Pittsburgh Trail. To learn more about the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park online.

Review of Pennsylvania Capital-Star Article “What 2022’s housing trends say about us and where we’re headed”
By Brian O’Leary, AICP

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star recently featured an interesting and thought-provoking opinion piece by Heather MacDonald about the evolving housing market and what it says about our nation, post-pandemic.

The article makes a few key points:

  • Income inequality comes through prominently in new housing data, which shows that the median age of new home buyers is at an all-time high while the share of first-time homebuyers is at an all-time low. These and other statistics were not surprising and reflect the depressingly-high cost of housing right now.
  • Reflecting national household trends, the makeup of homebuyers continues to shift away from married couples towards singles and unmarried couples; nevertheless, 61% of new homebuyers were married couples, which still seems like a fairly high percentage.
  • Reflecting the ability of many homebuyers to work remotely and the ongoing repercussions of the pandemic, the distance that new homebuyers moved was at an all-time high. The Zoom Town phenomena is certainly a major factor in this statistic.

The full article, with more statistics, can be found here.