California Planning Roundtable



Pasadena, CA

Tax ID:





Policy Coalition


David Booher

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California Planning Roundtable (CPR) was a coalition of members of the American Planners’ Association formed with an aim of changing urban planning policy in the state of California. It proposes rewriting the General Plan of the California Planner’s Association and is a strong supporter of “infill” development, defined as the more efficient use of previously empty spaces. 1

CPR’s tax-exempt status was automatically revoked in 2017 after failing to file tax returns for three consecutive years. 2 Nevertheless, as of 2020 CPR maintained its website, calling for an increased response to the 2020 Census in response to fears that the COVID-19 pandemic might cause reduced response rates. 3

David Booher

Founder David Booher was president of the California division of the American Planners’ Association from 1979 to 1981. He holds two Master’s degrees: one from Tulane University in Political Science, as well as Urban Planning from the University of Tennessee. He is also co-author of Planning with Complexity: An Introduction to Collaborative Rationality for Public Policy, as well as various articles on city planning published by American Planners’ Association, Planning Theory and Practice, and other urban-planning periodicals. 4

With his partner, the late Judith E. Innes, Booher is an advocate of “Collaborative Planning Theory,” a mode of urban planning in which neighboring citizens would have influence and veto power over development decisions. Booher and Innes argued the then-prevailing approach was top-down. 5 An example can be found in the UK’s 2011 Localism Act which requires new urban development plans to be publicized in advance, and a majority vote of local citizens before the plan can proceed. 6

Publications and Activities

On March 25, 2011 California Planning Roundtable adopted a set of principles to revise the General Plan a series of guidelines used by localities to assess their urban planning. In lieu of specific changes, CPR highlights a set of “Great Model” cities which can be used as examples of its urban planning principles, and ties their successes back to the original, guiding principles of the General Plan. For example, San Diego is held up as an example of the “City of Villages” concept.  This concept envisions a city with walkable, unique urban centers each with their own identity. 7

Most of California Planning Roundtable’s work is policy advocacy through publication of advisory papers. On September 30, 2015 CPR published the paper “The Social Determinants of Health for Planners: Live, Work, Play, Learn!”8

The paper identifies community planning as a factor in the health of communities, referring to city planners as “de facto public health professionals.” The paper links long work commutes, racial poverty imbalances, poor diet, and lack of public playgrounds as exacerbating factors of poor health. As remedies, CPR’s paper suggests left-leaning policies including environmentalism, more representation of minority groups in planning decisions, and a restructuring of tax allocation. It referenced over $20 million in grants from the Centers for Disease Control to “increase levels of physical activity and access to healthy food and nutrition.” 9

In the paper “Myths and Facts About Affordable and High-Density Housing” CPR says that the government must “intervene with programs and additional concessions” to ensure that housing projects will be affordable to low-income tenants. Later in the same paper, California Planning Roundtable denies that high-density housing projects will lower property values. The paper also denies that such housing projects increase crime, blaming this perceived correlation on a lack of “ownership and control” felt by low-income residents. CPR proposed that residents work with police and local government to “develop community-based strategies to reduce crime.” 10

In the anthology Who Wins? Who Loses? Social Equity in Planning, CPR states that the planner must create a definition of equity, going on to propose the planner “pay particular attention to needs of poor and vulnerable populations etc.” Other issues cited in the paper include “underrepresentation of females and African-Americans” in planning for schools, the supposedly discriminatory practice of having gated communities, and a push for universal computer access to form an “electric community” said to diminish crime and “hasten the decline of large urban areas.” 11


CPR originally planned, pending future funding, to provide interactive workshops at the California conference of the American Planner’s Association to help city planners improve job skills, such as communication and “strategic thinking.” 12

CPR also collaborated with APA on the six-month, $1.5 million initiative “Planners4Health,” a project to build better interactions and coordination between healthcare workers and city planners. CPR’s role consisted in constructing a “task force” to manage the project’s implementation. 13


  1. California Planning Roundtable. “Projects.” Website. Undated. Accessed April 14, 2020.
  2. Guidestar. “California Planning Roundtable.” Guidestar Website. Undated. Accessed April 20, 2020. t
  3. California Planning Roundtable. “Projects.” Website. Undated. Accessed April 14, 2020.
  4. California Planning Roundtable. “David Booher FAICP.” Website. Undated. Accessed April 14, 2020.
  5. Harvad GSD. “Sylvia Baxter Lecture: David E. Booher and Judith E. Innes, ‘Planning in a Complex World.” Youtube. May 23, 2011. Accessed July 22, 2020.
  6. . Department for Communities and Local Government. “A Plain English Guide to the Localism Act.” Assets Publishing Service. Undated. Accessed September 17, 2020.
  7. California Planning Roundtable. “Great Model Report: City of San Diego General Plan Update 2008” Reinventing the General Plan Website. Undated. Accessed July 22, 2020. 
  8. California Planning Roundtable. “Press Release.” Website. September 30, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2020.
  9. California Planning Roundtable. “The Social Determinants of Health for Planners: Live, Work, Play, Learn!” Website. September 30, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2020.
  10. California Planning Roundtable. “Myths and Facts About Affordable & High-Density Housing” Website.  November 1, 2002. Accessed April 20, 2020.
  11. California Planning Roundtable. “Who Wins? Who Loses? Social Equity in Planning.” Website. Undated. Accessed April 20, 2020.
  12. California Planning Roundtable. “Essential Professional Skills for Practicing Planners.” Website. Undated. Accessed July 22, 2020.   
  13. American Planning Association. “APA California Launches Panners4Health Six-Month Initiative. Website. February 1, 2017. Accessed July 22, 2020.
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California Planning Roundtable

Pasadena, CA