California Dreamin’

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

What will LA teach me?  What can I bring back?

I am very excited about the week ahead.  I will be flying out to Los Angeles tomorrow to participate in the National Planning Conference organized by the American Planning Association.  The four-day symposium is the world’s largest urban and regional planning event.  City planners from around the world will be in attendance networking and looking to sharpen their skills.

A good friend once taught me that when attending a conference like this, I should always focus on finding that one great idea or innovation that can be brought back and implemented.

Last year in Boston, I sat and listened to a group of experts from the State of Washington tell us that they were planning for plug-in electric vehicles.  I learned that by 2015, all the automakers will offer these types of vehicles for sale.  I was blown away by their excellent presentation.  Walking into that room, I can tell you that planning for cars with large batteries was not on my radar.  I was asleep at the wheel.

After that presentation, I knew this was a tremendous opportunity for Auburn Hills.  We are the home of Chrysler Group.  We should be leading this effort, not the West Coast.  Industry experts believe that charging stations will become as commonplace as handicapped parking spaces at major workplaces and retail centers.  This emerging innovation should no longer be ignored by city planners.

Today, almost one year later, our team has become known throughout the State of Michigan as the municipal leader in raising awareness about the fueling needs of plug-in electric vehicle owners.  The City of Auburn Hills has gained the federal government’s attention by creating Michigan’s standard for regulatory signage and influencing developers to plan for charging stations as a routine part of construction.

What will LA teach me?  What can I bring back?  … I can’t wait to find out.

P.S.   Stay tuned as guest bloggers from the Community Development Department will be contributing daily while I am away.