Assistant Professor Ivis Garcia Zambrana elected SLC Planning Commission
Vice Chairperson this month
Interview with Ashley Babbitt
This September, University of Utah City & Metropolitan Planning Assistant Professor Ivis Garcia Zambrana was elected vice chairperson of the Salt Lake City Planning Commission. We caught up with Ivis to learn more:
Why did you decide to get involved with the SLC Planning Commission?
When Professor Reid Ewing suggested that I join the planning commission in the summer of 2015, I thought that this kind of service would contribute to my career in several ways. One of such contribution includes learning about Salt Lake City in terms of the existing planning regulations, and therefore, I can be a better resource for my students. Since I was new to Salt Lake City, another big reason was networking and becoming familiar with a broad range of stakeholders. Finally: service! I thought that my cultural and personal background could offer a different perspective. In this way, I could contribute to my new community.
How does your work through the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning inform your newly elected position as vice chairperson of the SLC Planning Commission?
One of the main reasons I decided to come to the University of Utah was because of our college’s commitment to community engagement. As part of my job interview, Dr. Sara Munroe introduced me to University Neighborhood Partners (UNP), where she is executive director. She immediately connected me with opportunities in the west side. Since then, I have worked closely with UNP in various ongoing projects, but primarily through the Westside Studio (a City and Metropolitan Planning class that was started in 2004) and the Westside Leadership Institute.
I am also a board member of Assist, Inc., which is a non-profit organization that provides design and planning services related to accessibility and home modifications to low-income households and neighborhoods. I serve as the role of secretary, and I represent the College of Architecture + Planning on the board. The organization was founded in 1969 by the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Utah. With Dean Keith Diaz Moore, I will be engaging in a National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC)-funded project with Assist, Inc. as our community partner. These things might seem unrelated, but the point I am trying to make is that our college is big in community engagement, and I see serving in the planning commission as being part of this same work.
What do you hope to achieve through serving on the city’s planning commission?
As vice chairperson of the Salt Lake City Planning Commission, I want to take into consideration how to respond to different groups that compose the city, including older adults, low-income individuals, and ethnic and racial minorities. I am also interested in improving access to employment, housing, and transportation among these groups. I believe that service, in general, not only helps to increase the visibility of our department, college, and university, but most importantly it can make a difference. I really look forward to increasing such leadership roles, where I can engage in service locally to hopefully be an agent of positive change.
I also wanted to mention that Brenda Sheer is also part of the planning commission, and Stephen Goldsmith was the Salt Lake City Planning Director from 2000-2002. Also this month, we hosted a presentation by Brian Tonetti who is the executive director of the Seven Cayon Trust, which is an organization started by one of Professor Goldsmith’s courses a couple of years ago. This is to say, that students, professors, and alumni of our college have made the difference in our city and our region for many decades. I hope to be part of a long-standing tradition at our college of shaping the future of the place we call home to make it more livable and equitable.