Just as each day dawns, the ensuing sunset reminds us that our efforts, hopefully, have not been in vain. Professionally speaking, it is this faith or hope, that through our efforts, we live to see another day. As of this writing, it is through the efforts of the profession as a whole and the dedication of a few tireless individuals that landscape architects can rest assured that the importance of the professional licensure of landscape architects and the role this plays in the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare will be recognized for another 6-year period. It is expected that by the time you read this article, Governor Brown will have signed Assembly Bill 177, Professions and vocations: licensing boards into law.
The sunset review process plays a critical role in assessing how effectively and efficiently our government works and when it becomes necessary, there is a process to address specific concerns of the consuming public. As landscape architects, we should never forget this fact.
As the deliverer of planning-, design-, and construction-related services, each landscape architecture licensee owes it to their clients to remain cognizant of the critical design issues of the day. This includes remaining proactive in self-education, both in professional practice and issues affecting the practice of landscape architecture; awareness of on-going licensure threats; and support for the breadth of our profession.
A key point to be made in this effort is that although the sunset review process only occurs once in a 5-6 year period, the importance of establishing minimum competency through the licensing of professional practitioners should be a daily concern. This is especially true in those areas where minimum competency is called into question.
As my days as the current CCASLA President come to a close, I can assure you that this question of minimum competency is especially critical. With the on-going drought situation becoming increasingly important as a factor in the delivery of professional design services; and don’t think that it isn’t, what constitutes minimum competency in the delivery of water-conservation-related design services and the protection of the public consuming those services is being called into question. The dilemma is that there is an increasing need to assist homeowners and others address landscape issues as they relate to a dwindling water supply and at the same time maintain some minimum standard that protects those same consumers from unscrupulous practices. There are many individuals and businesses throughout California that are ready and willing to step in and fill what has been described as a professional design services void.
This void has been described as driven by landscape architects unwillingness or inability to assist homeowners by providing affordable i.e. cheap (italics mine) services to help alleviate the consumption of water in the landscape. This has been coupled with an intentional effort to broaden the Exceptions and Exemption clause of the Landscape Architects Practice Act to allow for non-licensees to provide full design-related services, including providing construction drawings, details, and specifications for all residential projects. CCASLA has been working diligently to counter the perception that landscape architects simply don’t care or wish to be bothered in the matters of residential design as well as their ability to meet the (design) budgets of this class of consumers. This is why it is especially critical that all landscape architects support the continued need to maintain minimum professional competency, i.e. professional licensure as key in protecting the public health, safety, and welfare. It will always remain critical that as practitioners, each one of us must make a continuing investment in time and resources to relearn our craft, practice it to the point of competency and demonstrate our understanding how the delivery of services is based on an ethical and professional approach to the public’s benefit.
If there is one parting thought I would like to leave each of you with, it is never rely on others to express your individual concerns regarding your professional interests. Although CCASLA works diligently to provide that voice, you each need to take personal responsibility to reach out and educate others on what landscape architecture has been, what it is becoming, and what it will continue to be. At least that is my faith and hope.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding any of these issues, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-916-6956.
Jon Wreschinsky, CCASLA Deligate