Month: February 2019

Families, including Pete Parkinson’s, rebuilding in Sonoma County

Sonoma Index-Tribune, February 23, 2019

Christiane Kallen • “Like most of the rest of Sonoma County, the Bennett Ridge neighborhood is beginning to recover. The October 2017 wildfires incinerated 92 homes on Bennett Ridge, destroying more than two-thirds of the neighborhood of 129 homes.

“The Parkinson family— Pete, his wife, Celia, and 10-year-old son Henry — fled their ridgetop home overlooking Trione-Annadel State Park in the early hours of Oct. 9, thinking at first they would go to Celia’s mother at Journey’s End Mobile Home Park for safety. But flames had destroyed much of the Santa Rosa mobile home park.

“ ‘From my perspective, that is emblematic of how overwhelming the whole situation was, because even the firefighting agencies did not in those early hours have a very good handle on the scope of the fires.’

“Parkinson knew to jump right away into permit applications, researching architects and contractors for his rebuilding project. The quick start paid off: The framing is up, the roof is on, the windows installed. Getting incentives from Sonoma Clean Power to build 20 percent over code, energy-saving insulation will reduce heating and cooling costs long-term.

“The new house will include a great view of Hood Mountain to the east. On a clear day the 2,733-foot peak looks almost close enough to touch. That view alone was incentive to stay on Bennett Ridge.” Read more here.

Northern News March 2019
Main Street, Tiburon. Photo, Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP

Northern News March 2019

Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

March 2019

In memoriam, Joseph Kott, AICP, researched benefits of ‘green streets’

Transportation planning and management expert and scholar Joseph Kott, PhD, AICP, was well known at public agencies, private consultancies, and universities, and especially in California. A longtime lecturer at San Jose State University, he was in the midst of teaching two courses, “Introduction to Local Transportation” and “Sustainable Transportation Planning,” when he died unexpectedly and suddenly at his home from a massive heart attack on February 14. He was 71.

Meet a local planner, Shannon Fiala

By Catarina Kidd, AICP. FIALA is Planning Manager at BCDC. She served on the APA California Northern Section Board, 2014–2016. “We are set up like a traditional planning department: there is a division that handles permits for shoreline development proposals, and my division handles long-range planning. … The most important thing is to care about your employees, be interested in their professional goals, and be courageous enough to give them the constructive feedback that will help them grow.”

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Norcal APA news

Director’s note – March 2019

By JAMES CASTAÑEDA, AICP. At our section board’s retreat in January, we noted that Northern News is on its way to becoming mobile responsive, and discussed its future and its value to our members. Separately we noted the tremendous effort that goes into coordinating and hosting our many workshops, lectures, and training sessions, and we are looking to make some of our programming available online later this year.

Meet our newest Northern Section Board members

DELLA ACOSTA, University Liaison; DANAE HALL, Co-director, Young Planners Group; MARTA POLOVIN, Student Representative, UC Berkeley; ELLEN YAU, Mentorship Director; and MARK YOUNG, South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC).

Photos from the Ouro Preto, Brazil, field trip

Northern Section Board members ALEX HINDS and JUAN BORRELLI, AICP, traveled to Ouro Preto, Brazil, 100 km north of Rio de Janeiro — a historic former mining town and a UNESCO World Heritage site — in January 2019 with RICK KOS, AICP, and 10 of Rick’s students from San Jose State University.

Who’s where, March 2019

Northern News lists job moves and promotions that come to our attention. Instead of your counting on LinkedIn to get the word out, tell us, and we’ll tell all of your northern California planning colleagues. This month, we highlight AARON AKNIN, AICP, and TIMOTHY ROOD, AICP.

Planning news roundup

Kevin Roche, 96, got his start as architect of the Oakland Museum of California

The New York Times, March 3, 2019, Paul Goldberger • Dublin-born Architect Kevin Roche “ … believed that because each building emerged out of a different situation, each called for something very different. It was a view he took from his mentor, Eero Saarinen, whose thriving architectural practice formed the foundation of Mr. Roche’s own. Mr. Roche was hired by Saarinen in 1950 …”

Families, including Pete Parkinson’s, rebuilding in Sonoma County

Sonoma Index-Tribune, February 23, 2019 Christiane Kallen • “Like most of the rest of Sonoma County, the Bennett Ridge neighborhood is beginning to recover. The October 2017 wildfires incinerated 92 homes on Bennett Ridge, destroying more than two-thirds of the neighborhood of 129 homes. “The Parkinson family— Pete, his wife, Celia, and 10-year-old son Henry

Aggressive push against local housing development restrictions

Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019 Liam Dillon • “Citing the increasing cost of housing across California, state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) has introduced new legislation that would block high-cost regions from imposing new prohibitions on housing construction or decreasing the number of homes allowed on certain pieces of land.” [According to the Legislative Counsel, http://bit.ly/2STswaK,

Caltrain projects a go despite HSR confusion

Mountain View Voice, February 16, 2019 Mark Noack • “Caltrain officials said that funding remains secure for a $2 billion project to upgrade the rail line to an electrified system. The state’s high-speed rail project is obligated to provide $713 million toward the cost of the upgrades. “That funding remains intact, and the state recently awarded

Approval process isn’t only obstacle to SF housing goals

San Francisco Examiner, February 9, 2019 Laura Waxmann  • “Close to 45,000 potential homes are currently approved in San Francisco — the highest number tracked by the city’s planning department to date — but many have yet to break ground. “ ‘No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals. No more not in my neighborhood. It’s simple:

BART begins strengthening Transbay Tube

BART News, February 7, 2019 “In November 2004, voters in Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Alameda counties approved Measure AA, which allowed BART to issue general obligation bonds to fund up to $980 million of the $1.2 billion total cost of earthquake safety improvements. “The highest priority for upgrades has been the Transbay Tube, the

San Diego joins SF and Oakland, in dropping parking requirements

The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 6, 2019 David Garrick • Help in solving “San Diego’s housing crisis by wiping out parking requirements for new [multifamily] complexes near mass transit moved forward on February 6. The City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee voted 3-1 to forward the proposal for council approval on March 4. “Council members

How California voters’ view affordability, climate change, and forest fires

Quinnipiac University, February 6, 2019 “From January 30 – February 4, Quinnipiac University surveyed 912 California voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points, including the design effect. “Affording the Golden State “Led by younger voters, 43 percent of California voters feel they can’t afford to live in the Golden State. Among

SB 100 is moving Oakland toward a zero-emissions future

CityLab, February 4, 2019 Teju Adisa-Farrar • “West Oakland residents’ decades-long resistance against poor air quality is starting to pay off as the Port of Oakland plans to reduce air pollution by transitioning to emissions-free solutions. “In June 2018, the Port released the Draft Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan. The Plan aims to improve

Local housing policies across California: Results of a new statewide survey

College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley, February 4, 2019 The Terner Center’s “residential land use survey [was conducted] in California from August 2017 to October 2018.” The survey analyzed responses from “252 incorporated places and 19 unincorporated county areas [to] questions on local zoning, approval processes, affordable housing policies, and rental regulations.” Here, from their

Chicago buildings combine libraries, mixed-income housing

WTTW Chicago, January 24, 2019 Evan Garcia • Chicago has “two new buildings that combine libraries and affordable housing. A collaboration between the Chicago Public Library, which has 81 locations throughout the city, and the Chicago Housing Authority [aims to provide] housing and educational opportunities under the same roof.” One new “building offers 44 senior apartments,

Who’s where, March 2019
San Francisco Bay Area taken by an Italian crew member aboard the International Space Station.  (Samantha Cristoforetti via Twitter and KQED)

Who’s where, March 2019

Aaron Aknin, AICP 

is now the principal and co-owner of Good City Company, a Bay Area-based land use and local government consultant firm based in San Carlos, offering staffing, policy, strategy, and environmental review. For the past five years, Aknin was Redwood City’s community development director and assistant city manager, as well as interim city manager for five months. Prior to Redwood City, he was assistant director of planning and community environment in Palo Alto (two years) and community development director for San Bruno (10 years). Aknin holds a master’s in public policy from California State University–Northridge and a B.A. in urban studies/land use planning from San Francisco State University.

Timothy Rood, AICP, LEED AP

who had been the principal city designer for the city of San Jose since May 2017, has been promoted to division manager. He oversees the urban design and historic preservation teams, the permit center planning team, and a development review team. Rood also continues to serve as the City’s urban design leader, working on the Diridon Integrated Station Concept, Downtown Vision, and Downtown Transportation Study. He holds M.Arch and MCP degrees from UC Berkeley and an AB in architecture from Columbia. He is currently a Piedmont City Councilmember, and serves on the boards of East Bay Community Energy and the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, Energy Council, and Recycling Board, collectively known as StopWaste.org.

Photos from the Ouro Preto, Brazil, field trip
Ouro Preto. Photo: Rosino – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, http://bit.ly/2DLkOFq

Photos from the Ouro Preto, Brazil, field trip

Northern Section Board members Alex Hinds and Juan Borrelli, AICP, traveled to Ouro Preto, Brazil — a historic former mining town and a UNESCO World Heritage site — in January 2019 with Rick Kos, AICP, and 10 of Rick’s students from San Jose State University.

One hundred kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro, Ouro Preto is a town of 70,227 (2010 Census) known for its Portuguese colonial city center dating from the 1700s.

Location in Brazil. Credit: Google maps

The group spent five days in Ouro Preto on a service-learning project, partnering with community leaders in the Veloso neighborhood, cataloguing neighborhood amenities and creating a website in Portuguese and English to help boost eco-tourism and economic development in Veloso.

“We hope the resulting website we’re developing will draw people to this community,” said Kos, “which is overlooked as tourists stick to the city’s colonial-era city core.”

Community leaders reacted very positively to the draft website, and the urban planning students gained invaluable experience in active listening, direct community engagement, and systematically cataloging neighborhood priorities.

For more on the Northern Section-SJSU connection with Ouro Preto, see “Planners and students visit Brazil for collaborative service and learning,” Northern News, March 2018, page 4.

One of Ouro Preto’s typical steep cobblestoned streets, Rua Conde de Bobadella in the center of Ouro Preto, is shown below. Photo: Juan Borrelli, AICP

Below, looking north to Our Lady of Carmo Church from Rua Getúlio Vargas. The street was named for Brazil’s interim president (1930–34), constitutional president (1934–37), and dictator (1937–45). Photo: Juan Borrelli, AICP

Tiradentes Square and the Museum of the Inconfidência, below, is dedicated to those who died in a failed rebellion movement for Brazilian independence from Portugal. Photo: Juan Borrelli, AICP

SJSU students in Ouro Preto, Brazil, below. Back row (l-r): Nels Langbauer (program assistant and translator), Evan Anselmo, Claire Leone, Cade Baldridge, Mike Jacobson (program assistant). Zak Mendez, Alfredo Rivas. Middle row (l-r): Michelle Louie, Geoffrey Henderson. Front row (l-r): Melanie Reis, Aisha Nelson, Rick Kos, AICP (program leader), Juan Borrelli, AICP, Alex Hinds. Photo: João Batista

Meet our newest Northern Section Board members

Meet our newest Northern Section Board members

Della Acosta, University Liaison, is a senior planner on the long-range planning team at Rincon Consultants, leading community planning, sustainability, and community engagement work. Acosta will be working to connect university programs to the APA through information and events. She holds a degree in city/urban, community and regional planning from Sonoma State University.

Danae Hall, Co-director, Young Planners Group, is a transportation and land use manager at Circlepoint. Hall has been an active member of YPG since late 2017, participating as a member of the South Bay steering committee. She holds an M.S. in environmental management from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. in environmental economics from California State University, Chico.

Marta Polovin, Student Representative, UC Berkeley, first year graduate student, College of Environmental Design, is working toward a master of city planning (concentration in transportation). Before Berkeley, Polovin was a legal assistant/land use analyst at Harding Larmore, Santa Monica. She holds a B.A. in human biology and society from UCLA, with a minor in urban and regional planning.

Ellen Yau, Mentorship Director, is an associate planner with the city of Cupertino. She is on the host committee for APA’s 2019 National Planning Conference in San Francisco. Yau’s professional interests include community art, public health, landscape and public space design, and organizational planning. She holds a master’s in planning from USC and a bachelor’s in landscape architecture from UC Davis.

Mark Young, South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC), is a transportation security inspector (aviation) with TSA. Young has been active with the Young Planners Group as a member of the South Bay Steering Committee. He holds a master of urban planning, a bachelor of science in civil engineering, and a graduate certificate in transportation security management, all from San Jose State.

Meet a local planner, Shannon Fiala

Meet a local planner, Shannon Fiala

By Catarina Kidd, AICP

Shannon Fiala is Planning Manager at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). She served on the APA California Northern Section Board for three years, 2014–2016.

What brought you to planning?

I followed a somewhat unusual path to planning. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I studied ecology, then moved to the west coast to work on habitat restoration projects in Marin and Napa counties. Through that work, I became interested in land use planning as a tool for habitat protection, which led me to graduate school at UC Berkeley. There I received a dual degree in city planning and landscape architecture with a focus on environmental planning.

What path led to your current role?

While in graduate school, I wrote two masters theses, one analyzing the regulatory process for restoration projects and a second in partnership with SPUR about implementing the Ocean Beach Master Plan. In the latter, I analyzed case studies of urban highway removal — including Paris and Boston — that could inform the removal of portions of San Francisco’s Great Highway. Based on that thesis, I was offered a position with SPUR in implementing the Ocean Beach Master Plan through a series of technical studies involving transportation planning, open space design, and coastal engineering.

Then I moved to the California Coastal Commission, where I worked closely with Caltrans on planning for rising sea level and the managed retreat of Pacific Coast Highway at various locations. Now I’m in BCDC’s planning division as their planning manager, where I supervise a team of planners who work on updates to the San Francisco Bay Plan and special area plans.

What was the biggest challenge in going from a project management role to supervision?

As a project planner, you take a deep dive on a particular topic or proposal. As a manager, I need to be more focused on assisting staff, listening to their synthesis of the topic, and helping them by removing obstacles to their progress. Joining an organization as a manager has been a challenge, and in some cases I have had to learn side by side with my staff, tackling a broad range of topics together.

Tell us about BCDC.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission is a California state planning and regulatory agency with regional authority over the San Francisco Bay, the Bay’s shoreline band, and the Suisun Marsh. We are set up like a traditional planning department: there is a division that handles permits for shoreline development proposals, and my division handles long-range planning. Our mission is to protect and enhance San Francisco Bay and to encourage the responsible and productive use of the Bay for this and future generations. State law requires that development proposed in or adjacent to the Bay obtain a BCDC permit. In addition to lessening any fill and minimizing harm to Bay resources, BCDC is tasked with obtaining maximum feasible public access within the Bay’s 100-foot shoreline band.

Has the commission’s role changed over the years?

BCDC was created in 1965 to address a San Francisco Bay that was shrinking due to haphazard filling, and to increase shoreline public access. Today, as a result of sea level rise, the Bay is growing larger. That presents new challenges. We are currently amending the San Francisco Bay Plan to rethink our permitting process — particularly for habitat restoration projects, to allow increasing amounts of Bay fill to preclude wetland vegetation from drowning over time — and to incorporate findings and policies on environmental justice and social equity.

How does this relate to local government planners?

As a state agency, we have work closely with local governments. The infrequent city and county General Plan updates are resource-intensive. Each update is an opportunity to consider the public safety risks presented by rising sea level. Planners from local governments on the coast or bay shoreline: please urge your city or county to integrate consideration of rising sea level into your land use plans and zoning! This is what keeps me up at night.

What projects stand out based on your passion for coastal planning?

I am now working on two Bay Plan Amendments and the San Francisco Waterfront Special Area Plan. The waterfront plan hasn’t been amended for 20 years and will guide future development along the Port of San Francisco (www.bcdc.ca.gov/planning). When I was at the Coastal Commission, I inherited a project with Marin County updating its Local Coastal Program (http://bit.ly/2UwskuI). We were integrating sea level rise considerations into zoning — something that has not been done in many places.

What advice would you give to mid-career planners making a change?

Explore what avenues you have within your organization. Maybe take on a new project or assist a different unit. Ideally, we would all have supervisors interested in our career development, but that is not always the case. Attend APA happy hours and conferences. Reach out to colleagues, classmates, and your alumni network. Use volunteer work — or get yourself appointed to a local board or commission — as a way to try something new related to your core interests.

How do you as a manager see your role in mentoring? Is that different from basic supervision?

I currently supervise three and enjoy the mentorship aspect of my position. I learn about their career goals and connect them to opportunities as they come up. While most entry-level planners would like to advance, not everyone is suited to a management role. Some planners have incredible technical skills, and some have people or conceptual skills. The most important thing is to care about your employees, be interested in their professional goals, and be courageous enough to give them the constructive feedback that will help them grow.

You mentioned “the spectrum of leadership.”

As a new manager, I read a book called Radical Candor, which lays out a spectrum of leadership. At one end, a manager may be too hands-off, saying, “I hire intelligent people and then get out of their way.” At the other end is the micromanager, who hires great people but then tells them what to do and how to do it.

But intelligent and capable people still need guidance and mentoring. My goal is to strike a balance between the two ends of the leadership spectrum through “thought partnership” — listening to your team and helping to remove obstacles, perceived or real, to their progress. Maybe they need training to build new skills, or maybe they need help building and maintaining relationships with external partners.

Beyond the successful completion of a project, my biggest reward is to help emerging planners advance in their careers, and to contribute to their professional success.

Interviewer Catarina Kidd, AICP, is Northern News’ associate editor. All interviews are edited.

In memoriam, Joseph Kott, AICP, researched benefits of ‘green streets’

In memoriam, Joseph Kott, AICP, researched benefits of ‘green streets’

Transportation planning and management expert and scholar Joseph Kott died unexpectedly and suddenly at his home after suffering heart failure February 14. He was 71.

Dr. Kott was well known at public agencies, private consultancies, and universities in Australia and the United States, and especially in California, where he was an instructor and researcher in the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies Technology Transfer Program at Berkeley. He had been scheduled to teach two of their online courses in July and August — “Bus Rapid Transit: Planning, Design, and Operations” and “Transit-Oriented Development: Putting it all Together.”

He was a founding principal of the non-profit Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities in Oakland, and held senior positions as a transportation planner with San Mateo County, Wilbur Smith Associates and Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates in San Francisco, and as chief transportation official for the city of Palo Alto.

Dr. Kott also had been a lecturer at Stanford University’s Program on Urban Studies — where he was a visiting scholar in 2012–2013 — and at Sonoma State University and the Presidio Graduate School. He was a longtime lecturer at San Jose State University, and was in the midst of teaching two courses, “Introduction to Local Transportation” and “Sustainable Transportation Planning,” when the department sent a notice of his death to the school’s planning students.

Dr. Kott was a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and held Professional Transportation Planner (PTP) certification from the Transportation Professional Certification Board.

Joseph Kott was born and raised in Michigan and attended Wayne State University in Detroit. There he met his future wife, Katherine Kitto, and earned a bachelor of arts in political science in 1976. Degree in hand and peripatetic, Mr. Kott enrolled in a graduate degree course at the Department of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While studying for his master of city planning (MCP) at UNC, he interned with the Town of Chapel Hill planning department, where he wrote a guidebook on town planning in Chapel Hill.

Mr. Kott’s first job after receiving his MCP was as a planner for Orange County in Hillsborough, NC. After a year, he went to work in systems planning for the North Carolina Department of Transportation in Raleigh.

In 1984, Mr. Kott moved to Springfield, Illinois. He worked for three years with the Illinois Commerce Commission in the Transportation Division, and in 1986 became the planning coordinator for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

In 1988, Mr. Kott and his family moved to Maine, where he was a planning consultant in urban/regional planning, economics, and transportation in Auburn, and an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine, in Portland, teaching graduate courses in both community transportation planning and community planning until 1997. From 1992–1998, Mr. Kott was the transportation planning and programs manager for the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

In 1998, Mr. Kott moved to California to be the transportation coordinator for Marin County in San Rafael. But the next year, he was recruited by Palo Alto to be that city’s chief transportation official, a position he held for nearly seven years. Palo Alto city council member Yoriko Kishimoto said of Kott’s departure in 2005, “We’re all devastated by his leaving,” saying Kott was an “out of the box” thinker and “willing to stick his neck out.”

While working in California, Mr. Kott was pursuing advanced degrees through universities in Australia. He received a Master of Transport (Planning) in 2002 and a Master of Traffic (Engineering) in 2004, both from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in January 2012 from Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.

After leaving Palo Alto, Mr. Kott worked for the transportation firm Nelson/Nygaard in San Francisco, which he called “an excellent cultural fit for me.” In 2007, he moved to the San Francisco office of Wilbur Smith Associates (now CDM Smith), and in 2008 to Redwood City, California, to become the transportation projects and programs manager for the San Mateo City and County Association of Governments (C/CAG), a job he held until 2012.

In August 2011, Mr. Kott started two ventures: Kott Planning Consultants, and the non-profit Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities Research and Policy Institute, both in Oakland, California. Dr. Kott was the managing principal and vice president at Transportation Choices, an organization that researches sustainable urban and regional transportation planning and policy. Dr. Richard Lee, a principal at Transportation Choices, saw “Joe as a socially-minded entrepreneur of the first order,” who brought “high standards and deep values to all of his work.” He was “the rare individual who had risen to the top of his profession, and then used that vantage point to chart and pursue new directions for himself and his profession,” wrote Dr. Lee.

Dr. Kott is survived by his wife of 45 years, Katherine, son Paul T. Kott, and daughter Amy E. (Kott) Rands. His son Andrew predeceased him in 2007.

Paul Kott wrote that his father “was the kindest man I’ve ever known. He was also the most intelligent, thoughtful person I’ve ever met. His love was powerful, and that love was reflected in his values and actions. He made the world a better place, both professionally and personally, fighting for more livable cities and battling climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. He was truly interested in the lives and interests of others.”

Director’s note – March 2019

James A. Castañeda, AICP

“Clarity and Focus”

That was the theme of our section board’s retreat in January, or as I call it, “The KonMari” retreat. I wanted to impress on the board the importance of making many of our policies and procedures — those that help us work on your behalf — as effective and efficient as possible. Since the board is 100 percent volunteers, it’s important to ensure that being on the board is time worth spending on giving back to the profession — and that we are passionate about doing it. I truly believe that what the section board does affects all of our 1,900 members and sparks joy in our profession.

I was excited to hear what board members at the retreat wanted to accomplish in their respective areas in the coming year, and I want to share a couple of the bigger takeaways here.

Northern News

The board took some time to discuss the future of our flagship Northern News and its value to our members. All who spoke on this matter at the retreat said the newsmagazine is iconic, and universally valued for its informative content, for its quality, and for bringing us locally based and locally authored articles and stories. We are moving toward a fully digital product this year (no more PDF), but the monthly publication schedule will remain — we agreed that was the right frequency for presenting curated articles and ICYMI planning news. So I’m lobbing you the same challenge I gave to your board members: embrace ownership in our publication by contributing to it. The Northern News has always been of, for, and by Northern Section planners, and we can continue that only if you contribute to the content.

Online Distance Education Opportunities

A topic that came up often at the retreat was offering webinar or video streaming services of some of the Northern Section events. Given the tremendous effort that goes into coordinating and hosting the many workshops, lectures, and training sessions we offer, we want to ensure that you can easily access them. That’s the main reason we created a Distance Education Coordinator position on the board last fall and appointed Shannon Hake, AICP. With the help of our immediate past director Sharon Grewal, AICP (who also serves on the Chapter board as Vice President–Professional Development), we’ll be looking to make some of our programming available online beginning in the second half of 2019.

New Board Members

Your board has appointed four new members: Danae Hall will serve as YPG Co-director alongside Veronica Flores. Della Acosta takes over as University Liaison and is already coordinating with our student representatives from UC Berkeley and San Jose State. After a phenomenal reboot of our Mentorship Program, Liz Probst, AICP, has stepped down as Mentorship Director, and Ellen Yau has been appointed to pick up where Liz left off. Mark Young is stepping into the role of South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator. (Cherise Orange moved to Planning Diversity Co-director with Cindy Ma, AICP.) All of these folks bring enthusiasm and great ideas to their respective roles and to the board. Also new to the board is first year graduate student Marta Polovin, Student Representative from UC Berkeley. We’re excited to have all of them on board.

Onward We Serve

All of us on the board are excited about what we are planning for the section in the coming months. The retreat set the tone for a great year, so keep an eye on our event calendar for future events. And if you are (as I hope) motivated to join the board, we are large enough that we almost always have positions available. Right now, we are looking for a new San Francisco Regional Activity Coordinator and a Treasurer to serve out the remaining 2019 term of Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, who is now our Section Director-elect. Make sure to check online for our latest open positions.

Aggressive push against local housing development restrictions

Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019

Liam Dillon • “Citing the increasing cost of housing across California, state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) has introduced new legislation that would block high-cost regions from imposing new prohibitions on housing construction or decreasing the number of homes allowed on certain pieces of land.”

[According to the Legislative Counsel, http://bit.ly/2STswaK, the bill would prohibit a county or city, and its electorate through initiative or referendum, from enacting or amending a general plan or zoning ordinance that would reclassify property to a less intensive use below what was allowed under the general plan as of January 1, 2018.]

“It would also prohibit local governments in those areas from enforcing requirements that developers install parking spots alongside buildings, among a number of other proposals.

“Her plan is among the most aggressive proposed by state lawmakers in dismantling city and county restrictions on development, which legislators have identified as a major contributor to housing cost increases.

“The legislation also would set deadlines for cities and counties to decide on housing developments that they have the discretion to approve.

“For low-income housing, Skinner’s bill goes further by eliminating local fees on development. Skinner’s plan also prohibits the demolition of rent-controlled apartments and those that offer Section 8 assistance in an effort to prevent displacement from new construction.” Read more here.

Caltrain projects a go despite HSR confusion

Mountain View Voice, February 16, 2019

Mark Noack • “Caltrain officials said that funding remains secure for a $2 billion project to upgrade the rail line to an electrified system. The state’s high-speed rail project is obligated to provide $713 million toward the cost of the upgrades.

“That funding remains intact, and the state recently awarded an additional $165 million to the project to purchase electric trains, said Caltrain spokesman Dan Lieberman.

“Mountain View Councilman John McAlister, who sits on the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board of directors, expressed confidence that the recent setback for high-speed rail would not curtail the city’s plan to separate the local train crossings. Those projects include a $60 million plan to close off Castro Street to road traffic and a $120 million project to tunnel Rengstorff Avenue under the train tracks.

“Those expensive infrastructure projects already have funding secured, primarily from the 2016 Santa Clara County Measure B sales tax, which allocated $750 million toward grade-separation efforts, McAlister said.” Read more here.