“The study defines gentrification as occurring when ‘an influx of investment and changes to the built environment leads to rising home values, family incomes, and educational levels of residents. That often leads to minorities being pushed out of their long-time neighborhoods, which the study defines as cultural displacement [as] white gentrifiers replace the incumbent residents.’
“That displacement disproportionately affected black and Hispanic residents, the report says. Thirteen percent of the black community in Portland, Oregon, was displaced in 10 years.
“Both gentrification and displacement are relatively rare nationally. Across the country, 24 percent of urban areas saw at least one tract gentrify from 2000 to 2013, according to the data. But ‘most low- to moderate-income neighborhoods did not gentrify or revitalize during the period of our study,’ researchers wrote. ‘They remained impoverished, untouched by investments and building booms that occurred in major cities, and vulnerable to future gentrification and displacement.’
“Local officials and advocates can combat gentrification by pursuing ‘policies that encourage investment while promoting the ability of existing residents to stay and benefit from revitalization,’ the report concludes. Strategies include developing partnerships between banks and community-based organizations to encourage equitable development, passing inclusionary zoning regulations, and tapping into federal programs that can identify neighborhoods at risk of gentrification.”
“Brisbane Mayor Madison Davis is 27 and lives at home with her parents because she can’t afford a place of her own.
“While she’s by no means a typical mayor, she is a typical victim of the Bay Area’s affordable housing shortage. And in that sense, she’s the ideal person to lead her tiny city as it sets out to do something it has resisted for years — build a ton more housing.
“Q.Does Brisbane have an obligation to help fix those Bay Area housing problems?
“A. I think everyone, every city, has a role in providing more housing. But there is something to be said for local control. There is a balance we can strike, with cities taking the initiative to provide local housing and doing it on their terms.
“And the cities that do take the initiative and provide housing should be commended for the work they’re doing. For the size of our town, 1,800 to 2,200 [new] units is a huge number. And I’m still not hearing, ‘you did a good job.’
“The vote for Measure JJ boiled down to local control. Brisbane mobilized and said we do realize there is a housing crisis, we have a vast amount of land, and we can contribute to easing the situation as best as we can, but we want those decisions to be on our terms.”
What if cities required new developments and major additions to plant something that provides food? That food could be used by the residents or occupants of the subdivision or development, or if surplus, donated to local schools, homeless shelters, and food banks.
It’s a simple idea. Most cities require landscaping, and many require the planting of specific street trees. A City Food Plan could identify where certain plants and trees would grow best. Property owners could be encouraged or required to plant a fruit tree of their choice from a list provided by the city. Small lots could have a planter box for growing seasonal vegetables, not unlike the urban victory gardens of WWII, or dwarf trees.
If you have ever had your own apple, orange, or persimmon tree, you know that one tree can provide enough fruit for several households. A small planter box can grow more tomatoes and zucchini than one family could possibly eat.
Think about how nice it would be for a tired student to be able to grab an orange or a handful of cherries between classes for free, instead of a packaged processed food.
I know of food banks that will strip your tree of fruit in return for keeping some or all of it. Or just as you put your recycling bins at the curb, you could put out your city- or nonprofit-provided food bin for pickup by the local food bank.
In the South Bay, for example, once one of the largest fruit production regions in the world and known as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight, there is no reason that fresh food should not be readily available and affordable to many, if not all.
John Livingstone, AICP, in his kitchen, about to eat a sandwich with a huge slice of homegrown beefsteak tomato.
The Northern Section held its annual WINTER ETHICS/LAW TRAINING on February 23, 2019, at the fabulous Wendel Rosen conference facilities overlooking the heart of downtown Oakland. More than 40 Section members participated in the event. In the law session, Wendel Rosen attorney Robert Selna discussed the legalization of cannabis in California and how it is implemented through local land use permits, and attorney Amara Morrison spoke about the implications of SB 35, the new fast-track housing development legislation.
The law session was followed by a panel of local certified planners who discussed APA’s current Ethics Cases of the Year along with lively audience participation. Panelists included Elizabeth “Libby” Tyler, FAICP, the section’s Ethics Review Director; Shannon Hake, AICP, Distance Education Coordinator; Afshan Hamid, AICP, Professional Development Director; and Rob Olshansky, FAICP, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois.
If you missed this event, stay tuned; we plan to produce Webinar versions later this spring.
We welcome your ideas and suggestions for future sessions! Contact Libby Tyler at email@example.com.
APA California Northern Section is thrilled to co-sponsor a “Health and Resilient Homes Leadership Program” with the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and the Great Communities Collaborative.
This program’s goals are to:
Build a cohort of leaders on healthy, resilient, stable housing across Bay Area Health Departments. Increase the knowledge, skills and relationships needed to implement health equity solutions.
Foster connections between health departments and sister agencies working on housing quality, stability, and resilience.
Support multidisciplinary teams to implement departmental priority solutions to improve housing quality, stability and resilience.
Draw down new revenue sources for healthy resilient housing.
BARHII is the coalition of the 11 Bay Area public health departments founded to address the preventable decade-long differences in life expectancy that exist by race, income, and neighborhood. BARHII convenes public health staff across the region to identify emerging public health trends and to advance best practices for health equity. BARHII staff and members have been involved with MTC’s CASA process (They do amazing work and have great resources on their website.)
This partnership is partly an outgrowth of national and state APA initiatives. In 2015, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national APA teamed up with the American Public Health Association (APHA) to implement a three-year, $9 million program to help communities combat determinants of chronic disease — lack of physical activity and lack of access to nutritious foods. The first two years were called “Plan4Health,” and the third year was called “Planners4Health.” During the third year, in 2017, California APA was awarded a Planners4Health grantto build the capacity of planners to incorporate a public health lens into their work. An outcome of this initiative was to create Planners4Health coordinator positions at each local section who would be responsible for organizing professional development activities to strengthen our ability as planners to address public health issues in our communities.
Healthy and Resilient Homes Leadership Program overview
Over the course of 2019, BARHII’s Built Environment Committee will train and support a cohort of local public health department staff and Bay Area planners to implement their jurisdiction’s priority solutions to improve housing quality, stability, and resilience.
BARHII will conduct trainings with local health department staff to bring them up to speed on all the new housing legislation and planning and funding opportunities. The first of these trainings occurred on March 15, 2019, with representatives from all the local health departments.
This program will also invite staff from county and city housing authorities and planning departments to trainings on health equity; health, housing, and resilience; and public health solutions to these issues. Planners and public health staff will attend implementation trainings to advance solutions.
BARHII will work to pair up planners with their health department staff so they can collaborate on an actual housing and health equity project (see sidebar for some of the implementation topics). BARHII staff and co-sponsors will provide technical assistance and support a community of practice to share lessons across counties. BARHII and project sponsors will also host at least one session exploring and developing solutions to common challenges that emerge from interdepartmental projects.
If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, please fill out the SurveyMonkeyform. If you have ideas or requests for other Planners4Health programs, please email Beth Altshuler.
Beth Altshuler, MCP, MPH, is senior associate at Raimi + Associates and is Northern Section’s Planners4Health Coordinator. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Dominie, MURP, is policy manager of Housing and Equitable Development at Bay Area Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII).You can reach him at WDominie@barhii.org
JOHN SCHWARZ, an environmental planner for 22 years, is president and principal of JHS Consulting, specializing in environmental planning. He holds an MBA from Santa Clara University and a B.A. in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara.
What brought you to environmental planning?
As a student at UC Santa Barbara, I was interested in environmental studies and started taking courses because I loved the variety of topics and their relevance. My approach was about liking the subject rather than trying to figure out the career. After graduating, I landed an entry-level position at David J. Powers and Associates. I then went into the tech world, but missed urban planning and went back to DJP&A.
Tell us about your environmental planning experience.
I was at DJP&A for a total of 19 years, working on public and private development, residential, office, and mixed use. I also did a lot of infrastructure work, including water, sewer, and transportation projects. It was a good mix of projects to round out my knowledge and exposure to different practice areas. I worked my way up to vice president and principal, and was later involved in running the firm, which was terrific experience.
What inspired you to start your own firm?
I wanted to learn the entitlement side and was ready to try something different, and a couple of clients helped me launch the business. I’m working on entitlements and project management for private applicants and contract environmental planning for public agencies — sometimes as an extension of city staff.
Your observations on being a business owner versus employee?
As an employee on the management team at DJP&A, I was stressed about running the business. Now the stress is greater, as it all comes down to just me. It’s fun to be on your own, but not having internal support to get things done can be tough. That’s not a surprise, but it is an ongoing challenge. I’m spending a lot of time figuring out whether to make the business bigger or stay solo and nimble.
How doclients differ?
Applicants always want to get through the process quickly and minimize cost, but the public sector focus is to be accurate and defendable. And schedule is always a priority for both public and private clients. Despite different goals and the contentiousness of the process, I find that everyone wants the job done quickly and well.
Which projects stand out to you?
From 2004 to 2005, the Hitachi/IBM campus in San Jose: It was a coming-of-age project for me. It was big and ambitious, with lots of stakeholders. The applicant team had high expectations, and we had lots of technical issues to iron out. There were moments of having to deliver bad news in the middle of a strong push to the finish line. It was a landmark project in my career.
I’m also passionate about Silicon Valley Clean Water’s Conveyance System going into construction at Redwood Shores. The challenges were aging sewer infrastructure and having to go through residential areas and habitat. From the outset, the alternatives were unpopular with the public and the regulatory agencies. The technical team evaluated a host of other options and came up with tunneling as a feasible solution. After much consideration, SVCW proposed a deep tunnel bore for one of the main project components.
That eliminated many of the environmental impacts, and the opposition vanished. It was easier to run the environmental analysis because we had so much project detail and data. This essential project is now under construction: work has begun to build the shafts for tunneling.
How have you handled client demands at odds with best practices and professional ethics?
I never had a supervisor who cut corners or asked me to do something unethical. If you want to be in this for the long term, you have to be honest. We all get pressured and want to give people an answer they like. I try to understand my clients and what is driving their project. Pressure to do something unsound usually comes from an aggressive schedule. Once bloodied, you realize the bad news won’t go away. Deliver it early and honestly, and present solutions and trade-offs — then the bad news usually is better received. Once you realize that no client is worth ruining your reputation, the difficult conversations become easier.
What are your thoughts on choosing the right consultant?
Sometimes you know only in hindsight that they weren’t a fit for you or the job. Sometimes the lesson is “don’t use them again.” The companies and organizations that often hire the same consultants, do so because they know what they can expect. Predictability is important.
What can cities do to prevent scope changes and the ensuing budget challenges?
One approach is to ask the consultants to show their staffing capacity for the project and to highlight potential budget issues. The interviews should try to determine how flexible the consultants might be. The environmental review process is messy: things change, unforeseen questions come up. Agencies need to build contingencies into the contract and budget, and authorize and allocate changes separately and only when necessary. Consultants and their clients need to acknowledge and document which things have been done and remain open and flexible to reduce the element of surprise.
Any advice for new planners?
Find something that really interests you and think about how you can make a career out of it.
Learn what you can about the field, then try it out.
Get an internship if possible, or request an informational interview to get a flavor for the career.
Talk to folks in that field — just pick up the phone and call.
This can be intimidating when you’re starting out, but even though we are all busy, most of us enjoy those conversations and are happy to help. I was always impressed when someone did that. I may not be hiring, but I probably know someone who is.
Any advice for mid-career planners?
We all struggle with staying inspired. Sometimes the work is a tough grind. Work on something different, with new people, and a new team. Go to industry events, conferences, and lectures to build relationships. I find those to be inspiring: It’s energizing to see a room full of people working on and struggling with the same issues, and it helps you remember you are part of a professional community.
Interviewer Catarina Kidd, AICP, is Northern News’ associate editor. All interviews are edited.
MAREN MOEGEL, an urban and architectural designer and master planner with broad international experience, is Studio Director at Studio T-SQ in Oakland, California. She is working on urban mixed-use projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
What is your education background?
I have lived in Berkeley and the East Bay since acquiring my master’s degree in urban design at UC Berkeley in 2000. I also earned an earlier master’s degree in architecture at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.
What do you do?
I am currently the Urban Design Director at Studio T-SQ in Oakland. My work emphasizes urban redevelopment, creating mixed-use transit-oriented neighborhoods in the Bay Area. I am passionate about cities and urbanism. I believe providing dense urban districts and multifamily housing next to transit stations plays a major role in ensuring sustainable lifestyles. I work at all scales, from urban plazas or city blocks to neighborhoods and entire districts. While architects focus on designing buildings, as urban designer I focus on arranging land use and buildings so that they frame great public open spaces. I approach each design challenge with people and community in mind, and create places where people can walk, bike, or relax and interact. I’m also honored to work with SPUR’s regional strategy workshop.
How did you get to your chosen specialty in urban design?
Having grown up in Europe, I have always enjoyed cities, plazas, and exploring parks, watching people, being able to walk everywhere — and feeling safe in public spaces — the elements that make great urban neighborhoods.
My background is in architecture — university in Karlsruhe, Germany — with studies abroad in Sweden and Norway. My architecture thesis focused on development around the Oslo train station and waterfront area, and I was always interested in the larger scale of urban planning. After graduation, I started working in Oslo, Norway, for an architectural firm, where I could pursue my interest in both architecture and master planning.
I was in my twenties then, adventurous, and eager to explore the world beyond Europe. I was accepted to UC Berkeley’s Master of Urban Design program — a great introduction to California culture and how design and planning are approached here.
What advice would you give to new graduates?
Pursue your interests, try out a few things, acquire a solid set of skills, persevere, and follow your path to completion. Also realize that the relationships you are forming now are important and can last a lifetime, and via social media you can stay connected even across continents. Build a reputation for competence and integrity.
What project are you working on now that particularly excites you?
I am working on master planning and architectural design for a 16-acre residential community with generous public open space next to Caltrain’s Lawrence Station in Sunnyvale, CA. This is the second high-density urban mixed-use project in this station district that I am managing through to entitlement approval. I like working with the ambitious planning staff. It is exciting to see Silicon Valley becoming more urban and transit-oriented, and that I am contributing to that effort.
Tell us about a favorite past project.
The MacArthur BART Master Plan. About 12 years ago, we had proposed a high-rise tower along with five-story housing and a great urban plaza. Back then, the economy did not support a tower, but now a decade later, everyone’s ready for one. A great urban neighborhood is emerging with pedestrian-friendly streets, subterranean parking, and lots of market-rate and affordable housing.
What do you consider to be a great urban space in the Bay Area?
I love the Uptown district in Oakland with its authenticity and diversity, artists, eateries, and nightlife.
Who are your design heroes, living or dead?
There are so many, but I admire a lot of Scandinavian architects, past and current, like Alvar Aalto (Finland, 1898-1976), Snøhetta (Oslo), and Henning Larsen (Copenhagen). In urban design, Jan Gehl’s office in Copenhagen has set a great trend with their people-centric approach. Mies van de Rohe (1886-1969) and his colleagues from the Bauhaus school in Germany had strong influence on modern cities, which carries on today. I love Chicago’s Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects. In art and design, I like Ray and Charles Eames (1907-1978), and sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976).
What draws you to their work?
I believe that good design can improve people’s lives. In architecture, I value designs for simplicity, clean lines, functionality, focus on light and comfort, and connection with nature where feasible. In urban design, I admire projects that are truly about people, not centered on cars or prioritizing short-term profit making, but sincerely designing what humans need.
How do you balance honoring client direction and giving sound professional and ethical advice?
I don’t see this as a conflict, but as a good challenge. Most of my clients are developers, and they are essential partners or collaborators to implement projects. It is very rewarding to see my designs not just on paper but built. Many for-profit clients hold on to property for a lifetime and are interested in creating long-lasting attractive places with tangible human qualities. Of course, there are compromises to make, but overall, I love the challenge of envisioning great places and then seeing them implemented successfully.
What was the best advice you’ve received and from whom?
This advice came from professors and supervisors I worked with over the years: Be authentic and true to yourself. It is generally appreciated when you show your passion, believe in your work, and clearly give your best.
Interviewer Catarina Kidd, AICP, is Northern News’ associate editor. All interviews are edited.
APA has informed us of the death of its retired APA Executive Director Frank S. So on February 22, 2019.
So graduated from Youngstown University and earned his master’s degree in city and regional planning from Ohio State University. He joined the staff of the American Society of Planning Officials in 1967, and spent more than 30 years with the association that eventually became APA. He worked in the growing research program, where he helped create Planning magazine and started the Planners Press book publishing program. So served as executive director of APA and AICP from 1996 to 2001.
So is remembered for his work overseeing the publication of more than 60 books on planning, and for editing four planning textbooks, including the Practice of Local Government Planning. This ICMA “Green Book” text has since been used as an introduction to the field for several generations of planning students.
So lived in Flossmoor, a suburb 45 minutes south by commuter rail from the ASPO offices on the University of Chicago campus. He also served for 16 years as a consulting advisor to the Village of Flossmoor: village manager, planning director, board of trustees, planning commission, appearance commission, and the zoning board of appeals. He was an adjunct professor at Governors State University and a volunteer planning career advisor to the Peace Corps.
A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section
Making great communities happen
Taking the high road to fix California’s broken housing production system
By Alex Lantsberg, AICP, and Roxana Aslan. CALIFORNIA is caught in a pair of traps affecting what kind of housing is built and where, and how it is produced. Together, they reinforce a dynamic of suppressed housing construction, unaffordability, and displacement. Policy makers are understandably focused on making it easier to issue permits for where
The story of Mare Island, a Base reuse, and Factory OS By Afshan Hamid, AICP. A HOUSING AND TECHNOLOGY DISRUPTION is occurring on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. For 142 years, the island functioned as a naval shipyard for 40,000 workers and more than 500 ships, including cruisers and battleships that served in several wars,
California launches program to increase housing production
By Jennifer Gastelum and Charlie Knox, AICP. IN AN EFFORT TO ADDRESS THE STATEWIDE HOUSING SHORTFALL, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has begun the process of making money available to every city and county in California to expedite housing construction. Senate Bill 2, the “Building Homes and Jobs Act,” was signed
By Al Savay, AICP. RETHINKING SINGLE FAMILY HOUSE SIZE. The single-family detached house is an icon — a symbol of the American Dream. Owning a single-family home is the culmination of hard work, financial planning, risk, strategic thinking, and sacrifice. Demographic changes have revealed major shifts in how our country views home ownership. Even so,
Marking history with the Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Trail project
Samuel Herzberg, AICP. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO, an expedition led by Gaspar de Portolá travelled 1,200 miles up the Alta California coast to explore an overland route for establishing Spanish harbors at San Diego and Monterey Bay. Following well-established footpaths that marked trade routes between native villages, the expedition traveled farther north, and
Frank So, FAICP, 81; helped create Planning magazine
IN MEMORIAM APA has informed us of the death of its retired APA Executive Director Frank S. So on February 22, 2019. So graduated from Youngstown University and earned his master’s degree in city and regional planning from Ohio State University. He joined the staff of the American Society of Planning Officials in 1967, and
By James A. Castañeda, AICP. WILL THIS BE YOUR FIRST NATIONAL PLANNING CONFERENCE? I remember walking into Union Station in Washington, DC, in the spring of 2004 and marveling at the opening reception. As a student about to graduate with a city and regional planning degree, it was a thrill to be around people in
New regional infrastructure across Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville By Matt Taecker, AICP. THIS IS A VISION PLAN that reimagines how the very wide rights-of-way existing along the Shattuck-Adeline-Stanford corridor can be used to increase community livability and promote urban sustainability. These generous rights-of-way originally accommodated rail and were repurposed in the 20th century primarily for
By Catarina Kidd, AICP. MAREN MOEGEL, an urban and architectural designer and master planner with broad international experience, is Studio Director at Studio T-SQ in Oakland, California. She is working on urban mixed-use projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. What is your education background? I have lived in Berkeley and the East Bay since
By Catarina Kidd, AICP. JOHN SCHWARZ, an environmental planner for 22 years, is president and principal of JHS Consulting, specializing in environmental planning. He holds an MBA from Santa Clara University and a B.A. in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara. What brought you to environmental planning? As a student at UC Santa Barbara, I
Planners4Health Co-sponsors Healthy/Resilient Homes Leadership Program
By Beth Altshuler and Will Dominie. APA California Northern Section is thrilled to co-sponsor a “Health and Resilient Homes Leadership Program” with the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and the Great Communities Collaborative. This program’s goals are to: Build a cohort of leaders on healthy, resilient,
By Elizabeth (Libby) Tyler, FAICP. The Northern Section held its annual WINTER ETHICS/LAW TRAINING on February 23, 2019, at the fabulous Wendel Rosen conference facilities overlooking the heart of downtown Oakland. More than 40 Section members participated in the event. In the law session, Wendel Rosen attorney Robert Selna discussed the legalization of cannabis in
By John F. Livingstone, AICP. What if cities required new developments and major additions to plant something that provides food? That food could be used by the residents or occupants of the subdivision or development, or if surplus, donated to local schools, homeless shelters, and food banks. It’s a simple idea. Most cities require landscaping,
Kate Elizabeth Queram, Route Fifty, March 21, 2019 “Seven cities [including Los Angeles and San Diego] account for almost half the gentrification in America, according to a study released March 19 by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “The study defines gentrification as occurring when ‘an influx of investment and changes to the built environment leads
Marisa Kendall, The Mercury News, March 20, 2019 “Brisbane Mayor Madison Davis is 27 and lives at home with her parents because she can’t afford a place of her own. “While she’s by no means a typical mayor, she is a typical victim of the Bay Area’s affordable housing shortage. And in that sense, she’s
Kate Bradshaw, The Almanac, March 14, 2019 “SamTrans has entered into an exclusive 18-month partnership with Cross Bay Transit Partners — a partnership formed between Facebook and the infrastructure investment company Plenary Group — to explore the feasibility of reinstating passenger rail transit along the Dumbarton corridor. “The exclusive negotiation agreement with Cross Bay Transit
Emily Deruy, The Mercury News, March 13, 2019 “San Jose’s squat skyline is set to rise in coming years. The ability to build upward will allow companies access to real estate in the sky that was previously off limits. “The City Council voted unanimously to allow higher buildings downtown and near Diridon Station despite opposition
Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2019 • “In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by century’s could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history. “A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest sea level
Peter Hegarty, East Bay Times, March 13, 2019 “A 5.73-acre site 1,000 feet from the San Leandro BART station will be transformed into a 687-unit apartment complex — one of the city’s largest. The site was once used by Caterpillar to store construction equipment. “The plan calls for tearing down the Filarmonica Artista Amadora de
Michele Chan, California Land Use and Development Report, March 12, 2019 “The court of appeal held that the City of St. Helena did not violate CEQA by approving a demolition permit and design review for a multi-family residential project without preparing an environmental impact report. McCorkle Eastside Neighborhood Group v. City of St. Helena (2018) 31
Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, March 7, 2019 “A San Francisco program to protect people in close-knit neighborhoods from being uprooted by gentrification and soaring housing costs appears to be working. “The Neighborhood Resident Housing Preference plan requires 40 percent of units in new affordable housing developments funded by the city and private sources to be
Kristen Pope, Planning magazine, March 2019 “Long before Santa Rosa, California, lost 3,000 housing units — five percent of its housing — the city spent a year developing a comprehensive Housing Action Plan (HAP). “The Plan, officially released [in October 2016], endeavors to build 5,000 units by 2023, half at market rate and half in the
By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, updated March 11, 2019. “A proposal to convert the President Hotel Apartments to a luxury hotel hit a roadblock this week, when Palo Alto’s Planning Director Jonathan Lait concluded that the project described in the development application would violate numerous zoning laws. “The controversial project, which prompted the eviction
New regional infrastructure across Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville
By Matt Taecker, AICP.
THIS IS A VISION PLAN that reimagines how the very wide rights-of-way existing along the Shattuck-Adeline-Stanford corridor can be used to increase community livability and promote urban sustainability. These generous rights-of-way originally accommodated rail and were repurposed in the 20th century primarily for movement and parking of motor vehicles.
In the 19th century, rights-of-way along this corridor were made much wider than other major streets to accommodate four pairs of tracks for both streetcars and heavy-rail trains.
In the mid-20th century, the rails were removed and the wide rights-of-way were redesigned to move cars swiftly and to maximize parking in some areas. In the 21st century, the communities along this corridor can again repurpose the wide rights-of-way to reflect today’s values of livability, sustainability, resilience, and equity.
This Vision Plan lays a foundation for envisioning and realizing a new urban Greenway that can address multiple needs along its length. As envisioned, the Greenway would create an unimpeded pedestrian-bicycle route punctuated by neighborhood centers, recreation, and ecological features.
Significant repurposing of corridor rights-of-way is possible
If the narrowest acceptable traffic lanes and lane widths are used, and if on-street parking is arranged more efficiently, some 60 or more feet of the corridor width can be put to new purposes, all the while reducing traffic speeds and improving safety. With advanced transportation technologies and practices, no loss in vehicle travel times should be experienced.
The Greenway Vision also considers how it can affect surrounding land use. Its design can complement existing land uses and, at the same time, promote new street-oriented and pedestrian-friendly development, including housing that can help alleviate California’s housing crisis.
This Vision Plan is an advocacy report
The Greenway Vision Plan has not been officially adopted as a “plan” per se. It lays a foundation for finding funds for further planning in and by the cities it connects: Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville. In this respect, the Vision Plan is already succeeding. Berkeley made greenway planning a priority for Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Alameda County funding; Oakland has added the greenway alignment to its draft Bicycle Master Plan; and Emeryville is working to strengthen pedestrian and bicycle connections to the Bay Trail.
This greenway planning has, to date, been a grassroots effort in close consultation with community stakeholders and city officials. A linear greenway on Shattuck was adopted in concept in Berkeley’s 2012 Downtown Street & Open Space Improvement Plan, but the idea of extending a greenway south to the Bay Trail emerged later. In 2017, Bike East Bay and Taecker Planning & Design applied for and received seed money for planning from the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund at UC Berkeley. After receiving the grant, the Downtown Berkeley Association and City of Berkeley Councilmembers contributed discretionary funds. Small grants were also received from Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, LMC Multifamily (a Lennar Company), and the Austin Group.
Planning began with extensive outreach to interested committees and commissions in the three cities and with neighborhood and business associations along the corridor. The work plan originally included community workshops and other forms of engagement, but contributions were only sufficient to cover the staff costs of Matt Taecker, AICP, the Greenway consultant who envisioned the project with Dave Campbell, advocacy director for Bike East Bay, and John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association. The author of this article has done most of the work, and pro bono.
The Vision Plan includes extensive planning analysis, examples of built precedents, schematic design options, policy recommendations for addressing gentrification resulting from improvements, and a strategy for implementation.
With the Vision Plan now completed, grants and other funds can be gathered to prepare one or more City-sponsored plans, to thoroughly engage community members, and to address technical issues. The 80-page Vision Plan can be downloaded here.
Matt Taecker, AICP, holds an MCP and an M.Arch from UC Berkeley and a B.A. from The University of Chicago. He has been a leader in transit-oriented development for 35 years, focusing especially on downtowns and urban revitalization. His firm, Taecker Planning and Design, is located in Berkeley. You can reach him at email@example.com