By the Editorial Board, The New York Times, April 28, 2019.
“California finally is beginning to consider solutions to its housing crisis that are on the same scale as the problem. …
“Precisely because [SB50] rewrites the rules for so much California land, it is likely to facilitate development at a wide range of price points. But even if the new construction is disproportionately upscale, it could serve to reduce development pressures on communities outside the rezoned areas.
“It is not, to be sure, a silver bullet. Even if the state can reduce rents and home prices by greatly increasing the amount of new housing, California still needs to find the means and will to subsidize housing for those who cannot afford market-rate units. But it would be a mistake to preserve some affordable housing by preventing the construction of more affordable housing.
“It is time to rewrite the rules: The solution to California’s housing crisis is more housing.”
Read the full article here. If you hit a paywall, go here.
By Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times. April 24, 2019.
SB 50 will be amended to do all of the below. SB 4 will be held in committee.
Sensitive communities agreement with housing advocates:
Include at a minimum those areas: designated high segregation and poverty and low-resource in TCAC opportunity maps; top 25% Cal EnviroScreen scores; 2019 HUD qualified census tracts; potentially others
COGs run process to identify sensitive communities with minimum requirements for outreach to disadvantaged populations
Opt in before July 1, 2025 to planning process based on petition with 20% population in census tract signing and specified outreach requirements
Changes to ensure offsite affordable housing is actually built: no certificate of occupancy on market rate without building permit, and has to be near transit and within half mile of original project site.
Technical amendments to clarify how density bonus works.
Commitment to include inclusionary percentages that are worked out with housing advocates and agreeable to SGF committee.
Creation of fourplexes by right (regardless of jurisdiction population) in residential areas on vacant land and allows conversions of existing structure—but no demolition, as follows:
75% of exterior walls must be intact and no more than +15% increase square footage. Also has to abide by all other local regulations (setbacks, lot coverage, FAR, height, etc).
Must include SB 35 limitations on eligible parcels.
Exempt very high fire hazard severity zones.
Exempt coastal zone in cities with populations less than 50,000.
Restrict bill to infill parcels in coastal zone regardless of jurisdiction size.
In counties over 600,000 population:
SB 50 zoning provisions regarding rail, ferry, job rich, and bus stop (as modified below):
Exempt contributing parcels in legislatively-adopted historic districts in existence as of 2010, and density bonus language going forward
Bus stops: Shorten headways to 10 minutes during peak times to qualify. Clarify that it’s each line going in each direction. Must have met the headway standard for the past 5 years.
SB 50 parking (no parking around rail, 0.5 spaces per unit minimum elsewhere)
In counties 600,000 population or less, modify equitable communities incentive to:
Grant waiver from density (with minimum of 30 units/acre in urban jurisdictions and 20/units acre in suburban jurisdictions, as defined in existing law), height limits of zoning on the parcel plus one story, and floor area ratio of 0.6 times the # of stories for projects within half-mile around rail/ferry in cities over 50,000
Continue to work with Senate EQ on identifying a definition of “infill” that doesn’t induce sprawl.
Exempt floodplains per SB4
SB 4 parking applies: no parking minimum within ¼ mile of rail in cities over 100,000, 0.5 spaces per unit minimum elsewhere
Our research found that if cities chose to make simple design changes to pedestrian areas (or as we say, to the street-edge), the area’s outdoor eating experience could be notably safer as well as more enjoyable.
Having garnered significant results from our research as well as success from our Street Air group, we intend to continue working with the city [of San Francisco] throughout the Columbus Avenue redesign and plan to help other cities who reach out to us, seeking design suggestions for their new projects.
Street Air is expanding by bringing on more students with ideas for projects they’d like to pursue. PM 1 monitors have been recently donated by local North Beach families and we have started some of the first street-edge PM 1 measurements in California.
Northern News is saddened to announce the passing of its PDF on April 14 in San Francisco.
At an unobtrusive table not far from the entry to Moscone Center West, a small group of city planners said goodbye on April 14 to the last Northern News PDF, handing out bespoke printed copies of the April 2019 edition. Among them was Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, 85, who as Northern News’ editor since 2005, has overseen the growth and development of the publication from a brown and white, eight-page, printed and mailed newsletter to its current all-digital format.
The child of Northern Section AIP News and Northern Section AIP Newsletter,Northern News was born in San Francisco in November 1978.
By all accounts, Northern News was happy in its cut-and-paste pre-PDF childhood in the Bay Area. As a teen, it grew into a PDF, which in the 1990s was a new way for individuals to share text and inline images with each other — and with printers who could mail printed versions of documents to subscribers — in this case, to Northern California planners.
But with printing and mailing costs escalating in the early 2000s, the APA California Northern Section board voted in July 2007 to cease mail delivery of the Northern News PDF and instead distribute the PDF via the Internet. That same year, the PDF was reformatted so that each article would be set in a single, continuous, right-hand column of text that could be read easily on a computer screen — thin page breaks were the only interruptions.
In April 2011, a full-color magazine cover was added to the PDF that, by then, had become a news magazine averaging 24 pages per issue.
The single-column, continuous-page PDF was produced through April 2013, but its format changed after a chance meeting on an airplane when editor Knox sat in first class and next to the owner and CEO of a multinational media corporation. Observing Mr. Knox reviewing and editing Northern News on an iPad, he introduced himself and asked to look at the publication. The executive then pointed out that readers tend to skim PDF documents, and that readership drops off quickly with each succeeding page. Assuming that growing and maintaining readership was important, the CEO said, it was critical to begin major articles on an early page but then continue each article to the back after just one page — rather than continuing an article onto consecutive pages until it is complete. Thus each new page in, say, the first 10, would begin a new article.
The very next PDF of Northern News, May 2013, adopted that format, which continued until the death of the PDF six years later.
Northern News PDF saw some heady days. It averaged 30.4 pages during the three years 2014–2016, and the longest Northern News PDF ever (27,800 words on 38 pages, with 40 images) was the two-month edition issued for December 2015-January 2016.
Vital until the very end, Northern News PDF left behind a 37-page April 2019 issue with six major articles, 15,500 words, and 54 images.
The Northern Section board and the editors expect to continue Northern News without interruption and without PDF, in the format in which you are reading this memoriam.
Diversity Directors Cindy Ma, AICP, and Cherise Orange kicked off 2019 with STORYTELLING — an art and a creative way to connect people through words and to take their imaginations across distant lands. Stories can be funny, meaningful, emotional, or a mixture of all. Storytelling can help planners generate interest, understand the communities they serve, and empower residents.
The first Diversity event of the year, a Planners of Color (POC) mixer, was held Wednesday, March 27, at Lost & Found on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. More than 25 Bay Area planners attended to exchange ideas, network, and enjoy.
To learn about what the Diversity Committee has in store for 2019 and to sign up for event blasts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area Council Economic Institute, April 2019, 42 pp.
“At the end of each year, the Bay Area Council surveys its members to determine which public policy areas are of the greatest concern to the region’s largest employers. In the Council’s 2017 survey, ending chronic homelessness emerged as a top public policy priority for the first time.
“This study, undertaken in cooperation with global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, aims to provide policymakers with new data and perspectives on how to solve what has become the defining moral challenge facing both the Bay Area region and California.
“Until very recently, homelessness was considered the problem of individual cities and counties. For a metropolitan region like the Bay Area, which is divided into nine counties and 101 cities, this approach fails to meet the needs of an intra-regionally mobile homeless population.
“In this report, a regional lens provides a new perspective on the homelessness crisis and offers new ways to address the problem.
“California’s relatively recent industrial development and rapid and sustained population growth over the 20th century have deprived it of inheriting large stocks of abandoned workforce housing that older cities in the Midwest and East Coast have transformed into shelters and extremely low-income housing. Cities on the West Coast, including in the Bay Area, have no such redundant housing at their disposal.”
A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section
Making great communities happen
Nonprofits may get dibs on SF apartment buildings • Meet a local planner • WHERE IN THE WORLD • NORCAL APA NEWS • Sustainable Chinatown wins (Environmental Planning) Gold at NPC19 • Director’s note • New! Northern Section webinar series • 2019 Northern Section Awards Gala June 7 • Pro bono planning assistance for California communities • My short course on Working with Difficult People • SF Urban Film Festival news • Storytelling at People of Color mixer • Street Air on Earth Day • PHOTOS FROM NPC19 • PLANNING NEWS ROUNDUP
Nonprofits may soon get first dibs on SF apartment buildings
By Jared Brey, Next City, April 9, 2019. The Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) was passed unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors April 16th. If the ordinance passes a second vote on April 23rd and is signed by the mayor, nonprofits will have a right of first refusal to buy and preserve existing affordable housing — apartment buildings with more than three units. Landlords who want to sell their buildings would first need to notify qualified nonprofit groups of their intent to sell.
An interview by Catarina Kidd, AICP, associate editor. Kristi Bascom’s undergraduate classes in environmental studies were her first exposure to land use planning. After earning a master’s degree in city planning, she worked for several Bay Area cities. She is now Project Manager at Habitat for Humanity, East Bay/Silicon Valley, a position she took just this January.
Sustainable Chinatown wins the (Environmental Planning) Gold at NPC19
From APA, April 15, 2019. Sustainable Chinatown began in 2014 as a collaboration between the Chinatown Community Development Center, SF Planning Department, SF Department of the Environment, and Enterprise Community Partners to create more affordable housing, improve access to public space, and provide services to residents and businesses.
By James A. Castañeda, AICP. I write this after four stimulating days in the halls of Moscone West, still processing from the hugely successful National Planning Conference held here. The vast undertaking is behind us, but I hope our section can continue the themes, energy, and momentum locally.
Throughout 2019, we will hold a series of quarterly webinars on Northern California’s best practices in planning, and offering CM credits. COMPLETE OUR FORM BY APRIL 30 to let us know what YOU would like to present in the webinars.
By Carmela Campbell, Awards Program Co-director. Meet and mingle with fellow planners on Friday evening, June 7, as we present our Northern Section awards at Starline Social Club, a restaurant / bar at 2236 Martin Luther King Junior Way, Oakland.
Pro bono planning assistance for California communities
By Robert Paternoster, FAICP. Do you know of a municipality or group that needs planning assistance but doesn’t have the resources? Or a new or struggling planning function that could benefit from peer review and support? APA California can help with Community Planning Assistance, free to communities in need.
By Steve Matarazzo. This is about arrogance in the public sector workplace, what might be behind it, and how it tends to play out. If you are reading this, I am probably not writing about you. I expect, however, that you will relate to this article.
Diversity Directors Cindy Ma, AICP, and Cherise Orange kicked off 2019’s first mixer with STORYTELLING — an art and a creative way to connect people through words and to take their imaginations across distant lands.
Northern News is saddened to announce the passing of its PDF on April 14 in San Francisco. Vital until the very end, Northern News PDF left behind a 37-page April 2019 issue with six major articles, 15,500 words, and 54 images.
NPC19, Jack London Beverage Belt Mobile workshop. Sharon Grewal, AICP.
NPC19 reception for current and past APA presidents, April 15, 2019. Photo: Hing Wong, AICP.
NPC19. Modular Housing Factory tour, bonus stop at Savage & Cook Distillery, Mare Island.
NPC19. Northern Section Board members at the California Chapter reception, Green Room, Veterans Memorial, San Francisco, April 14: L-r, front: James Castañeda, Ellen Yau, Catarina Kidd, Sarah Allen, Veronica Flores, Lindy Chan, Ahshan Hamid, Yosef Yip. Middle row: Sharon Grewal, Justin Meek, Della Acosta, Shannon Hake, Cherise Orange, Florentina Craciun. Back row: Juan Borrelli, Donald Bradley, Kristine Gaspar, Jonathan Schuppert, Tom Holub, Mark Young, Greg Holisko.
NPC19. James Castañeda, AICP, on "How I learned to stop worrying and live with email," at "Fast, funny, and passionate 1," April 13.
NPC19. Market Street Hub Mobile Workshop, April 13. Libby Tyler, FAICP.
NPC19. Looking at the California delegation (front two tables) at the conclusion of the 2019 APA Delegate Assembly, April 14. Photo: Lynn Ross, AICP.
NPC19. Oakland, Yerba Buena Island, and Bay bridge from Salesforce Tower
Commuting home via ferry Monday evening after a day at NPC19. Photo: George Osner, AICP.
NPC19. On the ferry to Larkspur for "The SMART way to transit" mobile workshop, April 14. Photo: Co-leader Kristine Gaspar
NPC19, early morning Fitness Activity–Yoga, April 15. Photo: Ellen Yau
NPC19, surprised to see a shout-out to Northern News in a presentation. Photo: Catarina Kidd, AICP
NPC 19, San Francisco from Twin Peaks. Photo: Justin Meek, AICP
A repurposed, former forge shop on land owned by the Port of San Francisco in the Union Iron Works Historic District, photographed April 15 during Mobile workshop NPC190024. The building is in Mission Bay, home to biotech companies, educational institutions, and (soon) the Warriors. Photo: Justin Meek, AICP.
John Rahaim, Director, San Francisco Planning Dept., welcomes conferees to NPC19. Photo: James Castañeda, AICP.
Modular Housing Factory Tour (NPC190081) at Factory OS, Mare Island. From left, Timothy Nichols (Factory OS) and workshop co-leader Charlie Bryant, AICP (with cap). Photo by co-leader Afshan Hamid, AICP.
Alesia Hsiao, AICP, of San Francisco Planning Department, speaking during the panel on "Humanizing the Housing Crisis." Photo: Veronica Flores.
San Francisco Planning Department Director, John Rahaim, welcomes NPC19 attendees to the APA Foundation Reception, 61st floor, Salesforce Tower. Photo: Veronica Flores.
“WePark shows that in cities like San Francisco, coworking is unaffordable to many, and the sheer volume of free space allocated to parked cars could be put to much better use.” But not housing — so far.
By the Editorial Board, The New York Times, April 28, 2019. “Precisely because [SB50] rewrites the rules for so much California land, it is likely to facilitate development at a wide range of price points. … it could serve to reduce development pressures on communities outside the rezoned areas. … But it would be a mistake to preserve some affordable housing by preventing the construction of more affordable housing.”
By Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times. April 24, 2019. SB 50 will be amended to do all of the below. SB 4 will be held in committee. The flowchart (created by Alfred Twu, Berkeley artist and activist) explains how different places may or may not be affected.
By Zelda Zivny, Milo Wetherall, and Charlie Millenbah, April 22, 2019. Our research found that if cities chose to make simple design changes to pedestrian areas (or as we say, to the street-edge), the area’s outdoor eating experience could be notably safer as well as more enjoyable. Our recently completed film, “Airgregates, the Impact of Concrete Mixing Facilities on the Bay View Community,” has been selected as a finalist in the upcoming Clear the Air Film Fest sponsored by Breathe CA and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Bay Area Council Economic Institute, April 2019, 42 pp. At the end of each year, the Bay Area Council surveys its members to determine which public policy areas are of the greatest concern to the region’s largest employers. In the Council’s 2017 survey, ending chronic homelessness emerged as a top public policy priority.
By Nathanael Johnson in Grist, April 17, 2019. Oakland’s government has made removal of Interstate 980 a part of its plan for a growing downtown. The teardown could become part of a regional push to relieve traffic congestion by building a second BART tunnel beneath the bay.
By Alicia Murillo, California HCD, April 12, 2019. As a result of Gov. Newsom’s efforts to address the state’s housing affordability crisis, the California HCD is seeing significant progress in compliance with state housing law. In February, Governor Newsom met with California mayors from noncomplying cities. Three cities have since complied and 14 others have submitted drafts or committed to compliance.
By Ted Andersen, Digital Editor, San Francisco Business Times, April 12, 2019. The City by the Bay has dethroned the Big Apple as the world’s priciest place for new construction. This year, San Francisco removes New York from the top spot, having increased by 5 percent in the last year, according to a new report by consulting company Turner & Townsend.
From an article by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner, April 10, 2019. San Francisco’s Sunset District and Parkside neighborhoods are home to roughly 70,000 people. The seed of that development is the L Line, one little streetcar route established 100 years ago that soon connected downtown to the dunes.
This is about arrogance in the public sector workplace, what might be behind it, and how it tends to play out.
If you are reading this, I am probably not writing about you being either an arrogant planner or a bureaucrat. I expect, however, that you will relate to this article, as the two types of “arrogant planner” I will describe are ubiquitous in the California public sector city-planning landscape. Keep in mind, I am only describing two types of high and mighty planner — and most of us are collegial, team players, and delightful in every way.
Over the past 40 years of my planning career, most of which has been within city and county planning departments, I have encountered two types of arrogant planner.
One appears to use arrogance as a defense mechanism, employing obnoxious behavior to keep fellow planners and other bureaucrats at bay. This planner tends to have a “hubristic arrogance,” or an overestimation of his or her competence. But on close examination, he turns out to be less than fully qualified for the position he holds and doesn’t want anyone to know about it. So he or she behaves abhorrently to repel people.
The second type of arrogant planner is imperious because he or she is better qualified and more competent than most of the other planners around. This planner has what I call a “prideful arrogance” based on his or her superior abilities compared to the other planners with whom she works or engages.
His holier than thou attitude bears results similar to the behavior of the first type: he tends to repel close, working relationships with other planners in the department.
Regarding the first type of arrogant planner, I have found little to gain from their knowledge, or lack thereof, so I have tended to give them the space they seek and deserve. But it is the second type of arrogant planner I have found most intriguing, and will engage with, no matter how strongly repulsive or condescending. Why? Because the imperious planners, like them or not, have had something to teach me. I have garnered significant vocational benefits from them over the years.
And then, of course, there are planners — arrogant or not — who may be difficult or repulsive for other reasons. Some may have had to attend several late night meetings in a row, or carry unreasonable workloads, or are going through adverse domestic situations. These planners may have barely slept for weeks while trying to solve major planning problems for the cities for which they work. It’s no surprise that they also tend to give you short shrift. So if you work with or around any of these planners — and there are quite a few these days — cut them some slack!
For the past three years, Steve Matarazzo has been planning director at the UC MBEST Center at the former Fort Ord, California. Before that, he was with Michael Baker International, and served as Sand City community development director (14 years) and city manager (six years) before retiring in March 2014. In earlier positions, Matarazzo worked for Santa Cruz County, Morgan Hill, and Woodside. He holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara. Over the years, Matarazzo has written a number of op-eds for Northern News, most recently in March 2017.
Do you know of a municipality or community group that desperately needs planning assistance to address a pressing problem but doesn’t have the resources to hire a planner or planning consultant? Or perhaps you know of a new or struggling planning function that could benefit from peer review and support?
APA California can come to the rescue with its Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) program. Modeled after an APA National program of the same name, Cal Chapter’s CPAT provides pro bono (i.e., free) planning assistance to communities in need.
CPAT pairs teams of expert planning professionals from throughout the State with local resident, business, and government stakeholders to address a specific planning issue. The team members engage the community representatives in a short but intensive planning process which might result in a vision for the community’s future, a strategy for achieving specific planning goals, a site plan for a developing area, an economic development strategy, or a collaborative planning process for resolving ongoing local planning problems. Recent projects have included an economic development plan for Hughson, CA (southeast of Modesto); a set of action priorities for a new downtown development coordinator in Oxnard; and a revitalization strategy for Downtown Kingsburg, CA (southeast of Fresno).
Here’s how to bring this free and helpful service to a town or community group that needs such assistance: Tell a local leader who might champion the project about CPAT, and put him or her in touch with the program administrator, Bob Paternoster (562) 400-3825 or email@example.com. The program description — along with links to complete the Community Planning Assistance Team Volunteer Form and to complete and file a Community Request for Assistance Form — can be found here.
You may want to help the community fill out and submit the Request for Assistance. The only cost to the community would be the transportation and room and board costs for the team, usually no more than a few thousand dollars.
This is a great opportunity for communities throughout California. Please spread the word!
Robert Paternoster, FAICP, is an independent planning professional in the Los Angeles area. He served as Director of Planning and Building in Long Beach for 22 years and as Director of Community Development in Sunnyvale for six years. Bob holds a master of city planning from Harvard University and a BS in civil engineering from Lehigh University.