Northern News June 2019

Northern News


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

Making great communities happen

June 2019

Exploring Oakland by bike

By Tom Holub, May 3, 2019. I love how cycling changes my experience of moving through the city, and I love sharing that experience with others. The idea of an urban geography tour is to help participants gain greater understanding of the city and its planning issues. This tour began by riding on Oakland’s first protected bike lanes …

Here’s your guide to the June issue

Our articles and photos are arranged by Featured articles, Where in the world (photo), Northern Section, and Planning news roundup.

Northern Section 2019 Awards announced

The results are in! Come celebrate the best of Northern California planning at our Awards Gala on Friday, June 7, at the Starline Social Club. Our jurors were Martin Alkire; Hanson Hom, AICP; Rebecca Kohlstrand, AICP; and Aaron Welsh. To purchase tickets, visit our Awards webpage.

Diridon to Downtown: Strengthening San Jose through wayfinding

By Andrea Arjona, Richard Boggs, Anthony Nachor, Carolyn Neer, and Mindy Nguyen. The community around Diridon Station shares the aspirations and goals outlined in the City’s Envision 2040 General Plan. By pursuing those goals with the concerns and hopes of the community in mind, the new Diridon Station and surrounding area can bring San Jose one step closer to becoming a world-class destination as an urban center, a major transportation hub, and the cultural heart of Silicon Valley.

Diversity, inclusion, and equity — a focus of NPC 19

By Elizabeth “Libby” Tyler, Ph.D., FAICP. NPC 19 was our first opportunity to roll out the (now formally ratified) Planning for Equity Policy Guide. On the opening Saturday, I participated in a panel on “Everyday Racism: What Planners Can Do.”

Where in the world?

Tap for the answer

Northern Section

2019 Northern Section Awards Gala June 7

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.


Re: May issue and demise of the PDFs. Kudos to you all for your hard work in …

What draws people to Downtown San Jose?

What are their concerns, expert opinions, and recommendations? This graduate student video, 8:44, is worth your time.

Registration is open for APA California’s 2019 Conference

The 2019 APA California Chapter conference will be held in Santa Barbara September 15–18, hosted by Central Coast Section at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. This year’s conference theme is “A Resilient Future.”

SJSU’s 2018 and 2019 “Brazilian Urbanism” students reunite

2018 and 2019 “Brazilian Urbanism: Past Present & Future” international studies abroad classes reunited May 9th at San Pedro Square in downtown San José.

BAPDA’s Spring Meeting: The Housing Legislation Frenzy

By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, with photos by Hing Wong, AICP. Those attending the meeting learned about the rapidly changing landscape of housing policy legislation, as well as the changes coming in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation: stricter rules for what can be counted as a developable site, and big increases in the housing unit numbers.

In the middle of your planning career? We want your ideas!

By Miroo Desai, AICP. Northern Section has created a Mid-Career Planners Group towards meeting the needs of planners who are midway in their careers. I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts for the type of activities and events that you, as a mid-career planner, would like to see offered by our Section.

New: Bay Area Equity Atlas

By Victor Rubin, PolicyLink, June 6, 2019. The Bay Area economy is experiencing phenomenal growth, yet rising inequality and displacement are making it impossible for working-class people and communities of color to stay and thrive — ultimately undermining the region’s future. A new equity data resource, “The Bay Area Equity Atlas,” brings the power of the National Equity Atlas to the local level, providing 21 equity indicators for 271 geographies across the region.

Planning news roundup

These nine northern California projects scored Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities awards from the California Strategic Growth Council

By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, as published in Northern News, June 26, 2019. SGC’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program provides grants and loans for programs and capital development projects, including affordable housing development and transportation improvements that encourage walking, bicycling, and transit use and result in fewer passenger vehicle miles traveled. From 47 proposals received, AHSC granted awards to 25 projects in California (nine in our “Northern Section” region, i.e., coastal northern California). The maximum award was $20 million.

Projects in 10 Northern Section communities receive ‘No Place Like Home’ funding awards

On June 20, California HCD awarded $179 million to developers of affordable supportive housing in 37 communities across California from the No Place Like Home Program funded by 2018’s Proposition 2. The awards mark the first funding from the program to go directly to developers.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay fined $1.6 million; failed to give public beach access

“Luxury hotel violated coastal laws for years.” By Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group, June 14, 2019. “The 261-room Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, built in 2001, will pay $1.6 million in penalties to the California Coastal Commission to settle violations of state coastal laws. $600,000 of the settlement will go to the Peninsula Open Space Trust to help purchase an adjacent 27-acres with additional public beach access.”

Former Concord Naval Weapons Station may be site of new CSU campus

By Don Ford, CBS SF KPIX 5, June 11, 2019. “For years, state and local leaders have dreamed about how best to develop the now-closed Concord Naval Weapons Station. One of those dreams included turning the former base into a four-year college – a dream that now may be a little closer to reality.”

Scott Wiener, in enemy territory, makes case for SB 50

By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, June 7, 2019. “SB 50 is alive and well, said State Senator Scott Wiener. And local control ‘is not biblical. It’s a good thing when it leads to good results, and our system of pure local control on housing has not led to good results.’ Wiener said even if tech giants like Facebook and Google are required to build housing, existing zoning would still make approval and construction a slow and difficult process.”

World’s largest co-housing building coming to San Jose

By Sarah Holder, Citylab, June 7, 2019. “An 800-unit, 18-story ‘dorm for adults’ will help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce. “The co-housing start-up Starcity is working to fill America’s housing-strapped cities with co-housing compounds. Since launching in 2016, the company has broken ground on seven developments in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

A national shout-out to Alameda!

Amanda Kolson Hurley tweets, “How did I miss a new ranking of ‘The Coolest Suburbs in America’? Discussion of methodology is surprisingly careful and good (but people will still bellyache).”

Giant apartment project gets Mountain View City Council’s blessing

By Mark Noack, Mountain View Voice, May 23, 2019. The Mountain View City Council has approved what may be the largest housing project in the city’s history. The colossal development at 777 W. Middlefield Road is slated to include 711 new apartments, including 144 affordable units for local teachers and city workers. The development was originally

SB 50 was shelved: Here’s what you need to know

By Matt Levin and Ben Christopher, CALmatters, May 17, 2019. SB 50’s fate dealt an unexpected setback to pro-development forces in the state Capitol and a major victory for defenders of local control over housing decisions. It also throws an obstacle onto Gov. Gavin Newsom’s path as he tries to goad the state into building a lot more housing, and it could jeopardize a broader housing package — including tenant protections. “Short of significantly amending the bill and limiting its applications in large swaths of the state, there was no path to move forward this year,” said Senate leader Toni Atkins.

This ‘pocket neighborhood’ has 8 houses on a lot, instead of one McMansion

By Adele Peters, Fast Company, May 14, 2019. MicroLife Institute, the Atlanta-based nonprofit developing the project, promotes small-space living in walkable neighborhoods and worked to help the city change its zoning code to make a tiny home community possible. After passing the ordinance in 2017, the city approved the plans for the development this month. The homes will go up for presale this summer, and the neighborhood should be completed by the end of the year.

Civil rights attorneys protest Mountain View’s proposed RV ban

By Mark Noack, Mountain View Voice, May 13, 2019. “Mountain View’s proposed ban on large vehicles has provoked a stern warning from civil rights attorneys who say it would discriminate against the city’s homeless. In a nine-page, footnoted letter to the city, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley both urged Mountain View officials not to move forward with plans to prohibit large vehicles over six feet tall from parking on the street. A March staff report noted that a future ordinance would carve out special exemptions for business owners, residents, government officials, and other groups to continue parking their oversized vehicles on the street.”

How Old Oakland’s historic buildings survived decay (and demolition)

By Ryan Levi, Bay Curious, KQED, May 9, 2019. “Old Oakland — Washington Street between Eighth and 10th Streets — has brick-lined sidewalks leading into grand Victorians that date to the late 1800s. The area is thriving with trendy stores, hip restaurants and bars, a popular Friday farmers market, and even a Steph Curry pop-up shop. But none of that might exist if a UC Berkeley architecture student hadn’t stumbled upon those forgotten Victorians more than 50 years ago.”

Neighboring Peninsula cities see housing actions differently

By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, May 7, 2019. “The city councils of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park met in a joint session on May 6 for an update on and a discussion of the various housing bills now going through Sacramento. Most of the council members focused on Senate Bill 50. The only thing they agreed on is that each community would benefit from collaborating and coordinating to address the regional housing shortage. East Palo Alto Councilman Larry Moody challenged cities that oppose the bill to offer their own plans to address the humanitarian crisis. East Palo Alto Vice Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones and Councilman Ruben Abrica urged opponents of SB 50 to propose alternative solutions. Rather than fight the state, Abrica said, cities should make suggestions to the Legislature to address the problem.”

Perth councillors support 27-storey affordable housing tower despite planners’ objections

By Editorial Desk, Architecture AU, May 6, 2019. “Perth, Western Australia, councillors have voted in support of a 27-storey mixed-use development containing 30 percent social and affordable housing, despite a recommendation that the proposal be rejected due to an excessive plot ratio [and insufficient] community benefits or facilities. The landowner and project developer is the Western Australia government’s Department of Communities, and the Western Australian Planning Commission is the body responsible for the final approval.”

On Amazon’s decision to move to New York City, then cancel

By J. David Goodman, metro reporter, The New York Times, May 1, 2019. “Many venture capitalists like to think of New York as the next Silicon Valley, but the cultures are not the same. You saw that dramatically with Amazon’s flat-footed rollout. The company thought it would be welcomed because it was bringing so many jobs. [But] the Amazon team was surprised by the onslaught of questions from reporters. Many New Yorkers were equally baffled that the company could be so naïve and so unprepared.”