A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section
Making great communities happen
This issue has three featured articles, two “Where in the world” photos, four items related directly to Northern Section APA members (including 14 planners highlighted in “Who’s where”), and 12 recaps in Planning news roundup. Enjoy!
Collaborative, sensory-based community engagement for a more equitable bike/pedestrian environment
By John Kamp and James Rojas, July 5, 2019. When Palo Alto’s California Avenue bicycle and pedestrian underpass was built more than 50 years ago beneath the Caltrain tracks, it was intended to solve one problem: allow pedestrians and bicyclists to safely pass from one side of the tracks to the other. The tunnel’s designers never foresaw that bicycling would ultimately skyrocket — today nearly half of Palo Alto students ride their bikes to school — and thus bicyclists and pedestrians now have to share a particularly confined space. As a result, pedestrians using the tunnel increasingly perceive those who bike through it as disregarding their personal space and coming dangerously close to hitting them.
The students pushing Stanford to build more housing
By Jared Brey, NextCity, June 13, 2019. This article, originally published in Next City, is republished in entirety, with permission. “Like a lot of big universities, Stanford is almost a small city of its own. Operating in the unincorporated town of Stanford, California, in Santa Clara County, Stanford hosts 16,000 students and employs 13,000 people on faculty and staff. It owns more than 8,000 acres of land in six jurisdictions. And it is seeking approval for around 2.275 million square feet of new space through a General Use Permit, a periodically updated document that guides the university’s growth.”
People have been building new cities from scratch for millennia. When countries rise up, when markets emerge, people build new cities. Today, though, we are taking it to unheard-of levels. Guardian Cities has been exploring this phenomenon of cities built from scratch. Here are excerpts from two recent articles in The Guardian.
CPF NEEDS YOUR HELP in supporting planning students
The California Planning Foundation is now accepting items for the annual CPF auction and raffle to be held at the APA California Conference in Santa Barbara, September 15-18. To donate items for the auction and raffle, please fill out the donation form linked in this article and email it to Aaron Pfannenstiel, or call him at (951) 444-9379 if you have questions.
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.
News about Jonathan Atkinson, AICP; Jim Bergdoll, AICP; Jim Carney; Sharon Grewal, AICP; Shayda Haghgoo; James Hinkamp, AICP; Noah Housh; Catarina Kidd, AICP; Edgar Maravilla; Steve McHarris, AICP; Megan Porter, AICP; Avalon Schultz, AICP; Jason Su; and Kristy Weis.
After a whirlwind spring for those of us in the Northern Section — what with APA’s NPC19 in San Francisco and our annual Awards Gala in Oakland — summer has arrived. For many of us, it’s an opportunity to bask in the longer days, take family vacations, or take a little R&R. But your Northern Section board is working on programs for the second half of 2019.
Thirty from Northern Section pass May 2019 AICP exam
Just under 500 APA members passed the AICP Certification Exam administered in May. The 30 Northern Section members listed below include five who are enrolled in the AICP Candidate Pilot Program and may now use the AICP Candidate designation. Congratulations to all!
We publish 10 times each year as a forum for the exchange of planning ideas and information. Entirely the effort of volunteers, Northern News is written and produced by and for urban planners in northern California.
By Ben Lovejoy, 9to5mac.com, August 6, 2019. “A report jointly commissioned by Uber and Lyft has revealed that ride-sharing companies create significantly more city-center congestion than they’d predicted. The study looked at the impact of what are formally known as ‘transportation network companies’ (TNCs) in six cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.”
By Diego Aguilar-Canabal, July 17, 2019. “Oakland’s permit application expressly forbids scooter companies from restricting their operations to ‘certain geographical areas of the city’ without written permission. Additionally, the city requires that 50 percent of all scooters be allocated to ‘communities of concern’ — a regionwide measure of racial and economic disparities outlined by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. That stands in stark contrast to San Francisco, where scooters are allowed in less than a third of the city. For instance, the city’s Bayview and Mission Districts feature three times as many bicycle commuters as the rest of the city overall, but scooters are still not available to rent in those areas.”
By Kevin Forestieri, Mountain View Voice, July 28, 2019. The civil suit by the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA), challenges the city’s denial of a proposed mixed-use building at 40 Main St. with 15 housing units. The City Council concluded the project didn’t meet the criteria needed to skip the normal planning process. CaRLA alleges city leaders violated SB 35 by failing to cite an ‘objective’ rationale for blocking the project. The suit seeks to void Los Altos’ denial of the project and compel the city to approve the application.
By Maggie Angst, The Mercury News, July 27, 2019. Redwood City had one of the least restrictive ADU ordinances on the Peninsula — allowing units to reach 28 feet above the ground and 700 square feet of space above a garage. But the city council voted 6-1 to limit the size and height of second-story granny flats while providing incentives for construction of single-story units. The new ordinance is expected to go into effect at the end of September.
By Scott Wilson, The Washington Post, July 22, 2019. In recent years, California’s traditional north-south rivalry has given way to an east-west divide over government policy and resources. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Bay Area liberal, pledged during last year’s campaign to make closing that gap a priority.
By Kate Wolffe, KQED News, July 26, 2019. The ‘All In’ campaign, which launched July 25th, aims to mobilize a broad coalition of community members to develop immediate housing solutions for the city’s chronically homeless population. The primary objective is to secure a total of 1,100 housing units for homeless people across all 11 supervisorial districts of the city.
Brookings Senior Research Analyst Hanna Love and Senior Fellow Jennifer S. Vey write that the childless city is not inescapable, but “We must look to innovative, place-based strategies aimed at creating cities where families of all means not only can afford to live, but where they can thrive.” They offer a list of recommendations.
By Derek Thompson, excerpted from The Atlantic, July 18, 2019. “In high-density cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, no group is growing faster than rich college-educated whites without children. By contrast, families with children older than 6 are in outright decline in these places. It turns out that America’s urban rebirth is a coast-to-coast trend: In Washington, D.C., the overall population has grown more than 20 percent this century, but the number of children under age 18 has declined. Meanwhile, San Francisco has the lowest share of children of any of the largest 100 cities in the U.S.”
Up to 30,000 acres of agricultural land between Suisun City and Rio Vista has been purchased, and a Fairfield city councilwoman wants to know for what purpose it might be used. Meanwhile, 70 miles away, a working ranch of 50,500 acres northeast of San Jose and southeast of Livermore is for sale for $72 million.
“Under the old method, excavators smash the structure into rubble that gets placed in containers and shipped to a waste-sorting facility. The operation takes a few days and a crew of two to three, and costs between $8 and $12 per square foot to complete. The new model calls for buildings to be systematically disassembled, typically in the reverse order in which they were constructed. Based on two recent pilot projects, deconstruction would take about 10 to 15 days to complete and require a crew of four to eight people, costing from $22 to $34 per square foot.”
By Michael Hobbes, an excerpt from HuffPost, July 6, 2019. “Locals are losing their minds over issues related to housing, zoning, and transportation. Ugly public meetings are becoming increasingly common in cities across the country as residents frustrated by worsening traffic, dwindling parking, and rising homelessness take up fierce opposition. Rowdy public hearings are nothing new in city politics. Meetings cut short after boos and jeering are usually sparked by projects or policy changes intended to address America’s worsening housing crisis. … Cities can redesign community outreach to encourage input from groups that have traditionally been excluded. But it’s not clear if longer or more inclusive citizen engagement will lower the temperature of local debates over density and growth.”
By Elliot Njus, The Oregonian, June 30, 2019. By a 17-9 vote, the Oregon Senate on June 30 gave final legislative approval to a bill that would effectively eliminate single-family zoning in large Oregon cities. House Bill 2001 now heads to Gov. Kate Brown to be signed into law.
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.
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.
By Matt Levin, CALmatters, June 20, 2019. “The California Dream is a global brand. For more than a century the state has been a magnet for migrants from around the world, and now has the largest foreign-born population of any state in the country. Here are five maps and charts illustrating the past and present of who’s moving in and, lately, moving out.”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”