Day: September 21, 2019

Northern News October 2019
Above photo of the San Francisco skyline, looking south from Tiburon, is by George Osner. "Meet a local planner" returns in this issue.

Northern News October 2019

Northern News


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

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Planning news roundup

What SF crane watch does and doesn’t tell us

By Sarah Holder, CityLab, September 24, 2019. “As dots on a map, all cranes may look the same. But their impact isn’t indiscriminate. Are they harbingers of displacement, or agents of much-needed supply?”

Bay Area employment tops 4.1 million jobs for first time

Excerpts from a Mercury News article by George Avalos, September 21, 2019. The Bay Area’s job market growth has outpaced the state and the nation. For the first time, the Bay Area has more than 4.1 million non-farm payroll jobs, and the newest jobs pay more.

Vancouver may be able to pull off ride-hailing as a complement to public transit

Excerpts from an article in CityLab by Laura Bliss, September 17, 2019. Fifty-three percent of Vancouverites manage to get to work by means other than driving. One thing is conspicuously missing from this urbanist dreamscape: ride-hailing: Uber tried but couldn’t get its way into Vancouver in 2012. But applications to operate a TNC in British Columbia opened on September 3, and B.C. transportation leaders are cautiously optimistic about being a last-adopter.

“Accept the Era of the Ministerial”

“Cities around California are beginning to feel tremendous pressure from the state to accommodate new housing rather than just plan for it. And there’s a growing feeling among planners around California that the cities they work for had better be more proactive on the housing issue so that the state doesn’t step in with even more onerous requirements.” —Bill Fulton, remarking on CP&DR about a panel at the recent APA California conference in Santa Barbara.

Less disruptive passenger pick-ups and drop-offs for ride-hail apps

Univ of Washington press release, Sept 5, 2019. Creating a designated space for passenger loading (PLZ) can discourage double-parking and reduce traffic conflicts, with geofencing used to increase driver compliance.

SB 330 has passed the California Legislature and is on the governor’s desk

The new law will spur development of affordable housing, limit fees on affordable housing, prohibit demolition of affordable and rent-controlled units unless they’re replaced, and give existing tenants first right of return. The bill was enrolled and presented to the Governor at 2 pm on September 17th.

Main-Street Modern: How Columbus, Indiana, became a design capital

From an article by Kriston Capps, CityLab, with eight large color photos, Sept. 3, 2019. “Just 45 minutes south of Indianapolis, Columbus is in most respects a quaint Hoosier town brimming with main-street appeal. But in one vital way, it is unlike any other place in the country. It is a mecca for Modernism, a repository of mid-century architecture. As unlikely as it sounds, Columbus, Indiana, is a citadel of design.”

Bay Area employment tops 4.1 million jobs for first time

Excerpts from a Mercury News article by George Avalos, September 21, 2019

“The Bay Area added 5,100 [non-farm payroll] jobs during August. The upswing was led by the region’s three major employment hubs, the South Bay, East Bay, and San Francisco-San Mateo region, the state’s Employment Development Department reported. Mark Vitner, senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank, said ‘The region continues to be on a roll because the tech sector is the fastest growing part of the economy.’

“The Bay Area’s job market growth has outpaced the state and the nation. Over the one-year period that ended in August, job totals grew by 2.5 percent in the Bay Area [even with job losses of 1,900 in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties. That compares to a 1.4 percent gain nationally and 1.8 percent in California.]

“[This is] the first time, the Bay Area has had more than 4.1 million non-farm payroll jobs. The last time the nine-county region suffered a job loss was in October 2018, EDD statistics show.

“Plus, the types of jobs appearing in the South Bay and San Mateo regions are well-paying tech positions. It appears the tech sector has yet to cool off in the Bay Area, said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. ‘The job growth in these areas is fantastically positive in terms of income gains,’ Levy said. ‘They are information jobs, professional, scientific, and technical positions, tech jobs, categories that are higher-paying and faster-growing.’ ”

Read the full article here. 

Reclaiming Downtown for People
Gateway Alternative: A rendering (by Opticos Design, Inc.) of a slower speed, more pedestrian-oriented “gateway” at the existing 5-point Mission and Foothill Boulevard intersection, part of the Plan’s long-term vision. (Page 4, mobility).

Reclaiming Downtown for People

Downtown Hayward Specific Plan, Code, and EIR

By Henry Pontarelli


The City of Hayward is in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Its once thriving Downtown has faced the loss of retailers to outlying malls and pressures from big-box stores, online shopping, vacancies, and underutilized properties, and the evolution to an auto-oriented street and neighborhood pattern.


The Downtown also integrated a Bypass Alternative (called the “Loop”) meant to alleviate regional traffic congestion, but which has brought high local traffic volumes and speeds, barriers to pedestrians and cyclists, and detracted from the community’s goals for a safe, beautiful, walkable, bikeable, and family-oriented destination.

Existing Roadway Network: Hayward’s existing Downtown street network. The one-way Alternative Bypass is highlighted in red.

In 2014, the City secured funding for a comprehensive planning effort in a Downtown Specific Plan, Code and EIR (alternately referred to as Plan or Project) — a comprehensive assessment of existing conditions and substantive input from the community and City staff. The Project also featured the collaboration from a team of experts in urban planning, zoning codes, transportation, community design, retail, economics, and environmental compliance led by Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. (LWC). The final Plan was driven by the community’s vision to be a regional destination, celebrated for its distinct history, culture, and diversity; providing shopping, entertainment, employment, and housing options for residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds; and accessible by bike, foot, public transit, and car.

The Plan showcases goals, policies, and programs to address mobility, infrastructure, and design, and identifies potential funding sources, timelines, and roles and responsibilities for implementation. At the urging of the community, the Plan turns one of the Loop’s most dangerous and least pedestrian-friendly intersections into a multi-modal gateway to the city. The Project also included updating the City’s Downtown land development code and fulfilled California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements.

After over two and a half years of hard work and determination, the Hayward City Council approved the Plan unanimously in April 2019 with support from local unions that pledged to work side-by-side with the city to build more housing, more businesses, and make Hayward stronger.


In 2014, the City of Hayward undertook a $1.12 million Downtown Specific Plan, Form-Based Code, and EIR (Plan) with the help of a generous grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). The grant funded the Specific Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR), with the City funding the Code update. The Plan met ACTC’s mission to “deliver a broad range of projects and programs to enhance mobility throughout Alameda County.” Focused on downtown land uses, the City established priorities for revitalizing flagging business conditions, addressing vacancies and underutilized parcels, fixing a transportation pattern best suited for moving cars through downtown at near highway speeds, and preparing the city for the onrushing future.

Through a public bidding process, the City hired San Francisco-based Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc., to write the Specific Plan, update the code, lead the community engagement, and manage a team of top-tier consultants. The team included Nelson\Nygaard and Kittleson & Associates on transportation planning and modeling, Opticos Design Inc. on community design, Sherwood Design Engineers on civil infrastructure and integrating natural features, MJB Consulting on retail strategies, and Placeworks on the EIR.

The City of Hayward lies in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite vacancies, the downtown has established businesses, and it has seen some new business activity. The Downtown’s core offers an attractive, pedestrian-friendly street grid, parks, creek, public gardens, dozens of historic properties, and proximity to one of the busiest non-urban Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations. However, like many East Bay communities, it has been difficult to catch the fire for housing demand and business growth in nearby San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley. Through a comprehensive and thoughtfully crafted scope of services, the City sought to assess and understand the forces that affect the Downtown, get a solid read on community sentiment, and develop a feasible set of policies and programs that could bring about positive change and better prepare the city for the future. By including a Code Update and EIR as part of the Specific Plan, the City assured the Plan’s implementation.

The Plan is built on a foundation of urban planning in Hayward, including:

  • Downtown Design Plan and Core Area Plan (1992)
  • City of Hayward Design Guidelines (1993)
  • Retail Site Assessment (2009)
  • Envision Downtown Hayward (2012)
  • 2040 General Plan (2014) and
  • Economic Development Strategic Plan (2014-2018).


From the outset, the City emphasized substantive outreach, and reliance on the community for an insider’s perspective that led to the Vision Statement, which in turn set the course for the Project and the foundation for policies and programs. The community’s high-profile role generated a sense of ownership and support for the Plan. Engagement events were noticed via the City website, Facebook, Twitter, local newspapers, flyers, email invitations to a list of interested parties and individuals established early in the Project, and word of mouth as City staff canvased Downtown businesses to spread the word. Those efforts included:

  • Personal interviews with City Staff, civic leaders, elected officials, special interest groups
  • 2 Planning Commission and City Council Work Sessions
  • 2 Council Infrastructure Committee Meetings
  • 3 Public workshops
  • 5-day Charette with all consultants that attracted 100 people
  • 6 Hayward Downtown Specific Plan Task Force Meetings
  • 4 Public Hearings
  • Online survey, and
  • Project webpage.
Charette: The team presents findings on potential alternatives at the end of day two of a four-day design charette that attracted nearly 100 attendees.

Vision Statement: Downtown Hayward is a regional destination, celebrated for its distinct history, culture, and diversity; providing shopping, entertainment, employment, and housing options for residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds; that is accessible by bike, foot, public transit, and car.

Opening Workshop: The first of six Specific Plan Task Force workshops, all open to the public.

Challenges in Downtown Hayward are not unique: a street grid that has evolved to better accommodate cars than pedestrians and cyclists; rushing people through the area. The downtown is also challenged by the rise of online shopping: Over the years it has seen the loss of retailers, drawn away to malls, as well as the loss of key anchors like Mervyn’s headquarters. Many of these shifts have left vacant properties, invited squatting and graffiti-based vandalism, and left negative impacts on Downtown Hayward’s image.

One of the unique features of Downtown Hayward is the “Loop” — a Bypass Alternative routed directly through Downtown Hayward to ease congestion on State Route 238. The “Loop” comprises five- to seven-lane one-way streets that direct commuters north and south precisely through the middle of Downtown Hayward. It was completed in 2013 after decades of planning and negotiations. What was seen as a possible solution to regional traffic problems has led to a “local” disruption of traffic patterns, and has become a major pedestrian barrier and a source of high speeds where the community envisions a destination for all ages.

With a history of sound urban planning and community development, Hayward has been effective at addressing issues head on. Examples are a Mural Art Program that engages artists, schools, property owners, and police to increase public art and significantly reduce graffiti-based vandalism to approving catalytic redevelopment; housing and mixed-use projects; and attracting investment for anchor projects like Hayward’s 21st Century Library and Heritage Plaza.

The Downtown Specific Plan, Code, and EIR represent a major investment and a strategic step for the City. The Project is meant to enable and solidify recent advances and set a path for a more resilient city.

Downtown Specific Plan: The Plan and is presented in three chapters: Community Design; Mobility; and Infrastructure and Services. With an eye on implementation and coordination of funding, the Implementation Program includes goals, policies, and programs for each major topic, which are sorted by short term (up to five years), medium (five to 10 years) and long-term (11 to 15 years) timeframe for completion.


The policies and programs aim at implementing the community vision of a downtown that offers a beautiful and safe pedestrian-oriented environment for all ages to enjoy day or night, with sufficient and attractive lighting, sidewalk amenities, landscaping, and inviting ground floor frontages. The implementation program goes further to identify a wide variety of housing types to meet the economic and physical needs of a diverse population and capitalize on its location and existing amenities to capture more retail sales tax revenue and become a national model for the revitalization of mid-size cities. Community design strategies stress context-appropriate design standards, enhancement and integration of natural features into new and existing development, preservation of arts and history, leveraging public spaces and public transit, and improving connectivity through better signage and integrated design.


The policies, programs, and performance criteria in the Plan are aimed at street modifications and enhancements to make the Downtown more of a destination by better integration with public transit (local and regional bus service and BART), protected bike lanes, bulb outs and median refuges, reduced crossing widths, integration of green infrastructure (tree wells, planting strips), and smarter, “unbundled” strategies for parking. The implementation program also features transitioning the “Loop” into two-way, slower speed, more pedestrian-oriented roadways with significant improvements at Mission and Foothill Boulevards, converting the 5-point intersection into a gateway to the city.

Gateway Alternative: A rendering (by Opticos Design, Inc.) of a slower speed, more pedestrian-oriented “gateway” at the existing 5-point Mission and Foothill Boulevard intersection, part of the Plan’s long-term vision.


These policies, programs and performance criteria aim to assure the City has access to sufficient potable water, sewage transmission and treatment capacity, stormwater drainage, and power to meet the demands of the buildout established in the Plan, as well as encouraging on-site water retention, filtration, and recycling. The infrastructure and services section also addresses schools, and approaches to meet the City’s standards for access to parks and open space. This section also looks at current capacity of, and ongoing needs for, fire, police, hospital, emergency, homeless services, and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) — more eyes on the street, better lighting, and landscaping that deters untoward activity.


What makes a Specific Plan a particularly effective tool is the requirement to include implementation and financing measures to carry out policies and programs. The Hayward Downtown Specific Plan sets seven goals, proposes 48 policies, and recommends 129 programs. Each Implementation Program identifies the responsible party, time frame, and potential funding source for each program. Each program is assigned a responsible party to help ensure continued commitment by City staff, elected officials, and other partners. In addition, to help establish priorities, the Plan includes anticipated timeframes for implementation. Short-term programs are anticipated to be implemented within the first four years of Plan adoption, mid-term programs would be accomplished within five to 10 years, and long-term programs in 11 years or more.

The Implementation section also lists existing and potential funding sources. The Plan acknowledges that fund availability and sources will change over time, and that achieving the Plan’s vision relies heavily on those funds for proposed programs.


This Code is a regulatory tool for implementing the goals, policies, and programs of the Plan, while maintaining consistency with existing ordinances and applicable laws. The Zoning Code focuses on and establishes zones, land use regulations, development standards for building height, setbacks, lot coverage, building and frontage types, as well as general development standards for fencing, civic space, and parking, and new administrative and permit procedures to give administrators some flexibility. The updated code assures that the goals for development are “legal” and where possible, incentivized. The Code was updated concurrently with the Specific Plan — and focused on empowering the community Vision — to reclaim Downtown for people through more attractive and contextually appropriate frontages and a more inclusive human-scale public realm.


After two and a half years of hard work by the City, the community, and the Consultant Team, the Specific Plan, Code and EIR were approved unanimously by the City Council in April 2019. The City’s commitment to transparency and investment in community engagement was evident in the final hearing: Council members and the public, including the Carpenter’s Union Local 713 and local Sheet Metal Worker’s Local 104, spoke in support of the Plan. The unions pledged to work side-by-side with the City to build more housing, more businesses, and a stronger, more attractive city.

You can view or download the 350-page Hayward Downtown Specific Plan and Code here.

Henry Pontarelli is vice president and co-founder of Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. In the past 13 years, the firm has grown to 18 staff, with offices in San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.  Henry’s role at LWC  focuses on marketing, communications, HR, contracts, and risk management, as well as picking up the tab at staff happy hours.


Vancouver may be able to pull off ride-hailing as a complement to public transit

Excerpts from an article in CityLab by Laura Bliss, September 17, 2019

Some “53 percent of Vancouverites manage to get to work by means other than driving. One thing is conspicuously missing from this urbanist dreamscape: ride-hailing: Uber. Uber tried to railroad its way into Vancouver in 2012, but British Columbia regulators notified the company that the province’s official minimum rate for limousines was $75 per trip.

“Ever since, Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) have been snowed out of the region. Vancouver appears to be the last major city in North America with an effective ban on the app-based services.

“But those days are numbered. Applications to operate a TNC in British Columbia opened on September 3, and a requisite insurance package became available on September 16. Uber and Lyft have officially applied.

“In contrast with U.S. cities that have rushed to be first to the table with new mobility offerings — be they autonomous cars, hyperloops, or drones — Vancouver may prove that it pays to be last.

“Over the years, Vancouver has watched as its peers have dealt with the darker sides of Uber and Lyft: muddy passenger safety records, negative impacts on congestion and emissions, flouting of local regulations, and widely criticized labor practices.

“Now B.C. transportation leaders are cautiously optimistic that being a last-adopter will prove to be a virtue. They hope that strict data-sharing requirements, a stringent licensing scheme for drivers, and a long-term vision to mitigate added traffic with fees on curbside access and downtown streets at rush hour will help make ride-hailing more sustainable here.”

Read the full article here. 

Call for Nominations, East Bay Innovation Awards

Call for Nominations, East Bay Innovation Awards

By Carline Au, MCRP

The East Bay Economic Development Alliance, a public/private partnership serving Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, annually presents awards to celebrate and honor extraordinary companies and organizations that contribute to the East Bay’s legacy of innovation.

The alliance is a regional voice and networking resource for strengthening the economy, building the workforce, and enhancing the quality of life in the East Bay.

For the 2020 Awards, several new nomination areas have been introduced, including one for “Built Environment.”

This category will recognize East Bay companies and organizations that use exceptional and innovative approaches, technologies, and strategies to shape the built environment in which we live and work, including but not limited to architecture, planning, development, and construction.

Nominations close Friday, October 25.

To be eligible for award consideration, nominees must:

  • Be a company or organization with headquarters or operations in Alameda or Contra Costa counties.
  • Have achieved an innovation in their manufacturing, products, services, design, systems, or methods.
  • Be present at the Innovation Awards event on March 26, 2020, to accept their award on stage.

GO HERE for further information, including how and where to submit an application. The nomination form is here.

The California Planning Foundation wants YOU

The California Planning Foundation wants YOU

CPF is recruiting current APA California members to run for elected CPF board positions, including treasurer, webmaster/social media coordinator, and other general CPF board positions.

CPF 2019 Election Schedule

  • Nominations Submittal Deadline: October 21, 2019
  • Slate Approval and Election Voting by Email Ballot: November 4 – December 2, 2019
  • Elected Candidates to formally join CPF: January 2020 at an in-person CPF Board Retreat (Date TBD)

For more information, view or download the recruitment flyer here. 

Candidates interested in running should send, by no later than October 21, 2019, a Letter of Interest/Candidate’s Statement and a Current Résumé to the CPF 2019 Elections Nomination Committee (all three):

We look forward to your reply!

Who’s where

Who’s where

Diana Benitez is the new Planners4Health Coordinator for Northern Section. She holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from UCLA, with a focus on community and economic development and the intersection of the built environment and health. Her B.A. is in urban and regional planning with a minor in GIS from CSU Northridge. Benitez is an intermediate planner/designer at Raimi + Associates. Before coming to the Bay Area in Fall 2018, she worked for two years with Advancement Project in the Greater Los Angeles area, conducting research, data analysis, and visualization in the realms of health equity, housing, built environment, and education.


Izanie Love is the new Student Representative to the Northern Section Board from San Jose State University. Love, who hails from Antioch, expects to get her master’s in urban planning in 2021. She has a B.S. in community and regional development from UC Davis and an A.S. in mathematics and science from City College of San Francisco. Last year, Love was a college intern with NeighborWorks America in Sacramento, an organization that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen their communities. She is currently a Research Fellow with APA Planning and the Black Community Division. PBCD has for 30 years provided a forum for planners, administrators, public officials, students, and other interested individuals to address issues of significance to the black community.

Amy Lyle is Northern Section’s new North Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC). She has been with the Sonoma County Planning Department for the past 14 years and is currently Supervising Planner for long range (comprehensive) planning. Lyle holds a B.A. in environmental studies and planning from Sonoma State University.