Month: February 2020

“Three lessons 21st century housing policy could learn from ‘Little Women’ ”

By Jenny Schuetz, Brookings’ The Avenue, February 5, 2020

“It may just be the meticulous recreation of 19th century New England in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” that has the most to say about American homes, even offering some bold yet sensible lessons to improve our own 21st century housing policy.

“1: Middle-class homes do not drag down property values of nearby mansions

“A primary goal of modern zoning codes is to maintain homogeneous residential neighborhoods: New homes must be the same size, architectural style, and price as their neighbors [etc.]. …

“If 19th century Concord, Mass., had such limitations, the main characters in ‘Little Women’ might never have found true love. … The budding romance … depends on the adjacency of their homes, despite clear differences in their economic and social status.

“2: Waiving quality standards allows low-income families to live in expensive communities

“Houses today must meet minimum quality standards, detailed in building codes … [which] also raise the cost of constructing new housing.

“The house occupied by the March family’s impoverished neighbors, the Hummels, does not appear to satisfy minimum quality standards. … There is no separate kitchen, no running water, and only a single fireplace for heat and cooking.

“Today, these sorts of standards — even if well-intentioned — effectively bar poor families from living in high-opportunity communities.

“3: Bring back the urban boarding house!

“When Jo March decides to follow her literary ambitions to New York City, she lives where most urban singletons of the 19th century did: a boarding house.

“Most importantly, boarding houses were inexpensive. Boarders paid fees for a private bedroom, with access to some shared common space (parlor, bathroom) rather than a fully equipped apartment.

“Second, because of the communal aspects, boarding houses offered some introductory social life to newly arrived migrants.

“The concept behind boarding houses … is making something of a comeback under the new brand of ‘co-living.’ But these new purpose-built facilities are substantially more expensive than their progenitors.

Less zoning equals more social equity — and more romance

“Can we imagine a return to communities where mansions, middle-class homes, boarding houses, and low-income housing can co-exist without legal restrictions or social prejudice?”

Read the complete, delightful, and short article here.

Planners who manage, planners who lead

Planners who manage, planners who lead


By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP, July 2008

One of the keys to being an effective leader is to understand the difference between leading and managing. The differences can be subtle, but profound. Experts have used many ways to explain the difference. Warren Bennis says that managers do things right, while leaders do the right things. Edgar Schein says that leaders build and change cultures, while managers sustain them.

Planners manage groups, projects, and organizations. What’s the difference between a planner who leads and one who manages? I hope this listing helps shed some light.

Planners who manage follow agendas and scopes of work.
Planners who lead make strategic choices that most effectively further goals and missions.

Planners who manage are cautious and worried.
Planners who lead are careful and thoughtful.

Planners who manage are scared that “someone is going to say something.”
Planners who lead welcome the opportunity to hear different perspectives.

Planners who manage prepare plans and studies.
Planners who lead pursue positive growth and development using plans and studies.

Planners who manage avoid conflict and risk.
Planners who lead manage conflict and risk.

Planners who manage do things a certain way because “that’s how it’s done.”
Planners who lead do things that will best achieve lasting results.

Planners who manage are afraid of making mistakes.
Planners who lead see mistakes as learning opportunities.

Planners who manage seek validation.
Planners who lead seek understanding.

Planners who manage see diversity as a threat to the pursuit of the harmonious and orderly development of plans.
Planners who lead see the zealous pursuit of the harmonious and orderly development of plans as a threat to building great communities.

Planners who manage tell and sell.
Planners who lead explore and influence.

Planners who manage think cultural competency is about “being nice to people different than you.”
Planners who lead know it’s much more complex than that.

Planners who manage think emotions get in the way of good planning.
Planners who lead know that how people feel about places, planners, and planning impact the quality and success of plans.

Planners who manage direct and command.
Planners who lead persuade and support.

Planners who manage need the power of their positions to persuade.
Planners who lead can persuade from anywhere in an organization or community.

Planners who manage are usually ignored after they leave the room.
Planners who lead have lasting impacts on others and the communities they serve.

For more on leadership:

On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis (2003, Perseus Publishing)

Learning to Lead, by Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith (2003, Perseus Publishing)

Good to Great, by Jim Collins (2001, HarperCollins Publishers)

John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do, by John P. Kotter (1999, Harvard Business School Press)

Leonardo Vazquez, AICP PP, is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of The Na­tion­al Con­sor­tium for Cre­a­tive Place­mak­ing (up­com­ing Pacific Con­fer­ence in May), di­rec­tor of cre­a­tive place­mak­ing at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, and the author of Leading from the Middle: Strategic Thinking for Urban Planning and Community Development Professionals. He wrote this article when he was director of the Professional Development Institute at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Mr. Vazquez holds master’s degrees in public administration and in urban planning, both from USC, and a bachelor’s in journalism from Northwestern University. You can reach him at

BART’s AB 2923 TOD Guidance Document and 10-Year Work Plan — what you need to know

BART’s AB 2923 TOD Guidance Document and 10-Year Work Plan — what you need to know

By Sajuti Rahman, associate editor, Northern News, February 20, 2020

BART, primarily a transportation agency, is making critical decisions about housing in the Bay Area. Its efforts reinforce the ties between housing and transportation and the need to think creatively on how to address the shared challenge of housing. Since BART owns 250 acres of strategically developable land, recent legislation could have a significant impact on the housing landscape in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties.

On February 18, 2020, BART released outlines of its AB 2923 Guidance Document and 10-Year Work Plan for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). As explained on the BART website, AB 2923 requires BART to set TOD zoning standards and a development streamlining process for agency-owned properties within one-half mile of BART stations. Specifically, the bill in part reads:

“[B]oard of directors shall adopt transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards by a majority vote at a duly noticed public meeting that establish minimum local zoning requirements for BART-owned land that is located on contiguous parcels larger than 0.25 acres, within one-half mile of an existing or planned BART station entrance, in areas having representation on the BART Board of Directors.”

Since the Bill was signed into law, BART staff has been working with affected local jurisdictions to establish an implementation plan, including the AB 2923 Guidance Document and 10-Year TOD Work Plan. To help develop outlines for the guide and the plan, BART staff reached out to the public, local elected officials and staff, regional advocates, community groups, developers, and BART Board and Committees via meetings, work sessions, email updates, presentations, webinars, and case studies. According to BART, “the guidance document will offer greater clarity around certain bill provisions” and the work plan will provide “transparency about how and when BART will develop its property with housing or commercial uses.”

AB 2923 Guidance Document Outline

This document outlines the upcoming AB 2923 Guidance Document that will set the framework for implementation. The Guidance Document will provide jurisdictions with greater clarity regarding how BART will ensure that local zoning conforms to the TOD zoning standards. The outline states: “BART’s determination of conformance for each station area will focus exclusively on the four zoning parameters defined in the law: residential density, building height, Floor-Area Ratio (FAR), and parking.”

Based on a June 2019 Board decision, the May 2017 TOD guidelines will become TOD zoning standards on July 1, 2020 (see figure 1). The 2017 guidelines state that, unless local jurisdictions rezone by June 30, 2022, zoning defaults to BART’s TOD zoning standards. BART will determine the conformance with zoning standards.

Figure 1: 2017 TOD Guidelines from Table 1, as well as FAR Requirement from State. Source: AB 2923 Guidance Document Outline, February 2020, page 7

10-Year Work Plan Outline

Whereas the AB 2923 Guidance Document focuses on zoning, the 10-Year Work Plan focuses on when and how BART will advance TODs. The outline for the work plan provides a “summary of BART’s internal TOD Program functions and current capacity, a description of BART’s proposed process to prioritize development on properties at its stations, and preliminary recommendations on how BART’s TOD Program can respond to the new requirements in AB 2923.”

BART developed a four-step TOD Process, which includes: (1) pre-development solicitation, (2) developer solicitation/selection, (3) project refinement/developer agreement, and (4) permitting and construction. The work plan focuses mainly on four phases of the prioritization process for advancing development:

Phase 1, Performance evaluation: BART’s TOD program is on track toward a 2025 goal of 1 million sq. ft. of commercial projects, with 2.9 million sq. ft. in the pipeline. The residential pipeline is 774 units short of the 2025 goal of 7,000 units, with the largest shortfall occurring in affordable housing production.

Phase 2, Clarify development opportunities: BART is also (a) evaluating the suitability of its properties (developable vs. undevelopable); (b) articulating expectations by stations for parking replacement, job-generating uses, and affordable housing; and (c) evaluating staff capacity to initiate the new projects. This phase assesses local interest in the development of BART properties (figure 2) and local preference (housing or jobs) for BART development (figure 3).

Figure 2: Local Interest in Development of BART Properties (As of June 2019). Source: BART 10-Year Work Plan for Transit-Oriented Development, Draft Outline and Summary Recommendations, Fig. 3, Page 17
Figure 3: Local Preference for BART Development, by Use (as of June 2019). Source: BART 10-Year Work Plan for Transit-Oriented Development, Draft Outline and Summary Recommendations, Fig. 4, Page 18


Phase 3, Prioritize sites for new TOD projects, and Phase 4, Next steps for short-term priorities: BART plans to prioritize stations through a screening process that assesses development readiness, local support, and implementation barriers and opportunities. Then BART plans to evaluate how the priority sites address the TOD targets for ridership and revenue goals.

Early Findings

BART has been working closely with local jurisdictions to understand how AB 2923 will affect the TOD Program. Although BART’s analyses and community engagement are continuing, they have listed these preliminary findings in the plan outline draft (pp. 14-19):

  1. “The majority of local jurisdictions affected by AB 2923 are supportive of some type of development occurring on BART-owned property in their communities.
  2. “Some of the greatest perceived barriers to development of BART property are: (a) the need for parking replacement, (b) the desire for land uses and/or density that may not be market-feasible today, (c) escalating construction costs, and (d) insufficient subsidies for affordable housing.
  3. “Consistent with BART’s Board-adopted TOD policy, BART will continue to only work with jurisdictions that are supportive of TOD.
  4. “For many communities, the height and FAR requirements of AB 2923 are in excess of what can be built by the market today.
  5. “Due to the zoning standard requirements of AB 2923, it will be more important than ever for BART to collaborate closely with local jurisdictions on project design elements.”

What’s Next?

According to BART, “Studies show that developing housing and jobs near transit stations results in an increase in transit ridership, a decrease in driving, and an increase in active transportation, which [in turn] result in better safety, environmental, health, and economic benefits.” As BART continues its community outreach to finalize the AB 2923 Guidance Document and 10-Year Work Plan, planners, city officials, and community members in the impacted jurisdictions should be ready to discuss the Parking Replacement Policy, Transportation Demand Management Policy, and Anti-Displacement Strategy in 2020.

Meet a local planner
Cindy Ma worked on the Alameda Marina Master Plan. Rendering courtesy KTGY.

Meet a local planner

Interview by Catarina Kidd, AICP

Cindy Ma, AICP, is Director of Planning at KTGY Architecture + Planning in Oakland. She is also Planning Diversity Co-director for APA California-Northern Section, a position she’s held since 2012.

Q. What was your path to planning?

I studied architecture at UC Berkeley (BA, architecture) with an emphasis on social design. After graduation, I worked on residential, mixed-use, and transit-oriented development projects, including the initial studies for the MacArthur BART station. This multidisciplinary work emphasized key planning skills and sparked my interest in urban design and planning.

After two years, I went back to graduate school at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (MCRP). The faculty — a mix of academics and practicing professionals — offered diverse perspectives that helped me develop an interest in housing and transit-oriented development.

Who has had an impact on you professionally?

Walter Hood: his landscape architecture class at UC Berkeley really helped me understand how the built environment shaped me, as an Asian American growing up in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Fruitvale in Oakland.

Tell us more about that.

My family came to California as Vietnam War refugees. There was, and still is, a huge ethnically Chinese Vietnamese contingent in Oakland. Our family, with cars limited, took the bus or walked everywhere. That experience of traveling via public transit and walking allowed me to become intimate with the built environment. I noticed how people brought old world traditions into public spaces both in our neighborhood and those we traveled through. You could sense who lived in a place based on Buddhas, altars, Virgin Marys, and crosses that were visible from the street — or the type of garden or the clothes hanging to dry, or the smell of food cooking.

In what ways does your cultural experience shape your views and work?

I deeply believe housing is a human right and that people should have the opportunity to create a home or space where they feel safe and can express themselves. This belief is the reason I do residential work. Spatial experience and awareness is also and always on my mind. My work can feel like a technical exercise when I’m reviewing building-to-street ratios or light and shadow, but spatial experience is key and is what I naturally think about when I walk around — how a space actually feels. For example, I like the way Oakland’s Chinatown feels because of the variety in building scale and the treatment of spaces at the human scale. Even where the buildings are tall, I don’t feel overwhelmed because of the vibrancy of life at the street level with the sidewalk vendors, crosswalk scrambles, and art — both formal and informal.

What key skills did you develop in your work?

I was an intern for the cities of Berkeley and Hayward, and my experiences there and in the private sector have sharpened my listening and critical-thinking skills, particularly when it comes to consensus building. I see consensus building as a process that helps to boil down the trade-offs and make it is possible for everyone to get some sort of win. It’s a way to make the best of decisions and reduce the impacts to any one group.

What is your current role?

For the last seven years, I have been part of the Community Planning Urban Design (CPUD) team at KTGY. I work in the Oakland office on all types of work, but focus mainly on land use, site planning, transit-oriented development, and mixed-use. We also collaborate with our Irvine and East Coast teams to create communities in new and old places. The work is a blend of planning and architecture in a multi-disciplinary environment, which is a good fit for me given my background in design and physical planning. While we, as planners, have a holistic view, there are also practical issues to manage, such as life safety, access, trash, and other “mundane” things on which designers and architects can help.

Cindy Ma worked on the Alameda Marina Master Plan. Rendering courtesy KTGY.

How do you stay inspired to solve the mundane but necessary things?

Many of us went into planning because you can be an agent for change in multiple ways. It all depends on your focus and interest. It could be political, emotional, technical, or all those things at the same time. That’s what makes it so exciting and keeps me going. I get inspired just being on the APA California Northern Section board, which reminds me and all of us on the board that we are in this to effect good. And I have colleagues in transportation, environment, parks, and other specialties from whose knowledge and experience I can draw. All of that helps keep me energized and less stressed.

Additionally, to stay inspired and balance the mundane, I dedicate time each Friday to see what is the latest and greatest at the local, state, and federal level. The Northern News roundup is great for reminding me of the larger issues and ideas beyond my current focus. And where I live and work really helps me balance the creative big picture elements with what’s mundane but necessary.



Interviewer Catarina Kidd, AICP, is senior development manager at FivePoint and a guest writer for Northern News. All interviews are edited.



Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? Understanding the Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities

By Karen Chapple and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

Excerpts from a review in the Journal of the American Planning Association by Adam Millard-Ball, associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Get this book free as a PDF via Open Access at MIT Press (direct link, 98.7 MB)

“In the early years of transit-oriented development (TOD) in the United States, simply getting a project completed was achievement enough. As TOD has become mainstream, however, concerns have multiplied over long-overlooked equity impacts. In many neighborhoods, community activists now see new rail stations and associated TOD as instruments — unwitting or not — of gentrification and displacement. In contrast, some market-oriented urbanists focus on increasing the supply of housing and are skeptical if not dismissive of equity concerns.

“The evidence to inform this contentious debate has been remarkably thin. Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? Understanding the Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities by Karen Chapple and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris is therefore a welcome contribution to research and policy on TOD and equity. Though recognizing that TOD reduces vehicle travel and climate pollution, the authors focus attention on its potential ‘dark side’ (p. 1) for low- income households and identify the mechanisms through which TOD might lead to inequitable outcomes.

“Chapple and Loukaitou-Sideris address head-on the central conundrum: To ignore low-income neighborhoods of color perpetuates disinvestment. But to invest in them through better transit, walkable streets, or the amenities that accompany TOD risks exacerbating gentrification and displacement pressures.

“Displacement, however, is hard to conceptualize and measure. One of the book’s major strengths is its careful attention to operationalizing what displacement means on the ground. For example, displacement might not force residents from their homes but would be ‘exclusionary’ if low-income residents are priced out of a neighborhood and never have the opportunity to move in.

“The empirical chapters mobilize a range of quantitative and qualitative evidence across two metropolitan regions: the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California… Overall, the book is a showcase for mixed methods research, and the depth of evidence that supports the conclusions is exceptional.

“So what does this mean for planning? The book details numerous policies to promote equitable TOD, including rent control and inclusionary housing requirements, along with numerous examples of cities that have implemented each policy.

“An alternative approach, floated in the conclusion, would be to focus TOD in the most affluent communities, which todate have used their political clout to zone out new development.

“Promoting equitable development and avoiding displacement require action across a region, not just in transit-oriented neighborhoods.”

About the review

Reviewer Adam Millard-Ball is an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. An economist, planner, and geographer, he writes about urban sprawl, transportation, and climate change policy

The full review appears in the First Quarter 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association, available to APA members for $48/year (print and digital); $36/year (digital only); available free (digital only) for Student APA Members.

About the book

Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? Understanding the Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities (MIT Press, April 2019). 368 pages. 68 b&w illus. $40 (paperback) ISBN: 9780262536851

Karen Chapple is Professor of City and Regional Planning and Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris is Professor of Urban Planning and Associate Provost for Academic Planning at UCLA.

Half Moon Village contributes affordable housing to a campus where seniors can age in place

Half Moon Village contributes affordable housing to a campus where seniors can age in place

HUD USER, January 2020

Half Moon Bay, California, a small city located 30 miles south of San Francisco along the Pacific coast, has adopted policies to address the affordable housing and social service needs of its growing population of senior residents. The city is in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, and its housing element projects that the need for affordable senior housing will grow as the city’s population increases. Senior residents also need health care and social services so that they can age in place as an alternative to institutionalized care in nursing homes. In recent years, a collaboration among San Mateo County, the city of Half Moon Bay, and local service providers has resulted in the Half Moon Bay Senior Campus, which provides housing, services, and amenities on a 10-acre site.

Drone view of Half Moon Village and the Half Moon Bay Senior Campus. The senior campus is behind and to the right of the large school building near the center of the photograph. Photo: Bruce Damonte

The campus, derived from a 2009 plan, consists of 264 units of affordable rental housing in 3 separate developments that help senior residents age in place. In addition to offering social services through its onsite adult day health center and senior center, the campus encourages aging in place and active living through a network of pedestrian pathways as well as adjacent bus stops that provide access to the nearby downtown. One of the 3 housing developments on the campus is Half Moon Village, 160 units of affordable rental housing and services for low-income seniors.

Half Moon Village

Half Moon Village provides housing for seniors aged 62 and older who earn between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. Of the 160 units, 149 are one-bedroom apartments and 11 are two-bedroom apartments. All the apartments, which are arranged in seven 2- and 3-story buildings within a network of community gardens, are designed to be accessible for users of wheelchairs, with grab bars in all showers and bathrooms. The project also incorporates sustainable elements such as high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, solar-thermal water heating, low-flow plumbing, and ENERGY STAR® appliances. Each unit has south-facing windows to maximize exposure to light and air as well as a balcony or patio so residents have a private space to enjoy the outdoors.

Half Moon Village’s building placement and site design create welcoming outdoor spaces that keep residents from feeling confined to their units, according to Abby Potluri, director of housing development for MidPen Housing, the project’s developer. The architects eliminated a preexisting street on the site to create safe walking conditions for the residents. Pathways dotted with outdoor exercise stations ensure that residents from all three housing developments at Half Moon Bay Senior Campus can easily access its amenities. Outdoor common spaces at Half Moon Village — including a bocce ball court, community gardens, outdoor patios, and public sculptures — offer residents opportunities for social contact, as do the interior community spaces: a fitness room, a computer lounge, and common rooms for activities such as arts and crafts.

Residents play bocce ball beside a two-story residential building. Photo: Bruce Damonte

The campus occupies a site near downtown Half Moon Bay that combined several underused parcels. Two affordable housing developments were located there, including an aging 60-unit public housing project that city and county officials hoped to replace. The campus plan called for redeveloping the housing authority property and adding 140 affordable senior units on the site. With the addition of facilities for two nonprofit organizations to the campus, the plan for new buildings and more intensive use of the site gained the support of local elected officials. The developers built Half Moon Village in two stages to accommodate existing residents without having to temporarily relocate them offsite.

Financing of Half Moon Village

Low-income housing tax credits accounted for more than half of Half Moon Village’s $57.2 million development cost (table 1). According to Potluri, a land swap among the county, city, and nonprofit Peninsula Open Space Trust made the development possible: a 99-year lease from the county housing authority relieved the developer of $8.4 million in land costs. In addition, the housing authority provides project-based vouchers that contribute to Half Moon Village’s affordability.

Table 1: Financing for Half Moon Village

Ground lease value (donated) $8,370,000
Conventional permanent loan 9,059,000
Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo 2,102,000
County HOME Investment Partnerships Program/Community Development Block Grant 2,100,000
Deferred developer fee 350,000
Low-income housing tax credits 35,261,000
Total $57,242,000

Services for Aging in Place

Housing affordability is a crucial factor for aging in place and improving residents’ well-being. Affordability is a foundation that can enhance the effectiveness of the numerous support services available to residents of the Half Moon Bay Senior Campus. MidPen Housing supplies two full-time managers who arrange for staff to help residents needing assistance with daily activities. The managers also schedule nursing students to conduct onsite healthcare screenings. In addition, residents can participate in programs at the adjacent adult day health center and senior center. The adult day health center offers an extensive range of health and supportive services, including physical therapy and clinical social workers, and the senior center provides group activities, a nutrition program, and other services.

In addition to the reduced healthcare costs achieved through these services, a demonstration program taking place at Half Moon Village might generate additional savings. The Community Care Settings Pilot, a joint effort of California’s MediConnect Plan and the Health Plan of San Mateo County, is helping 12 households who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal and at risk of entering nursing homes. The pilot provides intensively coordinated social services to help these seniors extend independent living and avoid entering more expensive nursing homes. For these residents, staff from MidPen Housing collaborate with the county’s Health Plan and their service providers to administer case management, referrals to medical treatment, and other services that augment the services of the county’s Health Plan.

Award-Winning Design

Half Moon Village earned a 2017–2018 Global Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for its integration of housing, common spaces, and services intended to encourage resident interaction and an active lifestyle for seniors. One resident describes the integration of housing and services as a “comfort to know that as I age and need more supportive services, they’re just steps away.” Many residents use the outdoor exercise stations on the campus and participate in the lunch program at the nearby senior center. Residents use the bus stops close to the site for regular transportation to the nearby downtown. Also promising is the 25 percent reduction in hospitalization costs and 97 percent reduction in skilled nursing costs over 18 months for the participants in the Community Care Settings Pilot. That program’s success has inspired MidPen Housing to replicate the service coordination model for eligible residents at two other properties that it manages in San Mateo County.

Call for Northern Section 2020 Award nominations

Call for Northern Section 2020 Award nominations

The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 13, 2020

Get recognized by the APA Northern California Section!

We are accepting nominations for the Awards that annually recognize the very best in planning in our region. In previous years, several Northern Section winners went on to snag State and national Awards. Let’s keep up the tradition and recognize the excellent people and projects in our communities.


Project Awards

  • Opportunity and Empowerment
  • Comprehensive Plan – Large and Small Jurisdictions (2 awards)
  • Implementation – Large and Small Jurisdictions (2 awards)
  • Innovation in Green Community Planning
  • Economic Planning and Development
  • Transportation Planning
  • Best Practices
  • Grassroots Initiative
  • Public Outreach
  • Urban Design
  • Communications Initiative
  • Advancing Diversity and Social Change
  • Planning Landmark
  • Hard-won Victory

Awards for People and Organizations

  • Planning Advocate
  • Planning Agency (public sector)
  • Planning Firm (private sector)
  • Emerging Planning and Design Firm
  • Academic Award
  • Planning Pioneer

Northern Section Awards

  • Planning and Health
  • Social and Environmental Justice
  • Planning and Food Systems
  • Great Places

Get all the details, rules, and applications here. For questions, please contact Awards Director Florentina Craciun here.

Would you like to be an Awards Juror?

To serve on our esteemed jury to select the 2020 APA Northern Section Winners, please email Florentina Craciun at with a short statement of interest and your résumé by 5 pm, February 21. A one-day, in-person participation on the Jury is required, in addition to reviewing the nominations in advance. The jury will meet at AECOM, 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, on Friday, April 17, 2020.

Save the Date!

Our Northern Section Superstars will be celebrated at an Awards Gala on Friday, June 5, 2020, with a networking reception with, hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a video presentation, and great photo opportunities.

Awards Gala 2020 Location TBD. If you have a suggestion for where the gala should be held, near transit, email us here.


Law and Ethics CM credits REGISTRATION is OPEN

Law and Ethics CM credits REGISTRATION is OPEN

By Libby Tyler, FAICP, February 22, 2020

Do you

  • Still need to fulfill your mandatory AICP|CM credits for Ethics or Law?
  • Want to learn more about how recent housing legislation preempts local planning?
  • Learn about ethics using a fun game-show platform?

APA California–Northern Section’s Annual Law/Ethics Training Program will be held Saturday, March 21, 2020, from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon, at the Alameda County Training & Education Center, 125 Twelfth Street, Suite 400, Oakland CA (4 short blocks north of Lake Merritt BART Station).


Coffee break/networking (10:00 to 10:30)


Come join us for our annual Saturday morning “two-fer.” At 8:30, Attorney Eric Phillips (Burke, Williams & Sorensen) will discuss how recent and pending housing legislation in California is preempting local planning review and signaling the end of zoning exclusively for single-family residences. At 10:30, a panel of experts led by Darcy Kremin, AICP, (Rincon Consultants) will put your knowledge to the test using Kahoot! — a popular learning game — in a lively and engaging refresher of the Code of Ethics.

Registration required; go here.

Questions? Contact Libby Tyler, FAICP, Northern Section Ethics Director, online or at  (217) 493-4372.

Director’s note

Director’s note

By Jonathan Schuppert, AICP

MARCH marks the start of my fourth year at Facebook. During my first orientation there, my newby colleagues and I were challenged to “commit to being a little terrified every day.” I took that to heart — and ultimately created a poster with that message to remind me — that if I’m comfortable, I’m not being adequately challenged, and I need to find something new to keep me mentally energized.

When James Castañeda, the previous Director of APA California–Northern, and I spoke about his new job opportunity in LA and my expedited path to Section Director, that long-ago quote reminded me to be flexible and adapt to new situations.

Was I excited for this new professional challenge, yes. Was I excited for what this meant for my career growth, yep. Was I a bit terrified, absolutely!

I share this to challenge everyone — including myself — to find areas where we can expand our knowledge, learn new skills, take on risks, and continue to be leaders who can shape our world so future generations can thrive.

Midway through our Section retreat on February 1st, I officially became APA California–Northern Section’s Director, then led our board through a goal setting exercise. I took a moment to reflect on our Section’s accomplishments and encouraged our board members to think about where we want the profession to be at the end of this new decade — and what we, as individuals and as representatives of our Section, can do to get there.

At the retreat, we broke into focus groups to start preparing work plans for the year, identify issues and tools needed for success, and confirm partnerships that will increase our impact. As always, our board not only collaborated, but pushed the envelope. Themes we embraced include providing high-value programming for members, embracing technology to reach larger audiences, supporting students, adding program opportunities for emerging and mid-career planners, and growing our partnerships.

To improve our impact and streamline our efforts, I’ve made my initiatives for 2020 to better document our procedures, create onboarding resources, and update our bylaws.

In the optometry world, 2020 represents perfect vision. I’m excited to make 2020 a year of vision and clarity for our APA section and a year for me to think about my long-term goals and visions for the efforts in which I’m involved.

Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint

I hope 2020 inspires you to identify (or reassess) your long-term goals and push you out of your comfort zone whenever you feel too comfortable. Find small actions you can take to work toward your goals, check in often with yourself to see how you’re progressing, and don’t forget to celebrate the small victories — they really add up.

Who’s where

Who’s where

By Richard Davis, associate editor, Northern News

Jonathan Schup­pert, AICP, is now Di­rec­tor, APA Cali­fornia-North­ern Sec­tion, which, under the Sec­tion bylaws, is a po­si­tion he can hold until De­cem­ber 31, 2020. He be­came Director when James Castañeda, AICP, who previously held the post, moved to Los Angeles. Schuppert is Campus Connectivity Manager for Facebook, Menlo Park. Before joining Facebook three years ago, Schuppert had been a planning associate with Alta Planning + Design and a lecturer at San Jose State University. He joined the Northern Section Board in 2013 as the South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC) and later served as Professional Development Director, Treasurer, and Director-elect. Schuppert holds a BS in city and regional planning from Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, photography, bicycling, and coffee.


Emily Carroll has been appointed to the Northern Section Board as East Bay Regional Activities Co-coordinator (RAC). She is a Planner I with the City of Richmond, and was a planning technician with the City of Lafayette before that. Carroll holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Smith College. When not in the office, you can find her trail running in Redwood Regional Park.


Flor­en­tina Craciun, AICP, is Se­nior En­vi­ron­mental Plan­ner with the En­vi­ron­mental Plan­ning Di­vi­sion of the San Fran­cis­co Plan­ning De­par­tment. Prior to join­ing the City and County of San Francisco, Craciun was an environmental planner at AECOM, where she worked on urban development and water conveyance/dam safety. She holds a master’s in urban and regional planning from UCLA and a BA in history from UC Santa Barbara. Craciun is Awards Co-director for APA California-Northern Section, and enjoys spending her spare time with her pup, her friends, and her family.


Andrew Hatt has been appointed University Liaison to the APA Cali­fornia-North­ern Section Board. Since September 2019, he has been a Sustainability Planner at Rincon Consultants, where he coordinates with project managers on Climate Action Plan measure development and public outreach efforts. Hatt holds a BA in environmental studies from the University of Michigan.


James Hin­kamp, AICP, has moved to Am­ster­dam, Nether­lands, where he is Se­nior Plan­ning Con­sultant with Advanced Mobility Group, a transportation engineering firm specializing in technologically advanced mobility solutions. He was previously associate transportation planner with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (2018-2019) where he supervised active transportation planning programs and projects countywide and led several community-based transportation plans. Hinkamp holds a dual master’s in engineering (transportation specialization) and city and regional planning from Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo, and a BA in urban studies from Loyola Marymount University. In 2019, he served on the Northern Section Board as Co-coordinator, East Bay Regional Activities (RAC).


Brianne Reyes is now a Planner II in the Planning Division of the City of San Leandro’s Com­mu­ni­ty De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment, where she will focus on current planning and policy issues. Previously, Reyes was assistant planner with the Town of Danville for one year, and served as liaison to Danville’s Design Review Board and staff representative for the Tri-Valley Affordable Housing Committee. Before that, she was a planning associate for Michael Baker International for three years. Reyes holds a BS in environmental sciences from UC Riverside and a CEQA Practice Certificate from UC San Diego Extension. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking outdoors with her mini-Australian shepherd, playing volleyball, and Olympic lifting.


Atisha Varshney, AICP, has been pro­moted to As­so­ci­ate at WRT Plan­ning + Design, San Fran­cis­co. Prior to join­ing WRT in 2016, Varsh­ney was a proj­ect manager for VITA Plan­ning and Land­scape Architecture in San Rafael. Before coming to the Bay Area in 2014, she was an associate designer with OJB in Solana Beach, CA, and an architect and planner with KPF in New York City. Varshney has worked on large masterplans, downtown precise plans, specific plans, and university campus plans — tackling issues of land use, density, geography, mobility, economics, and infrastructure. She holds a master’s in landscape architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a bachelor’s in architecture and urban design from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. Outside of work, Varshney serves on the Urban Catalyst team at SPUR and the Silicon Valley programs committee at ULI.


Rafael Veláz­quez has been ap­pointed APA Stu­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for UC Berkeley. Since 2015, Veláz­quez has been HIV Ser­vices / La­ti­no Well­ness Cen­ter di­rec­tor for Instituto Familiar de la Raza in San Francisco. Currently, he is pursuing a dual master’s in public health and city planning at UC Berkeley. He holds a BA in political science and comparative ethnic studies from the University of Washington. Velázquez serves as an executive committee member for the San Francisco HIV/AIDS Provider’s Network and as co-director for the Mexico City Study Abroad Program at the University of Washington.­


Kara Vuicich, AICP, has joined MTC as Prin­ci­pal Plan­ner / An­a­lyst in the Plan­ning Sec­tion. Over the past eight years, she has been an ac­count ex­ec­u­tive with Swift­ly, Inc., an as­so­ci­ate with Fehr & Peers, a senior transportation planner with the Alameda County Transportation Commission, and a se­nior associate with Nelson\Nygaard. She holds a master of city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego.