Day: March 21, 2020

San Jose’s Measure E passes; will fund homelessness services and affordable housing

By Richard Davis, associate editor

San Jose’s Measure E, a property sale transaction tax intended to fund homelessness services and affordable housing, has likely passed. Ballots were still being counted as of March 12.

According to SV@Home, “The Mayor’s March Budget Message included recommendations for the allocation of Measure E funds, which are expected to begin being collected in July. The Mayor’s recommendations follow the initial spending plan approved by the City Council in December that allocates Measure E funding as follows:

  • “45 percent for extremely low-income households (below 30% of area median income);
  • “35 percent for very low-income (VLI) and low-income (LI) households (30-80% of AMI);
  • “About 10 percent for moderate-income households (80-120% of AMI) and below-market rate housing; and
  • “10 percent for homeless prevention activities.

SV@Home, a membership organization, bills itself as “the voice for affordable housing in the Silicon Valley.”

In addition, “most of the new funding from Measure E will be used to expand current resources for developing affordable housing,” according to SV@Home.

Related priorities identified by Mayor Sam Liccardo include:

  • “Identifying sites for additional Bridge Housing Communities (small home communities for the homeless);
  • “Immediate ramping up of public and private investment in homelessness prevention,
  • “New programs aimed at homeless students;
  • “Additional investment in policies and programs to promote accessory dwelling units (ADUs); and
  • “Continued work on establishing a navigation center for people experiencing homelessness in the City.”

SV@Home’s full March 12 coverage of housing-related ballot measures in Santa Clara County’s recent election can be found here.

Northern News April 2020

Northern News April 2020

Northern News


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UBC expert: How coronavirus will impact future cities

By Lou Corpuz-Bosshart, UBC News, March 23, 2020. Regional housing inequality needs to be addressed. It makes no sense to continue a trend where increasingly the rich live in Vancouver and wage earners who provide services to the city are being forced further and further east.

Tackling transportation emissions in California — or ignoring them

By Melanie Curry, StreetsBlog Cal, March 5, 2020. Early in March, two California Senate committees held a joint hearing on reducing GHG emissions from transportation, the state’s highest-emitting sector.

“Grieving for my sick city”

By Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, March 17, 2020. “When the Corona virus emergency is over, people are likely to emerge into fundamentally changed cities, with economies in crisis, and beloved restaurants, businesses, and cultural institutions gone for good. I wonder if our cultural romance with urban living will recover.”

As residents grapple with smog, Vietnam pushes renewable energy

By Michael Tatarski, New Naratif, March 16, 2020. Vietnam is often portrayed with bountiful economic opportunities for people across classes. But the construction and development that boosts economic growth is affecting health and quality of life, leaving people to deal with the situation according to their means.

Cities fighting climate woes hasten “green gentrification”

By Adam Rogers for, February 23, 2020. Scholars say newly constructed flood-fighting infrastructure has promoted gentrification. In 2017, Northern News covered efforts in North Richmond to foster shoreline resilience without displacement.

Antioch, CA, ‘Last bastion of the good commute’ in the Bay Area

By Candace Jackson, The New York Times, February 25, 2020. The Times’ Real Estate section highlighted Antioch for its relatively affordable housing and BART access. We have included a response from Antioch’s Community Development Director at the end of the article.

Transportation Trends for 2020 (and what cities can do about them)

William Riggs, PhD, AICP, LEED AP, a professor of management at USF, reviews emerging trends in mobility and recommends city practices to foster positive aspects of these trends.

San Jose opens first tiny home community for formerly homeless residents

By Maggie Angst, Bay Area News Group, February 27, 2020. Forty tiny homes and supportive services dedicated for the homeless have opened near the San Jose Flea Market, about three miles north of downtown, on a site owned by the Valley Transportation Agency.

San Francisco debates when, where, and how to build affordable housing

By Sasha Perigo, San Francisco Examiner, March 8, 2020. San Francisco voters passed Proposition E, “The Balanced Development Act,” which ties the City’s cap on approved office space construction to its progress on the State’s affordable housing goals.

Report: SF must build taller, expand into western neighborhoods

By Adam Brinklow, Curbed SF, March 9, 2020. San Francisco’s Planning Department released a Housing Affordability Strategy that identifies the current state of the City’s housing, and three core strategies.

Scott Weiner has another bill to build denser housing in California

By Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2020. Senator Wiener’s SB 902 would allow by-right development of multi-unit housing in single-family zones statewide, while scaling the number of allowable units to city size.

San Jose’s Measure E passes; will fund homelessness services and affordable housing

By Richard Davis, associate editor. San Jose voters have likely passed Measure E, a new funding source for affordable housing and homelessness support programs funded by a property sale transaction tax.

Dozens of homeless find housing in downtown San Jose

By Marisa Kendall, East Bay Times, March 6, 2020. Villas on the Park — permanent supportive housing partially funded by the county’s $950 million affordable housing bond — has opened in downtown San Jose.

Planning grad: Welcome to the working world

Planning grad: Welcome to the working world


By James A. Castañeda, AICP, June 2015

I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the American Planning Association’s conference in Seattle (“Planning Grads in the Working World”) and offer some advice to emerging planners entering the field.

I felt some trepidation: Exactly what sort of guidance could I offer?

I remembered all the times that things didn’t go right. Perhaps the best advice I could give people entering my line of work is to be prepared for negative experiences. I have many stories about projects that didn’t go as planned, applicants who despised our work, and the endless challenges I faced.

But I also recalled the opportunities I had, the challenges I met, the obstacles I overcame, and the fulfillment my years as a planner has brought.

The real world started for me right after I graduated from college, when I was hired by Maricopa County, Arizona, as an assistant planner. An alert and eager graduate, I joined the Board of Adjustment team, working on variance cases in the unincorporated Phoenix metro area. Unsurprisingly, my early staff reports looked like they were bleeding, the result of copious red-ink edits from my supervisor. But as I refined my technical writing skills, I was trusted to sit in the hot seat and present my cases to the Board of Adjustments.

Eventually I moved to California and took on the challenge of being a planner for San Mateo County. It was a different ballgame. I was thrown into various planning projects — from basic, staff-level plan checks, tree-removal permits, and front counter work, to public-hearing projects. Some of my earlier experiences were transferable, but there was still a lot of learning to do. For a while, it was hard not to feel I was in over my head, but I embraced the challenge, got up to speed on zoning regulations, and learned all the little things from my new and helpful co-workers.

Most of my experience in California has centered on current planning, and while it had been my goal to practice in the Long Range division (the actual planning that most people think of when they talk about urban planning), the work in current planning has been valuable and plays a crucial part in identifying policies that need fixing.

Over time, I’ve been trusted to work on our more complex and controversial projects, including better ways to collaborate with stakeholders. I became the program coordinator for the venerable SFO Community Roundtable, which advocates for aircraft noise reduction over communities on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Thinking back on my 11 years as a public planner, here’s my advice to emerging professionals who are getting ready to be planners in the real world.

  • Have empathy. After reading tons of regulations and writing endless reports, you might forget who’s benefiting from your work; so remember to be patient with the audiences who might not live and breathe planning.
  • Don’t forget your inspirations. You may not have the most glamorous assignments when starting out, but don’t lose sight of why you became a planner — to help improve the places where people live.
  • Hold on to your passion. You may not have a lot of hard skills to offer in your first interview, but genuine passion speaks volumes. And your love for planning counts. I was a C+ student who took seven years to receive an undergraduate degree, as I switched my major from computer science to music education to civil engineering before discovering city and regional planning. When I finally figured out that this is what I always wanted to do, I was hooked and never looked back.
  • Feed your ambition. Your first job in planning might not be not what you were expecting, but keep working toward the place you think you should be. Stay hungry.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You won’t know a lot of the answers at first — that’s expected. But don’t shy away from opportunity. You’ll figure out everything else along the way.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. It took me longer than many of my colleagues to get out of school, and it took three tries for me to pass the AICP exam. The important thing about goals is not how long it takes to reach them or how many times you fail. What’s important is that you succeed in the end.
  • Don’t be afraid to question how things are done. If it doesn’t make sense to you, you might be the lever that can lead to change.
  • Share ownership of process. The most successful collaboration with community members happens when you give them a role beyond their writing angry letters. Welcome them into the process.

Never lose sight of who you are, what you’re doing, and, most importantly, why you’re doing it.

James A. Castañeda, AICP, was Northern Section’s Communications Director at the time he wrote this. He went on to become the Section Director, a position he held until February 1, 2020 when he exchanged his long time position in San Mateo County for a new post in Los Angeles.