Northern News

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

Making great communities happen

APA/SPUR Series, Oct and Nov, free to APA members

AICP CM credits are approved and available for all six programs.

APA and SPUR are collaborating on a continuing series of free online events. Event registration is at APA members will have free access to the events by using APAFALL at checkout. For questions and further information, contact or call (415) 781-8726.


By the year 2100, the sea level around the Bay Area is projected to rise by nearly seven feet. New research from the Stanford Natural Capital Project illustrates that traditional methods to keep flooding out of a community, such as sea wall construction, can actually do more harm than good by inundating other parts of the Bay Area, causing ecological destruction and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. As a result, it is increasingly important for communities to work together, rather than individually, in their approaches to this looming threat. What other options are there to protect the Bay Area as a whole? Join the authors and researchers to learn how nontraditional-based approaches to combating sea-level rise, like strategic flooding plans, can divert floods to overflow zones that absorb increased water and avoid damage to communities.

Wildfires have long been a natural part of the California landscape, but “fire season” (a phrase that only recently entered the general lexicon of most Californians) continues to expand, beginning earlier and ending later with each passing year. As of late August, a total of 6,714 fires had been recorded in 2021 alone, burning nearly 1.65 million acres and damaging or destroying more than 2,000 structures. What will it take to restrain this relentless assault on our state’s land and air? Join us for a conversation with Jessica Morse, the California Natural Resources Agency’s Deputy Secretary for Forest Resources Management, to hear about the State’s plans for addressing this intractable challenge and the difficult choices that California will have to make in the future.

Single-use zoning is the most widespread form of zoning found across the United States. While it might prevent a tannery from opening next door to your home, the odds are good that it also prevents a duplex from doing the same thing. The simple fact is that zoning, at least in its most recognizable form, is an antiquated tool that does more harm than good. Poorly designed zoning and other land use regulations increase home prices, reduce housing availability, promote segregation, lengthen commutes, and restrict transportation choices. With the movement to eliminate single-family-exclusive zoning gaining steam around the country — here in California, two bills that permit multiple homes on single-family-zoned lots were recently ratified into law — the opportunity is ripe to reimagine zoning entirely. Participate in a conversation about the need for widespread zoning reform, what could replace zoning as we know it, and how it could advance real change in our neighborhoods.


As the housing crisis worsens throughout the Bay Area, legislators and policymakers from across the region are looking for varying ways to boost housing production to alleviate California’s increasing level of unaffordability. Join us as we discuss how leaders in the Bay Area can develop an ecosystem of missing-middle housing production that has been missing for decades.

In July, SPUR hosted a conversation with the MTC and local developers about the prime opportunities that exist for more successful and equitable transit-oriented development (TOD) throughout the Bay Area — locations that could house thousands of jobs and residents in communities around existing transit. Four months later, the agency has developed new preliminary policy proposals for its updated TOD plan, drawing on rigorous analysis and years of research into best practices. Join us to learn what MTC is proposing, share your questions and concerns, and help push the region towards more achievable transit-oriented development.

  • Tuesday, November 30, 12:30 to 1:30. Can Overlay Zones Help the Bay Area’s Housing Shortage? presented by Terry Taplin (Berkeley City Council), Jesse Kanson-Benanav (Abundant Housing Massachusetts), Darrell Owens (East Bay for Everyone), and Sarah Karlinsky (SPUR). 1 AICP CM credit available.

As the housing shortage in the San Francisco Bay Area continues unabated, elected leaders across the region are exploring myriad options for their jurisdictions to build the number of homes mandated by the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). One of the innovative methods for achieving these housing goals being explored is the creation and application of overlay zones, at which Berkeley is serving as a regional model. Come hear how overlay zoning is working there, the success seen in Massachusetts, and why such zoning might be the best tool for addressing the state’s expanding housing crisis.

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