Author: Andrea Mardesich

Public meetings are broken. Here’s how to fix them.

Neighborhood planning is governed by a biased, unrepresentative system

By Patrick Sisson, Curbed, February 12, 2020

“The public meeting has become enshrined in this nation’s local politics as the conduit for the opinions of the common citizen and [as] an essential part of grassroots democracy.

“The problem of misrepresentation at public meetings, neighborhood councils, and other such hyper-localized public forums stems from their design.

Exclusionary

“Held at times of day that can make it hard for many people to attend without missing work, usually without day care options, and sometimes in locations not favorable to those with disabilities or who rely on transit, these meetings already exclude many groups before they even start. Then there’s the matter of format: Experts and officials typically sit behind a table and give speeches and make presentations, with a microphone set up to take comments from neighbors who can spare the time to spend hours waiting for a few minutes on the mic.

“ ‘The dynamic is just so unproductive,’ says Sara Aye, a designer and executive director of Greater Good Studio in Chicago, which focuses in part on improving public engagement.

“In 2018, Ayes and team at Greater Good Studio designed a public engagement plan for Raising Places, an initiative by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to enlist community members to design their own programs to promote healthy childhoods.

To make a meeting work, get started before the event

“Greater Good approached the project like organizers. They reached out to the community, held lots of one-on-one conversations, and enlisted community groups to take leadership roles and help with outreach. The nine-month outreach program focused first on diagnosing and understanding the issues, with weeks of events focused on observation, immersion, and the discussion of root causes with the community, as well as framing goals. 

Greater Good Studio has also experimented with meetings that turn what’s normally a staged, one-at-a-time [public comment] conversation into something more freeform. … In five California cities for the state government, Greater Good organized feedback events into something more akin to a science fair. Different stakeholders and local coalitions set up at tables spread around the room, and community members circulated around the stations all night, chatting and delivering feedback and having conversations.

Is local control a good idea in the first place?

“There’s another school of thought that says the best meeting may be not having a meeting at all. If the benefits of building certain projects are diffuse, says Boston [University’s Katherine] Einstein, it means assembling a supportive coalition at a neighborhood level may be too high a bar to set. Maybe the better process is setting more policy at the city or even state level, to allow more projects to move forward to benefit the community as a whole.

Read the full article here.

 

A plan to combine the Bay Area’s dozens of transit networks

SF-based Assemblymember David Chiu wants to put different agencies on the same track

By Adam Brinklow, Curbed, February 5, 2020

“The Bay Area almost has more public transit than it knows what to do with — and that’s the problem according to Assemblymember David Chiu. 

“His new bill Assembly Bill 2057 would establish a single universal bus fare across the Bay Area and one single discount standard for every agency, create a combined transit map and departure time reference, and develop a new type of transfer that works across every transit line.

“The legislation also establishes a consulting team for bigger, more grandiose implementations down the line, like a single fare for all Bay Area transit, and (the holy grail for harried commuters) a scheduled alignment between different systems.

“Eventually, someday, the region could achieve something like unity, merging dozens of disparate systems into a single one. Or that idea could breakdown if, as is often the case, agencies can’t force compatibility between so many moving parts designed to work separately. In any case, Chiu’s initial foray will help suss out how this vast project might work.

“Most Bay Area commuters use more than one system, but there’s little if any coordination between the agencies. Caltrain and BART will time transfers at Millbrae station, for example, but switching from BART to Muni or AC Transit is a gamble at best most days.

“For now the bill remains a hazy outline. But once there’s more meat on its bones, it will pass through committee hearings in Sacramento at a later date.”

Read more here. 

 

Fighting sea level rise the natural way

An interview by Lori Pottinger, Public Policy Institute of California, February 3, 2020

PPIC interviewed Letitia Grenier, a member of PPIC’s Water Policy Center research network and a senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute. Below are selections from the interview.

“We tend to think of climate change as causing a slow, linear rise in sea level, but it’s not always gradual … We could see quick changes and sudden jumps in sea level.

“Rising seas will affect how we manage runoff from major storms. It’s not enough to manage water coming down rivers and rising from groundwater — we also have to account for concurrent king tides and storm surges … [and] build infrastructure that … takes into account flooding from behind and below.

“Our water infrastructure was developed to address specific issues … [without] figuring out how to make the overall watershed work well for all the things we need it to do. Instead, we optimized the system in each location for one function.

“There is huge potential to redesign systems to let natural processes help us solve some of our complicated problems.

“Compared to a concrete flood basin, a marsh provides not just flood protection but also creates habitat for at-risk species, protects the shoreline, sequesters carbon, filters and breaks down contaminants, and creates recreational opportunities. And traditional engineered infrastructure has a lifespan… In contrast, ecosystems are always changing; they can adapt in ways that engineered solutions can’t.

“We also need to work across jurisdictions… Our current system has too many agencies with missions that aren’t well aligned. So we’ll need to voluntarily coordinate to make our watersheds work as they should — and provide incentives to bring agencies together over watershed planning. It will take time to make this change, and … these big social challenges are harder to resolve than the science side.”

Read the PPIC interview here.

Danville ballot measure sparks debate over open space

A view of the property. Photo Credit: Guy Marzorati/KQED

By Guy Marzorati, KQED, February 11, 2020

 

“Just south of the entrance to Mount Diablo State Park, in the East Bay town of Danville, horses and livestock roam more than 400 acres of emerald-green hillsides, a rare vestige of the Bay Area’s agricultural past.

“The future of this pastoral land, owned for decades by the Magee family of ranchers, is at stake in one of the region’s most controversial measures on the March primary ballot. The debate over the measure has residents split over the benefits (and even the definition) of open space.

“If it passes, Measure Y would uphold a plan to turn the privately owned hills into a 69-home development, while unlocking public access to [213 acres of] hiking and bike trails.

“The ballot fight is an example of the ‘development paradox’ that confronts cities and environmental groups hoping to add or maintain open space in the expensive Bay Area, said Daniel Press, an environmental studies professor at UC Santa Cruz.

“Open space ‘means different things to different people,’ Press said. ‘Technically, that property could be developed. Just because it’s open right now reflects past history; [it] is a statement about right now and it’s not a statement about the future.’

 “But the Danville Open Space Committee gathered thousands of signatures to challenge the project on the March ballot. ‘It is blatantly illogical to have a campaign that says we’re bringing open space by slamming a 69-home development on open space,’ said a member of the Committee. ‘The open space, as you’re looking at it right now, exists.’ 

“But to supporters of Measure Y, the Magee land isn’t open space, it’s private property. ‘This view is open right now. It is a stunning vista. But you can’t hike here. You can’t be an equestrian here,’ Danville Mayor Karen Stepper said. ‘It’s not your land to use, but it will be when it’s owned by East Bay Regional Parks.’

“The alternative, Stepper said, could be a future development that dedicates the entire ranch land to more sprawling housing construction. ‘That would be 78 homes on five-acre lots, so that doesn’t leave you any room for trails, bikes, or even the limitations and the traffic improvements,’ she said. ‘So we don’t want to see that happen.’ “

Read the full article here.

This aerial view shows the Magee Ranch Preserve housing plan and open space that was approved by the Danville Town Council on July 2, 2019. The proposal is the subject of a referendum, Measure Y, on the March 3 ballot. (Town of Danville, via East Bay Times)

Height limit exemption effort starts in San Mateo

Group’s initiative would allow higher buildings, greater density, at transit

By Zachary Clark, Daily Journal, February 7, 2020

“With Measure P set to sunset by the end of the year, a group of San Mateo residents is pushing to extend existing building height limits in the city while exempting areas around transit from those restrictions. 

“The initiative would extend voter-approved height and density limits in the city for 10 years while removing those restrictions around the city’s three Caltrain stations until new height limits are established through the general plan update underway. The initiative also contains provisions that remove barriers to affordable housing development in the city. 

“Measure P, a 2004 extension of a measure approved by voters in 1991, caps building height in the city, including areas around transit, at 55 feet, and limits density to 50 units per acre. 

“ ‘Don’t be fooled, this measure is not trying to meet the region’s most pressing problems,’ said Michael Weinhauer, a member of San Mateans for Responsible Government. ‘It’s nothing more than a Trojan horse for unrestricted high-rise development of 12 stories or higher in downtown, Hillsdale, and other transit sites. It ignores the traffic and infrastructure problems associated with more housing, no matter where it is located in our community.’

“Housing advocates, on the other hand, support the proposed initiative and argue it’s necessary to bring about construction of much needed homes.”

Read the full article here.

 

Bay Area gets boost to affordable housing from unlikely source

Advocacy groups push successfully for affordable housing near train stations

By Emily DeRuy, Mercury News, February 6, 2020  

“New apartment complexes built near Caltrain stations must reserve at least 30 percent of their units for low-income residents. 

“The board that oversees the transit agency approved the policy on February 6, along with rules that residential projects built on Caltrain land must be at least four stories and hold at least 50 units per acre.

“[The board] rejected a request from advocates to give affordable housing developers the right of first refusal on properties that can be developed.

“ ‘Generally, they don’t work out very well for any of the parties,’ said Jim Hartnett, Caltrain’s executive director, of such requirements.

“Robust competition, added Brian Fitzpatrick, manager of real estate and property, ‘is our best bet.’ 

“Caltrain, the pair said, must create space for the rail network to thrive and grow in the coming years and also determine how best to use what little land the agency thinks it can spare. That means weighing what will bring in the most revenue with community demand for affordable housing.

“ ‘For us it’s about balance,’ Fitzpatrick said, later adding, ‘if you create affordability, you are going to take a hit’ when it comes to revenue.

“There’s also no requirement that such sites be reserved for housing, although several board members agreed housing should be the priority.

“Board member Ron Collins, the mayor of San Carlos, said setting minimum on-site affordability and density requirements will set an example for how cities and counties can spur affordable housing development in the region moving forward.

“Collins pointed to recently built homes near the San Carlos train station as a cautionary tale, noting that the council ultimately allowed a three-story development rather than the six that were initially proposed.

“That, he said, was a ‘monumental mistake,’ because while the city had a requirement that 15 percent of the units be affordable, the lower density made that unrealistic. In the end, he said, just 10 percent of the 220 units were designated for lower-income residents. ‘That was a hard lesson for me to learn,’ Collins said, adding that when a city reduces density, ‘you also reduce your leverage.’ ”

Read the full article here.  

 

Oakland 2100 – The Game
Oakland 2100. Photo: Sarah Allen, AICP

Oakland 2100 – The Game

By Sarah Allen, AICP

Oakland 2100 is a public engagement game that combines a wooden relief map of downtown Oakland with Legos of various colors to allow participants to identify where and how they would like growth to occur over the next several decades. Different sizes and colors of Legos represent different land uses and densities and allow for creative and real-time collaboration to determine how best to accommodate growth.

Organized and initiated by project team Noah Friedman, Steve Pepple, and Courtney Ferris, this temporary traveling exhibit and game was played in several locations in 2019 including the Jack London Farmers Market, SPUR Oakland, Oakland Impact HUB, a branch of the Public Library, the West Oakland Youth Center, and the Jack London Business Improvement District. The project culminated October 4, 2019, at the downtown Oakland office of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) where several youth and student groups were hosted to play. This final evening to showcase the game coincided with a First Friday Art Murmur event at the AIA office.

Photo: Sarah Allen, AICP

This “game” offered a serious method of engagement to identify community desires and values related to design and urban planning; however, the biggest benefit may have been to education, collaboration, and understanding. For example, the activity set rules to make the development process more realistic with some real-life challenges that developers, residents, and the city face on a daily basis. Participants were guided to understand and negotiate the physical, financial, and political constraints within which the built environment is shaped.

Photo: Sarah Allen, AICP

While the results of the events may not be formally used in producing plans and ideas for how to move Oakland forward — the game was neither produced nor endorsed by the City — the effort proved a useful tool to inform the community. Allowing for creativity and play engaged constituents and led to a better understanding of how cities are planned and developed. The ultimate goal, it seems, was to start a conversation about the trade-offs involved in each land use decision and to show community members how to participate in shaping the future of their built environment. You can find out more here.

Sarah Allen, AICP, is APA California–Northern Section’s Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC) for the East Bay. She began her career with the city of Lafayette’s planning department as an intern 13 years ago and is now a senior planner, working on current and long-range planning projects, including the development of a public outreach strategy for the impending General Plan Update.

Meet a local planner – Martin Carver, AICP

Meet a local planner – Martin Carver, AICP

By Catarina Kidd, AICP

Martin Carver, AICP, is Managing Partner of Zero­City, LLC in Santa Cruz, Cali­for­nia. He holds a master of city and regional planning from Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity and a BA in en­viron­men­tal studies ­/politics from UC San­ta Cruz. As a volunteer, he has served as a board member for Tierra Pacifica Charter School, Insight Santa Cruz, and Bloom of the Present.

What is your professional focus? 

We work with muni­ci­pal­ities, school districts, and uni­ver­si­ties to achieve net zero green­house gas emis­sions using com­mu­ni­ty-scale renewable energy projects. I work with a partner to combine comprehensive city and climate action planning with implementation of energy projects. The time has come to think bigger about collective efforts with public/private partnerships to increase renewable energy production and move beyond the modest “one-rooftop-at-a-time” approach.

What led you to this work?

Around 2000, I began consulting with my own firm, Coastplans. This was mostly general plan work, advance planning, housing elements, and CEQA documents. In 2015, as a result of the recession’s impact on my firm and my clients, my private practice was reinvented with a partner, and became “ZeroCity, LLC.” The firm offers energy planning, which is what I have focused on for the last five years.

What are the concepts in this particular specialty? 

We saw a need for local cities to gain a foothold in energy development and community choice aggregation. In the Central Coast area, I served on the formation committee of Monterey Bay Community Power. Even before PG&E’s power safety shutoffs started, we thought the technology and economics were there for local microgrids with which local cities could sustainably provide more reliable and cheaper power.

What is a microgrid?

Essentially, a combination of solar, batteries, and wind power feeds into your own poles and wires, and not into PG&E transmission lines. There could even be room for building one or two additional wind turbines to feed into the microgrid, and opportunities for nearby landfills to provide gas. The prices for power are set by how much it costs to produce energy. To be competitive, microgrids cannot charge more than PG&E.   

Most cities have opportunities in terms of public rights-of-way and excess land around water treatment plants and other facilities that can potentially host microgrids. The microgrids form a basis for a new municipal finance, a new way for cities to fund operations. 

Any recent examples? 

I put together a team and am currently working on a plan to provide power to major customers in the Gonzales Industrial Park, which hosts tenants such as Del Monte Foods, Taylor Foods, and Constellation Wines. These are multi-billion dollar companies with large energy needs. Microgrids are an approach that makes sense and sets them on a path of sustainability. We are now in the final stages of negotiating a public-private partnership, and the key factor for viability, private money, has come to the table. With Phase 1 producing as much as 80 Gigawatt hours (GWh) a year, it would be one of the largest microgrids in California. 

Where can we learn more about energy sustainability?

Over the past several years, I have written several papers about the foundational ideas, recent developments, and analysis of microgrid programs. They can be found here: http://zero.city/news.

What advice do you have for new or mid-career planners?

Think about what draws you in. I always gravitated to long-range planning in private consulting. I started my post-graduate planning career in Sacramento at Mintier-Harnish where I learned about housing elements, general plans, and CEQA. I also worked for the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission and the Monterey County Resource Management Agency’s Long-Range Planning Team. In addition, I worked on the Marine Science Campus Coastal Long-Range Development Plan, the Science Hill Master Plan, and the Silicon Valley Center/NASA Ames Campus Master Plan, all through the University of California. All of these were rewarding experiences. 

It’s good to do both public and private sector work — it rounds you out. The idea that you just stay in one organization or job for 20 years doesn’t fly anymore. Truthfully, I never did that well in public sector offices and their politics. I always wanted to focus on the work, and consulting matched with my personality and work style. You should consider those factors when deciding your path.

Talk about your experience dealing with recession and business cycles. 

It’s important to understand the economics of planning as a business. When the 2008 recession began, it became obvious that housing markets drive city planning. Not entirely, but a lot of it. So when the bottom drops out, there are no consulting jobs, no agency planner jobs. I was lucky because I had a large general plan project underway through 2011 that kept me whole for that time. 

After 2012, there was no work for the year, and it was a pretty tough time for me and for many planners, public and private. I took on temporary work with the County of Monterey for a few years. In 2015, I started getting calls from former clients. Since then, there has been a lot work; however, there is always the possibility of a downturn. Be sure to have enough resources and savings to stay afloat during the hard times, and know the lean times will pass.

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

Meet a local planner: C.J. Gabbe, AICP, PhD

Meet a local planner: C.J. Gabbe, AICP, PhD

By Catarina Kidd, AICP

C.J. Gabbe, AICP, PhD, is an urban planner and assistant professor in Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University, where his research and courses focus on environmental sustainability and housing affordability. 

What was your path to planning?

I first became interested in planning as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon. Through my classes, I surveyed different aspects of urban planning, policy, and government. The first work I did was bike and pedestrian planning in Eugene, Oregon. Over the years, I worked for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and the Portland Development Commission. I then enrolled in a master of urban planning program at the University of Washington, where I explored real estate, neighborhood planning, and public participation. After graduating, I worked in planning consulting for six years, focusing on regional plans, comprehensive plans, and downtown plans for jurisdictions around the country. I wanted to do more evidence-based work, so I pursued a PhD in urban planning from UCLA. 

You left a full-time job to pursue a PhD. How did you make that decision?

It was a leap of faith, as it would have been safer to stick with a mid-career job. But I was confident that a PhD could benefit my career  either in academia or a research-based approach to consulting. 

What would you say to those thinking about an advanced degree?

I highly recommend planning master’s programs. In terms of PhD programs, it’s important to be open about what that education can do for you and if you would you be willing to do it even if an academic career path does not work out. It’s important to be realistic about the academic job market; it’s very competitive. But a PhD can open doors to “alt-ac” careers with think tanks, non-profit organizations, consulting, and public agencies. Luckily, planning is an applied field, where PhD graduates with some experience can be competitive for public and private sector roles.

What is a day like in the life of a professor?

Day to day, there is a mix of research, teaching, and different aspects of serving the university, such as committee work. I like to focus on research and writing in the mornings and teaching and service in the afternoons. 

In the morning, I work on one or more research projects with teams of other faculty and students. This involves teamwork sessions, data collection, data analysis, writing, and revising. In the afternoon, I prepare  for and teach my classes, advise students, and participate in university committee meetings. I typically teach two days a week, two courses per quarter; for example, this quarter I’m teaching Sustainable Urban Planning and Environmental Politics and Policy.

What was the best advice you received, and from whom?

Some great advice came from my PhD advisor, Professor Emeritus Randy Crane at UCLA. He advised me to ground my research in big questions that are being debated. For example, understanding how regulations work and are enacted. (There’s no shortage of debates about zoning and land use regulations in Northern California!) The late John Fregonese, my mentor at Fregonese Associates, also gave me great advice by constantly emphasizing the need to start plans with a shared vision and figure out the details from there. The most effective way of starting lasting (and implementable) change is with a vision that resonates with people.

What skills did you find most valuable in consulting, in the public sector, and in academia?

Communications skills are crucial in every sector of planning. Planners often focus on technical skills — which are certainly important — but I think it’s also crucial to develop strong writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills. 

What hot topics have your interest?

I’m particularly interested in growth and densification (including around transit), re-thinking how we regulate parking, and adapting to climate change. There are great opportunities to reverse auto-oriented urban development patterns, but there are also political challenges to doing so.

How do you view upzoning near transit to increase housing production?

I’ve generally favored these efforts. My research has shown that California cities tend to do little upzoning on their own, and this is necessary in many areas given our housing shortage and affordability crisis. That said, it’s crucial that discussions about upzoning are coupled with the preservation and production of affordable units, and protecting the interests of lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. 

How would you advise new planners or mid-career planners?

Don’t be afraid to try new things early in your career or even mid-career. There are lots of opportunities to explore. Find the aspect of planning you care about. Sometimes I hear students or young planners ask, “Is it too late?” It’s never too late to try something new or change paths. Don’t feel like you have to decide anything immediately. I encourage everyone to volunteer, get involved in advocacy, try new areas, and see what resonates. Every time you push yourself, it will be really rewarding. 

What’s your advice to students? 

Local agencies often are experienced with graduate school students, but there are lots of strong and talented undergraduates who can connect with local governments. My undergrad students recently worked with the City of Santa Clara and a consulting team led by WRT. The students did a fantastic job of reaching out to the university community and got over 760 survey responses to help shape the city’s downtown plan. Involving students creates opportunities to expand public participation and to raise up a new generation of planning leaders. 

Where can readers find any papers you have written?

All of my papers are linked through my website, http://www.cjgabbe.com (I’m happy to share copies of work that is behind a paywall.) 

Two short articles might be of interest: The Hidden Cost of Bundled Parking,” and Where Residential Density Is Allowed – and Isn’t – in Los Angeles: A Fresh Look at Zoning Changes” (opens as a PDF).

 

Interviewer Catarina Kidd, AICP, is senior development manager at FivePoint and a guest writer for Northern News. Final editing by associate editor Andrea Mardesich.    

Virtual community engagement: Advancing the vision for the Alum Rock community of San Jose
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Virtual community engagement: Advancing the vision for the Alum Rock community of San Jose

By Samie Malakiman, Gwen Buckley, Larissa Sanderfer, Nhan Le, and Manee Jacobo, May 11, 2020

The Alum Rock neighborhood is located approximately two miles east of downtown San Jose, with Alum Rock Avenue as its primary transportation and commercial corridor. In Fall 2019, graduate students in San Jose State University’s Master of Urban Planning program partnered with Comm­UniverCity and the City’s District 5 office to conduct a series of outreach events in the Alum Rock community. This outreach included “Café y Communidads” events as well as a student-organized open house, as a way to hear from the community as they create a new vision for future development in this area.

The first phase of the project included a demographic analysis using Esri’s Community Analyst software, numerous site visits, a walking tour, and the development of presentation posters that highlighted specific themes derived from community engagement research. Representatives from the local non-profit SOMOS Mayfair and the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza led the walking tour along the Alum Rock corridor and through the surrounding neighborhood.

Jessica Paz-Cedillos, Executive Director of the School of Arts and Culture, leading a tour of Mexican Heritage Plaza. Photo: Rick Kos

Our graduate student team in Spring 2020 continued work by a student team the previous semester, focusing on the amenities and neighborhood improvements that are important to the residents, with the purpose of developing a comprehensive list of potential amenity investments for new developers.

This second phase focused on community engagement and was critical in understanding the opinions, priorities, and concerns of residents to help determine the amenities that would be the most beneficial to the neighborhood. The initial community outreach plan for this project included a survey and multiple focus groups with seniors, businesses owners, youth, and parents. To follow the shelter-in-place order for COVID-19, the graduate student team engaged via remote video sessions and one-on-one phone interviews.

While not as personal as in-person focus groups, the video and phone interviews nevertheless captured the opinions and daily experiences of residents.

Overall, these interactions with Eastside San Jose residents evinced a strong sense of community and culture, but also significant concerns about traffic and speeding, crime, and residential and business displacement. The residents suggested a number of amenities and improvements to help mitigate these concerns, including more family-oriented parks and open spaces, youth programs, street safety improvements, improved streetscapes to promote walkability, additional grocery stores, and business-supporting amenities.

Students presenting their “urban montage” posters at the beginning of the semester. Photo: Rick Kos

The community engagement findings and recommendations are included in a final report that will be shared with community stakeholders and Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco’s District 5 team.

A notable aspect of the report is the visualization of form-based codes that the city put into place to support the development of an Alum Rock Urban Village. The city planners who collaborated with the graduate student team noted that the current form-based code document is heavy on text and short on illustration, and full of complex technical terms that can lead to confusion. 

In response, the students developed a user-friendly set of graphics to complement the legalistic text. These graphics aim to help visualize how form-based codes could affect the look and feel of buildings and structures within the Alum Rock Urban Village.

Graphics prepared by SJSU Graduate Students to help understand form-based codes

The finished report will be available on the website of San Jose State University’s Urban and Regional Planning program in August at sjsu.edu/urbanplanning/communityplanning.

Authored by the following Master of Urban Planning students at San Jose State University:

 

Samie Malakiman was born and raised in the Bay Area. He re­ceived his BS in public rela­tions from San Jose State Uni­versity. He is pas­sionate about city design and mixed-use development.

 

 

 

Gwen Buckley is a Senior Planner at San Mateo County Transit District and has extensive experience in trans­porta­tion plan­ning, GIS, and project management.

 

 

 

Larissa Sanderfer was born and raised in the Bay Area. She received her BS in en­viron­mental sci­ence and manage­ment from UC Davis. She is passionate about public spaces, environmental planning, and GIS.

 

 

 

Nhan Le is a graduate teaching assistant in the MUP Program and an intern at the City of San Jose’s Department of Transportation. His interests lie in GIS and transportation planning, specifically pedestrian safety. 

 

 

Emanuel “Manee” Jacobo, born and raised in San Jose, earned his BS in justice studies at San Jose State University. He is president of a student-run advocacy group working to improve public transportation to SJSU, and is interested in affordable housing, trans­porta­tion, environ­ment, com­munity development, and equity in plan­ning.