Author: Francine Farrell

2022 regional Planning Commissioner trainings

2022 regional Planning Commissioner trainings

From the Institute for Local Government

“ILG and [its] partners are offering a series of regional planning commissioner trainings throughout [California]. The sessions [are] free of charge [and are designed] exclusively for city and county planning commissioners … both new and experienced.

“These interactive training sessions will help planning commissioners better understand the basics of planning documents, CEQA, and public engagement principles. [They] will also define the role of planning commissioners and give tips on how to work effectively with staff and the governing board. In each training session, [time is reserved] to network and discuss local planning challenges and opportunities, specific for each given region.

“[The trainings will give] participants the opportunity to engage with experts in the field and learn from fellow planning commissioners about best practices, emerging trends, and lessons learned.

“All sessions will run from 9:30 am to 4 pm, with coffee and networking beginning at 9 am.

“Please click on your region below for more information and to register.

“Please email pctrainings@ca-ilg.org for any questions.”

Upcoming trainings scheduled in the area of Northern Section are:

For other California counties, see the full list here.

Return to Northern News here.

 

Infrastructure for Infill

Infrastructure for Infill

Introducing a paper by the California Planning Roundtable, May 2022

For good reason, California is directing most future growth closer to jobs where people can take shorter commutes by multiple means, including transit, to reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gases generated to slow climate change and its impacts. This means that California’s metropolitan areas will mostly grow up with infill and redevelopment of underdeveloped properties rather than grow out by sprawling onto greenfield lands. If planned correctly, more affordable housing opportunities and lower cost travel options will be available to more California households of different incomes, sizes, and ages.

Good planning, however, calls for complete communities with quality sustainable infrastructure — water and waste, energy, digital, storm management, sidewalks, and streetscapes — and public facilities (schools, libraries, parks and open space, health services, public safety, and shelter) to serve this growth and to remedy past deficiencies to prepare for growth. The former may be called “basic infrastructure” and the latter “social infrastructure.” As we grow housing opportunities with infill development, we need to plan and fund Infrastructure for Infill.

The challenge lies not in recognizing the need, but in organizing to address it. Without adequate infrastructure, plans will not be fulfilled and turned into actual development, neither because of system failures, unacceptable impacts, and increasing costs, nor because of public opposition. Infrastructure for infill development, more so than for greenfield development, involves coordinating many existing and new interests, including property owners, renters, businesses, workers, and governments.

Infrastructure itself comes in different sizes, conditions, and types. Who benefits and who pays for it is not always clear or fairly apportioned. Those who feel that they have already paid — or are still paying — are not as willing to tax themselves to pay more unless they feel their services are also improved. Unlike new planned communities with private facilities, there are no homeowners’ associations to fund and manage maintenance. The public realm has much broader responsibilities.

Older and vulnerable communities facing greater costs to upgrade often include populations and households with fewer financial means and the capacity to fund those costs. The greater good may require cross-subsidies to address these inherent inequities.

Some mechanisms exist but are not always adequate. Either they are too narrowly applied, do not generate the scale of funding needed, or have approval requirements designed for limited property ownership and voters (as in community facility districts) or require a supermajority of voters jurisdiction-wide. That can be a challenge when the need is for a subset of the jurisdiction and some of the voters being asked to approve new taxes and fees already have adequate infrastructure and facilities. In addition, legacy facility standards are often inappropriate for infill contexts where land is expensive, uses are mixed, and ownership is disaggregated and varied. Common suburban standards, where land costs much less, may not work in urban contexts.

California’s communities, residents, and businesses need the State to provide local governments and their communities with more tools to fund infrastructure for infill if it expects them to support California’s growth strategy. State and federal attention understandably is placed on big regional infrastructure, such as regional transportation, energy, broadband, and water/sewer systems. However, as the State takes a more direct role in regulating housing, land use, and mobility to further sustainability, resilience, and equity policies, it also needs to take a more direct role in providing localities with the tools they need to provide the smaller — but in aggregate, just as important — infrastructure needed to maintain and create the balanced communities that Californian’s want and deserve.

The California Planning Roundtable has prepared a paper making this case: Infrastructure for Infill (7 pp, 832 kb). Contributors to the paper are William Anderson, FAICP; Marc Roberts, Woodie Tescher; Tom Jacobson, Ann Cheng, and Al Zelinka.

Return to Northern News here.

Lisbon’s Walkability

Lisbon’s Walkability

Cynthia F. Campbell, director for International and Philanthropic Innovation in HUD’s Office of Policy Development & Research, reflects on transit in Lisbon, Portugal, and the importance of home, April 4, 2022. Republished with permission.

Recently, during my first international vacation since the pandemic began, I visited Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. I was struck not only by the city’s architectural beauty but also its walkability. I found wide avenues with dedicated bike lanes and broad sidewalks for pedestrians. The historic city center along the waterfront was closed to automobiles, allowing for safe and enjoyable strolling. Lisbon’s historic tram system has been operating since 1873, and it was interesting to see the array of streetcars still in use. A robust tuk-tuk business, targeted mainly to tourists, made transportation around the city easily accessible.

 

Photo of Cindy Campbell
Cynthia Campbell, Director of PD&R’s International and Philanthropic Affairs Division.

I became fascinated with the intricate designs adorning the city’s sidewalks and historic plazas, so I researched the topic and found this very interesting New York Times article that discusses their history and how the city is maintaining them. The Lisbon City Council established a paving school in 1986 that trains pavers, or calceteiros, to maintain and install new pavement designs. The article notes that the school has trained 224 calceteiros since its founding. When you stroll through Lisbon, these intricate patterns and designs make you feel as though you are in an art gallery.

 

Photo of pavement in Lisbon
Lisbon is notable for its walkability and generous pedestrian areas. Photo credit: Cynthia Campbell

I also noted the city’s ubiquitous bike lanes. During the pandemic, Lisbon increased its network of bike lanes from 65 miles to 124 miles. I noticed that these bike lanes are protected from automobile traffic by barriers, curbs, or complete separation. Lisbon is very bike friendly, and I noticed hundreds of cyclists zipping around the city, especially during commuting hours.

 

Photo of bike path in Lisbon
De-emphasizing automobile traffic allows space for not only pedestrians but also bicycles. Photo credit: Cynthia Campbell

I am a retired naval officer, and I was traveling with some former Navy shipmates. While in Lisbon, we visited another former naval officer who is retired and living permanently in Lisbon. During his time in the Navy, this officer taught at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and one of his former students was a Ukrainian naval officer. When Russia recently invaded Ukraine, he reached out to his former student to offer assistance. The Ukrainian naval officer accepted this generous offer and asked the retired officer if he could house his mother and son as well as his sister and her daughter. The Ukrainian naval officer’s wife also serves in the Ukrainian Navy, and his sister’s husband is in the military as well. The retired officer took in the Ukrainian’s entire family.

Photo of Lisbons tram system
Lisbon’s historic tram system has been operating since 1873, while tuk-tuks (pictured in front) provide tourists with an easy way to see the city. Photo credit: Cynthia Campbell

We were able to host the family for dinner with lots of hugs and support. With the help of Google Translate, we heard them describe their harrowing journey to Lisbon. The home of the officer’s mother was destroyed, and the family members could take only one bag each with them during their harrowing escape. The mother even showed us some video that she filmed as she was leaving her home. It was horrifying to see and hear the firsthand story of her escape from Ukraine.

The good news is that the family is adjusting well to their new home in Lisbon with the generous support of our friend and his family. Fortunately, they have enough room and, more importantly, large enough hearts to take in this amazing family. I’m sure that the Ukrainian naval officer is relieved to know that his family is safe and in good hands with his former U.S. Navy officer.

All in all, it was a great visit to Lisbon!

This article originally appeared in HUD USER, PD&R Edge. Republished with permission. You can view the original article here.

Return to Northern News here.

 

 

 

Free SPUR events for March and April

Free SPUR events for March and April

Because SPUR believes “education empowers people to take an active role in creating a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous region,” the organization has made “the majority of its programming free to the public.” Here is their calendar for the balance of March 2022 and April.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

The California Legislature’s 2022 Housing Agenda

Thursday, March 24. Lunchtime Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

As California’s legislative year unfolds, the ongoing challenges of housing affordability, homelessness and neighborhood opposition to development continue to negatively impact lives and make headlines. Dozens of new housing bills have recently been introduced and amended, including measures that would expand the state’s Density Bonus Law for affordable housing developments, clarify the post-entitlement permitting process and create a “First Look” program that would give prospective owner-occupants and public entities priority in purchasing foreclosed properties. In addition, the state legislature is reviewing the various aspects of Governor Newsom’s proposed budget and housing advocacy organizations are weighing in with requests. Join us to hear from advocates in Sacramento who are making budget requests and sponsoring some of this year’s key housing legislation. We’ll identify the key bills to watch, provide an analysis of each and discuss prospects for making progress on the housing front.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

A Hands-On Exploration of the Bay Area Parking Census

Tuesday, March 29. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The Mineta Transportation Institute, in partnership with SPUR and researchers at Arizona State University, recently created a parking census of the Bay Area has revealed the true enormity of land that we dedicate to our cars: 15 million spaces spread across the region’s nine counties. To coincide with the launch of this census we’re also releasing the database that was used as the backbone for our research. This innovative, publicly-available tool can serve as an important asset to help policymakers and planners throughout the Bay Area make more strategic decisions about parking. But such a tool is only useful if you know what to do with it. Take part in an interactive workshop to learn how this data-rich index of the region’s parking surfeit can be wielded to inform policy changes, both big and small, in your own city.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Eliminating Barriers to Common-Sense Transportation Projects

Thursday, March 31. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Senate Bill 288, championed by Senator Wiener and signed into law in 2020, provides targeted California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions to jumpstart common-sense, sustainable transit and active transportation projects that make limited public dollars go further and result in a safer, healthier and equitable future for all Californians. The law significantly reduces the chances that projects will be appealed or litigated, therefore making it faster to deploy the type of infrastructure we need to fight climate pollution and improve transportation equity. Projects expedited by this process are already hitting the streets but, unless an extension is approved, the law will expire at the end of 2022. Come explore SB 288’s impact across California so far and learn about what the future may hold the law.

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SAN FRANCISCO

Dream Play Build [In-Person Program]

Monday, April 4. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

People love their communities and want them to become safer, healthier, and more prosperous places. But the standard approach to public meetings somehow makes everyone miserable, and conversations that should be inspiring regularly become shouting matches. What would it look like to facilitate truly meaningful and productive discussions between citizens and planners? And what if they could even be fun? The new book, Dream Play Build, shares ways to shake up the classic community meeting by building common ground and inviting active participation among diverse groups. Join authors James Rojas and John Kamp, two designers who have spent their careers successfully weaving storytelling and hands-on interaction into traditional design processes, for a hands-on exploration of some of the artful, playful lessons and methods that encourage individuals to make change within the landscape around them.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

The Future of Treasure Island is Nearly Here

Thursday, April 7. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island, situated in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, share a long history. From providing an anchor for the Bay Bridge to hosting the Golden Gate International Exposition and, subsequently, the US Navy, the islands have seen considerable change over the last century. But both are now undergoing a truly radical evolution. Geotechnical work, new streets, utilities, and infrastructure are being completed, new freeway ramps and a new ferry landing are in place and new housing, both market-rate and affordable, will be ready for occupancy in 2022. Join us to hear about Treasure Island’s past, the plan for its future, and a progress update on the grand vision that San Francisco adopted over a decade ago.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

What It Takes to Deliver Affordable Homes for Bay Area School Employees

Thursday, April 7. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Due to the high cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, school districts here face significant challenges in attracting and retaining teachers and staff. Join us for this digital discourse to learn about the County of Santa Clara’s 110-unit teacher housing project in Palo Alto, funded in part with a $25 million contribution from Meta, and in partnership with the City of Palo Alto and local school districts and Jefferson Union High School District’s efforts including the $33 million general obligation bond, Measure J, approved by voters in 2018 to fund 80 units of housing for teachers and staff in northern San Mateo County. We’ll learn about the opportunities, obstacles, and lessons learned as well as how these initiatives might be replicated throughout our region.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Bolstering State Leadership on Regional Transit Priority

Wednesday, April 13. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

One standout component of The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) recently released Bay Area Transit Transformation Action Plan is a commitment to improving bus speed and reliability. Faster and more reliable bus service not only improves the ridership experience, it also supports a more coordinated regional transit network and allows transit agencies to deliver more service for the money. However, success will require leadership from California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), because the agency maintains authority of the state highways that serve not only numerous bus routes, but a planned future network of regional express bus service. MTC posits that a stronger leadership role and clearer guidance from Caltrans’ headquarters could influence the agency’s regional offices in how they support transit priority projects. Come participate in a conversation between the major stakeholders involved in this process as they discuss the steps that Caltrans leadership can take to accelerate the delivery and effectiveness of roadway changes and support improved bus speed and reliability.

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SAN JOSÉ

Lend Your Voice to Shape Downtown’s Transportation Future [In-Person Program]

Thursday, April 14. Evening Forum 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Despite too often being the domain of cars, streets are the primary public spaces of our daily lives. Designing them to better meet the needs of San José residents will help build a more vibrant and welcoming downtown. Downtown is seeing major investments that will affect the day-to-day choices of people traveling in the area. Against this backdrop, the City of San José is undertaking the Downtown Transportation Plan to guide these investments. The plan aims to deliver a safer, healthier, more enjoyable, and more affordable way to move throughout the city’s urban core. But it’s a process that depends on public feedback to be truly successful. In this forum, the Downtown Transportation Plan team will give a preview of the draft plan. Come provide your thoughts on what you see and help the city advance the transportation moves – both big and small – that will shape the future of downtown San José.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

How a New State Program Could Drive a Dramatically Healthier California

Wednesday, April 20. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Imagine a program that could reduce hunger and improve health for low-income Californians, while simultaneously supporting California farmers. Now imagine that accessing such a program is as easy as shopping at grocery stores and farmers markets statewide. This vision — one that builds upon years of pilot projects that tested supplemental benefit programs (also known as healthy food incentive programs) that incentivized the purchase of fruits and vegetables — could move closer to reality if a proposal that is currently pending in the California State Legislature passes this year. Join us for a discussion of what expanding this ambitious benefit program would mean, how it would work and who would benefit.

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SAN FRANCISCO

Learning from a Career Dedicated to Social Service [In-Person Program]

Thursday, April 21. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Jeff Kositsky has spent his career working to shape the Bay Area into a place for everyone. After years of leading impactful non-profit organizations such as Community Housing Partnership and Hamilton Families, he was appointed by former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in 2016 to found the city’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, an agency designed to prevent and end homelessness for individuals, families, and youth. Four years later, he was appointed by Mayor London Breed to head the city’s Healthy Street Operations Center, a multi-departmental collaboration that assists unsheltered individuals while improving the quality of life for all San Franciscans — a role he held until late 2021. Join us for a conversation with San Francisco’s former “homelessness czar” as we discuss the throughline of his career, what he’s learned about the seeming intractability of homelessness and what it will truly take to get all Bay Area residents into homes.

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SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Can New Federal Funding Kickstart the Region’s Transportation Goals?

Thursday, April 21. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Transportation infrastructure funding will be flowing to the region in greater sums than usual over the coming few years. The Infrastructure Jobs and Investment Act, passed by Congress in 2021, when combined with California’s own surplus spending, creates a unique opportunity to advance some of the Bay Area’s top transportation priorities. Come hear the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and a panel of innovative transportation leaders as they discuss what this once-in-a-generation influx of funding means to the region, the major new funding opportunities that exist, and how MTC is working to organize the region’s many players to advance Plan Bay Area 2050.

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SAN FRANCISCO

A Culmination of the Presidio Parkway [In-Person Program]

Monday, April 25. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

This spring, the Presidio will open Battery Bluff, six acres of beautiful new open space created atop one set of Presidio Parkway tunnels through the national park site. Combined with the upcoming Presidio Tunnel Tops, a total of 36-acres of new public parkland will be added to the Presidio, and the bayshore will be reconnected to the historic heart of the park for the first time in eight decades. This moment marks the culmination of a three-decade government and community effort, championed by SPUR and numerous government agencies, to replace the seismically unsafe Doyle Drive with a new roadway, designed by the late Michael Painter, that would fit seamlessly into the park landscape. Join key actors in the design and construction process to hear this remarkable story of how government and community collaboration led to a world-class open space. Attendees will receive a new book commemorating the Presidio Parkway development, Parkway for the People, by Kristina Woolsey.

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Touring the Presidio’s Battery Bluff

Thursday, April 28. Tour 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Though the Presidio Parkway, the replacement for the seismically-unsafe Doyle Drive, opened in 2015, the project was far from over. In the years since, work has been underway to take advantage of the roadways’ improved design to restore wetlands and create new open spaces for visitors on and around the tunnels through the national park site. The historic heart of the Presidio will now be reconnected to the park’s northern waterfront for the first time since 1937. One restoration site will open this spring. Battery Bluff, a six-acre open space, promises sweeping views of the Golden Gate, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. The landscape includes picnic tables, restored historic gun batteries, and a new multi-use segment of the Presidio Promenade trail to the Golden Gate Bridge. Come for a behind-the-scenes tour of Battery Bluff and see parts of the Presidio that have been off-limits to the public for 80 years. In partnership with the Presidio Trust.

Return to Northern News here.

 

Nominate an APA California member for the Chapter Board

Nominate an APA California member for the Chapter Board

The APA California Chapter Board seeks nominations of Chapter members for the 2022 Chapter Board Election. The successful candidates will assume office on January 1, 2023, and serve a two-year term. California Planning Foundation (CPF) Board members serve four-year terms.

The Board positions on this year’s ballot are:

  • Vice President for Policy and Legislation
  • Vice President for Public Information
  • Vice President for Conferences
  • Commission and Board Representative
  • California Planning Foundation (CPF) Board Member (two seats available)

The duties of the Chapter Board positions are defined in the APA California Chapter’s Bylaws.

The deadline to submit the candidate application package is 11:59 pm, Friday, July 1, 2022. The election period is scheduled for October 1-14, 2022.

To request a candidate packet for the APA California Board, please contact Andrea Ouse, AICP, APA California Chapter President-Elect, at presidentelect@apacalifornia.org or (916) 617-4645.

For more information about the California Planning Foundation Board Election, please contact Hing Wong, FAICP, California Planning Foundation President, hing@hingwong.info.

Return to Northern News here.

Free SPUR events for April and May

Free SPUR events for April and May

 

SPUR believes “education empowers people to take an active role in creating a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous region.” So SPUR has made “the majority of its programming free to the public.” Here is their calendar for the balance of April 2022, plus May.

SAN FRANCISCO

A Culmination of the Presidio Parkway [In-Person Program]

Monday, April 25. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

This spring, the Presidio will open Battery Bluff, six acres of beautiful new open space created atop one set of Presidio Parkway tunnels through the national park site. Combined with the upcoming Presidio Tunnel Tops, a total of 36-acres of new public parkland will be added to the Presidio, and the Bayshore will be reconnected to the historic heart of the park for the first time in eight decades. This moment marks the culmination of a three-decade government and community effort, championed by SPUR and numerous government agencies, to replace the seismically unsafe Doyle Drive with a new roadway, designed by the late Michael Painter, that would fit seamlessly into the park landscape. Join key actors in the design and construction process to hear this remarkable story of how government and community collaboration led to a world-class open space. Attendees will receive a new book commemorating the Presidio Parkway development, Parkway for the People, by Kristina Woolsey.

SAN FRANCISCO

X Marks the Spot: Touring Treasure Island

Wednesday, April 27. Tour 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Treasure Island is undergoing monumental change. 8,000 new homes planned for the island will be supported by 300 acres of parks and 22 miles of trails, accounting for the largest expansion of public space in San Francisco since the creation of Golden Gate Park. Grand in scope, the ambitious plan is truly worthy of the Golden Gate International Exposition, which was held on the island more than eighty years ago. With the first phase of the project under construction and a completed ferry terminal now shuttling passengers to downtown San Francisco in only 10 minutes, join us for an up-close look at the city’s new efforts to create a sustainable community from the ground up.

SAN FRANCISCO

Touring the Presidio’s Battery Bluff

Thursday, April 28. Tour 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Though the Presidio Parkway, the replacement for the seismically unsafe Doyle Drive, opened in 2015, the project was far from over. In the years since, work has been underway to take advantage of the roadways’ improved design to restore wetlands and create new open spaces for visitors on and around the tunnels through the national park site. The historic heart of the Presidio will now be reconnected to the park’s northern waterfront for the first time since 1937. One restoration site will open this spring. Battery Bluff, a six-acre open space, promises sweeping views of the Golden Gate, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. The landscape includes picnic tables, restored historic gun batteries, and a new multi-use segment of the Presidio Promenade trail to the Golden Gate Bridge. Come for a behind-the-scenes tour of Battery Bluff and see parts of the Presidio that have been off-limits to the public for 80 years. In partnership with the Presidio Trust.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Protect, Accommodate, Retreat: Adaptation Strategies in the Face of Sea Level Rise

Wednesday, May 4. Lunchtime Forum 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.

There is widespread agreement that the Bay Area needs to invest in both protection and accommodation to allow communities to coexist with the inevitability of sea-level rise. But managed retreat, itself, is bitterly contested. The history of the government taking land for the “public good” is synonymous with some of the greatest injustices in the United States, of which the displacement of Native Americans from their ancestral lands and the razing of non-white communities to build freeways and railroads are just two appalling examples. Managed retreat chips away at the communities that people love while reopening these old wounds. However, its alternative — allowing climate disasters to force when and how people move — is no better. And as climate change continues to impact the Bay Area, many neighborhoods will be at greater risk of regular flooding, even with protection and accommodation strategies in place. Take part in a difficult conversation about when, if ever, is the right time to talk about retreat.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

What Are the Secrets to Emeryville’s Success?

Tuesday, May 10. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The city of Emeryville is different than many other Bay Area cities. Its commitment to housing, bike infrastructure, building decarbonization, and more have proven to be a model opportunity for other cities to learn from. One key way in which it has stood apart from much of the rest of the region is through its exemplary efforts to build affordable housing. The city is currently on track to exceed its regional housing development goals and is seeking to qualify as a “pro-housing city” through a new California Department of Housing and Community Development incentivization program that funds prioritization and other benefits. Join us for a conversation with Emeryville’s mayor, John J. Bauters, to discuss how his city has accomplished what others have yet to achieve.

OAKLAND

Building ADUs in Oakland: The Keys to Equity Program

Wednesday, May 11. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

For more than 40 years, the Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services (RNHS) has worked tirelessly to undo the harmful effects of racist housing policies that result in redlining, disinvestment, blight and systemic segregation across the East Bay. Its new Keys to Equity Program, created in collaboration with Self-Help Federal Credit Union, the WellNest Company, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the City of Oakland, and the San Francisco Foundation, works directly with Oakland homeowners who are looking to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on their property. Through one-on-one guidance, the program provides the fundamental design, permitting, construction, and financing services that often serve as hurdles to building an ADU. Come learn how this important program aims to reverse decades of discriminatory housing practices while alleviating the housing crisis in the East Bay.

OAKLAND

Exploring Oakland’s District 2

Friday, May 13. Tour 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Comprising the neighborhoods of Grand Lake, Chinatown, Trestle Glen, Highland Park, and more, Oakland District 2 is a vibrant core of the city filled with cultural institutions, active commercial streets, and tight-knit communities. Join us as we explore the district with its councilmember and the president of the Oakland City Council, Nikki Fortunato Bas, to hear about her favorite gems and how she works to represent her constituents.

SAN FRANCISCO

Office to Housing Conversion: San Francisco

Tuesday, May 17. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, broad swaths of San Francisco’s Financial District and South of Market neighborhoods have been all but abandoned by companies who have transitioned to either a hybrid or fully-remote model of working. This exodus of major employers means that many of the city’s tallest buildings sit underused, or even empty, while Bay Area residents continue to endure an oppressive housing crisis and many of our neighbors remain unhoused. The widespread office vacancies, brought on by the unprecedented events of the last two years, present a unique opportunity for developers and city leaders — not just in San Francisco, but also across the United States. Join us for an in-depth discussion about the chance, and feasibility of, converting unused office space into desperately needed homes.

 

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Planning More Illuminated Cities

Wednesday, May 31. Special Program 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Is your night experience in cities poetic or fearful? Though architects and planners design the world around us primarily for daytime hours, half of our lives are spent in the dark. Some individuals, such as culture lovers and clubbers, choose to go out at night, while others, like shift workers, must do so as part of their jobs. And let’s not forget the wintertime, when most of us experience cities after the sun sets early. However, regardless of the reasons that we traverse cities at night, well-designed illumination is vital to accessing our cities during these darkened hours. It connects us to fresh air and social interactions while boosting local economies and augmenting safety and a sense of welcome. Join noted lighting urbanist Leni Schwendinger as she leads a panel of international lighting and urban design leaders to explore the perceptions, realities, and creative possibilities of the city at night.

Return to Northern News here.

 

Free SPUR events through August 2022

Free SPUR events through August 2022

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

A New Social Contract for Housing in California

Wednesday, June 29. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

California’s housing crisis is now decades old, but its not for lack of good ideas, good planners, or serious resources. How do we build the type of grand bargains and big coalitions needed to make change? How do we even build the political will to change our housing system? A recent book by author Alex Schafran, Where We Go From Here, explores how new approaches to the real estate economy, to homeownership and resident control, and to questions of race and geography can help us design a better housing policy in the Golden State. Join us for a provocative exploration of what a new social contract for housing in California could look like.

SAN JOSÉ

All-Use Buildings and the Pursuit of Equitable, Resilient Communities [In-Person Program]

Thursday, June 30. Evening Forum 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Buildings are typically designed for a single use: offices are offices, restaurants are restaurants and houses are houses. But what happens to any of these building types when not in use? They often lie fallow, becoming not only an inefficient use of space, but reducing the vibrancy and overall health of their surrounding communities, as well. Mixed-use buildings, which combine multiple complementary uses under one roof, are one solution to this challenge, but is there a way to take the concept even further and move to the idea of rotational uses? Could we design proactively so as to reduce commercial vacancies, lower housing costs, improve inclusion and address the impacts of climate change? Proponents of “all-use buildings” argue that it’s possible, and that designing for ultimate flexibility of use is critical if we want to build truly sustainable, equitable, elastic and economically strong communities. Come learn more about these radically innovative buildings and how they might serve as the foundation of tomorrow’s neighborhoods.

OAKLAND

A Conversation with Senator Nancy Skinner [In-Person Program]

Thursday, July 14. Evening Forum 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Elected to the California State Senate in 2016, following three terms in the California State Assembly, Senator Nancy Skinner is a social justice and climate change advocate and leader in the legislature. She currently chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and is vice chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. In her six years in the senate, she’s authored and successfully passed landmark legislation that has tackled housing affordability, criminal justice reform, income inequality and far more. Join us for a one-on-one conversation with the senator to learn more about what she plans to accomplish this year and her outlook for both the state budget and the current legislative session.

SAN FRANCISCO

How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It [In-Person Program]

Tuesday, July 19. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

What if scrapping one flawed policy could bring U.S. cities closer to addressing debilitating housing shortages, stunted growth and innovation, persistent racial and economic segregation and car-dependent development? Zoning maps across the country have come to arbitrarily dictate where Americans may live and work, forcing cities into a pattern of growth that is segregated and sprawling. The new book, Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It, argues that it’s time for America to move beyond zoning as a necessary — if not sufficient — condition for building more affordable, vibrant, equitable and sustainable cities. Hear from the author as he lays the groundwork for this ambitious motion by clearing up common confusions and myths about how American cities regulate growth and examining the major contemporary critiques of zoning.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

The Future of Rail in the Bay Area

Wednesday, July 27. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Transportation leaders throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are looking to invest in other modes of transportation, as well as deliver more efficient transportation design, scope and infrastructure. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has been diligently working on a study that examines how rail agencies throughout the region can work collaboratively on larger rail projects and operations. Join us as we discuss the findings from this new Regional Rail Study with Metropolitan Transportation Commission staff and other transportation partners throughout the region, and learn what these findings mean for the future of rail transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area.

SAN JOSÉ

Al Fresco, All the Time?

Tuesday, August 9. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Proposed and implemented in 2020 as a way to offer relief to struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, San José Al Fresco — the city’s program to close streets, parking lots and private property for use by diners and shoppers — has led to vibrant streets and economic recovery. Though the program was unanimously extended last year, its applicability in public spaces, such as streets and sidewalks, is scheduled to sunset this June. What does the future hold for outdoor dining and commerce in San José? Join us as we discuss the program’s successes and challenges in downtown, as well as across the city, and learn how best practices in shared spaces and slow streets programs can lead to permanent Al Fresco adoption in San José.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Answering the Call to Build Equitable Housing

Thursday, August 11. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Come participate in a multi-part series that will examine the lasting impacts of property ownership on families, neighborhoods and cities and probe its relationship to intergenerational wealth, exclusionary housing and recently-passed legislation that strives to address inequities of the past and present. In this first program, Joaquin Torres, San Francisco’s Assessor-Recorder, will lead a discussion about the myriad tools once used to enable exclusionary practices, from redlining to racist covenants, and how less overt, but equally malicious, transcriptions continue to persist today, such as under-appraisals for property owners of color. Hear from housing justice advocates, researchers, lawmakers and journalists that are taking action to actuate equity in housing and build stronger communities across the country.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

How to Build Middle-Income Homes in California

Tuesday, August 16. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Nowhere in California are middle-income households safe from rapidly increasing housing costs, and policymakers and experts from Yreka to San Diego are looking at a variety of ways to address and reduce the incredible burden placed on these families. A new paper from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, The Landscape of Middle-Income Housing Affordability in California, spotlights specific policy opportunities for officials at the state and local levels and identifies how to support the construction of middle-income housing by changing land use policies, building codes and regulations. Take part in an in-depth discussion with the authors of the report to explore what California must do in order to build homes for middle-income families across the state.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

How Bay Area Cities are Guiding the Region’s Housing Growth

Thursday, August 18. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

San Francisco, Oakland and San José are all in the middle of updating their housing elements, a state-mandated, critically-important component of a municipality’s General Plan that helps guide local growth and meet the housing needs of everyone in their community. However, the housing element process is never straightforward, requiring the incorporation of Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) quotas, numerous iterations and significant public outreach before the final draft can be submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Come hear from all three cities as they discuss their respective processes, the challenges they’ve encountered, how each plans to accommodate their RHNA allocations and how their elements can build upon each other to improve the future of housing in the Bay Area.

SAN FRANCISCO + SAN JOSÉ + OAKLAND

Life in the (Not So) Fast Lane

Wednesday, August 31. Evening Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The Bay Area has a lot of carpool lanes. These lanes are supposed to prioritize high-occupancy vehicles, encouraging more people to carpool. Too often, however, carpool lanes are just as congested as the regular travel lanes that they run adjacent to, rarely guaranteeing expedience. One of the biggest challenges to efficiency in these lanes is the difficulty of enforcement: not only is it dangerous, accurately discerning vehicle occupancy is problematic when faced with tinted windows, nighttime conditions, small children, large dogs or anything else that one might imagine would be an obstacle to error-free headcounts. Thankfully, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is piloting promising new enforcement technologies that dispense with the hazards and subterfuge. Come learn about these “vehicle occupancy detection” pilot programs, their advantages, the concerns about their adoption and what it will take to make our carpool lanes actually work.

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Walkability: Fairfield’s response to post-Covid urban planning

Walkability: Fairfield’s response to post-Covid urban planning

By Casey Case

Much has changed about day-to-day life as a result of the pandemic, and while headlines blare a return-to-work and back-to-normal, the way we plan cities and towns is being profoundly influenced. Trends that were apparent before Covid-19 such as reducing spaces for cars in favor of more walkability are accelerating. Other emerging concepts, such as the proliferation and permanence of parklets and the surge in demand for parks and green space, are also gaining favor.

Many towns are facilitating change in increments. In the case of Fairfield, California, the increment is a potential redesign of several blocks of a street and central grid.

California Avenue, Palo Alto, 2016. This sitting area with benches extends into what was formerly on-street parking. Photo: Gates + Associates.
California Avenue, Palo Alto, 2016. This sitting area with benches extends into what was formerly on-street parking. Photo: Gates + Associates.

A growing community of 120,000 between San Francisco and Sacramento, Fairfield has been like most California second-tier and suburban locales in its reliance on autos. In the U.S., streetscapes comprise the largest portion of public land, but a movement gaining tailwinds over the past two years is causing local residents, business owners, city leaders, and planners to re-think the use of this public resource.

San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) released research in February shedding more light on parking. In data compiled with the Mineta Transportation Institute, SPUR’s San Francisco Bay Area Parking Census found:

  • The nine-county Bay Area has 15 million parking spaces, enough to wrap around the planet 2.3 times.
  • 20 percent of incorporated land in the region is devoted to driving and storing cars.
  • There are approximately 2.4 spaces for every car and approximately 1.9 parking spaces for every person in the Bay Area.

Fairfield, in Solano County, is part of the Bay Area.

Said the authors, “There is far more parking than we need. This excess parking has become an accepted part of the urban landscape and makes residents more likely to drive, increasing carbon emissions and worsening climate impacts, air pollution and respiratory disease, rates of injury and death from collisions, and traffic congestion.”

Fairfield is underway — with a several square-block test case around the downtown intersection of Texas and Madison Streets — to re-evaluate its approach to urban streetscapes and walkability. With input from local citizens, shop owners, and constituents, the concepts may evolve into longer-range plans with extended coverage. Our current proposals to the city show narrower streets, patterned paving, and traffic-calming, as well as a transformative array of pedestrian-friendly improvements such as wider sidewalks, outdoor furniture, additional landscaping, and bike accommodation.

Increasing the sidewalk space will enable the creation of pedestrian-centric gathering spaces, art or mural installations, outdoor dining, and easier and safer walking paths and bikeways that can knit the community together. By selectively changing paving, narrowing specific streets, and introducing visual cues, the city can also slow down traffic and create a safer environment for the interaction of cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

Fairfield, CA, is eyeing a more pedestrian-centric downtown including narrower streets, changed paving, and visual cues that slow down traffic while widening sidewalks and adding landscaping, outdoor furniture, and other amenities. Source: Gates + Associates.
Fairfield, CA, is eyeing a more pedestrian-centric downtown including narrower streets, changed paving, and visual cues that slow down traffic while widening sidewalks and adding landscaping, outdoor furniture, and other amenities. Source: Gates + Associates.

Fairfield’s plans to add trees and pockets of greenspace will enhance eye appeal and offer shade, adding to walkability. The benefits of greenspace on public health are widely known, but a 2015 Ontario Public Health Study found specifically that tree-lined streets and well-connected parks deliver real value. While researching general health and tree density in Toronto and controlling for demographics, the study authors found “that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger.”

The pandemic led many people to “get outside,” quoting our company’s landscape design maxim. That, in turn, is leading more cities to refocus their urban planning toward a better, people-centric, “new normal.”

Image of Casey Case with Gates AssociatesCasey Case is President of Gates + Associates, a landscape architecture and urban design firm in Walnut Creek, CA, creating sustainable, extraordinary places in California and the Western U.S. She holds a BS in landscape architecture from UC Davis.

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Creating transportation equity from the ground up

Creating transportation equity from the ground up

Wednesday, April 27, at 10:00 a.m. PDT

Participants of the live webinar are eligible for one Equity CM and 1.5 AICP CM credits.

“Transportation accounts for the largest share of emissions in the United States. But many U.S. cities benefit by having dense urban footprints. By expanding low- and zero-carbon mobility options, cities can help to build more equitable transportation systems and increase economic mobility.

“Join the Smart Growth Network at 10:00 a.m. PDT, Wednesday, April 27, as Alison Sant, author of From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities, Tracey Capers of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in New York City, and Ashwat Narayanan of Our Streets Minneapolis identify how to serve under-resourced communities through investments in walking, cycling, and public transportation.

“For more information and to register, go to https://bit.ly/SGequiWeb

“The Smart Growth Network is a partnership of government, business, and civic organizations that support smart growth. US EPA is one of the founding partners of the network. Since its creation in late 1996, the network has become a clearinghouse for information about smart growth strategies.” APA is a Network Partner.

“The Smart Growth website is a project of the Maryland Department of Planning and is funded by the US EPA Office of Sustainable Communities.”

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If your meeting is really needed, keep it to 25 minutes

If your meeting is really needed, keep it to 25 minutes

By Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company, April 29, 2022

“Many … meetings don’t need to happen [says Donna McGeorge, author of The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact]. You can share information, says McGeorge, [via] email or … run polls, get opinions, and send video clips [without taking] up ‘nearly as much time as six personnel in a meeting.’

“Yet sometimes meetings are necessary. Meetings are best when you need an active conversation that involves bouncing ideas off each other …, says McGeorge.

While the default for meeting is usually an hour, McGeorge says the ideal is 25 minutes, … the optimal amount of time for people to focus. [And there’s] Parkinson’s Law, which work expands to fill the time allotted. If you give a meeting an hour, chances are you’ll find topics … to fill the void.

“French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann described the tendency for individual productivity to decrease as the size of the group increases. McGeorge recommends having no more than seven people … ‘to get the input from every one of them,’ she says.

McGeorge says successful meetings require the three Ps: purpose, people, and process.

“Start the meeting by determining what you’ll have accomplished by the end of the meeting. Next, make sure you’ve got the right people and tell them what they need to do. The final P is ‘process,’ which means having an effective way of running a meeting. McGeorge recommends ‘scan, focus, act.’ Scan for 12 minutes, going around the room, with everyone giving a one-minute update. The convener then focuses the information by providing feedback on the themes they’ve heard. Then, use the final minutes to come up with action items that can solve the problems. [Twenty-five minutes creates] ‘a sense of urgency for getting things done.’”

Read the full article here. (3 min.)

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