From an article by Sarah Holder, CityLab, September 24, 2019.
“Rider Levett Bucknall, a construction project management company, [conducts] a semi-annual international Crane Count.
“As dots on a map, all cranes may look the same. But their impact isn’t indiscriminate. Are they harbingers of displacement, or agents of much-needed supply?
“Two things can be true: San Francisco’s crane count is almost half that of Seattle, and its affordability crisis is more severe. The average rent for a Golden Gate one-bedroom reached $3,700 this year, while in Seattle that figure is $2,130. [And] 78 percent of Seattle cranes were building mixed-use and residential projects in January, while in San Francisco, only 35 percent were involved in housing.
“RLB doesn’t factor affordability into their analysis, but most of the luxury housing being sold on the San Francisco market is part of existing housing stock, not new apartments, according to a 2017 analysis by the Urban Institute. At least some of this crane-related activity is easing, not exacerbating, the city’s housing crisis.
“The last count found cranes concentrated in South of Market (SOMA) and Portrero Hill, where multifamily projects have been rising. Construction was also active in Parnassus Heights, where UCSF’s Medical Center was growing.
“When the final count was released in July, North America’s overall crane count had jumped yet again, for the fourth consecutive year. But San Francisco’s count had again decreased, one of only three cities to see slumps. The decrease was probably due to the completion of two major projects, the new Chase Arena and the UCSF medical center.
“Counting tower cranes might not be the best way to track the real momentum of a city’s construction scene: Sorely needed missing-middle housing, like duplexes and fourplexes, don’t require the same construction gear. But for now, it’s the best RLB’s got.”
FEATURED ARTICLES: Meet a local planner — Leah Greenblat • Can a sports arena be a mixed-use, multiplex, urban park? • Reclaiming Downtown for People • WHERE IN THE WORLD • NORTHERN SECTION ANNOUNCEMENTS: Get your AICP | CM credits for Ethics and Law • Nominations for Treasurer, APA California – Northern • State, federal funds awarded to California’s smaller jurisdictions • Emeryville’s Miroo Desai elected to APA California office • Who’s where • Sign up for mentoring • CPF wants YOU • Call for Nominations, East Bay Innovation Awards • About Northern News • PLANNING NEWS ROUNDUP, six articles excerpted and linked.
The American Planning Association, California Chapter – Northern, offers membership to city and regional planners and associated professionals primarily living or working in California, from and through Monterey County to the Oregon border, including the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area and Lake and San Benito Counties. APA California Northern promotes planning-related continuing education and social functions in order to:
Provide a forum for communication and exchange of information about planning related activities;
Raise member awareness and involvement in APA affairs;
Increase public awareness of the importance of planning;
Encourage professionalism in the conduct of its members; and
Foster a sense of community among the members.
APA California Northern publishes Northern News 10 times each year for the exchange of planning ideas and information. Current and back issues are available for download here. Entirely the effort of volunteers, the News is written and produced by and for urban planners in northern California. Circulation (downloads per issue): 4,000.
Northern News welcomes comments. Go here to contact the editors. Letters to the editor require the author’s first and last name, home or work street address and phone number (neither of which will be published), and professional affiliation or title (which will be published only with the author’s permission). All letters are subject to editing. Letters over 250 words are not considered.
Deadlines for submitting materials for inclusion in Northern News range from the 10th to the 23rd of the month prior to publication.
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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section
Making great communities happen
October’s featured articles
Meet a local planner — Leah Greenblat
Leah Greenblat is Transportation Project Manager at West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee. She and her team won the 2018 APA California Award of Excellence for their work on the West Contra Costa High-Capacity Transit Study.
Can a sports arena be a mixed-use, multiplex, urban park?
Accessibility characterizes the public realm part of the Warriors’ new home. Chase Center is an urban mixed-use project, with significant public exposure and use. The site was designed to offer an urban stroll among gardens through a series of connected spaces that let you absorb much of San Francisco’s burgeoning culture, punctuated by public views of the bay.
Hayward is in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Its once thriving Downtown has faced the loss of retailers to outlying malls and pressures from big-box stores, online shopping, vacancies, and underutilized properties, and the evolution to an auto-oriented street and neighborhood pattern. The goals, policies, and programs of the Downtown Hayward Specific Plan, Code, and EIR address mobility, infrastructure, and design, and identify potential funding sources, timelines, and roles and responsibilities for implementation.
FEATURED ARTICLES: Meet a local planner, Leah Greenblat • Can a sports arena be a mixed-use, multiplex, urban park? • Reclaiming Downtown for People • WHERE IN THE WORLD • NORTHERN SECTION ANNOUNCEMENTS: AICP | CM credits for Ethics, Law • Nominate for Northern Section Treasurer • Funds awarded to California’s smaller jurisdictions • Miroo Desai elected to APA California office • Who’s where • Sign up for mentoring • CPF wants YOU • Nominate for East Bay Innovation Awards • About Northern News • PLANNING NEWS ROUNDUP, six articles.
Get your mandatory “AICP CM” credits on Ethics and Planning Law via Northern Section’s webcast on APA’s “Ethics Case of the Year” Oct. 25, 2019, and a Planning Law webcast Nov. 15 on cannabis, SB 35, and streamlining statutes. BOTH FREE.
Nominations for Treasurer, APA California – Northern Section
The term of Treasurer, an elected APA California – Northern Section Board position, will end on December 31, 2019. A Nominations Committee is soliciting and will review applications. The Treasurer will serve a two-year term commencing January 1, 2020.
State, federal funds awarded to California’s smaller jurisdictions
14 California cities (four in Northern Section) got a total of $3.15 million in SB 2 planning grants, and CDBG funds totaling $21.7 million were awarded to 18 of California’s smaller cities and counties, including five in Northern Section.
Diana Benitez is the new Planners4Health Coordinator, Northern Section. Izanie Love, Student Representative to the Northern Section Board from San Jose State University. Amy Lyle, new North Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC). See their photos and brief bios.
APA California – Northern is recruiting its 2019-2020 Mentorship Class, a career development initiative that offers one-on-one matching between young planners and experienced professionals who serve as mentors. JOIN BY OCTOBER 18, 2019.
CPF is recruiting APA California members to run for elected CPF Board positions. Here’s the Schedule: Nominations Submittal Deadline, October 21, 2019. Slate Approval and Voting by Email Ballot, November 4 through December 2, 2019.
The East Bay Economic Development Alliance, serving Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, awards companies and organizations that contribute to the East Bay’s legacy of innovation. Now nominate for “Built Environment,” a category added for the 2020 awards.
We publish 10 times each year as a forum for the exchange of planning ideas and information. Entirely the effort of volunteers, Northern News is written and produced by and for urban planners in northern California.
By Sarah Holder, CityLab, September 24, 2019. “As dots on a map, all cranes may look the same. But their impact isn’t indiscriminate. Are they harbingers of displacement, or agents of much-needed supply?”
Excerpts from a Mercury News article by George Avalos, September 21, 2019. The Bay Area’s job market growth has outpaced the state and the nation. For the first time, the Bay Area has more than 4.1 million non-farm payroll jobs, and the newest jobs pay more.
Excerpts from an article in CityLab by Laura Bliss, September 17, 2019. Fifty-three percent of Vancouverites manage to get to work by means other than driving. One thing is conspicuously missing from this urbanist dreamscape: ride-hailing: Uber tried but couldn’t get its way into Vancouver in 2012. But applications to operate a TNC in British Columbia opened on September 3, and B.C. transportation leaders are cautiously optimistic about being a last-adopter.
“Cities around California are beginning to feel tremendous pressure from the state to accommodate new housing rather than just plan for it. And there’s a growing feeling among planners around California that the cities they work for had better be more proactive on the housing issue so that the state doesn’t step in with even more onerous requirements.” —Bill Fulton, remarking on CP&DR about a panel at the recent APA California conference in Santa Barbara.
Univ of Washington press release, Sept 5, 2019. Creating a designated space for passenger loading (PLZ) can discourage double-parking and reduce traffic conflicts, with geofencing used to increase driver compliance.
The new law will spur development of affordable housing, limit fees on affordable housing, prohibit demolition of affordable and rent-controlled units unless they’re replaced, and give existing tenants first right of return. The bill was enrolled and presented to the Governor at 2 pm on September 17th.
From an article by Kriston Capps, CityLab, with eight large color photos, Sept. 3, 2019. “Just 45 minutes south of Indianapolis, Columbus is in most respects a quaint Hoosier town brimming with main-street appeal. But in one vital way, it is unlike any other place in the country. It is a mecca for Modernism, a repository of mid-century architecture. As unlikely as it sounds, Columbus, Indiana, is a citadel of design.”
Excerpts from a Mercury News article by George Avalos, September 21, 2019
“The Bay Area added 5,100 [non-farm payroll] jobs during August. The upswing was led by the region’s three major employment hubs, the South Bay, East Bay, and San Francisco-San Mateo region, the state’s Employment Development Department reported. Mark Vitner, senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank, said ‘The region continues to be on a roll because the tech sector is the fastest growing part of the economy.’
“The Bay Area’s job market growth has outpaced the state and the nation. Over the one-year period that ended in August, job totals grew by 2.5 percent in the Bay Area [even with job losses of 1,900 in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties. That compares to a 1.4 percent gain nationally and 1.8 percent in California.]
“[This is] the first time, the Bay Area has had more than 4.1 million non-farm payroll jobs. The last time the nine-county region suffered a job loss was in October 2018, EDD statistics show.
“Plus, the types of jobs appearing in the South Bay and San Mateo regions are well-paying tech positions. It appears the tech sector has yet to cool off in the Bay Area, said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. ‘The job growth in these areas is fantastically positive in terms of income gains,’ Levy said. ‘They are information jobs, professional, scientific, and technical positions, tech jobs, categories that are higher-paying and faster-growing.’ ”
The City of Hayward is in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Its once thriving Downtown has faced the loss of retailers to outlying malls and pressures from big-box stores, online shopping, vacancies, and underutilized properties, and the evolution to an auto-oriented street and neighborhood pattern.
The Downtown also integrated a Bypass Alternative (called the “Loop”) meant to alleviate regional traffic congestion, but which has brought high local traffic volumes and speeds, barriers to pedestrians and cyclists, and detracted from the community’s goals for a safe, beautiful, walkable, bikeable, and family-oriented destination.
In 2014, the City secured funding for a comprehensive planning effort in a Downtown Specific Plan, Code and EIR (alternately referred to as Plan or Project) — a comprehensive assessment of existing conditions and substantive input from the community and City staff. The Project also featured the collaboration from a team of experts in urban planning, zoning codes, transportation, community design, retail, economics, and environmental compliance led by Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. (LWC). The final Plan was driven by the community’s vision to be a regional destination, celebrated for its distinct history, culture, and diversity; providing shopping, entertainment, employment, and housing options for residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds; and accessible by bike, foot, public transit, and car.
The Plan showcases goals, policies, and programs to address mobility, infrastructure, and design, and identifies potential funding sources, timelines, and roles and responsibilities for implementation. At the urging of the community, the Plan turns one of the Loop’s most dangerous and least pedestrian-friendly intersections into a multi-modal gateway to the city. The Project also included updating the City’s Downtown land development code and fulfilled California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements.
After over two and a half years of hard work and determination, the Hayward City Council approved the Plan unanimously in April 2019 with support from local unions that pledged to work side-by-side with the city to build more housing, more businesses, and make Hayward stronger.
In 2014, the City of Hayward undertook a $1.12 million Downtown Specific Plan, Form-Based Code, and EIR (Plan) with the help of a generous grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). The grant funded the Specific Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR), with the City funding the Code update. The Plan met ACTC’s mission to “deliver a broad range of projects and programs to enhance mobility throughout Alameda County.” Focused on downtown land uses, the City established priorities for revitalizing flagging business conditions, addressing vacancies and underutilized parcels, fixing a transportation pattern best suited for moving cars through downtown at near highway speeds, and preparing the city for the onrushing future.
Through a public bidding process, the City hired San Francisco-based Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc., to write the Specific Plan, update the code, lead the community engagement, and manage a team of top-tier consultants. The team included Nelson\Nygaard and Kittleson & Associates on transportation planning and modeling, Opticos Design Inc. on community design, Sherwood Design Engineers on civil infrastructure and integrating natural features, MJB Consulting on retail strategies, and Placeworks on the EIR.
The City of Hayward lies in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite vacancies, the downtown has established businesses, and it has seen some new business activity. The Downtown’s core offers an attractive, pedestrian-friendly street grid, parks, creek, public gardens, dozens of historic properties, and proximity to one of the busiest non-urban Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations. However, like many East Bay communities, it has been difficult to catch the fire for housing demand and business growth in nearby San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley. Through a comprehensive and thoughtfully crafted scope of services, the City sought to assess and understand the forces that affect the Downtown, get a solid read on community sentiment, and develop a feasible set of policies and programs that could bring about positive change and better prepare the city for the future. By including a Code Update and EIR as part of the Specific Plan, the City assured the Plan’s implementation.
The Plan is built on a foundation of urban planning in Hayward, including:
Downtown Design Plan and Core Area Plan (1992)
City of Hayward Design Guidelines (1993)
Retail Site Assessment (2009)
Envision Downtown Hayward (2012)
2040 General Plan (2014) and
Economic Development Strategic Plan (2014-2018).
From the outset, the City emphasized substantive outreach, and reliance on the community for an insider’s perspective that led to the Vision Statement, which in turn set the course for the Project and the foundation for policies and programs. The community’s high-profile role generated a sense of ownership and support for the Plan. Engagement events were noticed via the City website, Facebook, Twitter, local newspapers, flyers, email invitations to a list of interested parties and individuals established early in the Project, and word of mouth as City staff canvased Downtown businesses to spread the word. Those efforts included:
Personal interviews with City Staff, civic leaders, elected officials, special interest groups
2 Planning Commission and City Council Work Sessions
2 Council Infrastructure Committee Meetings
3 Public workshops
5-day Charette with all consultants that attracted 100 people
6 Hayward Downtown Specific Plan Task Force Meetings
4 Public Hearings
Online survey, and
Vision Statement: Downtown Hayward is a regional destination, celebrated for its distinct history, culture, and diversity; providing shopping, entertainment, employment, and housing options for residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds; that is accessible by bike, foot, public transit, and car.
Challenges in Downtown Hayward are not unique: a street grid that has evolved to better accommodate cars than pedestrians and cyclists; rushing people through the area. The downtown is also challenged by the rise of online shopping: Over the years it has seen the loss of retailers, drawn away to malls, as well as the loss of key anchors like Mervyn’s headquarters. Many of these shifts have left vacant properties, invited squatting and graffiti-based vandalism, and left negative impacts on Downtown Hayward’s image.
One of the unique features of Downtown Hayward is the “Loop” — a Bypass Alternative routed directly through Downtown Hayward to ease congestion on State Route 238. The “Loop” comprises five- to seven-lane one-way streets that direct commuters north and south precisely through the middle of Downtown Hayward. It was completed in 2013 after decades of planning and negotiations. What was seen as a possible solution to regional traffic problems has led to a “local” disruption of traffic patterns, and has become a major pedestrian barrier and a source of high speeds where the community envisions a destination for all ages.
With a history of sound urban planning and community development, Hayward has been effective at addressing issues head on. Examples are a Mural Art Program that engages artists, schools, property owners, and police to increase public art and significantly reduce graffiti-based vandalism to approving catalytic redevelopment; housing and mixed-use projects; and attracting investment for anchor projects like Hayward’s 21st Century Library and Heritage Plaza.
The Downtown Specific Plan, Code, and EIR represent a major investment and a strategic step for the City. The Project is meant to enable and solidify recent advances and set a path for a more resilient city.
Downtown Specific Plan: The Plan and is presented in three chapters: Community Design; Mobility; and Infrastructure and Services. With an eye on implementation and coordination of funding, the Implementation Program includes goals, policies, and programs for each major topic, which are sorted by short term (up to five years), medium (five to 10 years) and long-term (11 to 15 years) timeframe for completion.
The policies and programs aim at implementing the community vision of a downtown that offers a beautiful and safe pedestrian-oriented environment for all ages to enjoy day or night, with sufficient and attractive lighting, sidewalk amenities, landscaping, and inviting ground floor frontages. The implementation program goes further to identify a wide variety of housing types to meet the economic and physical needs of a diverse population and capitalize on its location and existing amenities to capture more retail sales tax revenue and become a national model for the revitalization of mid-size cities. Community design strategies stress context-appropriate design standards, enhancement and integration of natural features into new and existing development, preservation of arts and history, leveraging public spaces and public transit, and improving connectivity through better signage and integrated design.
The policies, programs, and performance criteria in the Plan are aimed at street modifications and enhancements to make the Downtown more of a destination by better integration with public transit (local and regional bus service and BART), protected bike lanes, bulb outs and median refuges, reduced crossing widths, integration of green infrastructure (tree wells, planting strips), and smarter, “unbundled” strategies for parking. The implementation program also features transitioning the “Loop” into two-way, slower speed, more pedestrian-oriented roadways with significant improvements at Mission and Foothill Boulevards, converting the 5-point intersection into a gateway to the city.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
These policies, programs and performance criteria aim to assure the City has access to sufficient potable water, sewage transmission and treatment capacity, stormwater drainage, and power to meet the demands of the buildout established in the Plan, as well as encouraging on-site water retention, filtration, and recycling. The infrastructure and services section also addresses schools, and approaches to meet the City’s standards for access to parks and open space. This section also looks at current capacity of, and ongoing needs for, fire, police, hospital, emergency, homeless services, and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) — more eyes on the street, better lighting, and landscaping that deters untoward activity.
What makes a Specific Plan a particularly effective tool is the requirement to include implementation and financing measures to carry out policies and programs. The Hayward Downtown Specific Plan sets seven goals, proposes 48 policies, and recommends 129 programs. Each Implementation Program identifies the responsible party, time frame, and potential funding source for each program. Each program is assigned a responsible party to help ensure continued commitment by City staff, elected officials, and other partners. In addition, to help establish priorities, the Plan includes anticipated timeframes for implementation. Short-term programs are anticipated to be implemented within the first four years of Plan adoption, mid-term programs would be accomplished within five to 10 years, and long-term programs in 11 years or more.
The Implementation section also lists existing and potential funding sources. The Plan acknowledges that fund availability and sources will change over time, and that achieving the Plan’s vision relies heavily on those funds for proposed programs.
ZONING CODE and OBJECTIVE STANDARDS
This Code is a regulatory tool for implementing the goals, policies, and programs of the Plan, while maintaining consistency with existing ordinances and applicable laws. The Zoning Code focuses on and establishes zones, land use regulations, development standards for building height, setbacks, lot coverage, building and frontage types, as well as general development standards for fencing, civic space, and parking, and new administrative and permit procedures to give administrators some flexibility. The updated code assures that the goals for development are “legal” and where possible, incentivized. The Code was updated concurrently with the Specific Plan — and focused on empowering the community Vision — to reclaim Downtown for people through more attractive and contextually appropriate frontages and a more inclusive human-scale public realm.
ADOPTION OF THE PLAN
After two and a half years of hard work by the City, the community, and the Consultant Team, the Specific Plan, Code and EIR were approved unanimously by the City Council in April 2019. The City’s commitment to transparency and investment in community engagement was evident in the final hearing: Council members and the public, including the Carpenter’s Union Local 713 and local Sheet Metal Worker’s Local 104, spoke in support of the Plan. The unions pledged to work side-by-side with the City to build more housing, more businesses, and a stronger, more attractive city.
Henry Pontarelli is vice president and co-founder of Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. In the past 13 years, the firm has grown to 18 staff, with offices in San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Henry’s role at LWC focuses on marketing, communications, HR, contracts, and risk management, as well as picking up the tab at staff happy hours.
Excerpts from an article in CityLab by Laura Bliss, September 17, 2019
Some “53 percent of Vancouverites manage to get to work by means other than driving. One thing is conspicuously missing from this urbanist dreamscape: ride-hailing: Uber. Uber tried to railroad its way into Vancouver in 2012, but British Columbia regulators notified the company that the province’s official minimum rate for limousines was $75 per trip.
“Ever since, Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) have been snowed out of the region. Vancouver appears to be the last major city in North America with an effective ban on the app-based services.
“But those days are numbered. Applications to operate a TNC in British Columbia opened on September 3, and a requisite insurance package became available on September 16. Uber and Lyft have officially applied.
“In contrast with U.S. cities that have rushed to be first to the table with new mobility offerings — be they autonomous cars, hyperloops, or drones — Vancouver may prove that it pays to be last.
“Over the years, Vancouver has watched as its peers have dealt with the darker sides of Uber and Lyft: muddy passenger safety records, negative impacts on congestion and emissions, flouting of local regulations, and widely criticized labor practices.
“Now B.C. transportation leaders are cautiously optimistic that being a last-adopter will prove to be a virtue. They hope that strict data-sharing requirements, a stringent licensing scheme for drivers, and a long-term vision to mitigate added traffic with fees on curbside access and downtown streets at rush hour will help make ride-hailing more sustainable here.”
The East Bay Economic Development Alliance, a public/private partnership serving Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, annually presents awards to celebrate and honor extraordinary companies and organizations that contribute to the East Bay’s legacy of innovation.
The alliance is a regional voice and networking resource for strengthening the economy, building the workforce, and enhancing the quality of life in the East Bay.
For the 2020 Awards, several new nomination areas have been introduced, including one for “Built Environment.”
This category will recognize East Bay companies and organizations that use exceptional and innovative approaches, technologies, and strategies to shape the built environment in which we live and work, including but not limited to architecture, planning, development, and construction.
Nominations close Friday, October 25.
To be eligible for award consideration, nominees must:
Be a company or organization with headquarters or operations in Alameda or Contra Costa counties.
Have achieved an innovation in their manufacturing, products, services, design, systems, or methods.
Be present at the Innovation Awards event on March 26, 2020, to accept their award on stage.
GO HERE for further information, including how and where to submit an application. The nomination form is here.
Candidates interested in running should send, by no later than October 21, 2019, a Letter of Interest/Candidate’s Statement and a Current Résumé to the CPF 2019 Elections Nomination Committee (all three):