Author: Naphtali Knox

SB 50 is risen from the dead as SB 592

By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, June 15, 2019.

SB 592, formerly “State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology: licensee information,” is now “The Housing Accountability Act.”

On June 13, State Senator Scott Wiener gutted and amended his SB 592 by inserting (so far) some of the text from SB 50: Specifically, the amendments to Section 65589.5 of the Government Code are largely the same in both bills, but SB 592 adds several important clarifications.

SB 50 went on to add Sections 65913.5, 65913.6, and 65918.5 to the Government Code to cover, for example, allowable housing types and height limits in employment rich areas and near transit. Those additions are currently absent from SB 592.

Cartoon by John Atkinson, Wrong Hands, via gocomics.com/wrong-hands

SB 592 will be heard by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development on July 3.

You can read the text of SB 592 here.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay fined $1.6 million; failed to give public beach access

Coastal Commission says luxury hotel violated coastal laws for years

By Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group, June 14, 2019.

One of Northern California’s most exclusive hotels, the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, where rooms rent for $1,000 a night and Silicon Valley companies regularly hold posh retreats, agreed Thursday to pay $1.6 million in penalties to the California Coastal Commission to settle years of violations of state coastal laws.

The penalties, the second-largest of their kind in the commission’s history, were approved at a monthly commission meeting in San Diego.

The 261-room luxury oceanfront hotel, golf course and spa was built in 2001 after years of battles with environmentalists and local residents in San Mateo County who said it would block public access to two sandy beaches.

To address those concerns, when the Coastal Commission first issued the project a permit in the 1990s, the agency required the Ritz to build a free public parking lot with 15 spaces overlooking Cañada Verde Beach, a scenic beach just south of the hotel. The commission also gave the hotel the option of building a second public beach parking lot a mile north at Redondo Beach or allowing the public to park for free in the hotel’s parking garage. The hotel owners chose to set aside 25 public spaces in its garage for beachgoers.

But over the years, hotel valets parked the cars of hotel guests and golfers in the public spots or told members of the public they couldn’t park there, despite multiple warnings and fines from the commission. The hotel also failed to put up signs telling the public the beaches are open and free to anyone, not just hotel guests or golfers.

After being hit with a $50,000 penalty by the commission in 2004, the hotel promised changes but did not deliver. It was issued violations and paid additional penalties again in 2007 and 2011.

Rather than face years in court, the hotel owners negotiated a settlement agreement with the Coastal Commission staff in which they agreed to pay $1.6 million, $600,000 of which will go to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, a Palo Alto land conservation group, to help purchase an adjacent 27-acre property north of the hotel with additional public beach access. The other $1 million will go into a Coastal Commission fund that provides signs, trails, staircases and other amenities to help the public use beaches around the state.

Read the full article here.

The students pushing Stanford to build more housing

The students pushing Stanford to build more housing

By Jared Brey, June 13, 2019.

This article, originally published in Next City, is republished in entirety, with permission.

Like a lot of big universities, Stanford is almost a small city of its own.

Operating in the unincorporated town of Stanford, California, in Santa Clara County, Stanford hosts 16,000 students and employs 13,000 people on faculty and staff. It owns more than 8,000 acres of land in six jurisdictions. And it has plans to build. The university is seeking approval for around 2.275 million square feet of new space through a General Use Permit, a periodically updated document that guides the university’s growth.

Stanford’s lands lie on the westerly side of El Camino Real. Base Image: Google Maps.

As part of the process to update the General Use Permit, Stanford is negotiating with various county officials. A group of students sees this as a once-in-a-generation chance to set the right course for the university’s relationship with the community. They have been working to pressure the school into doing right by its workers and its neighbors by providing more housing, offering more transit benefits to its employees, and giving more money for public investments in housing and transportation. In the process, the group, called the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035), is seeking to elevate the voices of the labor unions and community groups that are most affected by the university’s growth.

“As students, we have a lot of privilege and leverage, but we don’t want to speak over community members,” says John Zhao, a 2018 Stanford graduate who helped start the group in 2016.

At the center of the dispute over Stanford’s General Use Permit is a question of how much housing to build. As part of its growth plan, Stanford says it will build 3,150 new housing units, including 500 faculty apartments, by 2035, and contribute $93 million to affordable housing projects in neighboring communities during the same period. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has called on the university to do more to mitigate the region’s housing crisis by building at least 1,622 faculty and staff units in the next fifteen years, as Palo Alto Online has reported. In its Platform for Equitable Stanford Development, SCoPE is calling for the university to provide more than three times that: 5,300 new housing units for staff, to match what the group has determined will be the growth of the workforce.

“We’re really trying to support the service workers on campus who always get kind of slighted in this process, especially housing-wise,” says Kate Ham, an urban studies major who’s expecting to graduate in 2020.

So far, the group has worked primarily on research and teach-ins. The group has been digging through Environmental Impact Reports and other documents that Stanford releases, holding public demonstrations and discussions about Stanford’s development plans, and reaching out to community groups and other stakeholders like SEIU Local 2007, the service workers’ union on campus.

Zhao says the Stanford student body didn’t know how to engage in the GUP process right away, as the first public meetings were happening during finals in 2016. But as the permit has moved through the approval process, kicking up controversies along the way, more people have gotten involved. Last fall, after Santa Clara County passed an inclusionary housing ordinance requiring that 16 percent of Stanford’s new housing units be rented below market rate, the university sued the county, saying that it was being unlawfully singled out. SCoPE 2035 held protests over the lawsuit, which is still ongoing, in February.

“I think what we wanted to do was to really use our leverage as part of this community,” Zhao says. “We can really make a ruckus and try to point out the injustices in Stanford’s intended development plans, which is kind of what we’ve been able to do: Get people to pay attention to what’s going on.”

Stanford has also been working on negotiating a development agreement with Santa Clara County that would supplement the General Use Permit. This spring, the university made a deal with the local public schools, Palo Alto Unified School District, involving contributions that would help the schools manage the influx of students they’d be expected to receive as part of the university’s expansion. But that deal was contingent on the approval of the development agreement between the university and the county. Joe Simitian, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said that the university was using that deal as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the county over the development agreement, and temporarily stopped discussion with the university in April, according to reports.

“We want everyone in this conversation to recognize that Stanford tries to pit the stakeholders against each other, but there are holistic solutions, and they can be viewed through a different lens,” says Shelby Parks, a graduating chemistry student who has been working on media outreach for the student group. “It’s not like [the university can only provide benefits to] Palo Alto Unified or affordable housing — those two things can 100 percent work together.”

Simitian was not available for an interview. In response to a request for an interview, Stanford sent Next City roughly the same statement it shared with a student magazine in December.

“We have heard and understand SCoPE 2035’s areas of interest regarding the 2018 General Use Permit,” Joel Berman, the university’s community relations and land use communications officer, wrote in an email. “Stanford staff have met directly with students in the SCoPE group several times and we welcome their participation in this process. We will continue to stay engaged with them and other organizations and groups that have an interest in the future of Stanford as the 2018 General Use Permit proceeds.”

The Santa Clara County Planning Commission held its first meeting about Stanford’s General Use Permit late last month, with two more scheduled in June. SCoPE 2035 is concerned about the negotiation of the development agreement between the university and the county because, Parks says, “The only thing that the county has to give in exchange for whatever benefits Stanford offers is some sort of loosening or adjustment of the original conditions of approval.” The Board of Supervisors is expected to hold hearings and vote on the permit in the fall.

“When we get back to campus in the fall, it’s going to be kind of an all-hands-on-deck thing, because that Supervisors vote is the last opportunity for us to change anything,” Parks says.

Jared Brey is Next City’s housing correspondent, based in Philadelphia. He is a former staff writer at Philadelphia magazine and PlanPhilly, and his work has appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Landscape Architecture Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Philadelphia Weekly, APA California Northern News, and other publications. Brey’s “article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable, and more environmentally sustainable.”

Former Concord Naval Weapons Station may be site of new CSU campus

By Don Ford, CBS SF KPIX 5, June 11, 2019.

For years, state and local leaders have dreamed about how best to develop the now-closed Concord Naval Weapons Station. One of those dreams included turning the former base into a four-year college — a dream that now may be a little closer to reality.

In a joint announcement June 11, state officials confirmed that Concord is one of five locations in California that will be studied for a new California State University campus. The location is close to BART, freeways, and bus lines.

The university would be built on the northeast corner of the former base. “We’ve established 120 acres of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station for some kind of public institution of higher learning or research facility,” said Concord Mayor Carlyn Oberinger.

The study will cost $2 million and it’s unknown how long it will take to complete. Concord is competing with San Mateo, Stockton, Chula Vista, and Palm Desert.

“It’s a political conversation and we’re thankful we have an assemblymember who’s been able to get us two million dollars for the feasibility study,” said Oberinger.

The site selection study won’t get the green light until the state budget is formally approved.

Read the full article or watch the news clip here.

Scott Wiener, in enemy territory, makes case for SB 50

By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, June 7, 2019.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, went before an audience of 200 in Palo Alto on June 7 to “push back against the common narrative that the bill represents an attack on local control and assure residents that, despite a recent setback, the bill remains on track for passage.

“SB 50 hit a stumbling block last month, when the chairman of the state senate Appropriation Committee announced that the Legislature will not be taking up the bill until early 2020, at the earliest.

“Despite this decision by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, Wiener told the crowd he is confident that the bill will ultimately win passage after the legislature takes it up again early next year.

“ ‘The bill is alive and well,’ Wiener said, ‘and the leadership has made it crystal clear that the bill is going to move forward.’

“The bill, he said, largely defers to local height limits, though it waives local height limits below 45 feet within half a mile of transit hubs. The legislation also defers to local demolition, design, and historic standards. Wiener, who was a San Francisco supervisor before going to Sacramento, also said that as a former local official, he agrees with those who say local decision-making usually leads to better outcomes. But local control ‘is not biblical,’ Wiener said. It’s ‘a good thing when it leads to good results, and I would say our system of pure local control on housing has not led to good results. What we’re trying to do is a rebalancing, not to eliminate local control,’ Wiener said.

“Some in Palo Alto, including the mayor, had argued that area employers should be asked to do more to fix the housing shortage. But when asked whether the state should require tech companies to build more housing, Wiener pushed back: Even if lawmakers required tech giants like Facebook and Google to build housing (which, he noted, isn’t their area of expertise), that wouldn’t change the fact that existing zoning would make approval and construction of these units a slow and difficult process.

“ ‘I personally think we all caused this problem,’ Wiener said. ‘Tech didn’t create the land use rules, tech didn’t ban apartment buildings in 75 percent of California, tech didn’t say it should take five to 10 years to approve a project. Tech didn’t do any of those things. We did those things.’

“Los Altos resident Wesley Hemholtz argued that ‘one-size-fits-all’ is an unfair way to describe SB 50 and agreed with Wiener’s main point about the failures of local control. The existing system has left most families unable to afford housing, he said.

“ ‘It’s really not one-size-fits-all. It’s one-size-fits-the-appropriate situation,’ said Hemholz. ‘Near transit, these are the rules; near jobs, these are the rules. If you’re not near transit and not near jobs, you will not have [those] requirements imposed on you. But the current system of local control is sort of a one-size-fits-all statewide. And it hasn’t worked for 40 years.’ ”

The above is an excerpt. Read the full article here.

World’s largest co-housing building coming to San Jose

By Sarah Holder, Citylab, June 7, 2019

“An 800-unit, 18-story ‘dorm for adults’ will help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce.

“The co-housing start-up Starcity is working to fill America’s housing-strapped cities with co-housing compounds. Since launching in 2016, the company has broken ground on seven developments in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In most Starcity buildings, renters get a furnished 130- to 220-square-foot bedroom, share a communal kitchen and living space, and get a range of Millennial-friendly amenities. Rents range from $1,400 to $2,400 a month.

“The company got the green light to start work on its biggest project — an 18-story building with 803 units in the heart of downtown San Jose. Just as industrial cities looked to SROs and flophouses to shelter their booming young urban workforce, Starcity is making buildings that can accommodate the live-work-play demands of a new labor class. As Curbed SF reported: ‘95 percent of the usable square footage in an SRO is renters’ rooms, with the remaining five percent mostly hallways. By comparison, a Starcity building is about 65 percent bedrooms, and 20 percent of the building is dedicated to communal spaces and kitchens.’

The San Jose Starcity mega-project will be neighbors with Google’s new buildings, and the Diridon Transit Center. (Starcity via CityLab)

“High-density co-housing buildings aren’t hotels, and they’re not traditional multifamily apartments. Starcity had to work with the city to change local zoning codes, and the city agreed to create a new use category entirely for the project. After approval of the rezoning by the city council in February, ‘co-living’ became its own distinct land-use classification in April.

“Once slated to host a 300-unit multi-family complex, the land is now cleared to hold almost triple that occupancy.

“‘We struggle so greatly just to get a shovel in the ground to get housing in the city, because construction costs are so high right now,’ says San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. ‘The fact that the developer had an approach that could get housing built was a good enough signal to me that we should get any obstacles out of the way.’

“Besides creating a bespoke zoning category, San Jose swept away other barriers, including parking requirements (800 Millennials don’t need 800 parking spaces); and an inclusionary housing ordinance holds developers to building 15 percent affordable units or paying a per-unit fee.

“But ‘the units are not really affordable,’ reads a statement from SV@Home, a local affordable housing policy group. ‘They are not rent-restricted, and often charge rents well beyond the reach of lower-income households.’

“Bay Area renters seeking something more affordable could look to another Starcity development in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, whose permit was also approved last week. Rents at this 270-room, 16-story building will start as low as $800 a month —’no easy feat in San Francisco.’ Half the units will be affordable for renters who make 80 percent of area median income or lower. This qualifies it for California’s SB35 program, which offers an expedited building timeline for these more affordable buildings.

“The San Jose mega-building will feature ‘vertical neighborhoods,’ where residential floors are linked not just by horizontal hallways but by two-story communal spaces, and terraces whose stairs interconnect. ‘This way, a broad array [of] residents from multiple floors can interact and engage with one another socially within the building’s various communal spaces.’

“Construction is set to start in the fall, with a late 2021 opening.

“‘If you look at successful cities across America, the best thing is if you’re going to create a tower or a tall building, make sure it has more than one use and that multiple types of people can enjoy and interact with that building,’ say Alex Shoor, co-founder of San Jose housing advocacy group CatalyzeSV. The closed corporate campuses that line Silicon Valley’s Highway 101 corridor are a mistake, he says: They separate employees from the cities they live in, stuff them with free snacks, and at the of the day send them back in cars to distant apartments.

Future iterations of Starcity’s co-living model will make room for babies, joining family-friendly co-living start-ups like Kin, which feature shared playrooms and family kitchens in its developments.”

The above is an excerpt. Read the full article, with images, here.

A national shout-out to Alameda!

Amanda Kolson Hurley tweets, “How did I miss a new ranking of ‘The Coolest Suburbs in America’? Discussion of methodology is surprisingly careful and good (but people will still bellyache).” Read about Alameda here.

What the neighbors say:

“I love living here because it has the amenities of an urban environment (good food, retail, coffee shops), but with a small-town vibe, with its walkable streets, independent businesses and coffee shops, and many parks. There’s a strong sense of community that makes this the place we wanted to raise our kids.” —Margaret Lee, 15-year resident, designer.

The housing affordability crisis is generational warfare

An excerpt from an op-ed by Henry Grabar in Slate, May 30, 2019.

“How many people must live in the street before we can build new homes?

“ ‘More’ was the answer earlier this month from the California State Senate, where SB 50 was stalled by the former mayor of a town that has not built an apartment in a decade, and where the median home sells for $1.6 million.

“Apartment bans are a case of rich vs. poor, longtime resident vs. newcomer, and often, white vs. black, but they are also generational warfare in which older homeowners are telling younger renters that there’s no more room: ‘I’ve got mine.’

“For most of the 20th century, America has been run by elder statesmen, with the average representative now 20 years older than the median resident, [and] things are not getting better with each passing generation. Even on the left, our elected officials don’t quite get it, [with] continued inaction in Washington, in statehouses, and at the polls on issues like housing affordability, college costs, and climate change. Sometimes they are more explicit, as Joe Biden was when he said he has ‘no empathy’ for millennials talking about how tough things are. Biden’s presidential campaign has the support of almost half of Democrats over 45, four times the support of his closest opponent.

“[But] since the wunderkind from Delaware became the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history in 1973, the cost of getting a college education more than doubled between 1985 and 2015. Student loan debt is approaching $1.5 trillion—up from $90 billion in 1999, a 1,500 percent increase.

“The ratio of median home price to median income is 4.2, a full point higher than it was in 1988. Not coincidentally, the share of home equity owned by Americans over 60 has risen 17 percentage points between 2006 and 2018. That’s in part because we are building fewer homes per capita than at any time since World War II, a situation that seems unlikely to change anytime soon.

“Of course, it’s unfair to judge all Americans over 55 by the incompetence of our wizened legislatures: Many older Americans do get it.

“Inaction on housing and climate harms older people too. The affordability crisis is in some ways hardest on the elderly, and the lack of diverse housing options makes it impossible for even well-off seniors to downsize in their own neighborhoods. Older Americans are also more vulnerable to the extreme weather associated with climate change. And the inability of younger Americans to secure long-term financial stability is bad news for everyone.

“To solve this problem, younger people need to vote like they did in 2018. It doesn’t feel like an accident that the youngest woman ever elected to Congress has done more to advance climate change discourse in Washington in six months than Democrats have done in a decade.”

FYI, I just turned 86, but this op-ed spoke to me. 

You can read the full article here.

Giant apartment project gets Mountain View City Council’s blessing

By Mark Noack, Mountain View Voice, May 23, 2019.

The Mountain View City Council has approved what may be the largest housing project in the city’s history. The colossal development at 777 W. Middlefield Road is slated to include 711 new apartments, including 144 affordable units for local teachers and city workers.

The development was originally submitted more than four years ago under a different plan by a different owner. But city officials say the project has greatly improved over that time. They showered praise on the project for carving out 120 units for teachers and other employees at the Mountain View Whisman School District. About 20 of the planned units will be reserved for Mountain View city employees, while the rest will go to school staff. Any remaining will be given to displaced tenants from the Village Lake Apartments — which currently occupies the site — or to other government employees.

Read the full article here.

Northern News, June 2019

Northern News, June 2019 Featured

Northern News

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

Making great communities happen

June 2019

Exploring Oakland by bike

By Tom Holub, May 3, 2019. I love how cycling changes my experience of moving through the city, and I love sharing that experience with others. The idea of an urban geography tour is to help participants gain greater understanding of the city and its planning issues. This tour began by riding on Oakland’s first protected bike lanes …

Here’s your guide to the June issue

Our articles and photos are arranged by Featured articles, Where in the world (photo), Northern Section, and Planning news roundup.

Northern Section 2019 Awards announced

The results are in! Come celebrate the best of Northern California planning at our Awards Gala on Friday, June 7, at the Starline Social Club. Our jurors were Martin Alkire; Hanson Hom, AICP; Rebecca Kohlstrand, AICP; and Aaron Welsh. To purchase tickets, visit our Awards webpage.

Diridon to Downtown: Strengthening San Jose through wayfinding

By Andrea Arjona, Richard Boggs, Anthony Nachor, Carolyn Neer, and Mindy Nguyen. The community around Diridon Station shares the aspirations and goals outlined in the City’s Envision 2040 General Plan. By pursuing those goals with the concerns and hopes of the community in mind, the new Diridon Station and surrounding area can bring San Jose one step closer to becoming a world-class destination as an urban center, a major transportation hub, and the cultural heart of Silicon Valley.

Diversity, inclusion, and equity — a focus of NPC 19

By Elizabeth “Libby” Tyler, Ph.D., FAICP. NPC 19 was our first opportunity to roll out the (now formally ratified) Planning for Equity Policy Guide. On the opening Saturday, I participated in a panel on “Everyday Racism: What Planners Can Do.”

Where in the world?

Tap for the answer

Northern Section

2019 Northern Section Awards Gala June 7

By Carmela Campbell, Awards Program Co-director. Meet and mingle with fellow planners on Friday evening, June 7, as we present our Northern Section awards at Starline Social Club, a restaurant / bar at 2236 Martin Luther King Junior Way, Oakland.

New: Bay Area Equity Atlas

By Victor Rubin, PolicyLink, June 6, 2019. The Bay Area economy is experiencing phenomenal growth, yet rising inequality and displacement are making it impossible for working-class people and communities of color to stay and thrive — ultimately undermining the region’s future. A new equity data resource, “The Bay Area Equity Atlas,” brings the power of the National Equity Atlas to the local level, providing 21 equity indicators for 271 geographies across the region.

LETTERS

Re: May issue and demise of the PDFs. Kudos to you all for your hard work in …

What draws people to Downtown San Jose?

What are their concerns, expert opinions, and recommendations? This graduate student video, 8:44, is worth your time.

Registration is open for APA California’s 2019 Conference

The 2019 APA California Chapter conference will be held in Santa Barbara September 15–18, hosted by Central Coast Section at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. This year’s conference theme is “A Resilient Future.”

SJSU’s 2018 and 2019 “Brazilian Urbanism” students reunite

2018 and 2019 “Brazilian Urbanism: Past Present & Future” international studies abroad classes reunited May 9th at San Pedro Square in downtown San José.

BAPDA’s Spring Meeting: The Housing Legislation Frenzy

By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, with photos by Hing Wong, AICP. Those attending the meeting learned about the rapidly changing landscape of housing policy legislation, as well as the changes coming in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation: stricter rules for what can be counted as a developable site, and big increases in the housing unit numbers.

In the middle of your planning career? We want your ideas!

By Miroo Desai, AICP. Northern Section has created a Mid-Career Planners Group towards meeting the needs of planners who are midway in their careers. I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts for the type of activities and events that you, as a mid-career planner, would like to see offered by our Section.

ABOUT NORTHERN NEWS

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.

Planning news roundup

SB 50 is risen from the dead as SB 592

By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, June 15, 2019. SB 592, formerly “State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology: licensee information,” is now “The Housing Accountability Act.” On June 13, State Senator Scott Wiener gutted and amended his SB 592 by inserting (so far) some of the text from SB 50, specifically the amendments to Section 65589.5.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay fined $1.6 million; failed to give public beach access

“Luxury hotel violated coastal laws for years.” By Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group, June 14, 2019. “The 261-room Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, built in 2001, will pay $1.6 million in penalties to the California Coastal Commission to settle violations of state coastal laws. $600,000 of the settlement will go to the Peninsula Open Space Trust to help purchase an adjacent 27-acres with additional public beach access.”

Former Concord Naval Weapons Station may be site of new CSU campus

By Don Ford, CBS SF KPIX 5, June 11, 2019. “For years, state and local leaders have dreamed about how best to develop the now-closed Concord Naval Weapons Station. One of those dreams included turning the former base into a four-year college – a dream that now may be a little closer to reality.”

Scott Wiener, in enemy territory, makes case for SB 50

By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, June 7, 2019. “SB 50 is alive and well, said State Senator Scott Wiener. And local control ‘is not biblical. It’s a good thing when it leads to good results, and our system of pure local control on housing has not led to good results.’ Wiener said even if tech giants like Facebook and Google are required to build housing, existing zoning would still make approval and construction a slow and difficult process.”

World’s largest co-housing building coming to San Jose

By Sarah Holder, Citylab, June 7, 2019. “An 800-unit, 18-story ‘dorm for adults’ will help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce. “The co-housing start-up Starcity is working to fill America’s housing-strapped cities with co-housing compounds. Since launching in 2016, the company has broken ground on seven developments in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

A national shout-out to Alameda!

Amanda Kolson Hurley tweets, “How did I miss a new ranking of ‘The Coolest Suburbs in America’? Discussion of methodology is surprisingly careful and good (but people will still bellyache).”

Giant apartment project gets Mountain View City Council’s blessing

By Mark Noack, Mountain View Voice, May 23, 2019. The Mountain View City Council has approved what may be the largest housing project in the city’s history. The colossal development at 777 W. Middlefield Road is slated to include 711 new apartments, including 144 affordable units for local teachers and city workers. The development was originally

SB 50 was shelved: Here’s what you need to know

By Matt Levin and Ben Christopher, CALmatters, May 17, 2019. SB 50’s fate dealt an unexpected setback to pro-development forces in the state Capitol and a major victory for defenders of local control over housing decisions. It also throws an obstacle onto Gov. Gavin Newsom’s path as he tries to goad the state into building a lot more housing, and it could jeopardize a broader housing package — including tenant protections. “Short of significantly amending the bill and limiting its applications in large swaths of the state, there was no path to move forward this year,” said Senate leader Toni Atkins.

This ‘pocket neighborhood’ has 8 houses on a lot, instead of one McMansion

By Adele Peters, Fast Company, May 14, 2019. MicroLife Institute, the Atlanta-based nonprofit developing the project, promotes small-space living in walkable neighborhoods and worked to help the city change its zoning code to make a tiny home community possible. After passing the ordinance in 2017, the city approved the plans for the development this month. The homes will go up for presale this summer, and the neighborhood should be completed by the end of the year.

Civil rights attorneys protest Mountain View’s proposed RV ban

By Mark Noack, Mountain View Voice, May 13, 2019. “Mountain View’s proposed ban on large vehicles has provoked a stern warning from civil rights attorneys who say it would discriminate against the city’s homeless. In a nine-page, footnoted letter to the city, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley both urged Mountain View officials not to move forward with plans to prohibit large vehicles over six feet tall from parking on the street. A March staff report noted that a future ordinance would carve out special exemptions for business owners, residents, government officials, and other groups to continue parking their oversized vehicles on the street.”

How Old Oakland’s historic buildings survived decay (and demolition)

By Ryan Levi, Bay Curious, KQED, May 9, 2019. “Old Oakland — Washington Street between Eighth and 10th Streets — has brick-lined sidewalks leading into grand Victorians that date to the late 1800s. The area is thriving with trendy stores, hip restaurants and bars, a popular Friday farmers market, and even a Steph Curry pop-up shop. But none of that might exist if a UC Berkeley architecture student hadn’t stumbled upon those forgotten Victorians more than 50 years ago.”

Neighboring Peninsula cities see housing actions differently

By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, May 7, 2019. “The city councils of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park met in a joint session on May 6 for an update on and a discussion of the various housing bills now going through Sacramento. Most of the council members focused on Senate Bill 50. The only thing they agreed on is that each community would benefit from collaborating and coordinating to address the regional housing shortage. East Palo Alto Councilman Larry Moody challenged cities that oppose the bill to offer their own plans to address the humanitarian crisis. East Palo Alto Vice Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones and Councilman Ruben Abrica urged opponents of SB 50 to propose alternative solutions. Rather than fight the state, Abrica said, cities should make suggestions to the Legislature to address the problem.”

Perth councillors support 27-storey affordable housing tower despite planners’ objections

By Editorial Desk, Architecture AU, May 6, 2019. “Perth, Western Australia, councillors have voted in support of a 27-storey mixed-use development containing 30 percent social and affordable housing, despite a recommendation that the proposal be rejected due to an excessive plot ratio [and insufficient] community benefits or facilities. The landowner and project developer is the Western Australia government’s Department of Communities, and the Western Australian Planning Commission is the body responsible for the final approval.”

On Amazon’s decision to move to New York City, then cancel

By J. David Goodman, metro reporter, The New York Times, May 1, 2019. “Many venture capitalists like to think of New York as the next Silicon Valley, but the cultures are not the same. You saw that dramatically with Amazon’s flat-footed rollout. The company thought it would be welcomed because it was bringing so many jobs. [But] the Amazon team was surprised by the onslaught of questions from reporters. Many New Yorkers were equally baffled that the company could be so naïve and so unprepared.”