Author: Naphtali Knox



I am sending kudos for the quality and content of CA APA Northern’s newsletter. It is informative and inspirational! The graphics are well done, and it covers a wide range of urban planning issues. Thank you for your leadership!

Kate Gillespie, AICP, Sacramento

Northern Section is more than the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas

Northern Section is more than the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas

By Alex Hinds, September 11, 2020

In small towns and villages across North America, downtown post offices are much beloved greeting, gathering, and pick-up-your-mail places.

Our post office in Inverness, California (pop. 1300), is my all-time favorite. Since home delivery in the boondocks is no longer standard, such post offices are essential for getting your letters and packages, but they also are great places to see your neighbors. The staff greets you by first name, and will retrieve your mail from your gilded P.O. box no matter how many times you forget your keys, and without ever complaining.

When the threat of Covid-19 spread in the spring, our local postal crew valiantly hung what looked like repurposed Saran Wrap at their front counter. Community members spontaneously passed the hat to install a protective Plexiglas barrier to protect our postmistress, her staff, and the public.

Don’t mess with our post office!

Alex Hinds lives in Inverness, Marin County, California. He was a university lecturer and a senior consultant for the center for sustainable communities at Sonoma State University from 2009-2019, community development agency director for Marin County, 1999-2008, planning and building director for San Luis Obispo County, 1990-1999, and Lake County planning director, 1984-1990.

Go here for more on how people use the post office — this time in Brooklyn 11215. Thirteen interviews and sketches, comic book style.

Return to the October issue here.

Alameda County Heat Vulnerability Map

Alameda County Heat Vulnerability Map

By the Alameda County Office of Sus­tain­abil­ity, August 19, 2020

Hello, planners! Alameda County has launched an interactive map to illustrate the social and environ­mental factors that contribute to community heat vul­ner­abil­ity in our county.

The map shows the neighborhoods and demographic groups disproportionately affected by heat waves. We hope this map will be useful to city planners, county agencies, and neighborhood and community organizations in Alameda County to support their efforts to assess and respond to the impacts of extreme heat. For those in other counties, the model may be useful to you.

The map is best viewed on a computer. It can take a minute for the map to initialize.

For this ArcGIS storymap, you’ll navigate through tabs which show (1) an overall heat vulnerability index, (2) built environment data, (3) demographic data, (4) health data, and (5) project background and additional resources.

For most tabs, descriptive text at the left of the map includes yellow links that you click to populate the map. (If on a mobile device, click on the “i” at the top right to see text.) For example, under the Health tab, click the yellow links to see map layers including the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and exposure to poor air quality.

For questions regarding the Heat Vulnerability Map, please contact the Alameda County Office of Sustainability here.

Return to the September issue here.

Future of SB 50 up in the LA air

By Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2020

“State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and a coalition of groups representing low-income communities are now opposed to Senate Bill 50.

“Mitchell, a powerful lawmaker who is running for L.A. County supervisor and leads the Senate’s budget committee, told constituents at town halls over the weekend that she was against the bill. The groups, including the Alliance for Community Transit — Los Angeles and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, announced their position against SB 50 on Wednesday [the 22nd].

“The bill ‘fails to address our most serious concerns and will exacerbate the housing challenges experienced by low-income people, people of color, and other vulnerable people, the very populations being hit hardest by California’s affordability crisis,’ the groups wrote in a letter to state Sen. Scott Wiener. ‘It fails to meet these communities’ housing affordability needs and has the potential to create new pressure and incentives for displacement.’ ”

Read more here.

Enter Now to Compete for a State Planning Award

Submit your outstanding project, program, plan, or person for this year’s APA California Planning Awards. Nominations are due by Noon on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. NOTE: Some nominations require a win at the Section level to be eligible for a Chapter award.

Refer to the APA California Chapter Awards Program Policy for more information or go directly to application form.

For questions, contact the Awards Program Coordinator (North) Chris Pahule.

If you are nominating for a Landmark or Pioneer Award, please contact your Chapter Historian (North), Larry Mintier, FAICP.

SFCTA, looking to congestion pricing, wants input

SFCTA, looking to congestion pricing, wants input

By Carly Graf, SF Examiner, August 26, 2020

City officials expect downtown and SoMa congestion will return to last year’s record levels.

“Residents can participate in a town hall or complete surveys in four different languages to learn more about the research and give their opinion.

“Low-income communities and people of color are especially hurt by congestion. They’re more likely to be transit-dependent and disproportionately affected by delays, and they tend to live and work in zones with higher rates of traffic collisions.

“Advocates for congestion pricing say a pricing scheme that discourages personal and rideshare drivers from traveling downtown during peak hours won’t keep them out … altogether [but] will encourage [residents] to use public transit or alternative transportation options.

“The scenario being tested includes a $10-$12 fee for drivers entering the congestion zone during rush hour with … plans to [charge] very low-income [drivers only half] the fee by and [exempt] low-income drivers.

“A study recommendation is expected to be presented to the SFCTA board by next year. If approved, it would need an additional two years for implementation to secure funding, complete the design, and lobby for local and state legislative approval.”

The city previously studied congestion pricing in 2012.

Read the full article here.

Return to the October issue here.

Long term effects of disasters

“Where did all the Camp Fire survivors go?”

By Lily Jamali, KQED News, January 22, 2020

“The Camp Fire, which killed 85 people, remains the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.

“A CSU Chico study has been mapping out where survivors of the wildfire ended up.” (CSU-Chico map powered by ESRI) “Using data including U.S. Postal Service change-of-address information, researchers found new mailing addresses for roughly a third of former Paradise residents.

“Small clusters landed in mid-sized cities like Boise, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Orlando. One cluster turned up in Crossville, Tennessee, a town of less than 12,000 people.

“The age of survivors has emerged as one of the most important factors determining who stayed and who moved away, said geographic information systems specialist Peter Hansen.

“ ‘Of the 65 or older population, half of that group moved beyond 30 miles of the fire,’ he said. ‘That says to me that we lost a lot of our older population. The people who were able to remain were more of the working age population.’ ”

Those with the lowest incomes moved the farthest.

“The data shows that 47 percent of those whose annual income was less than $25,000 moved 30 miles or more from Paradise.

“While some are still deciding whether to stay in the region, former Paradise Mayor Dan Wentland, 69, moved across to Crossville, Tennessee.

“ ‘I went back up to Paradise immediately when the fire was still burning. I saw it, went back, and told my wife, ‘We’re moving because it’s never going to be a town again,’ Wentland said. ‘It’ll never be the Paradise that we knew.’

“Cheaper real estate in Tennessee was a major draw. So was the fact that he has family — a brother and an uncle — in the state.”

Read more here and see bar graphs showing the age and estimated income of those who moved away.

About Northern News

About Northern News

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: 6,700. “Opens” per issue: 2,500+.

To update your email address or other information, go to and log in.

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.

You can download the latest publication schedule here.

You may republish our articles, but please credit “Northern News, APA California – Northern.”

Return to Northern News here.

Judith McManus Price Scholarship Available for Women and Minorities

From APA

Deadline June 1

Judith McManus Price, a planner for more than 30 years before her death in 2001, was an exceptional woman with extraordinary talents that she freely shared, not only with her family and friends, but also with her community, her colleagues, and her profession. She served the public sector in a variety of planning positions, facing challenges with strength and optimism — her trademark. Her husband, Thomas Price, continues her gift of sharing with a generous endowment to the Judith McManus Price Scholarship to help women and minority students enter the field of planning.

Read More

‘Monster in the Mission’ site slated for affordable housing

‘Monster in the Mission’ site slated for affordable housing

By Jared Brey, Next City, September 11, 2020

“After years of protest and debate, developers have agreed to sell the so-called ‘Monster in the Mission,’ a proposed apartment building in San Francisco, as part of a deal that will create around 330 new affordable apartments, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The original proposal for the site would have established around 300 market-rate units with a small number of affordable apartments, according to the report, but a group of residents objected to the proposal because they feared it would accelerate gentrification in the area. Now, the group that has agreed to buy the land, plans to donate it to the city for affordable housing to fulfill its affordability requirements in conjunction with a separate project of nearly 1,000 units, the Chronicle reported.

“The deal came out of years of community organizing by the Plaza 16 Coalition, Causa Justa:Just Cause, and others, according to 48 Hills, a San Francisco news site. Those groups had already claimed victory earlier this year, when the original proposal for the site was officially canceled, Curbed San Francisco reported at the time.

“San Francisco Mayor London Breed welcomed the news of the new deal, according to the Chronicle, which wrote that ‘if finalized, the deal would be the latest example of community pressure helping push forward an affordable housing project.’”

This article is part of Backyard, a Next City newsletter. Republished with permission. Read the full article here. 

Return to the October Northern News here.