Tag: 2019-12-nn-roundup

“City Dreamers,” doc film on women architects who built 20th century cities

By Anne-Marie Bissada, RFI, December 13, 2019

“Thanks to the vision and expertise of four trailblazing female architects, some of North America’s iconic cities evolved to ensure a balance between modernism and human urbanism.

“The last major push for urban planners to create new city spaces was after World War II, when towns were expanding rapidly to create a new modern era of suburban living, cars, and highways.

“Among those urban planners were four women — all architects. They are the focus of the documentary City Dreamers by Montreal-based director Joseph Hillel.

“Through rare film clips of the women and the work they did throughout the 20th century, he pieces together the legacy they left — each with her own theory, vision, or approach to urban landscaping and planning.”

Read the article and see a trailer here.

Improving road safety in Oakland with equity

By Vanessa Barrios and Carlos Mandeville, Regional Plan Association Lab, December 9, 2019.

“Ryan Russo, the Director of Oakland’s Department of Transportation (OakDOT) [recently] described OakDOT’s founding Strategic Plan [which] established four goals and four values that would drive the agency’s work:

  • Jobs and Housing,
  • Holistic Community Safety,
  • Vibrant Sustainable Infrastructure, and
  • Responsive Trustworthy Government.

“According to Russo, while OakDOT’s four core values of Equity, Safety, Sustainability, and Responsiveness drive the agency’s work, Equity precedes and informs the three others.

“To center equity within its work, the City of Oakland created a Department of Race and Equity [in 2019] to embed racial equity practices throughout city agencies, and developed a data-driven approach to equity that can help the agency hold itself accountable.”

Residents painted “ScraperBike Ground” on a 90th Avenue intersection. Source: OakDOT webinar, “Putting Equity into Action,” October 18, 2019.

“Using data, the agency identified problematic intersections where there were a high number of accidents then mobilized safety improvements to make crossing the street safer. Instead of immediately applying typical traffic calming methods, they connected with community members to better understand why those intersections were problematic. They learned through conversations with the community that Lake Merritt (the City’s central park area) was an important place to expand public space for activities like barbecuing, and accessibility through street redesign and bike lane development.”

“When we ride out, we ride down the middle of the-street.” Bike lane under construction on 90th Avenue, Fall 2019. Source: OakDOT webinar, “Putting Equity into Action,” October 18, 2019.

Read more about transit equity in Oakland from Healthy Regions Planning Exchange here. And check out the OakDOT webinar, “Putting Equity into Action,” October 18, 2019, here.

Special Mobile Home zoning OK’d to save affordable housing

By Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star, December 11, 2019

“Mobile home parks in the unincorporated areas of Ventura County could not be redeveloped into higher-priced types of housing under a zoning change approved Dec. 10.

“Voting unanimously, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors placed the 25 parks in a special zone where owners are essentially prohibited from converting the properties into alternate uses such as apartments and condominiums.

“Advocates said they hope to prevent conversions at a time when owners could be tempted to redevelop the properties to capitalize on rising housing and land costs. Such conversions have occurred in high-cost areas elsewhere in California, where mobile home parks are one of the few remaining sources of unsubsidized affordable housing, county officials said.”

Read more in this article here.

Mobile home park. Photo: Dr Zak [CC BY-SA 3.0] http://bit.ly/2RT9iR6
From an earlier VC Star article, Dec. 6: “Tricia Maier, long-range planning manager for the county, said she was unaware of any conversions other than a small one in the Oak View area in 2005. The primary intent of the measure is not to address any current proposal, but rather to preserve mobile home parks as affordable housing into the future, she said.

“Maier said she understands that conversions become more likely as land and housing costs increase, pointing to examples in the Bay Area and Orange County. It’s reasonable to assume the same thing could happen in Ventura County, given the rising cost of housing and land, she said.” Read more here.

San Diego looks to scrap residential density limits, use FAR instead

By Antonio Pacheco, Archinect, December 9, 2019

“San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is opening another salvo in his administration’s efforts to address the city’s housing affordability crisis by proposing the ‘Complete Communities Housing Solutions Initiative,’ a scheme that looks beyond simply building new housing to embrace holistic urban development.

“The proposal [would] refocus certain elements of the zoning code to incentivize the development of smaller units, including one-bedroom and studio homes, and by allowing housing developers to offer community amenities that are decoupled from auto-oriented uses.

“Under current metrics, for example, housing projects are measured according to ‘dwelling-units-per-acre’ that dictates an upper limit on the number of homes that can be built on a given parcel relative to a prescribed density level that sometimes conflicts with the size, height, and bulk that might be otherwise allowed by-right on a given site. This approach, according to the city’s staff, generally pushes developers to build larger (and fewer) units.

“Under the new rules, developers would be allowed to switch to ‘floor area ratio,’ a metric that instead places a limit on the amount of area built by a project overall, scrapping the residential density limits [units per acre] in their entirely in specific areas. This means that instead of seeing parcels maxed out at 20 or 100 units per acre, for example, a site will instead be limited by being built to a certain maximum size, say 50,000 or 200,000 square feet. The arrangement will allow developers to be more inventive with the number and types of units within their projects.”

Read the full article here.

San Diego city council strengthens inclusionary requirements

By Andrew Bowen, KPBS, December 10, 2019

“The San Diego City Council on Dec. 10 approved changes to the city’s affordable housing regulations after striking a compromise with business and developer groups.”

Developments of two or more units that set aside at least 10 percent of the housing units as affordable housing for at least 55 years are among those that are exempt from the Inclusionary Affordable Housing Fee, as specified by the San Diego Municipal Code.

“The new law requires developers to make 10 percent of the homes they build available to low-income renters — those earning 60 percent of Area Median Income — or pay an in lieu fee of $25 per square foot to opt out of the inclusionary requirement.

“The city’s inclusionary policy had been 65 percent of AMI with an in lieu fee of around $12.”

The San Diego AMI is $53,500 for a family of four in 2019.

The Inclusionary Affordable Housing requirement in the northern part of San Diego known as the North City Future Urbanizing Area requires housing developers to dedicate 20 percent of their units to affordable buyers or renters. The area includes Black Mountain Ranch, Del Mar Mesa, Pacific Highlands, and Torrey Highlands.

You can read the original article here.

Worth a look: SF’s most underrated buildings

By Brock Keeling, Curbed SF, December 11, 2019

In March 2018, Curbed San Francisco asked readers to reveal the local buildings they love most that don’t get their due. If you’re looking to learn more about the under-the-radar structures around San Francisco, check out this list and these photos, selected by Curbed SF readers. The list will continue to grow and update as readers add more.


101 California is No. 6 on the underrated list. Seen here during a walking mobile workshop at the APA National Planning Conference, April 2019. Photo: Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP

Court: California charter cities must prioritize Affordable Housing on Public Land

By Nicholas Iovino, Courthouse News Service, November 26, 2019

“California can force San Jose and 120 other charter cities to give affordable housing developers the first crack at building on surplus city land, a California appeals court ruled December 3.

“The state’s Surplus Land Act requires cities, towns and counties looking to unload public land to give affordable housing developers an opportunity to develop the property first before selling it.

“San Jose had argued the home rule doctrine for charter cities in the California constitution superseded a 2014 state law that makes cities prioritize affordable housing development on surplus public land. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Theodore Zayne agreed with the city’s position in December 2016 and dismissed the core claims of a lawsuit brought by housing advocates.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel from the Sixth District Court of Appeal overruled that decision, finding the ‘well-documented shortage of sites for low- and moderate-income housing and the regional spillover effects of insufficient housing’ justify statewide application of the 2014 law.

“Writing for the panel, Justice Eugene Premo [wrote] … ‘We find that the state can require a charter city to prioritize surplus city-owned land for affordable housing development and subject a charter city to restrictions in the manner of disposal of that land, because the shortage of sites available for affordable housing development is a matter of statewide concern.’ ”

Read the full article here.