Tag: 2020-06-nn-norcal

Who’s Where

Who’s Where

Alesia Hsiao, AICP, has joined the Bay Area Air Quality Manage­ment District (BAAQMD) as a Senior En­viron­mental Planner, where she will be working on regional and local AB617 com­munity health pro­tection programs (com­munity-led air plans) and on local govern­ment assistance. Prior to joining BAAQMD, Hsiao worked as senior planner for the City and County of San Francisco Environmental and Citywide Planning Divisions. Previously a Diversity Chair for the Orange Section of the APA, Hsiao also worked in Southern California at Michael Baker International (formerly RBF Consulting). She holds a master of urban and regional planning from California State Polytechnic University–Pomona and a BA from UC Irvine.

Amy Lyle joined the City of Santa Rosa as the Super­visor for the Ad­vance Plan­ning team. She is the project man­ager for the Down­town Specific Plan and is lead­ing other policy efforts including the General Plan Update. Lyle previously worked at the County of Sonoma for 14 years, during which time she was integral in the success of a wide range of initiatives including the cannabis ordinance, Airport Area Specific Plan, Springs Specific Plan, housing/disaster recovery efforts, and healthy communities planning. Lyle received her BA (environmental studies, political science) from Sonoma State University. She is the North Bay Regional Activities Coordinator (RAC) for APA California–Northern Section.

Patrick Streeter, AICP, comes to the Town of Ross after most re­cent­ly serv­ing as senior plan­ner in San­ta Rosa, where im­port­ant roles in­cluded project lead on up­dating the Down­town Station Area Specific Plan and staffing the Emergency Operations Center during the Tubbs Fire of 2017 and the Kincade Fire of 2019. Before moving to California, he was an environmental planner with the City of New York. In his new role as Planning and Building Director, Streeter will work on major projects such as the rezoning of the downtown to accommodate diverse housing options, revisioning of the Ross Common, an update to the General Plan, and engaging in a Marin County-wide objective design standards initiative. Streeter has a master of science in urban planning from Columbia University and a BA (biology) from Boston College.


Director’s note: Rethinking our public spaces and health

Director’s note: Rethinking our public spaces and health

By Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, May 13, 2020

Playgrounds and benches are roped off. Cars during rush hour on freeways “rush” without traffic jams. Parking garages sit empty and parking meters are moneyless. Meanwhile, people are getting pushed out of crowded parks and are starting to take over streets once dominated by automobiles.

People seem genuinely happier on the streets now than they were a few months ago.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed long bike rides, my dog in tow, in our refreshingly clean air, great spring weather, and nearly car-free streets. I cross streets without having to press a button, and jog in an empty roadway lane without worrying about twisting my ankle on all the curb ramps I’d encounter on sidewalks. I can avoid the “door zone” (where most bicyclists are forced to ride) and I no longer need to limit my route to neighborhood streets and streets with bike lanes, giving me the freedom I would normally have in a car.

My first full day of married life was largely spent biking around the streets of San Jose at Viva CalleSJ, one of the many great open streets events that take place across the globe. These events “open” the streets to people to walk, run, or roll around, exploring neighborhoods and businesses that people whiz by in cars most of the time. These events celebrate our culture, encourage healthy lifestyles, and rethink the way we plan for public spaces.

While these events are usually temporary, some become more permanent. San Francisco has for years opened large sections of streets in Golden Gate Park to people (not cars) on weekends. Several cities (San Francisco included) have established “slow streets” to better encourage social distancing during this pandemic. And the City of Seattle plans to close 20 miles of streets permanently to most vehicular traffic so people can stay healthy.

As people embrace car-free or car-light lifestyles, what changes will we make to streets — our largest public spaces — to accommodate people and promote health? What aspects of our current environment will extend post-COVID, and how will we view our streets once we slowly stop the distancing? What will plazas and parks look like in the future, and will they be seamlessly connected to “healthy” or “complete” streets around them?

As you travel the streets and experience other public spaces in your city, think about what changes you want to see to promote staying active, keeping social distance, and creating community. I envision wider sidewalks with level street crossings, slower-speed streets where bikes and cars can safely commingle, and additional landscaping for more shade and fresh air.

Welcome, new planners!

As we enter graduation season, I offer a warm welcome to our new planners and encourage them to hold their heads high. I can only imagine their concerns as they enter our profession during an economic downturn and global pandemic. With a tighter job market, new challenges interviewing and onboarding remotely, and an uncertain outcome, this can be a stressful time. It can also be a time of opportunity as the planning world faces our current and future challenges.

What skills will these eager new planners bring to our profession? I hope we can learn from their experience, growing up in a digital age and fluent in asynchronous communication — something we all appear to be practicing in our readjusted schedules.

Are congested streets and highways just around the corner?
On Fremont in San Francisco, looking NW across Howard St. and Salesforce Park, 4:45 pm

Are congested streets and highways just around the corner?

By Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, editor, May 3, 2020

Probably all of us have seen and read the considerable speculation and hope — recently expressed by urban and transportation planners, not to mention commuters — that, as the pandemic eases, our city/state/country won’t revert to the congested streets and highways of past years. I have seen some interesting data about the past, including, from the Eno Center for Transportation, The last time VMT dropped this sharply was WWII.

I also saw a study out of Vanderbilt University’s Work Research Group, The rebound: how COVID-19 could lead to worse traffic,” that forecasts an incredible spike in congestion in San Francisco “unless transit systems can resume safe, high throughput operations quickly. The cities most at risk include” San Francisco because, as Jay Barmann reported in SFist, May 7th, of it’s “relatively heavy dependence on transit and the fact that 3 out of 4 transit users here also own a car.”

Graphic by Work Research Group, Vanderbilt university

Barmann continued: “But given how slowly the Bay Area is expected to reopen businesses — and how many people are unemployed and how many companies will likely allow remote working for months to come — the ‘carmageddon’ scenarios here could be quite a ways off.”

As a reminder of how eerily quiet the roads were two months ago, I offer 12 photos showing the near total absence of vehicular activity in and around San Francisco on March 27 during what would have been the Friday afternoon getaway. The photos were taken by my pre-teen grandchildren Hazel and Karl as their mom drove. The drive started and ended in the East Bay and crossed all three core area bridges. The first photo was taken at 4:41 pm and the last one at 5:22 pm.

Westbound on the west span of the Bay Bridge, 4:41 pm


On Fremont looking northwest across Howard St. and Salesforce Park, 4:45 pm


At Pine Street, looking north along Front  St. toward One Maritime Plaza. 4:46 pm


Looking up Powell from Pine Street at 4:48 pm


Looking up Franklin from California at 4:52 pm


Northbound on the Golden Gate Bridge at 5:01 pm


Northbound Highway 101, passing through Sausalito on the Waldo Grade, 5:04 pm


Leaving northbound Hwy 101 at the Richmond Bridge exit, 5:09 pm


Eastbound on the Richmond Bridge at 5:15 pm


Highway 80 eastbound, passing through El Cerrito at 5:20 pm


Driving south on Highway 80 eastbound, Albany Hill on the left. 5:21 pm


Eastbound Highway 80, Albany exit, 5:22 pm
CalChapter 2020 Conference will be virtual

CalChapter 2020 Conference will be virtual

In an email on May 5, Julia Lave Johnston, President of APA California, announced that the Chapter’s 2020 conference this Fall will be held on-line. The long-planned conference scheduled for Riverside September 12-15 has been postponed to 2021.

This year’s conference will nevertheless remain an “opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our organizational values,” said Johnston, and “to welcome students into the profession, to reward excellence, and to commiserate with our colleagues and friends about the challenges of trying to save the world.”

The Inland Empire Conference Host Committee and the State Board concluded that it would neither be possible nor advisable to hold a large in-person event. “The safety of our colleagues and friends is our first priority,” said Johnston, noting the success of this spring’s APA National virtual conference.

Johnston “will be appointing members of a new Virtual Conference Planning Committee to finalize the program, work with existing sponsors, identify the best technology, and adjust logistics as needed, including the conference date and registration prices.”

Anyone interested in working on the 2020 Virtual Conference should contact Julia Lave Johnston at apacapresident@gmail.com.